House Adopts Stanley Amendment to Restore $20 Million for UMASS Center for Urban Sustainability

The House of Representatives adopted Rep. Stanley and Rep. Lawn’s amendment to the Environmental Bond Bill to restore $20 million to the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Center for Urban Sustainability in Waltham.  The funding was cut by the House during the legislative process but Rep. Stanley and Rep. Lawn filed the amendment to restore funding for this important program.

The allocation will fund the design, rehabilitation or construction of a 20,000 square foot research and extension building at the Center, which will conduct research and advance urban sustainable agriculture through public-private partnerships.  The research will focus on urban agricultural issues related to food security, safety and access, environmental stewardship and workforce development.

“I am very excited for this 58-acre site to be revitalized and become a cultural and natural resource for residents of Waltham and visitors from around the state.  Waltham is an ideal site for green and sustainable practices, for individuals, families, communities, municipalities, and businesses, to develop and spread across the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Stanley.  “As health and environmental awareness become more and more important, the Center for Urban Sustainability will become a tremendous asset to Waltham and Massachusetts in helping visitors improve their quality of life.”

“The inclusion of the $20 million for the UMass Center for Urban Sustainability in the Environmental Bond Bill is a tremendous win for Waltham, the greater Waltham area, and the state,” said Rep. Lawn.  I see the renovated site becoming a hub for public and private organizations to come together and share their passion and knowledge for environmental stewardship and urban agriculture.”

The Center’s goal is to create a financially self-sustaining entity in which UMass Amherst collaborates with private and public organizations and agencies on metropolitan Boston’s first “sustainability mall”.   The building will feature organizational offices, conference and learning spaces, complemented by community-supported farming, agricultural incubator enterprises practicing urban farming of the future inside, as well as applied research and demonstration of best green landscape practices for urban and suburban residents on the surrounding land outside.  The Center will become a hub for programs related to food security and access, environmental stewardship, urban agriculture and workforce development in urban settings.

New and innovative science-based and best management practices and research will be on display and taught to visitors for them to bring back to and share with their own communities.  Solutions for managing urban natural resources such as water, soil, waste, energy, pollution, and wildlife will be available to learn.  This includes being instructed how to install a working roof top garden, managing storm water practices, what to do with contaminated soils, and best practices for composting food waste.  Methods and techniques for sustainable environments, urban agriculture and food systems will also be educational features of the center.  Visitors will be able to find information about water and wetland remediation tools, low input plants, community gardens, nutrient crop production, and greenhouse management.  Those seeking training for sustainability careers will be able to use the new UMass Green School, and agriculture and green industries for workforce development.