I rode backwards down a ski hill in a kayak. On Saturday, you can too.

I rode backwards down a ski hill in a kayak. On Saturday, you can too.

Concord Monitor | Elodie Reed

   The author's friend and volunteer Orli Gottlieb finishes up a couple test-runs kayaking down the Veterans Memorial Recreation Ski Area in Franklin on Friday, the day before the Boat Bash Snow Crash event. Elodie Reed—Concord Monitor


The author's friend and volunteer Orli Gottlieb finishes up a couple test-runs kayaking down the Veterans Memorial Recreation Ski Area in Franklin on Friday, the day before the Boat Bash Snow Crash event. Elodie Reed—Concord Monitor

This job has landed me in some pretty peculiar circumstances. They range from holding a pig to eating meat from the same pig months later, listening to a state senator’s soliloquy about firecrackers, and walking in the woods with a Chichester woman who was wearing nothing but shorts and a sports bra in the middle of January. 

Then on Friday, I went kayaking down a Franklin ski hill.

Outdoor New England owner and paddler Marty Parichand lent me a boat for a “test-run” before today’s Boat Bash Snow Crash event at Veteran’s Memorial Ski Hill. For 12 hours, people can sled using kayaks provided by Parichand or canoes provided by Blackfly Canoes of New Hampton, listen to music, visit vendors and, starting at 3 p.m., compete in a downhill elimination race.

Parichand, who is holding the event in conjunction with the Franklin Outing Club, said it’s the first of its kind on the east coast. Only people in Colorado and Europe, apparently, have figured out before now that cruising downhill in a boat is actually a great idea.

A fact-check seemed important for this story. As Parichand led me over to a boat and handed me a helmet to squish on my head, I had another peculiar, though not uncommon, experience on the job: one of my best friends from high school pulled up in her car.

Orli Gottlieb, who is an engineer, fellow Bow High School alum and a board member for Parichand’s nonprofit whitewater park project, Mill City Park, agreed to sled with me. (She also became my iPhone videographer).

Snowmobiles and a T-bar will be up and running for the actual event, but we had to walk up the ski hill with our kayaks Friday. After slipping our way over some icy patches, we found a spot with reasonable elevation, and not in the immediate trajectory of anything we could hit.

(There was a big snow pile at the bottom of the hill – insurance, Parichand told me, just in case someone reaches top-end speeds).

Orli and I sat into our short kayaks, though my winter boots made it difficult to get my legs bent enough so they were completely inside. I didn’t have a paddle – I needed my hands to hold my camera.

“With a paddle you’d be able to control which end is going forward,” Parichand told me.

I shrugged like the amateur I was.

Orli expertly managed to balance both paddle and my iPhone, and she scooted her boat forward first. I followed – rocking back and forth with perfect muscle memory from my childhood sledding days – and off we went.

I rode backwards, giggling, for half of the hill. But all’s well that end’s well: I finished my run with grace, sliding in smoothly – and frontwards – next to Orli.

There was more giggling after that.

We did just a small portion of today’s course. Parichand told me there would be two tracks side-by-side for the races, though before those could be made, they needed a whole lot more snow after the past few weeks of warm temperatures.

The Veterans Memorial Recreation Ski Area has never made its own snow. But with donated hoses, compressors and snow gun stands, the retired Franklin Fire Department member and “Goddamned genius” Alan Carignan, and half a dozen volunteers, it was possible.

Getting the hoses connected right, controlling for the best pressure, and stopping the snow guns from tipping over (and spraying my entire pantleg) took a little while. But by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Parichand and his crew were making snow.

They expected to cover the hill in 8 to 12 inches throughout the night, with some time to spare to construct the race course.

Parichand and his crew have been working long hours to make the Snow Bash Boat Crash come to fruition. They only got the snow makers functioning correctly at 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, and they weren’t sure how much sleep they would get, if any, the night before the event.

With proceeds from the event going to both the Mill City Park project and the Franklin Outing Club, plus the general momentum for outdoor sports and downtown development in Franklin, Parichand told me he’s okay pulling all-nighters to make some snow. 

“There isn’t anything I’d rather be doing,” he said.

The Boat Bash Snow Crash will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today. Entry just to watch is $5 per person, $20 to sled, and $25 to sled and race.


Moving Forward in Franklin

NH Business Review | Liisa Rajala | March 3, 2017

Redevelopment effort breathes new life into the city

Slowly but surely, the city of Franklin is undergoing a transformation. The goal: to become a tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts and a home to millennials looking to make an impact on their community.

Renovations are in the works to turn the former art gallery Toad Hall into a restaurant by this summer. Just last fall, a team of engineers inspected the future site of a whitewater park. CATCH Neighborhood Housing is in the midst of renovating a foreclosed mill building into 45 affordable apartment units. And that’s just naming a few of the happenings occurring in the city of approximately 8,400.

