|By Carley Dangona
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jack Murray and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan awarded Stanley Park a $10,400 Recreational Trails Program grant on Dec. 19.
Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona.
WESTFIELD – The storms of 2011 wreaked havoc on many of the trails in Stanley Park, completely demolishing bridges and walkways. Until now, the park has not had the funds to repair the damage.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) awarded Stanley Park a $10,400 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to help restore the trails in the wildlife sanctuary area of the park.
“This grant will ensure that these trails will reopen and the public will be able to enjoy them again,” DCR Commissioner Jack Murray said.
The Stanley Park trail project was one of 32 grant recipients awarded at three separate events on Dec. 19. The park was hit by both the June 1, 2011 tornado and the October 2011 snowstorm.
Each recipient matches their grant with a minimum additional 20 percent in funding or in-kind services. The funds awarded to Stanley Park will be matched with $2,600.
“This is our stimulus money and we so greatly appreciate it. I’m just the bus driver here. There’s a lot of people on the bus,” Bob McKean, managing director of the park, said, thanking the employees, volunteers, government officials and the public for their support and assistance.
“Stanley Park and the wildlife sanctuary provide an opportunity for residents and visitors in Westfield to recreate and enjoy all that nature and open space have to offer,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan said. “Getting these trails reopened will allow families access to this wonderful asset once again.”
Grant awards range from $6,000 to $116,000, depending on the scope of the project. RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use. The funds are distributed to individual states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized recreational trail uses. This money has been matched by more than $5 million in local contributions of cash, in-kind labor and donations.
McKean discussed the restoration plans wildlife sanctuary area of the more than 200-acre park with Reminder Publications.
“You eat an elephant one bite at a time,” he said. “It’ll never be done.” The maintenance of the park is an ongoing process.
McKean explained that some of the bridges were completely gone, either washed away or tipped over. There is also three miles of trails where tree roots have breached the surface, creating tripping hazards. He anticipated the work would begin in the spring of 2014.
According to McKean, a “full forestry plan” will eventually need to be implemented to support the flora and fauna of the park. At this point, the overgrowth of some trees is limiting the sun exposure vital to the survival of other vegetation.
McKean said the goal is to “make all areas of the park more accessible.”
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