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GA Blog: Amesbury

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3.29.16 State Funds Assisting in Local Infrastructure Projects

Lower Millyard in Amesbury, MA

The Newburyport Daily News reports that Gov. Charlie Baker, who took office a year ago, wants to expand the popular MassWorks program as part of a five-year, $1 billion plan to rejuvenate communities still struggling to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s recent economic upswing.

Massworks is a program under the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development designed to help cities and towns upgrade their infrastructure. Governor Baker’s plan calls for borrowing $500 million over five years to boost funding for MassWorks by nearly 35%.  To date, MassWorks has parceled out more than $330 million in grants.

North of Boston communities - including Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, Salem, Lawrence, Haverhill, Peabody, and Beverly - have received more than $42 million since the MassWorks program got underway. These projects include:

  1. Amesbury - a 1.6-acre site in the Lower Millyard quarter is now Heritage Park, where a private developer continues work on a multi-story complex of housing, office and retail space [pictured above].
  2. Haverhill - along the Merrimack River in Haverhill, a once-tired cityscape has been revitalized with a new boardwalk and parks, spurring private investment in a new complex of offices, storefronts and housing.
  3. Peabody - leaders plan to reconfigure traffic-choked Peabody Square by moving a Civil War monument and adding street lights, trees and crosswalks, in hopes of luring investment downtown. Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt said the money has been vital to the city’s downtown. “It’s helped make the downtown safer for pedestrians and more attractive,” he said. “And it’s paid off for us with significant properties being purchased by new developers who have exciting plans for the downtown.”

No match needed:  Andrew Herlihy, director of the Haverhill’s community development department, said an aspect of MassWorks that makes it so attractive is there are no requirements for communities to match the investment.  In addition to boosting MassWorks funding, Baker’s economic development proposal asks for $50 million for a separate MassDevelopment program that makes longterm equity investments in properties in “gateway cities” such as Lawrence, Methuen, Salem and Haverhill.

Previous local MassWorks grants:

  • Amesbury 2015:  enhancements to the Intersection of Route 110 and Route 150, $1,107,812, including signal upgrades, intersection modifications, and the construction of new sidewalks to Amesbury’s downtown. The improvements will allow the construction of Amesbury Heights, a 240-unit housing development, to begin in the spring.
  • Newburyport 2015: increased sewer capacity and sidewalk extension, $2,000,000, allowing Newburyport to leverage $4.45 million committed by the city to increase sewer capacity and extend sidewalks in the recently adopted 40R Smart Growth district. The infrastructure improvements will support a $16.5 million 80-unit mixed-use development located next to the MBTA commuter rail station and enable the future construction of 440 units in the 40R District.
  • Salisbury 2014: Salisbury Square Water System Improvement, $1,708,769, to upgrade the water distribution system in the town center. The replacement of existing water mains and the addition of new mains will enable the Spalding School site and 29 Elm St. to be developed into 42 housing units. The MassWorks award leverages $9 million in private investments for this project and creates opportunities for additional redevelopment in the area. 
  • Amesbury 2013: Lower Millyard Water Street Improvement Project - Amesbury’s Lower Millyard has been the focus of a significant economic development and mill revitalization effort in the downtown. The MassWorks award allowed for the realignment and addition of streetscape improvements to Water Street providing for increased pedestrian and traffic safety. The city voted to invest $5.9M in the relocation of the DPW yard, $1.5M for the construction of Heritage Park and Merrimack Valley RTA has invested $7M in its Transportation Center. The city estimated 289 housing units could be created in the Lower Millyard area.
  • Amesbury 2011:  In 2011, EOHED awarded a $1,250,000 grant through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to reconstruct roadway infrastructure to support the development in the Lower Millyard section of the City of Amesbury. As the sole access to the Lower Millyard, Elm Street has numerous safety issues affecting the development of the area including roadway deterioration, lack of defined sidewalks, 90-degree turns, missing curbing, poor drainage, and increased traffic at severely restricted intersections. The improvements are critical to the Lower Millyard revitalization and will allow for the expansion of existing industries and the construction of new rehabilitated facilities.

