METHUEN — When outgoing Gov. Mitt Romney made his latest bunch of budget cuts, it included three city grants, one of which was already being used.
The Methuen Arlington Neighborhood, Inc. (M.A.N. Inc.), an organization that helps more than 50 families, had its budget trimmed by $40,000.
“Cutting it in the middle of the program, that’s what hurts,” said Linda Soucy, interim director. “One and a half people are paid with that money. Nobody services as many people as we do with a one-and-a-half-person staff.”
Soucy explained she is the volunteer interim director at this point, but the grant had paid Director Carrie Toto’s salary. Toto is currently out on maternity leave, but is slated to return in February.
Soucy said M.A.N. Inc. has been receiving grants from the state since 1995 and when the cuts were made, she wasn’t notified. She had to read it in the newspaper.
Soucy then began making phone calls to state and local politicians and attended the Gov.-elect Deval Patrick’s transition team meeting in Lawrence.
“I’m hoping when he takes office he will look to restore some of the cuts,” Soucy said, who starts to apply for grants in January that are dispersed in July. “Well, in reality, we are awarded the money in July, but we usually don’t see the actual money until around October.”
M.A.N. Inc. has the full support of Mayor William Manzi.
“This is a particularly difficult cut because it’s an ongoing program that serves children,” Manzi said. “We will work very hard to have this overturned.”
Manzi said he has already had meetings with state Rep.-elect Linda Dean Campbell and state Sen. Steve Baddour to plan a strategy to get the money restored.
Another cut made to the city was a $250,000 grant to help in the restoration of the city-owned Bea’s property.
Manzi, who had formed a commission to help plan the development of the property, wants the panel to keep working despite the lack of funding.
“I think the commission ought to do the work as if we do have the money,” Manzi said. “Because if we do get the money restored, we can move forward with the development.”
Manzi added he feels the Bea’s property is a gateway to the city since it is located on the Merrimack River.
The commission, chaired by City Councilor Deborah Quinn, has four other members — Councilor Bob Andrew, Director of Recreation Bill Pare, conservation officer Joe Giarusso and citizen representative Darcie Coleman-Plourde.
Pare hopes the property can be used for recreation.
“We could have a boating program,” Pare said. “For years we’ve had to bus kids to Lawrence to teach them how to sail. We could have our own right here.”
Coleman-Plourde agreed with Pare and added having a picnic area and playground would add to the appeal for families.
“Bea’s was a place where memories were created,” she said. “Having a place where families can come together can create new ones.”
According to Manzi if the grant is not restored, he will look into the city budget to see how the city can help in the redevelopment because the property is so important to the city.