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Old 06-15-2011   #1
GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 486
New Fence at Glenwood Wave


The City of Glenwood Springs has decided to put a fence up on the downstream side of the bridge just below the play wave. The City has determined that it is a safety hazard for kayakers and surfers to cross the street back to the play wave after you get blown downstream. As I understand it the City and local police believe that traffic headed under the railroad track toward the roundabout does not have enough of a view corridor to safely see kayakers crossing the street.

Two weeks ago I sent the following message to a number of folks at the City:


I am writing this email to voice my concern over the idea of putting a fence on the downstream side of the Midland Bridge in West Glenwood. It is my understanding that the purpose of the fence is to stop kayakers from getting out on the south side of the river and walking back up across Midland to the whitewater park.

Our local community raised in excess on $1 million dollars to build the kayak park. If you place the proposed fence you will discourage people from coming to the wave. You will also create a safety hazard that must be considered.

In case you are not kayakers, let me please explain how this impacts our community resource and creates a safety hazard. The left (as you look downstream) side of the river is the only spot that is good for kayaks at higher water. This is the part of the feature that people come from around the country to surf. This is the side of the river that we used to host the U.S. National Kayak Team tryouts. When a kayaker comes off the wave they will try to hit the small eddy that is upstream of the bridge. As the water comes up even more and the wave gets better, it is harder and harder to catch the eddy on the left side. If a kayaker misses the upstream eddy there is a nice large eddy just downstream on the river left side. This is the eddy that kayakers currently use to get out of the river and walk up to and over Midland. If a fence is installed to prohibit people from getting out on that side of the river they will have to cross over to the north side of the river to get out. When the river is high a kayaker cannot cross over to the other side of the river without traveling a far distance downstream. During high water the north bank is covered with overhanging trees. There are not many safe places to get out. There is a private boat ramp a ways downstream that could be used but it is so far away that it would mean each time a kayaker takes a ride in the wave they have a 10+ minute walk back to the park. A typical surf lasts less than 60 seconds. If kayakers have to hike 10+ minutes for each surf they will simply go somewhere else to play.

The safety concerns are an issue as well. If a kayaker is surfing the wave and swims out of their kayak they will be aiming to get out of the river as soon as they can. This means they will be swimming their hardest to get to the left eddy just downstream of the Midland Bridge. It is basic river safety to get out of the river as fast as you can. What is the kayaker supposed to do once they are out of the river? Are they supposed to climb the fence, hike over the tracks or risk it all and try to swim across the river? What would happen if a kayaker who knows that there is a fence ends up swimming and try’s to swim to the right shore? IF they made it to the other side they would most likely get caught in the overhanging branches on the river right side. I think it would be a significant liability to effectively close the left side of the river downstream from the Midland Bridge.

I understand some people may have a safety concern but there has to be a better way to address it. If the concern is a kayaker getting hit by traffic why not put in a crosswalk? In the three years that the park has been in place there have been no publicized accidents with kayakers crossing the road. Why is this an issue right now? IF this is an issue because of the upcoming Stand Up Paddle even, the Stand Up Paddlers don’t even use the left side of the wave. This really is a kayaker issue.

For the safety of the kayakers on the river and to preserve our $1 million dollar investment, please consider some other options. A fence would seriously devalue our community’s investment. It would be like building a great bike path that did not have access.

As a local business owner and avid kayaker I would be happy to discuss any of these concerns with anyone who is interested in hearing a citizen’s perspective."
I encourage you to contact the City and express your opinion about the fence. I believe the fence could present a greater safety hazard than crossing the street. I also think this will keep some people from coming here and using the park.

If you reach out to the City please remember to be respectful. The City is trying to address a perceived safety concern. They are not out to get kayakers.

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Old 06-15-2011   #2
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 40
Who did you send this to? It might be most useful to get a crew to a city council meeting. The councilors - those I've talked to - get the importance and value of the wave, but safety is clearly something they need to care about. THat said, they probably don't understand that building a fence would add more hazard and almost make surfing one side impractical. So, some mellow group education at a city council meeting would be good...

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Old 06-15-2011   #3
GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 486
I sent the message to all of the City Council members, the City engineer, the City manager and the Chief of Police.
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Old 06-15-2011   #4
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Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 49
Not so Sure GWS Council Is Remotely Aware Of Much

That being said, we did recently elect new members who might be more open to hearing from the public. We'd be more than happy to attend a CC meeting as I can't imagine not being able to use the big eddy after the bridge (I, Susie) end up there more often than not!! =0 The safety hazards of a potential swim far outweigh the possibility of being hit by a car. A simple crosswalk would solve the problem.
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Old 06-15-2011   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787
So the fence is currently planned but not in place, right?
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Old 06-15-2011   #6
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Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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Old 06-15-2011   #7
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,105
Good lookin' out! I hadn't heard about this. Do you know when this might be voted on? Did you also contact the new Mayor? I usually see him at the Summer of Jazz (Music) shows. After a few shared cocktails, I'm certain he would be willing to listen to the concerns of the kayaking commumity.
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Old 06-15-2011   #8
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 66
WRONG the fence is up! well a fence is up, it was finished at about 4 this afternoon. It goes from the gaurd rail almost to the railroad bridge along the side of the road. I didn't see anything on the edge of the river.
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Old 06-15-2011   #9
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Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 144
WTF??? That's dumb as hell who approved and built this fence has their head in their ass. If I blow the first eddy I'll go river right exit at @ DQ and walk down the middle of the road back to the wave. WTF
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Old 06-15-2011   #10
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Colotucky, USA
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,054
after the 2 accidents fro people stopping short to avoid a paddler they must of thought it was a good idea. A stop sign and a marked ped crossing would of been better

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