Read the entire Newburyport Daily News article.

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3.7.12 Trail System May Connect Newburyport Parks

The Whittier Trail along the Whittier Bridge

The Newburyport Current recently reported that the city is looking to connect their near 50 parks or open space areas together to make a better “network” of parks. Connecting the parks is part of the goal in the city’s 2012 Open Space and Recreation Plan, which will lay out plans for park and open space areas over the next several years.

 “We don’t want [the city] to be so isolated with individual parks. We want to have connections for biking and have more trail connections. That’s a significant area of improvement for us in the coming year,” Said Andrew Port, director of the city’s Office of Planning and Development

Bike trails will already be seeing improvement with the Whittier Bridge project that will allow bikers to cross over the Merrimac River in their own lane alongside Route 95.

The Open Space and Recreation plan is still in the public input stage and will focus on the large amount of open space throughout the city (roughly 50 percent of the cities total land) and also spend some time on the upkeep and maintenance of streetscapes.

Read the entire Newburyport Current article.


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1.4.12 Route 95 Bridge Being Replaced – Effect on Bike Trail

The Whittier Bridge on Route I-95

The Newburyport Current recently reported that the John Greenleaf Whittier Bridge on Route 95, spanning the Merrimack River from Amesbury and Newburyport, is set to be replaced in a state project aimed to stat in the spring of 2013.  The project is one of the state highway department of transportation’s largest under the $3 billion Accelerated Bride Program.

The 60-year old bridge will be replaced with a four-lane highway with a shared-use path for bikers and walkers called the Whittier Trail. The four-lane bridge should speed up traffic on the sometimes congested I-95 area, as well as promote alternative modes of transportation with the Whittier Trail.

Local members of the Coastal Trails Coalition have raised concern that the new trail over the span will poorly affect the current trail system that runs through Amesbury, Newburyport, Newbury and Salisbury. Although the state is placing a trail system over the new bridge, it fails to continue the bike paths in the other areas it plans to widen the highway.

The trail coalition will likely discuss the trail issues at a state design public hearing set for the spring of 2012.

Read the Newburyport Current article.

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10.31.11 Amesbury Group Enters Contest for $15,000 Playground Grant

The Newburyport Daily News recently reported that a group raising money for a new playground at Amesbury Town Park has entered a contest to win a grant for $15,000 that will go towards renovating the playground.

The Amesbury Improvement Association is one of 10 entrees that could win the grant from the Let’s Play Playground, a group led by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM non-profit group. Voting for the project can be done on Facebook at Voting ends November 11.

The Amesbury Improvement Association hopes to raise $180,000 to complete the park renovations.  The site address is!/LetsPlay?sk=app_276826415679968

Read the entire Newburyport Daily News article.

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9.26.11 Amesbury Lakes Commission Seeks New Members

The Amesbury News recently reported that the Amesbury Lakes and Waterways Commission is looking to recruit new members. The commission is looking to have at least one representative per body of water in Amesbury.

Members should all have “an interest in preserving and improving management of local resources.” Commission members tend to live nearby waterways they represent, or have some sort of personal connection to the waterway.

For information, contact Bruce Georgian, chairman of Lakes and Waterways Commission at, or visit

Read the entire Amesbury News article.

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9.14.11 Amesbury Receives $1.25 million for Downtown Improvements

The Newburyport Current recently reported that the City of Amesbury will receive economic redevelopment funds of $.1.25 million in order to improve the Lower Millyard and downtown. The funds are being granted under a supplemental budget written by Governor Patrick this year.

The funds will be given through MassWorks, a “one-stop program for municipalities seeking infrastructure funding to support job growth and long-term, sustainable economic development. “

The money will go towards several projects including; drainage improvements, sidewalk and streetscape updates, and light installation.  “Upon completion, pedestrians will be able to walk from the downtown to the new MVRTA Transportation Center and Senior Center.”

Read the entire Newburyport Current article.

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