Whitewater park is more than an idea. It’s inspiration

Published 5:09 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

On Tuesday night, the public was given the opportunity to hear about the proposed whitewater park that, if completed would be located on a stretch of the Cedar River from the pedestrian bridge behind the YMCA at the Community Recreation Center and go through to Second Street NE. It would include five drops and five pools and allow a variety of opportunities for whitewater enthusiasts, anglers and people in general.

It’s an intriguing idea, however, should it go through, the park still remains years out before it would be completed.

This piece isn’t to argue one way or another for the park. There are a variety of hurdles and questions on the horizon that includes, but not limited to, funding, water quality issues and more. This alone makes this a challenging project.

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However, while we are reserving judgment on the merits of the park at this time, there is still the opportunity to hold this up as a model for just how important it is that citizens be involved in their community.

People at Thursday night’s meeting, held at the Austin Public Library, asked several hard, though probably not unexpected, questions of those involved in bringing the park to Austin. Each question was given its due opportunity to be answered by those same people. What it showed is a group of citizens passionate about making Austin the best community it can be.

From Nate Smit’s original idea during the COVID-19 pandemic to now, the entire process has been citizen driven, putting ownership for such a project in  their hands, and then have run with it.

Those who are attempting to build support for the park are caring individuals who want to bring more opportunities to Austin and to do that they have to get involved.

It’s a highlight that shows others that if you want something better for your town or city, you need to get involved. It would have been a simple thing for Smit to give rise to the idea and then attempt to hand it off to the city to complete. Instead, he took ownership and involved other like-minded people to help make it a reality.

Even if the park doesn’t make it to final form, it’s worth remembering that at least people tried to do their part. It’s also worthy to take this example and ask yourself, “what can I do to make Austin a better place?”