Pitkin County OKs winter parking plan for Lenado
December 2, 2009
ASPEN – Parking areas along upper Woody Creek Road, above Lenado, will be formally designated this winter, but whether the rules will be enforced is another matter.
After lengthy debate Wednesday, Pitkin County commissioners approved a seasonal parking plan that includes signs to dictate where national forest users can and cannot leave their vehicles and snowmobile trailers. But, Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo suggested the sheriff’s office wouldn’t issue a citation for parking in front of a “no parking” sign unless the vehicle was blocking the road.
“Then why put up the signs?” grumbled one citizen from among the contingent of Woody Creek and Lenado residents who attended the discussion.
“You just approved unlimited parking on Woody Creek Road,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley, who voted against the resolution. The measure was approved on a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Rachel Richards absent.
Commissioner Patti Clapper called for a follow-up discussion next week to figure out exactly how the county will tackle enforcement and monitoring of parking above Lenado this winter. Use of the road for parking by snowmobilers looking to access Kobey Park has generated complaints from residents along the road, and several of them urged commissioners not to formalize the parking that has traditionally taken place there. Several citizens also chided the county for pushing through the new rules without an adequate airing before the public.
Commissioners acknowledged this winter’s parking plan may not be the ultimate solution, and they agreed further discussion of alternatives by a task force should occur. Owsley called for an outside contractor to monitor the parking situation this winter, but his colleagues expressed worries about the cost of that undertaking.
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“I’m not laying somebody off so we can do this,” Clapper said.
Commissioners agreed to look into the cost of an independent monitoring effort and Hatfield vowed to spend time in Lenado this winter taking a look at the situation.
Signs will be erected to designate 470 feet of parking along parts of the side of the road, which is room for roughly 12 vehicles and snowmobile trailers, said Brian Pettet, public works director.
Some residents, though, said safety is a more pressing concern than the parking. Woody Creek Road turns from pavement to gravel below Lenado, and becomes narrow, twisting and, in the winter, slick. The situation is exacerbated by the traffic generated by snowmobilers, residents said.
“The road is not safe to get to any parking area. That’s what we need to fix,” said Linda Luke, a member of the executive committee of the Woody Creek Caucus.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Clapper responded. “I don’t think you want a major road going through there.”
Hatfield said he would not cut off public access to the national forest from Lenado, but agreed with residents that other access points to Kobey Park should be explored to help spread the impacts.
“The county should not be bullied by the Forest Service to say this is the only way to go,” said Lenado landowner Daniel Delano.
“I think spreading some of the use out would be ideal,” Clapper agreed.