Speaking Out Against Stables in Bear Creek Park...
In case anyone is still not aware, the Broadmoor has purchased a plot of land off Hercules Drive, adjacent to East Bear Creek Park. This plot of land is on the southern edge of the park, with the entrance in the middle of the large hill on Cresta. Currently, that plot of land is zoned residential as the original plan was to build several condo buildings there. However, the Broadmoor wants to run commercial horseback rides from that land, with the goal of providing the true "western experience" to their guests. As such, they want the land down-zoned to agriculture so that they can build stables for 20 or more horses. The Broadmoor envisions twice daily rides through Bear Creek Regional Park and beyond, stating that they want to be able to take clients through the National Forest up into the Jones Park area. The El Paso County Parks has already agreed to provide the Broadmoor with a 20 year permit for the commercial enterprise. With permit in hand, the next step is to convince the city to allow for the down-zoning. And after that? Look at the trail conditions in the Garden of the Gods where the guided horseback rides occur and imagine that throughout the entirety of Bear Creek Park, into Red Rock Canyon, the Palmer-16 Loop and trail 666. Imagine not being able to run, hike or ride in or through Bear Creek Park without encountering a string of poorly trained horses in the hands of unskilled riders on constantly degrading trail surfaces. We as park users and tax payers need to speak out and convey to the City and County that this is not an appropriate use of our regional park.
How? Be heard - email city planning, the county commissioners and the Broadmoor expressing our opinions. Here are the email addresses for the parties involved:
Mike Schultz - Colorado Springs City Planning; email@example.com
Sallie Clark - El Paso County Commissioner, District 3 (where Bear Creek Park is located): SallieClark@elpasoco.com
Tim Wolken - El Paso County Executive Director of Community Services (parks):TimWolken@elpasoco.com
Terry McHale - Broadmoor liaison for building stables: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Schmidt - Broadmoor Community liaison: email@example.com
Here are some points to use and rephrase in any letter sent out. If you have any other points that would be helpful in letters, please leave them in the comments below so I can add them and others can utilize.
1) Allowing extensive commercial use of such popular and busy park is a safety risk for all users. The Bear Creek Regional Trail is a main thruway for hikers, runners, cyclists, and individual horse riders from Penrose Stables, and is heavily used through the day for both recreation and commuting. Adding unskilled riders, unfamiliar with horsemanship and poorly trained horses for commercial rides into an already populated and limited trail system will lead to increased user conflict and high potential for injury. The Broadmoor also envisions longer rides through other trail systems, including properties that have been purchased through the TOPS taxes and as such prohibit commercial uses.
2) Allowing such extensive commercial use of our Regional Trails sends the message that the parks are for sale to the highest bidder. Bear Creek is already host to many events such as the CHSAA Cross Country State Championships, numerous other running events and cycling events . How will commercial trail rides that do not require special permitting affect other users who have paid for the appropriate permits and how will the county ensure that the Broadmoor respects those permits? A standing permit of this nature appears to violate the county's own guidelines for issuing commercial permits as stated through detracting from the enjoyment and interfering with the use of other, as well as interfering with the preservation of the park.
3)Allowing this volume of horse traffic onto trail systems that are not designed for such use will lead to extensive and irreparable resource damage. The trails currently in use at the Garden of the Gods (which limits commercial rides to specific trails) are heavily damaged, with the natural soil degraded to deep sand which limits the ability of any other trail users to enjoy the trails safely. The amount of money that the Broadmoor will be "donating" to the county fund - $1500 per month - will not begin to pay for the repair and mitigation of damage caused by commercial horse use. There is also no guarantee that the money will be utilized for trail stewardship.
4)This proposal will increased traffic on Cresta Drive, overburdening an already congested road that is the major entrance and exit from the Skyway area. There are three schools on Cresta between the Broadmoor and the proposed stable location. Cresta is frequently used by cyclists commuting and training as well and there are numerous blind intersections. The proposed stable location is situated on a hill, with a blind intersection just above. The number of horses proposed by the Broadmoor will lead to an increase in large truck traffic for hay deliveries, as well as trailers attempting to turn in and out of the driveway. Cresta at that location is not designed for heavy truck use, nor is there room for vehicles of that size to make turns safety without significant impact on traffic patterns.