Inflatable bladders could rejuvenate park |

Inflatable bladders could rejuvenate park

Nicole Frey

VAIL – The town of Vail is trying to pump new life into its whitewater park – literally.Vail is considering installing inflatable bladders in Gore Creek that will allow the creek to run higher through the kayak park. Higher water will create more variety in waves, allowing for a more dynamic ride, said professional kayaker Brad Luddin. “Because a river or creek like Gore Creek isn’t dam controlled, you can’t guarantee the water level,” said Luddin, who met with Vail staff to discuss the idea. The kayak park was completed in 2000, but it was assumed it would be upgraded over the years, said Gregg Barrie, Vail’s senior landscape architect. “The park’s been moderately successful,” Barrie said. “But two of the features have not performed very well.”A feature in a whitewater park is a formation of rocks or a concrete structure that creates waves or “pulls” in the river. The Vail Town Council has told Barrie and his staff to continue exploring the bladders, but, a river issues and planning group, is worried the bladders may increase the flood risk in the area.”It’s never been used in a real river, so there are a few questions that need to be answered,” Barrie said. “Now, we’re really going to hone in on the design. We’ll look at safety, aesthetics and how and who will operate it.” Luddin thinks the bladders could transform the park to a premiere kayaking destination.”If they allow us to do this, they’ll have a staying power for 20 years,” he said. “I think the sport will grow as much as we allow it to.”Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or Vail, Colorado

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