Whitewater park foe now a staunch supporter | AspenTimes.com

Whitewater park foe now a staunch supporter

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs correspondent

Aspen, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS Just two years ago, supporters of a whitewater park in Glenwood Springs slammed into a boulder-sized obstacle that they feared would capsize their dreams.The Hot Springs Lodge & Pool was threatening legal action to stop their project.Talk about water under the bridge. Today, the pool has emerged as a leading proponent of the whitewater park.Recently it announced it has pledged $20,000 to the project. That follows a lengthy period of involvement by pool chief financial officer John Bosco in helping plan the park.For the pool, it was never the park but its proposed location that had been the issue. Supporters had wanted to build the whitewater park on the Colorado River downtown. Pool officials worried that construction of the whitewater features and scouring by the resulting waves could puncture the shallow hot springs aquifer, the source of the pool’s water, beneath the river.Between the possibility of a lawsuit and the perceived threat to the city’s biggest tourist attraction, the City Council decided the park instead should be built near the Interstate 70 interchange in West Glenwood.Joe Mollica, who has headed up a task force pursuing the whitewater park, credited the pool for getting behind the project after the city decided on the downstream location.”They’ve been really supportive, and John Bosco’s been really good attending meetings and helping us out,” Mollica said.He said Bosco helped the group set up a fundraising account before it decided to have the 2 Rivers Community Foundation be the depository for its donations.Bosco said he’s not a member of the task force but has gone to most of its meetings. He gives task force members, and particularly Mollica, credit for getting over their initial disappointment about not being able to build the whitewater park downtown, and focusing on finding a workable location. Bosco thinks the West Glenwood site has proven to have advantages, being less congested than downtown and providing adequate parking and access.”It has some positives and that group really kept the momentum going,” Bosco said.From the pool’s perspective, “We’re really in support of the project. It’s another attraction to Glenwood, a nice clean attraction,” Bosco said.The whitewater park’s potential to draw kayakers from around the country could provide side benefits to the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool and other Glenwood businesses. Mollica said he’s hoping the pool’s contribution will “help catalyze other business and get people to put donations into the park.”The City Council has agreed to provide $300,000 for the project.”The City Council has made their commitment,” Bosco said. “It’s time to get the private sector as involved as they can. If this (pool donation) is seen as a kickoff, then great.”The whitewater committee soon will be applying for a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. Mollica is hoping for as many donations by March as possible, to show GOCO strong local support for the project.The total project cost is $1.4 million, but the park can be built in phases, with the first involving placing the wave-making structure in the river. Work on things such as landscaping of the adjacent riverbanks can be done later.Proponents hope to have the whitewater feature installed next winter.Whether Bosco might someday sample that whitewater himself is unclear. Despite his involvement with the park’s boosters, he said he’s “not yet” a kayaker.But he added, “It’s got my interest piqued. I’ve learned a lot.”

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