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Project to bring new life to landmarks

By Lori O' Brien


HOLYOKE On a recent Wednesday afternoon in May there was scant foot traffic along the canal downtown, however, public officials hope one day to change that with its planned Canalwalk project.

The Canalwalk is a 2.1-mile, $9 million infrastructure project located along the city's canals, designed to create a promenade for the benefit and enjoyment of city residents and property owners, according to Jeffrey P. Hayden, Director, Office of Economic and Industrial Development, and department head for the Planning Department.

"It is hoped that this project will provide access to this unique waterway while creating new opportunities for cultural and civic activities," said Hayden during an interview with Reminder Publications.

Hayden added that significant public investment will yield new private investment from the property owners abutting the Canalwalk as well as stimulate new investment from prospective developers.

Currently, the project is nearing completion of its 75 percent design as required by Mass Highway, according to Hayden. The Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst also recently completed a project that identifies key linkages within Holyoke's downtown and at the same time creates a marketing brand for the project.

Upon completion, the Canalwalk will provide access to one of the region's industrial wonders and at the same time create a venue which will add vitality to the city's downtown area, added Hayden.

"Holyoke has targeted public and private investments in nodes throughout the city," said Hayden. "This project provides the opportunity to connect many of those nodes within our downtown."

Hayden explained that the connection is both geographical connecting the central business district to the canal area - and thematic connecting the canals with the children's museum and Pulaski Park/Veterans Park.

In addition to Hayden's departments, persons having integral roles in the Canalwalk planning process include Mayor Michael J. Sullivan, Senior Planner Karen Mendrala, David Loring of Tighe & Bond, Chris Curtis of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the UMass students.

"The city and the regional have enthusiastically received this project and eagerly anticipate construction in 2007," said Hayden.

Businesses interested in more information about the Canalwalk project can contact Hayden at (413) 322-5655.