Mystic-Minuteman Bikeway study. / Town of Arlington photoUPDATED Jan. 12: Arlington is to receive $1 million, largely to design the town's part of the Mystic River Path project.

The funding is expected to be used to ensure the path's connection to the Minuteman Bikeway, 1.7 miles of shared use along the Mystic River and Lower Mystic Lake in town.

Linking the northern end of the Alewife Brook Greenway to the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington Center, the extended connection aims to improve safety and access for people walking and biking by adding a 12-foot-wide path along the waterways and redesigning the rotaries at major intersections.

 “This is a key link in a larger network that will allow pedestrians and cyclists to safety travel from Woburn and Bedford all the way into Boston without having to interact with cars.” -- Sandy Pooler, town manager

“This grant will help us link the Minuteman Bikeway to the Mystic River Greenway by completing the design for a 1.7 mile shared-use path connecting the two,” Town Manager Sandy Pooler said in a Jan. 5 news release. “This is a key link in a larger network that will allow pedestrians and cyclists to safety travel from Woburn and Bedford all the way into Boston without having to interact with cars.”

Phil Goff, founder and cochair of Everywhere Arlington Livable Streets, said in the release: "We are delighted to see funding to connect these two major bikeways. This will allow more people to commute to work safely, and improve access from Medford Square and the parks along the Mystic River to the Minuteman Bikeway and Arlington Center.”

Asked by YourArlington about the next steps, Karl Alexander, Greenways program manager for the watershed association, responded Jan. 6:

"With a MassTrails grant and in partnership with the town of Arlington and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Mystic River Watershed Association completed the Mystic River Path to Minuteman Bikeway feasibility study in June 2022.

"The study divides the project into three different segments, and so our next step is to regroup with these partners in order to collectively determine which of the segments will be most suitable to design with the awarded funds. We look forward to engaging the Arlington community and regional users of the growing Mystic Greenways network as the project advances."

Word about the project was included in a Dec. 23 Boston Globe news report titled “Track the earmarks: See where federal dollars are coming to Massachusetts." 

Mass. to get $250m

The Globe reported that Massachusetts will get nearly $250 million from the federal government in 2023 for dozens of community projects thanks to a last-minute government funding bill.

The state’s lawmakers got 172 projects into the package as revamped earmarks, with money to flow to nearly every corner of Massachusetts. It’s the second year that lawmakers were able to bring back dedicated funding streams for their districts.

The Globe reported that earmarks were resurrected in 2021 after Congress banned them for a decade over corruption and budget bloat concerns raised by lawmakers aligned with the anti-big government Tea Party. The projects, now branded as community funding, are subject to stricter transparency requirements that mandate each lawmaker attest that they have no financial stake in what’s being funded and that no recipients are for-profit entities.

When President Biden signed the fiscal 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law Dec. 29, the $1.7 trillion spending bill included nine grants for cities and towns that are part of the Resilient Mystic Collaborative totaling almost $13 million. These earmarks bring the total grant funding for collaborative community projects to $30.4 million since its founding in 2018.

For each of the last two federal budgets, U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley and Seth Moulton secured multiple community project funding for projects with demonstrated local support that fit within specific existing federal grant programs. These grants included four for collaborative communities in fiscal 2022 and nine in fiscal '23.

“These investments will make our cities and towns safer, more equitable and more beautiful.”

-- Patrick Herron. Mystic River Watershed Association

“We couldn’t be more grateful” to the three representatives and their staff for securing such funding, said Patrick Herron, executive director of the Arlington-based Mystic River Watershed Association, which staffs the collaborative. “These investments will make our cities and towns safer, more equitable and more beautiful.”

“Since its beginnings, the [collaborative] has been focused on projects that make a difference for the people most affected by climate change," said John Walkey, director of waterfront and climate-justice initiatives at GreenRoots, a Chelsea nonprofit. “It’s why GreenRoots is so excited to support and partner with the [collaborative] and its members to help secure almost $14 million in federal grants to fund these projects.”

Each of the municipalities that championed these climate-resilient projects is a founding member of the collaborative, a watershed-wide voluntary partnership. Convened by the watershed association in September 2018 and led by senior staff from 20 cities and towns and nongovernmental partners, the collaborative focuses on managing flooding and extreme heat on a regional scale and increasing the resilience of our most vulnerable residents and workers to extreme weather. These projects are the result of years of analysis and design by both individual communities and multiple municipalities working collectively.

