The half-acre parking lot at the base of the Manitou Incline owned by Colorado Springs Utilities hasn't grabbed headlines amid debate over the city's proposed land swap with The Broadmoor.
But some observers think trading away the parcel, which a city-hired appraiser valued at $580,000, is a mistake. (The city will retain the utility easements; the lot sits adjacent to the Manitou Hydro Electric facility, to which Utilities needs access for operations.)
According to the city's land swap overview, The Broadmoor intends to use the property as parking for the Cog Railway. It's now being used for employee parking.
But Lee Milner, a local Realtor and open-space advocate, notes a parking lot has nothing to do with the Parks Department, under which the swap is being managed. He notes the lot, which the city has leased to the Cog Railway since the 1960s free of charge, could generate income for the city.
"The highest and best use of this lot appears to be Incline parking, since it is right at the base of the Incline," Milner says in an email to City Councilor Don Knight. "I ask you to weigh whether this addition to the land swap is in the best interest of the CSU ratepayer."
Ken Jaray, an attorney and Manitou resident, suggests that Colorado Springs keep the lot and funnel revenue from potential parking fees, an estimated $75,000 a year, toward Ruxton Canyon corridor projects, including the Incline.
"Logic says if there are problems in the corridor, why not use that money to help solve the problems?" Jaray says.