Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Maybe not a motorcycle park

An El Paso County plan for an off-road motorcycle park in an area known as Corral Bluffs east of the city hit a snag Monday when the State Trails Committee voted to recommend to the State Parks Board that El Paso County receive $20,000 for the park — $300,000 less than the county is seeking.
That may put the cash-strapped county out of the running for land that is also being looked at as city open space, which has money in the bank. Read the story here.

For dueling points of view, visit:

savecorralbluffs.com
or
enjoycorralbluffs

22 comments:

Teleken said...

It would make a great park, but not to be torn up by off-road use. Besides houses will eventually be built there and you know the complaints would start as soon as the first person moved in.

Anonymous said...

I'm relieved that the State Trails Committee elected to show some common sense in this poorly considered venture. Commissioner Bensberg and Parks Director Tim Wolken's personal project was being rammed through with no public input and absolutely NO consideration for the environment or the people who live in the proposed park area. Yes- there are people who live nearby, all of whom were looking at a huge hit on their property values. The casual disregard of the area and its inhabitants was willfully exhibited on the various dirtbike and 4wheel forums, which were downright disrespectful.

Another question that has been posed is, what's the rush? Why on earth would you put a contract on land, solicit funds and begin planning an OHV park before any study of the area has been done? Why would you plan an OHV park without notifying any of the neighbors? Could it be that the driving factor was the city's plan to purchase the property soon to make it an open space???

Commissioner Bensberg and Director Wolken are NOT acting in the best interests of their constituency. Fewer than 15,000 OHV's were registered in El Paso County as of the end of January. Of those, a generous estimate would be that half are motorcycles. So, Commissioner Bensberg and Director Wolken are advocating spending public funds for a park which will serve less than 1.5% of the population of El Paso County.

Further, they've both pledged their own money for this park- can someone say 'conflict of interest' with me?

John said...

Help me understand this. You don't want dirt bikes on trails in National Forests and seem to base your perception of dirt bikers on the 5% of bad apples in order to drive this legitamate and sustainable use out of existence. Then, when responsible dirt bikers try to relieve pressure on the NF trails by creating a park that is next to two motocross tracks and the CS airport and Peterson, you poo poo on that too.

How is a bulldozer digging holes to build more houses and further strain our water resources better than sustainable, maintained and patrolled trails on a small piece of land that nobody seemed to care about until now?

Please help me understand!!!

Portly Elementary School Kid said...

Would it be open to Quad-ing?

Dave Philipps said...

Son, I suggest you start with a quadding video game. Don't want to over exercise.

zen said...

I haven't been to the Corral Bluffs area myself, so I can't comment if this is the place for this kind of park or not.

But I have no problem creating a place like this on the East side for the offroading community - and I do include ATVs in that.

And it seems to me that the best place to put it would be by the noise of the airport, or by the landfill or in an industrial area. Anything to mask the incessant whine of their machines. It's annoying as hell.

Now again maybe Corral Bluffs isn't the place, but if not there, then where? My suggestion - in the east-side buffer zone Fort Carson is buying up. They don't want houses there. But why not an offroad park?

White Sands is dual use as a missle range overflight zone and when not used militarily (which is most of the time) its a publically accessible national monument. It seems to me that this would be a fine use for that land.

Some would argue that national forest lands are enough. The problem is NF lands are acceptable only for distance trail riding, not terrain parks which destroy large acreage. If you've ever come across an illegal terrain park in the NF you know what I mean.

So why not give them a couple thousand acres adjacent to military land? It seems to me these are the kind of people that go for this kind of thing anyway.

Anything to reduce the strain in the Cheyenne Canyons area.

Dave Philipps said...

It all is going to come down to who has the money. Right now, I'm betting on the progressive, tree-hugging people in Colorado Springs who pushed through the TOPS tax.

Maybe neither will happen. We'll see.

Al said...

In my 55 years, I have never seen a trail torn up by responsible hikers or runners. Littered, perhaps, but not torn up. In the last 5 years, I have witnessed Ute Valley Park torn up by presumably responsible bicyclists. What were single-track trails in some areas of the park are now 15 feet wide. With more weight and power, I imagine that responsible motorcyclists have a proportionally larger impact on the land.
Incidentally, the photo in the "pro" article of a happy family who rides dirt bikes impresses me about as much as a photo of a (resumably) happy family where everyone smokes.

John said...

