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Fundraising efforts for Cedar Falls whitewater course in progress

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KCRG) -Ty Graham of Cedar Falls has worked for decades, advocating to transform the Cedar River in Cedar Falls into a whitewater destination for kayakers, paddle boarders, and tubers.

The Cedar River Recreation Project is officially underway, working on fundraising efforts before starting construction. The main project area stretches from around the Main Street Bridge to just past the First Street Bridge. “This is going to be a spectacle. This is going to be something that people want to come see,” says Graham.

The project’s cost is estimated at $4.2 million. The city of Cedar Falls received a $1.5 million grant for the project, and $500,000 more will come from public and private community fundraising. That’s what Graham is working on now- he’s in charge of raising $25,000, largely from paddle boarders in the community and local businesses.

“It’s going great, a lot of people want to give, the average downtown business has given around a thousand dollars right now. I want to raise this $25,000 before the end of July, and we’re on track to exceed that right now,” says Graham.

Right next to the Cedar River is Main Street, Cedar Falls, lined with dozens of businesses excited for the opportunities and tourists the project will bring in. “Anytime you have something like that that’s really going to attract a ton of people for some fun, and it’s right across the street from where we are, I don’t think there’s any mistaking that it would be a huge positive for Cedar Falls,” says Scott Gall, owner of The Runner’s Flat in Cedar Falls.

Right on the corner of Main Street, Dawn Wilson, owner of Cup of Joe, says she’s excited to see the whitewater course take shape. “Our area is very active, our people are very active. And what a great addition to come to everyone’s activities,” says Wilson.

Graham has helped bring whitewater sports to similar courses in Charles City and Manchester, creating places that offer something for everyone. “Most people are on shore, watching, sitting, listening to the water, just enjoying the day and enjoying the view. And then you have waders, swimmers, fisherman,” says Graham.

The project also includes enhancements to the riverbank, adding seating and more. Graham says one stretch of the shore will be a gathering place shaped like a leatherback turtle shell, and able to hold more than a hundred people.

Graham says construction is expected to start mid-October.

More details about fundraising efforts can be found here.

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