For decades, Franklin has made efforts to rewrite its history as a failing mill town, but this movement is even more crucial. With significant revenue shortfalls in recent years, the city must draw in new income or else face an even more dire future.

“We can’t tax our way out of our problems,” says City Manager Elizabeth Dragon, who has to find out-of-the-box solutions to balance the budget. “We need to find a way to generate new revenue, and we need to focus on economic development and tourism, attracting those new net dollars.”

It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort, with regular biweekly stakeholder meetings, a team of students from Colby-Sawyer College in New London and a number of active residents stepping in to volunteer their time and energy.


Integral to the effort are seven properties owned by PermaCityLife, a nonprofit founded by Todd Workman. Raised in Gilford and having worked in the financial services industry in New York and across New England, Workman initially returned to the area to tend to his grandparents. He was browsing real estate properties in New Hampshire when he came across Franklin and started purchasing buildings along Central Street in 2014.

Workman envisions Franklin as a sustainable community – protecting drinking water, creating renewable energy, ensuring local food supplies and implementing zero-waste measures – with a vibrant micro-urban centerpiece.

During the summer of 2015, Workman met Marty Parichand, a whitewater rafting guide and former avionic systems programming specialist who envisioned opening the first whitewater park in New England.

Parichand, who is from Epsom, had been setting his sights on Concord, but immediately saw potential in Franklin.

“The concept is new for New England, but there are 30 of them in Colorado, 280 across the country,” says Parichand. He was surprised at how knowledgeable Workman was about the whitewater paddling industry. 

“This is all stuff I’ve been passionate about and I’ve been a paddler for a long time. I don’t often meet a paddler who knows these things,” says Parichand. “He already believed in it wholeheartedly. We began to bond around that idea.”

Parichand then started his nonprofit, Mill City Park. He wants to use a tract of city-owned land along the Winnipesaukee River for a launching spot as well as create a mountain bike pump track, a community garden and an eco-village-style campsite.

In 2015, Parichand worked with the state Department of Resources and Economic Development on a report that found Mill City Park would bring in $6.8 million of direct spending in the region.

“We have many challenges here in Franklin, and we believe this whitewater park is our second identity,” he says.

In one of PermaCityLife’s buildings, Parichand opened up an outdoor recreation shop, called Outdoor New England. Like many of the buildings, it had been condemned. Parichand says he removed 12,000 pounds of trash and demolition debris, and paid out of pocket for the mechanical and electrical systems.

Today, you wouldn’t know of the building’s grim past. The shop has a charming look from the reclaimed wood and old cabinetry. 

Next door is a volunteer-run coffee shop, led by Jo Brown. Brown approached Workman with the idea. She brought in family and friends to clear out the space – a labor of love. The quaint shop is run mainly by retirees who are happy to take on a four-hour shift. Its success led to a wall being knocked out to allow for a gift shop all of whose offerings are products made in New Hampshire, a majority of which are created by local artisans.

Community-based sustainability

On one Saturday, the shop has a healthy bustling of customers. Sitting in his usual spot is Mike Mullavey, the treasurer of PermaCityLife. “You wouldn’t believe the skepticism in the beginning, but they’ve really come around,” he says about other community members. “You can get that feeling back, that people want to be in town and a part of the town.” 

Across the street is Toad Hall, Take Root Coworking – a shared coworking space with a fiber connection providing faster Internet than Franklin Savings Bank, it proudly proclaims – Franklin Clothing Company and Colby-Sawyer’s satellite campus, where Workman will also operate PermaCityLife from. 

Last fall, Colby-Sawyer launched a three-year degree in community-based sustainability with a focus on gaining real-world experience through working with PermaCityLife, Mill City Park and the city of Franklin.

“Students learn about sustainability, and not just how that applies to communities, but also to organizations and nonprofits,” says Jennifer White, sustainability coordinator for the college and assistant professor in the environmental services department.

It’s not just students in the degree program who have the opportunity to work with Franklin. In 2015, Colby-Sawyer launched a Sustainable Learning Initiative, giving all of its students the opportunity to pair with individuals in Franklin to complete a to-do list of sustainable revitalization efforts.

“We’re really interested in walking alongside the residents of Franklin to help them achieve their goals,” says White. “We get to see progress in the downtown area as some of these projects come into fruition and the students get to see their benefits to the community members.”

One graphic design student created the logo for Mill City Park. He’s now working as an apprentice with CATCH to develop an identity for the future apartment complex.

Franklin Clothing Company Owner Matt Charlton-Nidey stands outside his storefront on Central Street.

When asked whether student involvement could make students interested in staying in the community, White thought it was a possibility. While on winter break, a group of students in the degree program attended a city council meeting of their own accord.

