‘Deep Disappointment’ For Opponents Of Strawberry Fields Land Swap As CO Supreme Court Rejects Suit

The Colorado Supreme Court won’t hear a lawsuit over a controversial land exchange between the Broadmoor Hotel and the City of Colorado Springs. Plaintiffs say it may be the end of their years-long fight over a parcel of parkland called Strawberry Fields.

The non-profit group, Save Cheyenne, sued in 2016 to stop the city from trading the 189-acre parcel to the Broadmoor, arguing that residents should have the opportunity to vote on the proposal. The case was dismissed by judges in lower courts, but Save Cheyenne hoped the Colorado Supreme Court would reverse those decisions.

“Among our group of supporters, there’s deep, deep regret,” said Kent Obee, Save Cheyenne’s president. “Tears have been shed over this. There’s a real sense of loss, frankly a sense of betrayal by the city government and the administration.”

"We think the citizens should have the final say on whether this land is ever disposed of," said Kent Obee, president of Save Cheyenne.

The court didn’t offer an explanation for its decision to pass on the case.

In a written statement, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers praised the move and defended the land exchange, through which the city secured 370 acres from the Broadmoor.

“Given the value of the land the city received in the exchange, not the least of which secured property for the Manitou Incline and easements for popular trails including Barr Trail, we believe the exchange was in the best interest of the vast majority of residents,” he said.

While this is the end of the road for the Strawberry Fields battle, Save Cheyenne is still exploring ways to prevent similar deals in the future. Obee said the group is looking at pushing for a change to the city charter to require a vote any time the city wants to sell, trade, or otherwise get rid of public parkland.

“One of our complaints obviously was that this land belongs to the citizens of Colorado Springs,” he said, “not a parks department or a particular administration, and we think the citizens should have the final say on whether this land is ever disposed of.”

The Broadmoor plans to build a picnic pavilion and horseback riding stable on a private, 8.5-acre section of Strawberry Fields. The rest of the property is to remain open to the public.