Last week, the Baker-Polito administration awarded a grant of $ 10,090,749 for park improvements, open space acquisitions and land conservation projects in 37 Massachusetts communities and six conservation districts, including Fall River. The subsidies, financed by the investment budget of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and administered through several programs, including the acquisition and renovation programs of parks for communities, local acquisitions for the natural diversity, conservation partnerships and innovation grant programs for conservation districts, will help municipalities and land trusts in their efforts to protect lands for future generations for outdoor recreation. The announcement was made by Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito at South Common in the town of Lowell as part of the administration’s celebration of Climate Week in Massachusetts.
“Massachusetts has great open spaces and natural resources that not only provide recreation and access to the great outdoors, but make the Commonwealth more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “Our administration has made land conservation and local park improvement a key priority since taking office in 2015, and our proposal to allocate $ 100 million in federal assistance funds to parks and spaces. open spaces will allow us to invest even more resources in these important projects, especially in gateway cities and underserved communities that need better access to green spaces.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to green spaces and state parks has never been more important to residents of all communities in the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The PARC, LAND and Conservation Partnership programs all play a vital role in ensuring that the public has many opportunities to explore and enjoy the natural resources available near their homes, and we are proud to work with partners in Commonwealth municipalities. to support these park improvement projects.
The administration has provided $ 8 million through the PARC grant program to support 24 projects that will support the development of parks and outdoor recreational assets. The program was created in 1977 to help cities and towns acquire and develop land for parks and outdoor recreation. Any community with an up-to-date open space and recreation plan is eligible to apply for the program. Since 2015, the Authority has awarded $ 47 million to 153 land acquisition projects for the construction of new parks and the renovation of existing parks.
In addition, the administration awarded $ 1.2 million to four projects under the LAND grant program. The program was established in 1961 to help municipal conservation commissions acquire land for natural resource protection and passive outdoor recreation. Since 2015, the Authority has awarded more than $ 16 million to support 75 projects that have permanently protected more than 4,576 acres.
“Through these programs, the Baker-Polito administration is partnering with local communities and land trusts to protect critical open spaces and support the acquisition and restoration of local parks that provide important access to the outdoors, by particularly in our urban communities and our gateway cities. said Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “The enthusiasm and joy of the residents of our Commonwealth for these special places and the strong desire to get out throughout the pandemic demonstrates the need for even greater investments in resilient lands, natural resources and outdoor recreation. air thanks to Governor Baker’s ARPA spending plan. ”
The administration also provided $ 740,000 to support nine projects under the Conservation Partnership Grants program. The program provides funds to help non-public and not-for-profit corporations acquire interests in land suitable for conservation or recreation. Since 2015, the Authority has provided $ 4.5 million to support 64 projects that have permanently protected more than 2,300 acres of land.
In addition, the Conservation Districts Innovation Grants program also provides funding to one of the state’s conservation districts to help carry out awareness and education activities, and implement initiatives. new and innovative ideas for projects. The funding will also enable conservation districts to implement innovative projects to improve soil health, strengthen carbon sequestration and increase climate resilience.
“Investing in parks and open spaces is one of the most effective ways to improve the quality of life in a community, and I am grateful for the Baker-Polito administration’s continued commitment to partner with municipalities to support park improvement projects, ”said Lowell City Manager. Eileen Donoghue. “The support received through the PARC grant program will allow the Town of Lowell to undertake significant improvements to South Common and ensure that the historic park meets the current recreational needs of Lowell residents. “
“These grants represent significant investments in open spaces in communities across the Commonwealth,” said State Senator Ed Kennedy (D-Lowell). “In Lowell, the award will allow the city to continue phase two of the South Common Master Plan by redesigning the walking trails and the central field. I would like to thank the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for administering these important programs.
“Thank you, Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito, for your invaluable assistance in securing these vital funds to protect and preserve our natural environment and expand our green space in the town of Lowell,” said State Representative Vanna Howard (D-Lowell). “Lowell needs more green space; and that’s another big step towards that goal.
Among the local grantees, Fall River received $ 400,000 in PARC grants for a project at Kennedy Park.
The project will include the renovation of four tennis courts and the creation of the city’s first official pickle ball courts.
Pickle ball has become a growing sport that combines tennis, badminton and table tennis and is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
Plymouth will use $ 400,000 to improve public access to Jenney Pond, Pilgrim Trail and connect to Holmes Park.