Officials Hopeful for Voke Park Improvements

The City has submitted an application for State funding for a portion of the cost of a major rehabilitation of Voke Park.  If Chelsea’s local and state officials are successful, Voke could see a $750,000 fix-up beginning next spring.

“We’ll be fighting for every dollar we can get,” said Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, who, like with her colleagues, Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Gene O’Flaherty, has signaled her endorsement of the City’s funding request.

Should the project win State approval through the PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities) Program, as much as $400,000 in State funding could assist the City in the park rehab. Plans submitted to the State indicate that the City seeks to substantially upgrade the playing field and viewing experience, extend and rebuild the bocce court to a regulation size, update the children’s playing area, bring all the bathrooms into ADA compliance and prune and add new trees, among other desired improvements.

“We prioritize parks, and I’m thrilled that we’re about to open a rehabbed one while planning for the next here in Prattville,” boasted City Councillor Paul Murphy, who has succeeded in getting both Voke Park and Washington Park on the park rehab list during his first term as district city councillor.  The rehabbed Washington Park is expected to open this month.

Murphy and his colleagues passed a measure just before the Council’s summer break to provide the funding support for the Voke Park project.

“It was a top priority for all of my colleagues too because Voke Park not only serves the neighborhood, it also provides for baseball play for kids and bocce for our seniors from around the community,” explained Murphy.

City Manager Jay Ash says the shared support and cooperation among local and state officials and the support of the Patrick Administration continues to be important on securing park investment in Chelsea.

“Just like what happens on the Voke Park field, we’ve got a team here that is working together to win another victory for Chelsea,” compared City Manager Jay Ash.  During Ash’s tenure in Chelsea, every municipal park has had a major rehabilitation at least once and eight new parks have been built.

Ash said that the City’s continuing and expanding investment in parks is partially the result of the success of the City’s economic development agenda.

“When some people see hotels going up, they see just that,” said Ash. “However, I see so much more, from jobs and blight eradication to more funding to support police on our streets, repairs to our roadways and investments in our community, like rehabbed or new parks.  We’re in a position to make those types of funding decision in part because of our economic development agenda and in part because the City Council and our legislative delegation are all focused and working together to achieve our common goals.”

A funding decision about the request by the City for the PARC Grant is expected to be made in the fall.  If that grant application is successful, then the entire rehabilitation program will be subject to final review and approval before being implemented next spring, with completion expected in the spring of 2015.

“It’s as much about planning as it is about commitment.  Fortunately, though, we’ve had plenty of both and the results will continue to show, both here in Prattville and throughout Chelsea,” concluded Murphy.

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