Our region’s on the move!
By Senator Richard T. Moore
October 30, 2012 ... Ribbon cuttings, topping off’s, and groundbreakings seem to becoming regular events in our South Central Massachusetts region this fall. They are a visible sign of growing private sector confidence in the economy and a renewed public sector investment in local communities. Vibrant new structures are replacing the vacant storefronts and empty mills, and area residents are the beneficiaries of this regional renaissance.
Road and bridge improvements, as well as water and sewer extensions, bring jobs to a region and help people get to work. Schools, libraries, and recreational trails enhance the quality of life making communities attractive as place to live and work for those who decide where to build new businesses. Our region, where America’s Industrial Revolution began, is demonstrating a new vitality not seen in nearly fifty years!
Ribbons are being cut to officially open long-awaited school projects in Uxbridge and Southbridge, ground was broken for a new Park Avenue Elementary School in Webster, and a topping off ceremony marked a key phase in the construction of a new Douglas Middle School. Nichols College just cut the ribbon to open a new Student Center on Center Road in Dudley. Along with continuing construction of the new Middle-High School in Sutton, these facilities provide the opportunity for area youth to obtain a 21st Century education preparing them for successful careers in years to come.
During the past summer, officials in Southbridge cut a ribbon to mark a new phase of the Quinebaug Rail Trail with completion of an important bridge to complement a similar event in the Dudley section of the trail nearly two years ago. With state money and labor from Southbridge and Dudley Highway Departments, the trail is taking shape to fulfill a vision for a new walking/jogging route for area residents.
Recently, the Blackstone River Greenway got a major boost when Lt. Governor Tim Murray and Congressman Jim McGovern joined in breaking ground for Phase One in Blackstone. The Greenway trail will cross the Blackstone River several times, re-decking old railroad bridges in Blackstone and Millville using a $20 million infusion of funding from the successful Accelerated Bridge Program.
The Greenway project will provide a new playground at the old Blackstone Depot site, improve access to the historic Millville Canal Lock, and link with the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) that runs through Douglas State Forest as a destination for area residents and tourists as it connects with a similar trail in Rhode Island. The Greenway will ultimately link Worcester and Providence just as the historic Blackstone Canal did two hundred years earlier.
Another ribbon-cutting in Milford launched a major economic development initiative that will benefit Milford and Hopedale and potentially lead to the re-use of the long-shuttered Draper Corporation plant in Hopedale. Officials and business leaders joined in launching the re-vitalized Grafton and Upton Railroad which is already attracting new industry to the region as Romar Transportation relocated its trucking operation from Boston to Hopedale.
Local officials and business leaders in Webster recently helped to break ground for a new, state-of-the-art Price Chopper supermarket and shopping center at the site of the former Cranston Print Works at the intersection of Routes 12 and 16. The store, which will open in April 2013, is not the only new business at Webster’s gateway since Panera Bread will open on that site and Hometown Bank is constructing a new facility across the street.
Webster is also witnessing the construction of a new Police Headquarters in the downtown replacing a derelict retail building and may soon see construction begin on apartments and a new senior center in the old Sitkowski School behind Town Hall as well as a new public library that is now in the planning stage. A state MassWorks grant of $2.1 million is helping Oxford’s IPG Photonics to connect to Webster’s sewage treatment plant through Dudley and expand to add another 175 good jobs at good wages to the region.
Milton-CAT, the Northeast’s major Caterpillar Heavy Equipment dealer, recently celebrated a new heavy equipment reconditioning program at its Milford facility in Quarry Hill Industrial Park. Verallia, a division of St. Gobain located in Milford, has been recognized for its energy efficient manufacturing operations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mendon has taken initial steps to convert the former St. Michael’s Church into a much-needed new town library.
Our region is, once again, on the move, putting people back to work and building a stronger local tax base to sustain a promising future!