An exciting opportunity could be in the works for the Cuyahoga River at River Front Park in Cuyahoga Falls. The Parks and Recreation Department has applied for a Cooperative Boating Facility Grant for $116,000 through the Ohio Division of Natural Resources - Division of Watercraft for the construction of a boat launch facility at River Front Park.
The summer of 2013 brought a great deal of change to the Cuyahoga Falls section of the Cuyahoga River. Two low-head dams, the LeFever Powerhouse dam and the Sheraton Mill dam were removed, which is aiding the restoration of the river and returning it to a more healthy and vibrant waterway. After the removal, the river emerged as a narrower stream conducive to kayaking, canoeing or rafting as potential recreational activities. This proposed kayak/canoe launch at River Front Park would allow thousands of prospective residents and visitors the opportunity to participate and enjoy another of Ohio’s historic waterways.
Going forward in 2014 and beyond, enjoying the Cuyahoga River and experiencing the beauty that exists beyond its banks will be a challenge – especially with safety in mind. The city's goal is to make the Cuyahoga Falls section of the Cuyahoga River a fun, but safe experience. At present, casual boaters are able to enter the river at the Water Works Park boat launch, but are unable to safely exit the water before reaching the newly created river rapids just south of River Front Park. This project would allow boaters to either safely exit before the rapids or allow experienced boaters to enter the river and proceed to the rapids.
Schematic designs show the need for safe ingress and egress of the Cuyahoga River and the city intends the launch to meet the needs of any user. The facility will be ADA compliant and will allow users safe ingress and egress from the river to the shore. The plans call for a restored parking lot and the site is equipped with restroom facilities. Another bonus is the access from a major highway 100 ft. from the south (State Route 8), which designates this a unique and logical geographic location to construct a kayak/canoe launch. The parking lot includes both ingress and egress drives which will facilitate the ability for vehicles with trailers to pull through, versus backing up and having to turn around, which will certainly attract canoe liveries or group outings. Paddlers can enter the river upstream at Water Works Park, which includes restrooms, picnic pavilions, playgrounds with nearby eateries, restaurants and convenience stores.
The boat launch project has received letters of support both locally and nationally; the National Park Service, MetroParks Serving Summit County, American Whitewater, Summit Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of the Crooked River and Citizens of the Valley are all supporters of this proposed project. Grant award recipients will be notified in November 2014 if they have been approved; if approved construction could start in 2015.
The City of Cuyahoga Falls is excited to pursue the Ohio Cooperative Boating Facility Grant in the hopes of bringing additional water recreation to our city. The city is seeking to be a responsible steward of the river and provide a safe and accessible boating facility to accommodate paddling adventures for every skill level from across the globe.