City Council Candidates, Part 1

City Council Candidates, Part 1

Two Questions for City Council Candidates

We asked all City Council Candidates the following 2 questions:

  1. General fund support for city parks, trails and open space is less than it was 10 years ago. Do you consider that a serious problem and if so, what would you do to correct that?
  2. Is making Colorado Springs a more “bike friendly city a worthwhile goal? Why?
    If yes, would you support projects that further that goal?

Here’s how they answered:

District 1--Greg Basham and Don Knight

Questions:

  1. General fund support for city parks, trails and open space is less than it was 10 years ago. Do you consider that a serious problem and if so, what would you do to correct that?
  2. Is making Colorado Springs a more “bike friendly city a worthwhile goal? Why? If yes, would you support projects that further that goal?

Answers:

Greg Basham:

  1. I am in our parks 4-5 times each week. It’s why I live here. Investing in our parks is a good investment. Parks are part of our infrastructure. I would absolutely support putting a sales tax initiative supporting parks on the next ballot.
  2. When you look at the five most successful cities in the country, they all have a vibrant downtown. They allow access for bikes and cars. A more “bike friendly city is not one of my top priorities, but I do think it helps attract businesses and is important.

Don Knight:

  1. I do consider it a serious problem as I recognize the value parks, trails and open space bring to our City. However, as head of Council’s budget committee, I also realize there are numerous other, and unfortunately higher, competing priorities for these same dollars. If we were unable to fully restore Park funding in these years of tremendous growth, it is unrealistic to assume we will ever get there by relying on the City dollars alone. My solution is to develop private/public partnerships, such as an adopt-a-park program, for all our parks and trails – not just the major ones like Garden of the Gods and Ute Valley Park. In my case, I live by the Golden Hills neighborhood park. We have several businesses just down the road the City could give non-monetary incentives to for anyone wanting to cover the watering bill.
  2. Yes as it brings value added to the quality of life of both our current and prospective future residence are looking for. Instead of if I would support projects, let me, if I may, state what projects I have supported during my first term: The Shooks Run Master Plan, The Renew North Nevada Master Plan for connecting UCCS to downtown, and City acquisition and/or land trades for completion of the Emerald Loop.

District 2--Dave Geislinger (unopposed)

Questions:

  1. General fund support for city parks, trails and open space is less than it was 10 years ago. Do you consider that a serious problem and if so, what would you do to correct that?
  2. Is making Colorado Springs a more “bike friendly city a worthwhile goal? Why?
    If yes, would you support projects that further that goal?

Answers:

Dave Geislinger:

  1. Park funding, as with city funding generally, has lagged behind our needs as a growing city for much longer than ten years.   Thus, while a serious problem, the shortfall in parks funding is only a part of a bigger problem; lack of sufficient funding generally.   While I do support an increase in funding for parks and open spaces,  particularly since this is the defining characteristic of our city, in the short-term I consider funding shortfalls in storm-water,  infrastructure/streets and public safety to be more pressing.
  2. Making Colorado Springs more “bike friendly” will address several pressing issues.  Biking will offer better access to, and therefore impetus for, development of a downtown hub, increased (and lower cost) transportation opportunities for all citizens (especially low income residents and millenials), a commitment to maintaining our environment and would manifest our desire to present ourselves as a city interested in investing in itself in order to preserve and enhance those characteristics that will draw business.  Subject to the most pressing problems we are facing as discussed in the previous response, I would support efforts to make our city friendlier to bicycles.

District 5-Jill Gaebler and Lynette

Questions:

  1. General fund support for city parks, trails and open space is less than it was 10 years ago. Do you consider that a serious problem and if so, what would you do to correct that?
  2. Is making Colorado Springs a more “bike friendly city a worthwhile goal? Why? If yes, would you support projects that further that goal?

 

Jill Gaebler–

  1. I do believe it’s a problem that our Parks Department continues to receive less of our general fund dollars. When I served on the City’s Parks Board, the Parks budget was $18 million and in 2017 the budget was $12 million after falling to almost $2 million during the recession. Not watering our trees and grass has long-term consequences, as does the extreme overuse of our trails throughout our parks system. On Council I voted to ask our citizens if they would like to increase our taxes to fund parks maintenance, but other council members did not want to place this item on the ballot. We need to find a way to provide designated funds for our parks as they are number one reason people live and visit our community.
  2. I do believe becoming a more bike-friendly city is a worthwhile goal and have championed thisgoal during my four years on Council. Studies have shown that cities that add bikeinfrastructure and safe cycling for all ages, are not only healthier cities, but their residents spend more of their dollars locally, increasing tax revenues for the city. I worked to hire a senior bike planner at the City, start a bike share program, and have supported the addition of bike lanes in many areas, toward creating a safe and connected bike network throughout the city.

Lynette Crow-Iverson

  1. I have read the “Economic Benefits of Parks and Recreation in Colorado Springs”. The highlights for me are:
    Almost 39K homes within the city limits have an enhanced value of over $500M (at least 5% per home) due to their proximity to the parks, as well as $2.58M in property tax increase.
    Parks absorb and provide $3M in savings from storm water mitigation.
    Direct travel spending by visitors comes to nearly $1.5B; of which, $135M per year is directly contributed to the parks system.
    People can save up to $1,100 per year on medical costs by exercising regularly. More than 45K people use parks, trails, and open spaces every year. Meaning that there is a total health care benefit of over $50M a year.
    Residents spend $32.4M per year on recreational equipment, contributing to $178M per year in sales at 88 local sporting goods stores.
    Parks and Trails are an economic driver for our city and truly an asset for our community. I am committed to make sure that our parks and trails are a priority.
  2. I fully support the Down Town Partnership Master Plan, smart land use decisions are key drivers to a city’s revitalization. Mixed use neighborhoods in the city, promoting viable-multi-modal areas is a priority for me. We must anticipate key redevelopment opportunities and plan the public space and multimodal investments needed to support them. More than 18% of land in Downtown is dedicated to vacant parcels and surface parking lots, with over 55% being underdeveloped and mostly dedicated to the car. My Goal is to reduce excessive automobile speeds, be more sensitive to surrounding land use context, create safe environments for pedestrian and bicyclist movement and create better connections between existing neighborhoods, trails and parks. But Bike Lanes are not specifically my priority. (Emphasis in original document.)

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