The City of Colorado Springs has a .1% sales tax that provides funding for the acquisition, development and preservation of trails, open space and parks, it’s call Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS). TOPS was passed by Colorado Springs voters in April of 1997, and renewed in 2003. Several other cities across Colorado have established a TOPS tax to encourage, foster and promote public-private partnerships in the preservation of open space lands, trails and parks. 

The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is responsible for managing the funds, with oversight from the TOPS Working Committee. The TOPS Committee is made up of city residents appointed to monitor the budget, proposed purchases and projects, and make sure TOPS dollars are spent as voters intended. 

 

Over the past 24 years, Colorado Springs’ TOPS funding has been used to preserve over 6200 acres of open space in the Pikes Peak region. It has built more than 32 parks and constructed close to 50 miles of urban trails. The TOPS sales tax generates approximately $9 million annually and is leveraged through grants and private funds. The Colorado Springs Parks Master Plan is used as a guide for land purchases and helps determine where trails and parks will be constructed. But, anyone – individual members of the public, property owners, organizations, TOPS Working Committee members, the Parks and Recreation Department and other agencies – can apply for TOPS funding. All requests must be submitted using the TOPS Application.

Applications are studied and reviewed by the Parks and Recreation staff, then recommendations are provided to the TOPS Working Committee; if supported by the Committee it will be presented for approval to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and final approval by the City Council.

The Value of Trails, Open Space and PARks

The founder of Colorado Springs, General William Jackson Palmer, believed in cultivating healthy communities with ample green space, urban forests, and natural scenery. In 2017, The Trust for Public Land measured the economic value and fiscal impacts of parks and land conservation in Colorado Springs. The study illustrates that parks, trails, open spaces, and facilities are key economic drivers that contribute millions in economic benefits every year. Outdoor recreation contributes to the high quality of life, which plays an important role in attracting business and employees to the city. The benefits of parks and open space include: enhanced property value, stormwater infiltration, air pollution removal, tourism, recreational use, and a healthy community which saves on health care costs.  

The recreational opportunities available in the Pikes Peak region enhance the reputation of Colorado Springs as a world-class destination, attracting roughly 20 million people interested in outdoor and sports–related activities to visit every year. These visitors spend $135 million annually in the local economy and generate $6.36 million in local taxes.

 

For every $10 of sales tax collected in Colorado Springs, 1¢ goes towards TOPS. Despite the clear economic and social benefits of trails, open space, and parks Colorado Springs has one of the lowest TOPS tax in the front range. Our TOPS tax is far behind neighboring cities, only bringing in $9 milling in revenue each year. Denver collects 25¢ for it’s parks and trails. The Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) is spearheading the campaign to not only renew TOPS in Colorado Springs, but to increase it. It is critical to elevate the value of parks in our city and increase TOPS from .1% to .25%.

 

Our outdoor spaces are important and it costs money to create and maintain trails, parks and open space. We want your 2¢… pennies for parks, small change for big gains! TOSC is working hard to put this initiative on the ballet in August of 2021. We hope you will stand with us and vote to support funding for trails, open space and parks. 

A portion of Ute Valley Park was purchased with TOPS funding.
What Red Rock Canyon might have become.

 

 

Without TOPS some of our community’s best parks, favorite trails and pristine open spaces would not exist. Stratton Open Space was one of the first properties to be preserved. Followed by Blodgett and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. All three were targets for local development. 

 

The commercial vision for Red Rock Canyon was a private golf course with high rise hotels and luxury townhouses. Instead the City used TOPS money to purchase the 789 acres of land and preserved it as a recreational open space. 

 

TOPS has had a significant impact on our community – thousands of acres of open space, dozens of parks, miles of trails – it’s hard to image life in Colorado Springs without the amazing outdoor amenities TOPS has helped to create and protect. 

TOPS funding contributed to all of or portions of these properties:

America the Beautiful Park

Austin Bluffs Open Space

Bear Creek Trail

Blodgett Peak Open Space

Bluestem Prairie Open Space

Buckskin Charlie Park

Chamberlain Trail

Coleman Park

Corral Bluffs Open Space

Cottonwood Creek Trail

Deerfield Hills Community Center

Dr. Frank Houck Park

El Pomar Youth Sports Complex

Eugene McCleary Park

Frank Castello Park

Foothills Trail

Garden of the Gods Park

Gold Camp Park

Gossage Youth Sports Complex

High Chaparral Open Space

High Meadows Park

Horace Shelby Park

Homestead Trail

Iron Mountain

Jack Templeton Park

James Smith Sr. Park

John Stone Park

John Venezia Park

Judge Lunt Park

Kathleen Marriage Park

Ken Jordan Park

La Foret Trail

Laura Gilpin Park

Marshall Sprague Park

Memorial Park

Manitou Incline

Midland Trail

North Cheyenne Canyon

Pikes Peak Greenway

Pikeview Reservoir

Powers Trail

Prairie Grass Park

Pring Ranch Park

Red Rock Canyon Open Space 

Rock Island Trail

Rockrimmon Trail

Roy Benavidez Park

Sand Creek Trail

Shooks Run Trail

Sinton Trail

Skyline Trail

Snowy River Park

Soaring Eagles Park

Springs Ranch Park

Stratton Open Space

Stetson Park

Stetson Trail

Union Meadows Open Space

Ute Valley Park

West Creek Park

Wildflower Park

Wilson Ranch Park

Woodmen Trail

 

With your support, Colorado Springs can continue to develop as a prime city for outdoor recreation, both as a major destination for outdoor enthusiasts and a beautiful city of happy, healthy residents.  Small change can lead to big gains for each and every Colorado Springs resident. By investing an extra one and a half cents per each ten dollar purchase, we ensure that children will have access to safe parks, runners and cyclists have well-maintained trails and pieces of our natural heritage will be preserved for  future generations. 

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Do you want to preserve and improve our outdoor spaces?

Become a member!

For as little as $30 Join the Coalition and advocate for the preservation, improvement and maintenance of our TRAILS, OPEN SPACES and PARKS.