Guest Column: The River District: Rock River is for all to enjoy

The River District Association’s Board of Directors has studied a number of issues of concern to its members regarding our City’s most treasured natural resource, the Rock River, including the “No Wake Zone” near Martin Park, boat noise and safety and water level management.

While appreciating the importance of maintaining a safe environment for boating along the Rock River, we have concluded that the No Wake Zone is excessively long and must be reduced in size. The Rock River is an important economic engine to our community. The loss of two marinas along the Rock River is a major setback. While it is not all together clear that the closure of these two businesses is directly linked to the no-wake zone, it is clear the No Wake Zone is an obstacle to southbound boating traffic important to businesses along the Rock River.

We have also investigated issues of concern regarding the management of the Fordam Dam just south of our downtown. The dam regulates the depth of our river for as far north as perhaps the Auburn Street bridge. Improper maintenance or operation can adversely affect recreational use of the Rock River north of the dam. We have learned that debris too often becomes lodged within the dam, making water level management challenging. We have also heard reports that certain components of the dam’s infrastructure have not been properly maintained or repaired, also creating water level management difficulties. We encourage the City of Rockford to explore discussions with the dam’s present owner, Commonwealth Edison, to determine whether it might be appropriate for the City to take over ownership and operation of the dam and adjacent important riverfront property owned by Commonwealth Edison.

Finally, we ask boaters who use the Rock River to be more considerate of other boaters, property owners along the river and users of the recreational bike baths. Excessive speed and noise remain a matter of legitimate concern. We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement in addressing these legitimate concerns.

The Rock River is here for us all to enjoy and use. Proper management of this great resource is critical to our continued revitalization of our downtown and to our community’s quality of life.

Stephen T. Moore is the board president of the River District Association.

Editor’s note: Rick Fiduccia and Steve Lucas of, assert the dam affects river levels far north of the supposed end of the dam pool at the Auburn Street bridge. Visiting the Web site, click on Water Levels. They said they were very encouraged by the River District’s position, but they wish the District had delinated that the No Wake Zone needs to be narrowed as well as shortened.

From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2005, issue

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