As Arvada grows, visitors to parks, trails, golf courses, and other outdoor and cultural amenities are also increasing. With the increased number of visitors comes the burden of managing expectations, ensuring public safety, and assisting with wayfinding, which has led Arvada to explore implementing a park ranger program.
“We in the city invest a lot of money into trails and parks,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fifer. “Those are assets. I think it's difficult for the police to be everywhere and I think that the ranger program is a softer touch to community outreach.”
In 2016, Arvada City Council adopted the Arvada Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Part of the plan called for creating a park ranger program in the next three to five years.
Based on a request from the Arvada City Council, the Arvada Park Advisory Committee (APAC) Park Ranger program exploratory committee was formed and has worked for the past year gathering research.
The committee reported back to City Council on March 27.
The primary responsibility of a Park Ranger is to protect and supervise designated outdoor and cultural areas. The Park Ranger is the conduit to share the importance of parks, open spaces, and trail systems to the vitality of the City, Sharon Davis, chair of the park advisory committee told council.
Rangers would patrol the parks, trails, and open spaces to assure visitors are following the rules, comply with fire safety regulations, do not disturb the natural environment, and respect fellow guests. They would also help with wayfinding.
This would alleviate some calls to the police and animal management, which takes them away from more pressing calls, Davis said.
Rangers would also be trained to insure park rules are followed, which is the reason the committee says this cannot be a volunteer position.
But city council says the program may only work in the current budget situation if it can be a volunteer program supervised by the parks department.
“I think this is one of those things were you need to balance the gotta haves with wanna haves and I think we need to hear more before we can get to a decision point,” said Arvada Mayor Marc Williams, adding that with a successful volunteer ranger program at the reservoir, he thinks Arvada could get enough volunteers to staff the full park ranger program. “I'm much more comfortable with exploring how we do it through a volunteer effort rather than full time employees.”
Councilmember John Marriot believes this would be possible, especially because the position would be highly seasonal.
Moving forward, city council hopes to get more information on what it would cost the city to employ park rangers with previous experience.
“My sense is we want to move forward with the discussion,” Williams said. “But we need to do this with strong emphasis toward volunteers or we might not be abel to afford to do it at all.”