By Jim Vasil, Time Warner Cable News, Albany/Capital Region
August 15, 2014

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Where there’s water, there’s life.

“I firmly believe that water is such an asset for a city,” said Judy Grinnell, President of Hoosic River Revival.

And the water that travels through North Adams may soon bring more life back to the city. Governor Deval Patrick signed a $2.2 billion environmental bill into law this week, with $8.8 million, pending legislative approval, to go towards the Hoosic River Revival Project.

“It’s basically restoring what was natural river in some locations within the city while providing well more than adequate flood protection,” said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright.

Grinnell says the current flood control system is five decades old and needs an upgrade.

“Not like this, which separates the people of the city from the river, and which also is not at all attractive,” Grinnell said.

“The integrity of our flood chutes is being compromised each and every day,” said Alcombright. “It’s very old infrastructure, and over time, it’s going to need to be replaced.”

It’s clear that the main goal of reviving the Hoosic River is to add on flood protection. But with the potential of economic development, the money could breathe life back into the river and back into the city.

“It would be a great economic development benefit for the city because we could have recreation here,” said Grinnell.

Recreation, retail, even housing opportunities. Things that could enhance the city’s image, like other cities across the county that have benefitted from similar infrastructure.

“I think we can’t look at this with any less enthusiasm, certainly, than with what’s happened in Providence and what’s happened in San Antonio, with the river walk and whatnot,” said Alcombright.

“I just see it as another stepping stone for North Adams to become the really vibrant city it can, because, look around, it’s beautiful here,” said Grinnell. “And having the river come back to life would be one more asset.