By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – After years of construction, a major river revitalization project in Denver’s Confluence Park is open to the public.

confluence riverfest 10pkg transfer frame 420 Thousands Splash In South Platte At RiverFest

(credit: CBS)

Thousands of people from Denver and beyond made a splash near the newly renovated Shoemaker Plaza during the 6th Annual South Platte RiverFest.

confluence riverfest 10pkg transfer frame 450 Thousands Splash In South Platte At RiverFest

(credit: CBS)

Previously, access to the river was halted by nearly three years of construction.

The event drew families like the Cases, who brought along their kayak.

“It’s fun,” said Ayden Case.

“It’s a great way to utilize the resources that Denver has,” said his dad, Lester Case, as he paddled.

confluence riverfest 10pkg transfer frame 540 Thousands Splash In South Platte At RiverFest

(credit: CBS)

Farther downstream, 3-year-old Malek and his dad, Sumit Sarkar, waded near the chute that sends white water gushing down the river.

“That really gets us a chance to celebrate the Denver lifestyle and the Colorado culture,” Sarkar told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.

confluence riverfest 10pkg transfer frame 900 Thousands Splash In South Platte At RiverFest

(credit: CBS)

But the coveted stretch of river has not always been a good spot for a swim.

A 2014 lawsuit centered on what environmentalists say is the most polluted waterway in Colorado.

One group estimated more than 200,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, leaked from Colorado industrial facilities, ended up in the Platte River in 2010.

The Greenway Foundation has been working for more than 40 years to transform the former dumping grounds into places where people can play, among other activities.

confluence riverfest 10pkg transfer frame 1140 Thousands Splash In South Platte At RiverFest

(credit: CBS)

Ryan Aids, development director for the foundation said seeing the Plaza open after decades of planning was “extremely emotional” for the group.

“The Greenway Foundation has been working since 1974 to make the river the best place to live, work and play,” Aids said. “And today is a great indication that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Money raised at the RiverFest will go toward educating thousands of youth each year about the value of the South Platte River watershed, and other programs through the Greenway Foundation.

LINK: The Greenway Foundation

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s