Outdoors Act brings money for Minute Man Park

By Jesse Floyd Correspondent
April 27, 2023

For $27 million you could pay most of Red Sox leftie Chris Sale’s annual salary or put a down payment on the Barnstable home boasting a 300-foot beach, a pool and a wine cellar holding 5,000 bottles.

Or, if you’re the National Park Service, you take that money and you primp and prep for the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

The park service got the money from the Great American Outdoors Act, cash earmarked for a series of projects aimed, in part, at getting the park ready for April 2025.

The Great American Outdoors Act was passed in August 2020. It is touted on the Department of the Interior website as the single largest investment in public lands in history. Starting in fiscal 2021, the act earmarks $1.5 billion annually for five years to address the backlog of deferred maintenance on national park and public land infrastructure.

The Minute Man Park system has already begun spending the $27 million. At a recent Select Board meeting, park Superintendent Simone Monteleone provided an update on the work scheduled prior to the April 2025 anniversary.

According to Monteleone, the first phase was awarded last fall – $14 million to restore and renovate buildings within the park. 

Phase two was awarded in March, and that will see $3.8 million spent on updating and improving trails, including several at North Bridge. This phase could end up being the most disruptive to visitors, as boardwalks are replaced and trails improved.

According to Monteleone, some archeological work is being done. When it is finished, the actual pick-and-shovel work can begin on the trails.

The final phase is still in the request for proposal phase, the superintendent said. That will be the landscaping within the park – work that will compliment the trail restoration, she said.

Finally, new signs will be installed park-wide. That, Monteleone said, is the only phase of the project unlikely to be completed in time for 2025 because about 300 signs need to be replaced, simply too much work in too little time. So, the sign portion of the effort will be split before and after the anniversary.

“The goal is to have the majority of the work completed before the anniversary,” she told the board.

The park money being spent is different from the efforts going on to plan the celebration.

On March 17, state Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, announced a proposed supplemental state budget of $2 million to defray some of the expected expenses.

“Pennsylvania, South Carolina and others of the original 13 colonies began their own preparations years ago, but in Massachusetts, state support did not materialize. Now, thanks to the Healey-Driscoll initiative, a proper effort is under way,” wrote Barrett in a press release.

Concord established a planning committee in February 2021. The first step was setting up a committee structure, then establishing the laundry list of subcommittees needed, Dane said.

That committee now boasts 14 members, with duties ranging from arts, literature and music, to hospitality and someone charged with community coordination, among a host of others.