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Organized opposition speaks out against 2C parks ballot issue in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- On Wednesday, a week after city officials and park advocates organized a media tour in support of a proposed sales tax increase to fund park improvements, several groups expressed their opposition to the measure.

Laura Carno

SpringsTaxpayers.com and Cheyenne Central are among the groups recommending that citizens vote "No" on the issue on Election Day.

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Opposition members describe themselves as longtime advocates of parks, trails and open spaces but believe that 2C isn't the best solution toward reducing a $270-million backlog in park and recreation needs.

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"The main focus here for us, is to make sure that the voters understand what it is they're agreeing to, before they decide and cast their vote, said Donna Strom, of Cheyenne Central. "We're also concerned that open spaces will suffer in favor of overall parks needs because both budgets will be combined."

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Strom said that 2C's ballot language contains more than 150 words, and voters may have difficulty understanding the proposal; she prefers the previous maximum of 30 words that was increased by voters this spring.

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Bruce Hamilton, another Cheyenne Central member, said that other funding options should be considered, and he criticized past park-related decisions -- such as the city's 2017 land swap which transferred ownership of the popular Strawberry Fields area of southwest Colorado Springs, to The Broadmoor.

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"If there was a separate fund for open spaces and another for parks, we'd support that 100%," he said. "But after Strawberry Fields, we're skeptical and the trust hasn't returned yet."

Rebecca Marshall, of SpringsTaxpayers.com, released the following statement Thursday:

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"The amount of money (the) TOPS (Trails, Open Spaces and Parks tax) has brought in through sales taxes has doubled since 2010. The city of Colorado Springs is out of touch with how citizens are struggling following the economic impact of COVID-19 shutdowns. Every penny matters to families right now. It's not the time for the city to have their hands in our pockets."

Susan Davies, director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, disagrees with opponents that open spaces will suffer if 2C passes.

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"After administrative costs, open spaces would get 30%, trails would get 30% and parks would get 40%," she said.

Both sides of the issue are asking voters to educate themselves about it before Election Day.

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"I actually haven't taken all of the time I need to yet, to read the initiatives," said Grace Easley, who was hiking Thursday in Stratton Open Space. "So I'm not completely decided yet."

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

20 Comments

  1. These are probably people whose only interaction with a park or trail is laying on their couch eating hot dogs and watching Parks and Rec. I will definitely be voting yes as my family and I love the outdoors.

  2. Do not give them one more cent in taxes and vote that any excess taxes be returned to the taxpayers.
    I still want a refund for the money that was stolen from me through the illegal stormwater fee that was charged some years back.

  3. Until the government can adequately balance the budgets with the tax revenue they already receive, I will not agree to give them more money to mismanage.

  4. The parks department has been mismanaged for decades. They keep promising the have money to get projects done but later they come back and say they need additional funding. Where does the money go? To pay raises for their staff and put into excessive maintenance on “High Profile Parks” like America the beautiful and a handful in high income neighborhoods.
    Every time we give the more money to fund their new “plan” it never gets done and we get a lot of excuses….. then they ask for more money. I am a CS native and this has been the normal for the last 30+ years. I watch projects bid to them and what they end up paying for small improvements. None of them are even on or close to the budget. Just look at again American the Beautiful park, they had to have private donations to finish it. Deerfield park and rec center….. That was insane. Vote NO and make them be accountable for what funding they already have.

    1. I understand there are millions going to private industries such as Colorado College for facilities and parks to be used largely for their benefit, justified by the old “it will bring in revenue to downtown” argument. CPR has a good story on how a low income neighborhood was neglected with lighting and roads until it was so run down it was easy to buy up the houses and create America the Beautiful Park in the first place. I’m one of the people that use parks and open space a fair amount, but you have to use discernment on this stuff, you can’t just add money.

      1. So America the beautiful lot had like 2 houses(long abandoned) on it and the rest was industrial and the land came from a “donation” form a developer collective. But the land is contaminated with hazardous materials and there is a big electric underground transmission line running through it. They payed an excessive amount for the “circle” and other features that are now falling apart, they didn’t even last 4 years. Other private interests had to donate more money to add or upkeep features. Just like now they are about to build a few high rise high price apartments next to ABP. It was a favor to have CSPR spend so much money on ABP that was not necessary. Just like the city did for the Olympic museum and the fancy bridge. They pool money into certain parts of the city and highly neglect others.
        I am a 3rd generation native and we have watched this debacle for a long time. I use parks and everything but that does not mean I need to overlook the abuse and waste that is currently happening. I can’t reward bad behavior and fiscal abuse just because I use a park. Just pay attention…. if p@ssed then next year or the year after only 15% of the projects they listed will not be complete and will be asking for more money.

        1. Nailed it.

          Don’t forget the near 24/7 mowing crews that go in circles around people walking through the park, the now 65mph highway noise, the trees that have been cut down, the wind from no trees, all the small engines running, and yeah.

          ATB sure is a pretty picture.

          I suppose the city will cut every tree in Monument Valley Park to the ground next.

  5. I worked for a land trust years ago, open space was added by giving landowners tax advantages due to the changed nature of their land. If someone owns 200 acres of farmland and they give the farm to their heirs, the heirs have to pay a tax on that and if they don’t have the cash from somewhere else they have to sell the farm to pay the taxes. Tax can be very high for a farm in an area where land is in demand for housing developments because it’s based on what the land would sell for to the highest bidder. This is part of what killed small farming in the U.S. So with a land trust, you put a conservation easement on the land which means that no matter who owns it that land can’t be developed, it essentially has to stay a farm or open space with one or two houses only on it. This reduces the value of the land, often so that it falls below the threshold for inheritance tax. There were problems with this, also (e.g. it raises housing prices by taking land off the market), but it was a nice solution.

    GOCO came in and started paying people for easements instead. Totally changed the game. The rich people got the lawyers and started raking in the money, so that you had the poorest people in the state (people who buy lottery tickets) handing money to the richest people in the state, often people with enormous ranches in remote areas where development wasn’t imminent anyway.

    Money changes everything.

  6. I always enjoy how during supposed “boom times” like now, the City claims we need unbridled development to keep the City’s economy going, but every time it happens the City continually asks taxpayers for increases to manage the infrastructure. How many PPRTA(s), last roads “C2”, PSST, TOPS………. They will keep allowing the unbridled development and ask for more maintenance taxes until we keep saying no! Prioritize!

    1. And don’t forget the TABOR exemption they are asking for to fund “wildland fire hazard reduction” for those that chose to live in a fire danger area but now want you to pay to reduce their “fire danger”. No thanks!

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