No doubt everybody should stay off of muddy trails, but single-track to 15 feet wide surely you jest. Most trail widening that I have witnessed (and opposed) is a direct result of the USFS or other "official local maintenance". Responsible trail users do not degrade their trails.

Thank you for passing judgement on those you don't know and villifying me, my family & friends. We do not smoke, carry guns or live in Hazard County. Please participate in the public process in a positive/collaborative way and understand that the democratic process may not give you everything YOU want.

BTW - I have used and help to maintain the Cap'n Jacks trail system with the USFS for over 25 years and have seen not seen significant degredation to this system. The (in process) USFS Travel Management plan should ensure future generations will continue to enjoy this system, please participate and voice your concerns.

Also, please note that there are a grand total of THREE local trail systems on public land that allow OHV's - Divide, Rainbow Falls & Cap'n Jacks. This is a tiny fraction of the local trails. Please use trails that do not allow OHV's if you don't like them. We have few choices, while non-OHV's have many.

If you prefer the way California manages it's land, please move back!

al said...

apologies.

dra said...

As of 2008, El Paso County has 150,000 acres of open space (not total land, just open space) and an annual budget of $256 million. 522 acres is 0.3% of its open space, and $300,000 is 0.1% of its annual budget. So maybe 1.5% of the population IS entitled to a teeny weeny OHV park for such a bargain price?

Chris said...

I wonder if we put an OHV park smack dab next to a landfill bordered by salvage yards in a desert, would the anti-OHV folks be ok with it then? Oh wait, this is exactly where the park IS going to go.

Once again, the hoof and boot crowd has proven that only *their* activities are ok and politically correct. Heaven forbid people actually practice a slice of Americana right here in the springs.

If I didn't know better, you might think the hoof and boot crowd is totally uninterested in even a hint of fairness, hmm?

I invite anyone to go riding with me this spring. Heck, I will even provide the bike. Try riding one time, then lets see how you feel about the eveeel ohv'ers.

Anonymous said...

We're not just talking about $300,000 here- the county's also pledged $550,000 and the total project is going to be over $1.5 million. (That's just the set up and does not include ongoing maintenance.) And all of this when El Paso COunty has shut facilities down in existing parks this winter (think bathrooms, lights, etc.) because they don't have enough money for maintenance.

I'm also sick of people saying this area is a dump/desert/salvage yard. The area in question is back against the bluffs, which is a beautiful and historic site. There are HUNDREDS of families that own land adjoining this park- do you think it's fair that you are asking them to give up their property values so you have a place to ride in the winter? Would YOU want to live right next to this park?
I'm not part of the 'hoof and boot' crowd, as you assume. I own both motorcycles and quads. I don't have a problem with having an OHV park, but it needs to be carefully considered, planned, and community/neighbor involvement MUST be included. This park is being driven by the timeline to capture the OHV funds, without adequate county budget or community process.

Chris said...

Good points! If you own a motorcycle and quad, then you understand that riding opportunities are shrinking faster than they are growing.

You also know that many 4x4,quad and motorcycle roads are routed right through "historic" mining sites-which thousands pass through every year.

I would wonder if you can quantify "hundreds" of families. Are we talking 900? 800? 500? Is all of that land they own build-able? Would you be ok with the owner of the current proposed area building a development?

Probably not.

Would you be ok with riding your quad and dirt bike on your land-or the county/city telling you know?

Again, should we lock up every historic site or only allow hikers/horses on it?

If you truly own-and use those two machines, then you see the value in a motorcycle park now before it is over run with a housing development-which will happen.

Anonymous said...

Chris-
You're missing my point. I don't have a problem with a motorcycle park, just not at Corral Bluffs, which is an area that has been targeted for open space for 20 years (in the COUNTY'S plan, by the way).

However, my point is this. What NONE of the neighbors knew about, until after a contract had been put on the land, was that the County was going to spend money it DOESN'T have, to put a motorcycle park within 1/4 mile of my property. We had NO involvement in this process, and have been ignored by our esteemed commissioners and park director. And, to answer your question, there are over 500 families that live within earshot of this park. All we are asking for is due process and letting our voices be heard. Why can't the county take a step back and look at other areas as well? Why can't the county do what other counties in other states have done and perform traffic pattern analysis, environmental impact analysis, community review, etc. BEFORE they target one area?

