Piqua hosts 2024 Great Miami Riverway Summit


By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

PIQUA — The city of Piqua, in partnership with the Miami Conservancy District, hosted the 2024 Great Miami Riverway Summit on Friday, April 19, at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center on North Main Street in Piqua.

The Great Miami Riverway is a 99-mile, regional destination, linking cities, counties, park districts and other organizations along the Great Miami River through the Greater Dayton region up to Sidney. Launched in 2017, the coalition now includes 20 partner organizations.

The 17th annual summit was a celebration of the accomplishments of river corridor communities, with a focus on increasing public and private economic investment, recreation, and highlighting the need for a healthy river system, according to the Miami Conservancy District.

Piqua Mayor Kris Lee opened the summit by welcoming area community leaders, staff members, real estate developers, tourism professionals, entrepreneurs, vendors and other attendees.

“It was a wonderful time seeing all of the other contributors and people invested in the Great Miami Riverway Summit,” Lee told Miami Valley Today. “Piqua is right up there with some of the other communities that is working to expand options for the riverway. Our Lock 9 will be done soon. We will have housing along the riverway as well — 30 new units — and we are just looking forward to expanding opportunities for people to enjoy that riverway. We are just glad that we have this opportunity for our citizens.”

Among the events on the agenda for the day included a guided walking tour of downtown Piqua, two separate three-guest-panel discussions, a view of the new 2024 Great Miami Riverway promotional video, book presentations to two Piqua City Schools’ principals, various city, county and individual recognitions, and words from keynote speaker Scott Holley, president and CEO of Eddyline Kayaks.

Those participating in the panel discussion about “Unveiling Success Stories: Empowering Riverfront Cities Through Collaborative” included Brad Collett, of Tennessee RiverLine; Mark Noll, executive director of Ohio River Way; and Dan Foley, manager of the Great Miami Riverway.

Included in the later panel discussion on thoughts about “Bringing People to the River: Embracing Community, Recreation, and Conservation Through Waterfront Events” were Dr. Jim Burkhardt, Down a River Down a Beer; Brewster Rhoads, Bill Keating Jr. Ohio River Swim & Ohio River Paddlefest; and Mike Christopher, iAngler app for outdoor competitions & water data collection.

One highlight of the day was when attendees were given the opportunity to make friendship bracelets that were to be handed out with the books to Piqua third-grade students. Piqua City Schools’ Principals Ross Loudenback, of Springcreek Primary, and Heather Koehl, of Washington Primary, were present to accept the gifts, which included a new, original children’s book titled “Into the River” for every third-grade Piqua City Schools student. The gift was provided by the Great Miami Riverway and the University of Dayton Rivers Institute. The University of Dayton students wrote and illustrated the book that tells the story of the Great Miami River and its impact on the riverfront cities.

Numerous cities and individuals were given small wooden canoes or oars as gifts from the Miami Conservancy District, including the cities of Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, and Sidney, as well as Miami County and Shelby County Commissioners. Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst, individually, who was named the Champion of the Year, and Dan Foley, outgoing manager of the Miami Conservancy District, were also recognized for their good work. Bornhorst will be retiring as a commissioner in the four weeks and this is Foley’s last year as manager.

Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst introduced and congratulates both Bornhorst and Foley.

“Despite the fact that they no longer raise hogs on the farm, he has remained active in Shelby County pork producers and can be frequently be found in preparing and serving pork loin at various functions in Shelby County and beyond…,” Barhorst said when introducing Bornhorst for his work with the riverway and Shelby County. “What I appreciate most about this individual, is his willingness to work with even disagreeable individuals to finish projects. He has been tireless in his efforts to help foster a relationship between the city of Sidney and Shelby County. Such a relationship has not always existed, and for those efforts, I am particularly grateful. …”

Bornhorst expressed his surprise, thanked everyone for the opportunity and explained he would be retiring earlier than he had planned, saying how much he enjoyed his work.

“Hopefully we will get this connection (of the unconnected paved bike path along the riverway) between Sidney and Piqua, hopefully within the next three to four years. We got quite a bit of funding, we just got to get that path and once we are there, it’s just going to be a great opportunity for everybody (to use the path,)” Bornhorst said. “And thank you for this surprise (award).”

The keynote presentation near the end of the summit was given by Holley, who is a leader in the paddle sports industry and a founding member of the Paddlesports Trade Coalition. He shared insights into the “transformative power of river-based recreation and its profound impact on local economies.” He spoke about the important role the rivers play in our lives to connect to ourselves, each other and the community.

Then the city of Miamisburg was announced as the next location and will host, in partnership with the Miami Conservancy District, the 2025 Great Miami Riverway Summit.

At the conclusion of the summit, a reception was held at Crooked Handle Brewing Co. on Main Street in Piqua, which featured a new craft beer, Buzz Bait, a collaboration with the Great Miami Riverway.

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