The Trails and Open Space Coalition will support the land exchange between Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor hotel — but only if certain conditions are met, according to a press release from the group.

Under the proposal, Colorado Springs will receive 154.6 acres of Cog Railway property bordering Barr Trail and the Manitou Incline.  The city would deed to the Cog .55 acres it now leases to the railway for employee parking. The city also gets 8.6 acres adjacent to Bear Creek Regional Park that The Broadmoor intended to use as an equestrian center and stables for guest use. The city will also acquire easements on several segments of the proposed Chamberlain Trail that cross Broadmoor property. Colorado Springs receives 208 acres adjacent to U.S. Forest Service land, including the Mount Muscoco overlook, all of which will become part of North Cheyenne Cañon Park.

In exchange, The Broadmoor receives 189.5 acres of current parkland located east of Seven Falls to be used as a new Broadmoor stable and riding center.

The proposal has been met with controversy. About 2,500 people have signed an online petition protesting the land exchange, and opponents include former County Commissioner Jim Bensberg and former City Councilor Richard Skorman.

These are the conditions, according to the release:

Conservation: A conservation easement will be placed on the 189.5 acres known as Strawberry Fields that will guarantee  the property will be protected and preserved.

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Access: The open space will remain open for public use, including hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. The Broadmoor, working with City Parks, will conduct a public-planning process to determine where new trails are to be built on the land.

Public process/transparency: The Broadmoor will complete all land appraisals and a preliminary site plan for the entire property including the restricted area of Strawberry Fields. Terms of the conservation easement and deed restrictions will be outlined in writing. The documents will be public, and city council will hold a public hearing. If the proposal is approved, the land exchange will continue, but final approval will be witheld until all the documents are final. Final approval will only come after a second public hearing.

“The proposal with these conditions is compatible with our mission to preserve open space and parks,” said the press release. “The proposal will lead to the additional protection of open space and parks and improve connectivity in our trail system.

“We recognize that Colorado Springs Parks has a limited maintenance budget that is contributing to the ongoing degradation of Strawberry Fields,” said the release. “Predicted population growth and increased usage of our valuable park assets are going to require stepped up maintenance, additional funding and the ability to add open space. This proposal secures trail easements, valuable recreational assets and additional park property including critical trail easements to lengthen the Chamberlain Trail and securing Barr Trail and the Manitou Incline in public ownership.”

 

For more information about the land swap, click here.