Thursday, March 3, 2016

Skorman and Broadmoor boss get into it

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Richard Skorman is all in fighting to keep open space in the city's hands. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Richard Skorman is all in fighting to keep open space in the city's hands.
Richard Skorman reports that the Trails, Open Space and Parks Working Committee welcomes a presentation at its April meeting of various tracts involved in a proposed land swap with The Broadmoor.

That comes in response to Skorman submitting applications to the city about buying parcels involved in the land swap, not trading them for the city's 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space.

But during Wednesday's committee meeting, things got a little heated, to hear Skorman tell it. More on that later.

First, city staff provided a replay of a presentation outlining the deal, which would give the city about 400+ acres in exchange for Strawberry Fields, which the resort wants for a stable and other facilities.

Skorman says the committee asked to hear a presentation for all the parcels, which range from a portion of Barr Trail, the Manitou Incline, Mount Muscoco, Daniels Trail, nine acres east of Bear Creek Regional Park, and easements for the Chamberlain Trail.

"It will be the first time in this public process that anybody has been given more than three minutes" to speak, notes Skorman, long-time open space advocate, downtown businessman and former vice mayor.

Thing is, city parks employee Chris Lieber noted at the meeting there isn't a willing seller, i.e., The Broadmoor.

And, according to Skorman, The Broadmoor's CEO Jack Damioli said that while Skorman's acquisition idea is well-intentioned, the resort is not in the market to sell the tracts being offered to the city in the trade.

"So I called him on that," Skorman says, by noting that it sounded like The Broadmoor was "holding us hostage" by refusing to entertain a purchase price and "not being a good corporate citizen."

Damioli was pretty upset, Skorman reports. It's worth noting that the swap began as a trade that would give Strawberry Fields to the resort outright. Since then, The Broadmoor has been willing to bend to allow public use of the property except for about nine acres it wants to use for its guests. The Broadmoor also is willing to place a conservation easement on the property, except for the nine acres, which would preserve the land for public use into perpetuity.

But Skorman is still skeptical. "They want to own the property so they have ultimate control over it," he says. "I think they want that flat meadow for themselves near Seven Falls," which also is now owned by The Broadmoor.

"If they're not willing to negotiate any of these properties, they're basically saying the deal has to be the way we want it or we're not going to be a player," he adds.

We asked The Broadmoor for a statement, and this was the response by email:

"The City and The Broadmoor have negotiated in good faith and have reached an agreement that benefits the City, the public and The Broadmoor. To change direction now would demonstrate bad faith on the part of The Broadmoor. This is a model example of how a Public/Private Partnership can benefit everyone."

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