The Manitou Springs City Council decided Tuesday to reopen the Manitou Incline through a free reservation system that would limit the number of hikers allowed on the popular trail.

Council members voted 5-2 to move forward with Friday's Memorandum of Understandingwhich states all users of the shuttle to Manitou Incline will need to make reservations, including Manitou Springs residents with proof of residency.

This system will be in effect until a longer term solution is agreed upon, the council decided. Incline access will be limited to the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A start date for reopening under the reservation system was not specified. Manitou Springs Mayor John Graham said they are now waiting for Colorado Springs to reply to Tuesday's decision and will probably confirm a date within a few days.

For the initial two weeks of operation, reservations will be limited to 35 people per 30 minute window. After that period, reservations will be limited to 45 people per 30 minute window.

The number of people permitted per 30 minute window may be adjusted depending on the availability of parking spaces at Hiawatha Gardens and Iron Springs Chateau, where the shuttle will leave from.

Regarding details and potential unforeseen problems of the shuttle and free reservation system, Mayor Graham said there will be some "experimentation and fine tuning going along."

Although this system is uncharted territory, Graham is confident it will work out.

The city of Colorado Springs would operate the system and provide staff, Colorado Springs parks director Karen Palus said.

Five attendants -- seasonal employees -- have been hired and are ready to go, along with the reservation website, Palus said.

"We're ready. We've been ready for weeks now," she said.

While some Manitou council members did not comment on the plan during the meeting, others fiercely voiced their opposition, saying the Incline's resident municipality -- Manitou Springs -- should handle management and accused Colorado Springs officials of neglecting the Incline's impact on parking, crowding and quality of life in town.

The reopening plan comes after El Paso county tightened restrictions on large gatherings Monday in attempts to get COVID-19 case numbers to go down.

Popular trailhead west of Colorado Springs to close for several weeks
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