ON THE WATER:

Community Park in Bullhead City is a popular spot for launching personal watercraft. On weekends through Labor Day, out-of-town visitors will have to pay a fee to park at Community Park — unless they have a season launch pass.

BULLHEAD CITY — Visitors to Community Park in Bullhead City last weekend noticed a big change.

Especially if they were visiting the park from outside Bullhead City.

It was the first weekend in which the city charged non-residents to park vehicles at Community Park.

There were 650 vehicles filled with people who paid to drive through and park within Community Park from Friday through Sunday, according to the city. Each of these non-resident vehicles was charged $20.

“We felt it was a pretty good start,” said Dave Heath, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent.

Only a couple of visitors didn’t want to pay and said they would opt to go to one of the other local parks with Colorado River access, he said.

“Community Park is a higher-volume park used mostly by tourists on the weekends,” said City Manager Toby Cotter. “The Colorado River Nature Center and Rotary Park are primarily used by local residents.”

Cotter stressed that the city isn’t going to charge a parking fee this summer at either Rotary Park or the Nature Center.

Not everyone has to pay to park at Community Park. People with proof of Bullhead City residency aren’t charged the $20 fee. Bring a government-issued identification card or utility bill to show proof of residency. 

Not even all visitors have to pay. People who purchase watercraft launch passes or commercial watercraft launch passes for outdoor fun in the Colorado River won’t be required to shell out the money either.

“If you have a trailer, we know why you’re there,” Heath said.

Those visitors are allowed to pay for their launch passes inside the park.

The money will be used to handle maintenance at Community Park.  

“We love all of our visitors. But there is a heavy price tag at the end of each weekend when you add in all of the labor and supply costs. Those costs cannot be borne only by the city. The users will be paying,” Cotter said.

The Bullhead City Council late last year held a workshop with the Parks and Recreation Commission that focused on Community Park. Charging out-of-towners a fee to park at Community Park was one of the topics discussed. 

The consensus was to not charge residents money to use their local park.

Heath said that locals were mostly glad to see the fee implemented.

Without the visitors’ parking fee, increased use of Community Park would require a larger share of the city’s general fund money to pay for services and upkeep related to recreational uses of the river there, Cotter warned at the time. 

An increase from $5 to $10 this year for each Consumer Protection Advisory Form for watercraft rental is meant to specifically offset the city’s cost to furnish lifeguards in the Community Park section of the river. 

Owners of personal watercraft rental businesses purchase these forms and pass the cost along to customers. The customers are required to sign the forms after watching a mandatory water safety video before taking their rental watercraft out on the river.    

That increased revenue source alone won’t address the need for a stronger police presence or keeping the park, beach and its facilities clean — including the restrooms. 

Cotter said extreme cleaning of the restrooms and portable toilets every hour, as well as cleaning up trash, at Community Park requires four people.

And because of the continuing COVID-19 outbreak, workers at Community Park also spend time educating people about the need to keep adequate social distancing and adhere to other practices that will lessen the spread of the virus among people at the park.

City employees have said they expect Community Park to be very busy again this summer. After last year’s improvements, an estimated 5,000 people were using Community Park on Aug. 31, which was a part of the Labor Day weekend.

Non-residents coming after Labor Day this year won’t have to pay to park there.

(7) comments

Janners

I'm from the St. Louis area. I have been visiting Laughlin/Bullhead City for 20+ years-In the past, we love the area..we would always spend a day or two , at the park, picnicking and taking in the beautiful scenery. A few years ago, we noticed all the homeless laying around the park and pavilions-it really creeped me out-needless to say-we no longer spend an afternoon at the park..it's sad because these are beautiful parks. I know homelessness is an issue across the country-St. Louis included

Desert Bat

cheaper than Disney World, none of it is fake. and you can bring your own food.

BIGGUS

[alien] you should stay in St Louis then. if you don't want to see them stick your head in the sand

kenoj

As a resident of the area, I also do not want to see them. Bullhead City seems to be the one sticking their heads in the sand, the homeless problem in the area is growing and none of us, whether we are a resident or a visitor should have to see or put up with them. This is not Las Angeles or some other infested community nor do we wish to become as they are. Best thing that could have happened at all of the parks that have launch facilities, is that they should have been closed down, it was totally unfair to residents that we were under a stay at home order while outsiders from another state came in droves and ignored the order. In fact not only did they ignore our order, they ignored their own states orders by coming here.

Weggy

They ignore their orders while we respect ours ..... they should stay in CA!

Desert Bat

being homeless due to some factors is one thing, but hogging the picnic tables as if they are your own, so that nobody else can use them, is quite another thing. That is rude and inconsiderate, and I have no problem with other people seeing them that way, and expressing it here.

redstar1

The Colorado River Nature Center on Ricardo has a beautiful beach and waking trails. It is true that is enjoyed mostly by the local residents, but with the fee of $20, many California and Nevada residents come there and it gets crowded. The trash is not taken on a regular basis. When it is windy, that trash ends in the water and in the desert. The city should take out trash every morning when they open the ramp, otherwise it is pilling up and spread all over, not to mention the awful smell. The dirt road needs to be paved so that more people can access it on bikes. It is a beautiful area but it needs to be kept clean just like the other city parks.

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