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LOWELL ߝ UMass Lowell officially received $1 million from the state on Friday, Nov. 2 for improvements to the Bellegarde Boathouse in Lowell and unveiled plans for the project.
The funding will go toward renovating the community resource, which is used by UML and Lowell High School crew teams, the Merrimack River Rowing Association, and other members of the community.
Representatives of the teams, including more than 40 from Lowell High School, gathered for today’s announcement by UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, chair of the state Senate Ways and Means Committee; Rep. Thomas Golden, chair of the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading; and Lowell Mayor William Martin and other city officials.
“Our goal is to have a first-rate facility that will draw people to the Merrimack River and all the activities that this vital natural resource generates,” said Meehan.
“It is extremely important that we turn this boathouse back into the jewel it once was,” said Golden. “I know the Bellegarde family will be happy at the end of the day, with a premier facility.” Thomas Bellegarde, son of Edmund, for whom the Boathouse was named, was on hand for the announcement.
Panagiotakos said Golden acted as Tom Brady in the House of Representatives, quarterbacking the funding process for the Lowell delegation. “The improvements will bring the community a public boathouse that the University, high school and rowing association can be proud of,” he said.
The $1 million from the state will go toward a new roof, new windows, doors, gutters, trim, siding, bathrooms, boat docks, signs, and systems to prevent flooding at the boathouse, as well as repairs to fencing and the building’s deck. Funding for the project was approved by the state in August 2006, but could not be transferred until the University assumed care and control of the facility from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which was authorized under the legislation.
“To see how the river has been transformed and now to see the boathouse transformed and world-class rowing coming to UMass Lowell and a world-class crew team at Lowell High School,” said Martin, “all of us are very proud.”
The Bellegarde Boathouse, located in Lowell Heritage State Park, along the Merrimack River, was built in 1982. The building includes offices, locker rooms, storage bays for boats and equipment, a training area, and space for history and science programs for local students. Although the boathouse is still used by rowers, its condition has deteriorated in recent years, particularly from spring flooding. It is no longer used for educational programs.
While the $1 million in funding will get the project started, it will not pay for all of the work. Meehan said the University will seek donations and other sources of support for the renovations.
The University will work with the city and DCR to have the work on the boathouse completed as soon as possible, Meehan said. An advisory committee has been established and is working with user groups as the renovations are conducted as well as to establish a policy for the boathouse’s operation.
“We look forward to working with DCR, the delegation and the community to help make the Bellegarde Boathouse and this beautiful stretch of the Merrimack River a destination spot in the city,” Meehan said.
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.