More than 20,000 people had signed an online petition by Monday morning demanding that a 12-foot high steel frame intended to promote Colorado Springs' Olympic connections be removed from the Garden of the Gods.
The frame, which was bolted into the rocks at High Point last week, has sparked an outcry from those who believe it desecrates the natural beauty of the park, which is world-famous for its soaring, red rock formations and views of Pikes Peak.
The petition derides the frame as a "cheesy hashtag marketing campaign" that violates the spirit of the agreement under which the Perkins family donated the 480-acre Garden of the Gods to the city in 1909:
That agreement states the property would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods "where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park."
The petition on change.org was started by Brian McCarrie, lead web developer for The Gazette. He does not work in the newsroom.
Among the reasons listed in the petition for removing the "ugly blue frame" are:
- It violates the agreement with the Perkins family.
- It violates the natural beauty of the landscape.
- The city will be sued if someone is injured trying to climb it.
- Trying to monetize the natural beauty of the landscape with a marketing hashtag campaign makes Colorado Springs look cheap and pathetic.
The goal, according to the online petition website, is to get 25,000 signatures and deliver it to the City Council and mayor.
The blue frame outlining the view of Pikes Peak from the park, with #OlympicCityUSA, Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs on it, was donated by local contractor GE Johnson after the idea originated with the Olympic City USA task force. Janet Suthers, a task force member and wife of Mayor John Suthers, presented it to the Parks Advisory Board in February.
Another board member proposed selling small versions of the frame as souvenirs at park's visitor center.
Critics, including City Council President Richard Skorman, have called it an "eyesore," and have questioned whether it was properly voted on and approved.
Regardless of whether the blue frame remains in Garden of the Gods, it has already achieved a certain immortality online. Residents have posted photos of parodies, using a blue rectangle or square to frame outhouses and Christmas trees.
One photo posted by the Fox affiliate in Colorado Springs showed what appeared to be a smaller replica of the blue frame in front of the bathrooms at Prospect Lake in Memorial Park. Written on it was "#CityofChumps, Keeping C.S. Lame."
No blue frame was at the location by late morning Sunday.