With the closest whitewater parks currently in Boulder and Clear Creek, local kayakers have been seeking a playground along the Poudre for at least a decade, says Fort Collins deputy city manager and COO Jeff Mihelich. Good news: The time has come. As of press time, construction on a whitewater park on the Poudre was slated to begin in August.
The park, also referred to as “Reach 3”, is estimated to cost $11.5 million in both community capital improvement and private funds, and will be located adjacent to North College Avenue, between the Discovery Science Center and the BNSF railroad tracks. It will include trails, put-in and take-out points for kayakers and tubers, a children’s park and a pedestrian and bike bridge to connect the north and south sides of the river.
And while the initiative signals yet another reason to keep Fort Collins in the crosshairs of “Best Outdoor Town” list makers, Reach 3 is about much more than a new place to perfect your Eskimo rolls.
That’s because it’s merely one tentacle of the expansive Poudre River Downtown Park master plan, in the works through Fort Collins City Council since 2014 (with an estimated completion around summer of 2019). City planners are counting on the expansion to extend a helping hand to energy and economic development to the River District and Downtown Fort Collins, whose focus is on enhanced habitat, improved recreational opportunities and even better flood mitigation.
Ultimately, according to the Fort Collins city officials, the goal is to nurture the unavoidable intersection between four crucial elements of future success: conservation, preservation, development and recreation. —Andrew Kensley