Friday, April 14, 2017

Strawberry Fields planning continues, county pact still alive

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 3:16 PM

click to enlarge PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
Work continues on the master plan for Strawberry Fields, the open space acquired by The Broadmoor in a land swap with the city last year.

More on that in a minute.

First, now that The Broadmoor and city have closed on the land swap, it made us wonder what became of The Broadmoor's deal with the county to use Bear Creek Regional Park for pony rides.

Remember when the resort wanted to build a stable just east of the park? That was in 2015. The Broadmoor struck a deal with the county to pay $18,000 a year for 20 years to use the park.

In light of its new plans, we wondered if The Broadmoor ever paid anything, or perhaps pulled back the agreement.

Here's what the county's Tim Wolken, in charge of park matters, tells us via email:
The agreement was based on the Broadmoor constructing an equestrian facility adjacent to Bear Creek Regional Park. Since this has not occurred, the Broadmoor has not used the trails and the lease payment has not been required.

In recent discussions with the Broadmoor regarding the agreement, they asked that the agreement not be formerly cancelled until the legal action has concluded regarding the property swap with the City. 
So it would seem that The Broadmoor is hedging its bets.

The legal action referred to is the nonprofit Save Cheyenne's lawsuit challenging the land swap. It lost in District Court and has appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Meantime, on Thursday night, N.E.S. and The Broadmoor staged the second planning meeting for the Strawberry Fields property.

Apparently, things got a little heated, based on this description, found on Save Cheyenne's Facebook page:
The 2nd NES The Broadmoor meeting was highly contentious. A more detailed outline will follow, but among the issues inciting outrage were the lack of answers to questions like how many horses are planned for the development, continued outrage over the change in the building envelope which takes up most of Mesa (i.e. blocks public access) from what the City Council had originally approved, an addition now of another building structure (an office) North Cheyenne Canon will lose its National Historic Designation as a result of this, and Strawberry Fields is, according to US Fish and Wildlife is in the heart of the high critical habitat for the Mexican Spotted Owl.

Several people have been in touch with USFWS Endangered Species, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Sierra Club - Colorado Chapter,Colorado Parks and Wildlife asking that a full survey of the area be done as has Weston, the general environmental survey company hired by the City, recommended in documents acquired in an Open Records request.

Officials at USFS believe that Strawberry Fields is an ideal habitat for the spotted owl because of the topography including mature pines and small caves high in the sandstone for nesting, the numerous slot canyons, the abundance of rodents nearby and close proximity to water. Owls are often seen in the area which has been quiet for over 120 years. There are owls which come from the slot canyons of Turkey Creek Ranch and nest on Fort Carson in the winter as well as a siting near Cheyenne Mountain State Park. So, as you are walking, keep your phones ready to grab a pic and send it to us if you see one. Special thanks to Kent Obee Ruth Obee and Jim Lockhart for speaking out.

Go here for an overview of the first meeting on March 8.

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