News Wednesday March 24, 2021

El Paso County Master Plan
Master Plans really do matter. If together we imagine a county where county trails seamlessly connect to city trails – it needs to be aggressively called out in the master plan.
 
If 200,000 additional residents are expected to move here over the next couple of decades, they’ll need places to play and their bikes will need space along county roads. Those expectations need to be included in the plan. EPC’s new master plan will inform decisions made by county leaders for the next 20-30 years.
 
So take time to read the draft plan and get your comments in by April 9th
elpaso-hlplanning.hub.arcgis.com. Details on the planning process, important dates, informational videos, the public adoption process and information on other ways to get involved can be found on the website.
Issue 1

 

Your April ballot will give you the chance to decide if ballot transparency and accountability are important.  Issue 1 eliminates the 30 word limit so voters know what they are voting for, like everyone else in Colorado.
 
The list of organizations supporting Issue 1 continues to grow!
  • Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce
  • Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates
  • Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park
  • Friends of Garden of the Gods
  • Pikes Peak Pickle Ball Association
  • Pikes Peak Outdoor Alliance
  • Pikes Peak Marathon
 
Please Vote Yes on Issue 1!   For more information: www.yeson1cos.com.

PARK AND TRAIL News

Please Stay Off Muddy Trails
Recent snow coupled with warmer temperatures have left many of our soft-surface trails extremely muddy. The result: trail users do one of two things – they avoid the mud by walking/cycling along the edge of the trail and widen the trail, or they go through the mud and leave deep shoe-prints/bike tracks that create bumps when the mud dries. Wider trails damage vegetation. Rough trails add to maintenance costs and can cause injuries.
 
Solution? Avoid muddy trails and instead use one of our many concrete trails in the region. Your favorite trail is likely to dry out in a few days. South facing trails generally dry out first.
NOT THIS!
Tracks left by hikers in Cheyenne Mountain State Park after snow starts to melt. The last snow storm let nearly 1/2 foot of snow which will melt during the coming days causing very muddy tails.
TRY THIS INSTEAD!
Instead of hiking on muddy trails, consider one of our many paved trails. The City Park staff diligently plow our paved trails after each major snow storm. Many days they have trails cleared before adjacent roads!
E-Bikes on TOPS Properties
Class 1 Electric Bikes are currently allowed on Colorado Springs Tier 1 (concrete) trails. Starting on Memorial Day, class 1 and class 2 e-bikes will be allowed on all urban trails and class 1 mountain e-bikes will be allowed on soft-surface trails in city parks and open spaces. It’s a pilot project and will continue for one year. City Park Staff  has promised to provide signage to soften the impact with posted bike speeds of 15 mph and will be monitoring impacts during the year before making a final decision. E-Bikes on TOPS properties will be discussed at the next TOPS Working Committee Meeting, Wednesday, April 7th 7:30 a.m.
 
You’ll find information on the TOPS agenda and joining the meeting: https://coloradosprings.gov/parks/page/tops-working-committee.
 
Teller County Friends Groups
Teller County is home to several unique Friends Groups that aid and care for their parks. The Friends of the Florissant Fossil Beds is one of the oldest Friends Groups in the region. For over 30 years, this group has helped the region’s only national monument. This group is perfect for volunteers who want to help with fundraisers, special events, education programs and occasional trail work. Just outside of Divide, Colorado, the Friends of Mueller State Park are another great example of a Friends Group finding unique ways to support their beloved park. Their main goal is to support the education programs in Mueller State Park and they use fundraised money to pay for buses to help students reach their park. This group uses volunteer help to organize fundraisers, special events and work in the Elk Statue Garden they adopted just outside the Visitor Center.

TOSC

Pikes Peak Regional Crew Leader Training
May 1 & 2 @ North Cheyenne Canon Park
Crew Leader Training is an intensive weekend-long training for experienced volunteers who are interested in becoming certified Volunteer Crew Leaders. The training is hosted in partnership by Rocky Mountain Field InstituteTrails and Open Space CoalitionFriends of the Peak, and the City of Colorado Springs, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department. For this year’s training, there will be a hybrid format to the training with zoom learning sessions followed by practicum in the field. This training is perfect for experienced trail and restoration volunteers who are looking to advance into more of a leadership role.
 
Sandstone Ranch Open Space
If crowded trailheads and packed parking are frustrating, take a short, scenic drive north and check out Douglas’ County’s newest Open Space. Sandstone Ranch came close to becoming a gated subdivision with million-dollar homes. Today it offers 2,000 acres of open space and 12-miles of trails. Learn more about the Sandstone Meadow Trail Loop on the south side of this magnificent open space here: https://www.douglas.co.us/dcoutdoors/openspace-properties/sandstone-ranch/sandstone-ranch-trail/
 

Community

How do City Council Candidates Feel about an Increase to the TOPS Tax?
TOSC asked all City Council Candidates the following question:
Our TOPS (Trails, Open Space and Parks) Tax is the lowest of cities and counties along the front range. One penny tax on every $10 spent in Colorado Springs. Increasing the .1% to .15% would cost the average household $7 more per year. Increasing the .1% to .25% would cost the average household $36/year.
Would you support an increase to the TOPS Tax? Why or why not.
 
