In Gloucester, the Essex County Greenbelt Association won $50,000 for improvements to the 10.3-acre Norcross Gateway, which abuts the 300-acre Tompson Street Reservation.
The largest recipient of the state money was Lowell, which received $1.35 million for improvements to the Concord River Gateway.
“The Patrick Administration is committed to investing in our parks and open spaces across the Commonwealth,” Secretary 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.”
State Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, attended the grant ceremony in the mayor’s office with representative from other communities receiving money. O’Connor Ives, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, said the parks grants will not only improve quality of life for residents, but also spur economic activity.
In doling out the money, Sullivan also announced a new state grant program called “Our Common Backyards.” He said the new program is aimed at building playgrounds and spray parks in eligible cities across the state, including Amesbury, Beverly, Gloucester, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Newburyport, Peabody, Revere, Salem and Winthrop. Each community will be eligible to receive up $200,000 for qualifying projects, Sullivan said.
The Gateway City Parks program began in 2009 and is designed to provide municipal officials with a menu of funding options for all phases of park development. Twenty-six Massachusetts cities are eligible for the program, which targets communities with populations greater than 35,000 and median household incomes, per capita incomes and educational attainment levels below the state average.
The PARC Program (formerly the Urban Self-Help Program) was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Any community with an up-to-date Open Space and Recreation Plan is eligible to apply for the program, state officials said.