AMESBURY — Councilors say the clock is ticking for the city to apply for grants related to park improvements and open-space projects, and they're looking for answers on a plan that's been languishing for months.
Councilors filed a late file for their monthly City Council tonight that requests the mayor to update them on the city's open space and recreation plan.
The City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
"We're putting a little heat on to get it done," said Council President Anne Ferguson, who is a co-sponsor to the ordinance. "We had a draft since November, but we want to get it done."
The city has been without an open space and recreation plan for 10 years, and staff has been recently putting the finishing touches on an updated version.
The updated plan needs to be submitted to the state in order to be eligible for grants up to $500,000.
That funding comes from two pots of money in Beacon Hill reserved for park improvements and land preservation: Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program (PARC) and the Gateway Cities Parks Program.
But councilors are still waiting for the report to be finalized, and there is only so much time to apply for grant money. Also, they want to know which project the city wants to focus on.
City Councilor Christian Scorzoni said one application for one of the grants available to the city is due in July.
"We want an update," Scorzoni said. "What does the plan look like, what are the goals the plan is trying to accomplish, and how do we maximize the open space we have for recreational opportunities?"
A few contenders for the city to focus attention on are the proposed Heritage Park in the Lower Millyard, upgrades to Town Park playgrounds, which is being supported by an active volunteer group, extending the rail trail from Stop & Shop to the ghost trail in Salisbury, or even building a championship soccer field over the Titcomb Pit Landfill.
"The question I have is how to prioritize different projects," Scorzoni added.
The question will be important for the city, because the city will have to provide some matching funds for the grant money.
Since 2007, the two programs, which were started when Gov. Deval Patrick took office, have given more than $72.9 million to cities and towns, resulting in the creation or restoration of 154 parks and preserving more than 88,000 acres of land, according to the governor's office.
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