Concord Monitor | Geoff Forester and Sarah Pearson | August 2, 2022
Less than two months after its grand opening during Winni River Days, the Franklin Whitewater Park is already proving its ability to attract paddlers.
With the river’s flow at a low 250 cubic feet per second and much of the state in drought, two kayakers made the two-hour trek from Maine to ride the engineered wave.
“This has a wave that creates a perfect kind of concave deal to practice the little rodeo moves, spinning and stuff, cartwheels, different things,” said David Plizga of Portland. “This is very symmetrical. And it’s got a nice pool to roll in. You know, it’s deep and it’s always deep not to worry about the rocks.”
Plizga was joined by Matt Thibault of Gorham, Maine.
Everything about the park was by design, including its standing wave and spectating area on land.
“The really cool thing for all of us that are involved with the project, is it’s a whitewater park and it’s meant for whitewater enthusiasts to come and have fun,” said Marty Parichand, founder of Mill City Park and owner of Outdoor New England. “Also, kids can boogie board it or surfers can surf on it. It’s open to the public, but the community is coming down, you know, every day and they’re having lunch there.”
The standing wave ensures the river is usable to paddlers even under less than ideal circumstances.
“Now, because of the wave, it is worthwhile. Right? And so people come every day,” Parichand said. “We haven’t had one day in the last like five months where people haven’t been on the wave. And I mean, that in and of itself ... is so huge for our community.”
“Proof in the pudding,” he added.
Last Tuesday, two paddlers from Maine made a two-hour trek to the park.
The whitewater park’s phase one, which include the standing wave and an on-shore spectator amphitheater, had a ribbon cutting June 18 with about 3,500 people attending the Winni River Days event.
While the river and the adjacent park are public and free for anyone to use, the whitewater park is envisioned as an economic driver in town. Already, several new businesses have opened nearby and revitalization efforts are underway for both market-rate housing and high-end condos in nearby historic buildings.
David Plizga of Portland, Maine rides the wave in the manmade competition hole on the Winnipesaukee River at Mill City Park at Franklin Falls in downtown Franklin on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.
Matt Thibault of Gorham, Maine comes through the water at Mill City Park at Franklin Falls in downtown Franklin on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Thibault drove two hours with his friend to experience the new competition hole, a manmade structure that creates a wave with a deep pool on the downward side where kayakers can practice their moves in safety and in low water situations. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff Testing
Friends Matt Thibault of Gorham, Maine (left) and David Plizga of Portland, Maine take a break at Mill City Park in Franklin on July 26, 2022. The pair drove the two hours to experience the new standing wave, a manmade structure that creates a permanent wave with a deep pool where kayakers can practice their moves in safety, even in low water situations.
GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff
GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff