‘No parking’ cramps Eagle River access | AspenTimes.com

‘No parking’ cramps Eagle River access

Kyle Carstensen of Sign Design & Graphics puts up one of several signs to keep people out of the Riverfront Village construction site late last week. Some boaters are unhappy with the disappearance of a parking lot they used when frequenting the river. (Nicole Frey/Vail Daily)

AVON – Kyle Carstensen methodically pounded a large rod into the dusty ground on the side of a street. With the pole firmly in the earth, he fastened a large black, white and red sign to it. One down, eight to go.”RESTRICTED AREA, NO PARKING,” the sign proclaimed. Along the short section of Hurd Lane West leading up to the Riverfront Village construction site in Avon, the signs reinforced a single, simple message: no one allowed.The end of the road opened to a wide piece of land that will one day hold a new gondola to Beaver Creek, a hotel, timeshares, condos, restaurants and shops. But in the past, the land was used to host summer rodeos and as an impromptu parking lot for kayakers and rafters who accessed the Eagle River nearby. And it wasn’t just individual boaters – even raft companies were using the bare land to unload or pick up loads of boats and passengers.Up until recently, everyone assumed the land was open to the public, so the response hasn’t been pretty since developer East West Partners cut off access to the parking lot.”A lot of people are really upset about it,” said Ross Herr, an employee of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards. “It’s a pain that (the developer) didn’t consider how popular that spot was.”Safety trumps whitewaterBoaters were so upset when they discovered construction workers putting up fencing between the river and the parking lot that they confronted the workers, who eventually called police May 9. While other kayakers and rafters are disheartened by the development, some cautioned others to be respectful of private property and traded other launch and take-out options on an online forum at mountainbuzz.com.Chuck Madison of East West Partners and Avon officials have been swamped with phone calls from agitated boaters recently, but Madison said he had no idea the spot was so popular with kayakers and rafters. Robin Behrstock, East West Partners’ specials projects manager confirmed only the parking area is closed to the public. The bike path along the river can still be used to access the river it just takes more work now that there isn’t any parking.”The construction site, in general, isn’t safe,” she said.While there may never be parking access for kayakers and rafters at Riverfront Village again, East West Partners is designing two access points to the river that will be landscaped with lights and picnic tables.”Unfortunately, there may not be a good answer for this,” Madison said.Raft guides will surviveIndividual boaters said although they will be able to deal with the closure albeit unhappily it would be a problem for raft companies that have counted on the parking area. But raft companies are taking it in stride.”We’ve been rafting for 30 years, and these things always come up. We’re looking into other options,” said Greg Caretto, co-owner of Nova Guides, Inc. “Of course, we’re always trying to optimize our profits, and the closer we can stay to home, the better. But after 30 years, you go with the flow.”Caretto said Nova is exploring using the south bank across from Riverfront Village. The land holds a pump station owned by Vail Resorts, who has given consent, according to Avon spokeswoman Jacquie Halburnt. It’s not as big as the north side, but it just might work. Of course, that still doesn’t solve the issue of parking.Timberline Tours is also exploring other places to put in and take out rafts, with no answers yet.”This isn’t necessarily a negative things for us,” said Lisa Reeder, marketing and sales manager for Timberline. “There’s construction going on and alternatives are part of what needs to happen. We just need to figure out what that alternative needs to be.”But Reeder said she would have preferred a little notice of the closure, instead of learning about it through word of mouth.”But what can you do? The valley’s growing,” she said. “I do think it’s certainly nice to make people who have a tourist business a little more aware of what’s going on. But I do understand that we end up with these issues. It’s the nature of the beast, but a little more warning and communication would be great.”Parking lot or not, the raft business will carry on.”We’re rafters, we go with the flow,” Caretto said.How to access the riverVehicles may temporarily pull onto the Hurd Lane East sidewalk across the street from Burger King to drop off kayaks and rafts. The cars and vans can’t be unattended and if the drop-off area becomes problematic, it may be closed, said town officials. Vehicles may be parked in Beaver Creek’s East Lot.Boaters may then walk west down the paved bike path under Bob the Bridge. About 300 feet from the drop-off site is the launch site previously used by boaters. Step over the low silt fence and you’re ready to go.

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