COLORADO SPRINGS – Earlier this month, the first of two gates was installed in Garden of the Gods Park as part of an overall effort to curtail after-hours illegal activity, such as racing on park roadways, partying, and littering. Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department leaders say they’re already seeing positive results from the gate’s installation, but the overall problem of after-hours parks misuse likely won’t be solved by gates at the Garden.
“If illegal activity is curtailed in one place, park or otherwise, unfortunately it’s probably going to happen in some other place,” said Kurt Schroeder, City of Colorado Springs Park Maintenance and Operations Manager. “We understand that, in many different ways, when you close off an opportunity, you’re not eliminating it necessarily, you’re just displacing it.”
News 5 viewers have noted an increase in litter in nearby Red Rock Canyon Park since the installation of the Garden of the Gods gate. Schroeder says the main problem at Red Rock Canyon is homeless campers, not teenage late-night partiers. “As my dad used to say: ‘Nothing good happens after 10:00 p.m.,’ and unfortunately, that’s what we’re seeing,” Schroeder said.
In addition to Garden of the Gods and Palmer Park, where gates have closed the park at night for several years, Schroeder says gates are being considered for other parks as well. “We are planning on doing additional closures in the same way, with gates, at Red Rock Canyon,” Schroeder said. “There has also been much discussion about North Cheyenne Cañon.” All Colorado Springs parks close at 11:00 p.m. May-October and 9:00 p.m. November-April.
“People shouldn’t be here anyway (after hours), so they might as well put the gates up,” said Red Rock Canyon hiker Daniel Benoit.
“It is beautiful and we come here because it is so gorgeous and to have that ruined just because somebody wants to vandalize it, it would be just horrible,” said Red Rock Canyon patron Jessica Walp, “it would be devastating.”