And, yes- I've taken my quads and bike up in the mountains and carefully and respectfully enjoyed them. However, you can't compare thousands of miles of trails in the tens of thousands of acres of national park land to 20 miles of track crammed on fewer than 900 'useable' acres. There will be damage- and you know as well as I that there are those who do NOT stay on the trails. They ruin it for the rest.


You also ignored my question- would you like to live next to this park? Funny- I didn't think so.

Chris said...

To answer your question-and I wasn't ignoring it, just over looked, I would love to live that close to a motorcycle track and park.

Now what I wouldn't want to live by is a landfill, salvage yard and airport-or at least ear shot of.

I think you might be disingenuous in saying the county did not tell anyone-when in fact they followed the law for public notice. And you have had two meetings since that time-and found out the there were more people in favor then opposed.

I think it is also important to point out some facts:
-There is already a motorcycle park there-to the south.
-the park could not expand east as there is a huge landfill that abuts two roads.
-1/4 mile is 1320 feet. 92DB would dissipate to less than 1 decibel of sound. Now, if you lived across from a lake, it would be more-but this is dry land, with dry air. Let's say it was 40 decibels. That would be conversation-which would more than likely take place on an open space area
-Speaking of noise, the bluffs will block (not transmit) much of the sound to the North and East. So you must live off Corral bluffs road? Where two private and one public track exist?
-Speaking of distance, 1/4 mile is not in anyone's back yard. I do have large equipment every day which operates less than 100 feet from my house to build mcmansions-which benefit no one but the owners. No one can ride, bike, walk or motorcycle in that area. So I understand all about not benefit
-As for staying the trail, if you use that logic, why not shut everything down? The answer of course is because the majority respect the land.

This is an area that will be actively managed. Meaning, if you are riding off trail-see ya. If you are being a turd-see ya. Sort of like ski hills.

As for what money the county does and does not have, that argument is dated. Simply put, they are using OHV grant money, plus there own plus pledges from private citizens. I don't see many open space parks using private donations.

This comes down to NIMBY. Yet, here is an area that already supports riding, salvage yards and a landfill. It is not a lake with waterfalls, unicorns and green grass as some would portray.

If you are truly a rider, why wouldn't you support this? Is there a personal beef with Aztec or the county?

Anonymous said...

Chris-

OK, you’ve thrown a lot at me. Let me address your points, one by one.

First- while you may ‘honestly’ want to live next to a park like this (now who is disingenuous????), stop saying that those of us who live out here live next to a landfill, salvage yard and airport. I CAN honestly say I don’t live next to any of those. It’s a big area- check it out on the map. The landfill has moved to the east. The salvage yards are next to 94 and Aztec. The airport? Are you kidding me? It’s MILES away- in fact, most of eastern Colorado Springs is closer than we are to the airport.

You say I’m being disingenuous about the county not telling us. Nope- all truth there. NONE of us neighbors knew about this park until we read about it in the paper. The county admitted as much, saying that the county ‘wanted to avoid a bidding war.’ We’ve been told that a notice was placed in Fountain’s paper (which just so happens not to have an online edition- interesting), which, again, is MILES away from the neighbors to this park. In fact, when we contacted the project manager for this park, we were told that no public notice had been made. And, we have had ONE meeting, on January 31, where the opposition far outnumbered those in favor. The only other meetings we’ve been to have been those sponsored by the County or the State.

While we’re talking about meetings, why don’t we address the meetings that Mr. Wolken has had with the motorcycle community? Let’s see- looks like they go back to October and have been ongoing, monthly and even weekly. There has been AMPLE public input from only ONE side of this issue, facilitated by the county itself. Hardly fair or balanced.

You have a lot to say about noise. Let me give you more information. We hear Aztec now. We live with that- it was here before we were. As far as decibels dissipating over distance- nice try. You need to factor in wind conditions and the like. With your calculations, I wouldn’t be able to hear Aztec or anything else here. But I do.

I live up on the bluffs, which do NOT block the noise. If anything, they amplify it. And so what if I did live off Corral Bluffs road? I guess those landowners don’t get to have land appreciate in value? Just because there’s already a park there and two landowners ride their bikes around on their own property? No appreciation in land value, unless, of course, you are Mr. Case, who is seeing over a 150% increase in his property in 3 years.

I’m sorry you live somewhere where large homes are being built. But they DO help you- your property values increase when nice, expensive homes are built nearby. The owners pay property taxes, which help all of us. And presumably that area was zoned that way when you moved in. Further, the building process is temporary. Those machines leave when the homes are built. They’re not there, 14 hours a day, seven days a week forever.

