TOWN HALL: Mayor bach wants big new changes (poll)

May 11, 2012
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Mayor Steve Bach has made big changes in Colorado Springs in less than a year, and it appears as though his sweeping reforms in the local government’s bureaucracies are only the beginning. He has little interest in the way we’ve done things before, and considerable interest in moving mountains.

He’ll leave Pikes Peak right where it is, of course, but he is beginning to toss around the idea of moving the Martin Drake power plant from downtown and the Sky Sox stadium from the eastern edge of the city to downtown. Those are enormous goals and neither will happen without a fight for the cooperation of a variety of interests, including support of the general public.

“I want us to rethink the way we do everything,” Bach told The Gazette on Friday.

“I want us to stop doing things the same way simply because, as they always tell me, ‘this is the way we have always done it.’ Sometimes the way we have always done it is not the best way.”

He is a fiscal conservative with the forward-thinking attitude of a progressive.

On a recent trip to Houston with City Council President Scott Hente, Bach floated the idea of closing Martin Drake and replacing it with another facility — possibly a gas-powered plant in another location. He wants other local politicians and citizens to at least consider the option before Colorado Springs Utilities moves forward with upgrades that some believe could cost more than $200 million.

“Do we really want that plant downtown for the next 20 years?” Bach said. “I don’t know, but we should at least ask the question. I want a renaissance in this city and it makes sense that it should start downtown, in the city’s core.”

So where does Bach want Sky Sox Stadium?

“Right on top of the Martin Drake Power Plant,” Bach told The Gazette.

He has discussed the possibility with Sky Sox owner Dave Elmore, and his sons D.G. Elmore and Doug Elmore. The Elmores and Bach are friends, going back to the days when Bach represented them as real estate clients. Bach said the Elmores seemed open to the possibility, though no agreements have been reached.

“Baseball is hugely popular in Pueblo, and I think putting the stadium downtown could make it much more attractive and accessible to that community,” Bach said. “I also think we might see interest from as far north as Castle Rock if the stadium were downtown, just off of the I-25.”

Bach also believes that a downtown baseball stadium could do for downtown Colorado Springs what the Coors Field did for lower downtown Denver, a once-blighted area came alive with nightlife and high-end condominiums.

Do you support moving the downtown Martin Drake power plant? Vote in poll to the right. Must vote to see results.

The Gazette has not thoroughly examined all of the ramifications of getting the Martin Drake plant out of downtown, or of moving the Sky Sox. Every action has a reaction, and all big moves come with an array of unintended consequences.

What we do support, without reservation, is Bach’s ability and willingness to think big and outside of the rut. Nothing great ever resulted from doing things the way we have always done them.

We encourage politicians and other citizen of the community to open their hearts and minds to big new possibilities of greatness that could result from changing the way we do business in Colorado Springs. Change doesn’t have to mean big spending and new taxes — the old-school way of city business. Change for the better can be accomplished by getting creative and constructive with what we already have.

Friend editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen on Facebook, follow him on Twitter

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