Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 25, 2013

Here’s why we should have a whitewater park

The following is a summative list of my Top 10 reasons for building a whitewater park in Cumberland.

10) ASCI and the World Championships — Articles in the Times-News have indicated the economic benefit of the artificial course built by visionaries in McHenry. It will bring international recognition and millions of tourism dollars to their community.

Need I say more? The benefits of a whitewater park in Cumberland are less grandiose but in the end they are a more viable alternative since it serves the local population.

9) Western Maryland and the whitewater industry are synonymous — Watch the western migration of cars with kayaks perched atop the car on 1-68 every Friday evening and Saturday morning, and their return migration east late Sunday afternoon.

As with the National Road, Cumberland is the gateway to the west and it is on the migration route to whitewater and outdoor recreation. This fact alone will result in increased tourism at the Cumberland whitewater park.

8) Ohiopyle is a boomtown — Between the rafting industry on the Youghiogheny River and the GAP trail, Ohiopyle is a boomtown. There are no promises that Cumberland will become a boomtown, but there is no question that a whitewater park in Cumberland will help provide significant economic benefit.

7) The Riverwalk concept — The Riverwalk in San Antonio is a good idea, but as noted in previous commentaries, it needs to be adapted to the Cumberland setting. A whitewater park is that adaption. Also, development can occur in the flood plain if it is done correctly.

6) Reconnect with the Potomac River — Cumberland needs to be reconnected with the river. A previous commentary addressed this point in depth. The “no trespass” signs on the Ridgley levees say it all.

5) Canal Place is in need of an attraction — As noted in one of my commentaries, moving water is a natural attraction and the whitewater course within the park attracts both participants and spectators who watch the participants. A whitewater park is a natural for Cumberland and Canal Place too.

4) It creates a free-flowing river. It is a “false choice” that the only two choices are to keep the dam or create a free-flowing river. The whitewater park can utilize the dam in full or in part and the whitewater park creates a free flowing river. It can even create a pool behind the course if desired. Both goals are obtainable.

The real issue is that the environmental movement favors the eel population at the expense of people. Actually, the whitewater park can create a play area for people and at the same time create an environment that favors eel migration.

It is really a win/win rather than a win/lose situation if the environmentalists can see the potential collaboration.

3) A whitewater park is really for the local citizens — Originally, the Great Allegany Passage trail was predicted to serve everyone else but the local population. However, the major users are local citizens.

This is a good thing. The same would be true for a whitewater park. Although it will attract tourists and tourist dollars, the local population will be the major users. The whitewater park is no different than the GAP.

2) The whitewater park is a natural — It creates a reason for people to visit the river. It reconnects people with the river and creates a free-flowing river. It helps Canal Place. It generates tourism dollars, yet it really serves the local population. In summary, it is a natural for Cumberland.

1) Yes, I am available — And yes, I am available to discuss the whitewater park concept with your local civic group. Email me at: rkauffman@frostbur.edu .

Robert B. Kauffman

Frostburg

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