Fourth of July at the Rez

Fees: $15 per person; children 12 and younger are free

Alcohol: May be prohibited except in two reserved picnic areas. Beer can be purchased from a vendor.

Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

More info: http://bit.ly/148s0TG

Boulder plans to more than double the entry fee at the Boulder Reservoir and may restrict alcohol there this Fourth of July in an effort to create a more "family-friendly" environment.

The city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recommended that the entry fee be raised to $15 per person on Independence Day, though children 12 and younger will be free, and that no one be allowed to bring alcohol into the Rez except at two reserved, permitted picnic areas. A vendor will operate a beer garden that will sell beer for $3 a cup until 2 p.m. and then for $5 a cup until 5 p.m.

The normal entry fee is $6.25 per adult and $3.75 for children ages 3-18.

The fee change has already been implemented. The change to the alcohol rules is being treated as a city manager's rule change, and City Manager Jane Brautigam is expected to make a decision later this week.


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"We want to make it attractive to everyone in Boulder and not just those who want to drink a lot," parks board chairman Rick Thayer said.

In a memo to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, parks department officials described record attendance at last year's Independence Day event and problems with crowd control and too much drinking. Last year, the usual per-person fee was waived in favor of a per-vehicle fee to reduce traffic congestion. That, combined with the cancellation of the fireworks at Folsom Field, may have contributed to larger-than-usual crowds.

Parks officials estimate 10,000 people were at the Rez last year on the Fourth of July.

"Crowd actions of this nature at Boulder Reservoir are not consistent with the community values, and as a result, the department is proposing changes that are designed to refocus the use of the reservoir on the Fourth of July to a family-oriented event that includes games, activities, music, mobile food vending and fun for all ages," the memo said.

Boulder also plans to have additional police officers and paramedics on hand, city spokesman Patrick Von Keyserling said.

City officials did not cite specific incidents. In 2011, a man was arrested there for driving a city maintenance tractor while intoxicated. In 2012, two men who had been drinking all day at the Rez on Independence Day were arrested on suspicion of spraying a group of people with bear repellent.

Thayer said the fee increase helps the city cover its costs.

By making entry free for children, the costs should remain reasonable for the families the city wants to encourage to visit the Rez, he said. At the same time, the parks department isn't trying to discourage anyone from coming.

"It isn't meant to make it unaffordable to individuals," he said.

But some college students say the last-minute fee changes are unfair and discriminatory.

Will Hauptman, who grew up in Boulder and is now a senior majoring in political science and economics, said very few people know about the change and are likely to be surprised when they show up to the Rez.

"I believe it would adversely affect low-income families, many of whom are minorities," he said. "I believe there has been an inadequate effort to do public outreach."

Hauptman said he's been going to the Rez for the Fourth of July for years. While he is aware of some alcohol-related incidents, he believes the city is exaggerating the problem.

"If you have that many people there drinking, you have to expect some things," he said. "I've been going there for years and I've never seen any brawls or violence."

Hauptman's friend John Salisbury worked as a lifeguard at the Rez in 2012. He said employees were told to prepare for serious problems on the Fourth of July. While it was hectic because of the crowds, it wasn't as bad as he expected.

"To be honest, I was expecting a lot worse," he said. "Our bosses told us to expect worse. I was surprised how little we had to deal with."

Salisbury said it might be difficult for a vendor to supply the crowds that come on the Fourth of July if people can't bring their own alcohol.

"I could easily see problems supplying all those people," he said. "There are going to be long lines in a small, crowded area."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.