Article By Jennifer Huberdeau
North Adams Transcript

NORTH ADAMS — Although the first pilot project of The Hoosic River Revival is some time away, the community will be able to provide input during a community conversation in June, which will ultimately help the organization decide which portion of the river will become its first restoration site.

The private nonprofit group, formerly known as the Hoosic River Revival Coalition, recently received a $10,000 grant from the state Dept. of Environmental Restoration’s Priority Project Fund to help pay for the river restoration consultants who will conduct the Revival’s second “Community Conversation.”

The Hoosic River Revival is one of 72 “priority projects” in the state and one of only six to receive grant funding from the state this year. The state program provides technical assistance and support to the priority projects, based on requests through grant applications.

“What makes the Hoosic River project exciting for us is that it’s an urban revitalization effort,” DER Director Tim Purinton said Monday. “Many of our efforts concentrate on cold-water stream restoration or on shoreline restoration projects. Urban revitalization projects, like this one and similar ones in Fitchburg and Lawrence, are really interesting because they have a close connection to the community.”

He added, “This particular project has formed some really fantastic partnerships and some really strong connections with a variety of different community groups.
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This project is really starting to materialize and has such strong support from Mayor [Richard] Alcombright. It’s also great to see how the community has really embraced this project and the process as well.”

Since holding its first “community conversation” in 2010, the Revival group has contracted with the consulting firm Milone & MacBroom and raised funds to develop several design concepts or “options” for restoration of different sections of the Hoosic River. Most recently, the group became a private nonprofit, with a board of directors and an advisory board.

“We’re very pleased to receive this grant,” Judy Grinnell, board of directors president, said Tuesday. “This is actually the third grant we’ve received from the state DER. We initially received a $10,000 grant in 2010 that allowed us to hold our first community conversation. As a result of that conversation, we were able to raise funds and hire a restoration consultant to pursue some ‘options’ for North Adams. We received a $12,000 grant, which helped us accomplish that. It wasn’t all of the funding we needed, but it was a nice chunk. Now, with this $10,000, we’ll be able to move forward a little more.”

The second community conversation, which will be held mid-June, will follow a similar format as the one held three years ago.

“We’ll have a combination of river restoration and city planning professionals present information about the river and the flood chutes at the beginning of the day,” she said. “We want to repeat that information, as we expect to have some new people attend and because the outreach I’ve been doing now isn’t detailed when it comes to the history and other information about the flood chutes.”

Following the presentation, participants will break up into small work groups to discuss the nine different options that have been proposed.

“While they are initial designs, I have to stress that no decisions have been made,” Grinnell said. “These are ideas — possibilities for North Adams — that were pulled together after the last conversation. Everything is open for discussion. We’re looking to take the feedback we get from the conversation, as well as from our outreach work, and take all of it into consideration, as well as cost of each, the time each would take and the feasibility in general of a project. We will do this in consultation with the mayor, elected officials and with relevant boards, such as the Planning Board and Conservation Commission. From there, we’ll decide on a pilot program.”