What We Love About TOPS!
TOPS paid for most of the Cottonwood Creek Trail. Because the land had to be purchased in phases to accommodate land owners, we were fortunate to have 25 years of TOPS dollars available. TOPS invested $6,642,000 in the Cottonwood Creek Trail over that period! It’s why we need Issue 1 – the TOPS 20-year extension to pass. There are more trails to build and more open space to purchase!
Photo Credit: Liz Enas
PARK AND TRAIL News
The Outdoor Pikes Peak Initiative seeks your input regarding outdoor recreation and natural resource values for the Pikes Peak region! Your responses will play a vital role in the Outdoor Pikes Peak Initiative planning process for regional planning across Pikes Peak. To learn more about the initiative, please visit: www.oppi.org
Please take 5-7 minutes to complete the survey below:
Coleman Park Planning Wrap-up
Thanks again to all who participated in the Coleman Community Park planning process. Attending members of the public offered great ideas now being considered by the consultant and parks staff. Pickle Ball Courts, sports fields, a universally accessible playground, trails, a small stage are all part of the draft plan. Those features and others were shared with the Parks Advisory Board last week. PAB will vote on a proposal for Coleman Park next fall.
Dog Park Etiquette
Recently there was a disturbing story about a young dog viciously attacked by another at a local dog park. We know it happens and fortunately it is uncommon; nevertheless, it is good reminder to follow certain rules when we take our favorite fur-balls to the dog park:
· While it is a great time for both humans and dogs to socialize, it’s important to keep an eye on your pooch at all times. Make sure “play” stays “play.” If you see another dog crossing the line, immediately remove yours from the area.
· Take advantage of the small dog parks if you have a puppy. Many of our dog parks have special areas for the little ones.
· All dogs should be vaccinated against rabies, and dogs that visit dog parks should be on flea and tick prevention as well as year-round heartworm prevention. Dogs that visit dog parks should also be vaccinated against canine influenza (dog flu) that can be transmitted through the air.
· Allowing your dog to use the communal water bowl could make him/her sick.
Dog Parks are great places for our pups to enjoy being off leash and play with other dogs; however, they can be dangerous when owners do not follow the rules.
Black Forest Section 16 Update
Thank you to Black Forest Trails Association (BFTA) for inviting EPC Parks Director Todd Marts to speak on Black Forest Section 16. 30+ users of the 4-mile trail heard from EPC Parks Staff and School in the Woods (Academy School District 20) representatives. Attendees made it clear they want the county to continue to lease the property from the State Land Board and explore purchasing it to make it a permanent county park property.
Memorial Park Improvements
Recent acts of vandalism have led to improvements in Memorial Park. New gates and lights are designed to improve safety and protect the asset. A new aeration system in Prospect Lake will improve water quality and reduce toxic blue-green algae. Park Staff shared two options with the Park Advisory Board. One would mean banning motor boats on the lake but would do a better job of meeting water quality standards. No decision has been made at this time.
KRCC Article on Memorial Park Safety Upgrades
Congratulations to Kim King – Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services’ new Deputy Director.
No one is more deserving!
Photo Credit: City of Colorado Springs
City Council Approves Open Space Acquisitions and Land Trade
This week COS City Council unanimously supported three proposals that will
- Increase open space (Wild horse Ranch – 1,021 acres)
- Add 5 acres to Corral Bluffs that adds access and monthly income
- Add 8 acres to Garden of the Gods plus a trail connection in a land exchange with Garden of the Gods Trading Post
Wild Horse Ranch will provide open space for east side residents thanks to TOPS!
* Yard signs for the TOPS Issue 1 ballot initiative are still available. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get yours.
We Asked and Many Answered
All candidates for Colorado Springs City Council were asked for their ideas on increased funding for COS city parks, trails and open spaces. The TOPS program provides support but does not have the dollars to build all the promised parks or address the backlog of capital projects. Failing irrigation systems, locked sports courts in public parks will not be fixed without an infusion of cash. Here is what they said:
We asked all the candidates for City Council this question and provided background: How should new parks be paid for and how should we address the backlog of capital needs? If you are elected to City Council what solution would you support?
City Counsel At Large Candidates
Katherine Gayle: I would double or triple LART. That way the tourists who come to enjoy our outdoor spaces would share in the costs of obtaining and maintaining them…
Roland Rainey: …We need to explore all potential sources of funding, such as extending the TOPS sales tax for the next 20 years with no increase to the tax (which will be on the April ballot), increasing the Lodgers and Auto Rental Tax to include money for the large regional parks that draw the most tourists and other options, such as grants. I also believe we need to explore more philanthropy to fill the gaps in park funding, as well as nonprofits…
Jaymen Johnson: Admittedly disappointed by the voter rejection of 2c, I would seek solutions through our partnerships with local developers. Perhaps considering additional mill levies on special districts.
David Leinweber: General Fund Support- I believe we could do better here and should match what other cities allocate for parks… There is not going to be one single solution and I believe everything should be on the table when it comes to investing in our community and providing access to the outdoors
Lynette Crow: Parks funding is very important, and as our city grows, it will continue to be a high priority for our community. As a city councilman, when the City Has excess reserves After Public Safety, I would agree to give excess money to Parks Capital Needs. I would also support TABOR Refunds to go directly to Parks…
Brian Risley: Funding for new parks and reducing the back log of capital needs is a complicated issue and requires a multi-pronged approach….
