Already a paddling destination for world-class athletes, Wausau leaders plan to make new accommodations for paddlers needing adaptive equipment.
The Wausau Daily Herald reports that the Wausau and Marathon County Park Foundation has proposed installing an $18,000 canoe and kayak launch designed specifically for disabled paddlers — and paid for by the Foundation — just north of Bridge Street near the city’s water treatment plant. The launch would provide a dry, hard surface with rollers on which canoes and kayaks can be placed, along with rails to allow disabled boaters to hoist themselves into their craft.
The foundation will pay for the dock if the city will improve the parking area of the nearby water treatment plant and add signs marking the location of the launch, which could cost up to $15,000, according to Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Bill Duncanson.
In June, Wausau will host the 2012 Junior Canoe Slalom World Championships. Nearly 300 young athletes are expected to compete June 11 to 15. Wausau hosted the competition in 1994 and beat out waterways in Brazil and Slovakia for a return of the international competition.
An accommodation for paddlers with special needs will expand the use of the Wisconsin River, and build on the success of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in helping make the water accessible. Check out this video of Andy Janicki, the state agency's DNR accessibility coordinator, showing how he returned to a sport he loves, after a severe spinal injury.