Every city has them, Gil Penalosa said when he was in town last week for the Downtown Partnership’s City Center series — those people who make planning for the city’s future more difficult.

Penalosa, creator of “8 80 Cities,” ideas to create cities that appeal to ages 8 to 80, calls them CAVEs — Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

You know who they are: Those people who are opposed to fixing stormwater, providing for parks, City for Champions, and a nearly every new idea that a resident of Colorado Springs might bring up as a way to improve the city.

Interestingly, they never seem to have any innovative ideas themselves — but they aren’t shy about taking to social media to decry, deride and undermine other people’s suggestions about how to make Colorado Springs a better place.

They’re the ones who complain about the bike lanes, who scoff at the idea of creating a walkable, bikeable city center.  They’re the ones who say it can’t happen here, Colorado Springs isn’t the place for innovative ideas. They are the ones who cry foul when the city wants to put a sports stadium downtown, who believe “we can’t do that here,” because Colorado Springs is lame and always will be.

As the city grows, we can’t afford that kind of thinking.

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Failure to address stormwater infrastructure years ago has led to increased costs and federal lawsuits today. The inability to get support for a downtown stadium means our smaller neighbor to the south might get one sooner — and the teams and tourists that come with it.  Failure to create a walkable, bikable city means that Millennials will turn to cities better suited for them, and the Springs won’t have the high-tech workforce needed to keep cybersecurity businesses here. Without investing in amenities, culture and a strong, positive quality of life in Colorado Springs, businesses will turn to other cities when they want to expand — no matter how magnificent our mountains are.

Panalosa said something else: “When you say no to something, you are saying yes to something else.”

When you say no to parks, he says we’re saying no to safety, to a better-connected city, to residents who feel they are part of Colorado Springs and want to stay here. We’re saying yes to isolated senior citizens; yes to more crime.

When we say no to road diets and lower speed limits, we’re saying yes to increased congestion, yes to uninviting city spaces, yes to more traffic accidents. We’re saying no to improved economic development, no to inviting people into stores and cafes. And we’re saying yes to visitors and residents taking their business elsewhere.

When we say no to City for Champions — the Olympic Museum, the downtown stadium — we’re saying yes to fewer tourists, yes to people commuting to the Springs or to Denver for events.

It’s easy to find fault; it’s harder to find common ground. While no plan will be all things to all people, the city must change and develop with new residents and new growth. It’s time for bold action and decisive planning.

So we should say yes to parks and bike lanes, yes to art on the streets, yes to road diets for downtown streets. We should agree that the City for Champions proposals will bring our city firmly into the national spotlight and bring outside tourist dollars to the region.

As another City Center Speaker said in 2016: We pay for what we value — and its time we valued Colorado Springs.

5 COMMENTS

  1. You mention no to parks; the parks I used to frequent are overrun with homeless people and trash. They are unsafe, smell and not for kids and families anymore. Many times I see contracts for building and improvements going to the same companies. I am for Colorado Springs making improvements but not for a handful of “city officials and board members” profiting from those contracts. Spread some of the contracts around and build what is needed for ALL within the community. You mention biking or walking trails, but many of us don’t work or live near where we work….the community is so spread out that that money maybe better spent improving the bus system and schedules. I hardly ever go downtown, even if there was an event, because the parking is almost impossible to find and I don’t feel safe. You mention “value” what is of value to city officials and the USOC in many cases is not of “value” to those of use just trying to make ends meet. I can’t afford to live in Denver but I can afford to once or twice a year drive up to Denver, catch the train on the south end and go to a baseball or basketball game and it doesn’t hit my pocket every day.

  2. Not everywasteful idea is a good one. To build a Stadium without a tennant is just stupid. City of Champions is a great slogan, but PLEASE outline specifics. Bike lanes and trails are great, I use them. Road diets and crazy intersections are STUPID. Its too bad politicians think the money coming in is theirs. It not and you don’t need more. Live within your budget

  3. How can bike lanes be the answer to a spread out city? We are not Denver nor do we wish to become it. We should be looking at transit for the masses not some minority bicyclists who want to rule the roads. The special interest groups around cycling are quick to call others names and blame them for all the issues. Yet when they cannot come up with tangible ideas for a non downtown centered city they melt. I for one am tired of there antics and they need to go away!

  4. This was stand up comedy at it’s best. A walkable bikeable downtown. I like that. Mayor, Council, please remove all traffic lanes downtown. immediately 🙂 Millenials will move here. job or no job, they will come, because of bike lanes? Really? No parks more crime? So it’s safe to have a picnic with your family in Acacia park or Monument Valley Park right downtown? Sure if you want to share your meal and your money with the hundreds of homeless, alcoholics, and drug addicts. You say “If we build it (with tax dollars) they will come. You mean like the shining example World Arena?

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