Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

17 Jan 2016

City officials say they will give property owner some alternatives to Falcon Trail closures

Posted by Adam Howell


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A private property owner that was disappointed with the City of Durango for ignoring her when plans were made to close trails on her land will instead be given some alternatives, two City officials said at a Natural Lands Board meeting.

This is a segment of the Falcon Trail that was marked for closure by Durango's Assistant Community Development Director Kevin Hall due to his classification of it as a trespass.

This is a segment of the Falcon Trail that was marked for closure by Durango’s Assistant Community Development Director Kevin Hall due to his classification of it as a trespass.

This blogger filed an open records request to get the skinny on what Anne Klein, the property owner, had to say to the City about its recommended closures, since she has refused to go on the record to answer any of my questions about this public trail easement. From Dec. 21, 2015:

“Hello Cathy and Kevin,

I hope this finds you well. This evening I met my neighbor Adam Howell, who stopped by to talk with me about the trail system in the mountain park. Since this is the first I had heard about any significant work or changes to the trails that run through my property, I would like to talk with someone about the plans/decisions and the reason for the changes to the trails.

I am disappointed that no one from the City reached out to me when we have talked about the mountain park in previous conversations. These may be awesome changes that you are proposing; I would just like to be in the loop and have the correct information!

I look forward to talking with you,

Anne”

Kevin Hall, Durango’s Assistant Director of Community Development Director, wrote and called Klein back with a redirect towards a phone call.

“Hi Anne:

As mentioned in my voice mail, Cathy and I would welcome the opportunity to provide you with as much background as you would like on this matter. Feel free to call either one of us at your convenience.

Kevin”

At the Natural Lands Board meeting on January 11, 2015, this blogger asked Hall and Durango’s Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz to share with the Board what they had told Klein they had planned for the trail on her property. For the first time since the Natural Lands Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board jointly approved the City’s recommended closures for Klein’s property, Metz mentioned the possibility of alternatives.

“This particular trail is not one that has necessarily risen to we’re going to work on this year,” said Metz. “But as we take steps, and this one would involve a private property owner. We would contact that owner first, and talk about alternatives, and then implement those changes as was agreed upon. We haven’t done any outreach to the property owner at this point to suggest an alternative, or suggest it to Trails 2000 that this be in the work plan for 2016. But is on the map and it is identified for future improvements.”

This blogger was the only member of the two Boards to vote against approval of the Report, in part because closures such as the ones recommended for Klein’s property were unjustified on the basis of calling them trespass, when it was clear that most users had been using those that the City wants to close, and Klein had never before publicly voiced opposition to their existence outside of the platted easement for the trail. Also, some of the trails that the City recommended for closure actually make more sense for trail users and have existed over the past fifteen years without any real erosion problems.

Hall explained that Klein expressed disappointment with how I approached her, but said he made it clear to her that the trail segments that were approved and recommended for closure in the Natural Surface Trails Analysis Report were conceptual.

“Conceptually, just so you’re clear and the Board is clear, that the alignment as you know as shown on that map is conceptual,” said Hall. “As you know, before we do final improvements we’ll go out in the field and make sure that the alignment that we want to be permanent will work for the property owner as well as trail users.”

“In the plan, we did state that the social trails that weren’t in easements would either be closed or rerouted to eliminate the trespass,” Hall noted. “The intent was–and I think we’ve talked about this–we approach the property owner, and there’s some discussion about something different than maybe what we envisioned based on this analysis, we would work with the property owner to meet their needs and the needs of the trail.”

“So I don’t think it’s out of context for us to say that we would approach in this case, Ms Klein, show her what’s going on out there, look at where the trail easement really is and the trail that currently exists within the easement and if she has some other ideas that meets her desires for her property and it still allows for the trails to connect, we would be open to doing that,” said Hall. “And I think that’s good public process, so that we aren’t so rigid that we say it has to be this way. Because if Anne thinks there’s another idea that works better for her, she’s open to it.”

“What she did say is she’s not a real big fan of people crashing through her split-rail fence and landing in her back yard, which has happened over the years. I was out there with Trails 2000 years ago rebuilding a split-rail fence that got crashed through,” Hall said.

“In all cases we’re working with a property owner–whether it’s a private property owner, whether it’s the BLM, whether it’s Marc Katz–it won’t be a situation where we just show up with shovels and pulaskis and start doing our thing,” said Hall. “It’s part of the process we went through and we’ll do that when the time comes with Anne.”

“I told her I’d contact her in the spring and let her know when it’s dry we could walk out there and I could give her a further background to what the Boards talked about and approved, and she was appreciative of that,” said Hall. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s comfortable with that being the next steps on this matter and we put it aside for now.”

Overend Mtn Park Map--photoshopped

This screenshot of the plat for the Falcon Trail on Anne Klein's property shows the trail easements.

This screenshot of the plat for the Falcon Trail on Anne Klein’s property shows the trail easements.

 

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