Colorado Springs Forward encourages the Colorado Springs City Council to support the proposed land swap between the city of Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor hotel.

There has been a significant amount of dialogue in our community concerning this proposed transaction. As often is the case, the discourse can be hijacked by a vocal and spirited minority at the expense of rational and thoughtful communication.

The parties to this transaction involve our city and one of our most prestigious and important private businesses. In underwriting this proposed transaction, the city has to ensure protection of our treasured open spaces and trails that the citizens of our community have consistently deemed worthy of significant public investment. The Broadmoor, through this transaction, is attempting to continue to build upon its brand as a world-class resort that increasingly offers an opportunity to experience a first-class Colorado wilderness experience. The success of each of these endeavors benefits all of us in Colorado Springs. We all benefit from the city maintaining and enhancing our community’s unique opportunity to provide wonderful nature and outdoor experiences located within our increasingly urban environment. Likewise, there are undeniable community benefits to one of our largest employers and taxpayers’ continued success in branding Colorado Springs as a premier tourist destination.

The city is to receive 156 acres of property in Manitou Springs, which not only includes access points to the Incline, but also the lower portion of Barr Trail. This swap ensures that two of the most iconic outdoor recreational venues in this community will be placed in public hands in perpetuity. It also allows a much-needed additional spur connection between the Barr Trail and the Incline and provides further open space and trail connectivity that our city currently lacks. The city additionally receives 8.5 acres of land that is otherwise slated for residential development in a highly visible parcel located on the boundary of Bear Creek Park. The Broadmoor will also provide the city with 208 acres of land adjacent to and contiguous with the spectacular North Cheyenne Cañon land. Additionally, the city receives permanent easements for future trail access across Broadmoor-owned land that the city currently has no right to develop or utilize. Finally, the city retains free public access to the trails and open space within the Strawberry Fields property that is proposed to be deeded to The Broadmoor.

The Broadmoor is to receive ownership to the 189 acres of city-owned land commonly referred to as Strawberry Fields. While The Broadmoor will be the owner of this 189 acres, it has agreed to develop a first-class equestrian experience for its guests on less than 9 acres of that land and to encumber the balance of that property (approximately 180 acres) with a conservation easement that ensures the remainder of the property will in perpetuity be open to free and unfettered access to the entire community. In developing this proposal and working with interested stakeholders, The Broadmoor has made numerous concessions that benefit the entire community. Without detailing them all, The Broadmoor has committed to doing needed and critical fire mitigation and clean-up on the entire acreage. They have committed to implementing a stable and trail management plan and to replanting the meadow with all native Colorado grasses and wildflowers.

Objectively, it is difficult to see how the community does not benefit from this proposed transaction. Our city receives much in this deal and gives up little. Putting future maintenance and preservation of the Strawberry Fields property on The Broadmoor allows the city to utilize their limited and strained resources on other high-priority objectives. The Broadmoor apparently gains enough in this transaction to justify the commitments they are undertaking and we at CSF certainly hope they are able to continue to develop and increase their and our city’s brand with this transaction. In almost 100 years of operating in our community, The Broadmoor has consistently shown it is an institution that values and promotes community stewardship.

Lynette Crow-Iverson is chairwoman of Colorado Springs Forward, a broad-based alliance of business leaders who are “committed to protect and enhance the business climate and quality of life across the greater Colorado Springs region.”