I would suggest reviewing the work completed by the citizen group and department staff that had evaluated a variety of funding sources and see if there are sources or ideas that came from their effort that can be moved forward for additional discussion…
Glenn Carlson: I’ve fought for our parks, alongside many of you, for years now. I will always lobby for our fair share of the budget, but I also believe we need to take a look at PLDO. Though well-intentioned, most developers have chosen to pay fees in lieu of dedicating land and unfortunately, most of these fees are sitting in a fund, unexpended…
Jane Northrop Glenn: …I would like to see the city eliminate dowries to bring large corporations to the city, and instead, require them to build or maintain a park or parks if they choose to come here. In addition to that, I would like to see the city reallocate funds to cover these projects. I’m confident that we can streamline departments and eliminate some roles and functions that may fall outside of the purview of local government to do so.
City Counsel Candidates: District 3 Race
Scott Hiller (Dist. 3): Until about 2007, the city of Colorado Springs set aside approximately 8% of its total General Fund Budget for parks. This provided for a robust parks program that created much of the infrastructure we enjoy now. The Great Recession saw that percentage dwindle to the 4%-6% that it is today… My goal will be to ensure that the parks budget returns to 8% of the General Fund Budget.
Michelle Talarico (Dist. 3): I support an increase in LART to 8% and 4%, I also know it most likely wouldn’t pass so therefore I would be pleased to support and champion 4% and 2%. We have one of the lowest LART Taxes in the country. I believe we need to increase as soon as possible…
*Some candidates chose not to respond
Ballots are Arriving!
In Colorado Springs, 306,000 ballots were mailed out to registered voters on March 10th. If you do not receive your ballot by March 17th, or have questions about the election, contact the City Clerk’s office at 719-385-5901. Voter registration information can be updated by contacting the City Clerk’s Office or by visiting one of the election websites below.
Election information, such as “What’s on the Ballot” and “Election Contact Info,” can be found here.
Voter information, including where to find ballot drop-off boxes and answers to other frequently asked questions, can be found here.
Election Day is Tuesday, April 4th and ballots must be received by 7:00 PM.
2023 Pikes Peak Crew Leader Training
The 2023 Pikes Peak Regional Crew Leader Training will take place Saturday, May 6th and Sunday, May 7th, 2023 (attendance during both days is required). This year’s training will occur on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in the North Slope Recreation Area.
The Pikes Peak Regional 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 Trails and Open Space Coalition, Rocky Mountain Field Institute and the City of Colorado Springs, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department.
This training will hit capacity soon. Don’t delay registering! Register here.
Liquid Lectures Series 2023
March 15th, 6pm
Goat Patch Brewery
Join Fountain Creek Watershed for their monthly informal lecture series on a variety of watershed topics from local experts! Free to attend and attendees receive $1 off Beer!
Florissant Fossil Beds Dark Sky Party
Fri., March 17th, 7-8:45 PM
Join the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society on Friday, March 17th from 7-8:45 PM at the Florissant Fossil Beds Visitor Center for an exploration of the Winter Night Sky.
Winter brings cooler weather to the Colorado mountains (dress warm!) but as our view of the universe changes as we orbit the Sun it also brings us different stars and constellations to see and enjoy. The dark skies of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a great place to see these astonishing wonders of the sky through the telescopes of Colorado Springs Astronomical Society members.
NOTE: As the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a fee area, they charge a small nominal fee of $10 per person age 16 and older.
Mueller State Park: Wapiti Trail Hike
March 18th 9-11:00 AM
Explore the montane forest with Volunteer Naturalist Michael. What do animals and plants do in winter? Watch for tracks and signs along the way on this 1-mile hike through forest and hills.
Audience: All Ages
Location: Meet at Wapiti Trailhead
Colorado Native Plant Society:
Thank God It’s Flowering
Fri., March 17th, 2-4:00 PM at Phelan Gardens
Come talk native plants with members of the Colorado Native Plant Society at Phelan Gardens. Knowledgeable volunteers will staff an info table. Come tap their knowledge about utilizing natives to beautify your landscape, save you water all while benefiting local pollinators & wildlife. Be sure to ask them about volunteer activities and future native seed swaps.
Can’t make it to the event? Check out the Colorado Native Plant Society website — it has loads of information.
Great American Cleanup
Sat., April 15th: Save the Date
The Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest community improvement program, which takes place annually during spring in over 15,000 communities nationwide.
The Fountain Creek Watershed District will conduct this 1-day cleanup in collaboration with local governments, nonprofits, Friends groups and neighborhoods. We encourage everyone to join a cleanup near you and give our home watershed a spring cleaning!
Registration is now live for the 2023 Great American Cleanup – Fountain Creek Watershed. If interested in hosting an event site, contact email@example.com.
Trash bags and gloves will be provided. Please dress appropriately for our ever-changing weather, bring sunscreen, gloves, and wear closed toe shoes. Participants under 16 must be supervised. All participants are required to fill out a liability waiver.