Cedar River Whitewater study results in: Whitewater park possible, funding to come

(ABC 6 News) – People came to the Austin Public Library on Tuesday to hear more about the Whitewater feasibility study.

The Austin Whitewater and Cedar Group presented the possibility of having a Whitewater Park. This would offer activities like kayaking, tubing, and paddleboarding.

The results from the feasibility study showed they would be able to do it. The main question had to do with flooding.

“We would be required to meet a no-rise condition for the floodplain, which basically says we’re not going to increase flooding in this area of town or upstream or downstream,” said Assistant City Engineer Mitch Wenum said.

The plan is to lower the height of the dam and incorporate five in-stream drop structures.

Starting from 4th Ave NE to 2nd Ave NE, the Cedar River would be transformed to become more recreational.

Above: concept art of proposed recreational Whitewater Park

The public was able to look at concept designs to see what this would look like.

“I was thrilled with the turnout that we had, this had to be at least double or triple of what we thought we were going to get for turnout so it shows that there’s a lot of interest from our community about this project,” councilmember Mike Postma said.

The implementation of the Whitewater course will cost about $10 million.

Whitewater Park Proposal

Now, the Austin Whitewater and the Cedar Group will work on fundraising to make the project a reality.

There’s still a ways to go before construction can begin but they hope this can bring more tourists to town.

“The fact that we don’t have a lot of the lakes and stuff that other counties do, being proud of our river and showing off our asset that’s right in our downtown, I just think it’s going to be fantastic to be a leader in the state of Minnesota,” Austin Whitewater and the Cedar Group founder Nathan Smit said.

Smit ensured the community they won’t raise their taxes and will rely on grants to cover the cost.

The project is still in its early phases. The best-case scenario would be to have it up and running by 2026.

The full study is outlined by the Cedar River Watershed here: Whitewater study unveils concept for Cedar River | by Cedar River Watershed District | Aug, 2023 | Medium