It’s official. Wilderness Park hours might be changed (updated)

It’s back to step one in determining hours for the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.

The Claremont City Council decided to reevaluate the operating time of the park once again after a mix of responses to the changes at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.  

“We need to send it back for more information so we can look at how to solve the problems [in the wilderness park] in a reasonable and creative way,” said Council Member Opanyi Nasiali. “I want to find ways that are reasonable so that people can enjoy the park and avoid the idea of people being in the park at night.”

The council originally voted to change the park’s hours from 7 a.m. to sunset at the last council meeting held September 13. Previously listed as dawn until dusk, the council made the changes to avoid ambiguity.

“From dusk to dawn is not defined in the Claremont municipal code and provides different, and often confusing, definitions to the public,” explained Chief of Police Paul Cooper at the previous meeting.

Mr. Nasiali was the only council member to vote against the proposed 7 a.m. to sunset time change.

“I’m not in favor of 7 a.m. because in the summertime you are cutting out much of the daylight,” he said. “I’m not in favor of sunset…0it makes it difficult for police to enforce the rules. It’s still too ambiguous.”

The council chambers were filled to capacity with community members at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Those without a seat flooded the lobby to take part in the discussion, many voicing concerns about the “restrictive” hour changes.

“People who work cannot use the park at 7 a.m.,” said Claremont resident Janet Ridgway.  “By the time the park opens, it will be too late for them. It is a shame to eliminate a means of enjoying nature and enjoying fitness.”

Larry Grill agreed with locals, like Ms. Ridgway, who felt restricting park hours would strip residents of a luxury unique to the city of Claremont.

“I’ve been up in the wilderness park at dawn, and I think it is one of the most beautiful things that we have in this city,” Mr. Grill said. “What we really need to do is take a look at the problem and address that. If the problem is noise, take a look at the noise.”

Several residents with homes near the Wilderness Park, pleased with the time changes, cited noise and abuse of hours at the park as their reason for supporting the ordinance.

“We get the car alarm wake-up calls 365 days a year. No Sunday. No day off,” said Avi Hershkovitz. “There are too many abuses of this ‘wishy-washy’ dawn to dusk. There are rules and regulations that have to be maintained.”

David Jacks, at the meeting to represent residents of the Claraboya Homeowners’ Association, shared similar feelings of concern over noise issues.

“Our families have a right to tranquility and peace,” he said. “The noise up there is not anecdotal. It’s substantial. I urge you to take the time to review this issue again.”

After listening to almost 2 hours of public comment, the council decided to do just that.

While the city will take action immediately to post “quiet-zone” signs near park entrances, the city council will wait to determine changes to the hours of the wilderness park. City staff will present new recommendations at the next council meeting to be held Tuesday, October 11. Hours will continue to be listed as “dawn until dusk” until further notice.

Complete city council coverage in our Saturday edition.

-Beth Hartnett

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