Wednesday, April 6, 2016

UPDATE: Skorman ejected from TOSC advisory board

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge A sign near Strawberry Fields provides an editorial comment on the proposed land swap. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • A sign near Strawberry Fields provides an editorial comment on the proposed land swap.

It's for sure. City Council will vote on May 10 on the city's proposed land swap with The Broadmoor, according to Council President Merv Bennett, who stated that in an email to Richard Skorman, who opposes the deal. Skorman had asked to speak at the Monday City Council meeting, to which Bennett said:

"The purpose of this presentation on Monday is to give us an update and gather council input prior to the Parks Board meeting and their subsequent recommendation to us. I would prefer that you present to the Parks Board first. I have asked that this be placed on the April 25 work session to allow council to hear the parks board recommendation before we vote on it at our first meeting in May. I don’t want to circumvent the Parks Board."

——ORIGINAL POST 1:15 P.M. WED., APRIL 6, 2016—-

Today, the Independent further explores the appraisals of city land pegged for a swap to The Broadmoor.

At a meeting this morning, the Trails Open Space and Parks Working Committee voted 5-2 to slow down the process of the land exchange. The vote is advisory only, and the Parks Advisory Board, which meets April 14 to make a recommendation to City Council, is not obligated to follow the recommendation.

In a related development, the influential Trails and and Open Space Coalition has booted longtime supporter and former vice mayor Richard Skorman from its advisory board because of his vocal opposition to the land swap.

Skorman has become the de facto leader of the opposition, giving public tours of the Strawberry Fields area that lies at the center of controversy over the land swap.

"I was on the advisory board, but I was asked to resign, because I lost confidence in them," Skorman says in an interview. "They felt like I wasn't a good fit. I've certainly disagreed with them over this. It wasn't my choice [to leave the advisory board]."

Another advisory board member, Kent Obee, longtime open space advocate who has chaired both the Parks Advisory Board and the TOPS Working Committee, resigned due to his opposition to the deal that's supported by the coalition's board.

The coalition board voted to support the land swap if three conditions are met: A conservation easement is placed on the 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space, though it would allow nine acres to be used by The Broadmoor for horse stables and a picnic pavilion; that the public have access to the rest of the property, and that the public process be transparent, including a conservation easement and deed restrictions be made available for public review and comment.

The coalition noted in its resolution of support that The Broadmoor was to present "details of the development plans" for Strawberry Fields. But that didn't happen, angering many opponents.

Whether the city's withholding of appraisals of the tracts involved in the swap has caused the coalition to rethink its position isn't clear. We'll circle back with more information when we get it.

Skorman also reports that parks official Chris Leiber said today at the TOPS Working Committee meeting that the land swap would take place prior to The Broadmoor making available specific building plans for the stable and pavilion for public review.

Skorman notes that his opposition group told the committee that if the exchange is delayed, it would be happy to raise money to fund a master plan for the Cheyenne Cañon area.

The next step is a 1 p.m. Monday briefing by the parks staff at City Council's work session at which public comment is not allowed.

Skorman says he's asked to have a short time to comment, but "so far [Council President] Merv Bennett says he's uncomfortable with that."

Meantime, City Councilor Bill Murray is seeking additional information. In an email to Parks Director Karen Palus on Tuesday, Murray said:
Since this is currently an open and transparent process, I would appreciate all answers to the questions in writing prior to your next presentation to the Council. This will allow all of us to view the information, prior to your presentation, in an objective and well thought out fashion. I would appreciate it before Friday noon so I can research the material prior to the Monday presentation.
Of additional interest, how much has the Broadmoor contributed to improvements to the Barr Trail and the Incline since they have owned the property? It would give us a better perspective on how good a steward they would be in maintaining Strawberry Hills.
Here's the longer letter outlining his questions:

For an overview of the exchange, check this out:

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