WOBURN - The city of Woburn has failed to make the cut with any MassWorks grant to erect a 163,,000 square foot, three-level garage at the Municipal Parking lot just off Woburn Center.
Mayor Scott Galvin and the Woburn Redevelopment Authority were given a list of those who made the cut and the grants involved. The city of Woburn was not included.
There were some 130 grant request for $320 million at stake, reported City Planning Director and WRA Administrator Edmund Tarallo to the WRA’s five-member board. In the end, 26 projects were approved for $38 million.
The vote put the entire project that has full-scale drawings “on hold” until another course of action can be determined.
The project is valued at $10 million and provides 688 parking spaces.
Also, the parking garage was part of the thinking for an overhaul of the entire downtown parking and traffic situation.
“It’s now a case of putting together a financial plan,” said Tarallo, “and to take a look at regulations.”
According to Tarallo, a review of the accepted communities revealed the MassWorks decision makers had a strong eye on creating jobs in Massachusetts and not just on relieving a parking/traffic situation.
“In the days ahead, we are going to have to take a hard look at how we are going to approach it,” remarked Tarallo to the disappointed five-member board. “Right now, that’s just the way it is.”
The issue is in need, he said, “of further discussion.”
Chairman Donald Queenin of the WRA expressed disappointment in the non-approval but simply stated “let’s move forward.”
Mayor Scott Galvin on joining the WRA discussion said at this point “it’s all not worth re-hashing.” “We just didn’t get the grant.”
“We were asked to get a plan and we did,” said Galvin.
In all, Galvin, Tarallo and the WRA noted there is still a very concrete plan on the table and ready to be implemented with checks at the next steps if funded.
WRA member Gary Fuller asked “how many gateway cities” are there really involved in the granting process. And, Ch’m. Queenin asked all, including MassWorks, to “just take a hard look at the size of the downtown area.”
Queenin also complimented Tarallo on “a real good job” in getting the project to fruition and to the state (MassWorks).
The state’s environmental people had given a green light to the proposed 688-space, 163,000 square foot, three-level parking garage.
The next major hurdle would have been the securing of the Mass. Environmental Protection Agency approvals.
“The project may proceed to state permitting,” wrote Richard K. Sullivan Jr. of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs in Boston in October.
If funded, the city must conform to all state laws in its construction.
Also, Sullivan informed the Woburn Redevelopment Authority, the city’s agency for the construction, that “this project does not require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report.”
The plan, as was pointed out, was to have the state provide a $5 million grant with the city providing the other $5 million that would include costs already incurred in the planning stages.
The design stage is being funded by a City Council appropriation of $455,000 and $103,000 from the Woburn Development Corporation (a private bank group dedicated to upgrading downtown Woburn who had excess funds from past loans accumulated).
Also, the overall parking issue has raised a host of questions from handicapped spots to fees to be paid at the new Walnut Hill deck (e.g. $1 an hour, $4 per day and something in the $30-$50 for a monthly pass). The Walnut Hill Deck also addresses many of the long-term parkers in Woburn Square like the employees at store, traffic to city hall and the Fourth district Court and the ever-present MBTA stops.
The project would be constructed with the ability to accommodate an additional parking level in the future. The 2.78-acre site currently contains a 285-space municipal surface parking lot
Earlier in November, the Patrick-Murray Administration today announced $38 million for 26 new MassWorks Infrastructure Program grants “to support economic development and housing creation throughout the Commonwealth.
The Patrick-Murray Administration targeted investments in infrastructure such as roadways, streetscapes, water, and sewer to facilitate and support for new and sustained housing and economic growth
The MassWorks Program infrastructure investments are targeted to projects “that require the infrastructure upgrades or expansion in order for new growth to take place.”
“The MassWorks program is a key part of our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure to create jobs and spur economic development,” said Governor Deval Patrick at the time.