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Whitewater park facing funding challenge

With preliminary designs and cost estimates in hand, supporters of a Glenwood Springs whitewater park are turning their attention to how to pay for their project.Park proponents plan to discuss funding with Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday night.The latest plans could require spending about $530,000 for placing whitewater features in the Colorado River in West Glenwood, said Davis Farrar, a city whitewater park committee member. However, the total project price could cost substantially more than $1 million, when other expenses such as a park area along the riverbank are taken into account.The committee is likely to take a phased approach, and focus first on just getting the river features in place.”We’re going to have to work a bit to hit the $530,000 threshold for basic instream improvements. That would get us started, that would give us a feature that people could use, it would draw attention to the site,” Farrar said.Supporters plan to seek initial funding from the city, Great Outdoors Colorado and private donors.They hope to be able to begin construction by February.Whitewater park enthusiasts also are calling for others to attend Thursday’s council meeting and voice their support.Brian Wright, co-owner of Glenwood Canyon Kayak and a whitewater park committee member, said supporters also encourage attendance by anyone with concerns about the plans, so they can be addressed early in the process.The biggest concern to date had been raised by the Hot Springs Pool, which feared that a proposal to build the park downtown could have damaged the hot springs aquifer below the river. Pool officials later supported the West Glenwood location.The biggest concern enthusiasts may face now is how to come up with enough money.”I’m certainly hoping we can get something built this coming winter, but we need to see how much it’s going to be,” Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen said. “Any plans that those guys have for sources of revenue would be good.”Whitewater park enthusiasts hope a selling point for finding funding is the benefit the facility would have for Glenwood Springs.”It’s important to know this is a project that’s going to be for the community, not just for kayakers,” said Chris Vogt, Wright’s partner at Glenwood Canyon Kayak.Wright said park proponents already are hearing from kayakers far beyond Glenwood who say they would love to use the facility.”The support has been overwhelming from the boating community,” he said.Despite proponents’ initial disappointment over not being able to build the facility downtown, Wright and Vogt see benefits to placing it in West Glenwood. They believe it will be a boon to nearby businesses. Wright said it also will improve what is now a “recreational dead zone” for Glenwood Springs. In addition, he said, it will take some pressure off Two Rivers Park downtown. The park already sees heavy use by people putting in and taking out their boats.Wright said the West Glenwood project will include removing concrete riprap and invasive tamarisk from the bank of the Colorado.”Part of the project is to clean all that up and make the whole bank fun and neat and a good place to hang out,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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