About the vote:
Colorado Springs City Council voted 5 to 4 to begin the process that could put the future ownership of Jones Park out for bid. They directed Colorado Springs Utilities Staff to appraise the land twice. One appraisal would include deed restrictions and allow recreational use. The second appraisal would remove all restrictions and NOT allow user access. That appraisal is likely to come in much higher than the first. Based on the appraisal data, council could decide to allow Jones Park to be purchased for private use.
“Sometimes decisions of council require vision, it’s not just a business deal.” Despite passionate comments like that from Jan Martin and Jill Gaebler, the possibility of losing Jones Park exists.
If that matters to you, contact members of city council and let them know – it’s not okay!
Council Members who voted to begin the process:
- Keith King, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Don Knight, email@example.com
- Joel Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Helen Collins, email@example.com
- Andy Pico, firstname.lastname@example.org
One of our leading citizens weighs in:
For the City Council even to contemplate selling the land that comprises the beautiful, pristine Jones Park is a travesty. Jones Park is a 1200-acre site that lies within Pikes Peak National Forest with easy, non-motorized access off of Gold Camp Road. It is a prized, well-loved area that thousands upon thousands of people have visited for over 100 years. In considering a sale to privatize it, the Council mocks not only those who visit and cherish it today but also those who have gone before us and had the wisdom to preserve one of nature’s loveliest spots in the Pikes Peak region. It is our collective heritage. Their close, 5-4 vote, demonstrates an incredibly short-sighted perspective. With demographics showing burgeoning population growth in future years in the Pikes Peak region, the need for more open space will only increase—not lessen.
Additionally, there is no access into Jones Park, and if the land is privately held, the NFS is required to provide that in some way. So, what is the impact of that? A road leading into it that would detract and destroy even more of this beautiful landscape?
I’m quite sure that I am not alone in my feelings about this. I think there will be enormous public push-back if Council continues on its course to privatize. Council needs to listen closely to what its constituents have to say on this. We need places like Jones Park for recreation and respite. There is no way that it is in the public interest—now or in the future—to privatize and close it off.
Background and details:
City Council first voted on the proposal to transfer Jones Park to the National Forest Foundation, with the same five voting against.
In addition to TOSC, representatives from Friends of the Peak, Saturday Knight Hiking Club, Trout Unlimited and Sierra Club ( Pikes Peak Chapter) all spoke in favor of the National Forest Foundation acquiring the property.
TOSC did request the following:…”if City Council decides to transfer the property to EPC, TOSC requests the city attach restrictive covenants limiting the increase of motorized use to no more than 10% of the current motorized use and forbidding any widening of trails, (regardless of whether moto, horse or hiking). TOSC also asks El Paso County to honor its stated commitment of adhering to the NEPA plan for the Bear Creek Watershed.”
Several members of council verbally supported that language and EPC representatives present promised they would adhere to our requests.
If there are no tangible bids on the property, it is likely that the County will receive Jones Park. In that case, we have been given significant promises from El Paso County, and TOSC will hold EPC to its promises.
Sept 11: This article was updated to more accurately describe the vote that was taken. The vote was not to sell Jones Park, but to have the appraisals done. The fact that one appraisal was ordered without deed restrictions and removing public access opens the process for sale to a private party.