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Progress on the Whitewater Park; river bottom being studied

Adam Hubbard, the chairman of the Port Jervis Whitewater Park Committee, left, Shane Sigle, a representative with the firm Recreation Engineering and Planning and Mayor Russell R. Potter stand on the bank of the Delaware River near the site of the proposed Port Jervis Whitewater Park.

By Fritz Mayer
September 4, 2012

Three years ago, when Port Jervis officials were looking for a way to revitalize the waterfront in the city, Adam Hubbard, a kayaking enthusiast, also known as a paddler, suggested that the city follow the lead of Boulder, CO and construct a whitewater park in the river. City officials investigated the idea, and quickly adopted it as a goal. Hubbard became chairman of the Port Jervis Whitewater Committee, and the project is moving forward.

At a presentation for the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway Committee on August 28, Hubbard said that the Orange County Industrial Development Agency had given the city a grant of $55,000 for an engineering study of the river bottom, which will be needed as the project moves into the permitting phase.

The project will need approval from many agencies including the Delaware River Basin Commission, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of engineers. Because the park will be located adjacent to Port Jervis, it will be on a small stretch of river that the NPS does not have jurisdiction over, but Don Hamilton, the chief of resource management for NPS, said they will be reviewing the related documents.

Hubbard said the “features” at whitewater parks are created by placing boulders in the river which the water flows over. On the other side of the boulders a deep spot is created. He said this combination forms the whitewater paddlers love to practice in, and hone their skills in advance of trips to more challenging whitewater kayaking experiences.

He also said the features were beneficial to many species of fish. He said, “This whole concept started in Boulder, CO to improve the fly fishing in town. And it turns out that the things that attract white water paddlers are the exact same things that trout want: deeper pools, moving water, aerated water. So as they were creating a park to enhance the fly fishing on Clear Creek, the paddlers said, “Wait a minute, you’re making surf waves,” and they started to work in unison to design it, and that’s how the company Recreation Engineering and Planning, the company that is designing the park, was created.”

Nadia Rajsz, supervisor of the Town of Lumberland , wondered if the park would interfere with the existing canoes and rafts that ply the river.