City Council unanimously approves open space acquisitions Tuesday

City Council unanimously approves open space acquisitions Tuesday

June 9, 2020 by Jennifer Peterson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Colorado Springs City Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 9 voted unanimously to approve the acquisition of more than 340 acres of open space properties near the Cedar Heights and Oak Valley Ranch neighborhoods.

“These properties are incredibly valuable and important assets for our city,” said Britt Haley, design and development manager for the City of Colorado Springs. “These open spaces will conserve the western backdrop of our skyline, provide continued protection of wildlife habitat, offer incredible views and allow for the discussion of fascinating possibilities for future recreation.”

The 2014 Park System Master Plan identified these areas as candidate properties for the City’s open space system. The two properties will undergo separate master planning processes with opportunities for public input on future use and development.

The acquisitions include the following properties, which are owned by Castle Concrete:

·Black Canyon Quarry, which is approximately 193 acres of property adjacent to Williams Canyon and located to the west of the Cedar Heights neighborhood and Garden of the Gods Park. The quarry has been closed since 2015 and reclamation is largely complete. From a regional perspective, this property offers future potential to provide trail access to the Pike National Forest’s Waldo Canyon area. The U.S. Forest Service is currently engaged in an ongoing public planning process to reimagine Waldo Canyon.

·A 148-acre frontage property of the Pikeview Quarry, which features rolling hills and oak brush. It’s located immediately south of Blodgett Open Space and west of Allegheny Drive and the Oak Valley Ranch neighborhood.

Additionally, the 100-acre Pikeview Quarry could be acquired as a donation from Castle Concrete at a later date on condition of state approval of physical reclamation and at the city’s sole discretion.

Next steps include a second reading at City Council on June 23 to approve funding the acquisitions. Additionally, the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board will consider a proposed amendment to the Pikeview Quarry reclamation plan on June 24. The acquisitions are contingent on these approvals.

The $8.9 million acquisitions are proposed to be funded by revenues from the TOPS Open Space Category with the assistance of acquisition partner The Conservation Fund. TOPS is a 0.01 percent sales tax first approved by voters in 1997 that is used exclusively to preserve open space lands, trails and parks. It generates approximately $9.5 million annually.

City Council’s approval follows recommendations made in May by the Parks Advisory Board and the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Working Committee. Additionally, several groups have voiced support for the proposal, including Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, and the Trails and Open Space Coalition.