Colorado Springs City Council voted Nov. 24 to adopt Public Art COS, the city’s first public art master plan.

Council also approved the acquisition of an additional 40 acres of open space in Corral Bluffs, bringing the total acreage of open space purchased in 2020 by the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales tax to 894 acres.

The adoption of Public Art COS follows endorsements by the Public Art Commission, Planning Commission and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board. 

“Thanks to passionate community members who added critical perspective and valuable input, Colorado Springs now, for the first time, has a plan to guide the aspirational vision for outdoor art in public spaces throughout our city,” Cultural Services Manager Matt Mayberry said.

“What we heard most clearly through this process is the desire for a sustained, permanent public art program, and the master plan delivers a framework to help our community achieve exactly that,” he said.

Central to Public Art COS is a mission to build a robust, impactful and more widely accessible public art program.

The community-based and action-oriented document aims to better educate and inform residents on the importance of public art as a place-making tool for creating and inspiring community identity.

The plan also provides numerous, prioritized goals and strategies for the growth and sustainability of the public art program.

Public Art COS is a direct result of recommendations in PlanCOS, the city’s comprehensive plan, which devotes a chapter to the city’s “Renowned Culture.”

Also Nov. 24, Council approved the addition of 40 acres at Corral Bluffs Open Space. The addition will further protect and conserve this scientifically significant property, regarded by paleontologists as the home of unprecedented fossil discoveries that date back 66 million years.

The new parcel, which was approved for purchase for $470,000 with TOPS funds, provides access from Highway 94 along with the opportunity to better protect the property.

A fully functioning house is included, offering a potential meeting place for guided visits or a future visitor center or ranger station.

At this time, Corral Bluffs, which is undeveloped and subject to scientific research, is available to visitors via guided tours only.

With this purchase, the Corral Bluffs Open Space is now 963 acres. The initial acquisition in Corral Bluffs was made in 2008 when TOPS purchased 522 acres. Since that time, TOPS has steadily purchased land as it has become available.

TOPS is a 0.1 percent sales tax first approved by voters in 1997 that is used exclusively to preserve open space lands, trails and parks. It generates approximately $9.5 million annually.