AVON — A new network of trails could be in use by later this summer if council members approve a motion on their agenda Tuesday.
At an open house on the issue Saturday, town manager Virginia Egger said construction could begin as early as June 1 on a roughly 6.5-mile system of trails for hikers and mountain bikers in the open space area north of town known as the West Avon Preserve.
Wildridge residents, whose neighborhood creates a border with the preserve on its north side, expressed concern over the timetable for the trails, which was brought before council at their April 22 meeting and has already been prepared for approval this week.
“My gut feeling is this is being ramrodded on Wildridge residents without sufficient time to solicit their input,” wrote Jim Horan, who attended Saturday’s open house.
“I would appreciate your delaying this decision until more Wildwood residents can weigh in on these issues,” wrote Wildridge resident Jack Gardner.
Regardless, “the open space belongs to all of Avon, not just Wildridge,” Egger said at the Saturday meeting, adding that the council could opt to modify the motion to only approve part of it, or not approve it at all, depending on what they hear from the community at Tuesday’s meeting.
Council review of the motion is tentatively scheduled for 7:15 p.m., said town planning manager Matt Pielsticker, and those with input are welcome and encouraged to offer their opinions on the plan at that time.
BIKERS, HIKERS AND STROLLERS
Designed primarily by the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association, the local chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association, the trails plan contains easy, moderate and strenuous trails, as well as a “family flow” trail that could serve as a “social hub,” said John McDade with the association.
No trail would be limited to use by one particular group, but the network would reduce user conflicts through the nature of the trails themselves, McDade said.
“We wouldn’t limit any user group to any of these trails, what we’d do is we’d build it in a way where it’s more interesting each user group, to keep those user groups there,” McDade said on Saturday. “If I want to push a stroller down (a trail made with mountain bikers in mind), I could, but I wouldn’t.”
STAFF SAYS GO FOR IT
Three open houses on the issue were held last week.
At those meetings, “there was a general consensus to maintain separation between casual trail users and mountain bikers, where possible,” Pielsticker said. “An opportunity to create a mountain bike dominant loop was seen as a method to reduce mountain biking in the current casual areas near Beaver Creek Point.”
While the Vail Valley Mountain Biking Association’s plan originally included improvements to the existing “out and back” trail known as Beaver Creek Point, feedback from citizens will likely put a halt to any improvements or modifications to that trail.
While the original plan rang up at more than $90,000, amendments to the plan — including the idea to leave the existing Beaver Creek Point trail as is, creating a savings of $5,000 — have the current contractor cost down to $81,750, Pielsticker said.
If approved, the work will be performed by Momentum Trail Concepts out of Denver, the same company who built the new Haymaker trail in nearby Eagle last year.
Pielsticker and Avon’s town staff is recommending the council approve the motion on Tuesday, according to a staff report made public at Saturday’s open house, appropriating $69,300 from the town’s Capital Projects Fund and $12,450 from money Avon has available in a trails grant from Eagle County.
Speaking from Saturday’s open house, Councilman Dave Dantas said he was in support of the plan and he knew Mayor Rich Carroll was, as well. While he wasn’t able to attend the open houses, councilman Jake Wolf said he was likely to vote in favor of the plan on Tuesday, as well.
“I see the benefit,” Dantas said Saturday. “I think it really helps (the Wildridge neighborhood) to have a trail system that connects it to town.”