This news is a couple of weeks old, but we should still tip our hats to all those involved with the continued development of the Riverwalk along the Merrimack. According to reporter Katie Lannan of the Sun newspaper, on April 24 Congresswoman Niki Tsongas with City and national park leaders brought news of a $2.8 million federal grant to pay for development of the second phase of the Riverwalk, extending the existing walkway underneath the Cox Bridge on Bridge Street to the Massachusetts Mills. Construction challenges on this short stretch make it an expensive proposition, but essential to the completion of the remarkable waterfront path. Mayor Elliott noted that $4.4 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding, including a portion for this project, has been used for “public improvements, including the development of parks and recreation facilities,” Lannan wrote, adding that City Manager Kevin Murphy said, “Near and dear to my heart is that we really need adequate green space in the city of Lowell, so that we and our children can enjoy that time in our day.”
Tucked into the article is an interesting fact—that the $9 million in federal funds that helped cover the cost of the Riverwalk to this point and the courtyard rehab at the Boott Mills complex was available to the city because we have a national park in our midst. The source was U.S. Dept. of Transportation Public Lands Highway money, which I would guess is money that usually goes to Colorado, Arizona and such places that we associate with “public lands.” Getting the national park for Lowell in 1978 is an achievement that continues to yield direct and collateral benefits.