After speaking in mostly conceptual terms until now, we were pleasantly surprised by the boldness of the possibilities the Hoosic River Revival Coalition presented to the City Council on Tuesday night, and we believe the group's vision has the potential to be transformative for the city.
There are still questions in these plans to enhance sections of the Hoosic River's flood-control chutes -- including key questions of financing and property rights issues -- but it appears that Judy Grinnell, coalition founder and chairwoman, is very much aware of that and made it clear that her designs on making the river a destination still have moving targets. We urge residents and officials to stay open to these plans as details on state, federal and private financing solidify through the coalition's work.
Grinnell was also wise to stress that flood control is the foremost goal in this project. Yes, the group wants to make the river accessible to the community in a way that it hasn't been in generations, but it also wants to keep the community as protected as it is now from the occasional distemper of the Hoosic. Technologies and design practices that didn't exist when the current flood-control system was erected are a way to accomplish both goals, and ideally, this is a revitalization that will not come with increased risk.
An important point made Tuesday shows that flood control is still the primary goal: No one knows how long the concrete chute walls are going to last, and the coalition's plans are a chance to be proactive about that fact and find a solution before there is a problem.
Councilor John Barrett III made an excellent point when he said there needs to be an economic impact to this vision, one that creates jobs and has a measurable result.
We think Grinnell answered well when she detailed how a flood control system that enhances downtown and connects people to the river has the potential to draw in new visitors, residents and business. The measured pace of the project involves incremental work on the chutes, and as Mayor Richard Alcombright pointed out, this would allow for economic impact studies to assess the value of moving forward at each step.
Obviously there is more to attracting future residents and entrepreneurs than the realm of aesthetics, but it is a basic component, and these plans have the potential to be revolutionary for the city's physical character.
We believe the coalition's plans, though still taking shape, have the strength to be part of the mosaic that will draw people in and give those looking elsewhere pause. We encourage all to remain open-minded to the developments the group's work will bring.