For more than a decade, a group called “Run of River” has been working on a proposal for a whitewater park in Skowhegan.
An economic study on the potential project says it would make quite an impact on the region.
Greg Dore works as Skowhegan’s Road Commissioner, but he’s also invested in the Kennebec River Gorge.
As the chairman of the Run of River organization, for years he’s been helping put together a proposal for a whitewater park.
“Skowhegan has a unique opportunity to really become a recreation destination and really we’re the gateway to the North Woods,” said Kristina Cannon, Executive Director of Maine Street Skowhegan, a nonprofit working to revitalize the town.
A friend of Dore has helped with a similar project that was successful in Colorado.
“What were doing is we’re going to put structures back in the gorge which is going to create fun for kayakers and rafters, but also restore the habitat for the fish,” he said.
Main Street Skowhegan has its hand in the project, too.
They worked on the economic impact study.
“First year in operation, Run of River could potentially bring in $6-million in sales and about 50 jobs to the state,” said Cannon.
“There’s a lot of people that go North both for kayaking and rafting, so you know, keep them in our area for awhile so they can enjoy what we already know is some of our great natural resources,” said Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand.
The report can be read in full online.
“We’ve had some great feedback from our local paddle community as well,” said Cannon.
Clayton Cole, President of the New England Chapter of the American Canoe Association tested it out recently.
“He came and put his canoe in the river. He actually did some paddling and just kind of assessed it and is excited for the potential of a river project,” said Cannon.
The project is estimated to cost about $4.5 million dollars.
We’re told Skowhegan selectman have set aside about $1.4 million for construction.
That means a capital campaign would have to raise about $3 million.
The next step is creating a business plan and bringing it to the selectmen.
“The most important part I think is that Skowhegan is turning around and looking back at the river where we’ve turned out back on it for years. We used it as a place to dump our sewage and now we don’t. We’re doing everything we can as good stewards to clean up our environment and to make this a fun place to be,” said Dore.
For a link to the impact study, and other documents related to the project, click here.
You can also sign up to be updated on the proposal.