“A lot of the pieces we do are progressive ideas or outdoor recreation initiatives that resonate with young people, with millennials,” says Parichand. “We’re always able to ask students questions about what kind of community they want to live in.”

“It’s a great example of a local community taking it upon themselves to do something different and stick with it,” says Michael Bergeron, business development manager for DRED. The agency has helped organize various state players, including connecting Parichand with the state Department of Environmental Services to discuss dam releases that affect the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin. 

“By attracting a young demographic who want to whitewater raft and do mountain biking, they will change the character of that community and make a difference long term,” says Bergeron.

Funding sources

Vital to Franklin’s revitalization are the variety of financing options.

In 2015, the city was awarded a grant from UNH Cooperative Extension that created a steering committee to bring in several speakers to the city to talk about revitalization efforts and form a realistic to-do list in a series called “Franklin for a Lifetime.”

“I think after that point, we had a better understanding of each other in terms of what the city can and cannot do legally – the are constraints on the city – and what PermaCityLife could do and was able to do in terms of economic development,” says Dragon. “Once everyone understood their roles we found creative ways to work together and momentum started to build.”

Through the “Franklin for a Lifetime” series, the city learned about USDA Rural Development grants. It received a $50,000 Rural Business Enterprise grant the city used to hire downtown coordinator Niel Cannon to work with the steering committee to find and carry out projects that help low and moderate income families.

The city also received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for CATCH Neighborhood Housing’s mill renovations – a small piece of the $12 million project – and $400,000 in Community Development Finance Authority tax credits, a quarter of which Franklin Savings Bank purchased, which will be used to make façade improvements on PermaCityLife-owned buildings.

Franklin recently incorporated the land intended for Mill City Park as part of its TIF (tax investment financing) district. The city created the district – which comprises much of downtown – in 2008. If a building within the district is renovated and taxes increase, a portion of the increase is reinvested to projects in the same district. 

“It’s very unique. Every community with TIF districts has to say what the projects are, how much of the new incremental value will be reinvested in that area of the community, and they have an advisory board to oversee and goes back to the city council for approval,” says Dragon.

Meanwhile, the city has seen significant changes with the opening of eight new businesses in downtown Franklin over the past year.

“Certainly, things are the most favorable they’ve ever been now as opposed to two years ago,” says Parichand. “There obviously was kind of a rocky start in the beginning, but, to put it in perspective, the first day I started renovating Outdoor New England, I had four to five people from Franklin that I had never met offer to help. Through that process I’ve made great friends. So I think, there’s some people who don’t think it will happen certainly, but I think that group becomes smaller and smaller every day. We’re still here doing what we’re doing and continuing to move forward.”  



Laconia Daily Sun | Community Announcements

FRANKLIN — The East's First Annual Dual Snow Kayak Race will be held on Saturday, March 4, at the Veterans Memorial Recreation Ski Area at 361 Flaghole Road in Franklin. The day-long festivities begin at 10 a.m. and run until 10 p.m.

Activities include the active participation in the sport of downhill kayaking, optional dual racing, or just enjoying the event as a spectator. Day- and evening-long entertainment will feature race events and prizes, live music, silent auction, raffles, kayak vendors and concession sales in the ski area's lodge, and more.

"The Franklin Outing Club Winter Carnival is excited to be adding such a unique sporting event to celebrate its 55th Winter Carnival," said Kathy Fuller, Franklin Outing Club board member. "We enjoy attracting new families to the Veterans Memorial Recreation Ski Area and this first annual event is the perfect way to see many new smiling faces adorning the mountain."

"Those involved with the creation of Trestle View Park understood the interaction between whitewater kayakers and the City of Franklin," added Marty Parichand of the Mill City Park at Franklin Falls. "This Winter Kayaking Event is the next step in that relationship. The event will be a fun and music-filled afternoon for all to enjoy with the benefits supporting the Franklin Outing Club and Mill City Park. This kayak sledding experience is the only one of its kind on the East Coast, which will surely have people of all ages attracted to Franklin's Veteran Memorial Recreational Ski Area."

Admission prices are: $5 general entrance fee, $20 for admission and snow kayaking from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (before the official races begin), and $25 to enter dual races (starting at 3 p.m.). For insurance purposes, kayakers under 18 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times and all kayakers will wear helmets and sign a release of liability agreement.
The event proceeds will benefit the Franklin Outing Club and the Mill City Park at Franklin Falls nonprofit organizations. To become an event sponsor, email timothymorrill13@gmail.com.
Established in 1960, Veteran's Memorial Recreation Ski Area is a volunteer recreation area run by the Franklin Outing Club. The VMRSA has been holding Winter Carnival events to celebrate this community resource and serve as a fundraiser since a year after the Area's opening. Recently, the VMRSA has expanded its year-round recreational opportunities to include such activities as affordable skiing for families; free skating; free snowmobile and cross-country skiing trails; disc golf; hiking, biking and walking trails; and more. You can learn more about the Veterans Memorial Recreation Ski Area by visiting www.veteransskiarea.com or www.facebook.com/veteransskiarea, by calling Ellen Coulter at 934-0148.

