"The grant is allowing us to replace playground structure in two parks," said Parks of Open Space Manager James McGrath. "Both of these parks have very aged playground structures... They are beyond their useful life."
The work was expected to be completed during a week in the fall but two City Councilors — Councilor At Large Kathleen Amuso and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi — advocated for the work to begin in July. McGrath said he will try to move the construction date up.
"The kids and the families in the neighborhoods would have all summer to use it," Morandi said.
The parks will feature "age appropriate" equipment, McGrath said. The installation is expected to only last a week or so.
The state has recently invested heavily in parks, creating more than 170 new or renovated parks across the state. The city has been the recipient of some $4.6 million to renovate the First Street Common.
These funds are part of the Gov. Deval Patrick's recently launched program "Our Common Backyards" in which the state aims to build 54 new parks in urban areas across the state. The program is eyed to boost park accessibility in "environmental justice" areas. That designation is given to communities with low-income, high minority populations that lack environmental assets.
Dorothy Amos and Ray Crow both fall into that category and in areas qualified for the federal Community Development Block Grants. Ward 4 Councilor Anthony Simonelli advocated for repairs to Highland Park as well, but that falls outside of the area for this particular grant program.
"We've been discussing within the department on how best to address the Highland Park needs," McGrath responded. "We understand there is a need."
Ward 6 Councilor John Krol asked if there would be any funds to repair the basketball court at Pitt Park, to which McGrath said maybe. There is expected to be some CDBG funds remaining after the construction so there is a possibility that those funds could be reallocated there.
McGrath added that the department is planning to do a full inventory of the condition of basketball courts throughout the city.
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