AMESBURY — Hoping to jump-start the Lower Millyard cleanup effort, city officials have applied for two state grants to fill the funding gap left behind when the city failed to secure the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual grant.
Last Friday, Community and Economic Development Director Joe Fahey submitted an application for the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission’s brownfield cleanup grant. The grant could net the city up to $300,000 to put toward the cleanup effort, and Fahey said the MVPC usually has a pretty quick turnaround, so the city could hear back within four to six weeks.
The city has also put in an application for a brownfield cleanup grant from Mass Development, which could potentially bring in up to $575,000, Fahey said. Mass Development is currently waiting to be re-capitalized by the state, so Fahey doesn’t expect any funds to be awarded to anyone until the state moves to allocate new funds to the program.
These grant applications represent a “Plan B” of sorts for Mayor Thatcher Kezer, who originally hoped to fund the brownfield cleanup portion of the Lower Millyard project entirely through the $400,000 EPA grant. When those funds didn’t materialize, the city began identifying viable alternatives.
“What we’re doing is we’re applying for a number of different grants,” Kezer said. “They’re smaller than the EPA grant, but we’re piecing together the dollars to fill to get the brownfield going.”
The hope is that funds for the cleanup can be secured in a timely manner so the project’s overall construction schedule isn’t delayed. Specifically, the project needs to be completed by June 30, 2014, for the city to be able to take full advantage of the $400,000 Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant, which means time is of the essence.
The cleanup project is only one aspect of a much larger and more complicated effort. Overall, the Lower Millyard revitalization project aims to convert the underutilized industrial section of the downtown area into the new Heritage Park, and the completed project will also allow nearby business owners the ability to build lucrative expansions to their properties.