In case you’ve managed to avoid the latest iteration of the city’s never-ending story of plans, plans and more plans, I give you PlanCOS. Underway for some time, the plan will create a framework for the grand metropolis that some of you will enjoy in 2036.
In breathless bureaucratese, “Colorado Springs 2036 is a city that reflects its majestic landscapes and champions its ideals through renowned culture, vibrant neighborhoods, strong connections, unique urban places and a thriving economy.”
Here are the “themes,” according to city officials, that will guide the righteous, creative, entrepreneurial, fully employed and bizarrely fit citizens of our fair city in that distant time.
1. Majestic landscapes: Celebrates the city’s location at the base of America’s Mountain and as a gateway to the Rockies, preserves its magnificent views and iconic sites and creates engaging natural areas.
2. Renowned culture: Promotes arts, culture and education as essential parts of life. In founding Colorado Springs, Gen. William Jackson Palmer deliberately envisioned a community where education and the arts are the cornerstones of the city’s sense of place and the creative energy generates new possibilities, interpersonal connections and unprecedented philanthropy.
3. Vibrant neighborhoods: Forms diverse, safe neighborhoods with quality gathering areas, a variety of employment, a mix of housing types and transportation choices and a shared sense of civic pride.
4. Strong connections: Adapts to how we move by transforming our corridors to support future generations’ health and mobility needs, enhancing economic vibrancy, upgrading infrastructure and regional connectivity.
5. Unique urban places: Centers on a vibrant downtown and is strengthened by reinvesting in walkable, healthy and interesting urban spaces located in new and reinvented areas within the defined city boundary.
6. Thriving economy: Fosters an environment of inclusivity and economic diversity by attracting an innovative and adaptive workforce, investing in quality of life, supporting military and existing, targeted employment sectors.
That’s fine, I guess — but before we get all idealistic and high-falutin, it might be useful to take a clear-eyed look at our city.
Is there a “Colorado Springs community?” Or are we a polycentric array of commercial/residential centers, chained together by artificially created administrative entities? Rather than make regional plans to increase and strengthen the chains, shouldn’t we loosen them?
I’d argue for the latter. By deconstructing the city, we could allow currently disempowered communities to determine their own fates and have their own seats at regional, state and national forums. Here are some potential communities of interest.
• Militaria/Fountain Valley. This new city would include much of southeast and east/southeast Colorado Springs, as well as Widefield, Security and Fountain. These generally less-affluent neighborhoods deserve the kind of powerful national voice that incorporation as a new city would instantly provide.
• Technoburbia. This includes roads, roofs and shopping, most of the comfortable suburbs of northeast, north and northwestern El Paso County. Anti-tax conservatives will have to step up and pay full price to build, maintain and sustain their sprawling paradises. You’re smart, hardworking and immensely capable — and will probably outgovern the rest of us!
• Libertopia. Downtown, the Westside, Manitou, the North End, and east to Academy. OK, you know-it-all liberals, let’s see how well you can run a city.
Suggestion: Retain Utilities in the deconstruction, then sell electric generation to Xcel. Goodbye Drake; hello downtown boom.
• Anschutzia. Broadmoor, southwest suburbs, Skyway and Gold Camp Road. Enjoy a secure, low-tax, comfortable and tranquil life — and figure out how to keep those scraggly forests from burning.
Deconstruction isn’t on the PlanCOS agenda and never will be. Like the 1993-94 strategic planning process that focused on “the future of the greater Colorado Springs area,” it will end with a hopeful, data-stuffed document that will figuratively molder away in thousands of document files.
Packrat that I am, I still have several green-bound volumes of that eight-volume report.
They don’t make interesting reading, but there’s a lot of it — more than 1,000 pages. Here are the opportunity-driven economic targets: “Aviation, airport land opportunity, heavy manufacturing, Hanna Ranch land and Fort Carson land opportunity (if base closes).”
In retrospect, the planners should have listened to Doris Day.
“Que será, será / Whatever will be, will be / The future’s not ours to see / Que será, será.”