BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Boulder Reservoir has long been the place to go on hot summer days, but this year for the first time, it will have a nightlife, too. Boulder Parks and Recreation extended the hours to 9 p.m. and entered a public-private partnership with a new onsite restaurant owner who plans to hold Dinner on the Beach events that include alcohol.

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Kim Bixel, who lives nearby, says neighbors were blindsided by the changes.

“No one is actually thinking about the actual safety realities on the ground here,” she said.

Bixel says neighbors were led to believe the city simply planned to upgrade the facilities and grounds at the reservoir.

“Not to have dinner parties at dark when you can’t even see the water or the beach,” Bixel explained.

Allison Rhodes, Director of Boulder Parks and Recreation, insists the changes are the result of community input.

“We engaged with the community and countless onsite meetings. We had an email list with 8,000 people,” Rhodes said.

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Initially, the restaurant owner applied for his own liquor license but withdrew it after neighbors protested. Now, six nonprofits are seeking special use liquor licenses for Dinner on the Beach events, with the restaurant, called Driftwind, providing food.

Rhodes notes people are already allowed to bring their own alcohol to the beach.

“We believe that having control of the sale and consumption of alcohol is a harm reduction strategy. And it would mirror the approach of many lakeside/beachside venues all over this country,” she said.

Rhodes says the partnership is modeled after one the city has at Chatauqua Park. She says any event that runs past 9 p.m. or has more than 200 people will need special approval.

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“Our lease has guiding principals that inform everything that happens on this property,” she said.

Bixel maintains that the Reservoir was never intended to be a nighttime destination.

“They’re trying to really make something fit that wasn’t intended to be,” Bixel said.

She says alcohol during the day is dangerous enough. The only way in and out of the Reservoir is a two-lane unlit road with lots of cyclists and no mass transit,

“We’ll now have many, many, many inebriated drivers,” she said.

Rhodes says the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of the changes and didn’t oppose them. Officials are offering a special entry fee for those who carpool to cut down on traffic.

Shaun Boyd