Aurora Whitewater Park
Thanks to those who took the time to paddle the Fox on Oct 27 !
Read the article that was posted in the Daily Herald: Kayaker envisions state's first whitewater park - on the Fox River.
Letters to the editor in support of this project are welcome - comments addressing not only economic development, but removal of the danger posed by the dams in their existing form would be appropriate.
Advocacy Chairman, CWA
Who: The Illinois Paddling Council, and paddlers interested in the Fox River Canoe Trail and/or a whitewater park in downtown Aurora
What: Two media/awareness-raising events – in conjunction with the IPC “Season-Ender” trip
Where: On the Fox River – from just below Batavia, IL to downtown Aurora, IL
When: Saturday, Oct. 27 – details below
Due to the efforts of dedicated local paddlers, it’s looking more and more like Aurora will be successful in converting one or both downtown dams, on either side of Stolp Island, into paddler-friendly features - in addition to re-building the existing-but-poorly-designed canoe chute into a safe passage for the downriver paddler. This is all happening as part of a downtown revitalization effort, and should help turn the downtown area into a much more attractive place, while at the same time providing play features of varying difficulty.
The Illinois Paddling Council (IPC - http://www.illinoispaddling.org) is organizing their season ending trip on the Fox River to support both the Fox River Watertrail and the (potential) Aurora Whitewater Park. The IPC trip consists of 6 miles of flatwater paddling – from Batavia to just upstream of the Aurora dams. There will be local news reporters present as part of this effort to focus awareness on both the watertrail and the dam reconstruction, and whitewater kayakers are needed specifically to help focus attention on rebuilding the downtown dams into whitewater parks. Recall that IPC held a similar season-ender trip last year in Rockford, in which some 80-90 paddlers participated – and which was warmly received by proponents of the Rockford WW park.
The Fox River IPC paddle will begin at about 10 am at the Batavia VFW (645 S. River St.), and end a ways above the dams and existing canoe chute. A map and directions to the put-in for the IPC trip:
Directions to the IPC trip put-in:
- From I-88, exit north onto Farnsworth Ave.
- Farnsworth soon changes name to Kirk Rd.
- At the north end of Fermi Lab, turn left/west onto Wilson St, and drive towards the river.
- Turn left/south onto Rt. 25 / River Rd., and proceed to the VFW Hall. (if you pass the Funway Amusement park, you’ve gone too far).
- The access lane to the river is to the south (left) of the banquet hall, which is the brown building.
- Kayakers should park in front of the brown building, and carry boats to the river for the put-in media event
- Those who wish to paddle the IPC trip should shuttle immediately after dropping off boats (see IPC web site) and be ready to paddle at about 10 am
Whitewater paddlers are welcome to be part of the media event at the put-in of the IPC trip, but then are asked to load up boats and drive to downtown Aurora for a second media event at the dams/canoe chute at about 12 am - unless some choose to paddle the 6 miles with the IPC trip. The canoe chute will be open for paddling, and Scott Shipley, former National and World champion and whitewater course designer will also be at the chute for this second media event – which will focus on the canoe chute and dam reconstruction project. To get to downtown Aurora from the Batavia put-in is easy – exit the VFW parking lot with a right turn, and follow Rt. 25 to downtown Aurora. The two maps below (first is an overview, second with detail for the canoe chute media event) show pertinent information for downtown Aurora:
Overview Map of Downtown Aurora (Broadway St. is Rt. 25)
Detail Map for 12 am downtown Aurora media event
At 3 pm, Scott will be making a presentation on the proposed dam rebuilding effort at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse (205 N. Broadway/Rt.25 - see map above), with City and State officials also having been invited to this presentation. Not only will the presence of kayakers help demonstrate support from the kayaking community, but paddlers will also be able to discuss design features design features of the proposed course with Scott. The Roundhouse has also brewed a special beer to support this event – “Paddler’s Porter” – which can be quaffed with a post-paddling lunch.
More information is available on both the IPC and CWA web sites, and reminders will also be posted on the PPP message board as the date nears. Please help support efforts towards constructing a Chicago-area whitewater park!
Key Points for kayakers:
- If you paddle with IPC, a trip fee and ACA insurance fee (if not an ACA member) must be paid.
- Don’t pay the fee if you show up at the Batavia put-in only for the media event. In that case, please park in front (closer to Rt. 25) of the brown building on the VFW grounds, and carry down to the river to participate in the media event. IPC trip participants are being asked to shuttle immediately after dropping boats at the river, and not park at the put-in (there is a wedding receiption later in the day at the VFW). The lane to the river is barely one vehicle wide, so kayakers are asked to not drive to the river.
- After the put-in media event, drive to downtown Aurora for a second media event at the existing canoe chute. Its location is on the map above – also marked is the best place to park, which has been specially arranged for this date only. From the indicated parking area, carry across Galena Blvd., then down to the riverwalk, and upstream to the top of the canoe chute.
- Don’t expect any play at the canoe chute, as it is not of a paddler-friendly design. There are no convenient put-ins for the canoe chute – one possibility is directly across from the end of Pinney St, where there are gravely shallows very close to the entrance to the canoe chute. Another possibility is a bit further upstream, though is pretty muddy. Both involve clambering down a boulder retaining wall.
- There will be enough water at the canoe chute and below the dam to paddle, but the IPC trip will be held on a section of river that will likely be shallow (except in dam pools), with searching for the deepest channel being the challenge of the day – and especially so if the Montgomery gauge is below 1000 cfs.