Kayak park could make international splash | PostIndependent.com

Kayak park could make international splash

Glenwood Springs’ planned whitewater park has the potential to be the “premier park in the world,” a professional freestyle kayaker said Wednesday.

Jed Selby, of Salida, was among 10 people to take part in a forum at Glenwood Springs City Hall set up to gather public input into a whitewater park.

According to the current plan, the park will span three-quarters of a mile on the north side of the Colorado River, reaching from the Grand Avenue Bridge to the west end of Two Rivers Park.

“The idea for doing river improvements and kayak-specific improvements has been in Glenwood as long as I have,” Community Development Department director Andrew McGregor said.

The plan to build a park is gaining momentum now, McGregor said, because kayaking has become more of a mainstream sport and could add to the city’s tourism economy.

“It’s no longer a fringe group,” he said of whitewater boaters.

Before gathering input on the Glenwood Springs park, whitewater park builders Gary Lacy, of Boulder, and Mike Harvey, of Salida, gave a presentation on whitewater parks throughout the region.

The pair showed slides of parks they built in Boulder, Golden, Steamboat Springs, Salida, Vail and Green River, Wyo., pointing out the different types of streams and rivers they worked on and the varying wave features they created.

“Ideally there would be multiple structures of different kinds,” Lacy said of the Glenwood Springs park. “I think it would be a wise investment. It requires zero maintenance, and it’s open year-round.”

Lacy also said fishermen and tubers concerned about having to avoid the park need not worry. It would be built with all types of floaters in mind.

“If you’re proficient enough to get down the Roaring Fork, this should be no problem at all,” he said.

Selby said if Glenwood Springs builds a whitewater park, freestyle kayak competitions will come.

“We could easily have events here,” he said. “It can be arranged to bring any caliber of competition you want.”

He suggested that with the warm climate and constant flows in the Colorado River, a fall competition could work well.

But it won’t happen next fall.

Lacy and Harvey will conduct a second meeting in December to finalize plans. Once necessary permits are secured and financing is in place, construction could begin.

“Assuming a lot of things came together, you could have a shot at starting construction a year from now,” Lacy said. If construction starts next fall, the park could be open by the 2004 spring runoff.

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