Thursday, May 5, 2016

Phone survey on land swap under way

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2016 at 1:52 PM

Word is a telephone survey is under way regarding the city's proposed land swap with The Broadmoor. 

The swap has triggered a lot of angst over the 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space the city is ready to hand off in exchange for about 471 acres of trails easements and mountainous property west of North Cheyenne Cañon Park.
click to enlarge This button popped up early on at community meetings about the land exchange. It's based on an online poll from the Gazette  that was taken offline shortly after launching.
  • This button popped up early on at community meetings about the land exchange. It's based on an online poll from the Gazette that was taken offline shortly after launching.
The survey reportedly is being conducted by Elmhurst Communications, but we can't find any information about this outfit, and a phone number we were given is for removing your phone number from their call list.

Here's what people are reporting about the survey:
One resident says, "I just received a push poll on 'Strawberry Hill Park'. My favorite question was 'do you believe that since the Bmoor is getting less value than they are giving up that they should have the right to develop the whole property?'

Another says, "A neighbor has received within the last two hours, a robopoll asking extensive questions about: Strawberry Fields, Mayor Suthers, Colorado Springs - the city, City Council. He remembered the gist of some questions: if the appraisals were fair, and another question that since the value that the Broadmoor was receiving was less than they were giving up should they be allowed to develop part of the land on Strawberry. Also was the Mayor being treated fairly."

The city is NOT conducting this survey, the city communications department reports.

We've asked The Broadmoor if the survey is being conducted on its behalf and haven't heard back, but will update if we hear anything.

One possible funder could be Colorado Springs Forward, a politically active organization that states its mission this way:
Colorado Springs Forward will unite the citizens, communities and organizations of the Pikes Peak region to educate, collaborate and coordinate so that, together, we can effectively address the challenges and opportunities faced by our region. With a sense of urgency, we will lead with words and actions so that together we can reach our full potential and an excellent quality of life. 
Springs Forward reportedly favors the land swap. We put in a phone call to CSF folk this morning and sent an email yesterday, but haven't heard back.

Meantime, what other polls have been conducted?

The city hasn't yet released an analysis of the more than 600 comments received since the proposal was introduced on Jan. 14 to indicate how many of them are for and how many against.

Councilor Bill Murray has said the email and phone calls he's receiving are running 10 to 1 against the trade.

A petition has been signed by 5,199 people. The headline is "NO to the Broadmoor Land Swap. Our Historic Wildlife & Open Space is Not For Sale."

The Gazette, which is owned by Clarity Media Group — whose owner is billionaire Philip Anschutz, also owner of The Broadmoor — has editorialized in support of the swap and had this to say on April 13 about the petition:
Those who have not independently studied the proposal may consider it controversial. If so, it is most likely because of a faux controversy promoted on a for-profit, out-of-town petition mill doing business as The San Francisco-based dot-com facilitates about 15,000 new protest petitions each month. It is a zone of the social media sphere that preys on people who want to do something good by simply signing off on a cause. The site typically misrepresents complicated dilemmas in a void of meaningful context. In the case of our local land exchange, the petition assures activists a "powerful" and "profit-seeking" resort wants what is "bad for the wildlife . . " It has solicited and received anti-Broadmoor signatures from other states and foreign countries harpooning another one of local opposition's claims, that 3,500 "residents" have signed a petition.

Horse pucky doesn't get deeper.
Those supporting the petition say that's not true and that many locals have signed it.

The Gazette initially posted an unscientific poll on its website but took it down fairly quickly. Those results were 86 percent against, 14 percent in support.

Opponents of the swap say the only poll that really counts is one taken in the voting booth and have called for the issue to be submitted to a ballot. City Council hasn't been warm to that idea, and though it was a vote of the people in 1885 that led the city to acquire Strawberry Fields from a bank, the City Attorney's Office advises that no vote of the people is necessary to dispose of it. (It's worth noting that a vote of the people was deemed necessary to merely lease Memorial Hospital, not sell or trade it.)

Council will convene in informal session on Monday at 1 p.m. at 107 N. Nevada Ave., then again at 6 p.m. specifically for the land swap debate.

Appraisals of the property show The Broadmoor's land is valued at about $3.6 million, while the Strawberry Fields tract and a half-acre parking lot owned by the city are valued at about $2.2 million.

A hearing slated for 10 a.m. on Friday, at which the city would have to show why it withheld the appraisals under the Colorado Open Records Act, won't be held. The city suddenly released all the appraisals on its website Wednesday.

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