(Daily Camera (Boulder, CO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 16--A community meeting has been scheduled by city officials and the National Institute of Standards and Technology after south Boulder residents expressed concerns over the closure of social paths near the NIST campus.
Last week, the city of Boulder began closing several undesignated trails that run between a concrete bike path along Skunk Canyon and a parallel dirt service road 50 yards away.
The land is owned by NIST but is part of 103 acres surrounding the campus managed by the city in exchange for NIST allowing public access on designated trails.
Dave Kuntz, division manager for the city's Open Space and Mountain Parks department, said NIST requested the city close the paths and restore the land to its original state to avoid erosion and for security reasons.
Kuntz said maintaining the designated trails and closing down undesignated trails in the area also is part of the West Trail Study Area Plan.
"The city is the management entity for the protected area, but NIST gets to decide what goes on there, so we work with them," Kuntz said.
Depending on the weather conditions and whether people respect the closures, the land could take about a year or more to be completely restored.
But some residents in nearby neighborhoods have said the paths have served for decades as access to the open space near the NIST campus.
"We've been using those as traditional neighborhood trails," said Kathleen Adair, president of the Martin Acres Neighborhood Association. "Some people said they have been using them for 50 years. I personally have been using them for 30."
Adair said she has not seen any of the erosion issues NIST has brought up and also doesn't understand when security became a concern.
"I'm not sure what their perspective is, why they suddenly have a security concern," Adair said. "And for the most part, most of the trails managed in the flood just fine."
Adair also said the communication among NIST, the city and the residents was not clear, and that the sudden appearance of barricades sparked all sorts of speculation.
"The email lists were blowing up for a few days," Adair said. "There were all kinds of different reports depending on who people talked to at NIST or the city."
Not helping matters was that the city mistakenly put barricades on a few paths near Broadway on the east side of the NIST campus. Kuntz said those barricades were put up in error and were taken down Friday.
"That was certainly unintended," Kuntz said.
A community meeting was scheduled for Tuesday for members of the community to weigh in and ask questions of NIST and city officials.
"It's an opportunity to have a conversation and see what makes the most sense," Kuntz said.
Adair said she is also hopeful a lot of rumors will be put to bed by getting all of the involved parties in the same room and on the same page.
"We can just kind of clear the air, find out what is happening and what the plan is," Adair said. "I'm just hoping it will all settle down."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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