Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

6 Aug 2022

Unlawful discriminatory sign removed from Rotary Park following inquiry

Posted by Adam Howell


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An unlawful discriminatory sign that attempted to prohibit skateboards or bicycles at Rotary Park under the pretense of a City of Durango ordinance was removed by public officials within a week of me raising questions about it.

unlawful sign on Animas River Trail by Rotary Park

This unlawful sign in Rotary Park was removed.

Specifically, the sign said,

“No Skateboards or Bicycles In Park. Violators will be Prosecuted City Ordinance #1834.”

Fortunately, there is NOT actually an Ordinance #1834 that prohibits skateboards or bicycles in Rotary Park.

In fact, my search of city ordinances on the city’s public records portal web page found no ordinance with the number 1834.

Non-existent Ordinance #1834 should not be confused with section 18-34 of the Municipal Code, which lists prohibited acts. This, because skateboarding or bicycling in Rotary Park or on the Animas River Trail are not prohibited by that section of the Municode.

Also of note, is the fact that bicycling and skateboarding are only prohibited upon public sidewalks within the central business district, according to Sec. 17-62 of the Municipal Code.

In reality, Rotary Park is not within the central business district since the park is north of 15th street. Therefore, bikes and skateboards in Rotary Park are not subject to the prohibition that’s written into Sec. 17-62 of the code.

In particular, the sign raised questions about who had been asked to leave Rotary Park for bicycling or skateboarding.

Furthermore, had anyone been ticketed, prosecuted or convicted of violating this non-existent ordinance?

Of course, it’s a matter of public interest.


Unlawful sign drew quick interest of City of Durango public officials

After seeing the sign on July 26, 2022, I asked for help from City of Durango Records Administrator Todd Ellison to find Ordinance #1834. He was unable to find it, he said.

My email to Todd about the sign and the ordinance quickly drew interest from City Officials. It was forwarded by Ellison to other people, according to Mailtrack.

Within a week, my email had been opened 187 times by city officials, according to Mailtrack.

In order to get clarification about the sign, I reached out to officials with the Parks and Recreation Department.

City of Durango Assistant Parks Director Scott McClain did not know who designed the sign or how long it had been there, he said on August 5, 2022.

“I saw the email that came across earlier in the week about it,” said McClain.

“We looked into it. I did not see where it made much sense. I just had guys take it down and the other sign that was on there that was so faded that you couldn’t read it anymore–pulled it down as well.”

In gratitude, I thanked Scott for removing it. He was nice enough to talk to me about this matter of public interest on August 5, 2022.

“I didn’t see where it made sense or where it applied,” said McClain.

“I didn’t see the rhyme or reason, so to me it made sense to remove it.”

“I didn’t feel like it was super clear.”

“I couldn’t defend it, and I couldn’t find a reason to defend it.”

“I’m not sure what the history was or the action was that we were trying to address.”

“There’s another good lesson to me, too, in that sometimes things are in place, and I kind of pay attention and look at things. At the same time–stuff that’s been there–it’s easy just to glance past and not pay attention to that detail sometimes, too.”

“Once I saw the picture, I couldn’t place where the sign was and had to go down there and take a look at it again. It’s a good reminder to me and staff that we need to be paying attention to what’s out there.”

“Thanks for bringing it up.”

Unlawful sign in Rotary Park

People riding mountain bikes through Rotary Park on the Animas River Trail.

A look at the actual city ordinances shows that City of Durango officials have recently made the Animas River Trail more inclusive of bicycles. For instance, a City of Durango ordinance was amended to allow Class 1 & 2 electric bikes on hard-surface trails.

Unlawful sign replaced by sign about dog leash and poop

Straightaway, on August 5, 2022 I confirmed that the unlawful sign had been taken down in Rotary Park.

Adam Howell is a writer who is on the City of Durango’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. His writing does not reflect the views of the board as a whole. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.



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One Response to “Unlawful discriminatory sign removed from Rotary Park following inquiry”

  1. Thanks for being attenttive to what’s done by the City. I’m reminded of your recent notice about public trails being closed without public participation. Takes years of diligent effort to create a new trail. Apparently not so much to dismiss one.

     

    Seth Furtney

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