Quarry owner pitches new bike park
We’ve all seen it, that quarry scar in the foothills of the Front Range through Colorado Springs. It’s called Pikeview Quarry and it’s been in operation since 1905. However, the owner of the property announced plans Wednesday to convert it to a world class mountain bike park.
“The City has put up with the scar for a number of years and they deserve something at the end of it,” said Jerry Schnabel, President of Transit Mix who owns the quarry.
His company worked with local cycling advocates and members of the City Parks and Recreation Department to develop this proposal. They hired the company Flowride Concepts to create drawings and plans for the 150-acre site. The slope side property climbs roughly 900 feet in elevation raising the possibility for unique courses and jumps.
Executives at USA Cycling think the new park would be a perfect place for Olympic athletes to train.
“We end up running various skills camps at locations throughout the country, and those are good locations, but to have that facility here combined with the Olympic Training Center really will be a game changer,” said Marc Gullickson, director of Mountain Biking for the Olympic governing body.
Cory Sutela of the mountain biking group Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates said the park will be much more than a mountain biking course. The proposed amenities include mountain, downhill and slopestyle tracks, a BMX and pump track, a youth learning area, flow trails, a cyclocross course and a bike polo field.
“Really, this has the potential to be one of the best bike parks within a city park system in the world,” Sutela said.
But not everyone’s excited about the idea. In order to move, Transit Mix would first need to open a new quarry to keep their business supplied with raw materials. They think the privately owned Hitch Rack Ranch is the right place for it.
“They’re going to dangle this shiny object of a bike park to distract from the real issues,” said Kristan Rigdon.
She lives near the ranch which is located south of Cheyenne Mountain State Park along Colorado Highway 115. Rigdon is vice president of the Highway 115 Citizens Advisory Committee which filed objections against a previous application by Transit Mix to mine the ranch.
The Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board denied the application in a 3-2 vote over the concerns her group raised about the quarry’s impact. One such concern, access to water.
“We are in a fractured granite aquifer, which is unique and complicated, but essentially it is the only source of water and a quarry in that location threatens that water,” Rigdon said.
She compared the situation to the blasting work conducted by the military during the construction of the subterranean Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station which serves the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD.) That construction disrupted similar granite aquifers that supplied the neighboring JL Ranch. The ranch owner subsequently sued the government and won.
Schnabel said they’ve learned from their previous experience and have since addressed the concerns raised by Ridgon’s group in their new application.
“We think like we’ve addressed those concerns specifically,” Schnabel said.
The staff of the Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety has recommended that the Mined Land Reclamation Board approve the new application. The MLRB will make a decision at their next scheduled meeting between April 25 and 26.
If Transit Mix is successful, they will then need to get land use approval from the El Paso County Board of Commissioners.