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Whitewater park part of Rock Park renaissance

By Martina Beatty • mbeatty@rgj.com • June 7, 2009

Despite a steady rain, about 45 people wore coats and brought umbrellas to join public officials on Saturday to formally celebrate the opening of Sparks' new whitewater park on the Truckee River at Rock Park.

"This is another great day for Sparks," Mayor Geno Martini said. "Everybody talks about quality of life -- well, this improves our quality of life. It's a beautiful thing."

The 31-year-old Rock Park, on Rock Boulevard between Mill Street and Glendale Avenue, has had its ups and downs over the years, Washoe County Commissioner Robert Larkin told the crowd. "Rock Park went from a great park to a not so great park, to now a spectacular park," Larkin said.

Martini extended thanks to state senators Bill Raggio, R-Reno, Maurice Washington, R-Sparks and Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, whom Martini credited as instrumental in helping to secure funding via two state Senate bill appropriations for the $1.25 million project. "They really went to bat for us," Martini said.

He also noted that cooperation from the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which allowed use of its easement as a construction staging area, saved the city money.

When Reno's $1.5 million whitewater park was completed in 2003, tourism and city officials already were moving forward on a Sparks whitewater park. In 2004, Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority board member Glenn Carano said the Reno whitewater park was "the first phase of continuing down the river."

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