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Surf’s Up! N.H.’s First Whitewater Park Begins Construction In Franklin

big trestle bridge
Credit Samantha Coetzee, NHPR
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The Trestle Bridge at Mill City Park.

Get your kayaks ready because construction has started on New England’s first whitewater park at Mill City Park in Franklin. 

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Marty Parichand, executive director of Mill City Park, says forging a connection with the community is a big part of the efforts of the park.

“I’m very excited to surf until my arms fall off,” Parichand says. “But the intangible aspects, the growth that we’re seeing, the benefits to our community, and certainly the relationships that I’ve been able to form... are more important.”

After six years of planning, organizers and Franklin residents came out to support the groundbreaking in downtown. Using kayak paddles as shovels, directors and contributors to the park dug the first holes for what will be its amphitheater. Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster joined the event after pushing for funding to support the park.

When completed, the park will consist of 13 acres, 21 adjacent conservation acres and three whitewater features on the Winnipesaukee river according to the master plan

Jonah Bussgang, a kayaker in Franklin, is looking forward to how the recreation industry could revitalize the area. 

“To finally have the city recognize the river as a way to bring everyone together and a way to bring back downtown is something really exciting,” Bussgang says.

According to Scott Crowder, director at the Office of Outdoor Recreation Development, the whitewater park will contribute to the 3.2 percent of New Hampshire’s GDP from outdoor recreation.

There’s no set opening date for the park, but other features being built include a climbing wall, mountain biking trails, a community garden and more.

Samantha Coetzee joined the NHPR team in 2020 as a weekend Board Operator and is now NHPR’s News Intern. A senior journalism major at the University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire native, Samantha is also the General Manager of WUNH, UNH’s student-run radio station.

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