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Rocket Club Has Nowhere To Go After Lakewood's Decision To Forbid Event At Bear Creek Lake Park

LAKEWOOD, Colo., (CBS4) - A group of model rocket enthusiasts will be grounded in 2020 after Lakewood city officials told them they need to find a new home. The group, Colorado Rocketry and Space Hobbyists club, also known as CRASH club, has been using Bear Creek Lake Park as its launch pad for decades. December will be the last month they can continue the tradition.

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The program meets every other week in a designated corner of the park.

Kids and teens from all over the Denver Metro Area are welcome. On Saturday, Colorado Civil Air Patrol members took the helm. Donald Cuccurullo, an 8th grade student, needed three successful launches to get his model rocketry badge.

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"My favorite part is launching the rocket and pressing the button," said Cuccurullo. "It makes you feel like you have such an awesome cool role in the rocket launch."

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Park Officials notified CRASH of the decision last December to give the group a year to find a new home. A city spokesperson provided the following reasons for the decision:

  • Use of Bear Creek Lake Park has grown significantly, and in recent years the park regularly reaches capacity or is near capacity. As a result, many of the park uses and events have been reviewed for their compatibility with other uses in the park as well as with the park's natural areas management plan.
  • The rocketry use has led to increased conflicts, complaints and natural resource impacts. As use in the park has increased, the park has received multiple complaints each year about the rockets from other park users because of the noise, visual impacts and the effect they have on the enjoyment of the park by other park visitors.
  • Rocket launching isn't allowed under the city's laws.
  • Permission was given many years ago for the group to use the park when the use in the park was very low, but that is no longer the case.
  • The rockets poise a fire danger, an issue of significant concern in areas where wildland is adjacent to the metro area. Allowing that activity increases fire danger and creates too much risk for the park and its users.

According to the city, a park supervisor reached out to other agencies to see if there was another possible location. While Boulder County Open Space was suggested, CRASH club President, Matt Boyles, said it's not a possibility.

"If we don't have a place to launch, then there is no next year for our program," said Boyles.

Though rocket launches are illegal in Lakewood, CRASH club is grandfathered in.

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Volunteers monitor the launch and address any concerns. While CBS4 was at the park, a rocket misfired into a field and several men quickly ran out with a fire extinguisher and water buckets.

New participants and veteran rocketeers spent the rest of the day watching launch after launch without incident.

"The first time they come out it's usually just to get excited," Boyles said. "The second time they come out they start asking questions - what do you mean by thrust? What does Newton's 2nd mean?"

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On Saturday, Lakewood City Councilwoman Ramey Johnson, came to see the launches for herself.

"We need to do a better job before we start eliminating programs like this," Johnson said. "This is awesome; I can't speak high enough for it!"

Representatives of the program say they plan to make their case again at the upcoming City Council meeting.


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