COPPERHILL, Tenn. (WATE) — One year after fire destroyed the Ocoee Whitewater Center in Cherokee National Forest, officials say the entire site is being evaluated for a possible full makeover — including the famous whitewater course.
The recreation area in the southeastern part of the state was built to serve as the canoe slalom venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. No one was injured in the April 26, 2022 fire that destroyed the the main building and other parts of the facility.
A contract for a full functional assessment of the “entire recreation site, including the whitewater course” is in the works, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service on April 26.
Once completed, a master planning process will get underway involving landscape architects, architects, whitewater course designers and engineers, structural engineers, and an assortment of interpretive designers, recreation planners and cost modelers.
Officials with the Cherokee National Forest said they are entering into an agreement with a university to conduct “extensive public engagement” that will include in-person focus groups and online community assessments.
“These assessments will help us collectively understand priority ranking for the future of the entire Ocoee Whitewater Center beyond the destroyed building,” a spokesperson said in a press release.
No timeline for the work has been given at this time.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by TBI. No one was injured in the blaze.
The day use area of the Ocoee Whitewater Center remains open while the U.S. Forest Service works on a master plan for the building. Affected trails reopened in May 2022, and a river warning system destroyed in the fire was restored in July.