Monday, December 18, 2017

UPDATE: Garden of the Gods frame to be removed

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge The new 12-foot tall frame installed at Garden of the Gods without Parks Board of City Council approval. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • The new 12-foot tall frame installed at Garden of the Gods without Parks Board of City Council approval.
UPDATE:

Here are the city's answers to the questions we posed:
1. How will the rock the frame is bolted into be repaired, or will it?

The sign and footers have been fully removed by the Parks Department. I do not have details on exactly what they did to remove it.

2. Did this expose a weakness in the city’s regulations for Garden of the Gods Park? If so, what will be done to plug that hole, if anything? If not, can anyone install whatever they like in the garden and then respond only if there’s any public feedback?
The sign was installed after going through the process as directed by the Parks department, which asked that the proposed sign be presented to the Parks Advisory Board. This was done in February.

Any change to the city’s parks master plan would require a vote by the Parks Advisory Board.

3. Where will the frame be relocated to and when?

That is in discussion
———————————————
UPDATE:

This just in from the city's communications office:
The blue frame in Garden of the Gods Park was conceived by the marketing advisors on the Olympic City USA Taskforce as an effective way to drive millions of views of our Park by harnessing the power of social media. Based on successes in other cities, the task force put this forward with enthusiasm for sharing one of our most popular attractions worldwide. Our observations since the frame was installed confirmed the task force was correct in assessing its appeal to tourists.

However, we recognize that while one of our goals is driving tourism, the concept focused too heavily on visitors, and was not well-received by local residents who feel a great deal of ownership of the Park. That viewpoint is extremely important.

Olympic City USA is meant to be a unifying concept, and one that was created to enhance – rather than divide - our civic pride. We have received some very thoughtful citizen comments asking for its relocation and we thank those citizens who took the time for constructive communication. In recognition of public sentiment, we are in the process of removing the frame from its current location.

While the initial execution was flawed, we are excited about the opportunity to eventually relocate the frame to a spot where it can meet its original objectives and become an amenity for both our visitors and our local residents to enjoy.

We've asked the city the following questions and will report back if and when we hear something:
1. How will the rock to which the frame is bolted be repaired, or will it?

2. Did this expose a weakness in the city’s regulations for Garden of the Gods Park? If so, what will be done to plug that hole, if anything? If not, can anyone install whatever they like in the garden and then respond only if there’s any public feedback?

3. Where will the frame be relocated to and when?


———————-ORIGINAL POST 5:21 P.M. FRIDAY, DEC. 15, 2017————————-

"I think it's terrible." That's the word from City Councilor Jill Gaebler about a 12-foot-tall blue picture frame bolted into rocks at Garden of the Gods.

Gaebler, and many in the community she's heard from, are outraged that the frame was installed without prior approval of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board or City Council.

"It looks like to me it's the Olympic City USA Committee, which is led by Janet Suthers, and it appears they did exactly that, they put this in Garden of the Gods without anyone's approval," she said. Gaebler says she wrote on her Facebook page about the installation, saying "A thousand times no."

"I can't believe the response I'm getting from community members," she says. "They think it's a joke. I think they thought they could put something in Garden of the Gods park and no one would care. They underestimate residents who care deeply about their parks and open spaces.
There was no community conversation about it."

The Gazette reports the frame is located at High Point in the garden.

Says Gaebler, "I wrote the Parks Board today and asked them to do what they could to get it removed. I heard back that somebody came to a meeting and spoke during public comments but there was no ask. They were told this is what was going to happen."

She reports that feedback she's received is unanimous against the frame. She heard from former state Sen. Andy McElhaney, she says, who said, "What can we do to get rid of this thing?"

Gaebler says such a thing shouldn't disturb the natural landscape.

The city issued this statement:
The 8’ x 12’ frame in Garden of the Gods Park was erected as a whimsical and fun way for residents and tourists alike to share the beauty of Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA. By occupying a small corner of a South parking lot, we hope that many of the 4M annual visitors will share their memories and celebrate Colorado Springs as an iconic vacation destination. No rock formations were impacted by the installation of the frame, which is adjacent to the parking lot. The location and installation will be re-evaluated at the end of 2018. No tax dollars were spent on the frame, as it was donated.

As you can see from the attached photo, the frame now has decals that say "Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA" and offers visitors an opportunity to capture their visit in this framed photo.

The idea of installing the frame came from the Olympic City USA taskforce and the actual frame was donated by GE Johnson. 

Here's the letter Gaebler sent to the Parks Board:
Dear Honorable Park Board members,

After reading the below linked article, I now write to ask you to reconsider your position to allow this 12-foot, blue frame to be placed in Garden of the Gods Park. This frame is a monstrosity and has no place in our natural environment. I do not know the details of how it was approved, nor what group requested its placement, but I do know that our outdoor residents consider it an abomination to all that we hold dear, and that it will be forcibly removed by them, if you do not act to remove it.

This frame creates a terrible perception for city. A perception that tells visitors and residents that our natural beauty isn't enough, and that while we don't have funds to open bathrooms or have functional water fountains, we somehow manage to fund atrocious $12K picture frames.

http://gazette.com/article/1617252?TC_SC_REF

Thank you, and my best to each of you. 

Former Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin says the way the frame was handled demonstrates why it's important to get public input on such matters.

"It's a perfect example where they bypassed the citizen input part of that," she says. "Janet [Suthers] spoke during the citizen comment [during a Parks Board meeting], it was not even an agenda item, so they just completely skipped citizen participation, and this is a good example of why that's so important."

For her part, Martin, who serves on the Garden of the Gods Foundation, agrees with Gaebler. "We've worked for years to bring the garden back to the original state, and I think everybody has been happy with the work that's been done, and this just doesn't fit," she says. "It seems to commercialize the garden, which is against everything that I stand for and most people stand for."

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