by Richard Uhlhorn
Overcrowding at local parks has the City of Chelan, Chelan County PUD and State Parks seeking measures to alleviate issues such as social distancing, masking, garbage, safety and overcrowding.
Overcrowding at Don Morse Park in Chelan has not lessened since the fourth of July.
Mayor Bob Goedde is frustrated. Residents are frustrated. Many would like to see the local parks shut down. “The best option I can come up with is closing Don Morse and Lakeside on the weekends,” said Goedde. “Locals are not using the parks. It is tourists from out of town.”
The other problem is the total lack of responsibility taken by these visitors to Chelan’s park system. “Randy at Public Works reported that they removed 90 cubic yards of compacted garbage from the park this past weekend.”
Goedde is proposing to closed Don Morse and Lakeside Parks beginning on August 1. “My aim is to see if the Council agrees with this,” said Goedde. “I don’t want any surprises on Tuesday night (Regular Council Meeting).”
Goedde also called Ryan Baker (parks director) at Chelan County PUD to warn him of potential park closures. Baker, who had just had a meeting concerning PUD Park issues, thanked Goedde.
During a subsequent call from Baker, he described issues at Beebe Park which has been full all summer since the PUD opened it on June 11. “We are dealing with a lot of challenges,” said Baker. “We are seeing large amounts of people at Beebe Bridge Park and are getting 30 to 40 cars lining up to come in.” Staff has informed him that cars are now lining up on the highway. Baker has consulted with Law Enforcement on this issue.
Vehicles are lining up at Beebe Bridge Park creating an
overcrowded and safety issue
In addition to Beebe Park, Powerhouse Park has been completely full including large dumpsters that have been placed at each location. “Staff has had a hard time keeping up with the garbage. They empty a dumpster and when they come back it is full again.”
The other issue facing the PUD, Chelan and State Parks is the lack of social distancing and the lack of mask wearing. “We are seeing folks not social distancing and not one mask on,” added Baker.
“It’s not just us. Everybody is feeing it,” he said. Old Mill Park and Mill Bay Park in Manson are also feeling the crunch.
Steve Milner, State Parks Commissioner sent the PUD the following Press Release:
State Parks takes action to minimize crowding at two parks in Chelan county
Visitors should be prepared to go somewhere else if park is full
OLYMPIA – July 24, 2020 – Today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced it will begin limiting the number of visitors at two state parks in Chelan county.
To avoid overcrowding, Lake Chelan and Lake Wenatchee state parks staff will close day-use areas to additional visitors when parking lots become full. This measure starts today.
Signs will be posted at park entrances when they reach capacity. Park staff will also monitor entrances to educate visitors who attempt to access the park on foot.
“We want to provide the public with enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities this summer,” said region manager Ryan Layton. “But we need to do it safely by following state public health guidelines.”
Both parks have been experiencing high visitation numbers this summer, making it hard for visitors and staff to maintain social distance. This is particularly true for swimming areas.
State Parks is asking visitors to follow the Guidelines for Responsible Recreation when planning a trip to any state park, especially more popular destinations such as Lake Chelan and Lake Wenatchee. The public should avoid parking on county roads to access the park on foot.
Visitors should check what’s open before heading out, avoid crowds and be prepared to go somewhere else if the park is at capacity.
State parks reopened day-use areas in early May after a five-week closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Camping began reopening June 1. To date, not all state parks have reopened.