Gazette gets new editor, Jones Park decision looms, and more 


Gazette gets new editor

Last week, The Gazette announced that the first person to lead the newsroom in its post-Freedom Communications days will return to his home in the Sooner State. Joe Hight is headed back to Oklahoma for reasons related to family.

Managing editor Joanna Bean has been promoted to editor. Bean started as a business reporter at the paper over two decades ago.

"We wanted our next newsroom leader to be one who understands this community and the vital historical role that The Gazette has had in Colorado Springs since its founding in 1872," the paper quoted publisher Dan Steever as saying. "We also wanted a leader who understands our readers, the changing consumer media habits and direction we're headed with The Gazette, gazette.com and our other brands."

That direction has been led by Hight since Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz's Clarity Media Group purchased the paper at the end of 2012.

Since then, staff, pages and content have increased, and the paper earned a Pulitzer Prize earlier this year for military investigations led by Bean and reporter Dave Philipps, who has since decamped for The New York Times. The paper has also shut down its printing press and moved downtown.

More recently, a paywall was enacted that restricts the amount of stories available to non-subscribers, and former local TV news anchorman Eric Singer started furnishing a daily news video for the site.

"I'll never regret my time here or what we've accomplished," Hight said in an article for the paper. — BC

Jones Park decision looms

An appraisal of the 1,191-acre Jones Park should be presented to the Colorado Springs Utilities Board on Wednesday, Sept. 17, in the continuing saga of what to do with the property.

City Council, which doubles as the Utilities Board, has for months been mulling the future of the land, which is home to some of the most celebrated mountain biking trails in the Pikes Peak region. Surrounded by U.S. Forest property, it has been declared surplus. The city wants to get rid of it because it could require significant investment based on the outcome of a federal environmental study; the watershed is the only known habitat for the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.

In August, the board couldn't agree on whether to convey it to the National Forest Foundation, which would work with the U.S. Forest Service on assuring public use, or to El Paso County. On Sept. 9, Councilors Helen Collins, Keith King, Don Knight, Andy Pico and Joel Miller voted to seek an appraisal with the idea of a potential sale. Several years ago, the property was said to be worth $4 million.

Pico now says he backed the appraisal only to comply with the city's real estate procedures, which require one prior to disposal of surplus land, and that he supports giving the land to the county.

Miffed at the delay, Councilor Jan Martin in an email calls the appraisal a "waste of staff resources." She favors giving the land to the Forest Foundation. A Council vote is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 23. — PZ

Cycling progress made

The city is getting bike-friendlier. Additional bike lanes and signs are being added along Templeton Gap Trail, which connects to downtown, and to other trail systems, including Shooks Run. The signs, the first in the city, are designed to help cyclists find road connections.

In August, shared-lane and bike-lane markings were added to Monroe Street between Wahsatch Avenue and Templeton Gap Road, and a "bicycle boulevard," a bike route on a low-speed street, is being created this month on Corona Street between Monroe Street and Willamette Avenue.

In the city's southeast sector, bike lanes will connect Airport Road to downtown via Prospect Lake Drive from Union Boulevard to Logan Avenue. Then, from Logan to Costilla Avenue, a "contra-flow" lane that allows bicyclists to ride opposing traffic in special lanes will be added. In addition, the city's first protected bike lane was added on Beacon Street east to West Van Buren Street, providing a connection to the Pikes Peak Greenway.

In another first, the city is adding green bike lanes on Tejon Street between Interstate 25 and Motor Way to increase awareness of cyclists. See the city's bike paths at coloradosprings.gov/bike. — PZ

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