Part of Zimmerman Park to reopen Thursday

2014-05-14T14:12:00Z 2014-05-21T16:42:24Z Part of Zimmerman Park to reopen ThursdayBy NICK BALATSOS nbalatsos@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Yellowstone County will reopen a major portion of Zimmerman Park on Thursday morning, keeping closed only the area of cliffs above Zimmerman Trail.

Yellowstone County Park Director Cal Cumin said only “about 2 percent” of the park is dangerous, so, he asked, “Why close 99 percent of the park?”

The county closed the park immediately after unstable rocks crumbled from the cliffs Sunday afternoon.

As a safety precaution, they planned to keep the park closed, Cumin said, until they were able to figure out “what the heck is going on.”

They were able to answer to that question with the help of experts at GeoStabilization International, a geohazard mitigation firm out of Grand Junction, Colo.

The Montana Department of Transportation hired the Colorado company for a $718,219.68 rock removal and stabilization project at six locations along Zimmerman Trail.

The decision to reopen the park came Wednesday after Cumin said he consulted with a number of other city officials, including emergency medical services and the county commissioners, where they took all assessments into consideration and determined the park safe.

When the park opens Thursday at 8:30 a.m., only the cliff area above Zimmerman Trail will stay closed, an area which will be marked by barricades with signs indicating its closure, dangers and repercussions of trespass. Cumin mentioned two possible outcomes for those who cross the barriers: arrest and injury.

Nonetheless, he said so long as people follow the rules, the park is as safe as it has ever been.

“I hope the public obeys the barriers and nobody gets stupid,” Cumin said.

Cumin also added that there is a possibility that they will have to reclose the park in the near future when the Colorado company hired to take care of the unstable rocks has to blast.

But he said nothing is certain about that at this point.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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