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Let it Grow

Proposed Whitewater Park Poised to Transform Franklin Economy

NH Division of Economic Development | Lorna Colquhoun

MillCityPark.jpg

The old adage says that “a rising tide floats all boats.”

In the City of Franklin, it is more apt to say “whitewater floats a new economy.”

This week, community members gathered alongside the Winnipesaukee River downtown to celebrate a project described as “transformative” for this former mill city, as two significant grants push the Mill City Park closer to reality.

The project received a $180,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Franklin Savings Bank is donating $250,000.

There are about 280 whitewater parks across the country, but this one will be the first in New England. More than that, says developer Marty Parichand, it is a catalyst that for boosting the city’s economy, generating $6.8 million of direct spending in the region.

The river runs through the heart of downtown, which once fed mills turning out wool cloth, hacksaws and hosiery. Thrill seekers will head to the city to run the Class II, III and IV whitewater and entrepreneurs can catch the wave of the new economy on the rise.

Projects like Mill City Park, Commissioner Taylor Caswell, of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs, told those gathered in Trestle View Park, will draw more than visitors; it will draw visitors who turn into residents, drawn by the lifestyle and the opportunities in the Granite State.

“One of the biggest things for me is to be able to emphasize the fact that in New Hampshire, we have a community; we have recreation and we have quality of life for everybody,” he said. “In the big picture, it is absolutely crucial what you’re doing, not just for your community, but for the state as a whole, because that is what we are doing every day — telling the story of New Hampshire; telling the story of the quality of life and telling everyone how great it is here. This is one more piece we can put in our toolbox.”

http://blog.nheconomy.com/proposed-whitewater-park-poised-to-transform-franklin-economy/

BOAT BASH SNOW CRASH | full

BOAT BASH SNOW CRASH | full

The First Boat Bash Snow Crash was a success despite the 25+ mph gusts and the well below freezing temperatures. As Northern Yankees we are hearty, as such, every New England state was represented in the over 140 people that came out to our inaugural event. The event was a collaboration between the Franklin Outing Club and Mill City Park, which brought in positive donations for both groups.

However, this event would not be possible without our gracious sponsors and volunteers!

Thank you all for making this event a reality!

Donations |

Rowell's Services, Beck & Bellucci, New England Pro Greens & Turf, JA Garneau, Grevior Furniture, Franklin Studio, Blackfly Canoe, Franklin Savings Bank, Morrill's Landscaping, SKR Site Work, Sweet Protection, LiquidLogic, Hidden Collective, Franklin Fire Department and Outdoor New England.

Volunteers |

Mark Pickard, Steve Nelson, The Stanley's, Colby Morrill, Chris Downey, Dave Curdie, Tom Atwood, Steve Donahue, The Mullavey's, Scott Burns, Chad Carey, Cheryl Joyce, Eric Keck, The Coulter's, Jamie Parent, The Ford's, Alan Carigan, Bob Lucas, Orli Gottleib, Rob Schafsteck, Jeremy Laucks, Owen P, The Grevior's, Jim Jones, Daniel Fithian, James Detzel, Dominic Capozzi and CREEKBOAT MAN!

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.

Dissent
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!

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.