Whitman looking to grants: Funds could back dog park, trail improvements
WHITMAN — Grants are enabling the town to save money on energy costs and may help plan for a dog park and continue improvements to walking paths in Whitman Park.
Selectmen supported an application to the Stanton Foundation, an organization that helps finance dog parks through grants and which has expressed interest in assisting Whitman. Grants would cover 100 percent of design costs and 90 percent of construction costs.
“We would have to come up with a committee to review where we want it, make sure that it’s on town land and provide water and a maintenance plan,” said Assistant Town Administrator Gregory Enos.
Officials in West Bridgewater and Holbrook are also pursuing the non-competitive Stanton grants for dog parks.
The grants range from $100,000 to $250,000. Town Administrator Frank Lynam said his talks with foundation officials indicated Whitman could receive $120,000 and the town would have to fund $12,000.
Whitman officials are currently looking at the parcel between Memorial Field and the DPW facility of Essex Street as the location.
“We’re looking for a way to move dogs out of the park and off of the streets to an area where it would be more natural to take them,” Lynam said. “We will have an article on this year’s Town Meeting for it.”
Patrons would be assuming any risk in using the park, as would be outlined by signs at the entrance.
“We will be insured in the event a claim is filed against the town,” Lynam said. “It’s really not very different from recreational use [of town property].”
Funds received from a Green Communities Grant in the amount of $166,215 are planned for interior sand exterior lighting changes at municipal buildings and switching to variable speed motors at the town pumping station. The lights in Town Hall Auditorium —priced at $4,200 to replace 85 light bulbs — have been postponed for now. Future grants through the Green Communities program will likely focus on mechanicals and HVAC controls.
“Right now this gives us more bang for our buck,” Enos said of this year’s plan. “It will save the town $50,000 a year on energy costs alone.”
A $50,000 Trail Program Grant is being applied for in an effort to continue funding Whitman Park walking paths, Enos said. Selectmen voted to support the application due in February and sign a support letter.
The grant provides 80-percent funding for such projects and requires a 20-percent match of funds or in-kind gifts. Enos estimated the grant, if obtained at the end of a nine-month application review period, could finance another 2,000 feet of curbing and path work at the park in spring 2017.
Friends of Whitman Park and DPW may be approached for funds or in-kind services.
In other business, Selectmen agreed to a two-week extension for David Federico, the owner of Diesel Trucks, 575 Bedford St., to complete the cleanup of the premises ordered by the board on Jan. 5. The extension was recommended by Building Inspector Robert Curran.
“There’s been some changes, but not nearly enough as far as I’m concerned,” Curran said. Still, he suggested an extension until Feb. 9. “I will attend whatever meetings on-site that he needs for me to guide him on what I think is best for the town.”
Federico has reduced the number of vehicles from 65 down to between 48 and 50, and has created a handicapped parking space, but more issues — such as a car parked in the loading area — remain.
“I did see some effort there,” said Selectman Dan Salvucci. “But if you look at his lot and the lot next to it, it was night and day. One lot looked like it was open for business and the other one looked like it was there for salvage.”
Salvucci said he supported an extension, but would advocate further action if Curran was not satisfied by Feb. 9.
The board also voted to adopt the one-day suspension of O’Toole’s Pub’s All-Alcohol License as recommended by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. The board had initially sought a five-day suspension last year after infractions at the pub were reported by Whitman Police. Selectmen selected Saturday, March 19 as the suspension date to give the pub owners time to inform patrons of the date it will not be open.
Selectmen also offered “friendly advice” to the Police Department to determine the suspension is heeded.