Pin It
Favorite

Rapid Transit 

by Joel Smith & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & ou're used to the kind of park where you can lay in the sun and read a book, or throw a Frisbee to a dog. But you may not be familiar with the kind of park where you can watch kayakers toss themselves around in a rushing river all day. Or where you can join in. But the idea's not too far off.


Late last month, the Friends of the Falls released a conceptual design report for the cornerstone of the Great Gorge Park they've been talking about building along the Spokane River for the last few years. The report proposes the construction of a world-class whitewater park for kayakers and rafters just below the Sandifur pedestrian bridge, near People's Park.


Prepared by Oregon's David Evans and Associates and Recreation Engineering and Planning, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm that's designed more than 70 similar water parks around the world, the report suggests that Spokane can build a course with a "double-U" structure that would create year-round rapids for water sport enthusiasts at a cost of about $650,000. It proposes that several concrete bridge piers left in the river be taken out and that undulating, horizontal U-shaped arches made of granite and basalt boulders be installed below the Sandifur bridge. This would force river water into the middle of the channel and create a number of "features" for kayakers.


Just removing the old bridge piers, says Friends of the Falls Executive Director Steve Faust, is going to make the river a safer place. He cites the case of Benjamin Morin, an 8-year-old boy who died last month of complications from injuries he suffered last June when his canoe hit one of the piers, pinning him underwater for 20 minutes. "That was a really sad event," says Faust, adding, "We think this project is going to improve the safety of everyone who uses the river." He notes, however, that there will be no way around the new rapids for less experienced river travelers, though there will be a "very long tail water" just downstream, where people can easily hoist themselves out of the water.


Faust also believes that, contrary to the suspicions of some, the whitewater park won't harm fish habitat and may actually improve it. According the new report, "'U' drop structures create deep, self-scouring plunge pools that provide feeding lanes, cooler temperatures in the hot summer months, and overhead protection from predators for a variety of fish species."


"We're hopeful," says Faust, "that it will improve the fishery."


But messing with nature isn't easy. Or cheap. Of the $650,000 the report suggests it will take to build the whitewater features and an access trail, Faust says they've only raised about $400,000. That came in the form of an appropriation from the state of Washington.


But before they can spend that, they need to raise about another $225,000. That will be the focus of an invitation-only fund-raiser the group will hold near the proposed site on Thursday, April 13.


To gather the rest of the funds, the organization has begun an Adopt-a-Rock campaign. They're looking for individuals or businesses to contribute $250 each, to cover the cost of acquiring large granite boulders from throughout Spokane County and transporting them to the site, to be used as part of the double-U structure. Faust notes that in return, contributors will receive a small river stone as a memento, to show how they helped "grow a small rock into a big rock" (notwithstanding the geological problems inherent in that statement).


He adds that the group is working with the parks department to find a place around High Bridge Park where they can deposit the boulders they receive -- "kind of like a United Way thermometer," Faust says. He predicts that they should be fully funded within the next two or three months, and that the project could be completed by the fall of 2007.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Pacifying the Future
  • Pacifying the Future

    A local homebuilder has embraced a design strategy that could be the future of buildings
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Surge Protectors
  • Surge Protectors

    Solar and wind power need batteries to be reliable; Demand Energy's software makes those batteries more efficient
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Innovation Station
  • Innovation Station

    Toolbox is a space for innovative products to grow
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Think & Drink: "Writing in the Margins: Race in Literature"

Think & Drink: "Writing in the Margins: Race in Literature" @ Lindaman's

Tue., April 28, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Don't Test Me

    The Smarter Balanced standardized test has sparked a rebellion in Western Washington — and it's spreading
    • Apr 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation