Avon council says ‘no’ to GoPro Games event | VailDaily.com

Avon council says ‘no’ to GoPro Games event

AVON — The Avon Town Council said thanks but no thanks to hosting a pair of GoPro Mountain Games events.

The Vail Valley Foundation wanted to run an enduro mountain-bike race on the West Avon Preserve. The Town Council voted 6-1 against it. When the vote was finally cast Tuesday, many in the room applauded.

Along with the bike race, the Town Council also sank a proposed GoPro Mountain Games stand-up paddleboard event on Avon’s Nottingham Lake, which was part of the same proposal. That event may come back as a separate proposal, the VVF said.

Location, location

“What we saw was democracy at work, and it worked well. We’re pleased with the outcome and with how the town and the Vail Valley Foundation handled the process.”Jim DausExecutive director, Eagle Valley Land Trust

The sticking point for the mountain bike event was the location, not the race itself.

West Avon Preserve is dedicated open space and a popular area for mountain biking. Many in the room told the Town Council that they did not want its profile raised even more.

To host the race, the area would have been off limits to local riders for part of the Thursday and Friday of next June’s GoPro Mountain Games.

The Vail Valley Foundation offered to restrict spectators and course officials to around 250 to minimize the impact, but in the end it wasn’t the numbers that mattered.

“For this event we need err on the side of caution and I’ll be voting no,” said council member Scott Prince.

One council member said that the trails have been fabulously successful and asked a version of “What’s in it for me?”

“If the trails are already so heavily used, do you want to encourage more use?” asked council member Sarah Smith Hymes.

She voted against it.

“It’s hard to say no to the Foundation,” said Jennie Fancher, Avon’s mayor.

When she was running for Town Council, she said she would not support races up there. She stuck with that in Tuesday’s vote.

The Vail Valley Foundation said they’re trying to expand the GoPro Mountain Games beyond the Vail Village core and that they’re in it long term, no matter what the Avon council’s decision was.

Preserving the Preserve

The West Avon Preserve conservation easement was signed May 9, 2013, as part of the historic Eagle Valley Land Exchange, a regional land swap that protects six parcels and more than 1,550 acres of local land from development.

The West Avon Preserve had been on the radar of developers for more than 30 years, said Tommy Glass, of Western Land Exchange.

Glass coordinates land exchanges and said those 478 acres have been in play since 1981, when it was Forest Service land. It was about to be surrounded by the growing community of Avon and the agency put it on the auction block, under orders from then-Interior Secretary James Watt. A federal court later rescinded those orders.

The West Avon Preserve lies between Avon and Singletree. The site offers public access for hiking and biking along the Avon to Singletree Trail, June Creek Trail and Beaver Creek Point Trail.

Avon owns it; the Eagle Valley Land Trust holds the permanent conservation easement.

Land, not lobbying

The Land Trust did not lobby for or against the proposed GoPro Mountain Games event.

“What we saw was democracy at work, and it worked well,” said Jim Daus, Land Trust executive director. “We’re pleased with the outcome and with how the town and the Vail Valley Foundation handled the process.”

When the conservation easement was written, the town negotiated the right to hold commercial biking events. That put the Land Trust in the “uncomfortable” position of having to permit a competitive bike race on conserved land, Daus said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.