Quincy officials will request a $300,000 appropriation from the City Council on Monday to study how to best spend $10 million for parks and gateways throughout the city.
The funding was promised to the city by Beal/Street-Works, the city’s partner in the downtown redevelopment, as part of an agreement the developer forged with the city in May 2011.
Although the money won’t be delivered until next fall, city officials hope to get a leg up on how to spend it when they finally have it in hand.
“By making this planning investment now, we save ourselves possibly an entire year on the overall schedule, because we’ll be far closer to being shovel ready by the time we actually receive the $10 million,” said mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker. “We want to make sure we’re doing our part so that the money invested is done effectively and in a timely manner.”
The $300,000 would come from two places, Walker said, $150,000 from the hotel/motel tax, which has increased in the last several years, and $150,000 from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC).
In the past, CPC funding, which is derived from a surcharge on property taxes, could only be used for purchase of open space, preservation of historic places, or construction of affordable housing. Yet with recent changes to the CPC law, the city can use the funding for park improvement design.
Likewise, funding from the hotel/motel tax can be used for park improvements under the current law.
According to Walker, all of the money will be for spaces outside of the city center.
“The concepts behind it that the mayor pushed was we’re spending all this money in the downtown. We have gateways, public spaces that will affect how people see the whole of the city…we need some public benefit to stretch out of the downtown,” Walker said. “The downtown project is about bricks and mortar in the downtown, but it's also about the whole city.”
The request from CPC was approved at a meeting last week, and according to City Councilor Kevin Coughlin, who represents the council on the CPC board, the funding is well spent.
“It’s a very appropriate use and it's priming the pump and getting us ready to do these types of things in neighborhoods throughout the city. This is an affirmation that the work and improvements done in the downtown; that the neighborhoods wont be forgotten or lost in all of that,” Coughlin said. “It will also tie in with the improvements in the downtown. People will see not only in the middle of the city, but as they enter it from numerous points, that the city is an attractive and aesthetically pleasing place.”
Although Coughlin wouldn’t predict how other councilors might vote, he anticipated that this will be favorable for wards throughout the city.
“I would suspect that many of the wards throughout the city have gateways that come in, bordering cities and towns. Where those neighborhoods are going to see an improvement and a benefit, I would think they would be supportive,” he said.