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Controversy brewing in Canon City over proposed riverwalk extension plan

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CANON CITY -

Extending the Arkansas Riverwalk Trail in Fremont County is proving contentious. There is support for adding to the trail, but there is also controversy over finding a route.

The current trail goes seven and a half miles. It runs all the way from Canon City’s west side to the east edge of the city. The plan is to extend the trail another seven plus miles further to the town of Florence.

Multiple routes have been studied. A patchwork of land ownership makes it extremely difficult. Some landowners are consenting to easements and others are saying no to easements for the trail.

Planners have identified a narrow strip of land owned by the local sanitation district as their preferred option. There are sewage lines underground. The problem is, it runs through farmland and the farmer has a lease from the sanitation district. The lease has been in place for decades.

The recreation district has offered to fence the area and create crossings for livestock. Leaders say the trail and farming can coexist. The farmer says it is not that simple. There are access and liability concerns.

The next step in the process is an upcoming vote by leaders of the Sanitation District on whether they will give an okay for parks to put in the trail. The can also vote to leave the deal with the farmer in place.

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