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September 16, 2013

Lower Millyard project advances

AMESBURY — Mayor Thatcher Kezer announced this week that a funding gap holding up the Lower Millyard project has been filled sufficiently to move forward with the project, and work will begin later this fall.

Specifically, the brownfield cleanup of the Lower Millyard is expected to begin in November, paving the way for construction to start on Heritage Park at some point early next spring.

Kezer’s announcement comes roughly three weeks after the city was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to help fund the brownfield cleanup of the area. The award also grants Amesbury access to a loan program that it could use to cover any outstanding costs, and it was originally expected that Kezer would seek City Council approval to take out a loan before proceeding with construction.

Instead, Kezer said he believes the city already has enough money to proceed, and in the event the city runs into a shortfall at the end of the project, the loan program would still be an option.

“We’re going to wait until after next year,” Kezer said. “Because, what we’re going to do, is we’re going to utilize the authorization from the existing [$725,000] bond authorization to get the cleanup started, and we’re going to have opportunities to continue pursuing other grants to fill that gap in the meantime.”

The project initially ran into a snag in May when the city wasn’t awarded a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that Kezer planned to use for the brownfield cleanup of the area.

Since then, Kezer has been searching for alternative sources of non-municipal funds to pay for the cleanup. In July, the city received a $200,000 extension to the existing Elm Street MassWorks grant from 2011 to help cover the gap, and then last month the city was awarded the $100,000 grant from the MVPC.

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