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Portion to Corral Bluffs Open Space won't be open to public

October 23, 2017 Updated: October 25, 2017 at 7:25 am
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The Corral Bluffs Open Space with Pikes Peak in the background. Saturday, June 6, 2015. (Gazette file photo)

There is no shortage of ideas for what the Corral Bluffs Open Space might become, but when the public will be allowed on the land remains unclear.

The Colorado Springs City Council unanimously approved an 85-acre addition to the open space in July at a cost of $570,000, said Britt Haley, manager of the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) tax program. But after the vote, a survey showed the area was closer to 80 acres, which cut the purchase price to $540,000.

The sale was finalized in September, but the council still needs to vote to tweak its resolution so city records are accurate, Haley said.

She told the council about the discrepancy Monday and said the vote will come next month.

Corral Bluffs remains closed, though. The largely untouched land sits on the K-T boundary, a critically important geologic feature that is 65 million years old and separates the Cretaceous days of dinosaurs from the Tertiary period, the days of man. Fossils and ancient artifacts have been found in the area, too.

Corral Bluffs would provide east side residents much-needed open space, but its paleontological value is worth preserving, said Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails & Open Space Coalition.

"It might include a mountain bike park out there. It should," Davies said. "It would be a great place to take horses. It used to be an old cattle corral, so why not?"

But, she added, "The more we can preserve, the better."

The city's latest purchase extends Corral Bluffs to the west, and the ultimate goal is to connect the site to Jimmy Camp Creek Park, Haley said. Several more purchases are possible but none is imminent, she said.

Before a master plan can be drafted for the open space, the staff must see what other properties might be bought, Haley said. A mix of people and businesses own property in the area. The biggest piece, more than 18,000 acres, is Nor'wood Development Group's portion of the Banning Lewis Ranch.

Nor'wood representatives could not be reached for comment.

Davies said she is encouraged by Nor'wood's apparent willingness to discuss preservation of some of Banning Lewis Ranch.

"But on the other hand, some will have to be developed," she said.

How much Nor'wood might sell to the city and at what cost isn't known, Davies said.

But however large the open space might grow, a portion of Corral Bluffs likely will remain closed to preserve paleontological artifacts, she said.

Council President Richard Skorman and former Council President Merv Bennett said the latest land purchase is a great addition.

Councilman Don Knight asked city staff to learn a lesson from the acreage and price discrepancies so similar situations could be avoided.

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