After two years of construction and nearly 20 years of plans in the making, Five Rivers MetroParks is ready to debut its newest regional recreation destination on the Great Miami River— a smooth-water passageway and a rippling, whitewater play chute for kayaking enthusiasts.
The $4 million RiverScape River Run project will celebrate the completion of the first water chute with an afternoon of outdoor celebration on Friday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m.
Five Rivers MetroParks, which boasts 3.3 million visitors annually at its parks, is expecting to draw even more crowds of water enthusiasts and spectators for the low-dam attraction.
“RiverScape River Run is one of the most impactful projects in our region,” said Carrie Scarff, Five Rivers MetroParks chief of planning and projects. “River Run was identified as a high-priority project in the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan because of its potential to improve economic vitality and help regional businesses attract and retain top talent.”
The first completed river chute, located in the park on East Monument Avenue near the Dayton Art Institute, includes two features: one smooth-water passageway for novice paddlers and a whitewater chute for those daredevil kayakers.
The free grand opening event starts at 4:30 p.m. with official remarks from community leaders. Project partners include leaders from the park district, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, Miami Conservancy District, city of Dayton and Montgomery County.
Those celebrating can also expect:
• The ceremonial first paddle starts at 5 p.m., when demonstration paddlers will show off what the new river run is capable of doing.
• The Five Rivers MetroParks music series Pickin’ in the Park will kick off at 6 p.m. after the official opening. The night will feature live tunes by progressive bluegrass musicians Casey Campbell, Restless Leg String Band and The Tillers.
• Local craft beer providers and food trucks will also be available to enjoy at the park.
The $4 million project was funded by private sector companies, community partners and grants. The James M. Cox Foundation issued a $1 million challenge grant in July 2011 to jump start the project.
Mike Ervin, co-chair of the Downtown Dayton Partnership board, said he expects the attraction to be a “gathering space” for more than just kayakers. He envisions an outdoor space where live music will play often, bikers and runners will pass by while residents hang out on the rock structures near the river.
“This is not just for kayakers,” he said. “It’s a place-making opportunity. You create this great vibrant space … And it becomes a destination.”
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