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October 9, 2013

Council accepts $100K grant for brownfield cleanup

Defers action on Regional Veterans' Services district

AMESBURY — The City Council has voted to accept a $100,000 grant awarded to Amesbury by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to help fund the city’s brownfield cleanup of the Lower Millyard, which is scheduled to begin later this fall.

The council approved the grant unanimously last night toward the end of its meeting, also moving to table a pair of bills pertaining to a proposed Regional Veterans’ Services district while passing a resolution to create a state-authorized cultural district for the Upper and Lower Millyards.

The MVPC grant was approved following some brief remarks by Community and Economic Development director Joe Fahey, who provided the council with an update on where exactly the Lower Millyard project stands logistically at this point in time.

“It’s a quick timeframe, and it’s one we should be able to meet,” Fahey said. “As far as costs, we will absolutely have definitive costs when we get the bids back in mid-November.”

Fahey explained that the two local permits necessary to move forward have been received, and the Chapter 91 waterways permit has been incorporated into the Riverwalk project.

He added that the bids for the brownfield cleanup will be due in November, and it is expected that a construction period for the cleanup will be established from December through March, and then construction of Heritage Park will occur between April and June.

Two residents spoke up on the issue as well. Rick Bartley, who owns property in the Lower Millyard, urged the council to accept the grant so that the project can continue to move forward, while Jane Snow of 44 Fern Ave. cautioned the council about getting in too deep into the project and finding out later that the project will cost more than expected.

As part of the grant, Amesbury is also eligible to receive a loan through the MVPC, which it could conceivably do if the Lower Millyard project winds up costing more than expected. Councilors made a point to emphasize that accepting the grant wouldn’t force the city into a loan, and rejecting the grant would be tantamount to throwing away free money.

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