A small but passionate group of local businessmen and park users gathered to discuss the future of Eleven Mile State Park at an informal open house in Woodland Park on March 3. A redevelopment plan is being created for the reservoir near Lake George, which brings 280,000 to 320,000 visitors to the area every year to fish, camp, and relax in the great outdoors.
The Eleven Mile State Park redevelopment plan will look at the park’s current facilities and recreational uses, and build a road map to prioritize and seek funding for future development. The redevelopment plan is different than a master plan because it does not take a comprehensive look at the park’s natural resources, although it does take them into account.
The plan will be created by the consulting firm, Design Concepts, in a three step process. The first public meeting on March 3 was to gather public comments. An online survey is also available from now until late April at www.elevenmilestateparkplanning.com. The next public meeting will be held around the first week of May to present their findings and design ideas. A third meeting is slated for sometime in early July to present the final plan.
The wish list for the park generated by the guests at the March 3 open house was long, but largely practical.
Fishermen would like to see a fish cleaning station at the park in the future. However, according to Park Manager Kevin Toby, the greatest obstacle to this is that Colorado Springs Utilities will not accept concentrated fish waste. It would also take staff time to maintain it. It seems unlikely that users would be willing to pay fees to support it. At present, there is no specific spot to clean fish and fish waste is deposited in the park’s regular bear resistant trash cans. It cannot be left along the shore because it provides food for wildlife and can attract predators.
Others would like to see more staff at the park. Not only could they help with regular park operations like maintenance, but they could also keep the park’s boat inspection stations open longer in the fall. The boat inspection stations, and therefore the boat ramps, were all closed by October 31 in 2014. This left the lake inaccessible by boat for several weeks before ice-over. ANS boat inspections are required by law for watercraft entering and exiting the lake to prevent the spread of invasive species. But for the Division of Parks and Wildlife, the number of boaters using the reservoir at that time does not justify the money that would have to spend to keep the ramps open. Volunteer help was suggested. However, it takes staff time to recruit, train, and manage a cadre of volunteers.
Park users would also like to see more docking area for boats in the future. On
weekends and holidays, and when a storm is coming in, the three docks at the North Shore Boat Ramp can become congested. Some feel that this creates a safety concern. Other safety related items on the park users’ wish list include more buoys to mark navigation hazards like shallow rocks, and on-site boater safety instruction for new boaters.
Easy of access and a few creature comforts were also on the minds of the meeting attendees. A handicapped-accessible fishing pier and a lift to get people with disabilities in and out of boats would be appreciated, as would wind and shade shelters along the grassy shoreline. There is also a desire for more campsites with electrical hook-ups. Right now only 52 of the park’s 348 campsites have electricity. Topping off the list of possible park improvements were expansion of the park’s maintenance facility and office, and enforcing litter laws to encourage sloppy users to keep the park clean.
If you would like to share your thoughts on the possible future development of Eleven Mile State Park, please visit www.elevenmilestateparkplanning.com and complete the survey.