Plan outlines potential for programs at Parker-area body of water ranging from hiking to scuba
Some Douglas County residents will soon get their first chance to visit Rueter-Hess Reservoir to do something more fun than look through a fence.
After years of discussions and planning, Parker Water and Sanitation District‘s local partners will roll out a handful of day-trip programs this summer that will get residents onto the shores and into the water at the still-filling reservoir a few miles southwest of Parker.
The reservoir’s recreation master plan was released to the public last month. It establishes a long-term vision for the 75,000-acre-feet capacity drinking water reservoir that includes up to 17 miles of soft surface trails, kayak, paddleboard and canoe access, fishing and perhaps even an incline challenge staircase.
“When I came to Parker in 2013, the attitude toward (Rueter-Hess) was that it was a $200 million, dry hole in the ground,” Ron Redd, Parker Water’s district manager said after the plan was released. “Now, people see it and they want to get out there and get out there now.”
The plan fits with the district board’s vision of a “serene and tranquil” place, Redd said. Motor boating, a swim beach and other uses that could impact water quality will be forbidden. Meanwhile, remote-site camping and hiking could become fixtures along the reservoir’s shores, while a 425-acre parcel of district property located north of Hess Road could welcome mountain biking and horseback riding. Redd hopes that programs highlighting the many American Indian tribes who inhabited the area over millennia will be part of the future. Some artifacts found there date back 9,000 years.
Regular, fee-based public access is likely a few years away, Redd said. There are only dirt roads, no parking lots and one portable toilet there now. In the short-term, Parker and Castle Rock are working together to plan visiting programs this summer. Officials anticipate summer recreation guides for the two towns will include a list of several offerings and instructions on how residents from across Douglas County can sign up.
“We may include things like triathlon training, trail runs, paddle boarding and the opportunity possibly for scuba,” said Jeff Brauer, Castle Rock’s parks and recreation administrator. “What we liked about it so much is it’s a unique opportunity for Castle Rock residents and Douglas County residents, because you just don’t get much opportunity for water recreation here.”
Gene Hodges, who owns Treads Bicycle Outfitters located off of Parker Road, said he is optimistic that when a soft surface trails network is built at Rueter-Hess it could be good for his business. More than that, though, he said he is just excited there will be some new terrain on the east side of the Denver metro area.
“The more places to ride mountain bikes on the east side of town the better for all,” Hodges said.
Parker and Castle Rock are taking the lead this year because they are the two members of the Rueter–Hess Reservoir Recreation Authority with their own recreation programming agencies. The authority, created to lead and oversee development of opportunities there, also includes Parker Water, Lone Tree, Castle Pines and Douglas County.
The master plan includes a phasing section with projected costs attached to possible projects. Phase 1 includes two parking lots, fencing, portable toilets and a trail along the reservoir’s entry road. It carries a projected $419,000 price tag. Middle phases include ideas like an accessible parking lot and trail loop for people with disabilities at a potential cost of $340,000, while an ambitious “potential future phases” section covers ideas like a nearly $3 million water exploration play area.
Susan Saint Vincent, Parker Water’s head of business solutions, chairs the recreation authority. She said the only thing certain about funding going forward is that the water district, as property owner, will not be contributing further money to developing options. The other five authority members, various grant programs and private donors will be possible funding sources.
As for the features outlined in the master plan, Saint Vincent said, “We may pick and pull from them depending on what we have funding for and what the demands are. We expect to find out more about those this year.”
By Joe Rubino | firstname.lastname@example.org |
January 31, 2017 at 5:45 pm
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