By Seth Daniel
Just when everyone was settled in to spend the first round of Charlestown Community Impact Funds from the Wynn Boston Harbor, now a second round has been delivered by Mayor Martin Walsh and the Impact Fund Committee.
Mayor Walsh, in collaboration with the Charlestown Community Impact Fund, announced Monday the approval of $197,500 in grant awards for 38 nonprofits and organizations that serve the Charlestown community. The awards were decided at an Oct. 12 meeting of the committee. Awards support projects spanning the areas of arts and culture, community enrichment activities and events, education, youth sports, veterans, after-school activities, mentoring, job training, substance abuse and recovery, senior programming, environmental and community gardening, and health and wellness.
There were seven projects rejected, and four of the applicants got the largest awards of $10,000. They were the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, the Charlestown Historical Society, the Kennedy Center, and the Skating for Success youth hockey program.
Perhaps one of the most interesting grant this time came to the Historical Society, which is looking to restore three very large oil paintings related to the history of Charlestown. The paintings include a George Washington portrait done by Charlestown resident Frothingham in 1858, a portrait of Andrew Jackson in 1855 and a portrait of Daniel Webster in 1853 at the Bunker Hill Monument dedication. They will be given to the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum when completed.
In the category of the most pressing need, the Kennedy Center got a $10,000 grant to put up a toddler-graded playground, which they don’t have right now.
Mayor Walsh said the grants given are the essence of why he negotiated the payment from Wynn for the Town.
“These grants are why I fought to negotiate the largest community benefit Boston could obtain from the Wynn Casino,” said Walsh. “My priority has always been to preserve and protect the quality of life in Charlestown, and these grant awards do just that, helping everyone from students to older residents to veterans gain increased services and opportunities,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Charlestown Community Impact Fund represents our continued work on behalf of the people of Charlestown.”
For all of 2017, the Charlestown Community Impact Fund awarded 80 mini-grants totaling $376,500 to 50 nonprofits and organizations. The Managing Committee has been committed to awarding mini-grants in the range of $1,000 – $10,000 to ensure fairness, as well as to ensure the money is distributed to as many eligible groups as possible, and that the money in the fund is available to the community until the casino opens.
“We’ll use this grant to create a veteran outreach program in Charlestown, knocking on doors in the community to create a registry of veterans in Charlestown, ensuring veterans have access to the services they need and deserve. In addition, we’ll use the grant to create an online resource for Charlestown veterans,” said Joe Zuffante, president of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Memorial Hall. “These grants make a big, lasting difference to Charlestown residents, and I thank Mayor Walsh and our partners for ensuring these funds go to benefit Charlestown.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said the grants help local non-profits reach their goals and have the necessary tools for success, whether it’s a backstop at the softball field or the preservation of historic paintings.
“I want to thank Mayor Walsh and his administration for their work in dispersing these mitigation funds to the Charlestown community,” said Ryan. “There is a lot of development going on in and around our town. These funds go a long way toward helping our nonprofits meet their mission and continue to make Charlestown a place where people want to live, work and play.”
Councilor Sal LaMattina said the mitigation is important to the Town. He said it was his last time being on the committee to award the grants, as he will leave his seat before the 2018 rounds of funding.
“I am excited about the latest round for the Charlestown Community Impact Fund Grants. These grants will tremendously help to support youth sports, elderly services, substance abuse, community groups and local non-profits,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina. “I also would like to commend Mayor Walsh for making sure the mitigation funds stay in Charlestown.”
The seven members of the Managing Committee of the Charlestown Community Impact Fund are responsible for distribution of the funds. The committee is made up of City of Boston staff and members of Charlestown’s elected delegation. The fund awards mini-grants twice per year in the spring and the fall.
The Charlestown Community Impact Fund was created as a result of the Surrounding Community Agreement reached between Mayor Walsh and Wynn Resorts. As part of this agreement, Wynn has made a one-time payment of $1 million designated for local Charlestown nonprofits and community organizations. Additionally, Wynn Casino will pay a Community Impact Fee of $2 million annually once the casino opens in June 2019, and as long as the casino is operating in the future.