Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 14, 2013

If you build a whitewater play spot, they will come

Regarding “River Project Prospects: Experts reveal benefits, challenges at Allegany Museum” (June 7 Times-News, Page 1A):

I was happy to have the opportunity to attend this well attended public forum and I appreciated the lively dialog.

It seems to me that the reasons for dam removal outweigh those for leaving it in place, but I’d like to focus this letter on two points that came up at the meeting (although not in great detail in the article.)

First, there is a concern about dioxin contamination in the sediment above the dam.

This is not a new problem and a quick search shows that this has been in the news for more than 20 years. (For example, see The Baltimore Sun, March 25, 1992).

As mentioned at the meeting and in the article, there is some doubt about who owns the dam.

However, it seems in my casual read of the reports about dioxin pollution, little doubt about who owns the dioxin.

What is the responsibility of NewPage’s Luke mill in the cleanup of the sediment?

The other point I would like to make is to advocate for a whitewater play spot at the site of the dam.

I mentioned at the meeting the success of a similar project in Missoula, Mont.

They also have a river resource with dramatically changing water levels at different times of the year. 

Their solution, “Brennan’s Wave,” is designed to have different portions of the wave active at different river flow.

Summer flow has the best action right next to a city park and watching kayak surfers (and hosting competitive events) has become a key focus of the park’s activities.

Cumberland is on the route between some of the East Coast’s largest population centers and some of its best whitewater (the Yough, North Branch Releases, and ASCI at the Wisp to name a few).

This is truly a case of “if you build it they will come.” (Or at least jump off Interstate 68 to play and grab dinner.)

J.H. Miller

Cumberland

 

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