Funding for the renovations is made possible by a $3 million Federal Community Project Funding Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant funding will allow the City of Springfield to initiate the first phase of redevelopment of the Forest Park Horticulture Master Plan. The master plan for redevelopment of the Horticulture Section of Forest Park has been developed with improvements including the relocation of Forestry Operations; renovations to Walker Grandstand and the original menagerie buildings (which include the former Monkey House); replacing the original 1900 Greenhouse; improved gardens and pedestrian walkways throughout the section; upgrades to the Kennedy Memorial; and enhancements to the baseball field, lighting, security and landscaping. Currently, the buildings have been stabilized and the department is applying for additional grants to fund the estimated $12.5 million master plan.
Mayor Sarno states, “Director Sullivan and I are grateful to the efforts of Congressman Neal, who once a mayor always the heart of a mayor, in securing these vital federal grant funds. Forest Park is a vibrant oasis in the city, a fact made very apparent over the past two COVID-influenced years as Forest Park remained open and saw an increase in patrons. We have an obligation to improve our open space and these grant funds bring us closer to making this Horticulture Master Plan a reality. Pat and I goal is to host flower shows much like is done at Smith College. This project illustrates the importance of having a master plan ready so when grants do become available, we are ready to participate in the application process. The improvements will be a welcome addition to Forest Park and will serve the residents of Springfield and surrounding communities who visit this park.”
“The Omnibus package that passed through Congress earlier this year included important Community Project Funding that will directly benefit the First Congressional District including this $3 million for the City of Springfield’s Forest Park Horticulture Plan,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal. “The City will be able to do tremendous upgrades and preservation work throughout the park, which is a true gem for residents and visitors all year long. I am proud to have fought for this and nine other projects that will bring over $8 million to the district to address some of western and central Massachusetts’ most pressing needs.”
Terry Rodriquez, Park Commission Chairwomen, added, “This is wonderful news for the patrons of Forest Park. The improvements will restore the Walker Grandstand to its former condition and serves as a catalyst to acquire additional grant funds to complete the Horticulture Center. I would also like to extend a special thank you to Mayor Sarno and Congressman Neal who together continue to secure the funding to improve our beautiful Park System.”
Patrick Sullivan said, “This is exciting news for the Forest Park Horticulture Master Plan. The iconic Walker Grandstand and the unique Menagerie Buildings exemplify the history and grandeur of Forest Park. The Grandstand is a welcoming sight as you drive down Main Greeting Road and approach the baseball complex. The renovations will modernize this facility with improved seating, new restrooms, and a concession area, and will establish a comfortable atmosphere for the many baseball games played at this field. We are excited to continue implementation of the entire Horticulture Master Plan and we are grateful to Congressman Neal for his assistance in the funding of this phase.”
It was also announced, that the dugouts at Walker Grandstands will be dedicated and named after the Republican Newspaper legendary and beloved sportswriter, the late Garry Brown, so that he can continue ‘Hitting to all Fiends’!