Ground broken for Bellows Falls riverfront park

BELLOWS FALLS — Groundbreaking ceremonies were held recently to begin Phase II of the Bellows Falls Historic Riverfront Park and Trail System Project.

The Bellows Falls Historical Society project will include trails, green space, river access, and interpretive displays at its seven-acre parcel along the Connecticut River off Mill Street.

Adams Trucking and Excavation will serve as the Phase II project contractor. Work is expected to be completed this September.

“This is where people will start seeing the vision take form on a large scale,” said Dennis Ladd, historical society president.

This vision, in planning since 2001, is now reaching a stage where construction of the 1,000-foot graded historic interpretive trail system and related environmental landscaping will start.

The access road, related sidewalks and curbing, and an encapsulated multi-purpose field were completed as part of Phase I construction.

As work unfolds, the trail will have a series of historic interpretive exhibits highlighting the area's industrial heritage. The interpretive trail will run along the river to connect with the trails of the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association. Plans also call for the construction of a “poets' seat” river outlook; a riverside performing arts space; a nature and bird walk; and fishing, canoe, and kayak access.

“Once all the components are finished we'll have a valuable asset for Bellows Falls,” Ladd said.

Beyond operating the Adam's Grist Mill Museum, the historical society is restoring the old Wyman Flynt Mill for use as additional museum, exhibition and special event space, and is planning for other historic projects and events in coming years.

Major funding for this phase of construction came from a $400,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields cleanup grant, a $67,000 Windham Regional Commission brownfields cleanup grant, an $18,000 Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation grant, a $7,500 TransCanada grant, and contributions from National Grid and other local organizations and businesses.

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