From the Dayton Daily News
By Ken McCall
October 26th, 2006
The disappointment in the paddling community was thick last week when a study found the proposed white-water park on the Great Miami River was too expensive.
The Miami Conservancy District and Five Rivers MetroParks wanted to build a white-water play facility that would also give less experienced paddlers a safe way to get around the low dam near the Monument Avenue bridge.
But the study found the park cost would total close to $10 million. That was too much, the agencies decided, and the proposal has been scrapped.
Interviews with folks from the two agencies and the community found spirits to be running at low ebb last week. But the people involved are regrouping and looking for other ideas.
Carrie Scarff, the park district’s point person on the white-water park, said she’s feeling better.
“You recover from the disappointment,” Scarff said Thursday, “and you start to think of the other opportunities that are out there.”
Scarff said the park and conservancy districts won’t be considering another big white-water attraction, but they still want to create “fun places to paddle” on the region’s rivers.
“If there’s a place like where we can add some rock to the river and enhance spots that already exist or create other spots or provide eddies, we’re going to look for opportunities to do that,” she said.
The top priority, however, is creating ways for people in kayaks and canoes to get around the low dams. The two districts, she said, want to make the rivers as easy to travel as the bikeways that run along them.
So they’re going to look at fixing the dangerous dams, creating places to park, to put in and take out boats, and even some remote camping spots in the parks along the rivers.
“Whether you’re taking a daylong trip, an expedition or a quick trip down our rivers, we want people to see the rivers as a great recreational asset,” she said.
Whitewater Warehouse co-owners Bernie Farley and Jeryl Yantis said they were deeply disappointed by the high cost of the proposed park.
But they say the decision to abandon the proposal was responsible and predict it will lead to an even better project.
The shop, located on Valley Street along the Mad River in Old North Dayton, sells and rents kayaks and equipment, and offers training events on the Mad and other rivers.
Farley said he’ll be pushing another proposal soon.
“I’ve traveled around the country and have been to several white-water parks,” Farley said. “If we don’t do it, I guarantee you someone else will.”
People currently rent equipment, he said, and drive up to six hours to boat on a white-water park in South Bend, Ind., or on rivers in West Virginia, so he’s sure the demand is there.
Miami Conservancy District General Manager Janet Bly said the community showed enthusiasm for the project in public meetings, but she said the agencies need to be more creative.
“The conceived project was a great idea,” Bly said, “and we just need to come up with something that’s just as great only costs less.”
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2393 or kmccall@DaytonDailyNews.com.