As a Stoughton homeowner for over 20 years and now a riverfront homeowner, I am in favor of the proposed whitewater park and the dam removal that will allow it to happen.
I think the whitewater park and the river remediation that will come with it will be a benefit for the city and its residents and visitors. I’ve been impressed by the coordinated effort of city committees to think of the larger picture of the riverfront development, whitewater park, downtown development, future Mandt Park development planning, and recreational paths and trails.
I think it’s valuable to look ahead to set the groundwork for improvements that will affect the city for years to come.
As a part of this effort, removing the dam makes sense for reasons of water quality improvement, improved recreational access for better fishing and boating, and safety. Shoreline remediation will also be welcome and is long overdue.
Certainly water levels will be affected, but I believe the projections that the greatest changes will be in the area of the current millpond, with less effect farther upstream. And I would be fine with the river south of Main Street being more similar to the current river upstream of Main Street, in terms of width and river speed, than the current weed farm in the millpond area.
I do have some concerns about how the river will change, but mostly about accommodating projected peak water flows and the variations in river depth and width in what is now the millpond, as well as through the whitewater park. I hope that consideration is being given to increasing peak rainfall events, as well as likely higher peak flow rates due to upstream dredging (in process to allow better drainage of the Madison lakes).
Stoughton history has always had a dam on the river, and it will be very different to not have a dam after almost 200 years. But the dam is much less valuable to the city now than it was, and I think the whitewater park and surrounding redevelopment will carry much greater value for many years to come.
Certainly it would be a big change, but it can be made a positive change, that will make its own history in Stoughton.
City of Stoughton