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Forums set Monday for proposed St. Lawrence County Whitewater Recreation Park

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POTSDAM — An Olympic kayaker from Colorado will participate in community forums Monday on developing a whitewater recreation park in the towns of Canton and Colton and the village of Potsdam.

The first session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Potsdam Civic Center Community Room. Another session will be at 7:30 p.m. in SUNY Canton’s Goolden Room adjacent to Cheney Dining Hall.

“There will be a great deal of information about how a whitewater park can improve the economy of a community,” Canton Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn said. “It will also give us a chance to know what the public thinks of the idea and give us their ideas.”

The proposed St. Lawrence Whitewater Park project is part of the Raquette River Blueway Trail project, which received state funding in 2011.

Frederick J. Hanss, village planning and development director, said anyone interested in whitewater recreation or water-based recreational facilities is encouraged to attend one of the sessions.

“We’ll let people know some of the potential sites in Canton and Potsdam that we’re looking at. We also want feedback about what should be included in a whitewater park,” Mr. Hanss said.

Picnic areas, interpretive signs and bathroom facilities are items that people may like to include.

In Colton, Stone Valley is the site that would be included in the project because it’s already used by whitewater enthusiasts.

The feasibility study will be assisted by a representative of S20 Engineering and Design of Lyons, Colo., who will visit possible park sites in each community to assess their recreational potential and public access.

Scott Shipley, a principal engineer with the company and a veteran of three Olympic games, will participate in the evening forums. Mr. Shipley holds four world kayaking titles and designed the 2012 Olympic venue in London and the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C.

Mr. Hanss said the three communities have to determine whether it’s economically feasible to move ahead with the project. That analysis will include a marketing assessment and estimated budgets for development, environmental permitting, construction and operations and maintenance.

The whitewater park project was selected as a priority project by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council in 2011.

People wishing to attend the Canton forum can call Mrs. McQuinn for parking passes for SUNY Canton’s Lot 13. She can be reached at 386-2871, ext. 5.

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