Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions and Scoop the Poop Success
Ballots due 7pm May 16th
We asked Wayne Williams and Yemi Mobalade to answer the following:
“Mayor John Suthers will leave office with an impressive legacy of parks related accomplishments.
Beautiful Panorama Park was completed during his time as Mayor, a $7 million Tabor Retention initiative benefitting Trails was overwhelmingly passed as was the TOPS 20-year extension.
If you become Mayor, what would you champion that would improve our city’s parks, trails and open spaces. Or as Mayor John Suthers has often said: creating a city that matches our scenery.”
Yemi Mobalade: Colorado Springs’ open spaces, trails, and parks are arguably some of the most beautiful in the country.
We must ensure Colorado Springs families today, as well as future generations, have access to well-maintained and safe trails, parks, and open spaces. As mayor, I will invest in our natural beauty and environment and support the various efforts to create more funding for our playgrounds, community parks, open space, trails, and sports complexes. This includes:
1. Budget: Bring the City’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services budget back to pre-recession levels.
While the City’s General Fund has increased 56% since 2008, the Parks budget is currently only 5% of the
City’s budget compared to 8% of the budget in 2008.
2. Tabor Retention: If appropriate, I will leverage a voter-approved excess tax revenue opportunity to
improve the City’s parks, trails, and open spaces.
3. LART: Increase the Lodging and Auto Rental Tax (LART) from 2% to 4% to better maintain our tourism attractions and parks. The burden of this tax increase falls on the visitors and tourists.
I advocated to place the TOPS extension on the city council agenda and voted to submit it to the voters.
I also voted to place the prior extension on the ballot and served on the YES for Trails, Open Space and Parks Committee where I helped strategize and raise money for the campaign.
Wayne Williams: We’ve increased general fund support for these areas during my four years on City Council and we’ve added over a thousand acres of parks and open space. We also added more than a thousand acres for El Paso County when I served as a county commissioner.
To be specific, the Parks and Forestry General Fund Budget when I joined city government was $14.8 million. The 2023 budget we adopted allocates $20.5 million for Parks and Forestry – an additional $5.7 million – a 38.7% increase in four years.
In addition to increasing the general fund, I’ve also consistently sought additional ways to fund parks, including:
(1) obtaining voter approval of ballot issue 2B in the November 2019 election, which allowed the City to keep $7 million in excess 2018 TABOR revenue for park improvements;
(2) allocated a portion of LART revenues to parks used by tourists (such as the new restroom building in Garden of the Gods);
(3) supported TOPS ballot issues;
(4) supported partnerships with the state, nonprofits, and others to obtain funding for parks;
(5) increased the rates for fees in lieu of land in our parkland dedication ordinance from $76,602 per acre to $98,010 per acre for community parkland and from $76,602 per acre to $137,694 per acre for neighborhood parkland; and
(6) worked with Parks staff to ensure we are using funds efficiently and effectively.
At the appropriate time, I also favor placing a LART issue on the ballot providing long-term funding for parks frequently used by tourists.
As mayor, I will continue my work to address these needs. I’m also open to other suggestions and options to address these needs in the future.
Recap: Spring Scoop the Poop Challenge
The stats from the 2023 Spring Scoop the Poop Challenge don’t lie, our community gives a poo about keeping our parks and trails clean! The event was a massive success, and we are thankful for the support of Heuberger Subaru to make this spring tradition happen. Spread out over four sites (Red Rock Canyon OS, Falcon Regional Park Dog Park, Bear Creek Dog Park, and Cottonwood Creek Park), Team TOSC made contact with 300+ visitors with information on the importance of scooping dog waste with 62 people completing the Challenge of bring their pet’s waste or other poop back from their adventure.
In all, a record breaking 110 lbs. of dog waste was collectively removed. We are also grateful for the assistance from Teller County Animal Rescue Shelter, Friends of the Bear Creek Dog Park, and everyone in the community who helped out in the parks.
PARK AND TRAIL News
Bees Need Your Help
In Colorado, there are 950 species of native bees. All these bees are critical to the ecological health of our open spaces because of the pollination they perform. Without them, our wildflowers and trees will struggle to survive and vanish. During this time of year, native bees are emerging from their underground burrows or shelters they have found in hollow stems and leaf piles to find the season’s first blooms. During early spring, there are ways we can help our bee population thrive.
