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.