VHB Wins ACEC-NH’s Overall 2023 Engineering Excellence Award

Mill City Park, the first whitewater park in the Northeast, is a unique revitalization project.

April 05, 2023

Three men posing with award plaques.
Peter Walker (left) and Marty Kennedy (right) from VHB with Marty Parichand, Executive Director of Mill City Park at Franklin Falls (center)

VHB was honored by The American Council of Engineering Companies of New Hampshire (ACEC-NH) as the “Overall Grand Winner” of its 2023 Excellence in Engineering Awards, signifying the year’s most outstanding engineering achievement for Mill City Park at Franklin Falls located in Franklin, NH. This year’s Gala honored 11 projects from throughout New Hampshire with only one firm designated as the “Overall Winner.”

In addition to being the first whitewater park in the Northeast, Mill City Park is a unique revitalization project that combines community development with aspects of historical preservation and environmental rehabilitation. The project is focused on restoring the health and usability of the Winnipesaukee River and surrounding land, which was impacted by past industrial uses, historical mill ruins, and invasive species, to create a community benefit that provides access to free, healthy recreational activity. The project had to overcome many challenges as it sought to enhance a 1.25-mile stretch of Class III and IV rapids, including 1,600 feet of river with engineered features allowing year-round river recreational use.

As the first park of its kind in the region, the project was subject to an unprecedented environmental review process. VHB provided environmental analysis and permitting support to prove the feasibility of the river construction, designed the first phase of a complementary land-based park, assisted in the creation of a 21-acre conservation easement along the river, and supported the construction of the first phase of the project in 2021-2022.

“VHB is thrilled to receive this distinguished award alongside Mill City Park and the City of Franklin,” said Pete Walker, a Principal with VHB’s Environmental Services practice in Bedford, NH. “This project was an ambitious undertaking that would not have been possible without the vision of the Mill City Park Board of Directors and the unwavering support of the city, the community, and its public and private funding sources. We’re thrilled to have helped bring this vision to life and to assist in earning the recognition it rightly deserves.”

Congratulations to all winners!