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Land swap meetings, paving warranties, Marc Snyder drops out, Doug Lamborn's environmental zero 

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Land swap meetings

A plan to trade the city's 189.5-acre Strawberry Fields open space for more than 400 acres of land owned by The Broadmoor and its partner entities continues to change, with the latest version including a proposed conservation easement on all but nine acres of Strawberry Fields.

About 220 people showed up at Gold Camp Elementary School last week to hear about the proposal, which would allow the city to fill ownership gaps in some trails, such as the Chamberlain Trail, Manitou Incline and Barr Trail. So far, the influential Trails and Open Space Coalition hasn't weighed in.

Coming meetings:

• 7:30 a.m. Thursday, March 10, City Parks Advisory Board, 1401 Recreation Way. The board will not vote but insead will hear a presentation, says the parks department's Chris Lieber.

• 6 p.m. Monday, March 14, City Councilor Keith King's town hall meeting, Broadmoor Community Church, 315 Lake Ave.

Last week, King said in a letter to a constituent that parks advocate and former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman found the swap palatable in light of the conservation easement via Palmer Land Trust. But Skorman tells the Indy he opposes on philosophical grounds the idea of giving away city open space under any conditions. Roughly 2,360 people have signed an online petition opposing the trade.

The city has said it will receive $3.3 million worth of property in exchange for giving away $1.6 million worth, but no formal appraisals have been released. One of the opponents, Dana Dougan, says the values actually tilt to The Broadmoor's advantage.

Meantime, Lieber says property tax money the city would lose by removing the Broadmoor land from the tax rolls is minimal. — PZ

Paving guarantees

It's not clear if the new Colorado Springs' street repairs program, funded with a five-year sales tax hike approved by voters in November, will have a five-year warranty period.

Last week, the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance urged the city to drop the idea of seeking a five-year guarantee, saying two years is the industry standard. The city asked contractors to bid the work both ways: two-year and five-year warranties. It's worth noting the RBA receives taxpayer money annually to stay afloat, so one would hope the RBA might return the favor by looking out after taxpayers' interests for better roads.

Mayor John Suthers agrees with the RBA that the city hasn't established what constitutes a breach of contract under a five-year warranty, according to an email on the matter. But several on City Council want to consider a longer warranty, among them Don Knight, Bill Murray and Helen Collins.

As Knight said Monday in a message to the RBA, if voters start seeing cracks in paving done in 2016, 2017 and 2018 that need to be repaired in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the city might have a hard time winning voter approval to extend the tax. "We must not do anything that would jeopardize the citizen[s] voting for a continuation of the [road tax] in November 2020," Knight wrote. — PZ

Snyder out; CSF endorses

click to enlarge Marc Snyder won't be on the ballot. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Marc Snyder won't be on the ballot.

Former Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder, a Democrat, long flirted with the idea of a 2016 run for District 3 El Paso County commissioner, the seat being vacated by term-limited Sallie Clark. No Democrat has won a commissioner seat since 1970, and Snyder's high-profile candidacy might have shaken up the race.

In a Feb. 26 email to supporters and media, however, Snyder said he has decided against a run "after much, often agonizing, soul searching."

"This is a very personal decision," he wrote. "I now realize that, after 12 years in public office, I need more time to recharge my batteries and assess my priorities. At this time I am unable to muster that inner drive that would allow me to dedicate 100% of my efforts toward a successful candidacy. Dedicating anything less than 100% would be a disservice to the voters and taxpayers of District 3."

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs Forward, a group of well-connected locals seeking to influence public policy, has endorsed former Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Waller for the District 2 race and Scott Turner, a retired banker with experience on many community and governmental boards, in the District 4 race. CSF has not announced an endorsement for District 3 yet. — JAS

Lamborn's eco score

The League of Conservation Voters rated U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, with a zero on a scale where 100 is the best voting record on environmental issues. The 2015 Scorecard rated Congress members based on their votes on clean air, climate change, clean water, environmental regulations, wildlife and national parks and monuments.

Colorado's delegation split, with Democrats scoring high and Republicans, low. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, rated 84, while Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, came in at 16. — PZ

Museum gets $500,000

The Daniels Fund has given $500,000 to the U.S. Olympic Museum project, which is expected to break ground later this year. The fund, set up by cable television mogul Bill Daniels, provides grants in a four-state area. The museum, to be built southwest of downtown Colorado Springs, is to open in early 2018. — PZ

New court date for Dear

A mental evaluation for Robert L. Dear, 57, is not done, District Judge Gilbert Martinez announced Feb. 24, prompting a delay in the case. A new court date was set for March 23 at which time the evaluation's results presumably will be made known.

If Dear is found competent, the case will resume; if not, he'll have to undergo psychiatric treatment, pending a finding of competency.

Dear faces 179 criminal charges in the Nov. 27 Planned Parenthood shooting that killed three and injured nine. Dear, known for his outbursts, said he wanted to say something at the end of the Feb. 24 hearing, to which Martinez responded, "You cannot."

Dear gave the Gazette and Channel 11 a telephone interview on Friday, but he showed no remorse as nothing new emerged. — PZ

UCCS opens expanded center

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs reopened its Recreation and Wellness Center on Feb. 29 following a $16.3 million expansion and renovation project.

The former Campus Recreation Center, built in 2007, was expanded to include recreation, counseling and physical health services under one roof. Among the upgrades are $400,000 in new cardiovascular and strength training equipment (and more space to put them in); two new basketball courts; two new fitness studios with sensors for those with hearing impairment; new men's and women's locker rooms and a gender-neutral restroom; six physical exam rooms; 17 therapy rooms; offices; and a demonstration kitchen.

The construction lasted a little more than a year. — JAS

click to enlarge GoCode competitors at work in the Springs in 2014. - COURTESY COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE
  • Courtesy Colorado Secretary of State
  • GoCode competitors at work in the Springs in 2014.

GoCode Roadshow coming

Get your geek on! The GoCode Colorado Roadshow comes to Colorado Springs on Wednesday, March 2.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will join local techies to talk about this year's GoCode challenge at Episouthcentral, located at 1604 S. Cascade Ave., from 6 to 8 p.m. Drinks and food will be provided at the free event, where questions will be answered about this year's challenge.

For the unfamiliar, GoCode is an award-winning, statewide business app challenge, in which teams from cities across the state compete to develop apps that solve real business problems. Hosted through the Secretary of State's office, the challenge brings together teams of developers and entrepreneurs.

Judges whittle the field of teams, and the two best teams from each location advance to a mentor weekend (this year's is in Boulder) where they meet with some of the state's top entrepreneurs, lawyers, and others.

Finally, the three top teams are selected, each winning $25,000 prizes to keep their app and business ideas going.

Registration is open for the challenge, which begins on the weekend of April 1-3, at gocode.colorado.gov — JAS

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