You say this area is going to be actively managed. How do we know that? The county has only stated that Aztec will manage this. We’ve seen no plan as to how that will happen. I can only say that I’m not holding my breath and I DON’T trust the county when they continue to say- ‘We’ll take care of it when we get to that point.’ Sure.

The County does NOT have the money. You’re neglecting the $550,000 the county has pledged to this project. The Regional Parks fund and Conservation Trust Fund do not have enough money in them to manage the parks we already have. In fact, the county has had to close bathrooms in existing parks because there isn’t enough money for maintenance. So, while the motorcyclists have put up $26,000 toward this park, and the OHV grant may come through for $320,000, that’s not even close to what the county is paying.

Maybe to you it boils down to NIMBY, but not to me. This area IS special- the county has been acknowledging this for over 20 years. Now, I don’t live in the fantasy world with unicorns, waterfalls and green grass that you do, but I do love where I live.

Nope- I have no personal beef with Aztec or the county, other than the county’s apparent disregard for public input and due process.

And, yes, I am ‘truly a rider.’ But I wouldn’t want to force my personal hobby on private landowners, anywhere, who do not support this park. I’m not that selfish.

Chris said...

The beauty here is that Aztec will manage it. They want to make money-so they have an interest in keeping the place nice for people like me-who will spends lots of money. If the place turns into a dump, I won't return. If it turns into a drunken hang out-I won't return. In fact, I am willing to be that Aztec will sell memberships-which I would buy in a second.



Am I "forcing" my hobby? No, I am supporting a public-private partnership. If aztec wanted to develop their land (a point that seems to be absent from this debate), they would no doubt be sued by either someone who was hurt (allegedly I am sure) at the bluffs. If not, I am sure the neighbors and various other interest groups would sue and shut them down. Thus, a municipality can wade through all that nonsense and bring a park in existence that has the potential to serve many folks in 250 mile radius. More folks than will drive out there to hike around (read money for a cash strapped county)

I appreciate your response. As for my noise calculations, of course this going to be variation. In the end, how much noise is measurable in decibels? I stand outside my door and hear road noise every day through my window. Without cars running down the road (only at night), I can still hear "noise". If I want silence, I know I can go up to a wilderness area in the mountains or a field 30 miles east of Bennett.

I invite you to measure the "noise" at the edge of your property line. If it measures above 60 decibels, by all means, plead your case. However, unless you live within 100 feet of the proposed area, it will not. You would have to live within 50 feet. That is pure and basic science. Can you hear something-sure, but what are you actually hearing and how much of it?

You talk about my home and noise. I live-like many people near a major road. The county and city are developing homes like gangbusters up a road that was little more than cow grazing two years ago. No doubt that will bring increased traffic and noise-dropping my property values. Such is life. People are living longer and getting richer.

It is unreasonable to think that the County has the funds to not only create a huge area just for the sake of maintaining no development for you (or 500 families) when it has a huge opportunity to not only benefit so many families in a positive and legal way, it can bring a valuable service to an area the already demonstrated the use of motorcycle tracks in the area.

I am sure if the neighbors got together and offered the Case family $1,000,000 ($2000 per family who supposedly live within earshot-1000 feet), they would take it. And if it really would affect your home values, why not do it? In fact, there are well funded conservation groups with huge pocketbooks who might help you-if they see the value of a some dirt mounds and bluffs in sandwiched between a landfill, three motorcycle tracks and housing developments.

Now lets look at the positive. Right now the land is doing nothing for anyone-except minimal taxes for the county. It is located off of a highway in the county and will provide family entertainment and money for the local economy (about 1.2 million) in the first year-about twice the upfront cost.

Let me finish out with everyone's favorite topic-money. The county is willing to put down $550,000 - about $2 per person in El paso county (excluding the Springs). It does not need to write a check. It can get a loan at about $3000 per month for 30 years-give or take. While bathrooms in county parks are important to you-maybe that is something you address with the county in exchange, but I highly doubt that will satisfy those who are against the park. Still, if 100 people visit the park per month, that comes down to $30 per person. That is without subsidy and a little steep. We know that more than 100 will visit. So the finances are quite doable.

I look forward to your response.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Chris-

This is fun.

