Springfield, Agawam, Easthampton among WMass communities sharing $2.5 million in

A splash pad, a new dam and nature trails — these are some of the projects officials say will be funded through the $12 million in grants going to communities across the commonwealth for open space acquisitions and park improvements.

In all, 43 communities will be receiving grants, according to Gov. Charlie Baker.

“Investing in these important open space projects will make Massachusetts parks more resilient to climate change, increase the availability of open space and improve access to the outdoors for people in communities across the state,” Baker said.

Of the grants, about $2.57 million went to projects in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. Among the projects receiving grants are the former Tuckahoe Turf Farm in Agawam, Donna Blake Park in Springfield, Saw Mill Hills Core Conservation Project in Northampton, Easthampton’s Nonotuck Park pool and the Kestrel Land Trust out of Amherst.

The capital budget helped fund the grants, which were administered through a trio of programs, including the Conservation Partnership Grant, the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities and the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity programs.

Agawam received $400,000 of the Park and Open Space grant to begin more work on the $6 million, 300-acre Tuckahoe Turf Farm project. The city hopes to use the property for passive and active recreation with fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and cross country skiing, in addition to athletic fields.

“We will begin to start cutting in the roads, replace the dam and establish that body of water and later on down the line we can start adding walking trails and things of that nature,” Mayor William P. Sapelli said.

Sapelli said the grant funds will help mitigate the cost that has to come from the municipal general fund to help launch the project.

“The Baker-Polito administration is outstanding when it comes to things like this,” he said. “This administration sees the value in obtaining and maintaining open space. Not only do they walk the walk, but they also talk the talk and give us the money to do something that can be very beneficial.”

Tuckahoe turf aerial

This pond sits in the former Tuckahoe Turf Farm property in Agawam that the town has been awarded a $400,000 state grant for improvements to make it a park. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Agawam)

In Springfield, Donna Blake Park is receiving $400,000 for installation of an accessible splash pad, playground and picnic amenities, open space improvements, tree plantings and landscaping.

The overall cost of the project is approximately $650,000, with $250,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds covering the balance.

This will mark the 20th park in the city to have a splash pad, according to Patrick Sullivan, executive director of parks, buildings and recreation management for the city. Sullivan said the two-and-a-half acre Blake park has been planned for improvements, and, with the grant award, plans for design and construction can begin. The goal is to have the upgrades completed by the summer of 2024.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said he is excited for park renovation work being funded by the state.

“The (state grant programs), which we have utilized to enhance and renovate numerous parks throughout our city, are so very important and vital for our municipal park services,” Sarno said.

Easthampton’s Nonotuck Park pool also received a $400,000 grant for improvements, including installation of a previous pool deck surface, umbrellas, fencing, parking that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an inclusive playground, an accessible path for the playground to the restrooms, bicycle racks, newly planted trees and a rain garden with interpretive panels.

“We are so pleased to be awarded the … grant for the Nonotuck Pool upgrade. This funding will be combined with (Community Preservation Act) and city funds to potentially leverage other grant funds,” parks and recreation director John Mason said in a statement. “Nonotuck Pool is the centerpiece of the jewel that is Nonotuck Park.”

He added, “We are looking forward to this process that will bring a pool that meets the needs and serves so many residents, park guests, and the kids that attend Camp Nonotuck.”

The Saw Mill Hills Core Conservation Project in Northampton will be receiving $400,000 to be used to help acquire 229 acres of land that the governor’s announcement described as “critical.” The land is an inholding to the conservation project.

Carolyn Misch, director for the Office of Planning and Sustainability, said the city is also seeking $300,000 in Community Preservation Act funding to ensure the completion of the project by next spring or summer.

“We have acquired smaller or larger portions of the conservation area over different…

Read More: Springfield, Agawam, Easthampton among WMass communities sharing $2.5 million in

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