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A Hard Line on the High Line

Denver's plans for a popular trail are paved with good intentions--and concrete.

The controversy has also led to dueling surveys of trail users. Wallach touts the city's survey, taken over two days last summer, which favors the concrete expansion by a wide margin. Local resident Bob Heiser, a marketing professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, conducted his own survey on the trail over two and a half weeks, in varying weather conditions; the results indicate a solid majority of users surveyed oppose a wider concrete trail.

"We consider that to be a more representative user range," Heiser says. "Their survey was flawed, and we think the city's been using a rubber ruler in marking out this project all along."

LaMar views the push for more paving as a kind of bureaucratic fiat. "I can't explain why this is happening, except that Mayor Webb wants to go out as the guy who improved all the trails in Denver," she says. But Wallach counters that it's simply a case of one user group's concerns having to give way to the rising demand for the great outdoors in a big city.

"If this was a street that was being expanded into a regional highway, I would say these people have a great point," Wallach says. "But the trail's going to stay pretty much the same. There are going to be more users on the trail. But from a citywide perspective, that's not a problem--it's the goal."

Will the High Line become a one-horse trail? The stakeholder group, which consists of neighborhood representatives as well as advocates for bicycle, rollerblade, equestrian and citywide recreation interests, is expected to make a recommendation concerning the trail next month, after a public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 1 at Place Middle School.

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