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Menino outlines $1.8 billion, five-year plan for capital improvements across city

Posted by Roy Greene  May 17, 2013 06:32 PM

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(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today at the proposed site of a handicapped friendly park near Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino outlined a five-year capital plan today aimed at improving educational opportunities across the city, enhancing public facilities, and increasing accessibility for people with disabilities.

Menino submitted the $1.8 billion capital blueprint to the City Council in early April, along with a $2.6 billion budget plan for the next fiscal year. The council is required to hold its first vote on the capital plan, which calls for the city to borrow $177 million in the next fiscal year, by June 5.

In a speech outside the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Menino provided details about the plan. It includes 341 projects over five years, with $214 million worth of projects this year alone. It would create about 450 construction jobs this year, he said.

Menino said the plan includes $20.5 million to transform the former Mitt Romney campaign headquarters at 585 Commercial St. in the North End into a new K-8 school.

“Imagine Mitt Romney thinking about [how] he’s getting involved in public education,” Menino quipped. “Maybe he’ll send some money to pay for it.”

The plan also includes:

-- Several West Roxbury projects: $11 million in improvements at Millennium Park; a $6.5 million overhaul of playing fields at West Roxbury High School; and $3.75 million for the Draper Pool.

-- $18.6 million to expand the Eliot K-8 Innovation School in the North End.

-- $10.2 million for street improvements in Uphams Corner and East Boston’s Central Square.

-- $16 million to replace granite with glass at the Central Library’s Johnson Building and build new areas inside for children and teenagers.

As powerful winds blew off the Mystic River, buffeting about 50 officials, hospital staff, and reporters, Menino highlighted a project that would turn an adjacent vacant lot into a playground accessible to children with physical limitations.

Proclaiming the waterfront area a “spectacular site,” he asked, “And you know what’s going to be even more spectacular, as we go forward over the next several months? Seeing children with disabilities play on the state-of-the-art playground right behind me.

"Watching people recover from health challenges here and build up strength to walk along the HarborWalk. Seeing families and their kids exercise and have fun along the harbor,” he said.

Menino thanked the staff of the new Spaulding facility, which opened late last month and included survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing among its first patients. He said he hoped to see the park completed by November, allowing him to attend its ribbon-cutting while still in office until January.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.

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