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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Mass.gov) – Governor Deval Patrick today announced a $1.3 million investment in Springfield’s North Riverfront Park. The funding will allow the city to develop a public green space along the Connecticut River, in a location that has been underutilized for decades. The project will also include a fitness trail, with a series of exercise stations along Riverside Road and the Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway, which will begin at North Riverfront Park. Governor Patrick made the announcement at North Riverfront Park.
“Growth requires investment, and creating and then upgrading our urban parks will create growth and opportunity in Springfield and beyond,” said Governor Patrick. “This investment will improve the lives of the city’s residents now and for generations to come.”
“The Patrick Administration has made historic investments in open space, making Massachusetts a better place for our children and grandchildren,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan. “This park will provide a place for families and visitors to relax, exercise and access the Connecticut River, one of Western Massachusetts’ most important natural resources.
Springfield is one of seven cities across the Commonwealth that is receiving funding through the Patrick Administration’s Signature Urban Parks program. Through this program, the Patrick Administration seeks to revitalize urban communities by opening up, or upgrading, green spaces for outdoor recreation and improving access to natural resources such as waterways and historic neighborhood landmarks. Governor Patrick previously announced funding for projects in Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Lawrence, Pittsfield and Roxbury. Springfield is also receiving $1.225 million through this program for upgrades to Camp STAR Angelina at Forest Park, which the Governor announced last fall.
“I would like to thank Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary Rick Sullivan for this substantial award to further develop North Riverfront Park,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “Their commitment to providing increased green spaces and recreation opportunities in urban settings dovetails perfectly with our objective of providing a high quality of life for the residents and businesses here in the City of Springfield.”
The improvements to North Riverfront Park will build on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s $11 million investment in the Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway, which was made in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. The city of Springfield will contribute $300,000 in matching funds towards this project. EEA and the city have begun work on the design phase of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in August, with the goal of completing the project in the spring of 2015.
The Patrick Administration has made it a priority to work with local leaders, regional planners, employers and community organizations in the revitalization of the Connecticut River waterfront. The Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club, which operates out of the historic Rockrimmon Boathouse on the park grounds, received a $370,000 Community Transformation grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows it to offer low-cost outdoor recreation programs to residents of Springfield and neighboring communities. Baystate Health, the largest regional employer in western Massachusetts, has also partnered with the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club on a pilot program that encourages outdoor recreation and fitness.
“I would like to thank the Administration for its continued support to improve our parks and open spaces,” said Senator James T. Welch. “This funding will help revitalize the Springfield riverfront and make it more accessible for the community to enjoy the outdoor space.
Since taking office, Governor Patrick has made a historic investment of more than $300 million in land conservation focused on three goals: investing in urban parks, preserving working farms and forests and protecting large natural landscapes for habitat. This investment has resulted in the permanent protection of more than 110,000 acres of land and the renovation or creation of more than 170 parks. The new parks and open space created are within a 10 minute walk of 1.5 million residents – about a quarter of the Commonwealth’s residents.
According to a report by The Trust for Public Land, outdoor recreation generates $10 billion in consumer spending, $739 million in state and local tax revenue and $3.5 billion in wages and salaries each year in Massachusetts.