By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Town Administrator John Coderre recently announced that Northborough will receive $215,000 in grant funding through the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grant Program. The grant will help defray the costs of the Town Common project which will be constructed at the town-owned properties of 39 West Main Street and the War Memorial site plus an abutting parcel at 45 West Main St.
According to a press release sent by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), “the project will develop a town common on newly acquired land that will include landscaping, a perimeter trail, lighting, and site amenities.” All applicants must have an up-to-date Open Space and Recreation Plan to be eligible for funding.
Coderre said, “The town has been waiting to receive official word regarding this potential grant before proceeding to demolish the building at 39 West Main St. so as not to jeopardize possible reimbursement. Given this very positive news, the town will be proceeding with the requisite demolition bid during the coming weeks.”
Funding was granted earlier this fall when Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced that the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants will provide $2 million for 11 park improvement projects.
“I am proud that with the assistance of the National Park Service, we are able to help fund important projects that will provide Massachusetts residents greater access to the Commonwealth’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation,” Baker said in a release.
“We are pleased to be able to help cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth make improvements to their critical park and open space resources,” Polito added.
US Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA, 2nd District) shared, “I have long been a proud champion of the LWCF and the work it does to help cities and towns leverage federal dollars to spur local investment in these vital conservation projects.”
Coderre sought approval from the Board of Selectmen at the board’s Nov. 14, 2016 meeting for the purchase and sale of the parcel of the needed land at 45 West Main St. He recommended that the board approve the agreement so that the site could be cleared by the end of the year. It was unanimously approved.
Presently, the asbestos abatement of 39 West Main St. is complete and the demolition contract was out for bid. The Department of Public Works has put out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for landscape designers.
DPW Director Scott Charpentier said, “A contractor should be on board next summer with construction to begin in the fall.”
A key component to the process will be seeking public input after the landscape architects present their renderings. Officials will go back to Town Meeting in April to secure construction funding.
“The taking of the building at 39 West Main by tax title really got the ball rolling for the Town Common Project,” according to Assistant Town Administrator Kimberly Foster. She added that a citizen group led by Terry Giannetto and Amy Poretsky were instrumental in forming an ad-hoc committee to look at options for usage of the building.
Giannetto and Poretsky talked with friends and neighbors at first, and then reserved meeting space at the Northborough Free Library to broaden their scope with interested parties. Once the Town Common idea was born, they asked the question, “How do we go through town channels?”
They leveraged social media and created a “road show” that they presented to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) as well as various groups in town. They obtained signatures and community buy-in. After discussions with the CPC they eventually had a “viable project” to present to the Board of Selectmen before making the list of articles regarding the project which were then presented at Town Meeting in April 2016.
Giannetto said she was “thrilled” that this project was moving forward.
“We are very happy it’s been successful and that people are excited. It certainly goes a long way to help beautify downtown and make it more pedestrian friendly,” she added.
For updates on the project, visit the Facebook page, Northborough Town Common.