AMESBURY — Amesbury’s efforts to revitalize the Lower Millyard got a boost yesterday after the state announced it was awarding the city with a $400,000 grant to fund the creation of the new Heritage Park adjacent to the Powow River.
Rick Sullivan, state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, announced that Amesbury had been awarded the grant through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) program and presented Mayor Thatcher Kezer with an oversized check commemorating the occasion.
“This grant will greatly enhance this green space and provide additional recreational opportunities for Amesbury residents,” Sullivan said. “Projects like these get people outside, contributing to the health and economic well-being of communities throughout the Commonwealth.”
The new park is intended to be the centerpiece of the larger Lower Millyard redevelopment plan, which will also include an expansion of the Water Street parking deck, the relocation of the Department of Public Works and the realignment of Water Street.
Once completed, the new park will include a public boat launch that residents can use to take canoes and kayaks out on the Powow River, along with sitting areas, an assembly plaza, access to the Riverwalk and a bike path that will run as far south as the Newburyport commuter rail station.
Sullivan said the $400,000 grant was the largest amount available this funding cycle, and that Amesbury was one of only about a dozen communities to receive that level of funding despite considerable competition.
“There are 351 cities and towns,” Sullivan said. “You can imagine that there are at least 351 great projects that come in every single year to be funded.”
Sullivan said one of the reasons why the Heritage Park project was funded stemmed from Gov. Deval Patrick’s desire to make investments that go twice as far and accomplish multiple things.
“There is a real vision here, of connecting the different parts of Amesbury through this process and provide economic development opportunity,” Sullivan said. “It’s a great project for multiple reasons.”