Estes Park residents not thrilled about proposed ride on mayor pro tem’s land

ESTES PARK, Colo. -- Some Estes Park residents are not thrilled about a proposed amusement ride to be built on the mayor pro tem's land because they said it will override their property rights, harm wildlife and ruin the tranquility of the area.

A group has organized in opposition of the proposed ride to be built north of Mayor Pro Tem Cody Walker's Sombrero Ranch horse riding stables and just east of Dry Gulch Road.

Opponents argue the land is zoned residential and by allowing Walker to add a commercial amusement ride to the property, it'll set a precedent that people will be able to use their residential properties commercially.

"The entire valley has been up in arms about this," said Rebecca Urquhart. "This has implications for everyone in the development zone. Anyone could have these pop up amusement facilities so there has been a lot of outrage."

"When it doesn’t make sense, when it destroys zoning, when formal public input on the record is prohibited, none of it makes sense and that’s how you destroy faith in the government," said Bill Urquhart.

Opponents also worry that noise pollution from the shrills and yells of ride goers will impact wildlife in the area and ruin tranquility for neighborhoods adjacent to the site.

"They are going to hear all of the screaming people, which is going to be about 240 people per hour," said Diana Van Der Ploeg.

Walker operates a horseback riding company on the land. The family business was started decades ago, before zoning was established in the area.

Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa said he hasn't sided publicly one way or the other.

Jirsa said an argument he's heard in favor of the coaster is that it's an extension of Walker's commercial riding business, already grandfathered into the land.

Walker is out of town and couldn't be reached for comment.

"There has been an application to build a Mountain Coaster on the back side of my two hour horse trail," he told the Estes Park Trail Gazette. "It's a small addition. It is going to be a good recreation facility, the town will really benefit."

Opponents of the coaster said they plan to appeal the decision.

"We think his is a severe conflict of interest. He’s on the town board. He’s mayor pro tem," said Van Der Ploeg.

"I think there are quiet a few convenient coincidences," said Urquhart.

There will be a public meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. where residents plan to voice their concerns to officials.

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