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Parks and Recreation denied full $500,000 PARC grant

Date: 1/23/2012

Jan. 23, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — The Wilbraham Parks and Recreation Department has received word that it has been awarded a portion of the grant funding for which they applied, but with it came more confusion than pleasure.

Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Litz applied for the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant offered through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) in hopes of receiving up to $500,000 in funding for the ongoing Spec Pond Recreational Complex renovation project. Wilbraham was awarded $39,000.

“We didn’t get the half a million we were looking for, so obviously this is quite different than what we asked for,” Litz told Reminder Publications. “But I suppose something is better than nothing.”

In addition, to the lesser amount, Litz said he is unsure as to what the department can use the funds toward, as the EEA announced the funds were for design purposes. The renovation project Litz is overseeing has not been in the design phase since 2006.

“Where my confusion lies is in the fact that I have received two different explanations,” Litz said. “I was told by one person the funds could be used to reimburse some of the prior costs associated with the design of the project, which would be great because we could put that money towards construction projects we have going now.

“But the lady who oversees the grant told me it’s specifically for design costs and we can reapply for the PARC grant again this year. The problem with that is we’re not going to design projects we don’t have funding for,” he added.

Litz also said the department has no plans to reapply for the PARC grant.

“We’re not going to reapply because the way the grant works is they will give up to 64 percent toward the project if you can match with the remaining 36 percent,” he said. “We can’t reapply because we need to start using that 36 percent that we were holding onto in the event we got the grant.”

Litz is awaiting the arrival of an informational packet concerning the grant and said he also plans to attend a training session on Jan. 25 to learn more about the funding.

“If [the grant] comes with strings attached that say it has to be used for design costs, then I don’t know what we can do with it,” he said. “If it can be used to reimburse what we’ve already spent on design, then that’s great because it can help us get moving on some things.”

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