Saturday, June 10, 2006

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Trails Map Update

February 10, 2006

To: Jean Gatza, Boulder City Planning Department

From: Boulder Area Trails Coalition Board of Directors

Subject: Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Trails Map Update

Note: This post was written prior to the creation of this blog and as part of an earlier stage in the ongoing public debate over Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks policies. While somewhat dated, the post still raises important issues which are still relevant.

At their February 8th meeting, the Open Space Board of Trustees voted to recommend removal of the Union Pacific Railroad Trail from the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Trails Map. The Boulder Area Trails Coalition (BATCO) strongly objects to this unilateral and inappropriate attempt to modify the plan.

The Board's action continues a decade-long campaign by the Open Space department to eliminate trails from the Comprehensive Plan. The department previously deleted the West Beech Trail during the 1998 Comprehensive Plan update, and Jim Crain (the then-director of Open Space) later attempted to remove both the Feeder Canal and Union Pacific Railroad Trails from the Plan. The Board's action this week, which is in conflict with the Open Space staff’s recommendations, is particularly unfortunate as it follows so soon after the department's successful completion of the Marshall Mesa-Southern Grasslands Trail Study Project. The trust and goodwill developed during that project are now at risk.

BATCO submitted an extensive application for Trails Map revisions in November 2004. Despite our documentation of significant community support, none of the new trails we recommended are included in the City staff's recommended updates. The staff justified this position by citing the defined procedure for changes that states

"Changes to the map may occur when there has been new information or changed circumstances regarding a proposed trail or when an alternatives analysis and public process have occurred at the master planning or area planning level and new trails plans have been adopted."

The Open Space Board's action blatantly disregarded this procedure. No new information, changed circumstances, or appropriate analysis and public process exist to justify the Union Pacific Railroad Trail removal.

The Board's action is a transparent effort to bias new trail plan studies that are scheduled for many of BATCO’s recommended trails, which include the Union Pacific Railroad Trail. We deplore the Open Space Board's arrogant disregard for both the public interest and the process that was established to prevent just such manipulations. To express our concern, please include this letter in the information packets for the upcoming Planning Board and City Council reviews of the Comprehensive Plan Trails Map Updates.

Holly S. Tulin, for the Boulder Area Trails Coalition Board of Directors
CC: Boulder City Council

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