Canton Pursues Plans For Whitewater ParkPosted: Updated:
Canton's Riverside Drive doesn't look so great these days. But right alongside it is something the town and village think could turn all that around: the rapids of the Grasse River.
They are moving forward with an ambitious plan for a riverside trail and whitewater park there.
“Canton has always had great water. We've never, we've seldom, taken advantage of it. And we're just trying to reclaim the economic benefit of being along a great piece of water,” said David Button, Canton town supervisor.
This week county lawyers moved in court to seize the former Belle's Garage. They want to pave the way for pedestrian paths and make stretch of river a whitewater mecca for kayakers.
They have talked to developers about other projects such as a restaurant or sports shop.
“Whitewater in Canton is very doable and would bring people to our community that would provide an economic boost,” said Button.
This isn't just about Canton. Communities throughout St. Lawrence County want to capitalize on the wealth of rivers and white water.
“St. Lawrence County is part of this greater regional paddling destination and people know those destinations and will come here,” said Brooke Rouse, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.
Canton, Potsdam and Colton were all identified in a consultants study last year as prime sites for whitewater parks. They are sharing in a grant of almost $300,000 to start work on them.
“All of these parks exist in the downtown community so it connects that recreational aspect with downtown commerce, which is what we all want,” said Rouse.
Canton thinks it could have a pedestrian trail going under the Main Street bridge within a couple years. The hope is that rivers, once the foundation of the region's industrial might, could once again churn out jobs and prosperity.