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Whitewater Gives Life to NH’s Smallest City

medium.com | Telling True Stories | March 27, 2022


Marty Parichand, Outdoor New England owner and Mill City Park Executive Director, has been working with the City of Franklin since 2015 to create the first whitewater park in New England.


Marty Parichand @ Outdoor New England, Franklin NH (March 2022)
“ The original idea was to see if a sport I love can turn around a town.” - Marty Parichand

Parichand grew up in Epsom, NH, and started kayaking when he was in college at UMass Amherst. Before he came to Franklin, Parichand spent a decade in Connecticut working as an engineer. When he arrived, he partnered with former Permacity Life Director Todd Workman to buy and renovate the Buell Block on Central Street, which now houses the Franklin Cafe, Outdoor New England, and the Vulgar Brewing Company. While Workman originally envisioned a whitewater park, Parichand has been the person most responsible for bringing the whitewater park vision to Franklin. Right now Mill City Park is about halfway through construction. With one whitewater wave operational and construction complete on an amphitheater for spectators, thousands of pounds of trash hauled out of the park woodlands, and a new parking lot and information kiosk built, the residents of Franklin are starting to believe that Parichand’s dream might actually succeed. Parichand’s plan involves the construction of two additional waves, one of which will be for surfers. When Mill City Park is complete, it is expected to bring over 150,000 visitors to Franklin each year.


Mill City Park amphitheater & wave with Stevens Mill on Left (March 2022)

“One time or another, I think we’ve all told [Marty] that he was crazy. — Krystal Alpers, Franklin Parks and Recreation Director

Kayaker on first wave @ Mill City Park (March 2022)

Kayaking will help revitalize Franklin by generating tourist revenue. Mill City Park is built on Franklin City-owned land and will be free and open to the public. The whitewater park will help revitalize Franklin by bringing tourists into town, which will attract businesses. By creating a downtown center more appealing to tourists and young professionals, Franklin hopes to pull itself out of its decades-long slump. According to Parichand, a study done by the State of New Hampshire shows that “for every two people using the water park, eight to ten people will come to watch.” These visitors are expected to spend their money in stores and businesses in downtown Franklin and the surrounding areas, which will create a positive feedback loop bringing more tourists and businesses to Franklin.


“I’ve been involved in Mill City Park since the beginning. And, because of it, I think we are starting to see new businesses. Mill City Park was a key reason why Eric Chinburg decided to develop the Stevens Mill building, because of the demographic that it will draw; it will draw people just like you.” — Jo Brown, Franklin Mayor

Kayaker on the Winnie Looking Toward Bow Street (March 2022)
“The whitewater park is a big buzz, and people are talking about it. With that, it will bring people into town and help the economy. If you talk to local people, there have been a lot of skeptics. There have been people that said, ‘Yeah, we have seen things like this before. New business comes and then they don’t succeed,’ but I really think that this is different. I think that we are seeing real sustained energy moving forward.” — Greg Stetson, Franklin Fire Department Captain.

Over-Under Bridge over the Winnie Looking into Mill City Park at high water. (March 2022)

This article was written by Josh Hou, Thomas Berger, Liam Murphy, and Tom Morgan.


The Telling True Stories Project is a PROCTOR ACADEMY production.



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