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Forums set Monday for proposed St. Lawrence County Whitewater Recreation Park

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POTSDAM - An Olympic kayaker from Colorado will participate in two separate community forums scheduled for Monday to give the public the chance to offer input on developing a whitewater recreation park in the towns of Canton, Colton and village of Potsdam.

The first session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the village of Potsdam’s Civic Center Community Room. Another session is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in SUNY Canton’s Goolden Room adjacent to Cheney Dining Hall.

“There will be a great deal of information about how a whitewater park can improve the economy of a community,” said Canton Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn. “It will also give us a chance to know what the public thinks of the idea and give us their ideas.”

The proposed St. Lawrence Whitewater Park Project is part of the Racquette River Blueway Trail project which received state funding in 2011.

Frederick Hanss, director of Potsdam’s Planning & Development Department, said anyone interested in whitewater recreation or water-based recreational facilities is encouraged to attend one of the sessions.

“We’ll let people know some of the potential sites in Canton and Potsdam that we’re looking at. We also want feedback about what should be included in a whitewater park,” Mr. Hanss said.

Picnic areas, interpretive signs and bathroom facilities are items that people may like to include.

In Colton, Stone Valley is the site that would be included in the project because it’s already used by whitewater enthusiasts.

The feasibility study will be assisted by representative from S20 Engineering and Design of Lyons, Colo. who will visit possible park sites in each community to asses their recreational potential and public access.

Scott Shipley, a principal engineer with the company and a veteran of three Olympic games, will participate in the evening forums. Mr. Shipley holds four world kayaking titles and also designed the 2012 Olympic venue and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Mr. Hanss said the three communities have to determine whether it’s economically feasible to move ahead with the project. That analysis will include a marketed assessment and estimated budgets for development, environmental permitting, construction and operations and maintenance.

“The cost analysis and market potential will help determine if this moves forward,” he said.

The whitewater park project was selected as a priority project by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council in 2011.

People wishing to attend the Canton forum can contact Mrs. McQuinn for parking passes for SUNY Canton’s Lot #13. She can be reached at 386-2871, extension 5.

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