‘PlanCOS’ Looks to Build Comprehensive 20-Year Blueprint for Colorado Springs

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Colorado Springs is embarking on a two-year process to create a master plan for the city.  The effort, announced Wednesday, looks to provide what's being called a "roadmap to [the] city's 20-year future," and will help guide policies and priorities.

In prepared remarks at Wednesday's unveiling, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the process will look at land use planning, including growth and infill, but it's much broader than that.

"What do we want our neighborhoods to look like?" Suthers asked. "Our downtown?  What about recreational opportunities?  What's the shopping center of the future?  Mass transit?  This is the time to establish a blueprint for the future of Colorado Springs."

"We need to be moving forward in a manner that prepares us for the future." - Merv Bennett, President, City Council and #PlanCOS Steering Committee

"It's time," said Peter Wysocki, the city's Planning and Community Development Director.  The last time the city released such a comprehensive plan was fifteen years ago, in 2001.  That plan, Wysocki said, mostly addressed suburban development and how the outward development of the city should occur.

"A number of things have changed in our community," said Wysocki.  "We went through the Great Recession, we're recovering from the Great Recession.  We have aging and diverse neighborhoods.  It's time to really look at the city of Colorado Springs from a little different perspective.  Not that the old perspective was incorrect or wrong, but it's time for us to look from a different perspective."  

The city has hired consultants to help guide the process, led by the Fort Collins office of Logan Simpson.  It's also formed a steering committee, a 17-member group of Colorado Springs residents and community leaders that will serve as what Wysocki calls a "sounding board," where they'll discuss the results of citizen engagement efforts and ultimately create the plan. 

"We need to be moving forward in a manner that prepares us for the future," said City Council President Merv Bennett, who is also the president of the steering committee.  "And to me, to those of us on council, it's kind of scary if we don't do this." 

Other members of the steering committee include Susan Davies of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, Hannah Parsons of the Regional Business Alliance, Lynette Crow-Iverson of Colorado Springs Forward, and Bob Cutter, listed as resident-at-large, but who once led the now defunct Waldo Canyon Fire recovery agency Colorado Springs Together

City leaders and planners are also placing a significant emphasis on community involvement. 

To that end, Jay Anderson, City Engagement Specialist for Colorado Springs, said they'll employ myriad strategies, including online surveys, in-person interviews, and outreach via social media.

"The steering committee represents a broad swath of the community. But our city is expansive, and no one can be familiar with every corner of Colorado Springs," said Anderson.

The city has dubbed the process as "PlanCOS" and is looking to utilize a social media hashtag of the same name for citizen input and ideas.  Anderson said the residential engagement will be a staged process over the course of the project.  Currently, #PlanCOS is asking for feelings about Colorado Springs, as well as individual ideas and concerns; there's also an online survey ready for folks to take.

The initial investment for the project is $500,000, which Suthers said has already been appropriated over the course of the past two years.