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Projects to get funding boost

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Several local projects are getting sizable cash support from the state as part of a $100 million funding release announced Thursday by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Salem will get $100,000 for building work and repairs at Artists’ Row, and Beverly will get the same amount for some infrastructure projects. Restoration work at the Carriage House at Lynch Park and GAR Hall in Beverly will each get $50,000. And the state will provide $50,000 to study a proposed Salem-Peabody trolley system.

“Revenues are exceeding benchmarks, and (Baker) is feeling comfortable enough to release those funds so the communities benefit,” state Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, said. Lovely said she is getting all of the funding she had requested in earmarks, or amendments, to the budget.

Among the most interesting projects is the idea for trolley service between Salem and Peabody.

“This is really the starting point,” state Rep. Tom Walsh, D-Peabody, said. “What we’re hoping to do with that ($50,000) is really look at the viability of it, see what has to be done to make this work, just kind of lay out the costs and the steps we have to meet along the way.”

Walsh is optimistic about the proposal.

“I finally feel that we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea, and I think that with the proper consultants, you’ll see this move forward.”

Other projects are already underway, including restoration and upgrades at the Carriage House at Lynch Park in Beverly and the historic GAR Hall.

“We’ve been doing various small projects along the way to try to improve the Carriage House, and we’re actually finishing up a preservation plan, feasibility study right now,” said Beverly recreation director Bruce Doig. “This building is obviously old. It’s 120 years old, and there’s already some areas that we’re hoping to spend some money on to preserve.”

The $50,000 grant will help stabilize and support the building’s north wall. After a fire at the property in the summer of 2016, repairs exposed underlying damage that needs to be addressed.

“We found many of the studs along the wall were rotted,” Doig said. “The hope is we could do a short-term project to shore that up, replace that all, do the siding.”

The total cost of the Carriage House work could be $3.5 to $4 million, once every door, window, piece of siding and wire in the building is touched, he noted. That estimate could rise or fall as more information becomes available. For now, he said, $50,000 buys some critical repairs to keep everything else going.

“Putting in new heat systems, fire suppression, air conditioning — it’s going to get expensive,” Doig said. “It’s an ongoing project. The ultimate goal is to renovate the entire building.”

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

Local needs funded

Salem, Artists’ Row: $100,000

Beverly, infrastructure grants: $100,000

Beverly, GAR Hall: $50,000

Beverly, Carriage House at Lynch Park: $50,000

Danvers, technology improvements: $50,000

Peabody/Salem, trolley study: $50,000

Peabody, Centennial Celebration expenses: $25,000

Peabody, fire and police memorial: $25,000

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