City to take Gold Camp comments

       The Colorado Springs Parks Advisory Board will hold a public hearing on Gold Camp Road Thursday, Feb. 10 as part of a city-government effort to take a stand on the U.S. Forest Service's proposal to reopen a long-closed segment of Gold Camp Road.
       The hearing will be in council chambers at the old City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. The meeting will start at 7:30 a.m.
       Parks Director Paul Butcher said he plans to make no recommendation to the board. “I think it would be premature and bad government,” he said. “I want to hear what the public has to say.”
       The meeting will begin with an overview by Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Planner Frank Landis, who will respond to questions from the Parks Board.
       The city is holding a hearing, even though the Forest Service has jurisdiction over the mountain road, because federal law requires the Forest Service to seek input from affected government entities as part of the process for finalizing an environmental impact statement (EIS), Butcher said.
       The agency's draft EIS, released Jan. 10, calls for upgrading/reopening an 8.5-mile segment of the road, including the repair of Tunnel 3, to allow one-way traffic between High Street and Old Stage Road. The road ultimately connects to Cripple Creek, following the path of a one-time railroad to the gold mines.
       The issue has caused a controversy, with some people wanting to keep the segment closed because they believe this enhances non-motorized recreation in that area, and others wanting it reopened so that the scenic road could again be traveled by people of all ages and physical capabilities.
       In meetings during 2004, the Forest Service considered these proposals as well as various compromise solutions, with the one- way plan (estimated cost $1.3 million) eventually becoming its “preferred alternative.”
       A final EIS is necessary before the Forest Service can implement any road upgrades, which is a moot point for now because no funding has yet been authorized.
       Butcher said any Parks Board action will become a recommendation to City Council. The plan is for City Council to pass a resolution defining its official Gold Camp Road position to the Forest Service no later than the City Council meeting of March 8.
       The deadline for comments to the Forest Service from anyone - individuals as well as governments - is March 15.
       Butcher stressed that public comments at the Feb. 10 hearing will only be used by the city. For that reason, he said, Landis will not remain for the rest of the meeting after answering Parks Board questions.
       Anyone wanting to submit individual comments to the Forest Service needs to do so through that agency's separate meetings/comments process. Information about submitting comments to the Forest Service can be obtained by calling 636- 1602.
       The one local Forest Service meeting before March 12 will be Tuesday, Feb. 15 at Cheyenne Mountain High School from 4 to 8 p.m.

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