Officials tour ‘world-class’ whitewater park construction site

Riley Combs with Crossland Construction on June 29 works on the WOKA Whitewater Park near Watts. The 30-acre park is expected to be completed in 2023. 

WATTS – Construction may still have a year and a half to go, but the partners behind an upcoming whitewater park say that based on the progress so far, they are excited about its future.

“It doesn’t look like it yet, but wait till it’s finished. This will be a world-class attraction,” said Ed Fite, GRDA vice president for rivers operations and water quality, who joined other project officials Tuesday for a tour of the WOKA Whitewater Park site.

“It’ll be in the top 10 (whitewater parks nationwide), probably in the top five. It’ll be that good,” Fite said.

The park, located on the upper Illinois River near Watts on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border, broke ground last fall and is expected to open by spring 2023.

The Grand River Dam Authority, which will manage the 30-acre park, is partnering on the project with the city of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The park is expected to draw 85,000 visitors annually, while providing a yearly economic boost to the area of $900,000.