JCOS MOUNTAIN BIKER ACTION ALERT: BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS APPEAL TO REOPEN REYNOLDS PARK
Thank you for your interest in protecting mountain bike access to Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) trails. Since April 1, 2004 we have conducted in-depth research surrounding Jefferson County’s organization structure and committees, and reviewed relevant governing documents and related information surrounding the closure of Reynolds Park. These documents include: Jefferson County’s formally adopted Trails Use Action Plan of 1996, the Reynolds Park Management Plan of December 2002, JCOS website communications, and relevant meeting minutes. All of this information is Public Record, and available to anyone by calling Jefferson County at 303-271-5925, or link here to view the documents: www.linearpull.com.
Based on this in-depth research, we now send this Action Alert, which provides concrete grounds to overturn the Reynolds Park closure decision.
After reading all of this information, we believe you will feel compelled to become actively involved in appealing the decision to close Reynolds Park to bicyclists; and hope you will fully understand the dangerous precedent its closure poses to our mountain bike community.
The importance of follow through and extensive community participation in this Action Alert cannot be underestimated. Please participate in this Action Alert; forward this Email to riders you know; and urge them to participate in this Action Alert now. Thank you.
1. EMAIL CAMPAIGN: Please send an Email to each of the Jefferson County Commissioners with your concerns. A Suggested Email Communication citing several reasons for appeal has been provided for your use (below). Although it is a bit lengthy, it provides a strong foundation for appeal. Feel free to submit the Suggested Email Communication as drafted in its entirety; any part of it you choose; or write your own message ... but please send a message! Email addresses: Patricia B. Holloway email@example.com (when addressing add: “Attn P Holloway” in subject line); Michelle Lawrence firstname.lastname@example.org, and Richard M. Sheehan, email@example.com.
2. VOICEMAIL BLITZ: Please voicemail each Jefferson County Commissioner to share your concerns. While Email can be easily filed away, overlooked or accidentally deleted, voicemail takes time and attention, puts this matter higher on the Commissioners' priority lists, and ensures the Commissioners will look for any email you send. Voice Mail Numbers: Patricia B. Holloway 303-271-8503, Michelle Lawrence, 303-271-8504, Richard Sheehan 303-271-8502.
SUGGESTED EMAIL COMMUNICATION:
I am a member of the mountain bike community who was not represented in the decision to close Reynolds Park to bicyclists effective March 31, 2004. I was informed that there is no appeals process for the closure decision, so I am contacting you to request the help of the Board of County Commissioners in this matter.
The decision to close Reynolds Park concerns me for three reasons: (1) The Reynolds Park Management Plan and its March 31, 2004 closure to bicyclists fails to act in accordance with Jefferson County’s Board of Commissioners adopted Resolutions and established procedures; (2) The implementers of the Reynolds Park Management Plan performed insufficient outreach efforts to mountain bike user organizations prior, during, and after closing Reynolds Park to bicyclists; and (3) The Reynolds Park closure decision, and the process by which it was enacted, sets precedents that potentially affect all JCOS trail user groups. These concerns are thoroughly detailed below for your review.
CONCERN 1: The Reynolds Park Management Plan and its March 31, 2004 closure to bicyclists fails to act in accordance with Jefferson County’s Board of Commissioners adopted Resolutions and established procedures.
In Resolution 19-96 dated April 4, 1996 the Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) adopted the recommendations contained in the Trail Use Action Plan, and directed JCOS staff to implement the provisions of the plan. On April 23, 1996 the Board of County Commissioners formally adopted the Trails Use Action Plan when it unanimously passed Resolution CC96-251.
The Reynolds Park Management Plan dated December 17, 2002 fails to act in accordance with the Trails Use Action Plan in several circumstances:
1. According to the Trails Use Action Plan page 3, paragraph 3.a.3, when dealing with existing parks and trails, JCOS staff must “Build alternate trails for specific users. Trails will not be closed to specific users until there is an alternate available.”
2. Notably, in the Reynolds Park Management Plan, it states that a “regional multi-use trail is envisioned to connect Reynolds Park with public lands to the south. Upon completion of this regional trail, the portion of Reynolds Park on the east side of Foxton Road could revert to multi-use.” The decision to close the park to bicyclists before this regional trail is built is a direct violation of the Trail Use Action Plan. Furthermore, given the anticipated construction of the regional trail, one must ask what benefit this closure decision presents at all. OSAC itself even challenged this logic when Wayne Forman asked, “What is the benefit to making a rule about restricting bike usage if the park doesn’t get much bike traffic?” (OSAC meeting minutes February 6, 2003, page 7.)
3. Open Space governing documents promote a doctrine of multiple use, provide resolutions for conflict management, and recognize that under-utilized trails should in fact be optimized to help disperse trail usage. On page 2 of the Trail Use Action Plan, Steps Taken to Minimize User Conflicts, paragraph 1.d. JCOS staff is tasked to “inform users about under-utilized trails to help disperse trail usage.” The Reynolds Park Management Plan not only fails to meet this directive, but acts specifically in opposition to it! On page 3, paragraph 6, the Reynolds Park Management Plan states that this park has “the lowest visitation rate, perhaps, of any park within the Open Space system,” yet instead of promoting the availability of Reynolds Park to additional users to disperse trail usage (as it should), the Reynolds Park Management Plan explains that its “vision is to maintain this relative low visitation.” Indeed, the Reynolds Park Management Plan even notes that the “parking lot size greatly exceeds visitation,” and very curiously “recommends redevelopment of the main parking lot to be smaller.” One cannot help but wonder if these decisions are being made to create a limitation on the goals of the Trails Use Action Plan's mission, where no limitation exists otherwise.
