LEOMINSTER — With help from the Baker-Polito administration, Mayor Dean Mazzarella has his sights set on the latest improvement project to the Monument Park and downtown areas.
The city was recently awarded a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant, part of more than $12 million distributed to over 40 communities across Massachusetts as part of the state’s Climate Week celebration. The project, funded by the PARC grant and a $188,000 local match from the city, is set to improve ADA access to the area and “create a more usable and organized space.”
Established back in 1977, the PARC grant program is meant to assist cities and towns in “acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes,” according to the state; $400,000 represents the maximum amount that can be awarded via the program.
Mazzarella said he and the city were “thrilled” to receive such a substantial award.
“We were thrilled (to receive the grant),” Mazzarella said. “We’re very thankful and I think the amount of work and time we’ve invested in our downtown area was obvious to (the Baker-Polito administration).”
“I think (the Baker-Polito administration) has recognized that, when given these opportunities in the past, we’ve remained committed to the city and the people of Leominster. Time and time again we’ve done what we could to bring in new business and create a sort of vitality in the area and I’m proud to be recognized for that,” he said.
While greater accessibility is set to be the focus of the combined $588,000 in funds, safety and other general improvements to the area will also be addressed, including lighting, seating, drainage issues and more. Project designs are expected to be completed next May, while construction is set to start in June 2023, according to the mayor’s office.
Mazzarella stressed that this was just the “latest step” to improve the area and that the city has been committed to self-improvement for the last three decades. He also touched on how important it was to maintain the area’s “historic feel.”
“Over the last 20 or 30 years, we’ve made plenty of improvements in the area — so this is sort of just the latest step or investment for downtown,” Mazzarella said. “There’s no shortage of people, but these improvements keep them coming back to the area.”
“This grant, it’s going to allow us to sort of build on work that we’ve already done, to do a bit more restoration work and make downtown a more appealing, safer, accessible place for everyone while maintaining that sort of historic feel that many have come to appreciate.”
Mazzarella also said the is far from Leominster’s last improvement project. Looking forward, he stressed that the city would “continue to apply for grants” and do everything it could to improve “not just the downtown area, but the city as a whole.”
Later, he reaffirmed the importance of the grant to the city and emphasized the “partnership” it represents between city and state.
“This money is extremely helpful, I can’t understate that,” Mazzarella said. “This is a partnership and support from the state via grants like this, the (Baker-Polito) administration’s belief in us and the city, it goes a long way.”