Our Concerns

CONTEXT

 

Past outreach from the City of Boulder and Boulder County for input did not sufficiently include people living in the neighborhood or frequent visitors of the Wonderland Lake area. Those in charge of the process have acknowledged that feedback has been inadequate and are wanting to correct this.

 

Boulder City Council’s 2016 approval of the huge area covered in the North TSA Plan did not, by report of several Council members, include any significant discussion of the relatively tiny area around Wonderland Lake.

 

In the absence of any comprehensive input from Wonderland neighbors, or any in-depth discussion by City Council, City staff have proposed a significant amount of lakefront development.

 

PROCESS

 

Boulder citizens have had productive conversations and face-to-face meetings with representatives of the City Staff, Council Members and the Open Space Board. A good dialogue has begun.  We have been assured that no final decisions have been made about the Wonderland Lake development.  Council members were not really aware of the degree of development being proposed at the lake, and a number of them share our concerns.

 

The meeting on January 15th at North Boulder Rec Center is a direct outgrowth of citizens speaking up.  Staff tell us they are considering this meeting a start to a more inclusive public process.  We want to make sure that neighbors and frequent users have a strong voice in reaching agreement on the City Staff’s development proposals.

 

There appears to be a fundamental disagreement on the appropriate balance between preserving the natural beauty and undisturbed wildlife habitat of Wonderland Lake and development for greater recreational and educational use tied to adding structures and additional paths into sensitive habitat called for in the current proposal.

 

It is our hope that the community will be able to reach a satisfying agreement with Staff and the Open Space Board and we approach these meetings in that spirit.  If this cannot be achieved, we will ask City Council to re-visit their approval and start with a clean slate.

 

OUR CONCERNS

1. Natural Beauty & Serenity

  • Incursion into the views from all around the lake by seeing the proposed fishing pier and boardwalk, diminishing the tranquil nature of the preserve

  • Adding a fishing pier and or other solid structures on and around the lake will encourage congregating and parties (during the day and evening) and more likely violation of the 10pm noise an ordinance.  Noise carries over the water and would impact the quiet of the surrounding neighborhoods.

  • Resulting increase of calls to 911 for enforcement.

  • Likelihood of people using the wooden structures for sleeping.

 

 

2. Ecological & Conservation

Prioritizing and encouraging recreational use over habitat preservation.

  • High risk of deteriorating and disrupting habitat by building into it including:

    • Use of construction equipment needed to build on land & water

    • Toxic chemicals from pressure-treated lumber affecting water quality, animal & plant life

    • Potential for sawdust from treated wood dangerous to human and wildlife

    • Introduction of concrete into the water to support build-out of proposed pier, walkway & bird blind.

  • Wading beach increases risk of contamination of water with sun lotion and insect repellant

 

 

3. Safety

  • A pier into the deepest part of the lake is a significant safety risk, even with safety rails.

  • Increased risk of drug and alcohol use due to attractiveness of the wooden structures and protection from weather.

  • Any structures that extend over water increase risk of drowning.

  • By encouraging wading there is risk of waterborne infection and illness.

  • Once wading is encouraged, who will be there to monitor what the boundary is between wading and immersion.  How will safety be maintained?

 

4. Maintenance

City and Open Space currently do not provide adequate or timely maintenance or enforcement of existing regulations around Wonderland Lake:

  • Not mending existing split rail fencing.

  • Not maintaining trails in general and especially after heavy rains, leaving unsafe potholes for significant periods.

  • Not pruning the trees of dead wood increasing fire risk.

  • Not enforcing bicycle etiquette rules so important on mixed use

  •  trails.

  • Not patrolling sufficiently to discourage dog owners from letting dogs off leash or not picking up and properly disposing of dog waste.

  • Not enforcing or cleaning up fishing lines and hooks and trash already left at existing fishing sites.

There is not adequate maintenance and enforcement capacity to support this degree of additional development.  The poorly maintained condition of Sawhill Ponds, for instance, including the deteriorating fishing dock and picnic areas, is strong warning of what our lake and habitat could become.

5. No proven need for an additional built out area on bodies of water managed by Open Space and Mountain Parks .

 

We have been told by staff that build out at Wonderland Lake is necessary to meet goals for accessibility and educational programs.  OSMP already stewards several other water-oriented recreational areas in Boulder—Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds—that include picnic tables, bathrooms, parking and fishing opportunities and can certainly also be further utilized for educational and recreational programs.

 

  • These areas are already under-utilized and poorly maintained.

  • These areas can be cleaned up and repaired and developed to meet goals for additional educational programs.

  • Increased educational programs can take place at Wonderland Lake without building structures into the natural habitat. 

  • Sawhill and Walden areas are not surrounded by the housing density of Wonderland Lake nor do they see the amount of daily use that already exists here.

  • The City also has access to the huge shoreline around the Boulder Reservoir.

  • Fishing is also permitted via shore and water access in some parts of the Reservoir where swimming and picnicking and other recreational activities are already allowed.

  • Boulder Parks and Rec manages the playground and large field bordering the Western edge of the lake.  There is room for shade, benches and picnic tables in this area without  incursion into habitat.

  • Hopefully these two departments can figure out how to share resources and meet shared goals.

  • Grading and improving a few sections of existing trail and adding a few well-placed handrails and timely maintenance will increase accessibility.

  • Re-development of the Nature Center at the Broadway trailhead  should be done only with significant involvement of impacted neighbors.