By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle
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NORTH ADAMS ‘ In the first phase of its redevelopment, the Hoosic River will meander through a park-like setting with hike/bike paths winding through athletic fields and over pedestrian bridges.
It will feature expanded points of access to the river that will enhance opportunities for canoeing, fishing, swimming and skating, according to Judith Grinnell, president of Hoosic River Revival.
The design of the roughly $20 million first phase of the project, in the area of the Noel Field Athletic Complex, is 60 percent complete, she said.
“Phase One, or ‘The Park,’ as we call it, will be an attractive, multi-faceted recreational asset for the city with a fishable, boatable, swimmable, easily accessible river that meanders through four playing fields and is surrounded by pedestrian/bike paths, a splash pad, playground, dog park, winter skating, an urban orchard, and an adjacent skate park,” Grinnell said.
The plans will be presented during the City Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in North Adams City Hall.
The group intends to eventually redevelop 2 1/2 miles of the river through North Adams, disassembling the 1950-era concrete flood chute with either stabilized walls where necessary, or landscaped banks that allow for flood protection and the return of the river’s habitat.
Phase One runs from Hunter Foundry Road to Heritage State Park to the south, including the section that runs along Noel Field.
Grinnell said the goal of the project to provide flood controls, improved river ecology, a local economic driver, an aesthetically pleasing park-like area, and expanded recreational opportunities.
Funding for the project, Grinnell said, would potentially come from a number of state and federal grants, along with donations from foundations interested in restored river habitats and expanded access for the public. Fundraising efforts are ongoing.
“We’re spending a lot of time seeking funding opportunities,” she said.
Since June, the design has been in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers, which needs to provide its authorization before the group can move forward with the rest of the design, Grinnell noted.
Part of the presentation will be the premier the short movie, “Restore a River, Revitalize a City,” created for Hoosic River Revival by Lanesborough filmmaker Bill Matthiesen to highlight the restoration and its benefits to North Adams.
Also ready discuss the progress will be Nick Nelson, a river restoration expert with Inter-Fluve who worked as the project manager for the Phase One design.
Further work of the Hoosic River Revival includes raising funds over the next four to five years, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the final design, and analyzing the soil.
Construction will involve a great deal of earth moving and paving for the hike-bike trail. The route of the river will actually be changed as part of the project to take a more winding route, which will serve to slow the flow of the river, provide flood protection, and allow more access, Grinnell said.