RUMFORD — Getting permission and equipment for a 500-foot-long zip line for the Fourth of July celebration last year was relatively easy.
It took about a month and bringing Newry engineer Jim Sysko on board to suspend a cable between two Rumford Public Works trucks. One truck was parked in the Hannaford supermarket lot; the other in right field at the Hosmer Field Complex beside Route 2.
Getting permitting approval and equipment to suspend three 1,300-foot-long zip lines from a foot-trail by Rumford Public Library to the town snow dump on Rumford Avenue is taking much longer. Those three lines will cross under Memorial Bridge and travel over the Androscoggin River to a cement landing pad at the snow dump site.
It's estimated to cost $150,000 and would give Rumford the longest zip line in Maine, other than Sysko's 5,000-foot-long zip line on his property. Sysko's is the third longest zip line in the world, Thomas S. Carey of Envision Rumford and Rumford law firm Carey & Associates, said Friday.
The 1,300-footer is Phase One, or as project members call it, the "baby step."
Members of Rumford economic development group Envision Rumford are behind the project to make Rumford a zip line mecca to invigorate the local economy and get people onto the downtown island.
A zip line carries riders suspended from a cable between two points on a downward slope, Carey said.
The group's overall project is to build seven world-class zip lines totalling 14,000 feet that would launch riders from cement platforms and launch towers high along the river. They would pass under Memorial Bridge to the current snow dump site. The pad at that site is tentatively named the Cataract Station.
Carey said Friday that they have permission from the Maine Department of Transportation for Phase One. However, for that and the rest of the zip line projects, it will require buying town land along the river for the envisioned park that will eventually include a ropes challenge park and whitewater kayaking park.
"We're not going to be only zip lines," Carey said. "We also want to include recreational opportunities.
"What we're really waiting on is for the town to approve the transfer of the land that we need in order to do this, because if we can't have access to the land — buy the land — then this thing doesn't happen," he said.
Phase One's zip line will be two descent lines and one ascent line that will use Sysko's two-seater, patented zip line bicycle to transport people up from Cataract Station to the launch site. The zip line is tentatively called Lover's Leap, because it will take a leap to start the ride, Carey said.
Phase Two's zip line will be strung between a launch tower at the intersection of Routes 2 and 108 beside the Route 108 bridge down to the Cataract Station.
A previously envisioned zip line servicing Morency Park along River Street has been scrapped to create a special spectator venue there.
Phase Three's zip line, "which is the real wow factor to this whole thing," would travel 4,000 feet from the top of Falls Hill down to Cataract Station, Carey said.
Another zip line would travel from a launch tower right up Congress Street to Rite-Aid Pharmacy's lot and another one from there would travel to the Cataract Station.
Also envisioned is a new walkway trail along the Androscoggin River from the station, passing underneath Memorial Bridge on the library side to one of the launch towers.
Carey said the project group must currently get permission and licenses from the state transportation department, the Maine Fire Marshal's Office, NewPage Inc., Brookfield Power and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for Phase Three's 4,000-foot-long zip line from the top of Falls Hill to Cataract Station.
"It's going to take a while, and again, we've got to take a baby step, and that baby step is going to be Phase One," Carey said.