May 3, 2008

A lovely day to enjoy the Root River

It was a full day of activities -- rain be damned! -- at the grand opening of the Root River Environmental Community Center (REC).

Most fun, of course, was "Running the Root," when more than two dozen canoes and kayaks floated downstream all the way to Belle Harbor ... and then paddled back through a light rain.

Rep. Cory Mason explained at brief opening ceremonies that the event was aimed at getting people to think about what a real economic asset the Root River can be. Mayor Gary Becker noted that when the city was developed, the river "was a highway and a sewer." Today, however, he said "we need to get ahead of development, to decide what Racine wants the River to be." Also in attendance was State Department of Administration Secretary Mike Morgan, who helped provide a grant a year ago to help spur river planning and "obtain input on how we clean up our urban waterways." Full schedule of events HERE.

The area paddled was the proposed River District, whose boundaries are roughly the railroad bridge just upstream of REC to the mouth of the river, and the lands adjacent to the river along that route.

Among the points of interest for canoeists and kayakers were:

--The idea of placing a riverwalk between Sixth and Main Streets. The idea is that the river's edge would be vegetated and the riverwalk would be adjacent to the green space, about 15-20 feet wide, accommodating walkers and bicyclists.

--The large retaining wall at Water Street isn't going anywhere -- it's part of the sewer system infrastructure. However, it is not attractive, and the idea of creating a fabric mural created to cover the wall has been suggested.

--Belle Harbor's marina is silting in, and not viable for larger boats. Saturday's boaters were asked what kind of land use they would suggest for that property.

At the Belle Harbor Marina, under the State Street bridge

Cory Mason and his family.

Sec. Mike Morgan and Alderman Terry McCarthy

What the smartly-shod kayaker wears on her feet...

Fred, 3, ready for his first kayak ride ever

May 3 also marks the opening of this year's fishing season


  1. Dang it, we didn't know a thing about it, we would have loved to take the kayaks out for a dip! Oh well, next year.

  2. concrete katie5/04/2008 8:00 AM

    I hope the gardeners of this city (of which there are many) will encourage the riverwalk environment to be natural, indigenous. It is an impressive group of local people who made this center happen. I also hope the riverwalk will be on the downtown's bank of the river so that the riverfront area and the spoon of the watershed is connected up with the City Hall Neighborhood (you know the long neglected Anchor C)and Wisconsin and Water Streets. A walk is so necessary for the residents who live downtown and want to enjoy it and enjoy their free time and support the downtown pioneers with ordinary shopping needs. As the downtown is now, it is very difficult to get around because of traffic flows (and parking meters!) and lack of sidewalks and lack of focus on the at-risk pedestrians and bike riders. Why would you live here if you can't walk around?? Now, finally, it is the Root River which once again becomes alive with its sleeping potential. Mayor Becker, how about a sculpture garden along the way???? How about a walkway down from the garden at the historic firehouse to the riverwalk?? I saw a great plan over a year ago presented by a green sanctuary group. How about a walkway up and down at the old 4th street bridge across? While we are at it, what about a pedestrian cross over! And what about river lookouts. Ask me about the lookouts along the St. Joesph River (Root River's mirror image) in Niles, Michigan. Nothing fancy. Nothing that costs big bucks. A few picnic tables. a simple lookout platform. Maybe an historical marker about our first residents, the mound indians YES!