Governor Deval Patrick today announced a $20 million investment to modernize University of Massachusetts Lowell's (UMass Lowell) Perry Hall, which houses the school's engineering program, $7 million to modernize the Spurk Building on Northern Essex Community College's (NECC) Haverhill Campus, a $900,000 MassWorks award to connect Northern Essex Community College (NECC) Allied Health Center with Lawrence's downtown, and a $5 million MassWorks award for the Merrimack Street Renaissance Project, a major redevelopment initiative designed to revitalize several blighted and underutilized parcels along the Merrimack River. Governor Patrick made the announcements while speaking to the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce at Michael's Function Hall in Haverhill.
"Growth requires investment, and these investments in education and infrastructure will bring growth and opportunity to the Merrimack Valley and beyond," said Governor Patrick. "If we want to expand opportunity in our Commonwealth, this is what government must do and do well."
The Perry Hall project will upgrade existing laboratories and classrooms, as well as add new research and academic facilities by re-optimizing space that was previously used for other purposes, such as offices that have been relocated as other campus buildings have opened and been remodeled. Environmental and other controls in labs and other research space will also be upgraded. The renovations to Perry Hall will benefit the growing body of students and faculty in UMass Lowell's Francis College of Engineering, including those in the departments of Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
The Perry Hall renovations are the first step in a larger project that includes upgrades to several of UMass Lowell's science and engineering buildings designed to ensure that the university continues to offer the most modern facilities for academics and research. Perry Hall was constructed in 1952 and is today used for research and education in fields including several engineering disciplines and biomanufacturing. Known simply as the "Engineering Building" for six decades, it was renamed in 2012 for UMass Lowell alumnus Barry Perry, a generous supporter of the university, its students and capital projects.
"On behalf of the university, I would like to thank Governor Patrick, the Legislature and the Lowell delegation for their support for this important project," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. "Perry Hall has been one of UMass Lowell's core science and engineering facilities for more than 60 years. With these upgrades, it will remain a place where students, faculty and industry come together for cutting-edge research and education for decades to come."
The $7 million modernization of the Spurk Building on NECC's Haverhill Campus will update classrooms, modernize bathrooms, address air quality issues, modernize the elevator, replace outdated furniture and equipment and improve student meeting spaces outside of Lecture Hall A, the Top Notch Theater and Jitters Café. Built in 1971, Spurk Building is one of the most heavily used buildings on the Haverhill Campus featuring classrooms, faculty offices, a lecture hall and a performing arts space.
"This is terrific news for our students and faculty who will have the benefit of teaching and learning in first-class space," said NECC President Lane Glenn. "I'm thankful to the Governor and our local legislators who supported this project."
"Access to first-rate facilities at our institutions of public higher education gives our students the best possible education opportunities," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "We know that if we are able to inspire our students in state of the art classrooms while also teaching them in-demand skills, they will be better prepared for the workforce needs of a global economy."
The two MassWorks awards announced today by the Governor for the cities of Haverhill and Lawrence will assist the municipalities modernize outdated infrastructure and increase access to growth and opportunity. Haverhill is receiving a $5 million MassWorks award for the Merrimack Street Renaissance Project, a major redevelopment initiative designed to revitalize several blighted and underutilized parcels along the Merrimack River. The award will assist the redevelopment project by improving accessibility to the Merrimack River through the construction of a new boardwalk, parking and the creation of new public spaces. Private development on the site will include a mixed-use development with office, retail and housing. The grant compliments a previous $4 million award to the City of Haverhill to support this project and aims to extend the momentum of economic development and employment opportunities generated from the designated Growth District. The area was identified as a State Priority Development Area in the Merrimack Valley Regional Plan.
"I am proud that a process that began in 2008 when I was able to include funding for the Spurk academic building modernization project in the Higher Education Bond bill, has come to fruition," said Chairman Brian S. Dempsey. "The MassWorks funds will provide for necessary work that will allow the ongoing improvement of Downtown Haverhill and efforts to better utilize the areas along the Merrimack River including repair work for the flood wall, to continue. It also demonstrates the continued support that Governor Patrick and the Commonwealth have provided the city."
The City of Lawrence is receiving a $900,000 MassWorks award to create a connection from the new Northern Essex Community College Allied Health and Technology Center. The infrastructure improvements will include the renovation the Essex Street Connection and additional alley ways that provide critical passages throughout the downtown and are used on a regular basis by NECC students and faculty. The grant will also support economic development surrounding the growing urban campus in downtown Lawrence, which is identified as a Priority Development Area in the Merrimack Valley Regional Plan.
"We remain committed to working with local communities to help identify opportunities to maximize growth and spur regional development," said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Bialecki. "I look forward to our ongoing partnership with the cities of Lawrence and Haverhill and private industry leaders to explore additional ways to promote continued growth."
Following the Chamber address, Governor Patrick will tour MassDOT's Bates Bridge replacement project. The $49 million infrastructure investment allowed for the replacement of the Bates Bridge, originally constructed in 1916, with a new modern single leaf moveable bridge that connects Haverhill and Groveland over the Merrimack River. The project, which began in 2010, will be completed in the spring. Traffic transitioned onto the new bridge in September and the old bridge is currently being demolished. Work on the roadway approaches to the bridge on both sides has improved access to area businesses.
"Investing in improved infrastructure and modernized educational opportunities is the next step to continue our region's evolution into an innovation hub," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "Extraordinary potential exists here in the Merrimack Valley, with its array of top-tier academic institutions, state-of-the-art companies and a talented workforce. I commend the Governor for supporting these projects and look forward to seeing them benefit the community well into the future."
"I am delighted to see both the cities of Haverhill and Lawrence named as recipients of the awards announced today," said Representative Diana DiZoglio. "This funding marks the sort of robust investments we need to continue making in infrastructure and education, both in the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth."
"Since its foundation, UMass Lowell has been well known for their engineering programs," said Senator Eileen Donoghue. "I am delighted that these funds are being awarded to the University for the modernization of the Perry Building because these improvements are crucial for the continued success of these programs."
"Northern Essex Community College's Lawrence campus has not only been a great educational resource in the City, but it is also a huge contributor to the economic engine driving the entire Merrimack Valley," said Senator Barry Finegold. "This grant will help us continue the great progress we have made."
"Northern Essex Community College is an important resource for Haverhill and the greater Merrimack Valley, where investment in the college's facilities for critical renovations is key for Northern Essex to continue on a strong path for workforce development and quality education," said Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives. "I thank the Governor for his ongoing commitment to education for all students in the Commonwealth."
"The announcement of $5 million for the Merrimack Street Renaissance project is fabulous news for the city, and some of the best news that Haverhill has had in many years," said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini. "With last year's MassWorks grant of $4 million and the previous $ 1.8 million grant, this is a total of nearly $11 million of state investment in our Merrimack Street Renaissance project. These new funds will mean that there will be a boardwalk along Merrimack Street that will complete the loop between Merrimack street and the rail trail on the opposite side of the river. This boardwalk, which has been talked about and dreamt about for decades, is on the verge of becoming a reality, thanks to this grant. This funding means that the renaissance that started on Washington Street will continue onto Merrimack Street. We are thrilled with and thank Governor Patrick and his entire administration for their interest and support for our city. We are grateful to our legislative delegation, particularly Chairman Brian Dempsey for his tireless advocacy for our city. Chairman Dempsey's tireless advocacy for our city and for this grant in particular has made this all possible. "
Thursday's announcements are part of a series of events the Governor is holding throughout the Fall to demonstrate the types of investments his Administration is making in every region of the Commonwealth to expand growth and opportunity to all of our residents.