The Value of Water: Part two – Alternatives Unlimited

“Alternatives tried to sell the site about three years ago. When no buyer materialized, the company’s executives decided to stay and to transform the 37,000 square feet of space into an attraction for the local community.

“We thought maybe we could create this community treasure,” said Dennis H. Rice, executive director of Alternatives, sitting in a small board room overlooking the river, as a backhoe outside continued construction work that began in June.

“There was an idea this should be a community asset,” Austin said.

The complex, set on about an acre that slopes down to the river, will feature a restaurant, performing arts and artists’ space, shops, and a large plaza at the water’s edge that can host concerts, a farmers’ market, or other events.”

“Now the historic mill complex that started the Whitin family’s empire in milling and manufacturing is on the cutting edge again. Work is under way to convert the four-building brick complex into a green site that combats rising oil and gas costs with a combination of solar, geothermal, and hydropower energy.

“This will generate 88 percent of the energy needs on site, and 100 percent of its heating and cooling,” said Jonathan Austin of Austin Architects of Cambridge.”

“The Mumford River, a tributary of the Blackstone, is consistent and doesn’t have frequent water-level dips, making it ideal for turbines. “You can pretty much always keep one running,” said Philip Ingersoll-Mahoney, Alternatives’ director of administration and finance.

Renewable Energy Trust at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, gave Alternatives a $324,000 grant to help redevelop hydropower.

Check the links below for the full article in the Boston Globe and the models on the Blackstone Daily. Also note that Manchaug Pond is the headwaters of the Mumford River along with sister lake Whitin Reservoir. Two reservoirs continuing to power a mill…