Red Rock ‘07 plans: Closer parking, picnic area, Bock house makeover, new trails

       A closer-in parking lot and transformation of the Bock house into a partially enclosed, interpretive pavilion/shelter are two new projects slated at the Red Rock Canyon Open Space this year.
       In addition, for the third straight year, Colorado Springs Parks plans to continue expanding the trail system in the 788.1-acre property west of the Midland area and south of Highway 24, according to Parks Development Manager Chris Lieber.
       The new parking lot, in keeping with the three-year-old park's master plan map, will add about 50 spaces a short distance north of the Bock house, along the Red Rock Canyon Trail. “People will still have to walk up to the Bock house, but it will be considerably shorter,” he said.
       The new lot will also be just south of a roughly 1-acre picnic area that will be established, also along that trail. “We anticipate some picnic tables, but the setting will still be very natural,” Lieber said. “We'll try to minimize the impacts and use the existing trees to provide shade.”
       Another function of the picnic-area lot will be to free up space in the 100-vehicle main parking lot near the Red Rock entrance off Ridge Road/High Street, which was completed last year. This lot filled up at times last summer, Lieber pointed out.
       As for the Bock house, plans are being finalized that would tear down most of the building - which had been built in the 1960s and lived in for years by the former property owners - but keep the living room's impressive stone wall along the side of a rock outcropping and add a new roof and intepretive amenities.
       The city will be getting help on the estimated $150,000-$175,000 project cost. A “challenge grant” of $50,000 has been received from an anonymous source, and the Friends of Red Rock Canyon are seeking to match the grant with $50,000 in donations.
       “We'll take donations from anybody,” said Friends President Karlee Thompson, adding that one idea being considered is to let people buy individual bricks inside the shelter/pavilion with their names on them.
       The city would also chip in to the shelter cost; “the concept is that each pay about a third,” Lieber said.
       He said his department is pleased at the help from the challenge grant. “That's a substantial amount of money being donated,” he said.
       It's the second Friends challenge grant in two years. The Friends, a volunteer group that supports the open space in various ways, matched a $5,000 anonymous grant in 2006 to cover costs for a park interpretive plan. City Parks Director Paul Butcher summarized these efforts in a written report to City Council, dated Jan. 10, “Planning and design efforts are currently underway to develop an interpretive plan as well as architectural designs for the conversion of the former Bock residence into a public pavilion. Implemen-tation of the interpretive plan and pavilion also involve significant fundraising efforts by the Friends of Red Rock Canyon.”
       Lieber added that the interpretation goal is to tell the “great stories about Red Rock Canyon - some about the geology, some about the history.” Discussions are continuing with the Friends about the best ways to accomplish that goal, whether to have signs at specified locations or to have markers identified in brochures. He said that before the end of the year he hopes that the Bock house shelter work and implementation of the interpretive plan can at least be started.
       “It will be really nice to get the pavilion up,” Thompson said. “Then we can get the signage up there. It's not just going to be a place to stand out of the rain.”
       Red Rock trail work will include finishing the Roundup Trail, an east-west route that traverses three canyons, plus “a number of other trails on the master plan map that need to be completed,” Lieber said.
       Development of the last of three major trailheads, the master-planned 26th Street location, has not yet been scheduled. This project, along with a group picnic area in the Sand Canyon area, is on the city's “Unfunded High Priority Capital Improvement Projects” for 2007-2011, as part of Red Rock's Phase 2 development, he said.
       The second major trailhead, at 31st Street south of Highway 24, was created last year.
       Work is also continuing this year on the Free Ride bicycling area, in which riders can practice different “tricks” on wheels. Although City Parks had to approve the plans, development of the different stunts in the area is being carried out by local volunteers.

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