By Seth Daniel
Hill Park was about to get the second phase of its two-year facelift this week, when city officials learned the money for the project had been swiped out from under them.
City Planner Frank Stringi and Mayor Tom Ambrosino learned on Friday that Gov. Deval Patrick had cut the $75,000 Hill Park earmark from last yearâ€™s state budget.
â€œWe had a contractor and we were ready to go and we got a letter Friday morning saying the money was gone,â€ said the mayor. â€œWe were going to replace the backstop, some fencing and remove the cement block wall between the park and the stadium. We were going to do a lot of good work there this spring, but now none of it is going to happen.â€
Stringi said it must have been another casualty of midyear budget cuts at the state level.
He said Camdele Construction of Boston had recently won a bid to do the work, but thatâ€™s been scrapped now. He added they had planned to replace the softball backstop, put in new benches, enhance the landscaping, improve the fencing, and replace the cement block wall between the park and the stadium with fencing.
That earmark had been hardfought by House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein. Originally, they had scored $150,000 for Hill Park, but the governor cut that in half last summer.
Now, he has cut it out altogether.
Not to be outdone, apparently Mass Highway has cut planting trees from its Central Avenue/Park Avenue project.
While the rest of the project has been completed, the trees werenâ€™t planted last fall in the numerous tree pits that dot the new sidewalks. Many wondered if they would be planted this spring instead.
The answer to that question is no.
â€œThe project finished ahead of time, but it just cost twice as much as they thought,â€ said the mayor. â€œThere were serious cost overruns, and so they cut out the trees.â€
The mayor said the city will set aside some street paving money annually to purchase and plant trees along the newly reconstructed thoroughfare. This year, he said, they will probably plant on Central Avenue. The following years, theyâ€™ll tackle stretches of Park Avenue.
â€œWeâ€™ll do it slowly over time,â€ he said. â€œThere will be lots of empty tree pits there for several years.â€