Ripple effect from a bench installed near the Housatonic River?

Goal is to attract people to relax and appreciate waterway

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SHEFFIELD — At a poetic bend at the Housatonic River, you can gaze, drop a canoe in or take a walk. Now, you can also sit — after a bench symbolizing larger efforts was installed near the Sheffield Covered Bridge.

"It's to get people to come down to the river and enjoy it," said Amanda Goewey, Sheffield branch manager for Salisbury Bank & Trust.

Lynn Werner, executive director of the Housatonic Valley Association, said the bank is one of the association's RiverSmart Business Partners, in a program to enlist businesses up and down the river to be its stewards and to reduce stormwater runoff pollution by educating the community and customers.

The bench was donated by the bank to draw people — and attention — to the river, which also has canoe access installed by the association.

"We're trying to get more people involved with the Housatonic River," said Dennis Regan, Berkshires

director of the association. "We realized that people didn't have a clue what was going on on the river and only heard the negatives about PCBs."

The HVA works to protect the Housatonic River watershed's nearly 2,000 miles in 83 communities from Berkshire County to Long Island Sound.

Regan said the nonprofit's work includes river restoration, education and the creation of more canoe access points in the future.

Sheffield Select Board Chairwoman Nadine Hawver said the bench is a happy thing at a place where people are always walking their dogs and taking photos.

And Regan said people can grab a copy of the association's comprehensive paddle guide if they want to get busy on the river. Or, they can simply be near it.

"The bench is a great opportunity for people just to sit and relax and see the river," he said.

Heather Bellow can be reached at 413-329-6871, hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or @BE_hbellow.

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