Plans for the proposed whitewater park have continued to move forward while the City of Stoughton worked on getting funding from the state Department of Natural Resources.
Led by parks and recreation department director Dan Glynn and the Whitewater Park steering committee, the project hinges on at least two potential DNR grants that would significantly reduce the estimated $2.2 million cost.
One, which would pay to remove the Fourth Street dam, remains controversial, as Town of Pleasant Springs residents who live upstream are concerned about the effects on water levels, waterfowl and recreation use.
That grant would help provide matching funds toward a potential $1.6 million federal Department of Transportation grant.
If the municipal dam grant is accepted, the dam would have to be removed. The Common Council will make the final decision to accept or deny the grant.
A second grant provides $425,000 to restore the riverbanks and mill pond. If the application for a municipal flood control grant is successful, the state Department of Natural Resources will provide half the funding for a project, estimated to cost $425,000.
The project could be completed as soon as 2022, and is part of a larger Riverfront Redevelopment initiative between South Fourth and South Seventh streets, and between East South Street and the Yahara River.
Glynn proposed developing the whitewater park in 2017. Located between Mandt Park and the riverfront redevelopment project, it would include rapids for paddlers and rafters, as well as a surfing wave he has said would be the only one of its kind in the region.
In 2018, Glynn and Tsung-Lun Hsu, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted an economic impact study that predicted it could result in millions of dollars of spending annually in the city.
The study partly based that projection on estimates that there are at least 30,000 kayakers within a 30-minute drive to the site and 82,000 within an hour’s drive of the proposed park.