Natick is among dozens of municipalities to have been awarded a chunk of the $31.5M doled out by the state recently in climate resiliency funding.
With its two-year $290,000 MVP Action Grant, Natick plans to get going on designs for the public riverfront parcels near the existing dam, including the basketball court on Pleasant Street that has fallen into disrepair.
The award may provide some consolation to those concerned that after the town removes the spillway (aka, waterfall) at the South Natick Dam along the Charles River, if that plan goes ahead, it might not have enough money left to gussy up the park.
While we prefer the park to keep some of its shabby chicness, it’s clear that the area needs accessibility and safety improvements, and has the potential to provide easier water entry for those engaging in recreational activities like kayaking and canoeing. There’s also a fair chance the park will need to accommodate more users if the 32-unit housing development plan nearby on quiet Auburn Street goes forward and balloons population of the neighborhood by some 80 to 100 people.
During the Charles River Dam Advisory Committee process last year, an architectural firm shared conceptual designs of what the park could look like if the spillway were removed or not (it was emphasized at the time that these were definitely not definite). Decommissioning of the dam and removal of the spillway is still expected to be at least a few years away.
Natick has been on a roll securing grants, which are plentiful in the environmental and sustainability space. The big one was a $2M U.S. Department of Energy Renew America’s Schools award that will provide for a newly electrified cooling system at Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School.
During the Aug. 30 Select Board meeting there was talk of getting Natick’s Office of Sustainability more resources to ensure it can take advantage of as many grant opportunities as are available.
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