Inter-Fluve, along with Sasaki Associates, will create plans to restore 1-mile section of river to a more natural state

By Edward Damon, Berkshire Eagle, @BE_EDamon on Twitter

NORTH ADAMS >> An organization that hopes to restore the Hoosic River has been joined by a state-appointed team that will create designs for the first phase of its project.

Inter-Fluve Inc., in conjunction with Sasaki Associates, was selected by the state’s Department of Ecological Restoration, according to Hoosic River Revival President Judith Grinnell.

The firms, joined by four supporting companies, will be charged with creating plans for a one-mile section of the river that’s currently contained in a 60-year-old concrete flood chute ‘ from the former Sons of Italy building to Hunter Foundry Road off Curran Highway (Route 8) to the south, a section that runs along Noel Field.

“It’s most exciting,” Grinnell said on Friday, adding that it’s rewarding that the community and state officials see the value in the project.

Since 2008, the group has led efforts to restore the river to a more natural state while maintaining flood control, with organizers envisioning adjacent biking and walking trails. Community members and organizers have also stressed a need to replace the current concrete flood control chutes, which were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s.

Grinnell said representatives from the nonprofit and DER officials will have their first meeting with the consultants next week.

DER will manage the project, she said, and the local nonprofit and the city will serve as advisers.

Funding for schematic designs will cost $500,000, a small piece of the $8.8 million included in an environmental bond bill.

Mayor Richard Alcombright expressed support in prepared remarks, noting he was pleased of the organization’s “comprehensive vision for the river, and to see that they acknowledge that its restoration should serve as both a modern flood control system and an economic development catalyst.”

Grinnell said Inter-Fluve, which has four offices nationwide, and Sasaki of Watertown, were attractive firms to the DER because of their experience and the “multi-faceted nature” of the project. Inter-Fluve is an award-winning firm with more than 30 years of experience, she said. Sasaki has earned more than 500 design awards, such as for projects in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Hartford.

Also on the design team will be: HR&A Advisors, Inc., of New York, N.Y.; Tighe & Bond of Westfield; Holmberg & Howe of Easthampton; and Stockman Associates of Plainfield. HR&A will create an economic analysis of the project’s impact on the city.

The public will be able to give input at a number of future public meetings, Grinnell said.

“The team will be asking questions and sharing their thoughts about the kind of design that fit the criteria we have set for them,” Grinnell said.

The organization hopes to have a presentation from the design team by June.

Grinnell said that Mass MoCA already has served as an “economic catalyst” for the city.

“I see the restoration as the next economic engine for us,” Grinnell said.

Contact Ed Damon at 413-770-6979.