- No Mow May, Low Mow Spring: Mowing less (or not at all) during the spring helps lawns become better habitats for pollinators by increasing floral resources and creating less disturbance to shelters.
- Garden Beds: The final freeze typically happens around Mother’s Day in Colorado Springs. Skip cleaning out flower beds until temperatures at night are consistently above freezing to give native bees adequate material for shelter from the cold.
- Let it Be: The dandelions in our lawns are critical to the early survival of pollinators. Leaving the early flowering will not only help the bees, but also support butterflies and moths. In our open spaces, protect sensitive early blooming wildflowers by staying on trail, keeping pets leashed and not picking flowers.
Learn more about “No Mow May”: https://beecityusa.org/no-mow-may/
Blodgett Open Space Planning
Mark May 20th on your calendar if Blodgett Open Space is a place where you like to play. 10 a.m-1 p.m. the public is invited to learn more about the planning process and how they can be heard. A survey will be available soon on the projects website : https://coloradosprings.gov/BlodgettMasterPlan
The first plan was completed in 2003. The new plan will include the entire 384-acre open space, including the Pikeview Frontage expansion. A draft plan is expected by next fall with approval finalized by next spring. TOSC will be advocating for a future designated route that connects Blodgett OS to the summit of Blodgett Peak in Pike National Forest. We’re also eager to see the continuation of the Chamberlain Trail through Blodgett. One day the Chamberlain Trail will extend uninterrupted from Blodgett all the way to Cheyenne Mountain State Park. We can’t wait!
Incline Friends Celebration
February marked ten years since the Manitou Incline became officially “legal” for the public to climb. In the decade since, many good things have happened on and around the Incline. In celebration of those accomplishments and to commemorate a decade of legal Incline hiking, Incline Friends is hosting a celebratory event, Thursday, May 11 at the UCCS Ent Center for the Arts.
Doors to the center will open at 6 p.m with a brief program starting at 7 p.m.
The program will review past accomplishments as well as future goals and projects; recognition of all of those who have done the Incline, be it just once or thousands of times; three, local, high school seniors will be honored as recipients as the first scholarships ever awarded by Incline Friends. The event will culminate with the showing of the movie “The Mirage.” It’s the story of Timothy Olson’s attempt to cover the 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in a Fastest Known Time of 51 days. Tim was coached by Incline Friends board member Jason Koop. Tickets for the event are $10 and available through this link.
Bristol Trail – Volunteers Needed
The weather forecast is for sunny skies May 6th and 7th.
Volunteer opportunities for “Bristol Trail ReDo” are now open.
Please click on the following web link to go to signup: volunteersignup.org/EAC9R
State of the Outdoors – Sign up Today!
The 2023 State of the Outdoors is right around the corner! PPORA invites you to join them on May 15th from 4:30-6:30 at the Norris Penrose Event Center- Heritage Room Registration is now live!
The event will include:
- Regional updates on the current state of our outdoors
- Outdoor Expo and opportunities to network with industry leaders
- NEW a Silent Auction benefiting PPORA
- Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary drink
Food to Power – A new life for old campaign signs!
Our Friends at Food to Power recently posted about a novel way they can give the campaign signs and other corrugated plastic material from this recent election a new life. They upcycle the signs and repurpose them in support of their Community Composting program. If you have a TOPS or other candidate sign, you can drop them off at the Food to Power Hillside Hub location. We recently dropped off the few remaining signs we had at the office and look forward to seeing them spreading the composting message throughout the neighborhoods
Impact of the houseless population on trails.
As we monitor the Mayoral debates, we are obviously interested in what the candidates are saying about funding for parks, trails and open spaces. We are also paying attention to answers around the problem of unhoused individuals camping illegally along our trails and creeks. Our concerns are many: their impact on water quality, nature along the creeks, illegal fires and safety of our trail users. Some of you have contacted us and shared that you are no longer using trails in certain areas because you no longer feel safe. In the weeks to come we’re going to explore these perceptions and see what other cities are doing to curtail illegal camping along trails and creeks. TOSC has made trail improvement and connectivity our focus for 30+ years. When users tell us they no longer use trails we worked years to complete we are troubled and committed to finding compassionate but effective solutions.
