Union Leader | John Koziol | November 30, 2021
Marty Parichand recently tested the “standing wave” in the middle of the Winnipesaukee River in what eventually will be Phase I of Mill City Park at Franklin Falls. Mill City Park will be the first whitewater park in New England.
FRANKLIN — A delay in the construction of Mill City Park at Franklin Falls — the first whitewater park in New England — is good news for one of its key features: the “standing wave” in the middle of the Winnipesaukee River.
When it officially opens, the man-made, year-round wave located at the western end of Mill City Park, just below the Central Street Bridge, will be a playground for kayakers, surfers and bodyboarders.
Water is directed toward the wave from stone “wings” on either of the river banks.
As of last week, however, the northern wing needed a tweaking, said Marty Parichand, while the southern wing had yet to be built.
The driving and creative force behind Mill City Park and the owner of Outdoor New England, an outdoor clothing and equipment store a short walk from the “standing wave,” Parichand said a soggy summer postponed work on Phase I.
In addition to the “standing wave,” Phase I includes terraced seating immediately adjacent to the existing Trestleview Park — where spectators will be able to take in the action at the “standing wave” — and a pedestrian underpass below Central Street that will allow them to connect to the eastern end of the park. Neither the seating nor underpass is completed.
But the positive takeaway from what appears to be a less-than-ideal situation is that the construction equipment has remained onsite, Parichand said, and that the “optimization” of the “standing wave” was moved forward, not back.
“The original sequence was to optimize the wave a year later,” he explained, but the delay of Phase I has made that possible now.
Overall, the construction delay pushes the completion of Phase I from Thanksgiving to next spring, with a ribbon cutting scheduled for Sunday, June 19, 2022, as part of the Winni River Days festival.
Parichand said optimizing the “standing wave” has so far entailed a month-long flow study of the Winnipesaukee River, which was done in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
Once the south wing of the “standing wave” is in place, he said the northern wing will be adjusted.
Mill City Park has been hailed by state officials, including Gov. Chris Sununu, as a prime example of New Hampshire’s outdoor tourism economy and by city leaders for reconnecting the community — whose long-gone paper and textile mills were powered by it — to the Winnipesaukee River.