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City gets grant for walk

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE Mayor Michael Bissonnette said on Monday that a $58,300 UrbanRivers Visions Implementation Grant from the state will be used in designing the plans for the segment of the proposed river walk going from the Ames apartment complex to the Chicopee Library.

Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) Secretary Robert W. Golledge, Jr. announced the award of the grant on Monday.

The project will promote environmental restoration and improved pedestrian access to the river.

Bissonnette explained the city has an earmark of $800,000 to do project, but as a result of study done by University of Massachusetts students, he wanted the city to apply for this grant.

"It's great that we've opened up the pipe line. These are the kind of grant you have to go after," Bissonnette told The Chicopee Herald.

Bissonnette added this grant "comes on heal of a $50,000 Smart Growth planning grant we received in June."

"UrbanRiver Visions Implementation grants are helping communities turn their vision for their riverfronts into reality," said EOEA Secretary Robert Golledge. "By reconnecting downtowns with their rivers and restoring the natural environment, these municipalities are able to provide improved habitat, recreational and revitalized urban centers."

EOEA launched the Urban River Visions Initiative in 2002 by convening a collaborative planning process with the aim of developing a vision and action plan for urban riverfronts in cities and towns in Massachusetts. The communities that were chosen represent a mix of size and geographic locations: Athol, Chicopee, Fall River, and Worcester. Under this initiative, people in each of the municipalities created a unique plan based on their community's needs, including housing, natural resource conservation, recreation, and commercial development.