OKLAHOMA CITY – Over budget but on track; a new white water facility along the Oklahoma River got the green light on Tuesday, despite a serious budget issue.
“We really feel this is going to be a gem for the river,” said Mike Knopp, with the boathouse district. “This is going to truly set us apart from other places.”
The white water rafting complex is going to be built in a wooded area near the boathouse district and will be paid for by MAPS 3 money.
However, the lowest estimate for construction costs came in at $33 million, which is more than double the city’s original $15 million budget.
In order to make up the difference, the city eliminated other planned improvements along the riverfront, including a huge wind screen and new grandstands.
“It’s better to have a white water center be an iconic project at the river than have these other smaller projects that can be picked up later,” said MAPS3 project manager David Todd.
Even with those changes, the city is still nearly $3 million short.
“I think we are taking a path that increases the risk,” said Oklahoma City councilman Pat Ryan.
In the end, the white water project narrowly moved ahead by a vote of 5-4.
“The white water being the signature project does need to take priority,” said Knopp.
Construction on the white water facility can begin immediately.
Organizers hope it will open by December 2015.