Pikes Peak: Colorado Springs Utilities struggling with plan to open south slope to recreation

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

While many of the 50 or so in attendance at a public open house had their own ideas for recreation — ranging from hiking, horseback riding and camping — most agreed on one thing: The area should have been opened a long time ago. “If they can do it on the North Slope, why can’t they do it on the South Slope?” said state Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, a mountain biker, referring to the North Slope reservoir area that opened to the public in the early 1990s. “So many other cities, Denver, Boulder, have opened their water facilities for public recreation opportunities, I find it hard to believe Colorado Springs can’t do it as well as Denver or Boulder,” Merrifield said.

Several reservoirs were built on the South Slope from 1878 to 1912. Utilities has been studying how to allow public access to the 15,000-acre area for a decade. A 1999 study recommended building four hiking trails, and in 2007 Utilities issued a plan to move forward with the trails, after public meetings and a recommendation from a citizens advisory group. But officials have since, with the agreement of the citizens panel, decided to hire a consultant to study all forms of recreation. Budget issues delayed the $200,000 project last year…

Utilities officials said they will consider the public comments and release a “conceptual plan” for public access in January, but that trails probably won’t begin being built until 2011.

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