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A master plan nearly 20 years in the making will be blown out of the water when the $4 million RiverScape River Run opens at 4:30 p.m Friday, May 5.
The 1999 RiverScape master plan — a partnership between Five Rivers MetroParks, Montgomery County, the city of Dayton, the Greater Dayton RTA and the Miami Conservancy District — called for a canoe shoot through the then existing low dam,” explained Five Rivers MetroParks Chief of Planning and Projects Carrie Scarff.
“The river run surpasses the original canoe shoot ideas by a long shot,” she said.
The idea championed by Bernie Farley, the owner of the Dayton Whitewater Warehouse, included the removal of a deadly low dam near the Dayton Art Institute and two river run chutes featuring smooth-water passageways for novice paddlers and whitewater play spots for experienced kayakers.
It is expected to attract kayakers able to do wild flips and cartwheels, but Scarff said the feature is not just for them.
“It’s for the people who want to (get) in at Eastwood MetroPark and go all the way downtown,” she said.
Like the master plan, the river run has been years in the making.
The James M. Cox Foundation issued a $1 million challenge grant in July 2011 to jump start the project.
The project’s completion will be the master plan’s grand finale.
Scarff said it will take people beyond river’s edge.
“I think it is a great opportunity for people to be on the river and in the river downtown,” she said. “The goal of RiverScape was to connect the people to the river. Water is so important to us as human beings.”
The master plan was one of Scarff’s first projects when she joined RiverScape in 2000.
The plan included the May 19, 2001 opening of RiverScape and the The Five Rivers Fountain of Lights.
The park was celebrated as the “rebirth of downtown” in Dayton Daily News writer Jim Nichols “View from Downtown” column.
Those among the 50,000 spectators used the words “gorgeous,” “beautiful job,” “fantastic,” and “two thumbs up,” to describe the Wright Plane sculpture, the towering fountains and the overall unveiling of RiverScape in the newspaper’s opening day article,
See a black and white version of the article below.
Deeds Point and RiverScapes’ bike hub, ice rink and pavilion are also offshoots of the master plan.
Scarff said the result of the river run and all the other amenities will be more people downtown.
She pointed to new office business and housing near RiverScape as proof of the water’s draw.
(RiverScape) just became our front porch and our street fair,” Scarff said. “It is where we come to come together.”
Going forward, Scarff said Dayton can take the lead in the Great Miami River Way.
“Dayton really needs to play that leadership role in anchoring all the communities down the riverway,” she said.