Rumford begins effort to become zip-line mecca

Submitted photo

This artwork by Newry engineer Jim Sysko shows where Envision Rumford's proposed world-class zip line park cables will come from on their way over the Androscoggin River and under Memorial Bridge to a landing site at the town snow dump beside Rumford Avenue. The longest zip line is 4,000 feet and will travel from the top of Falls Hill to the landing site, now called Cataract Station.

RUMFORD — Getting permission and equipment for a 500-foot-long zip line for the Fourth of July celebration last year was relatively easy.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Envision Rumford economic development group member Thomas S. Carey uses a ruler on an aerial map of Rumford to show where the group intends to place three 1,300-foot-long zip lines. It's the first of seven zip lines planned over the Androscoggin River.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

This map of downtown Rumford reveals where economic development group Envision Rumford's Phase One zip line project will be installed, once the group buys the land, which is owned by the town.

Submitted photo

This aerial map of downtown Rumford shows where Envision Rumford's ambitious zip line park will be located. The longest line, a 4,000 footer, will travel from the top of Falls Hill over the Reflection Pool on the Androscoggin River, over the river itself and under Memorial Bridge to a landing pad at the town snow dump beside Rumford Avenue.

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.

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Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Get people onto the downtown

Get people onto the downtown island for what? There aren't any real businesses there anymore that are worth patronizing. Whitewater kayaking on the scrog right by the mill? Kidding right? The white in the water is poison foam. Nice try guys but Rumford has been dead in the water for a long time and a zip line isn't going to change that. The casino was the only shot this town had and the local yokels blew it.

Jeremy Cormier's picture

Hope This Works

Something good for the town's economy that could potentially put Rumford on the map and pump some much needed outside money into the town?!...
Over/Under 6 months before town selectman shoot it down because it might "bring too much traffic to the area" or "raise crime rates". I'm saying under.


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