For the neighbors of Colorado Springs' fanciest resort hotel, the word "vacation" can have two meanings.
It can refer to the lavish and costly getaways provided to the rich and famous amid The Broadmoor hotel's distinctive warren of pink buildings.
More alarmingly for neighbors living near the resort in southwest Colorado Springs, "vacation" also can refer to the process by which the city turns over legal rights to public roadways, making them the private roads of a rapidly growing business empire.
Last week, a group of neighbors who live near the resort swarmed City Council to protest possible further encroachment of the Broadmoor complex toward their houses.
With a 7 to 2 vote, City Council rejected a request by The Broadmoor to make private 2.44 acres of roadway, including parts of First Street as well as Elm, Holly and Hazel avenues, that buffer the resort from the neighborhood.
"We do not want to be a parking lot and we don't want to be a driveway," says Margie Frost, who spoke at the meeting. The neighborhood needs a safeguard against new construction, she says, such as the resort's new convention center and condos.
Times have changed
In the past, the city's vacation of roads has enabled further expansion of The Broadmoor's business, which used to be owned by the nonprofit El Pomar Foundation before it was sold to the Oklahoma Publishing Company.
"Originally, The Broadmoor was kind of a neighborhood entity," says David Frost, Margie's husband.
But times have changed, he says. "People who used to walk up by the lake for an evening stroll no longer feel welcome anymore."
Some neighbors say a line in the sand has been drawn with Council's decision.
"Now it's still a public street," says Carol Kleiner, another Broadmoor neighbor. "For most people it represented a psychological and physical delineation between commercial and residential."
Frost and Kleiner took part in the neighborhood discussions in early 2004, when The Broadmoor first announced its plans to expand.
Neighbors fought for, and won, a City Council-backed plan that disconnects Broadmoor streets from the neighborhood streets with the construction of a concrete median across First Street.
According to James Mayerl, a senior planner for the city, the idea to make the public streets private came from a plan previously approved by neighbors and Council.
"It no longer needs to be a public street system," he said at the Council meeting. "The Broadmoor can maintain it, basically, as their own system."
Scratching their heads
Officials at The Broadmoor did not return phone calls seeking comment, but a representative for the company gave City Council a surprising message last week.
"Frankly, we don't care if the streets are public or private," said John Maynard of NES Inc., a local design and planning firm hired by The Broadmoor.
That left several City Council members scratching their heads as to why the city considered giving away rights on land worth more than $600,000, according to the County Assessor's office.
The answer that emerged is that The Broadmoor had been told by the city's Planning and Community Development department to make the request before proceeding in building the buffer separating the resort complex from the neighborhood.
"It's so frustrating," says Councilman Scott Hente, who voted for the vacation request. "The city tells you to do something ... and at some point down the line they say, 'Don't do that.'"
The neighbors were cautiously elated. Losing more public streets to The Broadmoor could have led to more construction projects, Frost says. Maintaining the streets as public "gives us a good enough hand to stay at the table," she says. "With that gone, we'd be gone."
-- Dan Wilcock
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