Thursday, July 23, 2020

City settles environmental lawsuit involving land near Olympic Museum

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 5:21 PM

click to enlarge Environmental workers gathering soil samples in 2013 at 25 Cimino Drive. - BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
  • Environmental workers gathering soil samples in 2013 at 25 Cimino Drive.
The Smokebrush Foundation and city of Colorado Springs have settled an environmental lawsuit that dates back years and involves land in lower downtown near the soon-to-open Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame.

The City of Colorado Springs will pay plaintiffs $500,000 for legal costs, $100,000 of which goes to the Trestle Office Condominium Owners Association, according to an attorney representing Smokebrush. The city could not be reached for a comment.

Read the background on this case here.

It appears the settlement allowed the city to more forward with a land swap deal with Nor'wood Development Group, the master developer of the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area, where the museum is located.

Smokebrush sued in 2013 after strong gusts of wind and dirt smacked Smokebrush's founder, Kat Tudor, in the face. The debris came from a lot at 25 Cimino Drive. Smokebrush's property is adjacent to the contaminated site, polluted by a coal gasification plant's decades of use.

After Smokebrush won a key ruling in court that essentially said the city couldn't hide behind governmental immunity, the case, had it gone back to District Court for trial, likely would have pivoted on damages alone.

From the release:
“I am very happy for this environmental win for the state of Colorado, and it is a great day for Mother Nature,” says Smokebrush Foundation Founder Kat Tudor.

The City and Plaintiffs agreed to a settlement that obligates the City, or any successor owner, to undertake remediation of the above-mentioned properties under state law.

Randall Weiner, the environmental lawyer who handled the case for Smokebrush and the other Plaintiffs, noted that the Supreme Court’s decision will provide motivation for cities to remediate all their pollution that threatens neighboring properties. “Cities should not be hiding behind the fact that the pollution is decades old to escape their obligations to clean up pollutants they create,” he said.

Since 1992, the Smokebrush Foundation has produced and presented innovative arts experiences that foster creativity and collaboration, inspiring positive change in the Southern Colorado community and beyond and is the originator of Uncle Wilber’s Fountain in downtown Colorado Springs. 

It appears the city will undertake cleanup of the site.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include details of the settlement obtained from Smokebrush's attorney.

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