Last night the City’s whitewater park consultant (Mike Harvey of REP in Boulder Colorado) provided City Council with an overview of his firm’s conceptual recommendations for what could be done in the Cuyahoga River corridor in downtown Kent to enhance river recreational opportunities. At the meeting I promised to upload Mike’s draft report and conceptual renderings but he hasn’t provided the draft report in electronic format yet so I can only post the graphic illustrations. Of course, it’s easier to make sense of the graphic if you have the report available but I figured I’d go ahead and put the images up online anyways for those people who were at the meeting and they should have an idea of what they’re looking at. As soon as I get the report from Mike I’ll post that as well.
Mike Harvey of Recreation, Engineering and Planning (REP) consulting has completed a draft of his report on the river recreational opportunities in downtown Kent so we invited him back to present his findings. Main Street Kent paid for the white water consultant to come to Kent back in December 2007 to do more on-site investigation of the opportunities available to expand public access and usage of the river across a range of activities — from walking along the banks to canoeing and even kayaking. The consultant gathered maps, existing plans, photos, data, etc., and he met with stakeholders in both private and public meetings to better understand what would fit in the Kent community.
Based on the data collected and the input received from the stakeholders, the consultant performed analytical and conceptual work to further develop some river concept design options that we could use to go after State grant funds that are available for these sorts of river improvements. Main Street and Parks and Recreation have already been coordinating with State agencies to give them a sense of how we hope to use this project to continue all the work we started with the Dam project and the initial feedback has been favorable from these agencies.
With the Dam project we made a significant impact on improving the water quality, and the idea of this project is to open up access to the new and improved river so that residents, students and visitors can enjoy it all year long. From the City’s perspective I continue to see this eco-friendly outdoor-activity as a unique business opportunity for us to capitalize on in our region that is both a quality of life enhancement and is also a part of the economic revival of the downtown. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our river heritage than by having a plan for expanding river use in a way that connects the public investment we made to revitalize the West River Neighborhood to the redevelopment work we are now pursuing in downtown.
The concept design work will give us a list of improvements that we can consider, including ranges of costs, regulatory issues, etc. One of the tasks included in the scope of work was to begin to outline the possible economic impacts of a white water park with a range of examples of new business activity and local spending spawned by these types of parks. The purpose of this data is to give us a better sense of the costs/benefits and the rate of return of the improvements should we eventually choose to pursue any or all of them.