Lawrence City Council President Calls For Improvements For City's Canals

Photo: Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio

LAWRENCE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The future of Lawrence's canals could soon be stuck in limbo and the city council wants to find a resolution.

Central Rivers Power, the company that operates the Great Stone Dam, owns the canals and is seeking to let go of ownership of the canals as it works to renew its federal hydropower license.

Lawrence City Council President Marc Laplante told WBZ's Karyn Regal he is open to severing ownership of the city's canals from the dam and the river, as the canals are in a state of disrepair and require a lot of funding to improve.

"The canals have deteriorated to such a point now that if we were to go and repair them today, it would be a multimillion-dollar exercise," Laplante said.

For Laplante, the canals are an important part of Lawrence's history.

"Without the canals, we wouldn't have mills," he said. "If we don't have mills we don't have Lawrence."

He said he hopes to improve the canals so Lawrence can show off its past and its historic hydroelectric infrastructure, regardless if it is working or not, like its neighbor Lowell. Since companies can only apply for these licenses every 50 years, Laplante said he hopes they can come up with a resolution before it is too late.

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"There's those of us who say, why so quick, why are we doing this special act?" he said. "Let's have the conversation about whether or not these mills can be repurposed today."

Laplante said Central Rivers Power has been receptive to the idea.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@karynregal) reports.

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