Whistle Stop Park building clears county hurdles


December 18, 2019

Jocelyn Rowley

Whistle Stop Park will be getting a new permanent addition sometime in 2020.

Following a prolonged delay, plans for a permanent concession stand in Niwot's Whistle Stop Park got the final nod from Boulder County Land Use in early December, and now the project's co-sponsors, the Niwot Business Association and Niwot Cultural Arts Association, are kicking off a community campaign to raise the remaining $70,000 needed to fund the construction.

"We have over $35,000 in the bank from donations and fundraising efforts, and we just received a $5,000 donation today, giving us $40,000 raised so far," NCAA President Biff Warren said Dec. 16. "We have an additional $40,000 from last summer's Rock & Rails concert series. We are hoping people who love coming to those concerts can help make the experience even better for years to come."

Projected costs for the proposed 990 square-foot structure are $150,000. Dubbed "The Depot at Whistle Stop Park"-in keeping with the park's railroad aesthetic-it will house beverage sales at the summer concert series and also provide climate-controlled storage for park's beer trailer, the community band trailer, and other large equipment essential to operating the summer concert series. The stand will have electrical service for refrigeration and air conditioning, but no running water. After a long discussion with Boulder County Land Use, the building will also be allowed to have "dark-sky compliant" lighting, a relief to the Rock & Rails volunteers often left cleaning up and counting cash in the dark towards the end of the summer.

"Lighting at the counters on the outside of the building will provide much needed security to those approaching the counter and those who volunteer," NCAA Secretary Vicki Maurer said. She is also the Rock & Rails coordinator for volunteers working the alcohol tent. "The counter lighting will help our TIPS trained volunteers better ID patrons ordering drinks and identify anyone who tries to illegally purchase drinks. It will also aid the deputies working the event to see and identify anyone who may be causing trouble around the area."

Earlier in the process, the lighting was nearly scrapped after planners from county land use raised concerns about light pollution and the visual impact on the neighbors, delaying the building permit. But a letter-writing campaign by the many volunteers who work the event eventually convinced land use that the lighting was essential. By the time that issue was settled, it was September, and a fall start date for construction was in jeopardy. Then land use raised concerns about disabled access to the area, and the suitability of the existing crusher-fines path. The weeks-long delay turned into a months-long one, and also added to the project's price tag. A final delay resulted from the county's late decision to refer the plans to another agency for review, after the county did not include the agency on the initial referral list.

Now that they have approval from the county, the two co-sponsoring organizations are turning to the community to help clear the final hurdles.

"Donors of $100 or more will be recognized on a permanent plaque at Whistle Stop Park," Warren said.

Tax-deductible donations may be sent to the Niwot Cultural Arts Association, P.O. Box 733, Niwot, CO 80544, or may be made online at http://www.niwotarts.org.


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