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City adds $720,000 in stimulus

Federal funds total $172.6m

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / August 25, 2009

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The city plans to announce today that it has received $720,000 in funding to help in the cleaning and redevelopment of contaminated sites in Dorchester and Roxbury, in the latest use of federal stimulus money that officials say has helped save hundreds of jobs and pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.

A six-month tally of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, believed to be the first report of its kind by a major city in the country, shows Boston has received $172.6 million in federal funds, which has helped launch 41 construction and work-training projects. The city has also used that money to leverage another $162.2 million in matching state and private grants, for a total investment of $334.8 million citywide.

“You see a lot of public opinion on the recovery act, whether it’s working, but we’re six months in, and we know we’ve saved jobs,’’ said Jake Sullivan, coordinator of the city’s stimulus funds. “We know we have programs starting, because of the recovery act.’’

As the nation’s economy plunged, the city was able to use federal funding to save 100 police officer jobs and 231 positions within the Boston Public Schools, including 180 teacher posts.

The stimulus package directly funded 850 youth jobs in the city’s summer jobs program - close to 10,000 were created in all - and the city has leftover funding for the winter and next summer. Job training was offered to 232 adults.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino plans to announce today that the Boston Redevelopment Authority will receive $720,000 in federal funding for three contaminated sites.

The city will use the money to remove contaminated soil from the former Levedo Motors site at Mallard and Talbot avenues, where a transit-oriented mixed-use building of rental units and commercial space is planned by the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Also, the money will help in the cleanup of the AB&W building at 157 Washington St., where the Codman Square group plans another mixed-use building; and money will be used to clean up the site at 32 Jackson Square, to be redeveloped by Urban Edge as affordable housing and commercial retail space.

Boston has also used stimulus funding to start construction jobs, including the renovation of public housing buildings across the city. At least $30 million has been directed toward public housing, notably the Washington Beech complex in Roslindale.

Sullivan said the stimulus funding has also helped launch long-term projects that were only at the conceptual stage. For instance, the city is embarking on the reconstruction of 15 intersections along Dorchester Avenue, from Andrew Square to Fields Corner.

The $16.5 million project was under the city’s capital improvement budget, but only with some $2 million in funding a year. Under the stimulus package, the project could be completed in less than three years.

Sullivan said the city could also see more funding to launch a new green energy plan in Boston and for transportation improvements. The city has applied for a grant to improve and expand broadband technology, for instance.

The city’s tally of stimulus funding, expected to be released today, comes as public officials have worked to defend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Yesterday, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray and John Walsh, chairman of the state Democratic Party, held a conference call with reporters to tout the act’s success in Massachusetts.

But the state Republican Party released a statement saying the stimulus funding has failed to help Massachusetts, that the state has lost jobs, and that the state’s unemployment rate continues to increase.

Sullivan said the act has helped projects in Boston.

“We’ve seen some instant benefit from the Recovery Act, but also projects that will be advancing and are in the pipeline as well,’’ Sullivan said.

Milton Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com.