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Rocky Mountain Greenway lawsuit is dismissed by environmentalists

Rocky Mountain Greenway lawsuit is dismissed by environmentalists

A group of environmental advocates and health care workers have filed an appeal of a judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit arguing that Boulder City Council should have considered other alternatives and held a public hearing when it agreed to move forward with plans to fund trail connections at Rocky Flats.

Randall Weiner, attorney representing the Colorado chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Environmental Information Network, filed the appeal Wednesday on behalf of Harvey Nichols, biologist Harvey Nichols.

Boulder officials were not available for comment.

In April, the City Council decided to proceed with its plan to apply for a Federal Land Access Program grant to build an underpass at Colo. 128 to connect trails in Boulder and Boulder County to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge trail system.

The Rocky Mountain Greenway would eventually connect the Rocky Mountain Arsenal with the Two Ponds and Rocky Flats wildlife reserves with Rocky Mountain National Park. It would be an 80-mile long trail.

The original lawsuit, filed in May, claimed that the city should have looked into other options and held a public hearing before it decided to proceed with funding the trail connections. The lawsuit also claimed that Boulder failed to comply with a 2016 resolution that required it to consider other options before proceeding with the greenway.

In July, Boulder was denied an emergency motion to prevent them from spending money to build an overpass. Later that month, Boulder filed a motion claiming the plaintiffs lacked standing and that the courts did in fact have no jurisdiction.

The appeal reveals that the judge incorrectly ruled that the plaintiffs in this case didn’t have standing.

“The members of the plaintiff groups live and recreate within the vicinity of the underpass, and such recreation will be curtailed because they believe that construction of the underpass would pose a direct threat to their health and safety should they continue to recreate there,” the appeal read. “They have also suffered informational injury by the citys failure to analyze the off-refuge alternative required by the 2016 City Council. The individual plaintiff will suffer taxpayer injury and harm to his interest in insuring that his city governments actions are lawful.”

The appeal also argued the city’s actions did fall under the jurisdiction of the courts. In its motion to dismiss, Boulder contended that “it took no action at all” at an April 13 meeting regarding the underpass.

The appeal argues that Boulder “treated the April 13 meeting as the final action needed by City Council to fully engage in the project to connect the citys open space lands with the Refuge.”

Rocky Flats is located 10 miles from Boulder in unincorporated Jefferson County. It was opened for public recreation in 2018 13 years after a long $7 billion cleanup of 21 tons of radioactive material at the former nuclear trigger station. Rocky Flats produced plutonium triggers between 1952 and 1989. 1,300 acres of the 6,200-acre property remain closed to the public as a Superfund site.

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