Boulder Reservoir Plans & Studies
Reservoir Main and Reservoir Restaurant
The Main Building at the Boulder Reservoir is the result of the community approved 2017 Concept Plan. The facility opened in 2021 and serves as a valuable enhancement to the Boulder Reservoir.
The Main Building provides amenities to the Boulder Reservoir and promotes a community-focused place to gather. Boulder Parks and Recreation (BPR) staff look forward to fulfilling the vision outlined in this concept plan in the near future.
BPR staff are currently evaluating lessons learned from the 2021-2022 restaurant partnership, summer 2023 BPR-run concessions, and community feedback.
BPR staff plan to operate the Main Building in alignment with broad community desires and values. We are in the process of determining the best situation for staff and the community where we can provide the Reservoir visitors with expert food and beverage service in the Main Building.
We are now in the initial planning stage for the next partnership. We will be initiating a community engagement process in late 2023/early 2024 regarding this future partnership.
History and Overview:
The Reservoir Main Building
The Reservoir is one of the most popular and heavily visited park facilities in the city and region. It is also one of only six northern Front Range facilities supporting water-based and power boating recreation opportunities and, though smaller than other area facilities, the Reservoir offers a significant range of services to the community and has one of the highest visitation rates of approximately 300,000 per year.
The Reservoir previously operated a concessions area near the beach provided by an outside contractor.
In 2012, the Boulder Reservoir Master Plan PDF indicated that the most critical facility serving Reservoir visitors needed repairs and renovation. In 2016, staff began planning for its replacement due to the cost of rehabilitation exceeding that of a new facility.
The final concept plan, approved by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) in January 2017, was developed based on feedback from a cross-section of Boulder community members, Reservoir user groups and the PRAB.
Details of that process and concept plan may be found in the PRAB Memo from January 2017 (starting on page 27).
Concessionaire/restaurant services in the Main Building
Through the development of the concept for the new building, BPR staff talked to the community. Based on that input and policy direction from the Boulder Reservoir Master Plan and BPR Master Plan, these goals were established and approved by the PRAB:
- Extend shoulder season use opportunities of the Reservoir;
- Establish partnerships with various groups to expand programming and offset construction and operating costs;
- Expand concession offerings with the possibility of obtaining a liquor license for the site, and exploring a partnership with a larger scale concessionaire;
- Create a “welcoming” and “family-oriented” design character, promoting a healthy and athletic lifestyle, and focusing on sustainability of the facility; and
- Create multi-use spaces serving a variety of events across all generations of user groups.
Timeline and process for selecting the next partner
We are designing the timeline and engagement process now. BPR will share details as they are finalized. The plan will reflect previous engagement, affirm BPR’s commitment to being a good neighbor and steward of public spaces, and outline opportunities for input.
Reservoir sound, wildlife and safety
To ensure sound does not impact nearby neighbors or wildlife, we have purchased and installed sound level monitoring equipment that will continuously monitor and record sound levels. This will help us ensure we comply with all sound ordinances and commit that there will be minimal sound intrusion beyond the property line after 9 p.m.
In addition, BPR’s staff naturalists regularly conduct bird counts and monitor species at the Reservoir. These teammates and consultants are consulted as sound protocols were developed.
Sound checks have confirmed that building sound is not reaching sensitive wildlife areas.
All lighting will comply with the city's lighting ordinance, which requires that all exterior lighting face downward and be enclosed to limit light pollution.
We have consulted with Boulder County Sheriff, City of Boulder Transportation, Boulder County Transportation and City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. 51st Street is classified as a collector street in Boulder County’s Transportation system and has the capacity to handle up to 10,000 vehicles/day. The last traffic study indicated volumes of less than 25% of this number during the busiest times and far less most of the time.
To continue to improve safety and multi-modal access to the Reservoir, the city and Boulder County will focus investments on enhanced multi-modal facilities on 51st Street. While the street has wide shoulders, separated and/or protected lanes for pedestrians/cyclists would be better at balancing 51st Street as both a collector road and a neighborhood street for those who live nearby and promote multi-modal access to the Reservoir.
To address concerns that events negatively impact the neighborhood and to balance this positive community benefit with neighbors’ concerns and requests, the city has incorporated various event control procedures since 2013 including creation of a Special Event Review Team and policy to ensure event promoters comply with rules and regulations.
Other Background Information
The Boulder Reservoir Master Plan PDF guides long-term operations and investments. Developing this plan included significant engagement across the community.
The Visitor Services Center Concept Plan PDF was developed with input received at public open houses, via public review and comment online, and input from the PRAB and Boulder’s Youth Opportunities Advisory Board. The final concept was approved by the PRAB in January 2017 after input on the final design was received through a final public comment period posted online. BPR staff notified stakeholders by sending over 8,000 emails to interested parties that the concept plan was completed.