Grant to fund accessibility improvements at Riverside Park in Sunderland

  • Riverside Park, which opened in July 2019, includes a walking path and an overlook deck along the river on School Street in Sunderland. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Riverside Park, which opened in July 2019, includes a walking path and an overlook deck along the river on School Street in Sunderland. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2020 2:52:09 PM

SUNDERLAND — A number of accessibility improvements are now possible at the 8-acre Riverside Park behind the Town Offices, thanks to a state grant recently awarded to the town.

“One of the features is an ADA-accessible path down the boat ramp connecting to the river walk,” said Town Administrator Geoff Kravitz. “Another component is making the restrooms ADA-accessible.”

The $185,840 grant will also pay for the purchase of a well and pump to make water accessible for recreation programs, as well as the purchase of trees and shrubs.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said.

Sunderland was one of 20 municipalities to receive a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant in the latest round of funding, totaling roughly $5.3 million, from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

“Massachusetts’ open spaces are a significant asset to our state, providing recreational opportunities to residents across the commonwealth while also helping to build resiliency to the impacts of climate change,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a press release about the grants from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “Our administration is proud to fund these important efforts that will create new parks, support the agricultural community and conserve critical natural resources.”

Kravitz explained that the grant runs through June 30, 2022. He said the first six months or so will involve design and engineering planning, with actual construction beginning at the earliest in late summer of next year.

Preliminary design work was funded through Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds that were appropriated at the last Annual Town Meeting, Kravitz said.

“Now it has to be translated into engineering documents to then go out to bid,” he said.

Although there aren’t imminent plans, the town also hopes to irrigate the playing fields with sprinklers.

Kravitz said the town is excited about the future work to the park, which officially opened in July 2019 along the Connecticut River.

“Obviously we’re really excited that the river walk is accessible, but this is going to make it more accessible, more pedestrian-friendly,” he said. “Thank you to the Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary (Kathleen Theoharides), and Rep. (Natalie) Blais and Sen. (Jo) Comerford who wrote letters in support, too.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne




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