Guest Column

 Guest Column

New River Run Structure connects nature with Downtown.

By Carrie Scarff

Five Rivers MetroParks’ mission of connecting people to nature is based largely on our river system—it’s in the name. Yet in the heart of our region, in downtown Dayton, a dangerous low dam kept people away from the river. The RiverScape River Run, which opened with a ribbon cutting May 5, was designed to change all that.

The River Run project removed the low dam near the Dayton Art Institute and replaced it with limestone structures spanning the river, which transform it from a quiet pool of unmoving water to a playful stream tumbling over the rocks and inviting all sorts of ways to play. The project, funded by many community supporters and built by Five Rivers MetroParks, had the goal of getting more people to the river’s edge, but also getting more people on the river and in the river.

Now kayakers and canoeists who put their boats in the Mad River at Eastwood MetroPark can keep paddling into the city through the two chutes of the River Run. Anglers can take advantage of the riffles created by the structures where fish love to hang out. Experienced kayakers in small play boats can turn cartwheels, flips and rolls in the waves at the whitewater chutes. And people of all walks of life can relax on the rocks that stretch into the river to enjoy the sun playing off the rushing water and to watch all that’s going on around them.

In addition to all that, our regional bikeway system—the nation’s largest paved trail network with more than 300 miles to explore—runs along both sides of RiverScape River Run. All of these recreation opportunities—perfect for the active, outdoor lifestyle so in demand today—is out the back door of the more than 100,000 people who live, work and learn downtown, as well as a dynamic regional destination for the rest of us.

RiverScape River Run offers a new way to live life outside, urban-style. It adds yet another dimension to the already excellent quality of life in the Miami Valley. As we witness downtown’s resurgence, RiverScape River Run supports the growth in housing, entertainment, shopping, offices and schools with recreation opportunities for everyone.

Our downtown rivers have become a central feature in our region’s abundant outdoor amenities. Their water is clean and their banks, with birds and butterflies flitting above swaying grasses, are beautiful. There’s something enchanting about water for all of us, something about the sound and the movement of a river over rocks that draws us in. So here in our urban core, along RiverScape River Run in the Great Miami, we can connect to nature in the deepest way.

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