By KATIE BRUELL
I’m writing to address the three proposed bicycle projects from Community Services. I believe it’s important to consider each one of these separately, as they raise different issues.
The 7-mile trail seems like basically doing a little trail work on existing trails and then advertising them as a continuous mountain bike trail. I’m all in favor of improving trails, so this seems like a good project, as long as signage, advertisements, etc. make it clear that this is a multi-use trail, not just for mountain bikers. The trail user community was very pleased when Cory Styron agreed to re-route this trail design to avoid using Acid Canyon Trail, since that trail is steep, unsafe, and home to endangered species.
The NICA trail at the bottom of Pueblo Canyon has also undergone some changes from the original design–we no longer see the hundreds of parking spaces or camping sites that were originally shown there. I don’t personally have much of an opinion on this trail as long as it goes through a thorough environmental review and gets the approval of the tribes and pueblos who have cultural sites in the area.
The skills park is a great idea. I’d love to have a bike skills park in Los Alamos, but strongly believe that Open Space is the wrong location for it. The process to find a site for this amenity has been seriously flawed, and, in fact, guaranteed to make people angry. There are many places in town that could host a skills park. The message from the Community Services Dept, however, has been that Pueblo Canyon, right below the Nature Center, is the ONLY place in the entirety of the county where this can be located. The reasons given for this vary–from “because I determined it with my experience” (–Cory Styron) to “people are going to object no matter where you put it” (–mountain bikers on Facebook).
I believe siting the project in one spot and then waiting for people to object is the wrong way to go about this. If we really want a skills park, and I certainly do, tell the community that this is an asset that the County has budgeted for and which will be built. Choose four or five possible locations for the skills park (not all of them on Open Space, since many, myself included, believe that siting this on Open Space is a violation of the comprehensive plan), and write up the pros and cons of each location. You could even include the professionals that the County hired to design these amenities in site selection–instead of telling them to just design for a predetermined site. Make a survey widely available, do focus groups, and whatever else the County does to get input, and have community-wide ranked choice voting on the location. This way, the community will feel included, Community Services will be able to say “we’re putting it in this location because that’s where the community wanted it to be” and it will be a positive process, rather than a negative one.
Thanks for reading my long letter and considering all the opinions of our community members.