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Our View: Trail rerouting off Bosmans’ property comes down to semantics

In early spring, frequent hikers of the trail named for Charles Dale Rea, along the east side of the Animas River downstream from Demon Bridge, asked a city of Durango crew why the trail was being realigned by about 5 feet. It turned out this social trail that became a city trail inadvertently crossed the properties of several residents, including Durango City Councilor Olivier Bosmans.

All of the property owners had accepted the city’s offer of adjusting property boundary lines, except for Bosmans, who wanted something else.

That’s his prerogative.

As a resident, Bosmans had every right to decline the city’s offer. He’s deserving of a remedy. Naturally, because he’s a councilor, the project sparked more interest and raised questions as to whether he had exerted influence.

According to a news story in The Durango Herald on Tuesday with the headline, “Residents ask why trail alignment was made at Durango city councilor’s request,” an indirect quote says, “Bosmans preferred to have the trail moved rather than to adjust his property boundary, according to Durango Parks and Recreation.”

Despite multiple attempts, the reporter could not speak with Bosmans until after the story was published. Bosmans then commented on the Herald’s site: “What a disappointing article. I never asked for a trail realignment, that was a City decision and design. If only the Durango herald (sic) would do factual reporting and fact checking.”

That stings a little and is partly inaccurate. But we’ll offer the benefit of the doubt and attribute any confusion to semantics.

Maybe Bosmans didn’t specifically say he wanted a trail realignment. According to that news story, the sliver of property is on a steep, heavily wooded hillside.

But he had requested boulders or revegetation to restore his western property boundary. That would “delineate one trail that’s been there forever,” said Scott McClain, assistant parks director.

Hikers would have to walk around these obstacles, changing the course of the trail. One could argue, this would be a rerouting.

The city didn’t go with this plan, for whatever reason. Maybe hauling boulders onto a steep slope could have unintended consequences. But we’re speculating, trail reconstruction not being our forte.

Instead, the city rerouted the trail, added a retaining rock wall and planting wild rose, serviceberry and alder saplings.

In 2023, Bosmans did make clear he wanted the issue of trespassing and encroachment resolved. Or he’d consider the possibility of legal options.

Again, he had every right to request this. And the city had to act on it.

The projected cost of the realignment is about $7,500, with an estimated $6,000 for labor and $1,500 for renting equipment.

A second phase of fire mitigation was in the works, so the timing worked out with the reconstruction. A slope needed stabilizing, where fire crews had widened the trail to fit their equipment. Surveys were completed with property boundaries marked up.

Ultimately, the city made good on the trail. Hopefully, all property owners are happy with results. Newly fancied up with finishing touches, the trail is ready for summer strolls by the river.