What is Tops?
Trails, Open Space, and Parks (TOPS) helps to preserve trails, open spaces, and parks through a 0.1% sales tax by the City of Colorado Springs. This funding goes directly to the acquisition, development, and preservation of the natural land that our community cherishes and enjoys so much. TOPS was passed by Colorado Springs voters in 1997 and renewed in 2003. Many other Colorado cities have followed our lead and established a TOPS program of their own to encourage, foster, and promote the partnership between the public and private sector.
TOPS funds are managed by the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department, with oversight from the TOPS Working Committee. This committee is made up entirely of Colorado Springs citizens, who are appointed to monitor the budget, purchases, and projects. They make sure that TOPS dollars are spent the way voters intend!
|PARKS AND OPEN SPACE TAX
|$55 million for parks, recreation and cultural services 0.1%
|$153 million for parks, recreation and open spaces, will receive $75 million more 0.25%
|$253 million for parks and recreation 0.25%
|$28 million for open spaces and mountain parks, $29 million for parks and recreation 0.62%
For every $10 of sales tax collected in Colorado Springs, one cent goes towards TOPS. Despite the clear economic and social benefits that come from our trails, open spaces, and parks, Colorado Springs has one of the lowest TOPS taxes in the Front Range region, bringing in only $9 million in revenue per year.
The Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) is spearheading the campaign to make sure that TOPS is renewed by voters in Colorado Springs. Our city’s parks are so loved and valued, and TOSC is encouraging voters to continue the TOPS Program until 2043.
It only takes pennies to preserve our parks!
Our outdoor spaces are important. We are asking residents to consider “without raising taxes” to extend the TOPS program for 20 more years (which will cost the average household $14 per year). . Issue 1 will be on the ballot in April 2023. We hope you will stand with us and vote to support funding for new trails, more acres of open spaces, and improving parks. We hope you will stand with us and vote to support funding for new trails, more acres of open spaces, and improving parks.
What does tops do?
Over the past 24 years, Colorado Springs’ TOPS funding has been used to preserve over 7,500 acres of open space in the Pikes Peak region. It has built more than 67 parks and constructed close to 53+ miles of urban trails. The TOPS sales tax generates approximately $12 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, and 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.
What tops has already done
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 imagine life in Colorado Springs without the amazing outdoor amenities TOPS has helped to create and protect.
*Black Canyon Quarry
High Meadows Park
Horace Shelby Park
Jack Templeton Park
James Smith Sr. Park
*Jimmy Camp Creek Prairie Preserve
John Stone Park
John Venezia Park
Judge Lunt Park
Kathleen Marriage Park
Ken Jordan Park
*Pikeview Buffer Open Space
Prairie Grass Park
Pring Ranch Park
*Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Rock Island Trail
Roy Benavidez Park
Sand Creek Trail
Shooks Run Trail
Snowy River Park
Soaring Eagles Park
Springs Ranch Park
*Stratton Open Space
*Union Meadows Open Space
Ute Valley Park
West Creek Park
Wilson Ranch Park
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 penny per each ten dollar purchase for 20 more years , 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.