Updated: November 20, 2013 at 10:28 am
One of the prevailing complaints about the City for Champions proposal to build four tourism projects in Colorado Springs is that the public didn't get a chance to weigh in before the plan was submitted to the state to be considered for millions of dollars in funding.
Not to worry, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said Tuesday at his monthly news conference. Colorado Springs residents, as well as mayors of neighboring communities, will get plenty of chances to take part in the process.
Bach said if the city receives state money, it will have up to five years to begin construction on the projects: a multiuse sports center, a U.S. Olympic museum, a new Air Force Academy visitors center and a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
"We have plenty of time to have a thorough conversation in this community about City for Champions - to make sure that the project ends up being at least what the majority of people, hopefully almost everybody, can be excited about," Bach said.
He met with Colorado Springs City Council President Keith King and El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey last week to discuss City for Champions, and said they agreed they would meet with other officials - including area mayors - in January to start talking about a timetable for the projects.
"At that initial meeting, I propose, among other things, that we will decide how to launch that community conversation beyond what it already is, which I think is robust even now," Bach said. "But we want to make sure that throughout this region, that folks have a chance to weigh in, give ideas and ask questions."
Part of the conversation will center on who will govern City for Champions. Bach said he hopes a decision can be reached as quickly as the one that determined governance of the new Colorado Springs Health Foundation, created in response to the lease of Memorial Hospital to University of Colorado Health.
Of course, all the plans for meetings and conversations and public input could be moot if the state declines to fund City for Champions, which drew a critical review from a third-party analyst hired by the state as part of the application process.
Bach is confident it won't be an issue.
"I'm really excited about this prospect and I am optimistic that the state is going to approve our proposal and we will proceed with the broad conversation," he said.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission is scheduled to make its decision in December.