Rockford city leaders want to harness the power of the Rock River to provide a unique attraction that could draw in tourists from all over the Midwest. Plans are in the works for an indoor/outdoor kayak park near the Ingersoll property on the Rock River.
"That place down there would be a perfect place to put a park in and draw a lot of people into the Rockford area," Paddle and Trail owner Jim Talkington said.
"It's one of those things that could transform the downtown area and something our citizens could really be proud of," Rockford City Administrator Jim Ryan said.
The land area next to the river is where the actual kayak park would go. Water would run off the Rock River, shoot down manmade rapids with several drop-off points along the way.
"We think in the next three years we could get this constructed," Ryan said.
Before whitewater flows, first the city must take over the ownership of the dam from ComEd.
"If we're going to own it we want to make sure we're not going to be having to rebuild it in five to 10 years," Ryan said.
After those issues are worked out, city leaders have to find a private investor that likes their ideas for the Ingersoll property.
"Indoor rock climbing wall, indoor white water park, maybe even indoor BMX, the silent sports enthusiasts, but that's up to the private investor," Ryan said.
The ultimate goal of the project is to have the kayaking and rowing competitions in the 2016 Olympics take place in Rockford if Chicago wins the bid.