Disc golf, trails, cycling options among citizen ideas for Red Rock

       With the city providing an open microphone, seven citizen proposals came forward at a public meeting Aug. 22 about the Red Rock Canyon Open Space master plan.

Promoting the idea of a disc golf course in Red Rock Canyon, John Whitlock (joined by Raymond Carr) flips a disc into the audience during a public meeting Aug. 22 at the Westside Community Center.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Suggested as new usage options were a disc golf course, an equestrian trail-riding practice course and more diverse bicycling possibilities.
       A legal proposal was a conservation easement for the White Acres portion of Red Rock Canyon.
       Other possibilities involved trails. These were to retain the Waterfall Loop Trail in Section 16, to add a new trail (called 8130 because of its elevation) along the western edge of Section 16 and to improve several user-made “social trails” in Red Rock that have scenic or functionally useful routes.
       No decisions were sought at the meeting, but the roughly 50 people on hand were asked to fill out individual comment forms; they also met in subgroups of four to six people in the latter part of the session to talk over the possibilities.
       According to Chris Lieber, City Parks planner, the city decided to offer the public-presentation opportunity Aug. 22 in response to suggestions/criticisms that have cropped up during the master plan process that initially started in 2011 and then restarted this month after about a half-year break. He pointed out that certain areas of Red Rock Canyon can be developed into activity areas because they were bought with funds other than the more restrictive Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) tax dollars.
       City Parks and consultants plan to read through attendees' Aug. 22 comments and address the citizen proposals - along with trail issues in general - at the Sept. 11 meeting, according to Sarah Bryarly, a City Parks architect.
       Two other Red Rock ideas (raised previously) are to bring water to the shrinking upper pond near the pavilion and to develop a visitor center/retail store near the main parking lot off Highway 24.
       The next meeting will be Wednesday, Sept. 5, which is slated to focus largely on management of the open space.
       The master plan process is intended to combine the existing Red Rock Canyon Open Space, which was purchased nine years ago, with two neighboring parcels that the city recently bought (Section 16 and White Acres).
       Here are brief capsules on the Aug. 22 presentations:
  • Disc golf - Raymond Carr, president of the Pikes Peak Flying Disc Club, said his group has identified an area in the northwest part of the existing Red Rock that would be away from trails and make an 18-hole course. He said the only other course in town, at Cottonwood Park, is crowded, and he pledged that his group would maintain such an area at Red Rock.
  • Equestrian course - Horseback-riding representative Debbie Bibb proposed a two-acre “skills park” where riders could learn how to use mountain trails before going on them. Such would be “an asset to everyone on the trail,” she said.
  • Community bicycling park - Tammy Donahugh of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and Cory Sutela of Medicine Wheel said that cyclist needs are changing, with a recent interest in downhill riding. “Some illegal trails will proliferate if we don't provide an outlet for that kind of riding,” Sutela said. Proposing 2 to 10 acres for the purpose, Donahugh said that Red Rock's current Free Ride cycling area is “a good start, but we're capable of so much more.”
  • Waterfall Trail - Travers Jordan of the Intemann Trail Committee (ITC) explained how ITC volunteers built the 1/3-mile trail from 2000 to 2002, adding that it is popular and well maintained by the ITC. City consultant Tapis Associates has called for its closure because it passes through a zone with cooler- temperature conifer trees, but Jordan identified apparent inconsistencies with that designation in the Tapis study as a whole.
           Asked about this point later, Priscilla Marbaker, lead consultant for Tapis, said, “I will look into it.”
  • 8130 trail - Trail user Eric Vaillancourt brought up this idea, which had been mainly proposed by mountain bicyclists last year. The city has frowned on the plan to date because the trail would be in what Tapis has described as a large area of “undisturbed” land. Proponents of the trail have described its potential for prime views and technical mountain cycling; Vaillancourt added the point that there is already plenty of undisturbed land in an undeveloped parcel to the west.
  • Social trails - Shanti Toll and Dave Dombach of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon advanced the plan of improving certain unofficial trails that users have worn in over the years. “We need to adapt to the reality of how the land is being used,” Toll said. The current master plan is “based on old concepts of cardiovascular exercise,” but many users just like to go to certain nice places and then come back or to make a loop where it seems convenient. The trail improvements and maintenance would be handled by the local “CATS” group that for years has worked on trails (including those at Glen Eyrie) on a weekly or even more frequent basis.
  • White Acres easement - Don Ellis, who has co-written a book on Red Rock Canyon, said that other city open space parcels have such an easement, which gives them long-range protection from being privately developed. City Parks has supported the idea - the cost of which would be covered by a private donor - but city legal staff last year objected that it would “encumber” White Acres.

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