Fresh off securing federal funding for several suburban projects, Framingham's congresswoman visited the South Middlesex Opportunity Council's child care center on Monday to speak with administrators and tour the facility.

Democratic Party Whip Katherine Clark, who represents the state's 5th Congressional District — which includes much of MetroWest — previously announced the securing of more than $13 million in federal funding for projects in her district. In Framingham, she secured $900,000 for a new HVAC system for SMOC's child care center on Roxana Street.

Clark toured the facility, which provides affordable child care for families focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). While there, SMOC staff described to Clark about how the funding will benefit children at the center.

Steven Strickland, SMOC's real estate development director, said the new funding will benefit SMOC students, some of whom come from high-density areas.

"This facility is located in South Framingham, which historically has more of the environmental impact from heavy industry," Strickland told the Daily News.

SMOC says federal funding provides energy-efficient child care building

He added that the funding is beneficial for the center, as SMOC doesn't have a lot of other funding sources.

"For the federal government to provide this amount of funding really helps us to modernize the space and provide an energy-efficient, safe, high-quality building for our students, so we're really excited," Strickland said.

SMOC President and CEO Susan Gentili also praised the funding, saying the new HVAC system will benefit the roughly 500 children served by SMOC.

"Air quality is lined to health, and we have children here with asthma, and kids from families that need access to lots of stimulation," she said. "Any upgrade that we make to the facility really serves children and helps the families. Families need good, dependable, affordable child care, so that they can work and take care of their families."

In an interview with the Daily News, Clark said she was pleased to secure the funding for SMOC.

"This will make for a better, healthier environment by improving air quality and allow them to continue to provide services to the community of affordable, quality and sensible child care," she said.

According to Strickland, the center's new HVAC system will take a few months to design, and then a few months to construct. But the timeline is dependent on when SMOC actually receives the federal funding.

Congresswoman secures funding for projects in MetroWest

The cash is part of the final fiscal 2024 spending package, which President Joe Biden signed into law on March 23. In all, Clark's district will receive $13 million for 15 projects in 13 communities. Projects were selected in collaboration with state and local leaders.

In MetroWest, the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail received more than $1 million for its completion. Once complete, the rail will run from Lowell to Framingham, with the new funding used by Framingham to finish it off. The 25-mile route will be a non-motorized connection to public transit including the Massport Logan Express, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority.

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In addition, Sudbury received $500,000 to fund construction of a new Emergency Operations Center. That project will create a new facility for conducting critical operations during emergencies.

Wellesley received $500,000 to ensure Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at Wellesley Commuter Rail stations along the Framingham/Worcester line. All three of Wellesley's stations (Wellesley Square, Wellesley Hills and Wellesley Farms) are inaccessible for people with disabilities, according to the T website.

Other projects that received a part of the $13 million disbursement include:

  • Malden will receive $1 million to acquire and renovate an existing building for a single and permanent home for the Asian American Community Center.
  • Belmont will receive $1 million to construct a new pedestrian path.
  • Woburn will receive more than $950,000 to address PFAS remediation.
  • Winthrop will receive $125,000 to fund a renovation of the EB Newton Center Building.
  • Cambridge will get about $375,000 to upgrade equipment at Food for Free's Heat-n-Eats program.
  • Medford will receive $850,00 for the renovation of the Hegner Community Center.
  • More than $1.5 million will be disbursed to fund construction of the Malden River Works project.
  • Construction costs totaling $500,000 for shoreline stabilization and redeveloping Gibson Park and Mills Avenue Neighborhood in Revere.
  • Arlington will receive more than $950,000 for sustainable stormwater infrastructure along the Mystic River watershed.
  • The Waltham Boys & Girls Club will receive more than $1 million to fund an HVAC project.
  • Melrose will receive $1 million to fund a stormwater management project along Lebanon and Sylvan streets.


Original story HERE