4. In the Trail Use Action Plan’s Mission Statement it states that it “is the objective of the Open Space Program to promote enjoyment of all parks by all users,” and further states that “is the goal of the Open Space Program to provide trails and other park facilities that permit all users to enjoy the benefits of a particular park.” The Reynolds Park Management Plan contradicts this philosophy on page 1, paragraph 5 when it suggests that it “is appropriate to make this park hiker and equestrian only,” since “there are few opportunities for a hiker/equestrian only experience in the mountainous parks within the system.”
CONCERN 2: Implementers of this decision performed insufficient outreach to the mountain bike user organizations prior, during, and after making the decision to close Reynolds Park to bicyclists.
Item 6 of the Open Space Mission “encourages the Open Space staff and the Trail Use Task Force to continue researching and evaluating park trail conflict resolution with other public agencies and user organizations.” The Trail Use Action Plan further requires JCOS staff to re-design “existing trails to minimize impacts,” and calls for the “gathering of input from staff and users.”
1. Despite the precedent setting actions contained within it, the Reynolds Park Management Plan was enacted without any mountain bike user organization (IMBA, et al.) authorizing or endorsing the Management Plan, or its decision to close the park to bicyclists.
2. While discussing the Reynolds Park Management Plan, OSAC itself expressed concerns regarding sufficient community outreach when “Mr. Burke asked how much input from the biking community was solicited and Mr. Marics stated input was received from approximately 6 people. Mr. Burke stated that he would hope there would be enough input from the bikers so that a lot of animosity is not created with the change of trail use.” (OSAC meeting minutes February 6, 2003, page 7.)
3. When responding to the question on why mountain biking user organizations were unaware of the park closure until after it had been enacted, Stanton LaBreche, Manager of Park Services noted in an email dated April 5, 2004, “It had been our expectation that the groups you mention would have been notified by the mountain bike representatives on the task force. It is unfortunate that did not occur.” Therein, Mr. LaBreche admits that the failure to communicate with mountain bike user organizations occurred, and states that he finds the communication failure to be "unfortunate." If Mr. LaBreche were sincere, it would seem logical that he would be open to the mountain biking community's input now . Unfortunately, that is not the case. On April 12, 2004 Mr. LaBreche reiterated his position via email stating: “There are no plans to revisit the closure decision. We have a realization on staff & shared by the mtn bike reps on the task force that there should have been a larger outreach on their part.”
CONCERN 3: The closure decision, and the process by which it was enacted, sets precedents that could negatively affect JCOS trail user groups.
1. In a website News Release dated January 26, 2004 JCOS states that it “accepted the recommendation to close Reynolds Park to mountain biking with the understanding that the majority of other existing Open Space Trails will continue to allow multiple use.” The term “majority” used in this News Release troublingly suggests that even more parks could be closed to mountain bikes in the future, particularly if precedents set by the Reynolds Park Management Plan are allowed to stand.
2. The Reynolds Park closure could benefit one particular user group at the expense of another. In the Reynolds Park Management Plan, it notes under Visitation and Use Trends: “a significant number of repeat visitors are local residents that access the park through adjacent property.” This notation, coupled with the Reynolds Park Management Plan's curious recommendation to make the park's "main parking lot to be smaller,” could suggest that residents who neighbor JCOS property lines have special privileges to a more private experience than those who do not.
3. Minutes from a February 6, 2003 OSAC meeting reveal: “Mr. Marics stated that park staff didn’t see large groups of bike users displaced by the rule in this park and therefore didn’t create much hardship.” By this logic, all equestrian use could be subject to closure due to that particular group's comparatively low-level use throughout the entire JCOS system.
The citizens of Jefferson County voted to tax themselves ½ of one percent on sales to fund the Open Space program in 1972; and again in 1998 these citizens approved the bonding of $160 million toward an aggressive acquisitions policy for the program. These citizens include the mountain biking community at large.
Unfortunately, during the implementation of the Reynolds Park Management Plan, the Trails Use Task Force became an information sink, instead of a source for community outreach as it was designed and intended. Its casual disregard for well-established procedures presents a perception of bias, whether intended or not. The closure of Reynolds Park to bicyclists offers no tangible benefit to trail users, appears arbitrary and capricious, violates the formally adopted Trails Use Action Plan unnecessarily, and sets dangerous precedents for all user groups.
Regrettably, despite an untold number of phone calls and email communications by the mountain biking community directly to Mr. LaBreche, he still refuses to even revisit the decision to close Reynolds Park.
THEREFORE: I, as a member of the mountain bike community who was not represented in the closure of Reynolds Park, am now requesting the help of the Board of County Commissioners.
The Trail Use Action Plan of 1996 was carefully crafted, and formally adopted, to protect the interests of all users while preserving the integrity of Open Space. In its wisdom it brings forth an understanding that any usage ban presents a potential and significant sacrifice to trail users. Based on all of the reasons explained within this communication, I respectfully make the following request of the Board of County Commissioners:
Please nullify the decision to close Reynolds Park and reopen its trails to bicyclists; unless and until the construction of the park's regional multi-use trail is completed and opened to bicyclists;
Provide an open, public, and announced forum in which all voices, including those from the mountain biking community at large, can be heard in this important and fundamental matter.
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