TOPS in 2021
Based on the results of a recent survey, plans to put the TOPS program on the April 2021 ballot were deferred until a later election. TOSC along with Trust for Public Land raised the money for the survey. Respondents rationally told pollsters that, with so many families struggling during this critical time, now is not the time to ask them to increase their contributions to parks and open spaces.
The polling revealed one particularly interesting fact. While initial reaction was opposed to increasing the TOPS share of sales tax revenue, after hearing more about what that increase could accomplish the majority of those taking the poll agreed to a TOPS raise.
What we learned: The mandated ballot limit of 30 words for TABOR initiatives is inadequate for explaining issues and can create confusion among voters. Unless we are able to provide information about what voters are actually supporting and who is accountable for making sure their dollars are spent properly – people are more likely to vote no. When people understand how their money will be spent there is often a positive shift in their support.
We know people care about their parks, trails and open spaces because they continue to use them in record numbers. They see the congestion. We hear of the degradation and need for more miles of trails and more acres of open space. At the same time we all recognize the need to take care of what we have. Our TOPS tax is the lowest of any front range city or county. It cannot sustain what we have, nor adequately invest in what we need for the future.
April may not be the right time to ask voters for an increase. But we will be making that request before long, in order to maintain our quality of life and plan for the future.
My husband John and I first learned of TOSC from a friend that forwarded a newsletter to me. I read about the Urban Trail Challenge event held at the end of September and we decided to sign up. Before the event, I had a chance to connect with TOSC staff on a Zoom call to ask questions. I enjoyed hearing about all they are doing for our city! I live in southeast Colorado Springs and was excited to hear about all of the current trails and future trails to come in our neighborhood. I especially enjoyed hearing about the plans for Panorama Park because it is very close to us.
Since the Urban Trail Challenge event, we’ve continued exploring from the front door. I call this “OTFD Adventures” (out the front door) on social media. I share in hopes that I will encourage others to get outside and explore their neighborhood too. I’ve enjoyed seeing how far I’m able to go on my gravel bike from my house to other areas around the city and, I’ve also enjoy seeing other people out enjoying the trails. The interaction I’ve had (from a distance of course) has been so good for my soul! I’m pretty sure that I smile the most while on my bike and as you know, smiles can be contagious. We all need that!
The TOSC Urban Challenge gave my husband and I a chance to explore where we live during this season of COVID. I have enjoyed taking part in TOSC’s 2020 Get Out Spread Out and Urban Trail Challenge initiatives! We are very grateful and continue to explore trails from our front door. And, we are now members! Thank you TOSC for all that you do for our city!
– Angie Forman
PARK AND TRAIL News
Friends of Ute Valley Park
2020 was a challenging year for every Friends Group in the Pikes Peak region. Adversity did not slow down the Friends of Ute Valley Park (FoUVP). Even with a limited work season and having to adjust to groups of ten volunteers or less, they were able to accomplish a lot of work on the south side of the park. 87 volunteers put in 199 hours of work including building 10 feet of buck and rail fencing and 20 feet of split rail fencing. To help alleviate issues with water runoff, they built 13 check dams and 10 drains. In Ute Valley Park, rogue trails remain a big issue. The FoUVP closed 460 feet of these social/rogue trails, and built 400 feet of new trail! Looking forward to 2021, the first workdays will begin in April. For dates and locations, visit the FoUVP Facebook page.
Parks Advisory Board Meeting
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board holds a public meeting monthly to review matters pertaining to the planning, development, improvement, beautification, equipping and maintenance of the public parks, playgrounds, programs, urban forest, recreation facilities and resources including golf courses and cemeteries. Time is set aside for any individual to bring before the Advisory Board any matter of interest they wish to discuss that is not elsewhere on the agenda. Comments are restricted to three (3) minutes. If you wish to place a longer presentation on the agenda, please email PRCS-ParksAdvisoryBoard-SMB@coloradosprings.gov. The next meeting is on Thursday, January 14th at 7:30AM. For more information on the Parks Advisory Board, please visit coloradosprings.gov
WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE… TO SEE OUR TRAILS, PARKS AND OPEN SPACES ADEQUATELY FUNDED
As a former TOSC Board President, I would often get glimpses of our community’s wish list for our trails, parks and open spaces. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had adequate funding to cover many of those projects, I’d think? I’m proud that TOSC is spearheading the extension and expansion of our TOPS tax, which provides funding to purchase open spaces and provides funding to improve and maintain many of our popular parks and trails. Currently, the Pikes Peak region has one of the smallest TOPS taxes on the Front Range, but TOSC is leading the effort to change that.
I made a donation to TOSC’s Indy Give! Campaign today because I think it is critical that we have adequate funding for our outdoor spaces. What would you give to protect the funding of your outdoor space?
Hurry, donate at indygive.com by Jan 3rd!
“Killing 2 birds with 1 stone.” What a terrible expression! Especially if you love birds like most of us do. How about this one: Summiting two 14ers at one time or burning 500 calories with just 250 steps.
You get the idea.
Supporting TOSC and 4 other non-profits between now and January 3rd will give you more than you get. Why? Local businesses in the Tri-Lakes region ( northern El Paso County) have provided generous incentives. So as you support TOSC, MWTA, Tri-Lakes Cares, Paws N Hooves and Wild Blue Cats – all doing important work to improve the quality of life in our region – you are rewarded. We call them Tri-Lakes Treats! A bike rental, free dog wash, free overnight stay for your dog, free adult beverages, free food….. It truly is a win-win-win. You get some amazing deals, businesses get to know a new customer and 5 non-profits receive much-needed support to tackle challenges in 2021. Plus one lucky donor will receive a bonus basket of goodies…each week! Click here for more information.
Donate today and get a Tax Break! Remember, this year there is a temporary deduction for charitable donations. As part of the CARES Act, taxpayers can deduct up to $300 for cash donations to groups like TOSC. That’s true even if you take the standard deduction and don’t itemize your deductions. Make your donation before the end of the year, and you can get a deduction of up to $300 when you file. Your deduction will lower your adjusted gross income and taxable income.
And we thank you!
(un)Trash Your Park
The (un)Trash Your Park challenge was a big success for the region’s trails. Over the course of the 4 day friendly Indy Give! fundraising challenge (between TOSC, Medicine Wheel and RMFI), the community raised nearly $7,000! Although TOSC led most of the challenge, all three organizations leaped frogged each other in the final hours of the challenge. When the dust settled, Medicine Wheel was victorious. Medicine Wheel chose Red Rock Canyon Open Space as the site of the (un)Trash Your Park cleanup and staff from RMFI and TOSC met in the park to cleanup trash in their ugliest Christmas sweaters.
20|20 Parks Challenge
Only a few days left to visit all 20 parks in 2020 to earn bragging rights AND your I(heart)Parks sticker. Stop by the Visitor Center at Cheyenne Mountain State Park and mention that you are participating in the TOSC 20|20 Challenge to get a free Pocket Pals Trail Map, courtesy of Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park! To participate, just share a picture from each park with us on Facebook or Instagram #tosc2020challenge. Email firstname.lastname@example.org when you complete the challenge to get your sticker and get entered into the grand prize giveaway! – Osprey hydration packs, TOSC t-shirts & dog bandanas, gift cards…
New Years Eve Fireworks Display
Watch the annual AdAmAn’s Fireworks show at the top of Pikes Peak! This year, there’s going to be an extra-special show at 9:00 pm with 150 shells being fired off in honor of the 150th birthday for Colorado Springs.