Board considers changes to Boardwalk Park amid increasing police encounters
October 9, 2012
Changes may be coming to Windsor's Boardwalk Park that could alter the way families and nearby community members spend the summer months under the sun.
Citing increased gang activity and a surge in police encounters, police chief John Michaels and recreation and culture director Melissa Chew addressed the town board Monday during its work session, urging ordinance changes to the town's flagship summer hangout spot.
The town officials' stance hinged on four potential changes to the municipal code at Boardwalk Park including:
n Eliminate alcohol in the park with the exception of special events with licenses
n Restrict grilling to in-ground grills only, effectively banning propane and charcoal units
n Limit hours in which tents are allowed
n Add police patrols throughout the peak summer months
The recommendations were not without controversy as members of the board sparred with staff about the proposed changes, most notably about the alcohol restriction.
"I think all that happens when you increase regulations and decrease liberties is that people who abide by the rules and live responsibly are the ones who are penalized," said mayor John Vazquez via conference call. He said he thought the best way to combat potential increases in delinquent activity was through enforcement — not restriction.
"The criminals are still going to engage in criminal activity," he said. "I feel like we're letting the gangs basically tell us how we're going to live as a community."
Town staff and members of the board disagreed, noting that Boardwalk Park in Windsor is the only park within the tri-city region of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley with such lax rules. This, they said, was the draw for non-residents who would come to town, use Windsor resources and cause problems in the park, including alcohol violations.
"Law enforcement can only do so much," Michaels said. "We need to maintain a balance. We need to eliminate the things that are bringing them to us."
While most members of the board agreed changes need to come, questions remained about exactly how far to go and what the effect would be of such changes, especially early in the summer season when encounters would likely increase because of a lack of awareness of the changes.
The board agreed to further discuss the proposed changes during first reading at the Oct. 22 regularly scheduled board meeting.
"We've created almost too successful of a park," said Robert Bishop-Cotner. "Because we are so open to everything — open to grilling, open to alcohol, open to tents, open to whatever it may be — we've created our own monster."
"It only makes sense to me that some of these are the first steps."