~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The off-highway vehicle craze in Teller County and the western United States will soon invade the area’s gaming hub.
Last week, the Cripple Creek City Council gave the staff the go-ahead to proceed with drafting a new law that legalizes the use of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) on all local roadways throughout the community on a 24/7 basis. The initial reading of the pro-off-road vehicle travel rule, which would end the current restrictions against ATV use on city streets, is slated for May 3.
If plans proceed on schedule, Cripple Creek will probably become an official off-road vehicle-friendly community by early June. With this action, Cripple Creek will follow in the footsteps of Victor and even Teller County, which recently passed a pro-off-highway vehicle ordinance for certain key roadways.
According to City Administrator Ray DuBois, no formal vote was taken last week by the council. However, he reiterated that the idea of opening its streets to ATVs, dirt bikes and a wide bevy of off-highway vehicles, received an extremely positive response.
“There was strong support for going ahead with this ordinance,” said DuBois. The city administrator, who previously worked in Craig, Colorado, is familiar with this type of legislation and only predicts a moderate increase in off-highway vehicle use within Cripple Creek with the new law. “Everyone thought we would get over-run by ATVs (in Craig). That just wasn’t the case,” said DuBois, who views the plan more as a pro-recreation symbolic stance. “We don’t see this as a big game-changer in Cripple Creek,” added DuBois.
At last week’s meeting, no opposing comments against opening up the city’s streets to off-highway vehicles occurred, according to officials. That’s a much different scenario from a recent Teller County commissioners meeting in which plans for off-highway vehicle use sparked a huge debate. Several vocal opponents raised a red flag about problems for nearby residents and for possible road problems and management issues for the forest service.
But on the pro-side, local trail and ATV buffs cited the huge increase in this recreational activity and the money it generates for the area. They also stated that most ATV enthusiasts are responsible riders and help enforce the rules.
The pro-ATV comments in Cripple Creek followed an earlier meeting in January. At that time, the police department indicated no opposition to ending the current ATV restrictions as long as off-road vehicle operators abide by the same rules that govern regular motorists. Plus, under Cripple Creek’s rules, these off-highway operators must have insurance and a proper park stickers with the state, and have their vehicles furnished with head and brake lights. Certain motorcycle vehicles, meanwhile, must be licensed, according to the city’s forthcoming proposal.
A recreational jewel
The impetus behind the move is to open the doors for more recreational activity in Cripple Creek and southern Teller. Cripple Creek is trying to develop more trails and opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts as part of a bid to generate more tourism. By opening up the streets more to ATV riders, the town will make it easier for off-road operators to access a growing network of trails
DuBois conceded that southern Teller hasn’t devised a trail system that compares with northern Teller, located at the footsteps of the Pike National Forest. But he cited outdoor recreation as a growing boom activity in the area. “It creates a link between here and Victor,” said the city administrator, when the issue was first discussed several months ago.
The new ATV legalization plan also ties in with Cripple Creek’s continual recreation pursuits.
The town plans to develop a mega, outdoor adventure park, with the financial help of Great Outdoors Colorado. The facility will include an 18-hole, disc golf course, multi-use trail for cyclists, hikers and joggers, ponds, a sledding area, a BMX track, a dog park and more.
Last week, the council agreed to accept the grant it received from the state. That puts pressure on the city to finalize work on the Mountain View Adventure Park by the end of the year. The city will provide a considerable amount of in-kind contributions, with its public works department doing much of the dirt and excavation work.
The $220,000-plus grant has put Cripple Creek on the map from a recreation standpoint. In the last few weeks, this project has attracted much attention.