BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate voted to authorize up to $3.65 billion in bonds for repairs and improvements of capital facilities across the Commonwealth, including money for Bristol County Agricultural High School and the First Baptist Church.
Amendments, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, and passed Thursday, provide $30 million for the renovation and construction of Bristol Aggie in Dighton and $12 million for repairs to superior court in Taunton.
“These long-term capital investments help meet the health, safety and educational needs of our communities,” Pacheco said in a news release. “I look forward to seeing them come to fruition at Bristol Aggie and the Superior Court.”
Also Thursday, representatives of Bristol County towns and cities approved the nearly $104 million improvement project for the high school. The vote authorizes the three-member Bristol County Commission to petition Beacon Hill for special legislation to accept the measure.
The commission has said that the Massachusetts School Building Authority has agreed to pay for $50.5 million with the balance of $53.2 million falling to the 20 towns and cities that constitute Bristol County.
Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, also entered amendments with a focus on historical preservation in New Bedford, veterans , seniors and Buttonwood Park.
$1 million for restorations to First Baptist Church through Waterfront Historic Area League
$1.2 million for restoration of The Strand as a Cape Verdean Cultural Center
$1 million for Southeastern Massachusetts Veterans Housing Program for transitional housing in New Bedford.
$180,000 for repairs and upgrades at the senior and recreation center in Fairhaven
$600,000 for public access and resiliency projects at Buttonwood Park pond
Montigny also entered an amendment that calls for a deadline of June 1 for the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency to request proposals for “the mixed-use redevelopment of the State Pier facility.” And that bids include pier uses and activities, “but not limited to water-dependent cargo, commercial fishing, marine transportation, marine educational facilities, fresh produce and seafood markets and other uses related to tourism and public recreation connecting the working waterfront to the arts and culture center in the downtown.”
The Senate bill also increases previous spending authorizations for University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges campus facilities. The bill calls for $475 million for campus improvements.
"We need to continue to invest in the UMass system to make sure those campus provide the best education not only for public higher ed but all education for our students," said Sen. Karen E. Spilka, D-Ashland, during her presentation Thursday.
The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the House of Representatives.