Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Residents protest Broadmoor Seven Falls shuttles

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 1:07 PM

click to enlarge Sue Spengler (left) says the Broadmoor used to be much more open to and considerate of its neighbors before Phillip Anschutz took over the resort. - JAKE ALTINGER
  • Jake Altinger
  • Sue Spengler (left) says the Broadmoor used to be much more open to and considerate of its neighbors before Phillip Anschutz took over the resort.

A dozen or so Colorado Springs residents gathered at the corners of Cresta Road and Cheyenne Boulevard to protest the Broadmoor Seven Falls shuttle buses that have recently been frequenting the neighborhoods near North Cheyenne Cañon.

"The magnitude is overwhelming," says protester Bruce Hamilton.

Originally, the neighbors say, Seven Falls shuttles picked passengers up at the Golden Bee Gastropub and took them [mostly] along Mesa Avenue to Seven Falls —  a lot of the route passed through Broadmoor property.

But that all changed just over a month ago when the Broadmoor hosted the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament. To accommodate the influx of people and traffic the tournament would bring, The Broadmoor struck a deal with the Norris Penrose Event Center to use a portion of their property as a parking area and shuttle pick-up/drop-off point for Seven Falls' guests and distributed the shuttles across a figure-8 route using 8th Street and Cheyenne Boulevard as one side of the loop and Cresta Road and Mesa Road as the other.
click to enlarge The new Seven Falls shuttle routes to and from the Norris Penrose Event Center.
  • The new Seven Falls shuttle routes to and from the Norris Penrose Event Center.

"They said it was going to be temporary, and they just extended it," says Sue Spengler, who organized Saturday's protest. "We had no idea, and all the sudden all these shuttles just started coming up our neighborhood streets. It was a total surprise."

Norris Penrose general manager Kyle Park, wouldn't provide details, but confirmed that the shuttle arrangement with The Broadmoor Seven Falls will continue "into the foreseeable future." (In fact, the address listed for Seven Falls on Google Maps is now 1045 Lower Gold Camp Rd. —the same address as the Norris Penrose Event Center.)

“This is a private arrangement between two private organizations," Park says, "and that is all I have to say about it at this time.”

Seven Falls manager Sasha Burke also declined to comment on the shuttle program when the Indy reached out to her recently.

The protesters, however, say the arrangement with Norris Penrose is illegal, citing the property's Special Warranty Deed which says the property "shall be owned and used in perpetuity as open space and for recreational and equestrian activities only and for no other purposes."

The deed also adds that "the word 'recreational' shall be interpreted broadly, to include, but not be limited to, trade shows, equestrian shows, and concerts," but whether it can be interpreted so broadly as to include parking for shuttles to another venue remains an open question. (Scroll to the end of this story to read the deed in its entirety.)

Legal technicalities aside, the protesters say their main concern is safety. Cresta Road and Cheyenne Boulevard have one lane of traffic each direction and lack medians and sidewalks in most places. The streets are also frequented by joggers, cyclists, kids playing, and neighbors walking their dogs, all of which might be endangered by the increased volume of shuttle traffic. (Protesters say there are up to around 20 shuttles passing per hour).

"It's creating a situation where someone is going to get hurt," says protester Karen Raymond. "I mean, this is a danger to our community."

Raymond says The Broadmoor ought to use the Broadmoor World Arena, for which it paid to have naming rights, as a parking and pick-up location instead of Norris Penrose, and shuttle guests down Lake Avenue, which they claim is much better suited for that volume of traffic.

click to enlarge Neighbors say a  Broadmoor or Seven Falls shuttle passes through the intersection at Cresta Rd. and Cheyenne Blvd. (next to Cheyenne Mountain Jounior High School) roughly every 3-4 minutes. - JAKE ALTINGER
  • Jake Altinger
  • Neighbors say a Broadmoor or Seven Falls shuttle passes through the intersection at Cresta Rd. and Cheyenne Blvd. (next to Cheyenne Mountain Jounior High School) roughly every 3-4 minutes.
Spengler, the protest organizer, also says that the shuttles drop off Seven Falls guests in the middle of the road in front of the Seven Falls gate, instead of pulling inside the park. That backs up traffic and creates a potential safety hazard, she says, especially should the narrow canyon need to be rapidly evacuated in case of a fire or flood.

But the protesters say they are upset about much more than the shuttles; they're standing up to the growing power and influence of Broadmoor owner Phillip Anschutz in Colorado Springs and holding the resort accountable for the way it treats its neighbors.

"This is Strawberry fields on steroids," Hamilton says, referring to the land transfer between The Broadmoor and the city, which he and many other Colorado Springs residents also protested. "I don't even live over here, but it's so wrong, and this is still my city."

Spengler and her husband, John, say before Anschutz bought the resort in 2011, The Broadmoor used to be much more open to and considerate of its neighbors.

“You used to be able to walk into The Broadmoor as a citizen. I would watch movies there. I would go and eat with my uncle. I would go bowl there as a kid. I would ride the train up to the zoo,” John Spengler says. “All that infrastructure is gone, and if I walked in without a suit and a tie, they single me out and want to know why I was there.”

"When the Gaylords owned it," he continues, "they would ask the citizens about things they wanted to do. But not Philip Anschutz — not [Broadmoor President and CEO] Jack Damioli. They do what they want to do on their own terms.”

The Spenglers and other protesters first voiced their concerns about the shuttles at an informal meeting organized by City Council President Richard Skorman at Sacred Grounds coffee shop on July 25 which included City Senior Traffic Engineer Kathleen Krager and representatives from the Broadmoor and Seven Falls.

Skorman summarizes The Broadmoor and Seven Falls' position like this:

“My understanding is they're running about 150 shuttles a day, and the number I was told was that there’s about 400 cars a day parked at Norris Penrose.” Skorman says. "They’re saying the 400 cars a day at Penrose means 800 car trips otherwise. So they think that they’re doing the neighborhood a service.”

Susan Spengler described that meeting as ultimately unproductive.

“Every question we asked, it was like, ‘We should have a meeting about that,’” Spengler says. “But they didn’t have any answers.”

Skorman said he is working on organizing another similar stakeholder meeting in the future to address the issue and will announce the date and location once it is set.

(City Senior Traffic Engineer Kathleen Krager did not respond to a request for comment.)

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