AMHERST, Mass. – Gov. Deval Patrick has signed legislation that authorizes the borrowing of $1.9 billion for environmental projects statewide, including $37.5 million at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and two university-run sites in eastern Massachusetts.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said, “This is a new source of funding that will enhance the university’s ability to serve communities across the Commonwealth. I want to thank Governor Patrick and our local delegation—Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representatives Ellen Story, John Scibak, Steve Kulik and Peter Kocot—for their support. As the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, we are committed to protect and improve the environment for the next generation of Massachusetts citizens.”
The legislation allows the state to borrow money for a host of projects over four years. As funds become available, they will provide for significant improvements on the Amherst campus, modernize facilities at the Cranberry Experiment Station in East Wareham and create in Waltham a new UMass Amherst Center for Urban Sustainability at the former agriculture extension farm. Details of the borrowing authorization include:
· $20 million to transform the 58-acre site Waltham site along Beaver Street to focus on urban agriculture, food safety and sustainability. Plans for the Boston-area project call for an eco-friendly building to house classrooms, conference space, offices and room for private groups that will cultivate community gardens. The site will also be used for research into alternative energy and water and food systems.Steve Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, said UMass Amherst was awaiting approval of the funding before making detailed plans with an emphasis on creating the smallest carbon footprint possible. UMass Amherst was strongly supported by legislators from the Waltham area, including state Sen. Michael Barrett and Reps. Thomas Stanley and John Lawn.
· $4 million for water quality innovation to support the work of David Reckhow, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. The money will help fund testing and pilot facilities for water technology at sites in Massachusetts.
· $5 million for technology and space upgrades for the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst. The money will fund infrastructure and technology upgrades to link the Stockbridge School through teleconferencing with community colleges and vocational schools across the state.
· $5.5 million for the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham. The money will be used for design, construction, retrofitting and outfitting laboratory space and equipment. The goal is to the reduce environmental impact of work at the station and improve the sustainability of cranberry production in Massachusetts.
· $3 million to help construct a new Integrated Design Building at UMass Amherst off North Pleasant Street and next to the Studio Arts Building. This 87,000-square-foot building will be constructed using wood frame construction rather than steel frame construction and will serve as a showcase for the Building Construction Technology group at UMass Amherst. The total cost of the building will be $53 million, with construction set to begin in March 2015 and completion by January 2017.