Business Partners Make All the Difference!
Veda declared TOSC their Earth Month Partner and raised money for us the entire month of April.
As a result: the majority of their employees offered services to clients who made donations to TOSC. Plus 3 wonderful Old Town Bike Shop 7-speed bikes were given away along with other awesome Gift Baskets.
Another Amazing Partner:
This community is so lucky to have Business Owners like Nic Posner. This is the 50th year Criterium has been selling bicycles for people of all ages and abilities. To celebrate, Nic is supporting a different non-profit each month and sharing a percentage of his profits. His goal is to “give-away” $50,000 by years end in honor of Criterium’s 50 th birthday. TOSC was fortunate to benefit from his success during the month of March. Thank you Nic for giving back to your community!!
Family Outdoor Club at El Paso County Nature Centers
Ever wondered how to get kids more excited about being outside and to appreciate nature? the El Paso Nature Centers are taking applications for their “Family Outdoor Clubs” program.
Clubs consist of 2-3 families who join together and are given a “Family Outdoor Passport” booklet and all sorts of activities and games for El Paso County Parks and Open Spaces.
For more information and to register, visit their website.
Land Lover Hike with Palmer
(rescheduled Earth Day Hike)
Saturday, May 6, 9-11 a.m. at Bluestem Prairie Open Space.
The hike is open to anyone who is interested in joining us!
Grab your binoculars and join Palmer for a 2-mile hike through sections of Bluestem Prairie Open Space – a 650-acre prairie grassland and bird-watching paradise. This will be an exclusive opportunity to see rare migrating birds drawn to the area as a haven on their journey North.
Lee Derr, a local naturalist, and friend of Palmer, will lead the hike with Gary Conover, a bird enthusiast. Witness firsthand how nature is thriving on this Palmer-protected property.
Click here to register or for more information.
Fees: Free for Palmer Members – Become a Member | $10 for Non-Members
For more information, email Astrid at email@example.com.
Mustang Way Volunteer Work Schedule
Saturday, May 6th 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.
We are building a new trail from Manitou Springs High School to Lower Intemann Trail.
Mustang Way is a hiking/biking/nature trail of 1130 feet with about 100 feet of stone walls and rockwork. The trail has an average 8% grade and tread width of 24 to 36 inches.
All Mustang Way workdays welcomes all volunteers.(Children must be with parents)
Pikes Peak Trail CATS will provide tools, crew leaders, and expertise.
It is a lot of work but a great trail that will make a big positive difference for students, people, and nature.
To register and get more information, visit their website.
Fountain Creek Family Fun Day
Saturday, May 6, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Explore outdoor activity stations including puppet shows, dinosaur fossils, bug sweeps, kite making, pond critters, crafts, and more. Free slice of pizza for all participants from Papa Murphy’s. FREE to activity duty military with I.D. $5 per person/$4 per member. Prepaid registration recommended, but not required.
Falcon Regional Dog Park Cleanup – Saturday, May 6th
We had the pleasure of supporting this dog park during our Scoop the Poop event last weekend. Along with meeting many of the regular users (and their pups!), we found out that there is a scheduled cleanup taking place this coming Saturday. This cleanup is being coordinated by the users of the dog park, but all are welcome.
When: Saturday, May 6th from 9:00am – 12:00pm
Where: Falcon Regional Dog Park
Friends of Monument Valley Park May Bird Walk
Tuesday, May 9th, 2023
Walk begins promptly at 7:30 am until 9:00 am
Led by Gary Conover and Linda Hodges, Experienced Birders
Meet at the W. Fontanero St. parking lot of Monument Valley Park
(Intersection of W. Fontanero Street and Culebra Avenue)
RSVPs are REQUIRED
Please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are limiting participation to 30 individuals who will be split into two groups of fifteen for the walk.
Bring: binoculars and water — NO PETS please!
Children’s Colorado Therapy Care on Telstar Community Fest
Saturday, May13th, 2023
11 am – 1 PM
Enjoy food truck, Toasty the Vibes mascot, Ziggy the Switchbacks mascot, photobooths, “Touch a Truck” with a firetruck, ZooMobile, Children’s Hospital Colorado booths, and more!
Parking available along east, south, and southwest sides of the building.