Poudre Whitewater Park Update
This is an email update I sent out to our volunteer staff regarding a meeting with the City we had this week. If you're confused about anything, feel free to contact me. I refer to Site 3 below, this is the best of the 3 possible sites along the river that were selected. This is just east of the College Ave bridge.
Ben Loeffler, Mike Pagel, Greg Speers and I met with John Stokes and some members of the engineering side of the project regarding the whitewater park yesterday. Overall, the feeling was really positive.
A few issues were perceived as show stoppers over the past few weeks. Most of these have been addressed and we're proceeding with the plan!
1. Geological issues regarding the low bedrock in the area. Most of the concern is how much bedrock would need to be removed for the deep pools below the features. However, Andersen Consulting believes we might get "lucky" after doing some testing of the area and didn't seem too concerned.
2. Pollution issues below the railroad bridge. There was a concern that the "plume" of napl coal tar that was found in 2003 and mitigated in 2005 would have possibly migrated upstream. It is the opinion of Welsh Environmental after tests that this is NOT the case and that the mitigation fence was doing its job. This is fantastic news, this could have put a very quick end to Site 3 or the approval of a park from Council all-together.
3. Water-right/ownership issues with the existing Coy ditch. The City of Fort Collins owns 50% of the water rights to the Coy ditch, the other major stake holder is ELCO, or Eastern Larimer County Water District. The ditch is no longer used for irrigation, however it is unknown who owns the land under the ditch itself. They're getting a meeting together to discuss this with ELCO. The feeling is positive that they can work this out but there wasn't much of an update.
For the entire Poudre River Projects project, there are 3 sets of improvements we discussed. The Coy ditch area is a priority and they are planning on spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $6m to revive this area, including the addition of WWP features and fishing pools. More on the funding aspect later...
It is broadly accepted within the staff of the project that Site 3 as S2O presented (Coy ditch/below College Bridge) is the most desirable area to build a whitewater park. In addition to the superior drop the area has, its not exactly a 'natural' area currently. Any improvements to this section of the river will most likely be popular with the public and Council. Also of concern, the ditch provides little to no fish passage currently and must be modified or removed. And finally the ditch currently poses a flood impact to the College bridge as we saw in the floods this past September. All of these current factors are in our corner.
The other areas that weren't really discussed in great detail are the area near Lee Martinez which includes the Lake canal structure, and finally the section of river between Lincoln and Linden streets. John mentioned he would like to see a habitat project put in this area. In our discussions we focused on boaters being able to access the entire stretch of the river between Overland and Mulberry and there was some discussion on additional put-in and takeout opportunities. John really likes the idea of being able to boat the entire section between Overland and Mulberry. Maybe more on this in later meetings.
The site plan (certainly not final) includes 4 features. Whether those are all boating features is sort of up in the air currently. We'll work with them to get as many kayak-able features as possible. Keeping that in mind, we are confident there will be at least 2. They would like to stay quite some distance from the rail bridge as this is near the environmentally sensitive area. They're envisioning a pedestrian bridge just upstream of the rail bridge where people could cross the river and watch kayakers play.
Finally we discussed a rough schedule of events before the project could be completed. Most of the dates depend on budgeting and funding. The more aggressive we get with funding, the more action we will see.
January - Another Open House is planned sometime early in the month. While we probably don't have to beg for a whitewater park, we need to show our support at all of these events. We will need to motivate the troops for each event. Buzzards, we need you there!
February - Budgeting activities go to Boards and Commissions. John wants to seek other sources than the "Build On Basics" or BOB funding initiative. As this project will be competing with millions of dollars that other projects will be asking for. John believes there are many other sources of funding for this project as well, but as previously mentioned the more aggressive we get in funding the less time delay we will see.
March/April - Draft of the master plan for the entire Poudre River Projects should be completed. Soon after there will be another work session with Council similar to the October session just passed to discuss the plan and get input. This is likely the time-frame when we will begin our fund raising efforts. These funds will fill in the gaps for the Whitewater side of the project.
May - Budget is due in the City Managers hands. In addition another Open House will be held after the input/changes from the work session. Buzzards are needed at this event as well, the more support we show, the faster we will see a park built and the more funding it will receive.
June'ish - Finalized plan of the Poudre River Projects (entire project between Overland and Mulberry)
Assuming funding is in order, there are no major hiccups we could see construction begin in the late fall of 2015 carrying into 2016. Hopefully that means we're boating in the spring of 2016.
Sorry so long winded, but I'm fired up. Lets do this.