By Jonathan Carvalho
May 14, 2014 12:10 AM
NEW BEDFORD — The upgrade to the sidewalk and roads on Acushnet Avenue in the North End will continue thanks to a $1 million state grant.
Gov. Deval Patrick announced the money for the second phase of the International Marketplace during a visit to the North End Tuesday. He said the $1.19 million in MassWorks infrastructure grant money will help move the city forward.
The governor was joined by Mayor Jon Mitchell and state representatives Antonio F.D. Cabral and William Straus. Cabral is a longtime city legislator and Straus, of Mattapoisett, represents the area of the upgrade thanks to redistricting after the 2010 census.
“This is about how we build a stronger future,” Patrick said. “We do it project by project. None of these projects stands alone, and none of them happens alone.”
The governor called the project “an investment in the community.”
Mitchell, who walked with the governor and showed him improvements along the Avenue before the official announcement, said the money will help the International Marketplace District make the city more walkable, inviting and safe.
“Our governor realizes change happens at a local level,” the mayor said, adding that Patrick “has been there” for New Bedford when it comes to a variety of issues, including downtown development, South Coast Rail and the city’s quest to become a major player in the offshore wind industry.
“It’s good to have someone in the corner office who understands cities,” Cabral said.
“Our future as a commonwealth depends on investment in Gateway Cities,” Patrick told The Standard-Times. Gateway cities is a term the state uses for post-industrial cities where immigrants often enter the American economy.
“New Bedford is one of the strongest, and its partnership with the state makes it stronger,” Patrick said.
The second phase of the International Marketplace project was originally slated to cost $6 million.
Asked where the other $4.8 million would come from, Mitchell said the city was trying to “stretch every dollar” for the highest-yield projects like this one.
Ronald Labelle, the city’s commissioner of the Department of Public Infrastructure, said while not all the money comes in at once for the project, his crews do the work as it comes along.
Since the administration of former Mayor Scott Lang the city has used the DPI to perform many infrastructure upgrades in-house.
The $1.19 million will go toward sidewalks, new pavement, trees, and utilities up the next block between Sawyer and Holly Streets, according to Labelle. It will also fund two small pocket parks, one between Coggeshall and Sawyer streets and one at Nye Street.
By Jonathan Carvalho