Established in 2016, Mill City Park at Franklin Falls is a nonprofit adventure park with plans to create a whitewater park, mountain bike pump track, community garden, historic mill ruin trail and event space. Mill City Parks' purpose is to create an iconic outdoor community park through environmental restoration, historic preservation, community sustainability and economic development initiatives. Mill City Park will consist of New England's first whitewater park and mountain bike pump track free for people to use and able to host national and international amateur sports competitions. The park will also include a community garden and historical mill ruin trail providing learning and charitable food opportunities for the region. Learn more about the Mill City Park at Franklin Falls at millcitypark.com, by calling Marty Parichand at 931-4775, or by visiting www.facebook.com/millcitypark.


Franklin future: Is it the river?

Franklin future: Is it the river?

Concord Monitor | Elodie Reed

Franklin has formally decided to incorporate the Winnipesaukee River into the city’s economic future.    City councilors voted last week to amend the 2008 “Franklin Falls Mixed Use Tax Increment Finance District” to include a large chunk of city-owned land along the river banks. The district, now just over 99 acres, already covers Franklin’s dense downtown area on Central Street and the property where shuttered mill buildings still sit.

In a tax increment finance (TIF) district, property taxes on future assessed value are set aside for redevelopment projects within that area. Because the city owns the riverbank land, however, that property isn’t taxable and doesn’t bring in additional money.

At least one city councilor said for that reason, the area shouldn’t be included in the district.

But as the city looks for more public-private partnership projects to boost its downtown, the river is the site for one of its promising efforts: a whitewater play park.

Outdoor New England whitewater retail and service business owner Marty Parichand came up with the idea. Over the summer, he proposed taking the 9.3-acre overgrown former mill site and installing whitewater paddling amenities there.

He’s also hoping to build a bike pump track, historic mill ruins trails, a community garden, and an event space as part of the “Mill City Park at Franklin Falls.”

Parichand has promoted the project as a way to help the city as a whole. A New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development impact analysis shows a facility like that could bring to Franklin $6.8 million in direct spending on an annual basis.

In addition to drawing in visitors to eat, stay and spend money in Franklin, Parichand said the sports themselves – whitewater rafting and mountain biking – are opportunities for vulnerable children to have positive experiences.

“Anyone with a kayak and a bike and pair of legs would be able to enjoy this land,” he said.

Parichand noted kids are also positively impacted by the economic growth aspect, which could create more tax dollars for education – something Franklin desperately needs. The school district there had to enact a budget freeze in the fall and consistently struggles to fully fund its education costs.

“In other locations whitewater parks have been so successful . . . they’ve opened new schools and they’ve named them after the whitewater park,” Parichand said.

Moving forward
At this point, Parichand recognizes he has a big project on his hands. But it seems to fit well with the place he’s trying to do it in.

“I think the first master plan I saw . . . it said, ‘the city needs to connect people to the river,’ ” he said. “I see this project fulfilling an item that’s been on their master plan for decades.”

Elizabeth Dragon, the city manager, sees it that way, too.

“The river has always been important to the city,” she said. But, she added, “We haven’t really had a good focus until Marty came along.”

With the suggestion of both restoring and reusing the river, plus redeveloping the old mill sites, Dragon said there seems to be a coming together between Parichand’s whitewater vision, PermaCityLife’s downtown development efforts, and the community’s vision of what it could be.

City officials have become more organized in responding to development ideas in the process and have had regular “economic development” meetings in recent years, too.

“We feel we’re building a lot of momentum with these private and public partnerships,” Dragon said. “We’re really trying to hone things in.”

For the whitewater project, the city approved an application for $12,000 in Community Development Finance Authority planning study money in October. That application has since been withdrawn due to engineering work having already begun on the site, but Dragon said Franklin is looking for funds elsewhere.

If worse came to worse, she added, the city could re-apply for the same money during the next round.

In the meantime, Parichand is in the last steps of forming a nonprofit for the project. He is also learning how Mill City Park can be accomplished in phases – a suggestion from Franklin officials.

“We’re in the process of getting a better understanding of the construction of all these pieces,” Parichand said.

Parichand said he has met twice with various state and federal agencies to make sure historical materials, the environment and the city’s land are all used appropriately.

When those studies are done, he added, the next task will be cleaning up.

