Lodging tax use for Olympic Museum still divides City Council

March 13, 2017 Updated: March 14, 2017 at 7:58 am
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Preliminary concept renderings for the United States Olympic Museum were released at a press conference Thursday, May 14, 2015. Courtesy of Diller Scofidio and Renfro

Colorado Springs' Lodging and Automobile Rental Tax has churned up healthy revenue over the past two years, and the LART committee now is recommending how to spend a big chunk of that change.

Most City Council members support anteing up $250,000 for the pro cycling Colorado Classic this year and a final $250,000 for the new Summit House atop Pikes Peak.

"The Summit House is iconic to Colorado Springs," noted Fred Veitch, chairman of the LART Citizens Advisory Committee, during a presentation at the council's work session Monday.

But controversy continues over the idea of giving the U.S. Olympic Museum $500,000 over the next three years.

Many city officials say the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame will bring many tourists and their dollars to downtown and represents the essence of how LART dollars should be spent.

But city officials long have promised that no local tax dollars would go to any of four City for Champions projects without a public vote, and some council members are clinging to that vow. The other projects are a new Air Force Academy visitors' center, a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and potentially a World War II aviation museum.

But Doug Price, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said LART set a precedent in the 1990s by helping to pay for the Broadmoor World Arena on the city's south side.

The CVB earlier voted in January to give $500,000 to the Olympic Museum as its supporters race to meet a March 31 deadline to raise millions more in private funding.

Museum organizers asked the LART committee to chip in the same fund, but that requires a council vote.

In other business, the council:

◘ Heard a progress report on rebuilding the Bancroft Park Bandshell, which was burned in January. Councilmen Keith King and Knight questioned why progress has been so slow and why the city Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services decided to forgo any events this summer at the park, which has a popular farmer's market in summer.

"You could have expedited the work," said King, whose District 3 encompasses Bancroft Park. "You have an opportunity to have a temporary facility constructed on the property, and you could continue to have events and make the area usable for citizens of the West Side. You decided to board it up and not go forward to figure out what the problems are."

"Dominoes don't have to fall one at a time," Knight said. "There's things you can do in parallel. Why wasn't a community forum held? There's more that should be done. We want a sense of urgency in this."

◘ Was asked to support creating a Commission on Aging. "For the city attorney," asked Councilman Andres G. Pico, "does any of us have a conflict of interest?" His many aged council members erupted in laughter.

The council will vote on that request in two weeks.

◘ Got a report from Chief Financial Officer Kara Skinner on more supplemental appropriations needed to cover repairs that insurance won't from the 2016 hailstorm and the windstorms this January. Patty Jewett Golf Course needs $41,900, and the Stetson Hills Special Improvement Maintenance District needs $66,780. The council will vote on that request at its regular meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave.

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