City of Farmington closes Rambling River Park
Rambling River Park was a hot spot this week. Water spilled over from the Vermillion River into the park, and on Tuesday, dozens of kids and adults were playing in the water. The only problem is, the park was closed for safety reasons.
On Tuesday, Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman estimated that the river was up by about 4 1/2 feet over its normal level. The increase came after three different significant storms over the past week. More was expected Wednesday.
That's troubling to Farmington city officials. The park was officially closed Tuesday in an effort to prevent people from going into the swollen river. The river will likely stay high for a few more days.
Schorzman likened the river's condition to what happens with a really fast snow melt in the spring. Only in the spring, there is less temptation to play in the high water.
"I think with school being out, there are a lot of kids down there. It's more a matter of keeping people out of the water," Schorzman said. "I would never encourage anybody to go out wading in flood waters."
Farmington fire marshal John Powers said much the same. The surface current is slower than the current below the surface, and that is extremely dangerous, Powers said.
"Once you get into the river, with the current the way it is, you can get pulled in and be pushed down the river faster than anyone can get to you. That's the biggest danger with high water. People might mistake the water for being calmer than it is," Powers said. "The potential is definitely there for drowning with the river and the water this high."
Farmington police have erected barricades at both entrances to the park, both of which have signs saying "Park closed." However, around 1 p.m. Tuesday, two minivans blocked the west barricades. At least a dozen other cars and minivans were parked in the west lot, and kids climbed out of back seats wearing swimsuits.
Police have stopped at the park several times this week to shoo people out of the area, but Lindquist said there are not enough officers available to have one stationed at the park all day long.
"It's frustrating," police chief Brian Lindquist said. "You think you're immortal and it's all fun and games. You have no concept of the danger that you face. It all boils down to common sense. When we say stay out, stay out.
"It should be obvious that it's dangerous."