The vision: Replacing old mill ruins with a whitewater park in Franklin
E. REED | AUGUST 9, 2016
On a hot weekday, Marty Parichand nonchalantly strolled alongside a local carwash. He passed some concrete barriers and a “no camping” sign. As he tromped into an overgrown, litter-covered trailhead, he dove into his vision for a new outdoor adventure park.
Parichand, who runs Outdoor New England in Franklin, wants to take a city-owned tract of land along the Winnipesaukee River and transform it into a central attraction and economic hub. He hopes to install whitewater paddling amenities, a mountain bike pump track, a community garden and an “eco-village” campsite, plus event space.
“The idea is railroad tracks toward the river,” Parichand said.
The area was formerly home to three paper mills, though just their foundations remain today. Old railroad tracks still run through the trees and brush until they cross over open water along the Sulphite Bridge, rumored to be the only “upside-down” trestle bridge in the country.
“It used to bring sulphur to the mills,” said Parichand.
Now, hopefully, the bridge will bring in visitors interested in outdoor sports. Before converting the abandoned land, however, Parichand and non-profit PermaCityLife need to raise $45,000 to get the project going.
So far, the project’s Indiegogo campaign has raised about $5,000. A fundraising barbeque will be held Aug. 20 in the city’s downtown sculpture park.
Even if that money – $28,000 for a consultation with McLaughlin Whitewater, $15,000 for a pump track master plan by Northfield-based Highland Mountain Bike Park, and $2,000 for campaign fees – comes through, Parichand will still have plenty of work to do.
He has been in touch with the state’s Department of Environmental Services, asking for more frequent dam releases in order to make the 1-mile stretch of the Winnipesaukee River a reliable place for paddlers.
Right now, releases are done only twice a year, on New Year’s Day and in June for a whitewater slalom race. Those releases are for days at a time, Parichand said, and he would just ask that smaller, more regular releases – between 10 and 20 days total – are done using the same amount of water.