Dear Action Line: What is up with the Rotary Park “upgrade”? It appears the parking lot was redesigned to hold FEWER and smaller vehicles than it used to. The new curved walkways probably looked great on paper (or a CAD program), but it’ll be a spectator sport to watch them try to plow it next winter. That is, if it ever opens at all – parking has been closed to the public for months. What gives? – Keep On Truckin’, Too Old to Walk
Dear Truckin’: Well, to start with, Action Line has to admit to being happy as punch – or should that be “pleased as a clam”? – that there will be restrooms at that spot. It’s just downright embarrassing to have to sneak into Burger King, act like you’re there for a Big Mac – or is that a Bacon Jam Cheeseburger? – dodge into the boys’ room, and skulk back outside to finish your Animas River Trail run.
In any case, thanks for the whopper of a question.
How many fewer parking spots will there in fact be? Action Line turned to Durango Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz while he still could – she’s retiring in July – and asked for a response.
Metz said that before the Rotary redevelopment there were 36 parking spaces. The reconfiguration allows for 31. Action Line’s calculator shows that’s a 14% decrease, if that helps. That may not account for big trucks.
“The loss of five parking spaces is due to meeting current Land Use and Development Code standards to incorporate trees, stormwater quality measures and improved (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility,” Metz said.
The contractor took a break over the winter and returned recently to complete the paving process, as well as the landscaping, she said. It will be available for public use later this month.
Parks and Recreation staff members “are very familiar with the park sites to complete the necessary snow removal,” she assured.
Dear Action Line: What’s up with the steel skeleton at the fish hatchery? I can’t imagine it’s a great view from the homes up on East Park Avenue. On the other hand, maybe the empty steel structure is less intrusive than a giant white tent. Could it be repurposed into a trapeze school or other facility we would all like to use? – An Inquiring Mind
Dear Inquiring: Often Action Line’s questions and answers span the world. This week the questions span only across the Animas River. A scratch golfer could hit a short iron from Rotary Park and hit this tubular steel frame. A poor golfer (me) could hit any iron from Rotary Park into the river multiple times, angrily toss his golf bag into the raging current and decide to quit the game forever.
For this question, Action Line turned to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Joe Lewandowski while he still could. Lewandowski, who moved to Colorado on a bicycle seat in 1977, is retiring at the end of this month. (So many repeating themes this week!)
Those structures were built “many” years ago – no one at the agency remembers when exactly, Lewandowski said. White fabric once covered the steel frame, its primary purpose being to keep birds out and away from the hatchlings growing in the “nursing basins” or “raceways” underneath. “King fishers and herons know how to dine on that succulent ceviche,” he said.
Low netting has been placed over the raceways the last couple of years.
“The fabric also provided protection from the sun because small fish can get sunburned – and that usually doesn’t end well for the fish,” Lewandowski said. “Unfortunately, the fierce southwest sun caused the seams to deteriorate and the fabric was ripped apart by wind and weather.”
Is it an eyesore? Perhaps, but two residents on East Park said they can’t really see the structure. One believes that it went up when Parks and Wildlife was dealing with whirling disease in trout a couple of decades ago.
Lewandowski added that the hatchery would like to replace the fabric cover, but no funding to do so is on the horizon.
As far as converting it to a trapeze school or, as Action Line would prefer, a giant jungle gym, Lewandowski insisted that it “ain’t gunna happen!” Well, what fun is that?
Action Line will miss Lewandowski’s wit, but that last name takes up a lot of space.
Email questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Answer to last week’s trivia (as if you didn’t Google it already): Colorado was the 38th admitted to the union of the American states. It was the only state added between 1867 (Nebraska) and 1889 (the Dakotas).
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