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Additional parking is planned for Alderfer/3 Sisters Park in the next two years to alleviate some of the parking woes at the popular recreation area. Jefferson County Open Space, which owns the …
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Additional parking is planned for Alderfer/3 Sisters Park in the next two years to alleviate some of the parking woes at the popular recreation area.
Jefferson County Open Space, which owns the property, is planning to increase parking in the lots at the two entrances on Buffalo Park Road to 150, doubling the current number of available spaces.
Couple that with 39 spaces available at Wilmot Elementary School when school is not in session and potentially keeping 46 spots available along Buffalo Park Road, and the park would come much closer to accommodating the high volume of people coming to the park, officials said.
Jeffco Open Space hosted a virtual community meeting on April 14 attended by about 65 people to discuss its plans for improving the 1,123-acre park that has 16 miles of hiking trails.
The west parking lot is expected to be redesigned this year with construction in 2022, and the east parking lot would be designed in 2022 with construction in 2023.
JCOS is planning to move the west entrance from LeMasters Road to Buffalo Park Road and create a 115-space parking lot east of the current lot, which will be returned to a meadow. This will put the parking lot closer to the planned restrooms and prevent people from parking along LeMasters, officials said.
The east entrance parking lot will double in size, though planners are now sure what that will look like.
Both lots will get more and better signage, especially no-parking signs on LeMasters and Buffalo Park Road, they said.
Audience questions focused on park overuse, parking problems on both sides of Buffalo Park Road and maintaining the habitat. They wanted park usage to be more manageable.
Open Space officials said they can't limit access to the park, and they can't charge patrons because that would be difficult to enforce. JCOS will pilot a reservation system at other parks next year and if it is successful, it will determine whether it could be used at other locations.
One attendee suggested allowing people with even numbered license plates at the park on even numbered days and odd-numbered plates on odd numbered days.
“We have to look at the totality of doing something like that and if we have enough staff,” JCOS Visitor Services Manager Mary Ann Bonnell responded, “or if it would generate a lot of complaints that we are not enforcing a rule like that.”
Steve Germaine, JCOS' natural resources supervisor, said workers completed a comprehensive look at plants and found 337 native species growing there. In addition, the organization has put a lot of effort into wildfire mitigation, completing mitigation on 34 acres along Buffalo Park Road last year and planning to work on 100 acres bordering neighboring homes this summer.
Rangers spent 900 hours at the park in 2020, Bonnell said.
In addition, JCOS Executive Director Tom Hoby said surveys have shown people are in favor of designated-use trails, but that would be difficult at Alderfer/3 Sisters because people have favorite trails, routes and loops.
“To change them to one type of use or another would be difficult,” he said.
Officials said they could understand why Alderfer/3 Sisters was so popular.
“This is one of the most popular parks in the county in part because it offers quintessential foothills experiences with stunning views,” Planning Supervisor Nancy York said.
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