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Monday, April 1, 2019

Mountain Metro light rail breaks ground outside Independent office

Posted By on Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 12:32 PM

An Artist's rendering of the completed project. - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
  • An Artist's rendering of the completed project.
The Colorado Springs Independent has been chosen as the first hub for a new light rail system connecting the city, a Colorado Open Records Act request revealed Monday.

Construction outside the Independent's office building, which began last week, had been, until now, shrouded in mystery. City officials would not tell Independent reporters what workers outside the building were doing.

But one construction worker, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, tipped us off to the possibility that the sidewalk, curb and gutter were being removed to make way for passenger rail — leading us to ask the city for any internal communications on the subject.

The resulting, heavily redacted emails revealed that city is funding the first phase of the rail construction with $10 million from the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) and $20 million from stormwater fees.
PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
The rail will eventually mean the Colorado Springs Independent's building will be purchased by the city to serve as a transportation hub, complete with light rail ticket sales, food outfits and a gift shop. The Independent and other Colorado Publishing House entities that also work out of our building at 235 S. Nevada Ave. hope to move into a newly constructed building just blocks away in the trendy New South End.

"We didn't want the public to find out this way," a city spokesperson wrote in an email containing the redacted records. "But it had to come out sooner or later." The spokesperson alluded to some secret PlanCOS meetings that happened with an inner circle of stakeholders, outside of the public meetings to update our city's Comprehensive Plan recently.

The light rail will eventually connect the entire city and allow a code change to remove any and all parking requirements for new residential and commercial developments. This also means that no new parking will be constructed for either the stadium or the arena that are components of the City for Champions economic development initiative.

City officials are about to launch an aggressive public relations campaign for a ballot initiative approving a new sales tax to fund the second phase of the light rail, multiple sources close to the mayor confirmed.

The announcement came on April 1, which happens to be April Fools Day.
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Thursday, December 13, 2018

19 Colorado Springs agencies and businesses receive bomb threats

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 4:23 PM

The Indy, like 18 other offices in Colorado Springs, received a bomb threat on Dec. 13. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The Indy, like 18 other offices in Colorado Springs, received a bomb threat on Dec. 13.
The Independent was among 19 businesses, schools and government buildings that received a bomb threat today, Dec. 13. They appear to be bogus and possibly part of a nationwide rash of bomb threats, the Colorado Springs Police Department says. The CSPD issued this notice:

Large numbers of bomb threats are being reported at news outlets, government buildings, banks, libraries, and other businesses across the United States.

The Colorado Springs Police Department started receiving threats at 11:20AM on December 13, 2018. CSPD has worked closely with schools and employees at the impacted locations to ensure their safety. Each report received in Colorado Springs is taken seriously and investigated appropriately. At the time of this writing, our Communications Center has received 19 separate threats. No schools or businesses have reduced their schedules due to these threats.
Two police officers responded to the Indy building at 235 S. Nevada Ave. and spent an hour searching the premises at about 11:15 a.m. The threat was delivered via email and sought an amount of money in bitcoin. About eight threats had been made as of that time.

Amy Sweet, publisher of the Indy and some of its sister publications, says, "Clearly, this was a poorly executed attempt to scare and intimidate businesses. In today's political climate, the Indy took the threat seriously. We're pleased with fast response from CSPD and we plan to continue to do what we do best — provide locally produced journalism that is vital to Colorado Springs."
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