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Playgrounds highlight seven latest Northampton CPA grants

Text NORTHAMPTON — Projects to spruce up the Bridge Street School playground and build two new playgrounds in the city headline the latest round of Community Preservation Act grants expected to be awarded this spring by the City Council.

The playgrounds are among seven projects totaling $806,500 that the Community Preservation Committee agreed to support last week as it wrapped up work on the first round of funding this year.

Among the most prominent projects is the Bridge Street School’s plan to renovate its playground, which currently is a small, hard-packed area of dirt. The school will use its $165,000 grant to pay for most of the $200,000 effort to install new playground surfaces and a small number of design and play elements. The project is expected to be completed for the start of the next school year in September.

The playground area will be transformed into three play zones of 10,900 square feet of space — a rubber surface for open play, a “natural” area with a wood-chip bed, and an asphalt section for basketball and wall ball, according to the school’s application. The areas will be separated by a walkway and bicycle path that can be used for school bicycle safety events and the school’s Walking Club.

Meanwhile, the Community Preservation Committee is supporting a $50,000 request by the Recreation Commission that would be used as a match for a $200,000 state grant to build community playgrounds at Lampron Park next to Bridge Street School and at the new Florence Fields on Meadow Street. The state grant has been awarded through the state’s Our Common Backyards program.

The Lampron Park playground would include play structures for young children, swing sets, landscaping and fencing. Florence Recreation Fields, being developed at the corner of Meadow and Spring streets, would likely include two play structures for younger and older children.

The playgrounds would likely be installed and ready for use by the end of this year.

Other projects to receive the backing of the Community Preservation Committee are:

∎ A $200,000 request from the Conservation Commission and the Office of Planning and Sustainability to fund the purchase of a 48-acre parcel between routes 66 and 10. Known as the Rocky Hill acquisition, the land would serve as a wildlife connector between open areas at the Arcadia Sanctuary, the Oxbow and the former state hospital grounds. The purchase is also made possible by $325,000 from the state’s Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity grant program.

∎ A $195,000 request from the Northampton Housing Partnership to launch the Community Housing Supportive Services Project. The partnership would select a community agency to run the three-year program designed to help low- and moderate-income residents succeed within the city’s community housing. The money would also be used to hire a resources manager to oversee the program.

∎ A $130,000 request from the Grantham Group and Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz to help provide 43 units of affordable, assisted-living in a new 83-unit, assisted-living project at Village Hill Northampton called Christopher Heights. The deal calls for affordability restrictions to be held by the city and the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

∎ A $40,000 request by the Conservation Commission to conduct a land survey in the Saw Mill Hill Conservation Areas. The project will survey and monitor existing property boundaries and allow the commission to prepare future acquisitions of surrounding property.

∎ A $26,500 request from the Three-County Fairgrounds to preserve, modernize and attain historic listing of the grandstand at the fairgrounds. The money would be used only on development of plans for historic preservation of the structure.

The City Council is expected to consider these requests at its meeting Thursday.

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