“Earth has really taken the land,” Parichand said.

City Councilor Jim Wells was the lone voice last week saying that land should be left to the earth.

He was the only “no” vote on the TIF district update.

“The water – the river – is all city property. It pays no taxes,” Wells said. “It will not pay any taxes. I did not feel it was fair to taxpayers who have buildings in the downtown to have that money diverted to a non-taxable property.”

In addition to Franklin having other pockets that could benefit from TIF funds – the upper part of Central street between the downtown and the Tilton line, for example – Wells said he didn’t think the whitewater park was feasible.

“I don’t think that they can put that project in there and meet all the requirements,” he said. Wells said he was concerned that the historical mill remnants as well as environmental considerations could act as barriers.

“I’m not opposed to economic development in any form,” he said. “However, that is delicate property. It’s a very steep slope; it’s historic property on the edge of the river. To me, leave it alone.”

Wells said he also couldn’t see where exactly people visiting would spend money, since there aren’t many motels or restaurants left in Franklin.

“There’s not even any parking for these people,” Wells said, indicating the rural, back road in Northfield where most paddlers hop into the river for a whitewater run.

But Parichand argues that because the project is a non-traditional development, that could make it successful – with a lot of help.

“Innovators always look for disruptive technology,” he said. “However, it needs community partnerships. The nonprofit has to work with PermaCityLife and the city and the city council and community members to make this a reality.”

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)

Business IQ Radio Interview

NH SBDC Business Advisor Andrea O'Brien & Professor and Business Owner Don Byrne interview Marty Parichand.

A Letter to the City of Franklin...

This letter was provided to the City of Franklin, which was read during the City Hearing on October 24, 2016.

To Whom it may concern with the City of Franklin,
My name is Jesse Nicola. I am writing you in recommendation of proceeding with funding relating to investigating and hopefully later building, a whitewater park.
I feel I have significant insight into the region, having spent much of my childhood in Franklin. My father owned the Radio Shack for many years, my Mother worked at the Franklin Middle School, and I myself attended the Franklin Middle School. I attended the Unitarian Church for many years, and still attend the Christmas Eve sermon.
It is my opinion that the benefits of bringing whitewater recreation to Franklin would provide a vital economic and cultural boost to the region.
Whitewater is a team sport. As a participant, you aren’t just trying to navigate through a river, you as a group must safely navigate it. If someone needs help, you will be there for them, as they will be there for you should the need arise. This mentality is prevalent at all levels of the sport, as you will often see experts helping beginners, responding to shows of gratitude by saying “a hundred people have helped me”.
Why does Franklin need another team sport? Because this team sport brings together a diverse group of people unlike anything the region currently has.
Whitewater blurs the lines of indifference. As a participant, you often find yourself sitting amongst peers who range from old to young, doctors to ditch diggers, wealthy to poor. It brings people from all walks of life together, enables them to relate, to share, and to care about each other.
This Camaraderie doesn’t end on the river. It shows youths that what they’re going through, may not be as big of a problem as they think. It shows young adults alternative career tracks, and It helps older community members find understanding of the younger generations. It builds and strengthens relationships for all those who participate, building blocks upon which a strong community is formed.
The benefits hardly end there though. This will bring money to your city, as people will travel for this experience. These people will eat in your city. They will stay in your city. Businesses can form to cater to these people. Just look at the city of Charlemont, MA. A small rural town far off the beaten path. This region was able to negotiate extensive whitewater recreation on the Deerfield river, which in turn has brought jobs for hundreds, recreation for tens of thousands, and a solidarity amongst the residents.
I encourage you as a city to not just consider this opportunity, but to wholeheartedly pursue it.
Thanks you for your time,
Jesse Nicola

Thank you Watts Water Technology!

It is validation to the idea, cause and Franklin's Future when a large donation finds its way to us.

We can not be more thankful to Watts Water Technologies (http://www.wattswater.com), the largest employer in Franklin, for their gracious $10,000 donation!

With that planning sessions with the whitewater architects is occurring and we are planning their site visit to Franklin!

Chicken Barbecue was a Success!

The whitewater park chicken barbecue fundraiser was a first. The first PermaCityLife Event in Marceau Park. The first event planned by a team made up of Franklin residents, permaculture people and whitewater enthusiasts. But with a duck race, corn hole tournament and the Morrill's famous chicken barbecue recipe there is no way it could have failed... right?

Right!!! The barbecue was a success!!! With over 120 meals served, over 80 ducks in the race and over 20 teams playing corn hole the park was a beacon of activity! We had supporters from all over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey and a father and son from California!

