AMESBURY – The city has a lot to look forward to, including several new sports fields, a $ 48 million sports complex and the possibility of a new elementary school.
“Overall we are in a very good position,” said Mayor Ken Gray in his State of the City address. “Most importantly, we’ve come to this right place by working together. “
Gray said the planned $ 48 million Atlantic Sports Center to be built on South Hunt Road is “a game changer – and the pun is intended.”
“It (will be) 410,000 square feet, with six ice surfaces, one being a 2,500-seat arena, and the building at the back is approximately 120,000 square feet of event and office space.” , Gray said. “The center is expected to attract 400,000 or more visitors per year to our community.”
Gray added that the Atlantic Sports Center is scheduled to open in 2020.
“Here’s the other part of it: there’s going to be a hotel in the center,” Gray said. “We are starting to do the planning early and are working with (Global Property Developers Project Manager Mike Gorman) and the company to make it an integral part of the complex.”
Gray delivered his speech to a standing crowd only at the Nicholas J. Costello Transportation Center on Thursday.
The mayor also said the cleanup of the long-abandoned Microfab site on Route 110 has started.
“For more than 30 years this dilapidated, collapsed and contaminated Superfund site, which has been abandoned by its owners, has been crying out for cleanup,” Gray said. “A few years ago (the state Environmental Protection Agency) asked us if we wanted them to fix it. We didn’t even let them finish answering the question before they said “yes”. We have gone through the process, the governor has approved it, and they are now there to do some of the preliminary work. “
The process of building a new primary school in Amesbury with the help of money from the Massachusetts School Building Authority began in early 2016. With the project in the schematic design phase, Gray showed the audience during his speech a computer generated “flyby”. of the proposed new building.
“We are currently in the early stages of design and expect this step to be completed by the end of the spring, with the next critical step being a community-wide vote on whether or not to proceed with the construction, ”Gray said.
The mayor then reminded the public of a special community forum he will be hosting on the primary school project on March 25 at 7 p.m. at Amesbury Secondary School.
Gray said another key issue in town relates to the sale of marijuana. The Salem-based Alternative Therapies Group is working on its marijuana retail facility at 49 Macy Street, and the mayor expects it to open in the spring.
“Two votes and a lot of discussion have got us to the point where we expect our first marijuana retail facility to open on Route 110 at the old Tiki Lau (location),” Gray said. “I spoke to the chairman of ATG (Alternative Therapies Group) a few weeks ago and the target is end of April. This is unfortunately after their location in Salisbury opened.”
Gray said he intended to start working on a plan to develop seven football fields on part of Woodsom Farm. Last month, city council designated the city-owned 354-acre farm property as a park and conservation area, with the bulk of it dedicated to active and passive recreation.
“Our playgrounds need help,” said Gray. “We don’t have enough and what we have needs to be improved.”
Gray said the council’s decision to designate the farmland as a park and conservation area allowed his office to start developing the new football fields, as well as moving a pair of baseball fields to the Woodsom property. Farm. The baseball field was located on the property adjacent to Cashman Elementary School.
Gray ended his remarks by recognizing three residents; Jo Hamel, whose 1-year-old son Caiden died of neuroblastoma in 2017, which led her to form Caiden’s Crusaders, which raises awareness and funds for National Childhood Cancer Awareness; Donna Eldredge, who is leading the effort to update the Brian Eldredge Memorial Skate Park in memory of her son who died last year at the age of 29; and Diane Legg, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004 and founded the Lungstrong organization, which has raised more than $ 3 million to fight the disease.
Editor-in-chief Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.