From Darkness To Light

25 Dec 2019

Dead upon arrival: directional up trail killed without due public process of city boards

Posted by Adam Howell

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Durango’s Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz killed Trails 2000’s proposal for a directional trail in Overend Mountain Park without letting the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board vote on it.

A group of people discusses a proposal to designate Star Wars Trail as a one-way.

It would have been a new uphill-directional trail for people that are heading to the top of Star Wars Trail. Star Wars Trail is not officially designated as directional, however, despite numerous letters and public comments that were made to the city in favor of encouraging downward directional traffic there.

A few residents in the neighborhood below it were against the city suggesting a direction of travel on Star Wars. Barb Gysel, for example, said that her and her son enjoy hiking up it.

Meanwhile, Metz failed to acknowledge any support that the public had for the city encouraging directional traffic on existing systems of trails in Durango.

Several comments in support of encouraging directional travel on trails were sent directly from a petition on this website, Horse Gulch Blog.

Myself, Brian Schoff, Jerry Hazard, Scot Davis, and David Elkan wrote to the city in support of encouraging directional travel on specific city trails.

Metz’s rejection of voices in support of directional travel on existing city open space lands was recently brought to the surface again by her denial of Trails 2000’s directional trail proposal for Overend Mountain Park.

“We denied it for a variety of reasons; because of opposition from the neighborhood,” said Metz. “They don’t want that, so we’re not going to approve it.”

Committee recommendations for directional trails and trail system modification process ignored

Metz’s denial of Trails 2000’s directional uphill trail in Overend Mountain Park without a vote from the Board violates the recommendation from the Natural Surface Trails Committee that she helped assemble in 2014.

In 2014, city staff assembled a Natural Surface Trails Committee to study trail issues such as directional travel. The committee suggested that, “the City and Trails 2000 promote multi-use and two-direction trails in the City’s natural surface trail system.”

“However, signage shall be installed on existing trails with limited sight distances, including Star Wars in Overend Mountain Park and Snake Charmer in Horse Gulch, recommending downhill travel and caution all users to be aware of potential conflicts with uphill users,” the report says on page 3.

Natural Surface Trails Board

Metz’s subversion of the trail system modification process violates the recommendations of a different Natural Surface Trails Committee that she helped assemble in 2015, which suggested on page 7 that,

“All proposals for trails on City property will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Department in collaboration with other City departments, Trails 2000, and if necessary, the La Plata Open Space Conservancy, for their Board’s approval.”

“Proposals not included within this Report may require formal presentation before a publicly noticed City Board meeting at which public testimony will be collected to assist with the review process.”

Draft Natural Surface Trails Analysis Final Report With Attachments

Metz’s comments about the trail system modification process veered away from acknowledging the recommendations of the Natural Surface Trails Committees, and excluded the voices of those in support for directional travel on existing city trails.

“We’re not doing that,” Metz said about the proposed directional trail. “We’re not doing any directional trails right now, if you remember. We went through that analysis in 2014 and 2015 with a pretty extensive public engagement process and the community told us at that time that they do not want directional trails on our current trail system. That’s why we don’t have up and down trails anywhere currently, because that’s what the community told us.”

Illustration by City of Durango.

Trails 2000’s Executive Director Mary Monroe Brown had presented the up trail to Star Wars Trail proposal to the board on February 12, 2018, and again on December 9, 2019.

Metz did not respond to Monroe-Brown at the meetings in person to tell her that the proposal was denied. The topic of denial was not brought to the board at the Dec. 9th meeting until after Monroe Brown and her crew leaders left the room after their presentation at the meeting.

Implementing a directional trail in a system that traditionally has been all multi-directional would be too contentious, she said.

“Because we can’t enforce it,” said Metz. “We have told Trails 2000 that because of the process that we had in 2014 or 2015, and the level of opposition that we had from the neighbors, that we are not interested in pursuing that at the present time. Both, that we are not interested in pursuing that it’s built, because we have already had the public comment saying that the community is not interested in that.”

“I think that we are looking at directional user-specific trails particularly in Durango Mesa Park where we are looking at designating them as a bike-only or hike-only or equestrian-only and it would be a certain direction of travel,” said Metz.

Adam Howell is a writer who is on the city of Durango’s Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board. His reporting and commentary does not reflect or represent the views of the Board or the municipal government. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.

Petition to City of Durango Officials to encourage one-way directional travel on its steep narrow trails with blind corners, minimal escape routes and dominant user trends

This petition is now closed.

End date: Jan 01, 2022

Signatures collected: 5

Signature goal: 500

5 signatures

Signature goal: 500

Latest Signatures
Scot Davis
May 14, 2015
David Elkan
Durango, CO 
Sep 04, 2013
Brian Schoff
Durango, CO 
Aug 20, 2013
Jerry Hazard
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Aug 19, 2013
Adam Howell
Durango, Colorado 
Aug 19, 2013

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