Updated March 26 at 12:27am
Hospitality & Tourism

BV Heritage Corridor gets $1.05M
in federal support in FY 2008


WOONSOCKET – The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission received nearly $1.05 million in federal support last year, according to the annual report released today.

The nontraditional national park neither owns nor manages any of the land along the 46-mile Blackstone River. Rather, it uses federal appropriations through the National Park Service, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior, to “leverage substantial local, state and private funds to pursue a wide range of projects that benefit the Blackstone Valley communities.”

In fiscal 2008, the corridor commission received $694,000 from the Park Service’s recreation and preservation budget to support commission operations and administration; and another $353,000 that was allocated for planning and design, environmental preservation or restoration, historic preservation and interpretation.

The year gone by included the transformation of the commission’s headquarters – the former Woonsocket Depot, built in 1882 to serve trains on the Providence and Worcester Railroad – “into a functioning train station in the fictional Town of Bedridge for the filming of the movie ‘Hachiko: A Dog Story’,” the group noted.

Other events cited as highlights in its annual report included “efforts to clean the headwaters” of the Blackstone; “substantial progress” on the visitors’ centers in both Worcester and Pawtucket; the formation of a bikeway patrol in Rhode Island; and the commission’s design competition in Pawtucket.

“The theme of this report, synergy, carries a message linked to [the] energetic, continuous flow of our river,” Chairman Ted Sanderson and Executive Director Jan Reitsma said in a letter introducing the document. (Reitsma, a former director of the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, was selected in 2007 to oversee both the heritage corridor and the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence. READ MORE)

“The river combines the energy and characteristics of its tributaries into something that is larger than the sum of its parts,” Reitsma and Sanderson wrote. “Our work is really to help the flow and energies of many initiatives come together into a partnership network – a powerful force that can make a difference for the better, both locally and valley-wide. … This job is far from done.

“In 2009, we continue work on many of the projects described in this report and are even taking on some new ones. We also continue our effort to ensure an ongoing presence of the National Park Service after 2011,” when congressional authorization is slated to expire.

The report – available online as a PDF – included a tribute to former U.S. Sen. Claiborne de Borda Pell, who died Jan. 1. (READ MORE)

As “one of the earliest proponents of the Corridor vision and a Congressional force that advocated for the Blackstone Valley’s federal designation in 1986 and its reauthorization in 1996,” the commission said Pell “helped to shape the Corridor’s early development and … provide the critical resources.” The group said pledged it would “continue to carry out the work that will realize his vision for the Valley.”

The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor – designated by Congress in 1986 to preserve and promote the birthplace of the American industrial revolution – encompasses the 46-mile Blackstone and its 24 riverfront communities, from Worcester to Providence. Additional information is available from the Heritage Corridor Commission and U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service at www.nps.gov/blac.


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