A Whitewater Recreation Center in Roswell

This is the 24th post in a series of posts this December that will chronicle the 25 things we would most like to see in Roswell. None of these are actually happening... at least in the way we'd like them to. Please enjoy and have a happy holidays! 

Santa.. this is the big one.. This is what I really, really, really want for Christmas this year.  I know you probably can't make it happen but I'm going to ask anyway.  I want a whitewater rafting and recreation center right here in Roswell.  I want it to be like the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Readers follow me here.  If you've visited Charlotte in the past 4-5 years, you may have heard about the U.S. National Whitewater Center there.  It is on the west side of town in a pretty remote/difficult to access area off the I-485 bypass.  Unfortunately, the business itself is struggling due in part to high operational costs but mostly due to poor attendance.  I believe that both issues could be overcome here in Roswell.  Primarily, I'm certain that the attendance issue wouldn't exist due to a more metropolitan and visible location.

Now that you know what it is that I'm talking about, let's take a look at where I'm talking about.  I think an attraction of this nature would fit perfectly at the southern end of the historic corridor.  There are a couple other locations including one in Sandy Springs that would work.. but when you look at what location would spark the right type of development, encourage visitors to come to Roswell to spend money and increase the tax rolls the most, you need to look at this location.  Pictured below is a side by side at the same size of the whitewater center in Charlotte (right, upside down) and the location I'm thinking of which is the north west corner of the S Atlanta St/Azalea Rd intersection.  You can see that the overlay would almost be perfect.  


So, what are the pitfalls.  Currently, there is an apartment complex there.  This would have to be purchased by the city or by a private developer.  It's likely that some of the adjacent properties would need to be purchased as well.  The topography in this area has some pretty steep terrain.  A comprehensive survey would need to be done to ensure that the fall would not be too steep to support a water flow conducive to kayaking and whitewater rafting.  Assuming that those challenges could be met, you are looking at funding and profitability.  The whitewater center in Charlotte cost roughly $35M (not sure of the exact numbers) and has only been able to turn a profit in the past year after a debt restructuring.  Again, having lived in Charlotte and visited the center on multiple occasions, I believe this to be an issue of location and accessibility.  The facility is absolutely incredible and would draw experts and novices alike.  

Roswell would not have the same issues.  Here in Roswell, we have other attractions that could serve as catalysts to feed the development.  I see the following existing and future developments as major catalysts that would contribute to the success of this project:  

  • The Chattahoochee River which has an environment for river paddling that would complement the whitewater.
  • Riverside park and our summer concert series
  • The Atlanta Rowing Club offers another paddling alternative
  • The heavy bicycling traffic which I would see as complementary and hitting the theme of outdoor recreation that Roswell should brand itself around
  • The Chattahoochee Nature Center which is another city attraction that draws visitors from around the region
  • Historic Roswell - shopping, dining and entertainment
  • Go With the Flow - one of the most respected paddling retail shops around
  • Roswell Mill Park - outdoor activities right up the street with historic sites as well
  • Rock Climbing at Allenbrook - more outdoor activities right next to this site
  • Andretti's Indoor Karting - It's a few miles away but it is another draw that coupled with the whitewater recreation center could encourage visitors to make their way to Roswell.. (btw.. I love Andretti's)

Now, let's tie in the rest of my wish list into this item.  I didn't do this intentionally from the start but as I continued to post, it became an obvious synergy.  You can see the following posts would all synergize well with this project: 

  • Build the Boutique Hotel on the Square - People would actually stay here if a regional attraction were right down the road.
  • A Canopy Tour - Once again hitting on the outdoor theme and having Roswell work to become the premiere outdoor recreation destination in the state.  This would work perfectly and could probably be run by the same organization as the whitewater recreation center.
  • A Weekend Trolley Around the Historic Corridor - Get visitors from the whitewater recreation center up to the other areas of our historic district where they can enjoy other amenities.
  • Build the Bike Bridge - This continues the focus on outdoor recreation and would get Sandy Springs riders right to the hub of outdoor recreation.  Why wouldn't Sandy Springs chip in $350k for the bridge?
  • Connect the Big Creek Greenway - What better way to anchor the greenway that stretches well into Forsyth County?  I think riders might make the trek just to have lunch at the whitewater center restaurant.
  • Build the Roswell Loop - Where's the starting point for the loop?  Well, the whitewater recreation center sure would be a great place to start and finish a 20+ mile ride.
  • All Aboard!! Let's Bring a Train to North Fulton - The Chattahoochee stop on my proposed route would drop folks off right at the doorstep of the whitewater recreation center.  Now, getting the train through the ground and over/under the river is a challenge in itself.. but don't forget that this is my wishlist folks.. I don't have to be reasonable.  I'm sure my parents didn't think I was reasonable when I was 6.
  • New City Tagline.. 'This is living...this is Roswell' - I'm not a fan of this tagline.  My opinion is that Roswell needs to brand itself as the premier outdoor recreation destination in the state of Georgia and maybe even the southeast US.  Let's try something like..  "Get outside and enjoy life... in Roswell" or "Live.. Play.. Love.. Roswell."  These aren't perfect but I don't get paid $30k to come up with slogans either.

Well, it's been fun coming up with 24 things that I would like to see happen here in Roswell.  I hope you have enjoyed the list.  Obviously, many of these are pipe dreams but there's nothing wrong with being a dreamer.  You may have noticed that there are only 24 posts... well, what Christmas would be complete without some stocking stuffers.  Tomorrow, I am going to post the final installment of stocking stuffers which are some small presents.

Merry Christmas Roswell!!


images: WagsomeDog @ Flickr, Doug Letterman @ Flickr, Google Maps