Informational meeting upcoming for whitewater park

Published 7:00 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

The community is invited to attend an information meeting for the proposed whitewater park for the Cedar River.

The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 22, at the Austin Public Library and will be hosted by  the Austin Whitewater on the Cedar committee.

During the event people will be able to see proposed conceptual designs of the park as well as allowing the committee to get ideas from the community. The event will also feature Hannah Ray, a whitewater athlete, as well as Nate Smit, one of the leaders of bringing the park to Austin.

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In March of this year, the Austin City Council approved supporting a feasibility study for the park, which would transform a stretch of the river, including the Fourth Street SE dam, into a whitewater park, featuring rock and other formations to create rapid type conditions.

The project, which is largely citizen-driven, could open up both outdoor and business opportunities if developed. The study has been carried out, though results have yet to be released.

“It’s been a big and growing commitment to the point where we’re starting to divide and conquer now,” Smit said in March. “It’s no longer us meeting and saying, ‘how do we even get this money for the feasibility study?’ How do we get the PR roll-out going?”

If the project moves forward, it would be the first of its kind in the state and among only a handful regionally, which includes parks in Charles City and Manchester, Iowa — both of which were 

inspirations for this park.

Envisioned to stretch from the pedestrian bridge over the Cedar River as it exits Mill Pond behind the YMCA at the Austin Community Recreation Center, the park would reach as far as Oakland Avenue East.  

Throughout that run the river would be engineered to guide the river into rapids and runs that will open recreational opportunities for kayakers, tubers and more.

“It’s a little something for everybody,” Smit said. “It’s a bigger vision of where it could go, but initially, right now, it’s from basically the end of Mill Pond all the way down to Oakland.”

To follow the project, visit: www.facebook.com/austinwhitewateronthecedar