Surf Betsy seeking public input via survey

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, February 25, 2021

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Work and research continue to move forward into the possibility of utilizing the waters of the Watauga and Doe Rivers in Elizabethton to provide wave features for kayak or rafting play in a whitewater park in Elizabethton known as Surf Betsy.

According to a press release on Wednesday, “The City of Elizabethton, Mainstreet of Elizabethton, MBA students from the ETSU College of Business, the Surf Betsy Advisory Board, and our Parks and Recreation Department would like to hear from you.

“We are asking the public to provide valuable input into this research project by participating in a survey about Surf Betsy. Those individuals interested in providing their input can do so by visiting the Parks and Recreation’s Facebook page, Downtown Elizabethton’s Facebook page, or the Parks and Recreation section on the City of Elizabethton’s website.”

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The releases stated that the deadline for this survey will be March 12th while more information can be received by contacting the Elizabethton Park and Recreation office at 423-547-6441.

Elizabethton Park and Recreation Director Mike Mains said one of the main purposes of the survey is to help in the development of a business plan and provide answers to local citizens about Surf Betsy.

“This survey is a part of our overall research of this possible future recreational facility,” Mains stated. “MBA students from ETSU have been working very hard to develop a business plan for the white water park.

“The answers we receive from our community will help assist them with the interest in this project, which in turn, will of course help provide some answers pertaining to usage of this facility by our citizens and those within our region which may lead to economic benefits for Elizabethton and Carter County.”

Mains went on to add that at some point in the future that the hope is to review and share the results from the survey.

The MBA students from ETSU’s College of Business will gather the results and build a business plan for the project which in turn will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation staff, Surf Betsy Advisory Board, City Leaders, and the City Council.

The survey is just one of many important steps needed as the Surf Betsy project advances forward according to Mains.

“It’s just one of many important steps that are being conducted,” Mains said. “We see the great value of our beautiful natural resources, mountains, river, and streams that are already being used, but maybe there is more that could be developed, such as a White Water Park, that would provide great recreational opportunities for our citizens and also provide economic rewards.”

While talk of Surf Betsy has been going on quite a while, the project still has much to be done before the first stone can be turned.

Mains said that right now the mission is to gather information for the Elizabethton City Council while being diligent in the research steps that are being taken.

A lot of that research will go toward how the Watauga and Doe Rivers can be used which will require obtaining an engineering firm that can assist in the process.

Identifying the firm to conduct the technical research that is needed will be the next step on the ladder for those behind the project.

There is no doubt that the impact of such a park would pay high dividends for Elizabethton and the surrounding area as sports surrounding whitewater kayaking and rafting continue to grow in popularity.

“We know from other such facilities throughout the country that white water parks have been very successful,” Mains stated. “The reason for the research is to make sure that what we have in the Watauga and Doe Rivers will work for us.

“If so, then like other facilities throughout the country, it could bring economic benefits to Elizabethton and Carter County.”

Mains was asked what the feedback has been from local governing bodies and the citizens in discussions surrounding the water park so far.

“I think from a regional aspect, we have seen interest in conversations we’ve had as it could bring another great and unique recreational facility to this area,” Mains commented.

“Again, our City Council also has an interest and therefore, has given us direction to proceed with conducting this research. We don’t have all the answers but conducting this research is needed and is a very important part of the process.

“An example of this is getting public feedback from this survey. The work will continue and at the end of the day, we will be able to provide the answers needed to make a sound decision.”