City ups Sand Dune hours
While City Council promised never to allow the “gross overuse” that plagued the Sand Dune Park for more than a decade, it voted Tuesday night to add additional time slots for public access, agreeing that the park could handle an incremental increase in use.
During weekdays, the park will have a 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. time slot, and on Saturdays, three hour-long time slots at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., to allow residents who work full time to have access to the dune. The time slots would be adjusted seasonally to prevent people from using the dune in the dark.
The council also voted to test a monthly pass system for the park’s use – each month, 50 passes will be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis. Those 50 individuals will not have to make a reservation online to use the park, provided there is space on the dune when they arrive. Councilmember Amy Howorth said this would benefit chronic exercisers – “People with a real problem,” she joked.
No more than 20 individuals will be allowed on the dune at one time, regardless of whether or not one has a pass. After six months, the council will revisit and evaluate the pass system.
Seniors will have walk-up access to the park, the council decided, similar to how the dune treats children. Children are not required to make a reservation on Sundays.
Some residents weren’t pleased with the council’s actions. Dennis White, who lives near the park, said council’s restriction two years ago on the park usage is one of its biggest successes. “What you’re being asked to do is reverse the process now and see, incrementally, if neighbors can put up with a few more people here, a few more people there,” he said. “What I see now on the weekends, are families getting together on the top lot area, which we never had when crowds were there.”
The dune was shut down from the end of 2009 until August 2010 after residents complained about heavy traffic, noise and litter. During the summer of 2009, about 9,000 people visited the dune in one month, according to the city.
The dune was reopened in August of last year with a reservation system – individuals over 13 are required to make a reservation in advance for a one-hour slot at the dune. Six time slots were available on weekdays and three on Saturdays. On Sundays, the park was only open to children under 12, who are not required to make a reservation.
Out of the 36,460 possible reservation slots available since the dune reopened last August up until this September, 16,112 reservations were made, according to a city staff report. In August, 1,502 people made reservations to use the dune.
The council also debated implementing a permanent, six-foot vinyl-coated chain link fence, which would cost $50,000, for the top and bottom of the dune, as opposed to the current rental fence that costs $334 annually. Council and residents agreed the $50,000 was exorbitant, and decided to hold a community meeting to discuss other options.