Paddling picking up upriver
About 13 miles upriver from the new Yorkville, Illinois, Whitewater Park, another whitewater park is envisioned in downtown Aurora. The city recently reconstructed a canoe chute on the Fox River and local paddlers are hoping that's the first step. A more fully realized whitewater park could be included in the new Rivers Edge Park, a 35-acre park adjacent to downtown. The city is set to break ground for the park on June 8.
By then, a new paddlesports shop and outdoor retailer could be open downtown. Paddle and Trail announced in early April it will open a new store at 107 Spruce St., near Aurora's restaurant row.
Paddle and Trail is an independently owned outdoor retailer and outfitter with locations in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin specializing in paddlesports, cycling, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, trail running and adventure racing.
The Aurora location will be operated by local residents and outdoor recreation enthusiasts Charlie Zine and Gary Mechanic. Zine has been instrumental in promoting the development of the Rivers Edge Park and the reconstruction of the Aurora Canoe Chute. Gary Mechanic is an activist in the Illinois paddling community, a paddling instructor and a local water trail developer.
"We believe in community building, environmental stewardship and advocacy for improved access to both water and land trails for increased recreational opportunities," Paddle and Trails owner Walter Loos said.
Zine added, "We hope to support the users of the great local and interstate land and water trails along the Fox River and throughout northern Illinois with the best boats, bikes, outdoor gear, service, instruction and a wide variety of fun events."
He added, "We will be ready to sell whitewater boats and training for the new Yorkville Canoe Chute, where Gary and I were both official paddle testers last October."
Paddle and Trail in Aurora will rent canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and bicycles. An experienced on-site mechanic will service bikes and install bike and boat racks on vehicles.
Paddle and Trail currently has retail operations in Loves Park, Illinois, and Beloit, Wisconsin, and has rental operations in Rockford, Illinois, and Edgerton, Wisconsin. A lease for the new store in Aurora is working its way through the city's approval process.
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