Swan River access remains closed
KALISPELL, Mont. - It's been a month now since Lake County officials closed a popular fishing access on the Swan River.
It's usually the place to be in the summer for tubers, rafters and fishermen. It was temporarily closed because of constant parking violations.
There was nobody in sight at the Swan River access today, only a locked gate.
The Lake County commissioner's office closed the river access about a month ago to try to come up with a solution to the parking violations.
The roads are narrow and because people were parking on both sides of the road, officials say it became dangerous for through traffic.
Neighbors, in the area, were fed up with the congestion and felt something needed to be done.
"Yeah, there's no question there's an issue with parking," Swan River resident, Mike O'Hearn said.
O'Hearn lives on the river and even though he noticed the problem, he is surprised that the access is still closed.
"They've got to make a correction to the way it is now," O'Hearn said.
The commissioners don't want to keep the area closed permanently because they think the congestion will go elsewhere. That's why they are working on coming up with a solution.
"What they should do, in my opinion, is expand the parking off the road on busy weekends," O'Hearn said.
There is talk about buying the adjacent five acres of land to be developed for parking. However, officials say there is little funding to do so.
That's why people are worried the congestion might go elsewhere, like a small path near the bridge over the Swan River. Even there, still no place to park.
O'Hearn thinks that closing the access is unfair and that they should open it sooner rather than later.
"I think with it being July, they should move on as quickly as they can and maybe open it up for this season. There won't be much traffic after mid September anyways and then deal with it over the winter and if they have to expand the parking do so," said O'Hearn.
But for now, a locked gate and no parking signs are still keeping visitors away.
The Lake County commissioners will meet Monday, July 21, 2014 to discuss the issue further. They say they are open to suggestions on how to solve this problem.