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Locals to float whitewater park idea before Council

Ryan Graff
Special to the Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A subject that has filled river eddies around Glenwood Springs for years will make its way before the Glenwood Springs City Council tonight.

Joe Mollica, a boater, teacher and member of the city’s River Commission, and Ben Guska, a kayaker and high school student, will ask City Council for administrative support in developing a whitewater park in Glenwood Springs. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Glenwood Springs City Hall.

“We’re the best spot in Colorado for a whitewater park,” said Mollica.



Mollica, Guska and other boaters think that the consistency of water flows down the Colorado River, Glenwood Springs’ location on Interstate 70, and strong regional boating community make Glenwood Springs an ideal place for a whitewater park.

Many plans for a whitewater park have been considered over the past few years.



Most recently a $1.2 million dollar whitewater park plan was attached to the effort to build a municipal golf course at the base of Red Mountain. Funding to build the golf course fell through because of a controversial plan to use Certificates of Participation (COPs), which would have increased the city’s debt substantially. The failed golf course funding meant that funding for a whitewater park failed as well.

But many boaters still would like to convince the city that a whitewater park is a good investment.

Mollica and Guska plan to present many examples of whitewater parks in other towns around the state that have increased tourist traffic and revenue for the towns.

Guska said Vail spent $150,000 on its whitewater park, and when the Teva Mountain Games were held there last summer, 10,000 spectators flooded town.

The city of Golden built a whitewater park in 1997 for $165,000, which provides $1.4 million dollars a year in economic benefit for the town, said Guska.

Though the original design for the Glenwood Springs whitewater park would have cost $1.2 million, the plan Mollica and Guska will present to City Council will use the original plan as an outline.

They would like to build anything from one or two river features, to developing the river along the whole of Two Rivers Park.

Mollica and Guska plan to apply for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to help fund the project. One or two whitewater park features could be done for perhaps as little as $100,000, said Guska.

Many towns’ whitewater parks start simple, with only one or two features for whitewater enthusiasts to use, then add more features as the town realizes the benefits of a park, said Guska.

Steamboat Springs and Golden both started with small whitewater parks, then added more features as the popularity of the park grew, said Guska.

The two said they have commitments from volunteers to help build the park and for material donations.

Mollica and Guska said if all goes well, construction could begin as early as next February.

In other business, City Council will:

– Receive the annual report from the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association from tourism and marketing director Lori Hogan.

– Consider a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation to deny a request for annexation, rezoning and a major subdivision at a property north of Overlin Drive. The request was made by David Rippy.

– Consider a request for a seasonal garden center for Kmart at the Glenwood Springs Mall.

– Consider a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation to approve the condominiumization of a mixed-use building at 1321 Grand Ave. The applicant is David Hicks.

– Consider whether to fund a Highway 82 corridor optimization assessment.

– Hear annual reports from the Glenwood Springs fire and police departments.

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534

rgraff@postindependent.com


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