Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Two ways Strawberry Fields swap has been forgotten already

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 12:58 PM

click to enlarge Strawberry Fields: Already forgotten. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Strawberry Fields: Already forgotten.
Remember when the city of Colorado Springs called The Broadmoor land swap an "exciting opportunity" that would "enhance the city's park system" and "achieve several major goals" of the city's parks master plan? That wording appeared in the initial news release, issued Jan. 14, about the deal, and we followed with this story that ran on Feb. 10, the first of many.

Remember when Mayor John Suthers was so adamant that the deal be approved that in April he called every Parks Advisory Board member to twist their arms?

Then, remember how on May 24, when City Council voted 6-3 to approve the deal, Councilor Tom Strand asserted that the majority of Springs residents supported the deal? (Though he didn't cite a source, and other yardsticks, such as email to council members, showed the opposite.)

In any event, the land swap was extolled as a wonderful thing for the city, with Suthers and others acting as if the very future of the city was riding on the deal.

Hundreds of citizens disagreed, arguing it was wrong to give away 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space, which was acquired by the city in 1885 after a public vote, even though the city would acquire more than 400 acres of trail easements and wilderness property from the resort in the trade.

But officials dismissed those concerns and pushed the land swap through, arguing that it was a great thing for the community.

But just three short months later, the land swap was totally ignored in two official recaps of city accomplishments of the last year.

First, Suthers didn't mention it in his state of the city address on Sept. 8 as he outlined his and Council's noteworthy achievements over the last year, which ran the gamut from roads to the airport to you name it. But nary a word about the swap, even though the luncheon was held at the city's land swap partner's place, The Broadmoor.

Then, on Monday, City Council gave the nod to its "Report to the Citizens, 2015-16," with Council President Merv Bennett saying the staff did "a fabulous job" on it.

Except that, again, there's no mention of the land swap. CouncilAnnualReport.pdf
Be aware that the land swap was described by Council members themselves as having energized more people to attend more public meetings and write more letters and emails to Council than any other issue the Council had faced in more than a year. 

Yet, it apparently doesn't warrant a mention in a briefing on major changes over the last 12 months.

It's worth noting the Council listed among its efforts to make Colorado Springs a better place its imposition of severe restrictions on the voter-approved legal marijuana business and the adoption of the sit-lie ordinance. Both issues have triggered significant opposition.

All that said, the Council's "report" ends with this:
"We want to hear from you! Was this report informative? Should it include different or additional information? Let us know your thoughts! Contact Communications at 719.385.5482."

So feel free to provide feedback.

And by the way, the land swap is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by opponents in late July. So maybe it really is too soon for the city to celebrate.

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