Glenwood whitewater draws cars
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Glenwood’s new Colorado River whitewater park near the Midland Avenue Bridge is already making some big waves. Unfortunately, the “waves” are on the sidewalks and road shoulders rather than the river.
“There’s no parking,” said Glenwood Springs resident Larry Carver. “They built it, and they didn’t provide any parking other than someone stopping on the sidewalk.”
Last Wednesday afternoon, the swelling Colorado River flowed through the park and created a dream wave, enticing a number of kayakers out to surf. But the sidewalk along the north side of Devereux Road looked like a KOA campground, complete with an oversized Porta Potti. Cars and trucks lined the south shoulder of Devereux Road and along the eastern shoulder of Midland Avenue.
Carver has watched the number of cars parked on the road increase over the past couple of weeks, along with the river’s water level. But now it’s just too much chaos, he says.
“It’s a real busy intersection,” Carver said. “With all the cars over there and these guys are out there walking across the street with their kayak on their heads. It’s creating a real mess.”
Kayakers have a put-in at the location of the park near the intersection of Midland Avenue and Devereux Road, but they have to get out downstream of the Midland Avenue bridge. That leaves kayakers having to cross Midland Avenue to get back to the water park at a very busy intersection, creating more traffic problems, in Carver’s opinion.
“It’s great that they got the water park,” Carver said. “But they need to do something about the parking.”
According to Joe Mollica, chair of the whitewater park committee, parking is the No. 1 priority now that the park is up and running.
“Our biggest thing was that we wanted to get the wave in there and get that all finished,” Mollica said. “But now our biggest priority is to get the parking area done.”
Mollica said that plans call for a parking area consisting of approximately 25 spaces just across Devereux Road, on the spot of land next to the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle dealership that is currently under construction.
“Hopefully that will be done in a month or two, and that will give us 25 spots right there,” Mollica said. “But we’ve got to do something.”
Mollica’s claim that the parking lot could be completed in a month or two could not be confirmed by the city as of Friday afternoon.
Also in the works, Mollica said, are an additional eight parking spaces, including handicap accessible parking, on the north side of Devereux road next to the put-in on the riverbank.
Mollica also said that future plans include permanent restroom facilities to be built on the north side of the river and overflow parking at the West Glenwood Rest Area and the Glenwood Springs Mall parking lot, with a shuttle taking people to and from the water park.
Mollica didn’t expect the turnout of kayakers that have descended upon the river’s newest attraction. But it’s all under control, he said.
“We realize that we’ve got to get on it right away,” Mollica said.
A memo from Glenwood Springs City Planner Mike McDill addressed to City Manager Jeff Hecksel requested that further parking rules be implemented to alleviate further problems on Devereux Road.
“The completion of the whitewater park and the construction of the new Harley-Davidson store have elevated the issue of parking along Devereux Road to a point where some control needs to be put in place,” the memo read.
Currently, there are temporary parking restrictions in place on Devereux Road, according to Police Chief Terry Wilson.
“We do have some temporary signage out,” Wilson said. “It seems to be having a positive impact.”
Wilson said that with the Memorial Day weekend, police anticipate a consistent crowd at the whitewater park, so it’s been a race against time getting some temporary solutions in place. Police haven’t issued many parking tickets thus far, but will begin to do so for those not following the restrictions.
“There’s not been a lot so far,” Wilson said. “We are trying to make it as reasonable as we can in writing tickets, but now that the signage is up, we will be more aggressive.”
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.