Avon pushing five-mile whitewater park on Eagle River
AVON – Avon wants to turn five miles of the Eagle River from Eagle-Vail to Edwards into a world-class water park that will attract kayakers, rafters and fishermen and provide a boon to the local economy.To pull off the plan, the town will need the help and money of other community organizations to help resculpt parts of the river from the I-70 bridge at Eagle-Vail to the Miller Creek bridge in Edwards. Proponents estimate the project will cost $800,000 but will create an economic bonanza. Water users ranging from fishermen to floaters say the proposal is a winner.”One thing this will do is to make the Vail Valley a whitewater destination stop,” said Darryl Bangert of Lakota Guides, a local rafting company. “It ties in with the Teva Games. Front Range paddlers will find out what waves are working through mountainbuzz.com.”In a preliminary report, a design team said the river has “world-class potential” because of its constant grade and a boulder-strewn stream bottom that helps create good kayaking, rafting and fishing conditions. The “boatability” of the river could be improved by building four or more structures to impede the flow of the river, forming standing waves and slower-moving eddies. Those waves attract kayakers seeking to surf them. A good ideaThe reason behind the park? Money. Water enthusiasts spend freely, the Avon report states. A whitewater park created in Golden on Clear Creek, which cost $165,000 to build, generates an estimated $1.4 million to $2 million annually for the area.”We’ve looked at other parks, and they’re generating to the economy – within a one- to two-year period – the lifelong cost of the improvements,” said Larry Brooks, Avon town manager. “We’re seeing a great return economically.”Finding money to construct structures and other facilities – including parking and changing areas for users – will require a joint effort among the town, county, local homeowners’ groups and other special districts and organizations, the report stated.One of the wave-producing “drop structures” will be built beneath “Bob,” Avon’s famous bridge. Others will be built in Eagle-Vail and Edwards.”Bob the Bridge is the conceptual whitewater centerpiece with an emphasis on accommodating spectators and having the potential for world-class whitewater competitions and events,” the study concluded.When properly designed, drop structures can provide paddling and surfing challenges over a wide range of flows, Bangert said.
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