During this time of change and uncertainty, with a new form of local government and growth at a standstill, we've subconsciously transferred many of our aspirations to the back burner.
As we wait to see how having a strong mayor works, nobody is talking as much about what specifically could make Colorado Springs better. Many civic leaders joined in the Dream City process that culminated in 2009, but there hasn't been effective follow-through.
We can't let this happen. We have to make sure that the best ideas, and most pressing needs, stay in the forefront. Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region should be maintaining a serious wish list with input from government, business, education, health care, arts, tourism and everyday people. We're not talking about pie-in-the-sky fantasies. This should be a community-fed reservoir of possibilities, perhaps with an online location to contribute.
One such effort took shape in 2009, with participants sending postcards with ideas that were posted at icoloradosprings.org. Many came from younger people, offering such input as making Tejon Street like 16th Street in Denver, building a children's museum, and buying Section 16. (Hey, that last one happened!) But that site has had only one addition in six months, by new City Councilor Lisa Czelatdko in May, so it would need a jump-start.
If Mayor Steve Bach would consider making it become prominent on the springsgov.com website, that could be a positive step. Then, perhaps we in the local media could provide links from our homepages.
Sure, many suggestions would be costly to implement. But they also might be brilliant, worth the expense.
With that said, I've assembled a quick batch of new possibilities for such a list. If you disagree with any of them, no big deal. Just offer your own. Surely, many readers have had their own thoughts. If so, start filing them in a safe place.
If you want a starting point, try this: What would make Colorado Springs a better place to live, work, visit, celebrate the arts and do business?
• Turn the Garden of the Gods Road exit off Interstate 25 into a tourist gateway, with a visitor center staffed in summer directing travelers to attractions, motels, restaurants, etc. Perhaps a similar plan for visitors from the south.
• Bring back bus service on Sundays, and extend the hours until 10 p.m. or later for the most-used routes Monday through Friday.
• Support state-level efforts toward some form of mass transit between Colorado Springs and Denver, as Bach has proposed.
• Offer aggressive incentives to businesses and developers in modernizing Academy Boulevard, especially from Maizeland Road southward to I-25, as brought up by new Councilor and civil engineer Brandy Williams.
• Seriously explore the concept of partnering with the Olympic movement to make Colorado Springs a renowned mecca for sports medicine.
• Revisit the idea of a large-scale downtown convention center, with an upscale brand-name hotel as an anchor.
• Figure out how to make Olympic and Air Force Academy athletes more accessible to the public, so we see them as real people.
• At least six lanes, if not eight, for I-25 from Fountain to Monument.
• Consider turning Powers Boulevard into a controlled-access freeway (it really isn't too late), providing an I-25 truck route and east-side bypass. Who knows, maybe it could be a tollway.
• Find ways to revive the dormant plans for commercial development on South Nevada Avenue.
• Strengthen the ties and nurture new partnerships between local school districts and local colleges and universities.
• Develop a single tourism-oriented website that would provide discounts and many other special offers.
• Find investors and other interested groups, as Councilor Tim Leigh has proposed, to revitalize such places as Prospect Lake and Rock Ledge Ranch.
• As mentioned recently in this space, place statues of the greatest Olympic athletes on street corners around downtown and the rest of the city.
• Put much more effort into making Colorado Springs the No. 1 location for major corporations' data centers.
Ideals are OK, too, such as this from icoloradosprings.org that still applies: Banish limitations. Open dialogue.