TOPS is the process used by the City of Colorado Springs to administer the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) ordinance, which was passed by voters in April of 1997. It is administered by the Parks and Recreation Department of Colorado Springs, and provides for the prudent acquisition, development and preservation of trails, open space and parks in the Pikes Peak region. More information on the TOPS program, including maps as well as funding of projects, is available at the city’s TOPS web page.
The TOPS program has preserved over 6200 acres of open space in the Pikes Peak region over the past 17 years. It has built more than 32 parks and constructed close to 50 miles of urban trails. The TOPS sales tax generates approximately $6 million annually and is leveraged through grants and private funds. Guiding documents for the acquisition of open space and the construction of trails and parks are being updated in the current Colorado Springs Open Space Plan and the Parks, Recreation & Trails Master Plan process.
The TOPS program is essentially a three-step process: study and recommendation by the TOPS Working Committee, recommendation by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and final approval by the City Council.
Applications for TOPS funding may be submitted by individual members of the public, property owners, organizations, TOPS Working Committee members, the Parks and Recreation Department and other agencies. All requests must be submitted using the TOPS Application which will be sent or given to the TOPS Program Manager at 1401 Recreation Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80905. Applications will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation staff and then provided to the TOPS Working Committee.
Consideration of an application will done considering criteria provided in the TOPS Policies and Procedures Manual. If the request meets pre-screening criteria (including a willing seller), Staff will complete a property profile/preliminary evaluation. Acquisition proposals are presented to the TOPS Working Committee as an agenda item. If the TOPS Working Committee recommends approval of the project, a recommendation will then be sent to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board consideration. With their approval, a recommendation will be forwarded to City Council for consideration and final approval.