Kayakers and paddlers of all ages came out to support the proposed Springville Whitewater Park at the Springville Dam as they paddled from the Mill Street bridge to Scoby Dam followed by an informational meeting at the Concord Town Hall Aug. 13.
SPRINGVILLE—The Springville Whitewater Park organization held a public informational meeting Wednesday, Aug. 13 at the Concord Town Hall in which their future plans for the proposed whitewater park at the Springville Dam was discussed.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers will be doing work on the dam because it does not meet current safety regulations. USACE will be lowering the dam to 10 feet to create a barrier for the invasive sea lamprey and building a fish passage so fish will be able to go between the upper and lower watersheds.
The project was open to betterments from the public and the Springville Whitewater Park jumped at the opportunity to propose a whitewater park in conjunction with USACE’s plans.
Before the meeting, supporters for the Springville Whitewater Park paddled in the Cattaraugus Creek that started at the Mill Street bridge in Springville and ended at the Springville Dam.
Jeff Morreale, executive director for the Springville Whitewater Park, made a presentation at the meeting showcasing what has been done so far, the benefits of a whitewater park and the future plans for the project.
Morreale started off the presentation talking about the many uses that a whitewater park can bring to the area. Not only will it bring in paddlers, it can be used for swiftwater rescue training, educational purposes with schools and scout troops and it will help improve fish habitats for fisherman. The park would also help improve river ecology, vegetation restoration and improve river beautification, according to Morreale.
“It just makes the river more beautiful with the rocks we are putting in and creating the rapids,” said Morreale. “People will want to come there to have a good picnic and enjoy the scenery.”
Morreale then went into the economic benefits that the park could bring to the area. Outdoor recreation is over a $600 billion business and paddling is the fastest growing outdoor sport. Many other cities that have built whitewater parks have brought in $1-2 million to their local economies and it could do the same for southern Erie and Cattaraugus counties.
“What whitewater parks do after you change the river and make it better for everybody is that it brings in economic dollars and revitalizes the region,’ said Morreale. “It generates tourism, can be a place for festivals or competitions, hotels and real estate in the area will grow and it helps revitalize communities.”
The next steps for the park is to gain more support from Erie County. They are working on getting more support from local businesses in both Springville and all of Western New York. Many ideas were suggested at the meeting to try and raise more awareness, which included holding the same meeting in Cattaraugus County, contacting the Cattaraugus County legislature to support the project and contacting the local rod and gun clubs.
Springville Mayor William Krebs was at the meeting and expressed his support for the park and suggested that they try and get Ellicottville to support the project.
“There are at least 1.2 million visitors to Ellicottville every year and they are now a four seasons resort there and they are looking for tourism and recreational activities outside of Ellicottville and this would be right in their niche,” said Krebs.
But not everyone is completely on board with the whitewater park. Town of Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito thinks that more research needs to be done on the project.
“I’m not for or against it but I feel that it has to be researched,” said Eppolito. “Our take from the town board’s perspective is that we will go along with whatever the county decides to do.”
For more information on Springville Whitewater Park or to show support for the park, visit their website at springvillewhitewater.org
or the Springville Whitewater Park Facebook page.