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North Adams Community Conversation Will Address Aging Flood Chutes

The cement-walled flood chutes that travel through North Adams are now over 60-years old, and concerns over the safety and integrity of the structures have been on the minds of many city residents for years.

Judy Grinnell, President of Hoosic River Revival, said the conversation about how to address the flood chutes and improve the quality of life in North Adams first began in 2008.

Hoosic River Revival formed a steering committee and over the next two years raised money to hire consultants to research what strategies other communities around the United States employ to manage urban rivers while maintaining residential, cultural, and economic value including Providence, RI and Greenville, SC.  Grinnell said another public conversation was held in 2010.  

"The consensus from that was 'Hoosic River Revival, please found out what North Adams can do,'" said Grinnell.

Since 2009, Hoosic River Revival has collected $158,430 in donations from a combination of individuals, businesses, trusts and foundations, and state funding to hire consultants to study the flood chutes. After working with consultants Milone & MacBroom of Cheshire, CT, the group will present more than a dozen drawings of the river and how the land can be modified to reach the communities’ goals. Judy Grinnell said that it’s important for all members of the North Adams community to turn out for the public conversation Saturday.

"We want you to come, see these drawings, hear the explanations from our professionals, the consultans who have created them. Then we will break up into smaller groups so people can discuss each section," said Grinnell.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said that the existing flood chutes have been showing their age, and also encourages the public to turn out for the meeting.

"This last flash flood we had...one full panel on Willow Dell in North Adams collapsed into the river. The structure itself is starting to show wear and tear, at point in time something is going to need to be done," said Alcombright. 

Alcombright said that any new design would maintain the same - if not higher - level of flood protection as currently provided.

Grinnell said that the public input will then be considered by Hoosic River Revival to make a decision on the next step which could include a pilot project or development of a master plan, but said no decisions have yet been made on any engineering concept or project.  

The meeting will begin Saturday, June 15th at 9 a.m. and will run until 1 p.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center  in North Adams.

For more information: www.hoosicriverrevival.org/

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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