The City Council is expected to approve the MVPC grant at next month’s meeting, and Kezer said he would only seek a loan authorization from the council if absolutely necessary.
“If we need to do a loan portion through the MVPC,” Kezer said, “what we’ll do is tie the economic development pad as the underwriting to the loan so that the repayment of the loan, if we have to use it, would come from the proceeds of the selling of that property. That way it wouldn’t incur any debt on the city.”
Keeping the project on schedule has been a top priority for city officials from the beginning, because 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 awarded to Amesbury this past spring. That money is expected to reimburse a large portion of the $725,000 bond authorization that the City Council approved in April.
City Councilor Jim Kelcourse agrees with the mayor’s approach, saying the city’s priority at this point should be getting the project done in a timely manner so that new businesses can come in and help drive down Amesbury’s tax rate.
“I think it’s definitely the right way to go,” Kelcourse said. “I think the money that’s been appropriated for the project is sufficient, and if we need any additional money we can approach that down the road.”
The construction of the park is expected to coincide with the demolition of the old DPW garage and the start of work on the final piece of the Riverwalk. Kezer said the city is also submitting an application for another MassWorks grant to fund the realignment of Water Street, which he hopes can be done in conjunction with the park’s construction as well.