So, one of the city’s most honorable people asked recently, what five things bother you the most about Colorado Springs right now? But you can’t just be negative, my friend said. You have to say what you’d do differently.
This acquaintance did not want to be identified, even as male or female. That’s OK, because it still provided an instant column idea, with a twist.
As we embark on this mission, let’s do it together. What frustrates you the most about the city? And how would you fix those three problems?
1. People who are against everything. They look for the flaws and weaknesses in any new idea, such as City for Champions, instead of trying to find ways of making it work. As a result, they’ve turned us into a polarized community. Solution: Simply put, let’s stop listening to them. We’ve heard enough of the negativity and resistance to change. Let’s also come up with a new theme for Colorado Springs, something fresh and positive that people will embrace. If that means doing everything possible to promote the title of America’s Olympic City, so that it becomes second nature to all, then let’s go for it.
2. Lack of leadership, vision or willingness to take chances. How many times have we talked about the promise of another new study, new plan, new set of ideas for moving forward — and then nothing happens? At crunch time, it’s easier to say we want something better, so we should wait for now. But we can’t do that any longer.
Something as bold as stormwater, or C4C, should be happening in Colorado Springs and our region on a continual basis. We should be committing to another audacious undertaking every two years, at least, even reviving great ideas that just need a fresh spark, such as redeveloping South Academy and South Nevada.
This is also about empowering young adults. We need to give our 21-44 demographic a chance to take over and learn by doing. In fact, we should make it a goal to elect a charismatic mayor between the ages of 35 and 45. At the same time, let’s finally pay City Council a decent salary so we can attract more capable people into public service, not just retirees.
3. Letting our infrastructure decay, instead of fixing it for the future. Do we really not care about the conditions of our streets and roads? Can we live with the guilt if we don’t make a stormwater solution happen as soon as possible? We need to consider innovative ways to resurface more city streets, even if it might mean revising the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s project list.
4. Waiting for somebody else to write the check. A century ago, Colorado Springs benefited immensely (and still does) from the foresight and generosity of Gen. William Palmer, Winfield Scott Stratton and Spencer Penrose. Later, El Pomar Foundation stepped up to make sure major projects were funded, such as the Pikes Peak Center and World Arena. Now it’s people like Philip Anschutz, Lyda Hill, the Lane and Loo families, but not enough for an area of our size.
Meanwhile, we see the same people supporting the city’s noble causes and nonprofits. But many people and families with lots of resources don’t believe in philanthropy. This one might not be easily fixable, unless wealthy residents suddenly change their ways. Another option: Let’s repeal the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, local and state, except for the part about voters approving tax increases.
5. We say we want to grow, but we don’t put enough resources into economic development. This is not about offering front-end incentives to companies who might move here (better to reward their performance). It’s more about deciding what we want and then funding the program accordingly. If we truly are obsessed with creating more jobs in different ways, we have to put money behind that effort. If we don’t, then we should be prepared to get what we pay for — no growth.
Other cities are developing a strategy, not just at the EDC level but including government and business leaders, then pursuing it. Example: Should we work harder to seduce California companies tired of the taxes and regulations?
Perhaps, because others are. We also should demand our mayor, now serving as the city’s full-time CEO, must hit the road and lead the recruiting effort as well as help existing companies expand.
There. We didn’t solve all our problems. But it’s therapeutic talking about solutions, not just wringing our hands.
In fact, we should be doing that all the time.