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CONGRATS to us!

Once again Colorado Springs has fared well in a national ranking of great places to live. The U.S. News & World Report ranking of the top 150 places to live in America, which came out last week, put the Springs in second place this year.

Our city climbed four spots in the annual ranking, only beaten out of the top spot by Huntsville, Alabama. Yeah, the same city that got chosen over Colorado Springs as the headquarters of the newly formed Space Force. To use the Southern euphemism, bless their hearts. But we digress. 

Folks who live here will be able to point to some of the obvious reasons this is a great place to live. 

We’ve got the all-encompassing grandeur of the mountains, the striking Garden of the Gods, museums, a famous zoo, a world-class resort, a charming historic district. And Downtown is seeing a surge in vibrancy and activity. You can even catch a Switchbacks game at Weidner Field, then walk around the block to hit one of the many hangout spots on Tejon Street. It feels a lot like being in Denver’s LoDo, but the team actually has a shot at a post season — and the drinks and the parking are a fraction of the cost. The cost of living’s a fair bit cheaper than in former U.S. News No. 1 city Boulder. 

After topping the list for two years running, Boulder fell to fourth. Denver, 14th place in 2021, tumbled to 55th. Being a lively community on the Front Range is not a guarantee of success.

So how do we ensure our high quality of life here in the Springs continues, particularly as the influx of people looking to move to the Front Range is only likely to grow — thanks in no small part to the U.S. News’ ranking?

It’s projected that Colorado Springs will become the state’s largest metro area by 2050. The challenge: accommodating all that growth while keeping our enviable quality of life. 

Thanks to our city’s growing popularity, we now have to sit through multiple lights in rush-hour traffic to get through major intersections, which generates air pollution along with higher stress levels. And if the city has short- and long-term plans for dealing with this increasing crush of vehicle traffic, we’ve yet to hear about it.

We need to recraft the Trails, Open Space and Parks tax renewal initiative to focus on acquisition of new parkland and open spaces, and put a stout increase in the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax on the ballot this fall to help pay for maintenance of parks we already have.

Housing demands from all those new residents who listened to the siren song of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings have meant that home prices are climbing to Denver heights — followed by property tax increases that make it unaffordable for long-time residents who are on fixed incomes to stay in their homes.

Those new housing developments that dot the perimeter of the metro area — built to accommodate the influx — demand more schools and fire stations and retail and service businesses. If we keep paving the great outdoors at this pace, the Springs will end up being just another city that used to have great natural spaces — a city that steadily drops in the rankings because it unwisely sacrificed what was special about it in the name of unfettered growth. 

Our elected city officials need to step away from their capitalist fever dream... let the government’s choice of Huntsville — not Colorado Springs — for Space Command’s permanent home sink in... and start to slow this growth down until they can figure out how to harness it without giving up what makes this a great place to live.