BOSTON – Senator Patricia Jehlen, Representative Denise Provost, Representative Christine Barber, and Representative Tim Toomey announced that two crucial appropriations for the Mystic River were included in the legislature’s final FY 2016 Budget. Both the $250,000 requested for the Mystic River Master Plan and the $100,000 requested for the Mystic River Aquatic Invasive Species Control were fully funded for the upcoming fiscal year.
“I am extremely pleased with the funding directed toward the Mystic River in the FY’16 budget,” said Senator Jehlen (D-Somerville). “This is a tremendous opportunity to improve the Mystic and its surrounding areas. We can revitalize the watershed and finally restore this wonderful resource to its full potential.”
“I’m proud that we were able to secure appropriations for the implementation of the Mystic River Master Plan and for water chestnut removal” said Representative Barber (D-Somerville). “This funding will go toward restoring, preserving, and beautifying our Mystic River and will allow for greater enjoyment by residents of Medford, Somerville and the surrounding areas.”
The Mystic River Reservation was one of the original five reservations delineated by the Metropolitan Park Commission in 1893. It is enjoyed by runners, dog-walkers, bird-watchers, photographers, boaters, and many more who live and visit the surrounding communities. Unfortunately, the once-beautiful waterfront parks along the Mystic have since fallen into disrepair and need substantial updating and restoration.
The Mystic River Master Plan outlines comprehensive improvements to more than 370 acres of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and park system. These improvements, when complete, will transform the park and the lives of more than 800,000 Massachusetts residents within easy reach of the park’s amenities. The study area includes key public park space on the waterfront in several communities along the Mystic River including Medford and Somerville.
“Those appropriations, along with the passage of the Mystic River Water Quality Commission in the last session, show that the Mystic River is finally getting the attention it deserves” said Representative Provost (D-Somerville). “The new state park and development of Assembly Square have brought growing awareness of the river’s potential.”
“Funding for the Mystic River Master Plan will help activate valuable and extensive park space along the Mystic River and its tributaries,” said EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “The clean-up of Boston Harbor and the Charles River highlight the value of investing in the Mystic River now. The Mystic offers the same promise: providing expansive, popular green space for residents of this highly urbanized environment.”
The $250,000 expenditure will allow DCR to complete design development plans and construction specifications for the park improvements that are delineated in detail in the Master Planning document. Once complete, these plans and permit drawings will provide DCR personnel with “shovel-ready” projects that can utilize funding when it becomes available. Money for projects like these often comes from private developers, lawsuit settlements, and state and federal government park improvement funds.
The additional $100,000 will help to protect the Mystic River watershed from a non-native species called the water chestnut, which has already fully blanketed 30 acres of the Mystic with thick mats of vegetation. The water chestnut population in the river has increased by more than 3,000% over the past decade, and this growth will accelerate if the Department cannot expand its harvesting efforts.
“With support from this funding, invasive water chestnut can be effectively eliminated from the Mystic River within two or three years,” said Khalsa. “In 2014, DCR, MyRWA, and its many partners succeeded in removing this noxious plant from 90% of the river – allowing for safe and unimpeded recreational use and protecting healthy river ecology. Continuing this important work will pay great dividends and honor the work and commitment by City and State agencies and thousands of volunteers.”
“Completing the Mystic River Master Plan will pave the way for the revitalization of existing parkland and the creation of new open space on the Mystic riverfront,” said Representative Toomey (D-Cambridge). “This investment, along with continued funding of invasive species control efforts, reflects the legislature’s commitment to restoring the Mystic to its original beauty.”