West Carrollton is set to get $3 million in federal funding for a river park at the South Montgomery County Low Dam.
The $15 million West Carrollton Development and Low Dam Improvement Project on the Great Miami River will include a 900-foot whitewater channel around the dam, competition-level whitewater features for kayaks and wave surfing, and modifications aimed at improving safety, use and access to the river.
The funding will be used for dam restoration and to subsequently launch the project along the riverfront, officials said Tuesday during a press conference.
Through the fiscal year 2023 appropriations process, Congressman Mike Turner was able to secure $3 million in community project funding for the project, Turner’s office said. The money will be allocated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Whitewater park and river district projects have been “long in the making” in West Carrollton, said Mayor Jeff Sanner. The city started acquiring property on Marina Drive 25 years ago, he said. In 2017, it bought the former Roberds Carrollton Plaza for redevelopment.
“These projects will be transformational for West Carrollton and as the gateway into the city,” Sanner said. “Not only is this project is going to have an economic impact on West Carrollton, but on the entire region.”
West Carrollton Economic Development Director Mike Lucking, who showed a video of what dam safety improvements, a whitewater channel and the “Big Wave” feature would look like, said kayakers and canoeists will be able to use a bypass to circumvent the dam and continue touring the river. He said the “Big Wave” feature has the opportunity to be a regional and possibly even a national draw, he said.
After the design completion by Merrick & Company/The McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group, the first phase of the project can start, likely this fall when the water is at its lowest, Lucking said. Safety improvements should be in place by 2024 and the dam opened to create the river surfing environment in 2025, he said. The bypass is expected to open by 2026.
The whitewater project will be accompanied by a river district project with an estimated built value of $75 million, Sanner said.
That project is envisioned to include multiple restaurants and service retail, plus a hotel, medical office building, 26 high-end townhome condominiums and a 214-unit apartment project. There’s also a proposal for a small watercraft marina.
It is anticipated to be completed by 2030, Sanner said.
The project is estimated to create 300 new jobs, which will equate to about $360,000 a year in income tax, he said. It also will generate an approximate $320,000 in sales tax a year for Montgomery County, $160,000 in sales tax for the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, $780,000 a year in tax increment financing from the real estate finance project infrastructure in the city portion of the whitewater project and $600,000 a year in real estate tax to the West Carrollton School District.
Sanner thanked Turner, who served as Dayton’s mayor for eight years, for securing the $3 million in funding.
“As a former mayor, Congressman Turner understands the value of investing in our cities and making them the best place to work, live and to raise a family,” he said.
The funding will be used to add safety modifications, a small-craft dock/marina on the river, whitewater rapids for kayaks and canoes, and also a surfing feature, Sanner said.
Area officials say the project will enable the Dayton region to compete to host whitewater competitions and events, bringing out-of-town and out-of-state whitewater enthusiasts to West Carrollton and the Dayton region.
Turner congratulated West Carrollton officials for “an incredible vision” for the project, which is aimed at revitalizing the city.
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