The City Council decides Tuesday whether Colorado Springs remains the country’s growing hub of military space operations, or a place that caters to activists who oppose economic growth, innovation, progress and even mass transit.
Council members will consider a typical “Not In My Back Yard” appeal of a development proposal so reasonable it satisfies every major concern of the Planning Commission. The commission voted unanimously to approve the plan and unanimously twice to deny the appeal of a small group of opponents.
At issue is the plan for expansion of expo space to facilitate Space Symposium exhibits that have expanded into a tent on property of the Broadmoor resort, owned by the parent company of The Gazette.
Builders need to complete the expansion by March 2020, or much of Space Symposium will have no place to go. Activists with baseless complaints represent the only hurdle to getting it done.
The choice Tuesday is simple:
A. Deny the appeal, choosing progress that helps all businesses and households in Colorado Springs and ensures the city’s future as a world-renowned aerospace headquarters.
B. Approve or prolong the appeal, appeasing a tiny cadre of anti-progress malcontents who raise trivial and fabricated concerns.
Our level-minded council members will almost certainly choose progress.
As explained in this space April 9, greater Colorado Springs has emerged as the epicenter of advanced aerospace science and technology. Foundational to our booming space culture is the annual Space Symposium, sponsored by the Springs-based Space Foundation. The world’s premier aerospace convention, Space Symposium hosts about 6,000 people a day for four days at Broadmoor Hall.
Space Symposium has flourished since it began 35 years ago, outgrowing the convention and expo facilities just east of the five-star Broadmoor resort’s 784 guest rooms.
The proposed Exhibit Hall addition would keep the Space Symposium in the Springs, probably for generations to come, at no expense to taxpayers. Losing the event, for lack of adequate space, would cost the region at least $30 million each year in direct economic benefit that channels through employees of hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc., and the rest of the community.
Council members should also consider the corporate relocations to the region and startups that result from collaborations initiated at Space Symposium.
With the symposium, Colorado Springs attracts the best and brightest aerospace minds from around the world to convene in one location annually. Without it, we do not.
Without this reasonable expansion, the Space Symposium eventually leaves Colorado Springs behind, hurting the working class, the city’s economy, and the community’s cache as the center of aerospace defense.
Three well-known anti-growth activists, who do not live near The Broadmoor or the Space Symposium traffic they complain about, lead the small-but-vocal opposition. They typically oppose anything that promotes employment, economic growth and the general well-being of the working class.
In this case, opponents have blatantly distorted effects of the development. In one misrepresentation, they claimed the plan would cause nearly 25,000 people to come and go from The Broadmoor each day during the symposium. Not so. As stated, the event attracts about 24,000 visits over four days — about 6,000 a day. That number will remain about the same after expansion.
Though designed mostly for the Space Symposium, Broadmoor executives hope the additional space will attract a handful of additional conventions and expos. Their most ambitious expectations would add about 10,000 “room nights” each year, onto base of 260,000. That, at most, means a 3.8 percent increase in guests already hosted.
One argument against the expansion asserts it will generate shuttles every 20 seconds, which does not fall within the universe of truth. These same activists oppose shuttles running to and from Seven Falls — vans that reduce private vehicle traffic. They have fought nearly everything The Broadmoor has tried to do for decades, citing frivolous worries that never pan out.
The Planning Commission thoroughly scrutinized this proposal, examining everything from fire concerns, to noise, to traffic to overall neighborhood ramifications. They found no reason The Broadmoor should not create a permanent facility to house events taking place in a tent vulnerable to high winds.
By denying this ill-intentioned appeal, City Council members will vote to continue the city’s upward trajectory.
They will accept a privately funded development, benefiting the greater community, which other cities would pay for with taxes and debt.
We can be a region that obstructs progress, to appease make-believe concerns about traffic and noise, or a high-tech aerospace city with lucrative opportunities for all. Please choose the latter.
The Gazette editorial Board