PLATTSBURGH — Every spring, the stretch of the Saranac River that runs through the City of Plattsburgh becomes an attraction for people interested in tubing through the raging waters.
The city is looking to capitalize on the natural water park.
“It could get a lot people who are interested in whitewater paddling to visit the area,” City Recreation Director Steve Peters said.
The city will apply for an $11,000 grant to study the feasibility of creating a whitewater park on the river for kayakers, canoeists and other paddlers to enjoy.
Peters explained that a portion of the river that runs through the city could be transformed into a recreation park. Boulders could be inserted in strategic places to create water swirls, and other parts of the river could be manipulated to improve paddling conditions.
If the city secures the grant, the study will be done by Recreation Engineering and Planning of Boulder, Colo. Peters said the company does studies for about 85 percent of the whitewater parks in the country.
The company would look at what times of year a park might work and what level of paddlers it could cater to. It will also study environmental and liability issues.
‘CREATE A BUZZ’
Water parks on a smaller scale exist in Potsdam, Watertown and on the Richelieu River in Quebec. The Ausable River is also a popular paddling destination.
“We would kind of be right in the middle of these other places, and if people wanted to visit the area to go whitewater paddling, they could come here as they hit all these other places,” Peters said.
Michelle Powers of the Plattsburgh/North Country Chamber of Commerce said such a park would attract the whitewater crowd, which would help the area in many ways.
“It would create a buzz downtown and help pull people in,” she told the Common Council Thursday night.
The Saranac River is usually raging with high water for a few weeks in the spring as the snow melts in the Adirondack Mountains and makes its way to the winding river. Although the water is usually quite chilly at that time, the river still attracts many tubers who seek a thrill ride.
The adventure can be dangerous, however, as a number of people have had to be rescued over the years. In 1998, a Plattsburgh State student died while tubing.
Eventually, each spring, the water level lowers, and the river pace settles into a more tranquil speed.
This summer, the dry, hot weather has caused the water level to drop way down, making the river unattractive for whitewater paddling.
“I don’t think anybody would be doing much whitewater paddling right now,” Powers said.
Peters said the city should know by the end of August if it will receive the grant.
Email Joe LoTemplio: