Efforts to expand the joint Abington –Rockland Water Works treatment plant got a $150,000 grant from MassHousing, Monday.

Efforts to expand the Abington–Rockland Joint Water Works treatment plant got a $150,000 grant from MassHousing Monday, May 14.

The grant will enable the towns to complete an expansion engineering design and apply for a $1.5 million MassWorks Infrastructure Grant to fund the construction of the facility at Myers Avenue.

Upon completion, the water works plant will have the capacity to deliver an additional 160,000 gallons of water daily to Rockland and Abington, which will solve critical water delivery shortages for both towns, according to town officials.

Rockland Selectmen Vice-chairwoman Deirdre Hall stated a joint effort between Abington-Rockland Joint Water Works officials and leaders from both towns helped implement a regional solution to their water needs.

"Although both communities feel the impact of water scarcity individually; we realize that a regional solution is what is best for all," Hall stated. "Water does not obey municipal boundaries, so neither can our solutions."

The approval of the grant follows a Rockland Town Meeting decision on May 7 to approve a transfer of $125,000 from the water balance fund to engineer upgrades at the water treatment plant.  

Abington Town Manager Richard LaFond stated awarding of the grant by Mass Housing is great example of communities working together (and) "taking advantage of opportunities to help take financial pressure off of our rate payers." 

Rockland Town Administrator Allan R. Chiocca stated the grant would help Rockland achieve its goal to revitalize the downtown area with housing and commercial development.

"One of the keys to revitalizing Rockland center and unlocking housing and economic growth community-wide hinges on addressing our water delivery and infrastructure needs, and this is exactly what this grant seeks to do," Chiocca stated.

Efforts to revitalize the downtown include the creation of an overlay district by Rockland Town Meeting last year on Union Street between North Avenue and the intersection of East Water and West Water Streets.

The overlay district allows the construction of four-story buildings on Union Street and three-story buildings on East Water and West Water streets. 

Rockland Town Meeting also approved a purchase of the vacant M & S Auto Repair lot to provide for additional downtown parking spaces or an expansion of town hall at the request of selectmen, May 1.

Additional plans to revitalize the downtown are being made evaluated by REiMAGINE ROCKLAND, a community initiative to encourage commercial growth.

The group which includes business leaders, local artists, residents and volunteers, received a $15,000 grant March 20 through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative.

The initiative authorized by Gov. Charlie Baker provides communities with funding to obtain technical support to improve downtown areas by enhancing their visual appeal through arts, culture, and by encouraging business development in addition to improved parking.

Mass Housing awarded Rockland and Abington the largest grant amount among the 15 communities that were awarded aid.

"MassHousing is excited to support the Baker-Polito Administration’s Housing Choice Initiative, by giving cities and towns the additional capacity needed to achieve housing growth," stated MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. "By engaging with cities and towns on site feasibility, public infrastructure design, data transparency and rezoning, MassHousing’s Planning for Housing Production program will remove barriers to the realization of local planning priorities. We congratulate these fifteen cities and towns for advancing such compelling projects, and look forward to continuing to drive new housing production across Massachusetts."

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