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ONE YEAR LATER: What’s next for the Ocoee Whitewater Center?

From Local 3 News: On April 26, 2022, an early morning fire destroyed the Ocoee Whitewater Center in eastern Polk County.


The Center, originally built for the 1996 Olympics, served as a focal point for activities around the region.


The U.S. Forest Service staff at the Cherokee National Forest said that while day use of the area around the Ocoee Whitewater Center remains open, they are working on a collaborative “master plan for the building, the whitewater course, and the entire site.”


“We are excited to work together with stakeholders and the public to create a vision for the future of the Ocoee Whitewater Center,” said Mike Wright, forest supervisor, Cherokee National Forest. “The original facility was built as an Olympic venue but became an important landmark and destination for the local community, state, and the Forest Service. There is tremendous interest in the future of the whitewater center, so we are taking a collaborative approach as we together plan for the center’s next chapter.”


The USFS says that contract for a full, functional assessment of the entire recreation site, including the whitewater course, will be completed.


Once done, the next steps will be a master planning process involving landscape architects, architects, whitewater course designers and engineers, structural engineers, and an assortment of interpretive designers, recreation planners, and cost modelers.


The agency also says that they are entering into an agreement “with a university partner to conduct extensive public engagement that will include in-person focus groups and online community assessments.”


Members of the community will be invited to participate and provide input on priorities for the project.