Oak Creek Mountain Park to unveil new parking lot this spring
The town of Oak Creek has officially committed to assist its public works department in the construction of a new parking lot at Oak Creek Mountain Park.
When the Oak Creek Mountain Park property was sold to the town in 2019, there was always a plan to build a parking lot for visitors, but it just never got underway.
Along with the purchase was a conservation easement which is an agreement that can restrict certain changes to the land in order to protect its natural integrity. The easement limits the space for parking lot construction which played a part in the delay of building.
The original idea, as explained by Oak Creek Mountain Park Committee Chair Tony Brown, was to have two parking lots at the park. One by the trailhead, and the other connecting the park to Routt County Road 27.
It was later determined, however, the planned parking lot off of C.R. 27 would be dangerous because of its placement on the other end of a blind corner.
From there, Brown, the Oak Creek Mountain Park Committee and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Land Trust pivoted. The groups decided to go through with the construction of the parking lot at the trailhead of the park with the possibility of expanding for more space, now that the second parking lot will not be made.
“It’s important to us to avoid having to park on a county road and avoid having to turn around either on that road or nearby residences,” Brown said.
Currently, visitors are forced to park along County Road 49Z which has no outlet, meaning they would have to turn around on the road to exit where they came in.
Oak Creek town administrator David Torgler thinks the parking lot is extremely necessary and because of the high volume of people that visit year round, he knew it was time to begin the lot’s construction.
“(County Road) 49Z is a narrow, well-maintained road but when you start parking more and more cars out there, it was felt that it would not be as neighbor-friendly,” Torgler said. “Since we already had it in the plans to construct a parking lot at the park and at that location we all thought the time was right to install it.”
Torgler said visitors use the new trail system for hiking, biking, walking, snow skiing, snowshoeing and more. The park even hosted a Town Challenge bike race in July where visitors had to park up and down the neighboring roads.
The town is helping provide labor for the construction but Brown says it is not costing Oak Creek any money other than the in-kind labor and expenses for some equipment.
The construction has already been laid out and public works has completed as much of the project as possible, but with a snowy winter already here, the lot will have to be completed in the spring.
“Now that the weather has changed, I’m hoping for it to be done first thing in the spring,” Brown said. “Probably come around May.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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