Our View: Planting seeds for growth in Bristol County

Gov. Deval Patrick was at the former Lincoln Park site Friday to announce about $50 million in state investment in the form of MassWorks infrastructure grants to benefit Bristol County. There was stiff competition for the grants this year, with four to five times as many applications than usual.

By Editorial Board
Posted Oct. 20, 2014 @ 6:30 pm
Updated Oct 20, 2014 at 6:55 PM

Gov. Deval Patrick was at the former Lincoln Park site Friday to announce about $50 million in state investment in the form of MassWorks infrastructure grants to benefit Bristol County. There was stiff competition for the grants this year, with four to five times as many applications than usual.


With the $2.2 million investment for highway safety improvements, a place filled with fond memories in the past met the promise of a brighter future. Lincoln Park has been dormant for decades now since the popular amusement park — which opened July 4, 1894 — closed in 1987, but plans have been in the works for years to develop the Village at Lincoln Park into a combination of mixed housing and commercial space.


The project, a combination of 57 single-family homes and two mixed-use buildings of 32 apartments above commercial space, is finally expected to be complete within three to five years. There will also be three apartment buildings totaling 120 residences.


But one big hindrance to the redevelopment is the dangerous and even deadly routes 6 and 177 intersection, near the border of Dartmouth and Westport, which will now be reconfigured into a safer traffic pattern to better handle the increased traffic. In the northern part of Bristol County, meanwhile, the town of North Attleborough stands to benefit from a $1.3 million grant to make utility improvements at East Street Commons.


The lion’s share of MassWorks money announced on Friday goes to University of Massachusetts Medical School’s new biomanufacturing center on the Freetown/Fall River line. Patrick touted a $5 million grant to enhance the building and scope of the center.


The Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing on the site is nearly complete. Upgrading the 35,000-square-foot facility is expected to help medicines being developed by start-up companies using the facility gain Food and Drug Administration approval. That, in turn, is expected to spur more jobs.


The facility, once it finally opens, is expected to be a big catalyst in life sciences research and development. It is expected to be the anchor of the SouthCoast Life Sciences and Technology Park at Fall River.


The latest grant brings the total investment in the MAB to nearly $33 million. The still-struggling SouthCoast is eager for that investment to begin paying off in the form of much-needed jobs and economic development. The state infrastructure investments represent, as U.S. Rep. Bill Keating put it, the “seed money” needed to attract the private investment needed to truly grow the region’s economy.

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