EDITORíS DESK: Hard to envision losing Section 16
That is cold, hard news about Section 16. The purchase that had seemed so likely - aided by a $1 million Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant and fundraising
led by the Palmer Land Trust - now seems as distant as treeline. For those of you who have hiked or biked the property over the many years that the city or county
has leased it for recreational use, I don't suppose I need to provide any description. But if you've never been there, all I can say is that I think you'd really enjoy it, with
its variety of meadows, valleys and pockets of forest. Mixed in is the simultaneous, bemusing experience of "getting away from it all" yet at the same taking in great
views of the metropolitan area. The access has improved over time, too. Twenty years ago, there was really just the Palmer/Red Rock Loop trail, but a volunteer
effort led by the Intemann Trail Committee (full disclosure: I was part of that) in the late '80s built the Intemann Trail between the Palmer Trail and Crystal Park Road,
and four years ago, area volunteers worked with City Parks staff to build a link from the Red Rock Canyon trail system up to the Intemann.
So Section 16 is a great place. But now comes the unavoidable question: Is it worth the cost? When the State Land Board insists on a purchase price that's millions above the appraised value, how can city officials justify paying it - especially during these monetary hard times? Same goes for a lease renewal. It was a no-brainer back when the bill was just $640 a year, But the Land Board's demand of $156,000 annually after 2010 is also a budget-breaker. And maybe that's how it will be... a simple push of a delete button on an accountant's keyboard in the name of fiscal responsibility.
I just hope another way can be found. The idea of a fence around Section 16, especially after all the work that's gone into it, truly seems unthinkable.