See the list of fiscal '23 community grants secured by collaborative communities here:

Community

Project Title

Climate Risk

Funding

Congresswoman Clark

Arlington

Mystic River Path Project

Heat

$1,000,000 

Malden

Malden River Works Project

Heat/flooding

$1,334,610 

Medford

Carr Park Resilient Community Solar Project

Energy resilience/heat

$1,500,000 

Revere

Riverside Climate Resiliency Project

Flooding

$1,977,220 

Woburn

Hurld Park Construction Project

Flooding/heat

$2,916,370 

Congresswoman Pressley

Cambridge

Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for Cambridge Residents

Carbon neutrality

$1,000,000 

Everett

Gateway Park Urban Forest/Wetland Restoration

Flooding/heat

$750,000 

MyRWA

Cooling Urban Heat Islands through Enhancing Urban Forests 

Heat

$400,000 

Congressman Moulton

Reading

Maillet, Sommes, Morgan Stormwater System

Flooding/heat

$2,000,000 


Malden: Malden River Works Project ($1,334,610)

This funding will be used to transform Malden’s Department of Public Works yard on the Malden River to incorporate a public, climate-resilient riverfront park. It will reduce the City’s climate vulnerability by building green storm-water infrastructure to reduce surface flood risk, increasing the tree canopy by planting over 200 new trees to mitigate urban heat island effects, restoring the natural riverfront landscape, and building an elevated greenway path to serve as a flood barrier in the event of sea-level rise. 

"The Malden River Works Steering Committee is inclusive of the diverse Malden population and under-represented communities of color." said Marcia Manong, Steering Committee chairperson.  "Our project will help reduce the City’s climate vulnerability by building green storm-water infrastructure to reduce surface flood risk, increasing the tree canopy by planting over 200 new trees and bushes to mitigate urban heat island effects, restoring the natural riverfront landscape, and building an elevated greenway path to serve as a flood barrier in the event of sea-level rise. We wish to thank all for the effort put forward to ensure that this community-driven project was included in the Community Project earmarks."

“Addressing the legacy of environmental racism is an important part of our response to climate change,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, “and that is what we are doing with the Malden River Works project. It represents a new planning approach for Malden that focuses on elevating the voices of marginalized community members to build a climate-resilient park on the Malden River. The funding secured by our federal delegation will play an important role in the eventual success of Malden River Works.”

Medford: Carr Park Resilient Community Solar Project ($1,5000,000)

The funding will be used for the implementation of an innovative resilient community solar park at Medford’s Carr Park, including a solar PV array over the basketball court and potentially the seating pavilion which will power the EV charging stations, new LED lighting and phone and laptop charging stations in the pavilion and the water features in the playground. Any additional renewable electricity will power a nearby fire station.

“The Carr Park project is an example of creative community resilience at its best,” said Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn.   “Our community asked for a covered basketball court so they could play year-round.  By making this an elevated solar project, we are meeting their needs while greening our municipal electricity.”

“With limited funds and seemingly unlimited needs, we need to make every dollar count twice,” said resident Georgiana Chevry.  “These solar panels will benefit residents in many ways, by making the grid more resilient, and by providing physical shade so people can continue to exercise outdoors during increasingly hot summers, in the rain and even the snow. Increased exercise will help improve the mental health of our community as well.”

Revere: Riverside Climate Resiliency Project ($1,977,220)

The funding will alleviate current conditions and prepare the community for the impact of worsening risks of climate change and sea-level rise. It expands mitigation and adaptation efforts in the RiverFront Area in Revere.

“As a community located outside the shelter of Boston Harbor, we get the brunt of increasingly intense winter storms, said Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo.  “This funding will help us manage coastal flooding in our RiverFront neighborhood.”

“The frequent flooding of the Riverside neighborhood due to sea level rise has reached a critical juncture,” said resident Loretta LaCentra. “Our worst-case scenario has become a common event as we dread reports of upcoming flooding and King Tides.  We need immediate attention and remediation to address the multiple flooding events we experience annually. We cannot wait any longer.”

Woburn: Hurld Park Construction Project ($2,916,370)

This project will redevelop an 11.5 acre former school site, including eight acres of natural stream and wetlands and 3.5 acres of upland area including a former school building, parking area, and grassed areas. The project will reestablish the Cummings Brook floodplain; restore existing brook and wetlands, including invasive plant removal; construct a new wetland for water quality; install accessible boardwalks and walking trails; remove the former school building and parking area; and install an active play area, a community garden and landscaping.

