KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More than a year after a fire destroyed the Ocoee Whitewater Center, the United States Forest Service is announcing plans to move forward and rebuild.
On April 26, 2022, the historic Canoe Slalom Venue, which was used in the 1996 Summer Olympics, went up in flames. Firefighters from Polk County responded and were able to get it under control and while no one was injured, the building was destroyed.
It’s taken some time, but now the Forest Service announced it’s working to put together a master plan for the future of the whitewater center and facility. The service worked with experts in public engagement, recreation planning and landscape architecture to begin creating the plan.
“We are excited to finally move forward and work together with stakeholders and the public to create a vision for the future of the entire Ocoee Whitewater Center Administrative Site,” said Forest Supervisor Mike Wright, Cherokee National Forest. “Our partners are already seeking input from the public and we hope we can get informed feedback that will help us develop a vision for the future.”
The University of Georgia Institute of Government is gathering public input through public engagement, focus groups and surveys. If you would like to share your options, the surveys can be found at www.reimaginetheowc.org and through comment cards in communities near the Cherokee National Forest.
Studio Outside, a landscape architect based in Dallas, Texas, will lead the efforts in recreation planning, whitewater course design, interpretive design, and architecture while incorporating public input to advise the Forest Service on the next steps.
The Reimagine the OWC website lays out a timeline for the project. Evaluation and interpretation of proposed uses is scheduled for the fall, followed by the design process in the winter, and final plan development in the spring.