The Lander City Council plans to hold a work session in the coming weeks to discuss a recent increase in camping at local parks.
“There has been a lot of traffic in City Park specifically this summer,” Councilmember Melinda Cox said during a work session Tuesday. “I’m sure that all of you have heard (about) it. …
“I think it would be a good idea to at least start talking about the pros and cons so we can have some answers.”
Cox said she has heard from local residents who think the city should start charging fees for camping at the parks.
Others disagree, saying “we shouldn’t charge (a fee),” Cox said, or that the city should simply put up a “kiosk for donations.”
“I hear that (there) needs to be some contribution for those that are staying,” Cox said. “I don’t… really have a position necessarily myself, (but) it’s been brought up enough that I think it’s a valuable discussion to have.”
She suggested the city could undertake a study to examine various options and determine if camping is “even an issue, or what are we really looking at here,” adding that she has taken the opportunity to speak with some of the people who have been “staying in the park,” asking them “questions about what brings them here.”
“Really interesting information … comes out of those conversations,” Cox said. “It might be worth our time to have a round table discussion about it.”
Councilmember Dan Hahn agreed with Cox, encouraging the council to take up the topic soon, and Councilmember Missy White said she was “psyched” to hear that “others are interested in exploring the conversation about City Park.”
She recalled a walk she took at City Park on Memorial Day, when she counted “60 vehicles camping” there.
“I realize that’s a big weekend for it, but that was an impressive volume,” White said.
Councilmember John Larsen said he has been to City Park “several different times” recently, and “I’ve never seen less than 30-some vehicles in there.”
“I’m also in agreement that we need to look at the City Park camping,” Larsen said. “It’s just something that we need to pay attention to and look at.”