As part of an effort to revitalize, redevelop, and rebrand the City of Franklin, NH, as a destination for outdoor recreation, an ambitious master plan for Mill City Park was developed, anchored by an in-river whitewater park, an adjacent 13-acre land-based park, and a 21-acre conservation area. VHB is working closely with the City, the volunteers of the non-profit community group Mill City Park, and Colorado-based design firm Recreation Engineering and Planning (REP) to help modify a stretch of Class III and IV rapids with engineered features, creating new and enhanced year-round kayaking and river surfing opportunities. The project team is navigating the complexities of designing around historic ruins—including the remains of mill dams and a trestle bridge—located within and adjacent to the project area. This unique community revitalization project will transform 1,600 feet of the Winnipesaukee River into the Northeast’s first whitewater park.
VHB is helping to manage the construction phase, and design an adjacent land-based park. The project has required close coordination with New Hampshire Department of Historic Resources for Section 106 compliance, as well as extensive environmental permitting, including approvals from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and US Army Corps of Engineers, and coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries.
The first of the three planned features opened to widespread acclaim from boaters and residents, who are already seeing how the park is helping to “Recreate, Revitalize, and Restore” Franklin by increasing local economic opportunity, improving quality of life, and building a better connected, equitable, and sustainable city.