NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 21, 2013

COW's funding proposals leaves me in doubt

To the editor:

I’ve just returned from the Newburyport Library Archive Room where I reviewed “Funding the Waterfront Park Without Private Development: An Alternative Financial Model” by the Committee for an Open Waterfront, Inc.

First, let me say that the information and the format in which it is presented is quite professional. It is clear that effort has been expended in gathering the information and compiling it. I was a bit excited — had COW discovered sufficient funding for the project?

Alas, it quickly became apparent that the effort in gathering and compiling the information did not carry over to a review of many of the grants identified. I viewed page after page with statements like “unsolicited requests for funds not accepted”; “preference for Lowell/Lawrence”; “the foundation is devoted solely to the public’s health”; and “special emphasis is directed toward programs targeting low- and moderate-income individuals and communities.”

Why were these, and the many other grant-makers that would never fund the project, being identified by COW as potential funding sources? Surely the government grants would be better. Are the parking lots “contaminated brownfields”? Will the project “improve urban waters by improving water quality”? One of the identified grant programs stopped in 2011. After 15 minutes of Google searches I learned that nearly $1,000,000 of the $4,352,000 in government grants referenced are not available or applicable.

Yes, there are grants identified that are available and applicable. And there are funding methods (for example, a capital campaign) that could raise money. But it would require a tremendous effort to fully research, apply for and administer any grants that I’m not convinced a volunteer group could reliably coordinate. Two examples resulting in my lack of confidence: the apparent lack of review of the grant opportunities discussed above; and, the inability of COW to repair its website for months.

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