AW meets with City about the Route 3 Wave (NY)

posted July 10, 2003
by Kevin Colburn

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The Route 3 Wave in Watertown New York is a popular play wave that has recieved attention lately after plans surfaced to alter this wave to make it a feature suitable for high-level competitive events.

In June, American Whitewater Eastern Conservation and Access Associate Kevin Colburn toured the Black River Corridor with AW Regional Coordinator Nancy Weal as well as regional paddlers Steve Kittleberger and Tom Vickory. The group looked carefully at the Route 3 Wave area as well as many other possible locations for the development of a play feature. The group also toured Cruncher Rapid where a recent canal collapse has impacted the river.

The tour lead to many obvious alternative locations for a new play feature other than Route 3. The Route 3 Wave is in a diversion reach of the River that is subject to dewatering and backwater flooding from the City operated adjacent hydro unit. It is also an existing popular feature. Other locations were viewed that have more flow, fewer issues with flow regulation, more gradient, more constriction, better access opportunities, and no current play feature. The vast majority of the River corridor has been heavily altered and is in an urban setting.

The group were admittedly not experts on whitewater feature design but had the basic knowledge of the requirements of a constructed feature to recognize the potential opportunities. The group then went to meet with Watertown City Planners involved with the project. Based on the tour the group recommended that the City of Watertown hire an objective and qualified play park design specialist to analyze all of the potential play feature opportunities in the City, and to make recommendations back to the City and the paddling community.

The City of Watertown shared many interests with American Whitewater and the other paddlers present. All agreed that the creation of one or more high quality play features in altered areas of the Black River Corridor would benefit the paddling community, draw people to Watertown, and be a good addition to other plans to revitalize the riverfront. The paddlers shared a survey with the City that showed a majority of paddlers that answered the online survey were in opposition to or were concerned about the alteration of the Route 3 Wave. American Whitewater recommended that the City strongly consider other locations, and asked that they maintain an open line of communication with American Whitewater and the paddling community and make no alterations without input from the paddling community.

American Whitewater would like to thank the City of Watertown for being open minded and taking time to listen to our concerns.

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