Wednesday, July 16, 2014

River-beautification, Health Money Preserved In Patrick Budget

Funding Dries Up For Lowell Splash Pad In Patrick Budget
River-beautification, Health Money Preserved

By Rick Sobey

LOWELL — A future splash pad for youngsters in the city is in jeopardy after the governor vetoed its funding last week.

However, state Sen. Eileen Donoghue said she’s hopeful that the Legislature will over­ride the veto, adding back the $400,000 to “bring more outdoor recreation to the city.”

“This is what children want and need, so we will work on overriding the veto,” said Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat. “Pools have been closing, but a water playground is a much more efficient and sensible way to plan recreation space in the city.

“We’ve seen how successful the splash pad at Shedd Park has been, but that’s not sufficient for all the children across the city,” she added.

Last week, Gov. Deval Patrick vetoed $16.1 million in spending and then signed into law a $36.5 billion fiscal 2015 budget that increases spending by 5.5 percent.

According to Donoghue, there may have been a misunderstanding in the governor’s office about the water playground funding. The Department of Conservation of Reserva­tion is already working with the city on a water playground by the O’Donnell Pool in South Lowell, but this earmark has nothing to do with that project, she said.

“I think the governor’s office was confused about funding part of the city’s portion of the O’Donnell project and part for the new one,” Donoghue said. “I wasn’t trying to change the terms for the city putting up money. Either way, we’ll work on overriding the veto.”

The governor’s office could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. The location of the splash pad is still to be determined, according to Donoghue.

State Rep. Tom Golden said his initiatives made it through the governor’s desk. The area across from Top Donut on the VFW Highway in Centralville will benefit from $200,000 in the state budget, he said. The funding will go to the city to help beautify the area by the Merrimack River to make the river “as open and inviting as possible for walking and biking,” said Golden, a Lowell Democrat.

The Greater Lowell Health Alliance will receive $50,000 to “fight the epidemic of overdoses,” according to Golden. He’s been working on addressing mental-health and substance-abuse issues, stressing the need to “take the fight to the communities.”

“It’s great news for Greater Lowell as a whole,” Golden said. “The governor recognizes there’s a need in the area for those items, and I’m thrilled they stayed in. I know all these programs are vital to continue moving Greater Lowell forward.”

In addition, state Rep. David Nangle’s effort to revitalize Tanner Street remained in the budget. The $250,000 will specifically go to realigning Tanner Street, an area that is currently a “zigzag,” according to Nangle, a Lowell Democrat.

The southern end of Tanner Street will be realigned so the intersection with Plain Street is moved away from the Lowell Connector on- and off-ramps, and into the new signal for the Meadow Brook Shopping Plaza, where Target is the anchor store.

© 2014 lowell sun 07/16/2014

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