Miamisburg, rowing club agree on waterfront use

A contract between the City of Miamisburg and Gem City Crew, a new Montgomery County rowing club, could help the city attract more people to its waterfront, city officials said.

“I think it really adds stability to what we want to do here,” said Mayor Dick Church Jr. “I would like to see a similar (dock) at Linden Avenue. That to me would be another ideal location for a dock of that sort.”

Boosting use of the waterfront is a priority in Miamisburg’s master plan.

The five-year contract with Gem City Crew allows the club to use over six miles of waterfront at Rice Field for practice and place a temporary dock system into the bank of the Great Miami River. The club is paying for the temporary dock and the rest of their equipment.

Gem City Crew is a rowing club with 11 members from Montgomery County schools in grades 7 through 12. The club was founded earlier this year and trained with a Cincinnati team until they entered the agreement with Miamisburg.

Debbie McLaughlin, the city’s parks and recreation director, said the dock would be available for use to others once the system has been installed, maybe within the next month. The city is considering a permanent launch pad near Linden Avenue and is looking for grants to cover the costs.

Church credited Councilman Charles Case for helping make the deal with the Gem City group.

“He’s really promoted it and been the voice behind utilizing that river…… and I give him full credit for this endeavor,” Church said.

Riverfront development has been a focal point for city officials. This spring Miamisburg City Council approved a scaled down Riverfront Park master plan that calls for work to begin this fall. The $10 million plan cuts about $8 million from its predecessor, which included key – but costly – elements in its initial phases.

Gem City Crew coach Alex Walters said he was surprised the waterfront at Rice Field hadn’t already been developed.

“We have a sweetheart deal because we basically have the water to ourselves,” Walters said.

Walters said most rowing teams only have three to five kilometers of space to practice on, or less than three miles, while the Miamisburg park provides almost double that amount of space. It allows for more complex drills and will be safer, as the boats won’t have to turn as often at practice, he said.

The space could even be used for a regatta, Walters said. The river is wide enough to accommodate multiple teams and has bridges that spectators could use.

The regatta could become a moneymaker for the city, Walters said, bringing in teams from across the country who would stay in Miamisburg accommodations.

Gem City Crew team members said they were excited about the new space, though they have not been able to actually go onto the water. Until the crew is able to build their docks, they are doing dry-land drills as much as possible.

Tonja Kaissich, 13, of Centerville, said she was excited to begin practices on the water.

“We have all this water,” Kaissich said. “There’s so many possibilities.”

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