Photo Credit: Visit COS
Our nation is in the midst of a crisis. At SpringsTaxpayers.com, our primary concern is health —we want everyone to emerge on the other side of this pandemic untouched by COVID-19. The economy and getting people back to work are our top priorities. We are pulling for our community.
We have kept a very close eye on Colorado Springs politics in the middle of this crisis. Our instincts tell us that some politicians might take advantage of the crisis, and use it to promote pet projects. We’ve been watching and waiting for some political shenanigans to pop up in Colorado Springs. The wait is over!
During the Tuesday, March 14th Colorado Springs City Council Work Session, Councilwoman Jill Gaebler mentioned that she would like to see the Garden of the Gods closed to automobile traffic. Here is the video of her comments.
And here is the written transcript.
Councilwoman Jill Gaebler I mostly wanted to thank you for your email yesterday in response to my request to close the road in Garden of the Gods on the weekend. I appreciate what you said. I do disagree with some of it as, as you know, as especially in regard to trying to give our users, our park users right now, more access into the park. We’re not supposed to be touring in cars and although there are fewer people in the park overall people who were picnicking and people who are taking the shuttles, but the people actually using the park for recreation, especially new bicyclists, new walkers, they are forced to be on the shoulder of that road while cars continue to go by all day long and it’s not safe. So, I have shared the email with the user groups and even in the time that we’ve been here today, we’ve gotten a letter from Susan Davies, Medicine Wheel, some of the friends of Garden of the Gods. And so I would like to set up a meeting with them and you to have more conversations about this issue because I really do want Olympic City and the city of super users of our parks to have a voice on this issue because I think Parks is thinking like they’ve always thought, you know, this is how we manage closure. When we could do things simpler, cheaper, easier to really support our users of our parks. We could be innovative and I don’t want Denver leading this conversation. I want Olympic City USA leading the conversation around supporting our parks use or, so if that’s okay with you, we can hopefully have that conversation soon because we do see this as an urgent need right now to support the mental wellness of our community.
Parks Director Karen Palus Okay. And I’d be happy to share with you the responses we’ve received thus far. In terms of Facebook responses as well.
Council President Richard Skorman And I’d like to chime in with Jill. I think it’s a really good discussion that had a balance where maybe we can have an opportunity for people that are those people that get on their bikes and hike and walk and have a new opportunity that would be safer way for them. We’ll talk about all of this offline. Andy, did you have a question?
Councilman Andy Pico Well, I was gonna respond to that. Cause I’m more in the line of thinking that if you’re going to close roads and parking areas, then now you’re forcing the people to park out in the neighborhood. So I think there’s a, you can strike a balance, but I think the proposal is as originally sent out would be counterproductive. So yeah, let’s have that conversation offline.
Council President Richard Skorman All right, sounds good. Anybody else have any questions for Karen? Thank you and your staff. Talk about a department that has to be dynamic. You’re, you’re the one and so very much appreciate everything that you and everybody else is doing.
Parks Director Karen Palus Thank you I appreciate it.
Gaebler says she wants to close the roads in Garden of the Gods in the name of safety. We have heard the same claims when Gaebler wanted to remove traffic lanes in favor of bike lanes, even as residents oppose her actions. Some of Councilwoman Gaebler’s Tuesday comments left us baffled. Her statement that we’re not supposed to be touring Garden of the Gods by automobile was certainly news to us. Did we miss some rule change that says can’t people drive through the park? People are able to drive up to the top of Pikes Peak, so why not a drive through Garden of the Gods? What about the elderly people who aren’t physically able to walk or bike? What about the disabled who don’t bike and can only walk short distances? What about the Mom who wants to put a restless toddler in a car seat for a nap, and allow her older kids to enjoy the views of the park during a drive? We find Gaebler’s remarks elitist. The park belongs to all citizens, regardless of their manner of travel. Let’s share the road!
Gaebler’s push to close the park to traffic was not well-received by Karen Palus, Colorado Springs Parks Director. She’s the one Gaebler is talking to in the City Council video above, and Gaebler seems to be responding to this email from Palus the day before. Palus’s addresses parking, ADA, and operations management concerns in the email. Looks like she is a hard “no.”
Also, according to the above email from Palus, Gaebler isn’t only pursuing road closures in Garden of the Gods. She is also pursuing road closures in two additional parks.
Other groups are rallying around the anti-automobile idea and supporting park closure. Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates sent this email stating, “We urge council and the mayor to consider expanding opportunities for safe exercise, by identifying strategic roadways that can be adapted to become ‘Open Streets’ by limiting motor vehicle access.” Looks like Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates aren’t just focused on closing Garden of the Gods roads, but want to close other Colorado Springs roads, too.
Also, Susan Davies with Trails and Open Spaces shared her opinion with City Council and said, “We suggest the City consider closing the roads in Garden of the Gods to motorized vehicles and in other parks to expand the options for citizens to hike and experience our wonderful local park system in a safe, social distancing way.” It appears that the anti-automobile advocates aren’t ready to give up on their dream. They continue to push for road closures.
The day after Gaebler’s comments in the City Council meeting, Bike Colorado Springs (BCS) posted information directing people to contact public servants and elected officials, to encourage the closure of Garden of the Gods to automobiles. The BCS website says, “We urge city staff to immediately reallocate roads within Garden of the Gods Park to pedestrian and bicycle traffic only; limiting motor vehicle use to entrance area parking facilities.” Additionally, they said, “Our request follows similar changes made in other cities like Denver, Boulder and Philadelphia: prioritizing people by reallocating roads to bicycle and pedestrian traffic.”
At SpringsTaxpayers.com, we previously warned you about how other cities were seeing the pandemic as an opportunity to shut down streets to automobile traffic. That trend appears to now be at our doorstep. As a reminder, only .5% of Colorado Springs commuters, commute by bike.
We’re calling on every one of our readers to contact Colorado Springs City Council members at their email addresses, as well as Parks Director Karen Palus and Mayor John Suthers. As always, be polite and constructive.
Wayne Williams Wayne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Strand email@example.com
Bill Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Andres Pico Andres.Pico@Coloradosprings.gov
Jill Gaebler Jill.Gaebler@coloradosprings.gov
Yolanda Avila Yolanda.Avila@coloradosprings.gov
Richard Skorman Richard.Skorman@coloradosprings.gov
David Geislinger David.Geislinger@Coloradosprings.gov
Don Knight Don.Knight@Coloradosprings.gov
Karen Palus Karen.Palus@coloradosprings.gov
Mayor John Suthers email@example.com
Let’s put a stop to this nonsense and re-focus our public servants on what is important during this time. Let’s fight Covid-19 and get our economy back on track. Leave the roads alone —unless it’s to fill those potholes!