Basalt whitewater park meeting set for Wednesday

Staff report
A kayaker tests out the Healthy Rivers Whitewater Park in Basalt in summer 2017.
Aspen Times file

Boaters, kayakers and anyone else concerned about Basalt’s whitewater park might want to attend a public meeting Wednesday evening at Basalt Town Hall.

Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers and Streams Board will host the public meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. Officials from River Restoration of Carbondale, which designed the park in 2016-17, will be on hand to gather public comment in an effort to tamp down some of the man-made wave features.

River Restoration has been discussing how to alter the structures, though Quinn Donnelly, a river engineer with the company, said Friday he wasn’t planning on presenting any possible design alternatives Wednesday.

“The (whitewater park) users are the most important piece and we want to make sure they are getting heard,” Donnelly said.

Pitkin County built the park downstream of Fisherman’s Park and what’s known as the Upper Basalt Bypass Bridge by embedding concrete structures in the riverbed to create waves. However, complaints about the danger of those waves were lodged after the river flow increased to 2,500 cubic feet per second and above in mid-June and began flipping boats.

Basalt Councilman Auden Schendler in September said something needs to be done because the hydraulics are fundamentally flawed.

“You don’t need to sneak past that death hole,” he said in response to people who suggested making a bypass more accessible. “You just need to fix that thing.”

Pitkin County has asked River Restoration to look at the feasibility of going back into the river this winter and addressing the concerns.