Making waves: Whitewater park construction underway

  • The view from Bow Street in Franklin shows the entire job site. The coffer dam will now need the sandbags, airbags and waterproofing. The goal is to work inside of the coffer dam to build the first surfing feature of the whitewater park. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • An iron worker trims the sheets of the coffer dam. This will help the excavator operator to see inside of the coffer dam as they work.

  • The view from the Main Street bridge in Franklin shows the entire job site. The coffer dam will now need the sandbags, airbags and waterproofing. The goal is to work inside of the coffer dam to build the first surfing feature of the whitewater park. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • As the Franklin coffer dam construction is nearing the conclusion, the crane operator and worker on the truck are restocking the scrap pieces. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/22/2021 5:40:49 PM

Parting the waters of the Winnipesaukee River to create a new standing wave in Franklin’s emerging white water park is no easy feat.

Cranes have been driving metal plates into the river bed this week to temporarily divert the flow of the water in order to create new paddling features, some of the first in-water work at Mill City Park.

This surfing wave will be created by lowering a massive concrete box into the river. Made of concrete, rebar and stone, these boxes are massive, more than 10-feet wide and 8-feet tall. They have an angled top so when the water slides over, it recoils on itself, said Marty Parichand, the visionary behind New Hampshire’s first white water park.

It’s the same technology used to create man-made rapids for paddling events at the summer Olympics. 

Land work has been progressing this summer along the Winnipesaukee River, creating parking areas and trails. The in-water work, which was permitted by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, was delayed for weeks because the flow of the river was too high after the wettest July on record. 

“It's about 7 times too high,” Parichand said last month as he waited for the water levels to go down. “It's incredibly odd we never have high water in July, that's why we choose this for our construction window.” 

Once complete, the park will encompass 13 acres, with an additional 21 acres of nearby conservation land, and have three whitewater features.

Access to the river will be free for the public but visitors can rent equipment, take lessons and then hang out in Franklin when they are done with their daily adventure.

“We can’t own the river. It's immoral or unethical to try to charge people to go on the river,” Parichand said. “Once you build the feature, if people have their own whitewater kayaks, their own boogie boards, their own surfboards, you'll be able to come here and go surfing for free.”

The construction comes at a time when investment in Franklin has increased, including new businesses opening and historic mill buildings getting renovated. 

“If you add all of that together including a couple other projects, about $70 million is going to be spent in Franklin over the next year or two,” said Parichand.

Parichand, who owns an equipment shop Outdoor New England in Franklin’s downtown, has been working on the Mill city project since 2016. Before that, he worked for Sikorsky Aircrafts, building helicopters.

“I wasn’t very happy doing the work that I was doing and I wanted to see if the sport that I love the most could be beneficial for a town or an area, so I started working on this,” he said. 

Parichand said its time for Franklin to reshape its identity.

“Places like Portsmouth or Burlington those types of places have an identity,” Parichand said. “This is setting the table to turn the tide for a new age for Franklin, a second coming. One in which we absolutely let the Winnipesaukee River, kind of repower Franklin, and it will be through tourism and outdoor recreation.”




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