By Heath Urie, Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 10/27/2011 03:43:39 PM MDT
Boulder City Councilman Macon Cowles touched off a firestorm among the local mountain biking community today after sending a group of cyclists an e-mail in which he dismissed as "a bunch of s-t" their complaints over a recent vote to bar riders' access to a new trail.
The council decided in a split vote Tuesday night not to open up a planned 5-mile pedestrian and equestrian trail on Anemone Hill, the open space property just west of downtown Boulder, to mountain bikes.
The nine elected leaders have faced a barrage of e-mails from angry and disappointed cyclists in the days following that decision, but one council member's response to a group of cyclists has riled mountain bike advocates.
"I voted for the mountain bike loop on Anemone last night," Cowles wrote in an e-mail late Wednesday night. "In fact, I made the motion and spoke for it at length. All any of us are hearing today -- regardless of which side of that issue we were on -- is a bunch of s--t from people with a single minded focus on mountain bikes."
The message was directed at Frank Overton, owner of the Boulder-based FasCat Coaching & Performance Cycling Center and head coach of the University of Colorado Cycling Team. Cowles and others copied the Camera on the e-mails.
Overton had sent an e-mail to Councilwoman Lisa Morzel -- which was copied to the rest of the council -- a few hours earlier in which he said that he would not support her re-election campaign because of her vote not to allow mountain bikes on Anemone Hill.
"On Tuesday we lost a small part of why it's great to live in Boulder and I am going to vote for candidates that support making Boulder a great place to live, work and raise children," Overton wrote.
Cowles, who refused to answer questions about the e-mail exchange over the phone on Thursday, also defended Morzel in his reply.
"Writing off Lisa as a candidate based on a single vote is about the least informed way you could possibly cast a vote," he wrote.
The councilman's e-mail set off a firestorm among the mountain biking community.
"To take my e-mail and call it a bunch of s--t from a bunch of mountain bikers, that was inappropriate," Overton said.
He called the tone of Cowles' response "surprising" coming from an elected official.
"I felt like it belittled the issue that I was expressing my concerns and opinion over, like it was not important or that he had been bothered that day by the barrage of e-mails from concerned citizens," he said.
Isaac Stokes, another Boulder mountain biker, expressed similar feelings.
"If I did that in my job, I would be fired instantly," he said. "It's just so unbelievably inappropriate."
Olympic mountain biker and Boulder resident Ann Trombley also responded to Cowles' message on Thursday.
"I am sorry you feel what we are saying is 's--t,'" she wrote in an e-mail to Cowles. "I don't think any of us take lightly what we are e-mailing to you. What you are hearing is our stories on top of years of frustration on being denied access to the miles of open space we all vote for.
"We have been voted down several times this year and feel we have nothing left but to try and take action the only way left to us that is peaceful."
The exchange is part of the continued fallout from Tuesday's council meeting.
Mayor Susan Osborne, who voted "no" on mountain bike access to an Anemone Hill loop, wrote an e-mail to Stokes earlier this week saying, "I am really done with the whiney and spoiled and, frankly, erroneous fiction you guys tell yourselves. You do not help your cause."
The council is still considering whether to add a 2.9-mile connector trail for mountain bikes along the south end of Anemone Hill, bringing the issue back for discussion early next month.