South Hadley honors Ted Belksy with plaque at Riverfront Park
SOUTH HADLEY - Political leaders and residents honored the late Ted Belsky on Saturday, unveiling a plaque with his name to recognize his decades of hard work on many projects including advocating to build a new park in town beside the Connecticut River.
A section of the Hadley Falls Canal Park is now called the Ted Belsky Overlook. Located along Canal Street in the Falls Village, it offers a wide vista of the river.
The plaque inscription reads: "In recognition of his enduring effort to document the historic significance of Hadley Falls Canal and advocate for its protection, conservation, and preservation."
Belsky died four years ago when he was 87.
The Holyoke native moved to South Hadley in 1956, and taught history at American International College from 1969 until his retirement in 1982.
Although no longer a professor, Belsky continued teaching about the importance of the Hadley Falls Canal, the first navigational one in the country. Until his death he worked to raise awareness of its role in the town's development.
In a 2011 interview with The Republican, Belsky said the Hadley Falls Canal "made possible the development of industrial New England all the way up to the Canadian border."
"As the Industrial Age in South Hadley got started, they used the canal as a raceway to bring water to flow over the turbines in the mill. That's how the mills got their power," he said in the interview. "At one time, more paper was generated here than in all of New England combined...The Congressional Record used to be printed on South Hadley paper."
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, attended the May 12 ceremony to honor Belsky, who was one of his professors when he attended American International College.
"He was a great friend, to me, professionally and personally," Neal said following Saturday's ceremony.
"He fulfilled the title of citizen every day of his life," he said.
Belsky's three sons, Michael, Charles and Richard attended the ceremony.
"We thank you for honoring Ted in this manner," Charles "Chip" Belsky said. "Canal Park is a quintessential Ted Belsky project."
Former state Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, spoke during the ceremony, quoting from a section of the Langston Hughes poem, titled Freedom's Plow:
The eyes see there materials for building,
See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood,
To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help,
A community of hands to help-
Thus the dream becomes not one man's dream alone,
But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone,
But your world and my world,
Belonging to all the hands who build.