First, we can't offer Mr. Case $1 million- he's under contract with the county. And it appears that the land was never listed. Even if we could offer, as private citizens, we can't set up a contract with him where he gets a huge tax write off for his 'donation' above the selling price. (Long story- read the contract, including the part where the SELLER hires the appraiser, not the buyer.) Also, I can't, as part of my selling arrangement, get the access to Highway 94 changed for him so he can develop his other land further out in the county. Yes, that was part of this agreement.

Your comments regarding your own personal property are interesting. Last I looked, development of large homes increases the value of the neighborhood properties. In fact, I'll bet your property is actually worth more now than when you bought it.

Conversely, OHV parks will take away a minimum of 10-40% of a surrounding property's value. This is documented and quoted to us by a national real estate lawyer. Ouch.

If Aztec doesn't manage this park well and it becomes a 'dump,' easy for you to say you won't come any more. But who's going to clean up the mess? That's right, the taxpayers of El Paso County (do you fall in that category?)

Lawsuits- public land managed by a private entity is NOT exempted from lawsuits. WM, Aztec, those who own the easements and the County itself are liable for the inevitable lawsuits (which sicken me as much as they do you), regardless of any waivers that are signed. This is in Colorado law, and the liability increases as fees are charged, which Aztec plans to do.

Oh, and the county can't take out a loan for this park- that wouldn't be legal (TABOR). So, my argument stands. Plus, I don't expect the county to buy the land to keep it open for me. I just expect them to abide by their own mission statement and land use plans, which would exclude this park existing at Corral Bluffs.

All I'm saying is that we need to take a step back and research this more. We need to flesh out the liability, access routes (Highway 94 has pathetic access to Aztec, and is very dangerous), environmental impacts, future land use, etc.

Anxiously awaiting your response.

Chris said...

Well, you and I could debate about my home values-which really isn't the issue. The same goes for your home values, no doubt it is easy to find an expert who will say that your values will increase/decrease X. Fair enough, but pose the question to that same expert:
-If I put a motorcycle park there, how much more will the property decrease over putting 3000 houses(1 house per 1/4 acre)? Their answer will reveal their level of bias.

I am surprised that the county cannot get a loan for $500,000. Can they not issue a bond? Does every county in Colorado have to do everything in cash? That seems unusual.

As for management, this is where the negotiation is. You as a neighbor have something to say about it. If the neighbors go home and do nothing, chances are it will be less than what you are looking for-I applaud your desire to be involved.

As for access, cities put in Walmarts, Kmarts and stripmalls all the time. They mitigate any issues. If you have been to Rampart, you know about the entrance. Here is your chance again to get involved and make your case. In fact, I hope the locals create an excellent entrance and egress situation.

Now, the heart of your argument, let's look at history. Aztec currently owns-without county involvement a motorized park that offers high risk activities. They are still in business. By having the County involved, you and both know that lawsuits are far less likely to be successful. While we all believe that releases don't matter, than why do we sign them? Do businesses not operate skydiving or bungy jumping operations? The issue is the actions of the operator-if that were not the case every ski area, motorcycle park and skydiving operation would be out of business.


Aztec manages their park. Do you note excess amounts of Garbages? Drunken fights breaking out? Roving bands of teens scaring small children with puppies? In all seriousness, of course not. Aztec has a desire to keep the peace with the neighbors. I am sure if you have children, you can appreciate past precedence prove future abilities.

I agree that for those who don't want the park, this appears to be so "sudden". At the same time, those who don't want it will never feel there was enough time and in fact will attempt to draw out the debate in hopes of shutting it down just by dragging feet.

The county made a lazy person's decision to create open space. Heck, open space is great! So little work and so many fuzzy feelings! I applaud Jim for being bold and realizing that is imperative to place a park where similar use already exists and let's face it, one large neighbor-the landfill, will make a great neighbor.

This debate is important-it is my goal to simply insert the truth as there is quite a bit of non-truth being circulated in the paper and on blogs.

I think it is great that you and I are engaged-that will make for a better park! Talk to you soon.

Anonymous said...

This lead doesn’t even follow the Article Please reed the Article
Also this lead has several inaccuracies
El Paso County has a contract on the land. So it can’t be
Purchased for Open Space.
ArvadaGeorge

arvadageorge said...

This lead doesn’t even follow the Article Please read the Article
Also this lead has several inaccuracies
El Paso County has a contract on the land. So it can’t be
Purchased for Open Space.