AMESBURY — Mayor Thatcher Kezer will present the City Council with a new spending package at next week’s meeting, highlighted by a request for $725,000 to go toward the Heritage Park portion of the Lower Millyard project, half of what he initially planned to ask for.
Kezer will also seek to use $400,000 in free cash — unspent tax money — to fund various projects around town, including $200,000 for the repair and maintenance of streets and sidewalks, $125,000 for improvements to the Town Park and Collins Street Playground, $30,000 to hire a city “branding” consultant, $25,000 for the restoration of monuments and war memorials and $20,000 to hire a solar park development consultant.
In late January, Kezer said he would need $1.57 million from the council to underwrite the cost of the Lower Millyard, most of which would then be reimbursed through state and federal grants that have already been awarded to Amesbury, he said.
After receiving further clarification from the state, however, it turned out that some of the grants didn’t require the city to put up money first, significantly reducing the financial risk for Amesbury and allowing the request to be scaled back.
Of the $725,000 being sought, $400,000 will be reimbursed through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant that the city was awarded last month. The remainder could still be covered by additional grant money, Kezer said.
So far, Amesbury has received roughly $1 million in grant money to support the Heritage Park project, and Kezer said the city was essentially going to get $1.3 million worth of projects for a $300,000 investment, and possibly more if more state funds come in.
“That’s a good deal,” Kezer said.
Another important factor in the price change was the decision not to move the Carriage Museum, which will significantly affect the final layout of the Lower Millyard and could prevent the city from building some planned retail properties.