Windsor officials reroute Poudre River Trail onto temporary path to accommodate oil and gas project |

Windsor officials reroute Poudre River Trail onto temporary path to accommodate oil and gas project

James Redmond

Just a bit west of Eastman Park in Windsor a proposed oil and gas project rerouted the Poudre River Trail onto a temporary path that could stay in place for upward of a year.

Construction is already set to begin on a road near Great Western Oil and Gas Co.'s proposed pad site, so Friday Windsor officials rerouted Poudre River Traffic onto the new, temporary, trail.

If that oil and gas project sounds familiar, that's probably because it made a lot of headlines and fueled some contention in town over its original location on the Pace Property at the west end of Windsor a couple years ago. However, Great Western, town of Windsor officials and local residents spent a lot of time and effort finding another solution they felt worked better for everyone.

That solution put the oil and gas pad in Water Valley developer Martin Lind's Raindance development near the site of the future Raindance National Golf Course and smack in the middle of the what was — up until Friday — the Poudre River Trail.

“All parties involved are working to ensure user safety and trail experience while incorporating responsible community and energy industry development, Eric LucasDirector of parks, recreation and culture.

The oil and gas pad just started the permitting process, and according to a news release from the town of Windsor, once the permitting process is complete, pad construction will begin. Because of that proposed work and the impending road construction, the trail needed to move.

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"Great Western hopes to have all necessary permits by mid-spring and we will commence construction of our locations at that time," said Eric Creed, surface land manager for Great Western Oil & Gas. "We hope to have the trail back open, on its new route, this summer."

For now a reroute will take Poudre River Trail users along a temporary asphalt aggregate path around the north side of the oil and gas site. Officials estimate the temporary trail could be in place for up to a year.

"All parties involved are working to ensure user safety and trail experience while incorporating responsible community and energy industry development," said Eric Lucas, Windsor's director of parks, recreation and culture.

Still the reroute and long-term future of the trail with its close proximity to the oil and gas pad and the proposed golf course drew concern from town board members.

The Poudre River Trail is a northern Colorado treasure, board member Myles Baker said while explaining his worry that the trail might take second place to commerce or money.

Water Valley representative Tara Sinclair told Windsor town board members that she'd heard many worries and concerns about the changes to the Poudre River Trail, but Water Valley officials have worked hard to mitigate them.

A big part of those initial efforts were designing and building a high-quality temporary trail.

"We've spent a lot of money on this, the temporary trail will be $30,000 alone, just for the temporary, not even to rip it out," she said. "You know, we understand that this is a very important project and we're prepared to spend money on it and do it right way."

The alternate trail route is made up of a compacted asphalt mix, not concrete, Lucas said.

"It is our hope that it lasts long enough and holds up to usage and weather while the new permanent route is being installed and while construction is ongoing," he said. "So a possible negative may be ride experience and maintenance. I am hoping that neither are an issue."

However, less can be done to mitigate other concerns Lucas has like construction noise and dust.

Once the site reaches completion the current plan is to have the final trail snake along south side of the oil and gas pad. Landscaping and a berm should break up the lines of sight between the trail and the oil and gas site, Sinclair told Windsor officials earlier this month.

"So trail users won't be looking down off a cliff onto the oil and gas location," she said.

However, officials from the Poudre Trail Board, the town of Windsor and Water Valley haven't worked out all the details for the final, permanent route.

Water Valley officials will return to the town board in a few months to talk about the final route, said Town Manager Kelly Arnold and until then, residents will use the temporary reroute.

"I think this a good compromise at the end of the day," said Mayor Kristie Melendez. "In the meantime I think we have something that gives our residents access to be able to enjoy the trail."

Editor's note: This story has been updated following a correction to the town of Windsor's news release. In its original version, it stated construction is set to begin on Great Western Oil and Gas Co.'s proposed pad site. It also stated construction on the site will start during the permitting process.

What’s next for the oil and gas site

Windsor just received the conditional use grant application for the Great Western oil and gas pad site in the Raindance development in the last week.

“The CUG application is just beginning the staff review process, therefore, it has not yet been scheduled for any Planning Commission or Town Board meetings,” said Windsor Director of Planing Scott Ballstadt. “The applicant will be required to hold a neighborhood meeting prior to the Town scheduling formal public hearings, so those dates have not yet been determined.”

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