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Neighbors seek help with trailhead parking issues

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Cars parked at the trailhead of Jumbo Mountain at the top of Pan American Avenue are becoming a problem as more and more people mistake the street and an emergency access point as a parking lot. Photo submitted

As hiking and biking season begins, residents of Pan American Subdivision are requesting that the Town of Paonia place parking signs at the Jumbo Mountain trailhead.

Ali Lightfoot lives at the top of Pan American Avenue, which is also the main access to Jumbo Mountain. People tend to think that Pan American Avenue ends at the gate located at the top of the hill, when it's actually part of the street, Lightfoot told members of the board.

Lightfoot represented her neighbors in requesting that the town install signage designating where to park, and where not to park. Lightfoot said that on a typical day, three or four cars might be parked at the top of the hill. But during mountain biking season, which is just beginning, a dozen cars or more will squeeze into the area, blocking the gate, and sometimes the streets and driveways.

Paonia's surrounding public lands attract people to the area and contribute to the economy, "and we want to welcome them to recreate," said Lightfoot. But as Jumbo's popularity grows, the problems will only get worse. "I think that they would stop doing this if we just gave them some directions on how to park up there."

Lightfoot also asked that the town mark parking spaces and require parallel parking. Otherwise, people often park perpendicular and make it difficult for others to turn around in the small space.

The Pan American Property Owners Association, the North Fork Trail Advocacy Group, and Creek Vista and Hawk's Haven homeowners associations are also in favor of signage. The gate at the top of the hill provides emergency ingress/egress for Hawks Haven and Vista Creek through an easement recently granted to the town. They are also requesting signage be installed directing people to the trailhead in order to prevent them from accessing the trails through private property.

Town administrator Ken Knight said signs have been ordered and will be placed in the area to designate where parking begins and ends or is prohibited, and to ensure the gate is not blocked.

Trustee Bill Brunner called the request reasonable and thanked Lightfoot and the neighborhood for bearing the brunt of the burgeoning popularity of the area. The neighbors would also like to see the Apple Valley Park and tennis courts be designated for parking, said Lightfoot. Because the street is steep and lacks a sidewalk or designated pedestrian route, that idea was tabled.

While other steps will likely need to be taken as Jumbo usage increases, "I think this is ... a really great first step," said Lightfoot.

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North Fork
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Jumbo Mountain, Paonia
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