“We are frankly overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from both the federal and state government to make the Hurld Park project a reality.” said Mayor Scott Galvin and Alderman Jeff Dillon.  “This funding will make a meaningful difference in managing both local and downstream flooding during extreme rainstorms.”

"I love this project," said neighbor Jimmy Olson. "This is like being told to eat your spinach and it turns out to be delicious.  We had to do something about this chronic flooding, but we're also getting a great park out of it."

Congresswoman Pressley secured climate resilient funding in Cambridge, Everett and for the Mystic River Watershed Association.

Cambridge: Neighborhood EV Charging Infrastructure for Cambridge Residents ($1,000,000)

A barrier to electric vehicle adoption in Cambridge is the lack of reliable, convenient, and affordable EV charging. This funding will expand the network of EV charging available in the public right of way to ensure equitable access to the benefits of EVs, including lower costs for individual vehicle owners, and improved local air quality for the community.

“Cambridge is working hard to transition away from fossil fuels,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.  “Expanding the city’s network of publicly available EV charging stations will lower costs for individual vehicle owners and improve air quality for everyone.” 

Everett: Gateway Park Urban Forest/Wetland Restoration ($750,000)

This funding will help support the restoration of a degraded 14-acre waterfront parcel of land and create a rare public open space for low-income BIPOC residents in the environmental justice community of Everett. This project will remove invasive plants and other debris, reconstruct a forested coastal wetland area as a habitat and for storm-water management, reforest with native trees and other perennials, install environmental education signage in a broad range of languages, and construct a pedestrian boardwalk throughout the site. 

“For as long as I can remember, the wetlands portion of Gateway Park has been neglected and overgrown,” said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.  “This grant will help us restore wildlife habitat and bring residents in an environmental justice community closer to nature along the Malden River and Boston Harbor waterfront.”

“Everett is in desperate need of healthy open space,” said Josee Genty from Everett Community Growers.  “The two largest green areas in the city are the cemetery and Rt 16’s median strip.  We can’t wait to see Gateway Park finished.”

Mystic River Watershed Association: Cooling Urban Heat Islands through Enhancing Urban Forests in Greater Boston’s Mystic River Watershed ($400,000)

This funding will help mitigate the dangers of climate-driven extreme heat in vulnerable environmental justice communities including Everett, Chelsea and East Boston. The program will support the implementation of local urban forestry plans (including the planting of 750 trees), while training youth, reentry citizens and others to perform the horticulture activities needed to establish and maintain urban trees.

"This funding allows us to partner with communities to cool off some of the hottest neighborhoods in our watershed that currently have very few parks, trees, or other cooling amenities," said David Queeley, deputy director for projects at the Mystic River Watershed Association.  "These same neighborhoods are where many low-income BIPOC residents live due to past redlining practices and crushingly high housing prices elsewhere.  Helping vulnerable residents stay safe lowers hospitalization rates and medical costs.  If we can help cool off the hottest streets, or even whole neighborhoods, why wouldn't we?"

Finally, Congressman Moulton secured a $2 million grant for Reading. 

Reading: Maillet, Sommes, Morgan Stormwater System ($2,000,000)

This project will restore wetlands on town conservation land, provide significant new storm-water storage capacity, protect habitat for native species, and create walking trails.

 “With this funding, the Town will complete wetland restoration and build green infrastructure that will reduce flooding in our community as well as communities downstream.” said Town Manager Fidel Maltez. The Maillet, Sommes, Morgan resource area will provide passive recreation opportunities to our residents, including an abutting environmental justice neighborhood. Thank you to our federal dedication, our dedicated staff, and our partners at the Resilient Mystic Collaborative who are making this project a reality.”   

"As a climate professional, I know how critical nature based solutions are for flood and heat resilience, said Katie Kemen, director of climate resilience services at BSC Group. "As a Reading resident, I visit this park often and love using it to teach my young children about the environment. I can't wait to see its improvements."


Aug. 3, 2022: Mystic River to Minuteman Path

This news announcement was published Thursday, Jan. 5, 2022. It is based on information from the Mystic River Watershed Association and The Boston Globe. It was updated Jan. 6, with comment from Karl Alexander, and again Jan. 12, to replace the image.