Volunteer committee improves Amesbury’s ‘quality of life’

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This past spring, Mayor Ken Gray formed a seven-member Quality of Life Capital Advisory Committee to pursue modest upgrade projects around town.
 
“I had observed over the past months and years that residents would get into groups to do good things,” Gray said, “but they would always come to a barrier about money.”
 
In its inaugural year, the committee has $100,000 from a Smart Growth grant from the state.
 
“We will see what [amount] we can do each year,” Gray said.
 
Funding could potentially come from the same grant, if available, or free cash, he said.
 
The committee started its work this summer with a survey of residents to gather input on areas for improvement in the community, and by determining four categories to help sort and consider different projects and suggestions. The four categories are arts, downtown, open space, and park/historic.
 
Once projects have been chosen, the committee will seek estimates for the work determined to be done.
 
“We have to find the best bang for the buck that we can deliver to the residents to improve quality of life,” said Donna McClure, committee chair and a city councillor.
 
The committee has focused on three projects to begin work on: replacing chain link fences downtown along the Powwow River, building a tot park in front of the Flatbread restaurant, and refurbishing a small park in front of Crave restaurant.
 
The committee is working on estimates for the projects before taking them to the mayor. Work is expected to begin on the fence replacement first, followed by the tot park.
 
“This great group of people is indicative of the people who live here,” Gray said. “They are willing to help out.”
 
McClure said the program is “helping to make Amesbury a place where people want to move, with all the other exciting things happening here.”
 
The mayor described the committee as an alternative to the Community Preservation Act.