Update on the TOPS Initiative
In honor of last night’s All Star Game played in Denver, we offer this analogy: After years of batting practice, winning Issue 1 allowed us to finally approach home plate.
This week during its work session, the Mayor and City Council signaled that it’s finally time to take our swings. And we have every intention of batting it out of the park!
Simply put, the Mayor publicly agreed to 0.20% with a 20-year sunset and all members of City Council present for that meeting nodded in agreement.
We are thrilled!
More details: those of you who believe more dollars should be spent “taking care of what we have” will be delighted that 25% of the total TOPS tax will be used for maintenance and stewardship for ALL trails, parks and open space in our parks system. Signaling an end to the “haves and have nots” (TOPS properties or not TOPS properties.) Administration dollars will be increased to 5% because it takes staff to get parks planned, open space acquired and trail easements secured. The remaining 70% will be split between parks (40%), trails (30%) and open space (30%.)
Because we increase the current total TOPS tax from 10 million annually to 20 million annually (if we win in November), our ability to acquire additional open space remains roughly the same while the trails and parks categories will more than double. Finally we’ll be able to build promised parks and build more miles of trail.
The 0.20% will cost the average household in Colorado Springs $29 a year. (56 cents a week)
Next step: city attorneys will prepare ballot language for City Council approval. The campaign will begin.
PARK AND TRAIL News
An apparent land dispute between a private entity and the U.S. Forest Service has resulted in the closure of a portion of the Horsethief Falls Trail. According to USFS sources, the two parties have been in negotiation for months and the source said they were surprised at the sudden placement and closing of trail access. The parties are scheduled to resume negotiations late this week and hope to have the situation resolved shortly. TOSC may have more information later this week and will post any news on our Facebook and Instagram pages as well as a status update in the next e-blast.
Beach House Is Now Open!
The Eni R. Jaspersen Beach House at Prospect Lake in Memorial Park is now open. The 80 year old property was closed two years ago for major renovation.
Improvements include indoor and outdoor learning spaces, an outdoor gathering area with boulder seating, a rentable indoor great room for community events, beach volleyball, a lit patio, and accessible beach access.
We are excited to report that the $2.4 million dollar repair and restoration project along the southern end of the Front Range Regional Trail is being completed this week with El Paso County Parks informing us that they plan for it to be fully open and accessible on Thursday, July 15th. This section of trail sustained heavy damage during the floods of 2013 and 2015 and is the last remaining major section of trail to be restored. Along with rerouting the trail further south along the eastern edge of the floodplain, an additional bridge was installed along with major rehabilitation of the creek channel to prevent additional erosion and future damage during higher flow periods of Fountain Creek. The new alignment will provide a more beautiful connection from the Hanson Trailhead area and Fountain Regional Park south to the city of Fountain. Funding for this project came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, El Paso County Parks, and the City of Fountain and we are pleased to see how well the newly designed alignment will enhance the experience for trail users traveling this very popular trail.
Elevate Your Voice!
Join in for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elevate your voice for land conservation and outdoor recreation in the Pikes Peak region. Beginning in July, Elevate the Peak–a new initiative led by Palmer Land Conservancy and ten other regional nonprofits (including TOSC)–is hitting the virtual streets to listen and learn from you.
This initiative seeks to better understand how Coloradans of all ages, backgrounds, and identities use our outdoor spaces, and what excites, inspires, and concerns residents as the Pikes Peak region enters a period of unprecedented change.
If you live, work, and play in El Paso, Fremont, Teller, or Park counties, take the survey today and register for a chance to win some fabulous prizes!
2021 Two Shoes Trek Challenge
Registration is now open for the 2021 Two Shoes Trek Challenge! TOSC and the Pikes Peak Road Runners have teamed up to stage a community running event. The live race will take place on September 11th, 2021 at Fox Run Regional Park and feature 5k, 10k and 30k distances. The virtual race option will take place from September 4th to September 11th and showcase amazing open spaces. Click here for more information and to register.
Our Friends Groups Need Your Help!
There are many great ways to show community pride. During the pandemic, many people chose to support local family-owned restaurants with deep ties to our region. Others put up yard signs to show support for first responders and nurses. Although there is a ton of love being shown in our community, some of our Friends Groups are not on the receiving end of our community’s generosity. Since the beginning of the pandemic, park visitation numbers have exploded locally. Ultra-users are still using their favorite trails daily and a new wave of first-time users are discovering our amazing park system. All this use has required more care for our parks and our volunteer Friends Groups help with projects to keep up with demand. For a few of our Friends Groups, the flow of volunteers for trail workdays and cleanups has dried up this summer. The Guardians of Palmer Park are only getting a couple of volunteers for their monthly first Saturday workdays. The Friends of the Equestrian Skills Course have seen a drastic drop in volunteer numbers. The Clean Up Fountain group, who have monthly cleanups in parks across the Fountain Valley, struggle to find help. These groups have passionate leaders who pour their heart and soul into their work and their parks. It is time for us to show our community pride through volunteerism in our parks. Volunteering for one weekend workday during the summer months will make a huge impact in keeping our favorite wild places safe and beautiful.
Kids to Parks
Sat. July 24, 10:00 – 1:00 PM
Celebrate Kids to Parks Day at Cheyenne Mountain State Park! Enjoy a variety of fun activities including archery, interactive displays, guided hikes, crafts and much more! Close-toed hiking shoes required for guided nature hikes.
Event and activities are free but a State Park’s pass is required.
Call 719-576-2016 for more info.
Sat. July 31, 11:00 – 8:00 PM
Be a part of the all-day street festival on the city’s newest signature street, Vermijo Avenue, stretching four blocks from the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum. The day begins with a parade at 11:00. Visit and interact with more than 60 booths and activities that honor the city’s past and celebrate its future. There will also be 24 food trucks, beer gardens and two stages with a combined 16 hours of programming, including live music from popular local bands like Martini Shot.