Talley Defense Systems is preparing to erect a fence near its northeast Mesa plant that would cut off access to a long-time recreational trail.
Cyclists and hikers have enjoyed access to the trail, which crosses state trust land, for several decades while the company has operated nearby. Tally makes ejection-seat rockets and shoulder-launched weapons. The path’s increasing popularity has led the company to decide they should put up the fence, said Talley security director Scott Kerr.
The company announced its intention by posting Department of Homeland Security signs on the edge of its property. He said defense officials aren’t requiring the fence, but could pull contracts because cyclists are getting dangerously close.
"We have a mission to accomplish, and if the customers believe that the mission could be compromised they could pull contracts," Kerr said.
The fence may not please residents of nearby Red Mountain Ranch.
But City Councilman Rex Griswold said he understands the company’s concern.
"It didn’t really matter when there were one or two bikers a month, but when the inspectors look out there and see a line of helmets going by, it raises eyebrows," he said.
Talley is talking with city officials and residents of Red Mountain Ranch while trying to figure out whether the trail can be saved without compromising public safety or national security.
"If they do put a huge fence out there, they would have a problem," said resident Brian Dyer, who said he has been reassured by Talley’s willingness to work with the neighborhood.
Griswold, also a Red Mountain Ranch resident, hopes to preserve the trail for outdoor enthusiasts, and said the city may secure an easement through the state trust land which would allow the riders to legally ride there.
Kerr said the company has tolerated the trail with few incidents other than occasional rescues of dehydrated riders. He said that to his knowledge, Talley never has had anyone arrested for trespassing.
Kerr said he had hoped to have a fence up by now, but wants to try to find a solution that satisfies everyone involved.
"It’s going to take some time to develop the answers," Kerr said.