As a result, we raised over $3,000 and pushed our total funds over $10,000!!! It was a huge success! Thank you to Franklin Parks and Recreation Director, Krystal Alpers for helping and showing up in light of her daughter and father's birthdays. Thank you to the Morrill's for letting us "capitalize" on your family's recipe. Thank you to the Central Street Media, Franklin Studio, PermaCityLife, Outdoor New England and all of the 10+ volunteers that helped out with our first event!

WMUR Article

Former paper mill site in Franklin could become adventure park

$45,000 needed to fund project plans


August 10, 2016

FRANKLIN, N.H. —A fundraising barbecue is planned this month to support efforts to turn a former paper mill site in Franklin into an outdoor adventure park.

The Concord Monitor reported Marty Parichand, who already operates an outdoor equipment store in Franklin, hopes to install whitewater paddling amenities, a mountain bike pump track, a community garden and an "eco-village" campsite.

Event space is also planned for the city-owned property along the Winnipesaukee River.

The barbecue is scheduled for Aug. 20.

Parichand and nonprofit PermaCityLife must raise $45,000 to get the project started.

He has asked state environmental regulators for more frequent dam releases to improve the river for paddling.

Parichand said this would be the only whitewater paddling park in New England.

NH1 Article

Plans: Turn ex-NH paper mill site into whitewater outdoor adventure park

By Associated Press

August 10, 2016


FRANKLIN (AP) — A fundraising barbecue is planned later this month to support efforts to turn a former paper mill site in Franklin into an outdoor adventure park.

The Concord Monitor reports Marty Parichand, who already operates an outdoor equipment store in Franklin, hopes to install whitewater paddling amenities, a mountain bike pump track, a community garden and an "eco-village" campsite.

Event space is also planned for the city-owned property along the Winnipesaukee River. The barbecue is scheduled for Aug. 20.

Parichand and nonprofit PermaCityLife must raise $45,000 to get the project started.

He has asked state environmental regulators for more frequent dam releases to improve the river for paddling.

Parichand says this would be the only whitewater paddling park in New England.

Concord Monitor Article

The vision: Replacing old mill ruins with a whitewater park in Franklin

By E. Reed

August 9, 2016


On a hot weekday, Marty Parichand nonchalantly strolled alongside a local carwash. He passed some concrete barriers and a “no camping” sign. As he tromped into an overgrown, litter-covered trailhead, he dove into his vision for a new outdoor adventure park.

Parichand, who runs Outdoor New England in Franklin, wants to take a city-owned tract of land along the Winnipesaukee River and transform it into a central attraction and economic hub. He hopes to install whitewater paddling amenities, a mountain bike pump track, a community garden and an “eco-village” campsite, plus event space.

“The idea is railroad tracks toward the river,” Parichand said.

The area was formerly home to three paper mills, though just their foundations remain today. Old railroad tracks still run through the trees and brush until they cross over open water along the Sulphite Bridge, rumored to be the only “upside-down” trestle bridge in the country.

“It used to bring sulphur to the mills,” said Parichand.

Now, hopefully, the bridge will bring in visitors interested in outdoor sports. Before converting the abandoned land, however, Parichand and non-profit PermaCityLife need to raise $45,000 to get the project going.

So far, the project’s Indiegogo campaign has raised about $5,000. A fundraising barbeque will be held Aug. 20 in the city’s downtown sculpture park.

Even if that money – $28,000 for a consultation with McLaughlin Whitewater, $15,000 for a pump track master plan by Northfield-based Highland Mountain Bike Park, and $2,000 for campaign fees – comes through, Parichand will still have plenty of work to do.

He has been in touch with the state’s Department of Environmental Services, asking for more frequent dam releases in order to make the 1-mile stretch of the Winnipesaukee River a reliable place for paddlers.

Right now, releases are done only twice a year, on New Year’s Day and in June for a whitewater slalom race. Those releases are for days at a time, Parichand said, and he would just ask that smaller, more regular releases – between 10 and 20 days total – are done using the same amount of water.

The goal, Parichand said, would be “to promote recreational use and not to waste an ounce of water.” Two flow studies have been done with DES thus far, and Parichand said a third is under way.

Parichand will also need to work with the city of Franklin, though he said so far, officials have been very supportive. He added that the hope isn’t to buy the 9.3 acres from the city, but to use it in a positive way for all.

“We would rather partner with them on the parcel and create something truly iconic,” Parichand said.

Even though the project is in the early stages, Franklin City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said it’s an engaging concept.

“The whitewater park idea is exciting!” Dragon wrote in an email. “I love the thought of using Franklin’s natural resources as part of an overall economic development plan for the downtown. . . . I look forward to working with Marty and others as details begin to take shape.”

Colby-Sawyer College students, through a new sustainability program, are also already helping Parichand with the project through PermaCityLife.

“We’re surely getting all the necessary support,” he said.

