Swimming hole raising eyebrows
Complaints about behavior increase
For generations, locals escaping the summer heat flock to the popular swimming hole on the Dolores River across from Riverside Avenue in Dolores.
The deep, rushing water up against a terraced, crooked boulder is ideal for swimming, jumping, and general horsing around under a hot sun.
When school is out, use on the river inevitably increases. But this summer the jovial mood for south-siders has turned a bit sour as the cool oasis at "Big Rock" attracts more and more people.
Underage drinking, littering, and lewd behavior have been reported. Users speed along Riverside Avenue and on side streets, the sheriff has been called, and the town gets complaints.
"I've seen it get progressively worse this year," said Molly Cooper, who lives nearby. "I don't want it shut down, but feel there needs to be a solution to control it more."
In 2012, the town put up a portable potty and installed trash cans to reduce pollution on Riverside between Seventh and Eighth streets. Shrubbery and trees were cleared away to reduce hiding areas for urinating, drug use and drinking.
Also a small parking lot was created to prevent users from crowding local streets with parked cars and trucks.
"The infrastructure has attracted more people and more use," Cooper told the town board Monday. "It's time for some rules there so it is safer for the neighborhood."
Town manager Lana Hancock said that the swimming hole and river bottom are private property.
"We've done some work to better manage the town side up to the bank, but we don't have much control over what happens on the other side," she said. "It's a topic that needs more discussion with residents."
A sign was installed that informs river users that the swimming hole area is private property and no trespass is allowed.
"Putting up a fence would be too draconian," said city attorney Mike Green. "In the past, increased law enforcement presence there has helped the situation."
Town officials plan to set up a meeting with local residents, town officials, and the sheriff's office to figure out how to improve the situation.
"I suggest putting up signs showing fines for littering and drinking," said board trustee Ginger Swope.
"A sign listing rules, and reminding people to be respectful, would be helpful," Cooper said. "Locals are really good about picking up trash in that area."
Property owners have been very patient and tolerant of people using the area, said Montezuma County undersheriff Lynda Carter.
"It's been a swimming hole for so long. " she said. "A meeting to discuss improved management there is a good idea."