Local officials led a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning at South Broadway Park in Malden.
The five-acre park, located at 298 Maplewood St., will receive a $6.5 million facelift and be completed in two years.
"The City and Malden Redevelopment Authority brought the public and private sectors together to craft a creative financing plan to fund this multi-million (dollar) improvement project," reads a city press statement.
The city has floated a bond for the project, while the state has awarded two grants totaling nearly $700,000, according to the statement. Federal Community Development Block Grant funding will also be used on drainage work and improvements to the playground, the statement adds.
"Unlike what’s happening in Washington, this is indicative of what happens at the state level and the city level," said State Rep. Paul Donato, who represents Malden. "…We can work together and make things like this happen."
During his introductory remarks, Mayor Gary Christenson said the park would be "an unbelievable amenity for our city." Park goers will be able to play soccer, baseball, tennis and practice yoga, he added.
Among the renovations planned for the site include installing a 90-foot synthetic turf baseball diamond with a field overlay for soccer and lacrosse, dugouts, bullpens, batting cages, seating, lights for night games, four tennis courts with lights for night play and a tot lot, according to the statement.
Malway Realty Associates Limited Partnership, owner of the Broadway Plaza that abuts the park, has donated land to the project valued at more than $500,000, according to the statement.
"In order to make this project as comprehensive to the neighborhood as it is, we’re part of the neighborhood and so some of the things we have are access and parking," said Tom DeSimone, partner, executive vice president of W.S. Development, property manager for the owners (Malway) of the plaza. "This area has been somewhat underutilized. There is a road that passes through here and frankly it’s ill configured and needed to be improved and better lighted. The city offered us the opportunity to improve this area and all they wanted in exchange was the ability to use our parking and we were fine with that.
"…This is going to be a tremendous amenity for all of us…and it’s going to be the centerpiece for the neighborhood."
Malway is granting the city three permanent easements that combined are about 1½ acres, and they will be for expansion, construction and use of the park, reconstruction and use of parking lot for the park and construction of portions of Maplewood Street roundabout—all on the company’s property, according to the statement. Malden Catholic is also granting three permanent easements.
The project calls for a variety of changes to the site, including installing a roundabout near the entrance of the plaza, reconfiguring the parking areas, fencing, pedestrian walkways, signs and a landscaped/concourse area, according to the statement.
Phase One of the project cost an estimated $300,000 and was completed earlier in the year, as the city improved drainage at the park and in the Hanover, Maplewood and Kennard Streets area, according to the statement.
Neil Kinnon, city councillor for Ward Six where the park is located, discussed how far the project has come during his tenure as councillor.
"It has been a long time coming," he said. "…I was elected 6
½ years ago and one of my initial flyers it said that I would work to get this
park, this area cleaned up. Within a very short period of time, I was in
(former) Mayor Richard Howard’s office pounding on the desk, saying we’ve got to
do something about this. He said…we have plans with the MRA and we’re going to
figure this out.
"…Through thick and thin, (Howard) kept driving on this project and it wouldn’t have happened without his backing."
Kinnon thanked several individuals for their work related to the project, including State Sen. Katherine Clark, who played a role in getting some required state legislation passed to allow the project to proceed. He also thanked the MRA for their dedication to the project despite many "roadblocks" along the way.
The MRA will be administering the project, while Rockland-based contractor R.A.D. Sports will head up Phase Two. The tennis courts and athletic field are expected to be completed in early 2015, when play will resume at the site, and the off-site parking and road improvements are slated for completion in the fall 2015, according to the statement.