The El Pomar Foundation, under the leadership of Bill Hybl, cannot get too much credit for helping make Colorado Springs a world-class city.
When the homeless need help, El Pomar comes to the rescue. It supports arts, culture, health, human services, education and more throughout the Pikes Peak region.
So, it is no big surprise the foundation announced Thursday a grant of $1 million toward a new mountain bike park. The facility will create another good reason to visit one of the country's premiere tourist regions.
The announcement comes at an opportune time. Transit Mix mining company plans to move operations from its Pikeview Quarry to a hidden location 10 miles from the city, that almost nobody will see.
After moving, Transit Mix will expedite reclamation of the Pikeview "scar on the mountain," seen by hundreds of thousands each day. Among options, Transit Mix offers to gift Pike View to the city along with assistance to build a one-of-a-kind biking facility.
"The renderings released last week, designed with funds from Transit Mix, for a world class destination bike park create an exciting opportunity for amateur sports in Colorado Springs," says an El Pomar statement announcing the grant. "While this grant will not be site specific, the location suggested by Transit Mix has the added benefit of being a creative solution to reclamation."
Hybl supports funding a bike park and wants city officials to determine the location.
Mayor John Suthers praised the El Pomar grant and the proposal for a bike park.
"The Parks Department through its Master Plan process, has expressed a desire to put a world-class mountain bike park in Colorado Springs for several years now," Suthers said. "With this generous gift from El Pomar, we are one major step closer to realizing this particular element of the Master Plan and for that we are very grateful."
The Pikeview proposal has piqued enthusiasm among some prestigious members of the cycling community.
"The mountain bike park envisioned for Pikeview would be a tremendous amenity in any community but especially valuable here in Colorado Springs, where America's Olympic athletes could train on it," said Marc Gullickson, USA Cycling's mountain bike program director.
Cory Sutela, president of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, called Pikeview "very, very suitable land that would become the best bike park in any city park system in the world."
Derek Bouchard-Hall, president and CEO of USA Cycling, did not single out the Pikeview proposal but said "a world-class facility where Team USA athletes could train in our community would be a tremendous asset."
Other Front Range bike parks vary from a few acres to about 40. The Pikeview park would give cyclists 150 acres, with nearly 900 feet of vertical change in elevation. A Transit Mix news release suggests using the company's maintenance shop as a center for events, bike clinics, races, bike service and rentals, and a coffee shop or concessionaire.
The proposed park's location next to Pike National Forest provides potential trail connections to the forest and a trail network atop Rampart Range.
All that and more explains why city officials have looked at Pikeview as a potential bike park for years.
We need assurance the location is safe for cycling, but various experts have contemplated Pikeview as a bike park for years and consider the location feasible.
If the plan is deemed safe and otherwise viable, it provides the perfect use for an El Pomar grant. Spencer Penrose and his wife, Julie, established the foundation after earning a fortune in mining.
By helping pay for a bike park, at any good location, El Pomar will help create a priceless community asset for generations to come.