Funds announced for revitalization of New Bedford's Haskell Gardens

Blooming magnolias welcomed visitors to a hidden gem slated to be rescued and returned to the public.
Officials gathered Tuesday at the Haskell Nurseries on Shawmut Avenue to admire the genius of the late Allen Haskell, a renowned landscaper, and to announce additional funds for the revitalization of the historic property.
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan announced a $500,000 Gateway Cities Park Grant and Mayor Jon Mitchell committed $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to help The Trustees of Reservations acquire and renovate the property.
“This project will create a new and unique urban parkland, which exemplifies the mission of the Patrick-Murray administration to revitalize our state’s inner-city communities,” said Sullivan, who called the property and the public-private partnership “truly phenomenal.”
The 6-acre site includes 1.5 acres of open space, and about 30,000 square feet of greenhouses, historic homes and landscaped gardens. The project is estimated to cost $2.5 million and could take three years to complete.
Ellena and Allen Haskell’s three children grew up there and family members are pleased to hear about what will be done with the property. “It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Ellena Haskell. “I hate to see it go but am happy to see it go to a good cause. It’s kind of a dream come true.”
Mitchell, who remembered being chased by a peacock there at the age of 5, thanked the family for agreeing to sell “this special place” to the trustees instead of to a developer. His office initiated the project with a call to the trustees last year.
“This is an exciting day and one I wasn’t sure would come a year ago,” he said.
John Vasconcellos, southeast regional director of the trustees, thanked the city and state for their support of what will soon become the trustees’ 110th property and “will some day be a beautiful and compelling urban park for New Bedford.”
Matt Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, recalled running through the property as a child. He said he is “happy the property will be preserved so that future kids (can) run and ride their bikes through it.”
“You would never know you were in the middle of New Bedford,” said state Rep. Chris Markey. “The work of the trustees to save this property is a huge victory for the city.”
Calling it a landmark urban project in terms of preservation and conservation, the trustees’ Southeast Engagement Manager Nancy Durfee said she expects it to not just open as a beautiful public garden and educational space but to also become a great venue for public festivals in the city.
By Auditi Guha
May 01, 2013 12:00 AM
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