We still wonder about river's potential
By G. Michael Dobbs
In light of the new effort to build a new redevelopment plan for the Connecticut River in Springfield, I asked my Facebook friends what their reactions are to new attempt to connect the riverfront with the city.
Making the river a feature of the city has been a concern for years. Some people might remember the talk back in the 1980s of building luxury condos on the riverfront, until, of course, people realized no one was willing to invest money as long as their home was in the line of stench then coming from Bondi's Island.
While I was researching my book on Springfield history it's still available at local retailers and online and it makes a great gift I found a proposal from the 1920s to build a beautiful avenue, if I remember correctly, past City Hall to the river where there would be series of steps descending into the water.
Even then there was a concern of incorporating the river into the daily life of people living in Springfield. One thing affected those plans which never saw implementation that still has a huge influence today: the railroad tracks. Of course, today we have the barrier formed by Interstate 91 as well.
Since suggestions are being made, from the sensible of painting sidewalks to lead people to the safest route to the river to the crazy of renting canoes, I thought I should the offer the following as well from my Facebook question.
One person said he would like to see an "outdoor restaurant/patio with good reasonably-priced food and drinks without the noise from I-91 or Amtrak and a view of the river."
Views of the river are an important piece of the redevelopment puzzle and thanks to topography and trees, the views aren't what they should be.
Another person wrote, "Connect the Springfield river walk to Forest Park and to the Agawam river walk and the soon to be completed West Springfield river walk. Add more access points to the Riverwalk. Make the river more accessible for recreation."
"Beautiful housing and/or artists' studios in rehabbed buildings" was another suggestion.
Finally, a friend of mine added, "I honestly just want to see more life. The longer I work downtown the more I yearn for what could be. Despite what most media portrays we have good people in this city doing great things. I love working and walking down there. I believe there could be great things in store."
My friend Bill Dusty sent me a letter to the editor. Bill is concerned about a reoccurring form of litter: the free weekly publications from The Republican that are tossed on your front lawn or driveway every week in the purple bag.
The folks in Northampton have pressed The Republican staff to understand these things shouldn't be tossed just anywhere and should be delivered only to people who actually want them.
Bill is now starting this effort in Springfield and I commend him for it. I had my name taken off the list a long time ago, but I still get them tossed at my house. What angers me, as it does Bill, is how the carriers dump these things at homes that are clearly vacant.
Do you have this problem in your town?
Now I know some of you wags will say I shouldn't throw stones as this company also has a home-delivered edition. The difference is we work hard to be responsive to people and their desires if they want the paper or not and how it should be delivered. The Republican doesn't appear to be working toward that goal.
I do have to say one thing positive about the "Extra" edition. The bags are perfect for picking up Lucky the Wonder Bichon's messes.
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