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State grants improve and expand town’s open space

Date: 12/6/2013

By Carley Dangona

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Improvements to Mittineague Park and an addition to the town’s open space will be made possible from grants totaling $646,500.

Secretary Rick Sullivan of the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced more than $4.3 million in grant monies for communities throughout the Commonwealth on Nov. 26.

Mayor Gregory Neffinger said, “The preservation of our parks and natural resources has always been high priority in my administration and I thank my department heads for their help in moving that vision forward.”

He thanked Park & Recreation Director Victoria Connor and Conservation Officer and Assistant Planner Mark Noonan for their contributions.

“The Patrick Administration is committed to improving our parks and open spaces across the Commonwealth,” Sullivan said. “In addition to preserving open space, improving recreational opportunities and protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources, these investments will create economic growth across the region.”

A $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant will support improvements to the gateway entrance of Mittineague Park including tree planting, improved access through the creation of sidewalks, a 65-space, handicap-accessible parking lot and expanded gardens.

These changes will provide access to the UNICO Building that is currently under renovation for use by the Park & Recreation Department.

The PARC Program was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes.

The Drinking Water Supply Protection grant of $246,500 will be used in conjunction with a Community Preservation Act grant of $207,000, to purchase 43.5 acres of open space adjacent to Southwick Artesian Wells, according to Neffinger.

The acquisition is the first purchase of land by the town for wellhead protection since 1971.

The mayor added that improvements to 24-inch water transmission line and the new filter beds would be completed this month, as part of the overall enhancements to the drinking water system.

The City of Westfield also received a Drinking Water Supply Protection grant in the amount of $250,000 for the purchase of the 93-acre Olson Property in Granville.

The forested land served as an apple orchard and a farm drain to Granville Reservoir. Buildings and farm dumps will be removed and the site remediated, removing an existing threat to water quality.