West Carrollton is seeking to gain ground on funding for a project expected to create hundreds of jobs and draw more than 100,000 visitors annually.
The city is seeking $7 million in remaining funding for the $15 million second phase of its river district and whitewater park project along the Great Miami River at the Interstate 75 West Carrollton interchange. That phase is the actual construction, which includes safety improvements, the river surfing feature and the whitewater portage feature, city officials recently confirmed.
West Carrollton applied for that amount via the Dayton Region Priority Development & Advocacy Committee (PDAC) late last year. Funding for that phase thus far includes West Carrollton ($4 million), a HUD-EDI grant ($3 million), Montgomery County ($750,000) and the State of Ohio ($250,000).
A market analysis and economic impact study of the whitewater park by a professional sports consulting group concluded that the park can attract more than 100,000 visitors annually, then-Mayor Jeffrey Sanner said late last year in the city’s application.
“This project represents a unified vision of the West Carrollton City Council to redevelop the I-75/Exit 47 interchange into a vibrant destination location,” Sanner said. “Further, it will serve as the centerpiece for the planned $75 million mixed use development immediately adjacent to exit 47.”
Private sector development for the project is estimated to create 500 jobs, $10 million in new payroll and annual salaries between $25,000 and $50,000 over the 5-to-7-year build out, according to the city’s PDAC application.
West Carrollton is working to complete a lease arrangement with the Miami Conservancy District for the proposed park area adjacent to the West Carrollton low-dam site.
As its applying for funding for the second phase of the project, the city also is working to iron out details of its first phase: the design, engineering and permitting process. Merrick Engineering and McLaughlin Whitewater Group are developing the engineering and design features that will transform the existing low-head dam into “a premier watersport destination location for visitors and enthusiasts from a broad geographic area.”
The city of West Carrollton recently allocated more than $2.5 million for gateway roadway improvements that will serve the River Park District. Roadway construction will start during the 2024 construction season. The city also is on pace to begin improvements to low head dam during the 2025 construction season.
“The project will create a one-of-a-kind amenity on the Great Miami Riverway that will be a catalyst” for that private development, the city said. It also will host whitewater competitions and events, bringing out-of-town and out-of-state visitors to West Carrollton and the Dayton area.
“Riverfront amenities are proven catalysts for development, and this project is essential to drive the reinvestment and revitalization of the riverfront of the City of West Carrollton.” said Joe Tuss, an economic development consultant at JT Development Consulting, who is listed as having filled out West Carrollton’s PDAC form.
The project is the next phase in a long-range plan that has occurred over the last 10-plus years. It has the support of Montgomery County commissioners, the Miami Conservancy District, Five Rivers Metroparks and the city of Moraine, all of whom said the project will spur additional development along the adjacent I-75 corridor.