Some Colorado Springs City Council members praised a planned $8.8 million land deal Monday that they expect to help finance reclamation of Pikeview Quarry -- a hillside scar close to the city's northwestern border.
Under the deal, the city would buy two parcels totaling about 341 acres of open space from Castle Concrete. The city would pay $1.7 million for 193 acres, including and surrounding Black Canyon Quarry near Manitou Springs. The property is being eyed as a way to provide trailhead access into Williams and Waldo canyons, replacing a trailhead on Highway 24 that closed.
The city would spend $6.6 million on the second parcel, 148 acres below Pikeview Quarry and south of Blodgett Peak in a purchase that could help protect mountain views and provide space for trails. The city also agreed to pay an additional $427,500 above the appraised values of the properties to reach a deal with Castle Concrete, said Britt Haley, the city’s park design and development manager.
Castle Concrete is interested in using funds from the sale to help reclaim the Pikeview Quarry, Haley said. Once Castle Concrete is finished with the reclamation of Pikeview, the 100-acre property would be donated to the city for a bike park, she said. If the city is not satisfied with the reclamation, it could decline the donation.
The planned bike park could be a "great visual calling card" that would leave a good impression on visitors, council President Richard Skorman said.
"I love the idea, I just hope it can work," he said.
The city council is to vote on the deal after hearing from the public Tuesday.
"This may be one of our most important decisions as a city council," Skorman said.
Even if the plan is approved by the city, it faces a hurdle later this month when Castle Concrete's reclamation plans are reviewed by the state's Mined Land Reclamation Board.
If the state board does not approve the company's plans for Pikeview Quarry reclamation, the city's contract with the company would be terminated, Haley said.
Under the proposed plan, Castle Concrete would stabilize and reclaim the quarry by filling it in from the bottom up, company President Jerry Schnabel said. The company previously planned to blow up the top of the quarry and move material from the top to the bottom, he said. The new plan would keep stable limestone walls in place, he said.
The city would help with reclamation by allowing the company to take fill dirt from a 7-acre to 10-acre parcel, Haley said. The city could determine how the land needed to provide fill dirt is graded, she said. The city could also help ensure reclamation lays a good foundation for the bike park, she said.
Skorman was among those who asked Schnabel to check with his superiors in Chicago to see if the city contract could be maintained if the state declined the new reclamation plan.
"Do we have to lose this valuable open space and Black Canyon because of that?" he said.
Haley said if the new reclamation plan does not get approved, it might make better business sense for Castle Concrete to sell the property below Pikeview Quarry to a housing developer because it would likely generate more money long term, she said.
Councilman Tom Strand questioned if money from the land deal could be placed in escrow to ensure it would be used for reclamation.
Castle Concrete would not agree to placing money in escrow during negations, Haley said. If the company fails to complete the Pikeview Quarry reclamation, the state would step in and do it using a bond posted by the company, she said.
As part of the deal, the city would take responsibility for the Black Canyon Quarry reclamation, which officials estimate could cost up to $400,000, Haley said. The city would have five years to meet the state's reclamation standards, which include grading and revegetation, she said.
The quarry reclamation was estimated to cost $340,000 in 1999 and the cost estimate is due to be updated, said Russ Means, the state's mineral program director previously. Haley said she had the estimate checked by experts outside the state who verified it.
The city could also apply for state matching grants to help pay for reclamation and put out a call for help from the public, she said.
"I would be shocked if we didn’t have a lot of outpouring support," she said.