SKOWHEGAN – The town of Skowhegan has been working on numerous projects for years, but one of them could be a first in New England.
The Kennebec Gorge is a beautiful landmark for the people of Skowhegan but it’s future as a recreational hub is what’s getting people excited.
“Hopefully we’re going to have half a dozen or so structures that will create waves – different kind of waves,” said Gregory Dore, the road commissioner for the town.
Skowhegan officials are buckling down to create a white water park located in the town’s Kennebec Gorge. It will provide people with a place to enjoy kayaking, tubing and canoeing.
“We have the opportunity to get into the river – plus the work that we want to do will enhance the environment,” said Dore.
The Run of River committee has been working on this project since 2004. After getting the results of a study they did last year, the town believes in the project even more. Now that their business plan is finished, they are ready to make this dream a reality.
“I think there’s a renewed energy behind it,” said Kristina Cannon, executive director for Main Street Skowhegan, “I’m not sure where that’s coming from but it seems that people are excited about the park more now than ever.”
They have since received a $15,000 grant. A total of $5.7 million is needed to complete phase one of this project. The town is currently at 25 percent.
“There’s potentially a huge economic impact for our town, the region and state when we put this white-water park in,” said Cannon, “We would be the first white-water park and white-water recreation area in New England.”
Skowhegan officials believe this park will revitalize the downtown and make it a tourist destination. Not only will the park increase visitation to the state but will create over 50 jobs.
“The Run of River project is certainly one of the largest ways to harness our potential of our natural resources,” Christine Almand, the town manager, “It will be great for activities for our locals and getting people who drive in our town to stop.”