AMESBURY – The Lower Millyard redevelopment project got a big boost this week after the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission announced it has awarded Amesbury a $100,000 grant to help fund the industrial cleanup of the area.
In addition, the city will also be eligible to receive a loan from the MVPC to cover any outstanding costs remaining afterwards, which could potentially clear the way for the project to move forward on schedule should city officials choose to go that route.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer announced the grant yesterday, saying he is excited that Amesbury was able to secure the funds and his hope is that both the grant and loan issues will be picked up by the City Council as soon as possible.
“There is a timing issue with the loan program where we can access it, so I’ll be in conversations with the council president to see how we can go forward with the acceptance of the grant expediently,” Kezer said.
Securing funds for the Lower Millyard brownfield cleanup has been a top priority for city officials since the original plan to use a $400,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant for the project fell through. That gap in funding represents the last remaining hurdle between the city and the construction of Heritage Park, and for the project to move ahead on schedule, it must be closed by the end of the year.
Due to the timing constraints, a special meeting of the City Council is expected to be scheduled in the near future to take care of the bill’s first reading, allowing the issue to come before the council for a vote at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 10.
While accepting the $100,000 grant seems to be an obvious move, it’s unclear whether the City Council will ultimately vote to authorize the loan. Complicating matters is the fact that the city still doesn’t have a precise estimate of how much the brownfield cleanup of the Lower Millyard will actually cost, and, thus, how big a loan would be necessary.