Trails and Open Space Coalition - CSPM

Trails and Open Space Coalition

Thankfully, we can all “walk a mile” in John Maynard’s shoes when we get out and enjoy our renowned parks, trails and open spaces. Founded in 1987 by John Maynard, John Covert, Brian Gravestock, and others, the Pikes Peak Area Trails Coalition lent support to a new city master plan for trails. With Dan Cleveland at the helm, the organization became the Trails and Open Space Coalition, advocating for the development of trails and open space. As former board member Al Brody noted, “The organization has preserved the very essence of what Colorado Springs is.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

How do you summarize 33 years in 400 words?! The Pikes Peak Area Trails Coalition was born when a group of community leaders including John Maynard, John Covert and Brian Gravestock, decided the region needed committed trail champions to advocate for the new city trails master plan. As there was limited funding to build new trails, there was a real danger the plan would never be realized. An energetic board member – Skye Ridley – took on the challenge, became the first executive director and began working to complete the Pikes Peak Greenway. When she left the organization a retired full colonel took over. Under Dan Cleveland’s leadership PPATC became the Trails and Open Space Coalition adding open space advocacy to its mission.

The passage of the TOPS Tax was one of Dan’s early priorities. During his tenure, TOSC advocated for the first PPRTA to include a small percentage for trail construction. And once TOPS passed, Dan attended TOPS and Parks Advisory Board meetings, advocating for open space purchases and trail connectivity. Red Rock Canyon, Stratton, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Blue Stem Prairie, Blodgett Peak open spaces – thousands of acres were preserved thanks to TOPS with help from TOSC.

TOSC led the charge to save Corral Bluffs from becoming a motorcycle park. TOSC fought efforts to turn Bear Creek Regional Park into a golf course. When El Paso County no longer wanted Section 16, (along Gold Camp Road) TOSC convinced city parks staff to purchase it and make it part of Red Rock Canyon Open Space. One of TOSC’s biggest trail successes was the connection of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail to the Pikes Peak Greenway.

Over those years, battles were lost. TOSC supported passionate Teller County residents to get a parks tax passed – but it failed. An effort to turn Ben Lomand in Palmer Lake into a county open space was unsuccessful. When the recession hit and parks budgets were gutted, TOSC launched a campaign to create a Parks District to provide adequate funding for parks in our region. EPC Commissioners refused to place it on the ballot.

Nevertheless, we’d like to think General William Palmer would be pleased with the number of acres of open space and miles of trails we now have in our community. It certainly reflects his vision. As for today’s Trails and Open Space Coalition and the TOPS program – we’re only getting started!

Generously Submitted by Susan Davies, Executive Director, Trails and Open Space Coalition

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