If all initial funds are raised, Parichand said it would take about six months to draw up detailed plans for the park. The plans would include a bike pump track, which would have jumps and obstacles for people of all abilities, and whitewater boating features, along with moving boulders in the river to strategically create deeper, faster moving waters.

As for the park itself, Parichand said it’s already in pretty good shape.

“It’s already fairly graded,” he said. Some old equipment would be removed – he stood in the skeleton of an old building and explained that it would most likely be the entryway for the park – but other, historical features would be incorporated into the park’s landscape.

Old granite canals, for instance, might be used as ramps for the bike park.

Most of the trees would stay, too.

Parichand couldn’t nail down a timeline for completion.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces – the first step is to get it planned,” he said. “Change doesn’t have to take a long time.”

And the payoff could be a game changer. Parichand has done an economic impact analysis with the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, which shows the park potentially bringing in millions of dollars of tourism to Franklin.

It would be the only whitewater paddling park in New England (there are 88 in the United States) he said, meaning it would be a big draw for the region.

“We’re talking about $6.8 million in direct spending in this city,” Parichand said.

He thinks his project could help revitalize downtown and spark the local economy.

“If we could attract 100,000 people into the city of Franklin on an annual, reoccurring basis . . . that puts Franklin on a path to fix every major problem it has.”

Not only that, but Parichand recognizes the positive opportunity outdoor sports can provide to youth. And he wants to leave behind something more constructive than abandoned mill ruins along the Winnipesaukee’s river banks.

“These sports reach the vulnerable,” Parichand said. “I fully believe we can do more for our kids, for our residents, and that starts with getting them outside.”



Around Town with Dick Patten

Its always fun talking about what you are passionate about. It took a little while to open up to the camera, but then it was 20+ minutes of what this park is all about.

The Way Back to Franklin Falls

Indiegogo Campaign

Franklin has a diverse history. Downtown Franklin exists because of the rivers and mill buildings. We are now ready to reuse the rivers to repurpose and reinvent ourselves focusing on recreational activities and a true sense of community.

Although we are presently the smallest and poorest city in New Hampshire, we are poised and heading in the right direction with momentum to change that. We are ready to overcome common place issues such as obesity, drug addiction, crime, lack of economic opportunity and stigma that challenge many small towns by bringing in new opportunities.

We need a catalyst to support our residents, visitors, restaurants and new businesses. This iconic outdoor destination will give that boost.

A diverse and motivated partnership of community members are planning to improve our community’s quality of life through getting dirty or wet at our new park:

  • Community Garden, which will supply our residents with fresh and organic fruits and vegetables free of charge
  • Whitewater Park on the Winnipesaukee River enabling whitewater kayakers, surfers, stand up paddleboarders to utilize our river year round
  • Mountain Bike Pump Track winding through the hills and valleys adjacent to the river, designed for each and every rider

The combination of a whitewater park and a pump track in close proximity to a downtown exists nowhere else in New England, making Franklin the next stop for any outdoor recreationalist.

With Your Help
Our goal is to raise $45,000 in order to pay certified engineers from McLaughlin Whitewater and trail designers from Highland Trails. In return, these companies will provide conceptual designs, detailed designs and planning documentation to support the construction of this iconic destination.

By supporting us in the creation of an innovative community park you’ll be supporting the revitalization of this historic mill town - one that is rooted in the principles of sustainability and community development.

PermaCityLife isa NH non-profit with Franklin Business and Industrial Development Corporation as our 501 (c) 3 fiscal sponsor. All donation made to our campaign are tax deductible.

Our Project in Numbers
Whitewater Park Consultation Services with McLaughlin Whitewater: $28,000
Pump Track Master Plan with Highland Mountain Bike Park: $15,000
Indiegogo Campaign Fees: $2,000

The Impact
Through getting dirty and wet, we plan on having a positive impact on every person in town, even those who do not take full advantage of our park. Our project will:

  • Increase the community’s quality of life
  • Increase property values
  • Develop a community identity & build a sense of pride
  • Create environmental attachment & promote Franklin as a regional outdoors destination
  • Provide opportunities to community, business owners, sponsors, vendors & entrepreneurs

The community garden will not only provides a green space in the heart of downtown but also a place for people to socialize, and enjoy the edibles planted by our own community members.  Our partnership with Franklin Regional Hospital, the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Coalition and Pay It Forward Farm will help increase access to local organic food grown right in our community.

The Winnipesaukee River is already a whitewater kayaker’s playground, However, it is only at a suitable level when dams upstream release water. Altering the mill infested river sustainably to improve the quality and safety of the rapids would provide the public continuous use of the river. This amenity - a 1.5 mile feature from Cross Mill Bridge to Trestle View Park-would be the first of its kind in New England.

