Two Colorado Springs open spaces will grow significantly with unanimous approval Tuesday from the City Council to buy more than 280 acres on opposite sides of the city.
Corral Bluffs Open Space, on the far east side, will grow by nearly 245 acres. And Blodgett Open Space, on the city’s northwest side, will be enlarged by nearly 65 acres. Both deals come with the unanimous blessing of the city’s Trails, Open Space and Parks Working Committee and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
With the council’s unanimous approval, the staff can proceed with spending about $1.1 million for the Corral Bluffs expansion, with the understanding that the council will vote on a supplemental appropriation for the money next month. That delay comes because the city will buy about 22 more acres than initially anticipated at an additional cost of about $22,000, said TOPS Manager Britt Haley.
The council’s votes also approved the real estate transaction and supplemental appropriation of $778,500 to expand Blodgett.
Money for both buys, which are expected to be finalized in October, comes from the city’s TOPS program, which collects sales tax revenue.
The expansions are substantial victories for residents and outdoor enthusiasts, council members and activists said during Tuesday’s meeting.
“We have a lot of great parks on the west side of town, but Corral Bluffs is really the big Kahuna on the east side,” said Bill Koerner of the Corral Bluffs Alliance.
The purchase will fill the gap created by the horseshoe-shaped open space, extending it to the south. The space is not yet open to the public.
Within that area, and much of the rest of the land, are bluffs, prairies, opportunities for guided hikes and other recreational opportunities, Koerner said.
The overarching goal for Corral Bluffs is a 3,500-acre plot that connects directly with Jimmy Camp Creek Park to the west, he said.
“This is a key part of our future in the park world and something that’s very special,” said Council President Richard Skorman.
Shifting the conversation west to Blodgett, Haley said the three connected parcels for sale offer “beautiful viewsheds across the city.”
The plots are next to Blodgett’s southeast portion and back up to Pike National Forest on the west.
Once all the sales are finalized, Corral Bluffs will total about 880 acres, and Blodgett will cover about 231 acres, Haley said.
Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, thanked those who made the transactions possible.
“This is what TOPS was created for,” Davies said.
TOPS, passed in 1997, imposes a one-penny tax on each $10 purchase in the city.
This is the second addition to Corral Bluffs this year. The council unanimously agreed in July to buy 85 acres there for $580,000. The land is rife with fossils and ancient artifacts from the time of the K-T boundary, which marks the transition between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods characterized by the mass extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.