Raleigh Whitewater Park Close To Becoming Reality
Posted January 4, 2005 3:51 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Kayakers and canoers in Raleigh are soon hoping for more action at Falls Lake Dam.
By making improvements to the river bed, kayakers and canoers could create more exciting rapids and would increase their days in the water from about 20 now to more than 100.
The total cost for the new whitewater park is $300,000. The city of Raleigh has set aside $150,000 for the project in the Parks and Recreational bond. Kayakers are eager to get things moving, and not just for their sport.
"For the spectators, we find when we are out here playing, there are a tremendous amount of spectators, families with their kids coming out and just watching us playing in the water. It's a neat sport to see," kayaker Joe Greiner said.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said the project may not have to wait for bond money. The city is talking about pulling some money from tourism funds.
However, everyone is not happy about the new idea. Fishermen worry the changes will lead to crowding in the area.
"The fishermen will be here first and the kayakers will go right in front of them, but they are in the water. What can you do?'" fisherman Somsak Saykosy said.
Supporters believe the city could actually make money off the park. They said a similar park in Golden, Colo., pumps about $1 million a year into the economy.
The idea is also not a new one for the area. In the late 1970s, a whitewater park was talked about when Falls Lake Dam was built. When the Triangle made a bid for the Pan American games a few years ago, the site was considered for slalom competition.
Whitewater park proposals have come up in other North Carolina cities. Charlotte is planning a $21 million manmade park. It is funded and set to open in March 2006. Fayetteville also tossed around the idea, but the money never came through.
Organizers will go before the City Council Tuesday and ask for the project to be included in the first phase of the new bond. A local family is also expected to donate $2,000 toward the permitting process.