Amesbury mayor makes call for action for city’s bond bill money | News

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AMESBURY — The state set aside $600,000 for the city eight years ago and the mayor is asking residents for their help in getting the governor’s office to pay up.

Former state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives and former state Sen. Mike Costello were successful in placing a $600,000 earmark in the fiscal 2014 state environmental bond bill. The money was set aside to build new soccer fields for the Amesbury Soccer Association on Woodsom Farm but the funds have yet to be released.

Although state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, and state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, have been working to get the funds released, Mayor Kassandra Gove is looking to get the public involved as well.

The mayor asked residents to call, email or tweet Gov. Charlie Baker and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides to let them know how important the $600,000 would be to Amesbury, during her Facebook Live appearance Thursday afternoon.

“We have been really working hard to get that money out of the state which has a surplus in their budget right now. I think this is the perfect time for the state to make good on their promises,”  the mayor said during her use of the social media platform.

Gove also said that her administration will continue attempting to book a meeting with Theoharides but it could use the public’s help in getting her attention.

The city has generated a civic alert web page dedicated to the mayor’s call for action that includes the project’s history as well as contact information for Baker and Theoharides at: https://www.amesburyma.gov.

“Right now, we know that rectangular fields are critical and we need help from the state to fund our progress in redeveloping those fields,” Gove said. “With their help, we will then commit local funds.”

The City Council also passed a resolution formally asking the state for the funds in 2021 and the Amesbury Soccer Association has written to the governor, letting him know that its current playing fields lack proper grading and drainage and have been deemed unsafe by the Essex County Youth Soccer Association.

The Amesbury Soccer Association’s letter to Baker also states that many of its teams now have to play outside of the city, forcing the association to pay more than $60,000 to rent field space.

According to the mayor, the city has sent the state a complete packet of information on the planned soccer field project but has been unable to make any headway in getting the funds released.

Baker will not be running for reelection this year as a third-term governor.  The city needs to get money from the bond bill before the bill expires on June 30, 2023.

 

The city was successful in lobbying the state to open COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Amesbury last year and Gove said the same model could be useful in getting the bond bill funding released now.

“This is certainly something that will reach everyone in this community. I think everyone’s help will be greatly appreciated and I am confident it will get the job done,” Gove said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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