Mayor Martin Walsh joined the community Tuesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the newly completed rehabilitation to LoPresti Park.
The long awaited rehab to the park included the installation of artificial turf field that is part of grant from U.S. Soccer Foundation. The parks basketball courts, play areas and entrance will also be replaced and upgraded by 2015.
“When I was first elected Representative Anthony Petruccelli, City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Representative Carlo Basile and I got together and talked about the importance things that needed to be worked on and renovated in this community and this park is part of moving forward together,” said Walsh. “I want to thank the friends of LoPresti Park for their work because this is a beautiful place and beautiful park and it is the strong advocacy from groups like them that keep places like this great.”
Walsh also thanked the U.S. Soccer Foundation for their commitment to the project. Last year, Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA) Rick Sullivan announced a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant to help make improvements to LoPresti Park.
A few months later it was announced that an additional $250,000 in grant money from the U.S. Soccer Foundation would help to help offset the $1.35 million needed to rehab the waterfront park.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s $250,000 grant was used in Phase 1 of the project with an additional $400,000 provided for the second phase by the PARC grant. The City’s Capital Improvement Program funded the balance of the $1.35 million park rehabilitation project.
“This is about the kids of East Boston and providing them with a safe place to play,” said Basile. “I want to thank the Mayor and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for their help and support to get this project done.”
The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a recognized leader in sports-based youth development programs for children in underserved, urban communities. The new artificial turf was funded with $200,000 of the Foundation grant with the remaining $50,000 earmarked for lighting.
Phase 2 of the project was partially funded by the $400,000 PARC grant. This phase of the project included new entry improvements, two full-size basketball courts, a basketball half court, a spray plaza, additional lighting, walkways, and landscape improvements. Construction for this phase has a completion slated for June 2015.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation, the major charitable arm of soccer in the United States, has awarded 37 grants totaling more than $1.8 million to non-profit organizations serving youth in underserved communities in support of soccer programming and field-building initiatives nationwide. Of the 37 awards distributed this grant cycle, 19 were bestowed as part of the Safe Places to Play program, which seeks to build or enhance field spaces in underserved areas in order to provide spaces that are safe for children to play soccer. To date, the Foundation has helped create or improve over 1,000 safe places for children nationwide.
The PARC Grant Program (formerly the Urban Self-Help Program) was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Any town with a population of 35,000 or more year-round residents, or any city regardless of size, that has an authorized park /recreation commission is eligible to participate in the program. Grants are available for the acquisition of land and the construction, or renovation of park and outdoor recreation facilities with access by the general public required.