While kayakers are running the rapids, bikers can be enjoying the Mountain Bike Pump Track adjacent to the river. Our neighbor and staple in the biking world, Highland Mountain Bike Park, will design a course enjoyable for people of all ages and skill levels.

Kayaking and Mountain Biking are sports which promote flow moments – a moment in which a person is totally engulfed in the activity. Flow moment sports have direct connections to personal happiness, and are being used to combat issues such as; PTSD, cancer and drug addiction in other parts of the country.

According to a recent study, Franklin's Outdoor Activities & Associated Economic Impact, developed with NH Department of Resources and Economic Development office, it was estimated that iconic amenities such as these would account for $6.8 Million in direct spending, and another $4.68 Million via indirect and induced spending into the local economy.

This park is a holistic solution to some of the issues Franklin’s residents live day to day.

This campaign will provide the designs and engineering documentation necessary to start building. However, it will not provide the funds for the actual construction. Our collaborative team, will have to raise additional funds to begin the implementation phase. However, given our dedication and successful public-private partnership, we are confident that we will achieve our vision.

Another issue is perception, for a long time these buildings were closed, vacant and deteriorating. Seeing them vibrant with activity and construction is wonderful and it combats the idea that Franklin’s history is Franklin’s future.


Colby-Sawyer College Launches Three-Year Degree in Community-Based Sustainability

Colby-Sawyer College | Jennifer White

At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Colby-Sawyer College Board of Trustees approved a three-year Bachelor of Science degree in community-based sustainability that will launch in fall 2016. The major was developed as a result of an innovation grant that the college received from the Davis Educational Foundation.

Through hands-on courses and a unique partnership with Franklin-based nonprofit PermaCity Life, students will have the opportunity to develop relevant skills for creative and complex problem solving, work directly with regional stakeholders and potential employers, and do their part to help create a resilient, vibrant, diverse and sustainable community in Franklin, N.H.

New Hampshire’s smallest city is on the cusp of a sustainable revitalization and, thanks to this community-based collaboration between local organizations and Colby-Sawyer, students are positioned both to learn from and contribute to that effort. The major is complemented by a broader campus-wide program called the Sustainable Learning Initiative (SLI) at Franklin Falls, which offers students in every discipline experiential learning opportunities to explore, design and develop sustainable solutions to real and evolving community needs. The initiative is intended to be flexible and modular, allowing faculty to tailor an existing assignment or an entire course to focus on an aspect of the city’s revitalization.

“This innovative program highlights the best features of Colby-Sawyer’s learning model, which combines rigorous interdisciplinary knowledge and perspectives with experiential learning,” said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculty Deborah A. Taylor, Ph.D. “In partnership with organizations in the Franklin community, students in the community-based sustainability program will put their knowledge to work by developing and implementing sustainability projects.  These projects will advance students’ learning while simultaneously providing tangible benefits to the Franklin community. The program is designed to utilize intensive summer and winter learning experiences, allowing students to complete the degree in three years and thereby to manage the time and cost of education.”

Graduates will pay approximately 20 percent less for their college education and can start their careers or enter graduate school one year earlier by participating in January and May intensives onsite in Franklin.

Ongoing projects in Franklin include a locally themed restaurant and microbrewery, a volunteer-run coffee shop, a co-working space, an art gallery and music venue, multigenerational mixed-use housing, permaculture/edible landscaping, ecologically sound storm-water management, expanded bike trails and a whitewater park. Plans under consideration include an arts cooperative and performance center, reducing traffic downtown, zero-waste and commercial composting, a farmer’s market, a holistic health center, aquaponics and mushroom farming, a technology, research and development lab, market-rate housing and a hostel with function space and café.

Students in the SLI have already contributed to Franklin’s Master Plan, developed company logos, created signage for the local bike-trail system, constructed an Access database for the upcycled art gallery, and conducted a parking inventory for redevelopment planning. This spring, Colby-Sawyer interns will research information technology solutions, create Geographic Information Systems maps, develop tourism strategies, and explore best practices for commercial compost. Faculty have proposed other topics for study such as brownfield mitigation through biogeochemistry, consumer behavior and market research, sociological research for a community-based film project, community ceramics classes and student-run art exhibits, calculating timed-release of river volumes, efficiency and renewable energy, recreational event planning, and best practices for community gardens.

All of these revitalization projects have been made possible through broad collaborative efforts of community partners who share this vision for Franklin, such as: Credere Environmental Associates, Franklin Business & Industrial Development Corporation, Franklin Parks & Recreation, Franklin Regional Hospital, Franklin Savings Bank, Healthy Eating Active Living, Nobis Engineering, CATCH Neighborhood Housing, Lakes Region Planning Commission, Outdoor New England, The Franklin Studio, and Take Root NH. Learn more at: www.sli-franklinfalls.com.