Glenwood Springs works to fix ‘hole’ in whitewater park |

Glenwood Springs works to fix ‘hole’ in whitewater park

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — City officials are working on ways to fix the “hole” in the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Activity Area, otherwise known as the whitewater park or the “play park,” where a woman reportedly came close to drowning on July 6 (see related story).

But, even as that effort is under way, one official urged boaters to observe and obey the seven warning signs erected upriver from the “play park,” as it is known to veteran boaters.

“They’re good-sized signs,” said Tom Barnes, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. “The unfortunate things is, people just tend to ignore these things.”

Barnes told the Post Independent on Friday that the city has contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s rivers and waterways, about how to approach the matter.

Barnes confirmed that the city hired specialists to do some “repairs” on the whitewater park in the spring of 2012, and again last winter, which consisted of beefing up the boulders and fill material along the shorelines, which had been damaged in the high runoff years of 2009 and 2010.

And last year, Barnes said, the contractor moved a couple of boulders that he should not have shifted from their original positions, and had to be instructed to put them back per instructions from the Corps.

“Just him moving those back changed some of the water dynamics,” Barnes said. “And that’s what we’re dealing with now.”

Regarding the hole, which is formed by the movement of water over a large “shelf” of rock, Barnes said, “Some people like it, some people don’t.” He said the area rafting companies are aware of the hole but generally either use it to give their clients a thrill, because their large rafts go through without any problem, or avoid it.

Problems arise, he said, when inexperienced boaters in small craft take on the shelf and the hole and get stuck in its hydraulic swirl.

An engineer familiar with the dynamics of the whitewater park checked out the situation on Monday, Barns said, and advised the city that “the rocks weren’t in the same place as they were prior to the work this spring.”

Barnes said the city council is aware of the problem, but so far has left it up to the city staff to work it out.

“This is a water feature. You have to respect it,” Barnes said forcefully, adding that the city is seeking to maintain a balance that keeps the water features exciting and challenging, but not an undue hazard to those who use them.

“Signage can only do so much,” he concluded.

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