Oak Ridge will celebrate the new eighth rowing lane with a special dedication ceremony on Friday, April 28, the city said in a press release.
The dedication, announced by the City of Oak Ridge, will be at 3 p.m. Friday, April 28. It is expected to include state and local leaders, and it will help kick off one of the biggest rowing weekends of the season, the press release said.
The eighth rowing lane, which is now complete, has been on the city’s wish list for many years. Officials have said that it could help attract even more and larger regattas (rowing races) and help maintain the Oak Ridge course as one of the top-ranked rowing venues in the United States.
Those who attend Friday’s dedication ceremony will gather in Melton Lake Park at the pavilion across from the Oak Ridge Rowing Association and then take a short walk on Melton Lake Greenway to the new overlook for the eighth rowing lane, the press release said.
“Once the group is gathered together, we will ceremoniously cut a ribbon for the eighth lane and thank those who were crucial to making the project a reality, including Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, State Representative John Ragan, and others who have given their unwavering support,” the press release said.
Two major rowing events are scheduled for the weekend: the Dogwood Juniors Regatta on Saturday, April 29, and the Governor’s Cup and Mayor’s Cup races on Sunday, April 30.
First Place Finish Inc. was the contractor selected to carry out the project in September 2016. The $548,350 contract was awarded to the company during a meeting of Oak Ridge City Council. The eighth lane was completed on schedule and under budget earlier this year, in time to accommodate spring training and regattas at the Melton Lake rowing venue, the press release said.
Previously, the course used seven rowing lanes, taking Oak Ridge out of the running for any event requiring eight lanes for competition. Part of the waterway was widened and a retaining wall installed in order to create the additional lane, the press release said.
Construction of the eighth lane was funded by a combination of state appropriations ($250,000 from the State of Tennessee), City Capital Improvement funds, and a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority. The Oak Ridge Rowing Association, Explore Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Economic Development Initiative, and Visit Knoxville also contributed funds to the project.
The press release said rowing activities have an estimated annual economic impact of more than $2 million for Oak Ridge and surrounding communities. On Tuesday, the NCAA announced that Oak Ridge will host the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships in 2020.
For more information, contact the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department at (865) 425-3450.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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