The Parks and Recreation Department in Cuyahoga Falls has applied for a $116,000 Cooperative Boating Facility Grant through the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft for the construction of a boat launch facility at River Front Park.
Two low-head dams in the Cuyahoga Falls section of the Cuyahoga River, the LeFever Powerhouse Dam and the Sheraton Mill Dam were removed last summer to, according to the EPA, aid in the restoration of the river and return it to a more healthy and vibrant waterway.
After the removal, the river emerged as a narrower stream conducive to kayaking, canoeing or rafting, according to the city's Parks and Recreation Department. The proposed kayak/canoe launch at River Front Park, 2611 Front St., would allow thousands of prospective residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy another of Ohio's historic waterways.
The city's goal is to make the Cuyahoga Falls section of the Cuyahoga River a "fun, but safe experience." At present, casual boaters are able to enter the river at the Water Works Park boat launch, but are unable to safely exit the water before reaching the newly created river rapids just south of River Front Park. This project would allow boaters to either safely exit before the rapids or allow experienced boaters to enter the river and proceed to the rapids.
The facility will be ADA compliant. The plans call for a restored parking lot and the site is equipped with restroom facilities. There will be an access from S.R. 8.
The parking lot includes both ingress and egress drives which will facilitate the ability for vehicles with trailers to pull through, versus backing up and having to turn around, which could attract canoe liveries or group outings. Paddlers can enter the river upstream at Water Works Park, which includes restrooms, picnic pavilions, playgrounds with nearby eateries, restaurants and convenience stores.
The boat launch project has received letters of support both locally and nationally. The National Park Service, MetroParks Serving Summit County, American Whitewater, Summit Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of the Crooked River and Citizens of the Valley are all supporters of this proposed project.
Grant applicants will be notified in November if they have been approved. If approved, construction could start in 2015.