Grand Rapids Whitewater.
Of all the great initiatives and organizations (ArtPrize, Downtown Farmers Market, West Michigan Sports Commission, AimWest, Momentum-MI, just to name a few) that are happening in Grand Rapids, I am absolutely, positively convinced that the Grand Rapids Whitewater project will have as big of an impact over time as all the “big ideas” that are under development.
Transforming a section of the Grand River into a recreational whitewater park (while still maintaining the fishery) will have benefits far beyond the enjoyment of water enthusiasts.
- Transforming the Grand River banks and boardwalks into a destination for families to hang out and enjoy the water scene
- The possibility of attracting competitive water sports events
- The business of hungry and thirsty kayaking and rafting families spending their money downtown after a day on the rapids
- Ancillary opportunities for entrepreneurs like rentals, concessions, tours, and lessons
- Adding another “intangible” benefit for individuals and families to live and work downtown
- Focusing more attention on the care of the Grand River, water quality, sustainability, fisheries
- Creating a safer river experience by eliminating the dangerous low-head dams
- An overall enhancement to the quality of life.
Of course there is a lot to be done. This project needs both public and private collaboration. The City of Grand Rapids, downtown business owners, commercial real estate developers, taxpayers, special interest groups (like the Steelheaders) and many other groups are all important stakeholders in this discussion. But let’s keep moving forward.