Like many Durangotangs, I enjoy using the river trail to bike, run, walk the dog and even for yoga. But there’s a problem at night. There are no working lights between the Powerhouse Science Center and the Ninth Street Bridge. Yet all the lights in vastly underutilized sections of the trail are functioning properly. Why isn’t the most heavily used portion of the trail illuminated? – Sign me, In The Dark (aka Steve)
If anyone asks if there’s a dark side to living in Durango, you can now say the downtown section of the Animas River Trail.
Action Line checked it out. No lights were working.
Naturally, this sort of thing will flip the switch for every dim-bulb conspiracy junkie out there.
It’s a sure sign the city’s progressive Dark Skies Police are coming to confiscate your incandescent lamps.
Probably teams in ninja outfits rappelling from black helicopters. Agenda 21 and all that.
Or the city didn’t pay the electric bill covering this portion of the trail, a result of its ongoing massive budget debacle and the crisis at embattled power-supplier Tri-State.
Or maybe the shady characters hanging around Schneider Park don’t want any lights at night.
But in order to have shade, you have to have some sort light. So forget that idea.
Still, there are a number of lumen questions loomin’.
Rather than take shots in the dark, Action Line sought enlightenment about the unlit trail.
Action Line caught up with our good friend Cathy Metz, director of Durango’s Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the Animas River Trail.
Cathy said a contractor cut into the underground electrical supply line located beneath the Veterans Way road by River City Hall.
“We couldn’t find the person responsible, so we had to move on,” she said. Besides, there were a number of issues with this trail section.
Cathy said the power line was really old. “We weren’t able to fix it,” she said. “And for years we’ve been having problems with electricity there.”
That section of the trail is one of the oldest. Over the years, the trail crews have wrestled with difficulties, including uneven surfaces and crumbling pavement.
So having the electricity cut off was pretty much going to happen anyway, as the now-dark portion was already scheduled for a complete makeover.
So that’s good news.
Now for the bad news: The timing of the power cutoff was not what anyone wanted.
Work can’t start until spring. “March probably,” Cathy said. “It all depends on weather.”
So there’s not going to be lighting until the trail makeover is complete.
As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
In the meantime, Action Line suggests using flashlights, headlamps or other personal illumination devices.
Torches, however, should be avoided, despite the fact that the fire department is right there.
Citizens carrying torches make city officials very nervous, especially if the mob is also carrying pitchforks.
Besides, our city code prohibits torches along the trail:
It shall be unlawful “to kindle, use or maintain any open fire in or upon any park, playground or recreational facility other than at locations and in receptacles specifically designed for such purpose.”
Thus, the city doesn’t take torches lightly.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you give dark trails less than a glowing review.