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Ad Hoc pushes for additional funding of School Street Park

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

AGAWAM - At a meeting of the City Council's Ad Hoc Recreation Committee on March 28 a motion was made to the City Council by Committee Chairman George Bitzas and seconded by Jill P. Simpson to recommend additional funding of $575,000 for the construction of the School Street-River Road Park.

"If the Council does not go forward to vote then the project is dead," Mayor Richard A. Cohen said.

According to Cohen, the park has been on the minds of municipal employees since he fist took office eight years ago.

The park would include athletic fields, ice skating, community gardens and a bike path.

Current funding for the park is comprised of a $500,000 urban self help grant awarded by the state, $928,000 in Community Preservation funds approved by the City Council in 2005 and $80,000 donated by Berkshire Power. If approval of the additional funding is granted then total cost of the park will hover around $2 million.

According to Christopher Sparks of the Parks and Recreation Department if park construction does not commence as of Fiscal Year 2007 then the grant will be lost.

"We hope to see groundbreaking in April," Cohen said.

Sparks said if the City Council fails to approve the motion then the city cannot sign with the lowest bidder and the contract would have to be sent back out for bids causing deadlines to be missed.

According to Sparks, funding for the refurbishing or taking down of the old barn located at the premises will be looked at as a separate item and will not be included in funding allocated for the park.

"The barn would not be under recreation it would be under historical so it would be separate finding," Henry A. Kozloski, chair of the CPA said.

The park will be on 49.3 acres of municipal land.