The city of Colorado Springs is looking at creating an open space near the intersection of Powers and Interquest Parkway in the northeast part of town — a part of the city undergoing massive residential growth.
The 352-acre parcel includes the Kettle Creek Greenway and the Pine Creek area. It's a donation from developer La Plata Communities. The company is owned by members of the Loo family, longtime business owners and philanthropists in Colorado Springs.
Britt Haley with the city's parks and recreation department said there isn't a lot of open land in the area due to how fast it’s been developed.
"We recognized recently that that portion of the city has been urbanizing very quickly, and there really aren't too many remaining opportunities to purchase or receive open space," she said. "And so we started checking into whether there would be opportunities for the open space program."
The Trails and Open Space Program, known as TOPS, is a 1 cent sales tax on every $10 purchase in Colorado Springs. All of the funds go toward expanding the city’s open spaces and trails.
If things work out, four pieces of land totalling 352 acres would be the first acquisition in northeast Colorado Springs as a result of the TOPS program.
Haley said the city will work closely with U.S. Fish & Wildlife as the land is a habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, a threatened species.
"Luckily we have specialized expertise with our ranger program in managing habitat properties," she said. "So I anticipate that we will be evaluating the properties and making sure that we are the best stewards possible for those properties as well."
Depending on those assessments, Haley is hopeful the property could feature a trail system that would be compatible with the environmental needs of the animals that live there.
Current plans include the construction of a fire station in the area, as well. The city of Colorado Springs would sell a portion of a nearby property to La Plata Communities as part of the exchange. The lot was purchased in 2003 with plans to build a sports complex but that was canceled following pushback from the community.
The open space property is valued at just over $6.3 million dollars. The city will spend about $100,000 annually to maintain the land and manage it as a wildlife habitat.
City Council is set to consider the issue next month.
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