Draft plan for Red Rock Canyon Open Space prompts range of ideas from public

       A draft plan for the new Red Rock Canyon Open Space includes suggestions for 15 miles of trails of various types, two trailhead/parking areas, an interpretative area near the old Bock house, free and fee picnic spots, and designated locations for unleashed dogs, “free ride” bicyclists and rock climbers.
     Planning consultant Rob Layton, who was hired by the City of Colorado Springs to develop a master plan with citizen input, presented the draft to about 100 people in the West Middle School cafeteria Wednesday night, April 14.
     The feedback was mostly favorable, applauding Layton's efforts to meet the needs/wants of a variety of outdoors lovers and to seek revenue possibilities through group-fee picnic areas. However, there were also disagreements, criticisms and other ideas.
     A sense of feedback strength could be judged by the reports from spokespeople for about a dozen citizen groups at the meeting. The groups had been formed informally after Layton's presentation, on the direction of meeting facilitators Tweed Kezziah and Susan Watkins. Each group was asked to try to reach a consensus on what they liked and disliked about the draft plan.
     According to Layton's plan, most of the trails would be multi-use, with seven miles being wheelchair-accessible. There would also be intermediate and difficult trail segments, with some of these types intermixed to create thematic loops, such as one that Layton called a “time walk,” based on the ages of the geologic formations.
     Volunteers would be needed to build the trails.
     Trailheads with parking would be located south of Highway 24 at 31st Street (one) and Ridge Road (one near the highway and another farther in). A potential fourth trailhead/parking area is on South 26th Street, near the old road used for the property's landfill until its closure in 1986.
     From Ridge Road, a road would go into the property only as far as the old Bock house (the name of the property owner from about 1920 to 2003) and lake, where an interpretative area and another parking lot are proposed.
     Among the issues appearing to reflect significant sentiment from attendees:
     - Two groups said they saw potential problems with an unleashed dog area, while two others said they liked the idea and yet another asked who would clean up the mess.
     - A Crystal Hills neighborhood is worried that a picnic area would be too close to their homes,
     - Rock climbers want at least a partial relocation of their designated climbing area.
     - Hikers want more hiker-only trails than the one 3/4-mile “Contemplative Trail” Layton drew up.
     - Parking lots should be able to handle a range of vehicle types, including RVs and horse trailers.
     - Several groups want the 26th Street trailhead.
     - Long-term trail maintenance is a concern.
     The meeting was the fourth of five in the series that started in February. The last facilitated public meeting will be May 5, when Layton is to return with amendments. The plan will go to the City Parks Board in June.

Westside Pioneer article