Hike funding

43 grassroots communities sharing $12 million in public funding for parks and open space projects

A paddling pool, new dam and nature trails – these are some of the projects officials say will be funded by the $12 million in Commonwealth Community Grants for Open Spaces and Landscaping. improvement of parks.

In all, 43 communities will receive grants, according to Governor Charlie Baker.

“Investing in these important open space projects will make Massachusetts parks more resilient to climate change, increase the availability of open space, and improve access to the outdoors for residents of communities across the state,” said Baker.

Of the grants, about $2.57 million went to projects in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. Among the projects receiving grants are the Old Tuckahoe Sod Farm in Agawam, Donna Blake Park in Springfield, the Saw Mill Hills Core Conservation Project in Northampton, the Nonotuck Park Pool in Easthampton, and the Kestrel Land Trust in Amherst.

The capital budget helped fund the grants, which were administered through three programs, including the Conservation Partnership Grant, the Community Parks Acquisition and Renovation Programs, and the local acquisitions for natural diversity.

Agawam received $400,000 from the Park and Open Space grant to begin work on the $6 million, 300-acre Tuckahoe Turf Farm project. The city hopes to use the property for passive and active recreation with fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing, in addition to sports fields.

“We’re going to start cutting roads, replacing the dam and establishing this body of water and later we can start adding walking trails and things of that nature,” Mayor William P. Sapelli said.

Sapelli said the grant funds will help mitigate the costs that must come from the municipal general fund to help get the project off the ground.

“The Baker-Polito administration is exceptional when it comes to things like this,” he said. “This administration sees the value in getting and maintaining an open space. Not only do they follow the walk, but they also talk and give us the money to do something that can be very beneficial.

This pond is on the former property of Tuckahoe Turf Farm in Agawam that the town received a $400,000 state grant for improvements to make it a park. (Photo courtesy of Agawam City)

In Springfield, Donna Blake Park receives $400,000 to install an accessible playground, play and picnic areas, improve open spaces, plant trees and landscaping .

The overall cost of the project is approximately $650,000, with $250,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds covering the remainder.

It will be the 20th park in the city to have a wading pool, according to Patrick Sullivan, the city’s executive director of parks, buildings and recreation management. Sullivan said the two-and-a-half-acre Blake Park has been planned for improvements and, with the award of the grant, design and construction plans can begin. The goal is for the upgrades to be completed by summer 2024.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said he was delighted that the renovations to the park would be funded by the state.

“The (state grant programs), which we’ve used to improve and renovate many parks throughout our city, are very important and vital to our municipal parks departments,” Sarno said.

Easthampton’s Nonotuck Park Pool also received a $400,000 grant for upgrades including the installation of an older pool deck surface, umbrellas, fencing, Americans-compliant parking with Disabilities Act, an inclusive playground, an accessible path from the playground to the washroom, bike racks, newly planted trees and a rain garden with interpretive signs.

“We are thrilled to have received the Nonotuck Pool Upgrade Grant. This funding will be combined with (Community Preservation Act) and city funds to potentially leverage other grant funds,” said Director of Parks and Recreation, John Mason, in a statement, “Nonotuck Pool is the centerpiece of the jewel that is Nonotuck Park.”

He added, “We look forward to this process which will bring about a pool that meets the needs and serves so many residents, park guests and children who attend Camp Nonotuck.”

The Saw Mill Hills Heartland Conservation Project in Northampton will receive $400,000 to be used to help acquire 229 acres of land that the Governor’s announcement called “critical”. The land is part of the conservation project.

Carolyn Misch, director of the Office of Planning and Sustainability, said the city is also seeking $300,000 in funding under the Community Preservation Act to ensure the project is completed by spring or summer. next.

“We acquired larger or smaller portions of the conservation area at different times,” Misch said. “We have been looking for more than 20 years to permanently acquire and protect this important land area with these rich ecological sources for the future of our climate and to protect our forest areas, which protects the city as a whole. “

She added: “There is already a network of recreational trails and nature trails that people use all the time in protected areas. There are also a few trails on private land. This private plot has some of its own trails, but we are looking at how we can connect it to our main trail network.

The Kestrel Land Trust has received $81,000 for a conservation project that aims to protect 91 acres of land southeast of Mount Toby.

Mark Wamsley, land trust conservation manager, said there are three miles of trails in the Heronemus Forest Conservation Area which includes rock ledges and forest, which is well maintained and said this project still had to be completed before any development. takes place.

“We are seeking (Community Preservation Act) funds from the City of Leverett to help with land acquisition,” Wamlsey said. “Residents can vote to support the project at the annual municipal meeting (in the spring). We plan to acquire the land in May. Once acquired, planning for public access and amenities will begin in earnest, which will ultimately determine when the property will open to the public.

Other communities in the area have received grants and funded projects include: Amherst, $280,000, Hickory Ridge Accessible Riverwalk loop trail; Ware, $84,360, Memorial Field improvements; Warren, $11,542, Lucy Stone Park educational signage; Monson, $265,271, Jean M. Booker Conservation Area; and Wilbraham, $251,460, expansion of McDonald Nature Preserve.