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A mountain biker rides in Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs.

TOPS preserves natural beauty

For more than 25 years, the Trails, Open Spaces and Parks (TOPS) program has provided trails and open spaces for Colorado Springs residents and visitors to enjoy and preserve. Thanks to the program, we have access to Stratton, Blodgett and Red Rock Canyon Open Spaces — all places key to the identity of Colorado Springs.

If not for the TOPS-supported acquisition of Corral Bluffs Open Space, the incredibly significant, never-before-discovered link in the evolution of humans on Earth would have been lost forever. The recent purchase of the Black Canyon Quarry creates an opportunity, in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, to reopen year-round access to Waldo Canyon. The purchase of Wildhorse Ranch on the east side of the city will create more than 1,000 acres of open space, and also provide for protection of wildlife habitats for waterfowl and wildlife.

As the Front Range continues to grow in population, programs such as TOPS that preserve the natural beauty of Colorado for all to access are increasingly important. Since its inception, the TOPS program has preserved at least 7,500 acres of land that would otherwise have been developed. The program, which began in 1997 as a citizen-initiated ballot measure, has contributed to building or improving 67 parks — such as John Venezia and Coleman Parks — and added 53 miles of trails.

The program, which is set to expire in 2025, is Issue No. 1 on the April ballot for a 20-year extension, taking it through the year 2045. The ballot measure does not raise the sales tax from the 1-cent-on-every-10-dollars that it has been since TOPS was created. This ballot measure also sets aside a significant percentage of funds to be used solely for acquisition of new open space land. The program, which has significant citizen oversight by the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board, and the TOPS Working Committee, has been tremendously successful, and extending it for 20 more years will ensure that it continues to serve the community.

TOPS Working Committee

Colorado Springs

Allow local control on housing crisis

We in the faith community support HB23-1115, which will lift the state ban against local control of rents. This is not a rent control bill — it will not implement rent control policies anywhere. The rental market has changed significantly since the 1981 ban was enacted. Many small landlord and local investment firm properties have been bought by out-of-state hedge funds and large corporate investment companies. Their predatory practices are destabilizing communities and displacing longtime residents who have no other alternatives. We lack affordable worker housing where jobs exist, which constrains economic growth. Our current crisis promotes homelessness.

HB23-1115 will allow local districts to consider more options. We must listen to the diverse views of organizations and communities throughout our state, including those of renters who are struggling to meet large rent increases. Everyone deserves a safe, sustainable place to call home, regardless of what they earn, where they come from, or what they look like. We need a stable home where we can raise families and contribute to our communities. Housing should not just be a profitable commodity but should also be a core value of building vibrant, sustainable communities.

There were poor outcomes of early-generation rent control, which made it difficult for landlords to make a profit. In the decades since, communities around the country have implemented rent stabilization policies that allow landlords to raise rents for inflation, maintenance, and profit, loosening old market constraints. Planning experts have gained experience in crafting reasonable, evidence-based solutions.

This bill is only about local control — allowing communities to use a wider range of tools, if they wish, to address the housing crisis. Lifting the ban gives power back to local decision-makers. Let’s pass common-sense legislation for our residents, not just those who own investment properties.

The Rev. Mallory Everhart, Rabbi Iah Pillsbury

Colorado Springs

Cancellation of Dilbert

So the Gazette has canceled Dilbert and with it has participated in the cancellation and destruction of the career of Scott Adams. Simply because of some of his freedom of speech comments on You Tube that the cancel culture speech police, i.e., the liberal/left wing Anti-Defamation League, has determined to be “racist”. And now, Adams and we Dilbert fans must suffer the consequences. I have never seen anything in Dilbert cartoons that could remotely be considered racist. Cancel culture and the left strike again. BTW, Adams is apparently a conservative Trump supporter, and that probably had something to do with his being canceled.

Jim Anderson

Colorado Springs

California’s water shortage

Rain. This is the long-term answer to California’s water shortage. California has long been allowing megatons of rainwater to flow freely through the state with no attempt to retain it for meaningful use.

Instead, as related in The Gazette’s article about California’s refusal to sign on to Colorado River restrictions, California wants the upper Colorado River states to curtail their use.

In the vast acreage of California, there are endless opportunities for building modest dams and (if appropriate) shipping locks that would prevent so much water from just flowing willy-nilly out to sea. A good place to demonstrate this would be on the lower Sacramento River, in the narrow canyon just upstream from Crockett.

Meanwhile it appears to me that the upper Colorado states have long-since contributed every drop that we can squeeze out, some of which has devalued some of our best scenery (as, for example, the Blue Mesa Reservoir on the Gunnison River).

J.E. Strub

Colorado Springs


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