Jones Park will go to County: 1/14/2015

Jones Park will go to County: 1/14/2015

Here are the latest developments in the future of Jones Park as of January 14, 2015:

The Colorado Springs City Council voted 7-2 on Tuesday, January 13, to transfer ownership of Jones Park to El Paso County. Helen Collins and Andy Pico voted against the resolution. The agreement includes the creation of a conservation easement to ensure it remains a public asset, requirements that the County follow the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process currently underway, among other key conditions.

Late in 2014, Colorado Springs City Council expressed support for a conservation easement and deed restrictions that include adopting the NEPA plan upon transferring Jones Park to El Paso County. The vote was postphoned until January 13th to give the City Attorney time to correct minor legal language. The proposed changes will not change the purpose of the conservation easement, or access for hikers and cyclists balanced with the threatened trout. A limit on motorized use is included in the NEPA plan (still to be finalized). El Paso County has said they have no intention of expanding that use.
Once the conservation easement is in place, Jones Park will be protected forever as a favorite, wild place for the public.

Read down for more information and the development of this issue through the past months.

 

In a regular work session on November 24th, Colorado Springs City Council indicated that they will support donating Jones Park to El Paso County Parks. They will require deed restrictions and a conservation easement on the property–conditions very important to TOSC–as a way to ensure protection of the land as a public asset, to maintain public access and to protect the endangered trout. The formal resolution could be voted on in early December. An additional condition: should the county choose to no longer own Jones Park, the city would have the right of first refusal.
Our best estimate of the vote date at this point is December 9th. We will keep you updated on the date and time for public comment and the Council vote when it comes up on a City Council agenda. You can email your City Council members at any time with your comments. Links to City Council members’ email addresses are on the right of this article.
Two appraisals ordered by City Council for Jones Park were released the week of November 21: $2.4 million as is, and $1.2 million with deed restrictions. The deed restrictions included for the second appraisal would require any owner to follow the federal NEPA process, protect the endangered trout and ensure public access.

Council will discuss the appraisals at its Monday informal council work session November 24th, late in the agenda. (A work session does not invite public comments). Based on the discussion, we should be able to get a pretty good idea which way they are leaning…..do they donate it to the county? Do they hang on to it? Or do they try to sell it, with or without deed restrictions?

It’s likely to be voted on December 9th. We’ll keep you informed of the date and time of the vote. We hope to have a BIG turnout, to show City Council that the public cares about Jones Park.

(If you need background, a portion of Jones Park is within the Bear Creek Watershed and currently in the middle of a NEPA study that will produce a plan that protects the threatened trout and provides users trail access. CSU no longer wishes to manage Jones Park and recommended a donation.  Colorado Springs City Council directed Colorado Springs Utilities to have Jones Park appraised).

TOSC is most concerned that:

  • Jones Park remain accessible forever to hikes and bicyclists. That’s why we’re asking that a “conservation easement” be written into the agreement. Jones Park would remain a public asset, even if sold.
  • The conservation easement specifically ensures compliance with the NEPA plan, protecting the trout and limiting motorized use.

We will bring you an update after Monday’s council meeting.
We encourage you to share your vision for Jones Park with members of council after that meeting.

To read TOSC’s resolution on Jones Park: go to this page.

Click here to read the full appraisal:  Jones Park Appraisal (1.3 MB download).

For information on the NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) Process and the Bear Creek Watershed, go to this link.

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*