To the max 

New wave moves forward

The Clark Fork is one step closer to getting a second surf wave near downtown Missoula. Thanks to a new design and a hefty donation, the long-discussed Max Wave could be constructed as early as next year.

If permitted, the Max will enhance a 500-foot stretch of river east of Ogren Park at Allegiance Field known as the Flynn-Lowney irrigation ditch. The feature would be named after Max Lentz, a Missoula kayaker who died on the Gauley River in West Virginia in 2007.

“We’ve made a lot of modifications just in the last couple of years with this design,” says Jason Shreder, president of the Max Wave board, “and I think we are at a point where people are happy.”

Ideas for a new kayak park first circulated the year following Lentz’s death, but fundraising and design challenges have slowed the process. An original plan proposed by Bozeman-based Allied Engineering Services didn’t meet certain expectations for accessibility. The new design is a collaboration between the Morrison-Maierle engineering firm and Gary Lacy, the designer who helped develop Brennan’s Wave, located just upriver from the Max Wave site.

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  • Justin Ryan

Molly Skorpik, Morrison-Maierle permit phase manager, says the new plan includes two major features: an initial drop, including a large wave and a calm pool where boaters can recover, and a second drop with two smaller waves leading to an eddy and boat ramp at Silver Park. An easy boat channel will skirt the north side of the kayak park. An ADA-compliant viewing area will be located on the south bank.

“It is the intent of Max Wave to create opportunities for boaters, viewers, and potentially create a destination for other boaters and boating competitions,” Skorpik says.

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  • Meghan Hanson
  • Missoula hosted the 2010 U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team Trials, a three-day event featuring the sport’s top competitors, at Brennan’s Wave.

But before construction can begin the design needs to pass the permit stage—a process Shreder says has consumed the board’s funding and time. Since its advent in 2008, the board has raised more than $200,000—almost all of which has been spent on design and permitting.

To expedite the process, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency recently allocated roughly $30,000. MRA Director Ellen Buchanan says the money is intended to propel the Max Wave through the permitting phase, so that major donations in the future can fund the park’s construction—at a cost estimated at more than $1 million.

With MRA’s funding, Shreder says, the project should be permitted in the next four months, allowing construction to begin this winter.

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