The TOPS Extension lawsuit was overturned by the State Supreme Court in February 2006. While there are still some administrative legal matters to clear up, the TOPS community expects things to start moving swiftly to re-energize the process that has been stalled for almost three years.
TOPS is the process used by the City of Colorado Springs to administer the Trails, Open Space and Parks ordinance passed by voters in April of 1997. The process, administered by the Parks and Recreation Department of Colorado Springs, provides for the prudent acquisition, development and preservation of Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) in the Pikes Peak region. More information on the TOPS program, including maps of trails, open space and parks, as well as funding of projects is available at the city's TOPS web page.
The TOPS program has preserved over 3100 acres of open space in the Pikes Peak region in the four years since its passage. It has provided $15.5 million for open space, $3 million for trails and over $4 million for park construction. The TOPS sales tax generates approximately $6 million annually and is leveraged through grants and private funds. Guiding documents for the acquisition of open space and the construction of trails and parks are the Colorado Springs Open Space Plan and the Parks, Recreation & Trails 2000-2001 Master Plan.
The TOPS program is essentially a three-step process: study and recommendation by the TOPS Working Committee, recommendation by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and final approval by the City Council.
Applications for TOPS funding may be submitted by individual members of the public, property owners, organizations, TOPS Working Committee members, the Parks and Recreation Department and other agencies. All requests must be submitted using the TOPS Application which will be sent or given to the TOPS Program Manager at 1401 Recreation Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80905. Applications will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation staff and then provided to the TOPS Working Committee.
Consideration of an application will done considering Criteria provided in the TOPS Policies and Procedures Manual. If the request meets pre-screening criteria, Staff will complete a property profile/preliminary evaluation. If the request does not meet the pre-screening criteria, Staff will notify the applicant in writing.
Acquisition proposals are presented to the TOPS Working Committee as an agenda item. Applicants will be notified of the meeting date for consideration of the proposal and will be provided an opportunity to speak. Following review of the request by the Committee and a preliminary determination to pursue acquisition, a field trip will be scheduled to visit the property. At a Committee meeting following the field trip, public tesitmony shall be taken and a vote taken on the proposal. If theTOPS Working Committee recommends approval of the project, a recommendation will then be sent to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board consideration. With their approval, a recommendation will be forwarded to City Council for consideration and final approval.
For additional information on the TOPS Program, contact the TOPS Manager, Chris Lieber at 385-6530.