For Immediate Release: 6/1/2017 1:10 pm
Worcester, MA (June 1, 2017) - Federal, state and local officials will be on hand Thursday as Worcester breaks ground on the City's newest park, Blackstone Gateway Park.
Once complete, the park will feature 3,000 linear feet (about a half-mile) of accessible walking paths, elevated boardwalks and three bridges crossing a section of the Middle River that runs into the headwaters of the Blackstone River, adjacent to McKeon Road. Included along the trails and boardwalks are observational platforms, kiosks and interpretive signage providing historical and ecological information about the Blackstone River and the role it played in the history of Worcester and the Blackstone Valley Corridor.
"We really want to make this park a unique experience, an urban refuge that highlights the natural beauty and historic importance of Quinsigamond Village and the Blackstone Valley," said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. "Tying the park in with the new regional visitor's center will create a brand new, beautiful gateway to Worcester that will welcome visitors and enhance the neighborhood."
The park is located at the gateway to Route 146, and its development will be a significant visual and recreational resource that will contribute to neighborhood, city and regional revitalization. It will provide connectivity to the Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester, the Blackstone River Bikeway, the College of the Holy Cross and Quinsigamond Village to enhance and expand the benefits of each of these elements to the community.
The project will utilize low impact construction techniques to minimize disruption and maintain a natural aesthetic. Where earthen trail access is not possible, boardwalks will bring visitors into and over the riparian meadow and along the banks of the river. Three galvanized steel pedestrian bridges will span the river to connect the trail sections. The project seeks to incorporate public art through functional art that references the area's industrial legacy, which includes wire and cable manufacturing and the Blackstone Canal.
The Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center, a sister project adjacent to Blackstone Gateway Park, will be a multi-use facility and will mark the completion of the Quinsigamond Bike Spur that connects the facility to the Blackstone River Bikeway and the Route 146 pedestrian bridge.
Construction of Blackstone Gateway Park is expected to be complete by May 2018. Phase II of the Visitor Center project also began this spring and construction of the facility is expected to be complete in late summer 2018.
Approximately $18 million in federal, state and local funding is being poured into the area for the City park, Visitor Center, bike path and sidewalk projects. The park project is expected to cost roughly $4 million.