COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The City of Colorado Springs has purchased 315 acres of open space near the Cedar Heights and Oak Valley Ranch neighborhoods, located on the city’s western edge. Purchased with Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales tax revenue, these areas were identified in the 2014 Park System Master PlanA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property. as candidate properties to add to the City’s open space system. In coming years, the properties will undergo separate master planning processes with opportunities for public input on future use and development.
“Our parks, trails and open spaces contribute greatly to making Colorado Springs the country’s most desirable place to live and visit, and acquisitions like this one enhance and strengthen the city’s legacy of offering world-class outdoor amenities,” said parks director Karen Palus. “Securing these incredible properties is the first step to realizing a bigger vision. There are fascinating future possibilities for both conservation and recreation, and we look forward to working closely with the community on strategizing next steps.”
The new open space includes two properties, both of which were purchased from Castle Concrete: Black Canyon Quarry and frontage property of the Pikeview Quarry.
Black Canyon Quarry, which is 163 acres of property adjacent to Williams Canyon, is located to the west of the Cedar Heights’ neighborhood and Garden of the Gods Park. From a regional perspective, this property offers future potential to provide trail access to the Pike National Forest’s Waldo Canyon area. The U.S. Forest Service is currently engaged in an ongoing public planning process to reimagine Waldo Canyon.
Also included in the purchase is 152 acres of undeveloped land directly east of the Pikeview Quarry. This frontage property, which features rolling hills and oak brush, is located immediately south of Blodgett Open Space and west of Allegheny Drive and the Oak Valley Ranch neighborhood.
The 100-acre Pikeview Quarry was not purchased. However, it could be acquired at a later date as a donation from Castle Concrete on condition of state approval of physical reclamation and at the city’s sole discretion.
The phase one purchase, which includes Black Canyon Quarry and 90 acres of the Pikeview frontage was just over $6 million. The remaining 61 acres of the Pikeview frontage will be purchased for an additional $2.9 million from acquisition partner The Conservation Fund by the end of 2021. Both properties are fully funded by revenues from the TOPS Open Space Category. TOPS is a 0.01 percent sales tax first approved by voters in 1997 that generates approximately $9.5 million annually. It is used exclusively to preserve and steward open space lands, trails and parks.
“It’s rare to find opportunities of this scale along the Front Range mountain backdrop,” said Justin Spring, The Conservation Fund senior project manager. “We’re honored to partner with Colorado Springs to preserve this landscape, conserve important wildlife habitat, and create new recreation opportunities for the public.”
The city owns more than 6,700 acres of TOPS property, including Bluestem Prairie, Corral Bluffs, High Chaparral, Red Rock Canyon, Stratton and Union Meadows open spaces. TOPS funding has also contributed to more than 50 of the city’s parks, trails and open spaces.
The purchase follows City Council’s unanimous approval in June as well as recommendations made in May by the Parks Advisory Board and the TOPS Working Committee.