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Worcester, Southbridge, Leominster and Gardner were awarded portions of more than $6.3 million in grants administered to 22 communities through the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to develop or renovate land for parks and outdoor recreation, the Baker-Polito administration said Friday.
The Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grants, funded through the capital budget, will be used to help municipalities acquire a total of nearly 30 acres and develop or renovate other land for parks and recreation, the state said.
Worcester will receive $400,000 for the second phase of renovations at the South Worcester Playground on Camp Street.
The grant will focus on renovations and upgrades to include current industry standard design of the current playground, including new poured-in-place safety surfacing, installation of new playground equipment, upgrading accessible walkways and the installation of other site amenities, according to Worcester officials. The project includes the construction of lighting, benches, utility upgrades, landscaping, park edge improvements, and signs, the state said.
"Neighborhoods and parks make up the lifeblood of every great city," Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said. "This PARC grant will allow us to make important renovations to the South Worcester Playground in the heart of our South Worcester neighborhood. The awarding of this grant is also a strong statement from the Baker-Polito administration that they share our vision of investing in Worcester."
Southbridge Town Manager Ronald San Angelo said the town is pleased to receive $234,972 for development of a riverside park along the Quinebaug River.
The project will include the construction of a lighted, paved walking trail loop with benches, a footbridge for river viewing, and fencing.
Developer Charles "Chip" Norton donated 1.3 acres to Southbridge for $1. Town councilors accepted the donation last month.
Leominster will receive $400,000 for Mechanic Street Park. The project includes the development of a park with pathways, seating, and places to play and picnic, according to the state.
Gardner will receive $97,388 for Bailey Brook Park. The project involves acquisition of 28.8 acres, providing for the development of athletic fields, a playground, walking paths, an accessible trail, and nature learning and exploration areas, the state said.
In all, the state announced $6,385,785 in grants for the 22 Massachusetts communities.
"Increasing access to parks across the Commonwealth helps our communities grow and promotes healthier lifestyles," Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. "We are proud to secure 30 acres of new parkland and help fund the renovation of existing parks to make them more accessible, usable, and modern."
"Public parks are essential to the health and economic well-being of cities and towns, so our administration is focused on investing in important park projects," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito added.
"The great local projects being funded through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program will provide community gathering spaces and encourage people to spend time outdoors," Secretary Matthew Beaton said. "The Baker-Polito Administration continues to invest in parks and outdoor recreational improvements to ensure residents from every corner of the Commonwealth and of all ages and abilities are able to experience our state's beautiful natural resources."
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