Here are the response TOSC received. Some candidates chose not to respond.
District 1
·        Jim Mason: Yes, for the reason previously stated. We are beating ourselves up over a ‘quality of Life’ imperative that we all agree with. By doing so, we make the decision partisan and social-economically inflamed unnecessarily. 
·        David Donelson: Yes. As I wrote in the previous question, I’ve worked on trails, run on them now, and will be running the Pikes Peak Ascent again this year. Our city is at the foot of Pikes Peak because of the unique beauty of this area. We need to maintain this asset. 
·        Glenn Carlson: I would support this increase provided we are not in the depths of pandemic closures like we’ve recently seen. I believe we are on the other side of COVID-19 at this point and the future looks much better than it did a year ago. I believe the right time to present this increase is in the near future.
District 2
·        Dave Noblett:
I am running on a platform to represent. The priorities for our city are out of skew and this city is going to have to make a decision in what it wants. Dollars to growth and nothing else, or to actually make this a place where we want to live. I honestly support parks and would look to see what the constituents would support to honestly bring forward to care for our city.
·        Dave Geislinger: I expect TOPS supporters to be part of the working group drafting the parks funding plan proposal, and TOPs to be integral in that. I won’t commit to supporting an increase in the TOPS tax until hearing the proposal(s), but support considering it as a potential part of the plan. 
·        Randy Helms: I could support asking voters for an increase in funding for this important city service. I would like included maintenance for the park system we have. I am concerned about our city’s current tax/utility rate burden on the taxpayer. TOSC’s ask to the voters should consider those paying the bill.
District 3
·        Richard Skorman:
 I feel as a society, we have a moral and economical obligation to utilize, honor and respect all our natural resources.
·        Richard Skorman: A strong YES. TOPS is very popular, and so it’s the best mechanism to ask for a small increase for Park’s sustainability. If we can get rid of the 30 word limit this April, we should have a good chance at increasing TOPS, and making more flexible.  
·        Arthur Glynn: We are coming out of the worst recession since 2008 and have yet to experience the true fallout for our city. I believe it is unconscionable to ask our taxpayers to pay even more taxes/fees currently when so many are suffering.
·        Olivia Lupia: I do not support an increase to the TOPS Tax as increasing funding for parks   and open space maintenance should not be a high priority for the city, especially during a time when our focus should be on fully reopening city so our citizens can resume their livelihoods. 
District 4
·        Yolanda Avila:
Yes, I would support an increase to the TOPs Tax. There is no question that our parks are under-funded and the TOPs tax is one way to get additional funding. However, as a city we need to look at long-term solutions to funding essential city services, like parks. Sales taxes are regressive by nature – and are less predictable when we have an economic downturn. Eventually, we need to consider a balance of sources to fund city services.
·       Regina English: Yes, I would support an increase because I believe that people will invest in what they enjoy doing which is spending time outside with family and friends on trails, open spaces and parks that are clean, safe and accessible.
District 5
·        Nancy Henjum:
Yes. Colorado Springs has a reputation for being tax-averse, but our citizens have shown a willingness to support taxes for a specific, well-justified purpose. A love of the outdoors unites Coloradans. I would also value looking for longer term strategy for how we fund parks and open space.
·        Matt Zelenok: While I support the current TOPS tax and its extension, it is difficult to say without having the ballot language in front of me whether I would support an increase to the tax. If I were to support an increase in the TOPS tax, I believe there should be some flexibility in the spending requirements. There are circumstances that may arise where acquisition may be difficult and maintenance is a higher priority – and it may be appropriate to divert funding from acquisition to maintenance for a period of time.  
·        Karlie Van Arnam: While I support dedicating tax dollars to TOPS, I do not support a tax increase of any kind at this time. Our citizens and small businesses are suffering from the financial impacts of COVID-19. Ensuring our community recovers from the pandemic must take priority. When appropriate, I would not oppose allowing voters to decide if they want to increase the TOPS tax.
·        Justin James-Fletcher: At this time I would not support an increase. The current tax put in place is not set to expire until 2025. Even though it would be a small increase I do think we should hold off on any tax increases until we are completely on the other side of the pandemic.
District 6
·        Mike O’Malley:  No – raising taxes is not the answer.
 
Visit coloradosprings.gov/city-elections for more Candidate and Campaign information.
 
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