There was disappointment but not despair last week when news broke that the Neponset Greenway expansion project planned by the state’s Dept. of Conservation and Recreation did not win a $10 million federal grant. The funding would have fast-tracked the $17 million expansion — and hopes were high that the application submitted by the state would be a winner. But the odds were against it, given that less than 50 projects—out of more than 800 nationally — were chosen by the US Dept. of Transportation for the funding.
Officials are hitting all the right notes so far, pledging to find a way to make the project a reality. Still, residents in Mattapan and Dorchester need to send a clear message to their elected officials that we expect them to find a funding solution without undue delay. This project is critical to the economic development, health, and transportation needs of our communities. The work that went into designing the compromise routes for the trail’s extension into Milton and Mattapan took years to complete. The state needs to realize a return on that investment and plunge ahead with the job of building out this trail, beginning in the new year.
Finding money for the Greenway project— which will add amenities in Dorchester and finally open up the trail to Mattapan residents — should be the top local priority in the new year for the governor and his administration, and state and federal lawmakers.
We hope that they’ll bring us glad tidings of a viable “plan B” for this project’s start in the new year.
– Bill Forry