FRANKLIN — The City of Franklin recently learned Governor Sununu included a $1.5 million one-time investment in his fiscal year 2020-2021 budget proposal to assist in the construction of a whitewater park, with whitewater and river surfing amenities, located on the lower Winnipesaukee River downtown. The first of its kind in New England, the park, which will contain both a water and land component, will be a catalyst for Franklin’s economic revitalization.
“Both Governor Sununu and Commissioner Caswell recognize the vast positive economic impacts that a new outdoor recreation industry would bring to the community, region and state,” said Judie Milner, Franklin City Manager, “the City is thrilled that the Governor supports building the park with a one-time appropriation in his proposed budget.”
“Today, the national annual revenue of the outdoor industry is larger than annual car parts, car sales and gasoline sales combined,” said Marty Parichand, executive director of Mill City Park, a nonprofit organization that is sponsoring the project. “This project will breathe life into old underutilized spaces for new entrepreneurs and business owners. It will attract both residents and visitors alike to stay and play in the region. It will provide new free outdoor sport venues for school children, connecting them both to the community, to each other, and to the environment. In building a vibrant regional economy, it will also help grow our tax base, providing additional resources for education and infrastructure,” she said.
Niel Cannon, consultant for Franklin’s downtown revitalization added, “The expected economic impacts of attracting this new community of outdoor recreation enthusiasts are evidence based from the 300+ communities with whitewater parks across the United States; many of the communities starting out with a similar story as Franklin, a once vibrant industrial town struggling to reinvent itself after the mills closed. All residents, not just Franklin residents, will enjoy the benefits of amplified recreational opportunities. Of the over $11M in new spending that will be generated by over 160,000 annual visitors, the largest segment will be lodging/leisure activities benefitting surrounding communities in the region such as Tilton with hotel rooms, restaurants and bars. The City through Mill City Park will be making strategic alliances with other surrounding entities such as Highland Mountain Bike Park in Northfield. We would also work with other organizations like the Franklin Opera House and the Colonial Theater, in Laconia, to sponsor entertainment events on the occasions of major competitions. The regional opportunities are endless.”
Franklin Mayor Tony Giunta stated, “We all know that the economic benefit of a local tourist attraction extends well beyond the borders of the town or city in which that attraction is located. I want to thank Governor Sununu for his vision in supporting this new segment of the tourism industry and helping us attract a whole new group of outdoor recreation enthusiasts to our City, surrounding communities and our State. I urge our legislators to please support this worthwhile initiative.”
For more information, visit millcitypark.com.