White Acres Acquisition Passes 1st of 3 Votes

, , , | UltraRob | Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

White Acres near Colorado Springs, Colorado

Photo from SaveWhiteAcres.org

I’ve been blogging quite a bit about White Acres. Hopefully it’s not growing old for non-locals. It’s a property I really don’t want to be developed. It’s visible from much of Colorado Springs and is surrounded by land that won’t be developed. Red Rock Canyon Open Space is on the north, Section 16 is to the west and Bear Creek Canyon Park is to the southeast. There are a few houses hidden in the trees in Bear Creek Canyon but they’re barely noticeable.

White Acres TrailThe photo above from SaveWhiteAcres.org and the GPS track to the right from one of my recent rides show why I’m passionate about this land. Without the critical section of social trail through the property, it wouldn’t be possible to make the big trail loop with Red Rock Canyon and Section 16. Even though the development plan seems to allow for the trail, having houses would ruin the beauty and solitude.

Last week the White Acres annexation petition was postponed a 2nd time because a deal to buy it for open space seemed possible. An article in Tuesday’s Gazette led many to believe the White Acres deal was approved. That is not the case. Although a deal is in fact on the table, the article ends by saying the deal still needs approval. It seems not everyone read that far.

White Acres Trail, Colorado SpringsThe asking price for White Acres has been dropped from $1.375 million to $1 million. More important is that the full purchase price isn’t required now like it was when city council voted it down last year. Instead the purchase will be spread over 4 years.

One key thing that wasn’t mentioned in the Gazette article is that this year, $75,000 of private money will need to be raised by December. Only $25,000 of TOPS funds are being committed this year by the city. If the private fundraising fails, the whole deal would most likely fall through. This is the only year private funding is required.

Friends of Red Rock Canyon will be doing the fundraising. They plan to have online donations set up by next week. In the unfortunate event that the deal doesn’t go through, donations will be used for the eventual purchase of Section 16.

Although the purchase will be spread over 4 years, the remaining property will be leased for $1 until all parcels are purchased. The farthest west parcel will be the 1st purchased followed by the hogback. The south parcel along Gold Camp Road will be the 3rd and the 4th parcel will be the north parcel along Gold Camp. This means the land least suited to development will be bought first with the best land for development being left to last.

A 5th parcel will be donated which is a slice for the extension of 31st street that’s been on the master plan for decades. I don’t think it’s likely 31st will be extended but the city wants to keep it’s options open. Land bought with TOPS funds can only be used for open space. A 6th parcel isn’t being bought by the city. The house at the 5 way stop at 26th, Gold Camp and Bear Creek Road is on this parcel.

I was at the TOPS Working Committee meeting yesterday morning. There were over a dozen citizens there in favor of the White Acres Acquisition. If anyone was against it, they didn’t say anything. The committee voted unanimously to recommend acquisition with very little discussion.

The next vote will be by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board next week on Thursday March 12th. From what I heard, they will support acquisition.

The bigger unknown is whether city council will support the deal. I’ve heard there is support for it but its tough to know. They are dealing with a lot of other issues. It’ll be key for everyone to make it to the council meeting on April 14th if at all possible.

Key Dates

THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 7:30 AM — Parks & Recreation Advisory Board
Parks & Recreation Building, 1401 Recreation Way

TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 1:00 PM — Colorado Springs City Council
City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Avenue

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