Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing, and we seem to be experiencing some of this problem along the Clear Creek Corridor this summer. One concern is related to bad behavior by some of the folks who are spending time along the Creek: bad language, drinking alcohol (which is illegal along the creek), harassment, and other varieties of disorderliness. The solution seems pretty straightforward: crack down hard on people breaking the rules and otherwise making Clear Creek unpleasant for others. Staff and Council agree on this, and as a result we are seeing more aggressive enforcement by Golden Police Department, the mobile electronic sign on 10th warning about open containers and off-leash dogs, and the like.
The other issue is a bit more complicated. Aside from the bad behavior, a lot of people in Golden are frustrated with the sheer intensity of the use. It’s really, really crowded at times, and there’s a sense that a lot of the people spending time on the creek aren’t Golden residents. This gets at the heart of a question that’s been a major topic of discussion in the community for a long time:
Some see visitors from out of town as a huge success (indeed, the city’s “2-Hour Vacation” marketing campaign was designed to persuade people from the Denver Metro region to visit Golden). Others feel that Clear Creek and our other parks should serve Golden residents and no one else. Most Golden residents probably land somewhere in the middle, but it’s clear we don’t have anything amounting to a community consensus. The city manager walked through a range of strategies he’s planning or considering, and the Parks and Recreation Board will be taking public comment at their meeting tomorrow night (7 pm on Tuesday, July 17 at the Community Center) and making recommendations as well.
If the intensive use continues, City Council will have to tackle these much harder questions. Is the city going to focus on the problematic behaviors, or will they actively try dissuading non-residents from coming. If the latter, what happens when those strategies impact Golden residents, too?
Councilor Fisher already placed a marker on this issue at last week’s meeting, raising a flag about the “those people” tone that some of the discussion seemed to have.
For now, expect to see more Golden cops along Clear Creek, more areas roped off, and other city efforts to get a handle on the problem. And if you have any thoughts, shoot City Council an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, Mayor Sloan wrote a nice overview of the issue in her newsletter yesterday:
Visitors love our downtown, trails, biking opportunities, views, dinosaur footprint, parks, and events. And we usually love our visitors right back–they add life to our town and often spend money here, thus adding to business and city revenues. Recently, though, we’ve had an overflow of visitors on the Clear Creek Corridor–enjoying tubing while the weather is extremely hot and the water flow extremely low. Most are welcome — but not if they disregard our bans on alcoholic beverages, smoking, glass containers, littering, dogs off leash, excessive noise, and illegal parking. Also unwelcome are those who show disrespect of residents, children, police officers, and property; those who stake out a territory and squat there all day; and those who block the pathways and erode the creek banks. The City is taking measures to ensure that these disagreeable folks go elsewhere. Police are strictly enforcing our ordinances. Banks that need restoration have been fenced off and parking will be reduced. The corridor is treasured by all Golden residents and we have been proud to share it with the considerate majority of visitors. We’ll work through the current situation together — and in the meantime I would like to give a shout out to the local residents who have had their neighborhood disrupted and the police who are working hard under difficult circumstances. The Parks and Recreation Board has put this item on the agenda of their Tuesday, July 17 meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the community center. If you have additional ideas on the subject, the members of the board are interested in hearing them. They will then make recommendations to council.
(City of Golden photo).