River Run Park opened on August 25, 2016 to an audience of municipal leaders, paddling and surfing enthusiasts, and curious locals. Located just south of Denver, Oxford Avenue and Broken Tee Golf Course the enhancements include two wave features, walking and biking paths, and viewing areas close to the river action. Phase II, scheduled to be completed in 2018, will add four in-river features and extend the restoration that will provide improve fish habitat and healthier vegetation along the river.
As noted in an opening day article in the Denver Post, the idea for River Run Park began as a flood control and drainage improvement project, and city officials were open to a solution that could offer residents recreational opportunities as well.
“This became a wonderful amenity for the community and not just a source of drainage,” Englewood Mayor Joe Jefferson said. “It’s been planned for a long time, and we want to show people what rivers could be in urban areas.” Besides the wave features, the park will include a playground and river restoration features like protected habitats for fish and new vegetation.
Laura Kroeger, P.E. is the Assistant Program Manager for Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD), a member of the core team that has been working on this project for four years. Here are her thoughts on the unveiling of Phase I: “We are very excited about this project! This is one of core values of the South Platte Working Group, to embrace stewardship of our natural floodplains. By bringing people to the river and engaging in the recreation, education and social aspects then hopefully they will in will value and protect our nature water ways. The floodplain of the rivers will then provide the need area for the flood protection from high flow events .
“The grade control structures in the river are the most important design elements from our perspective, because they provide the long term stability of the reach. UDFCD was very pleased to partner with the other agencies so they could also serve a dual purpose for high end recreation, standing surf wave.
“A project of this magnitude doesn’t happen without an amazing group of partners. The vision was shaped by McLaughlin Whitewater Engineers (Merrick and Company) specially Ben Nielsen and Rick McLaughlin, the park vision is attributed to Bill Neumann at DHM Design. Naranjo Civil Constructors were outstanding in the management of construction and implementation of the vision. We are grateful for Englewood, Sheridan and South Suburban Parks and Recreation District for their financial support, expertise and long term management of the facility.”
Other partners include the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Arapahoe Open Spaces, and the City of Littleton.