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Parks looking at traffic gates for Garden

       The days of driving into the Garden of the Gods whenever you felt like it, day or night, are slated to become a thing of the past.

A tree overlooking the Garden of the Gods shows the effects of a curious snowfall, with the snow on one side but not the other.
Westside Pioneer photo

       For several reasons, mainly security, Colorado Springs Parks is working on a plan to install gates at each of the four access points into the world-famous city park, plus internal gates at locations to be determined.
       According to City Parks Operation and Maintenance Manager Kurt Schroeder, designs and cost estimates are still preliminary.
       Some funding is available. At the city's request, the Garden of the Gods Foundation is contributing $50,000 toward the project; however, he thinks the overall gating effort will be more expensive than that.
       Key to the gate concept is being able to lock the park gates from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on a daily basis. “Not much good happens in the park after 11 p.m.,” Schroeder commented. He pointed to issues with drinking, camping, gunfire and auto racing, the latter of which sometimes ends with cars sliding off the road.
       The four affected roads would be Gateway Road (from 30th Street), Ridge Road (from Colorado Avenue), Beckers Lane (from Manitou Avenue) and Garden Drive (from El Paso Boulevard). Rampart Range Road, a gravel road leading north from Garden Drive into Pike National Forest, already has a gate.
       Installing gates would also give the city traffic-control flexibility when maintenance is needed in the park. A recurring irritant is trying to plow snow after storms while motorists drive through and pack the stuff down, Schroeder noted.
       Another benefit would be felt during special events - such as the Komen Race for the Cure - or any crisis where a traffic-shutdown capability would enhance safety and/or event management, he explained.
       The foundation, which owns the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, raises funds for park improvements, drawing mainly from the center's retail sales. “Security and safety are a priority for the foundation,” said board member Jan Martin, when asked about the gate plan. “We want people to stay safe while they're in the park.”
       A similar type of gate system was previously installed at Palmer Park and is proving successful, Schroeder said.
       Asked about citizen input, he said that when the Garden-gates plans are finalized, a presentation will be made at a City Parks Advisory Board meeting, at which the public would be welcome to speak.

Westside Pioneer article