New England News
3:55 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

North Adams Organization Receives State Funding for Downtown Flood Chute Project

A Northern Berkshire County community will benefit from state funding designed to enhance and restore rivers and wetlands across Massachusetts.

This week, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced more than $64,000 in funding to support seven rivers and wetlands Priority Projects in Massachusetts. Through the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration, the series of grants will support community organizations in a variety of projects, including dam removal and replacement, infrastructure repair, and habitat restoration.

Tim Purinton, Director of the Division of Ecological Restoration, spoke about the Priority Projects program, and that their work is focused at the local level.

In North Adams, the Hoosic River Revival, a private non-profit organization, received $10,000 to assist in part of a complex project with a mission of reconstructing and redesigning flood chutes in the city’s downtown. The flood chutes were built in the 50’s by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent flooding from the North Branch of Hoosic River.

Judy Grinnell, founder and leader of the HRR, said that her organization has been working with consultants and the public over the past 5 years to develop concepts to maximize the river’s potential in North Adams by increasing access, and making it a key component of economic development.

This is the third $10,000 award Hoosic River Revival has received from the Division of Ecological Restoration. The funding will be used specifically to organize a community meeting with consultants and share the revitalization concepts with the community.

After June, a decision will be made on which design to develop and pursue.

The HRR is just one organization working to revitalize the small Berkshire city. The Partnership for North Adams, which includes the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts are working to improve the city’s downtown, and the city government is also in the process of updating its master plan for the first time in decades.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said that he appreciates the work HRR is doing because it not only will provide an opportunity for economic development, but the existing flood chutes are a safety concerns.

Judy Grinnell said that she hopes to have a concept and design approved by the community, city and state governments by 2014, but the work is far from being complete.

The Priority Project grants are also assisting organizations in Lancaster, Scuituate, Boston & Milton, Plymouth, and Lawrence.