Following City Council's May 24 approval of the city's land swap with The Broadmoor, a group of citizens known as Save Cheyenne will head to court.
Although City Attorney Wynetta Massey ruled a vote of the people is not required, Save Cheyenne's attorney Bill Louis says she's wrong.
"My client's view is that on October 5, 1885, the city council at the time dedicated the land as a public park," Louis tells the Independent via email. "The word dedication is a heap powerful one under the law and there is nothing about home rule status that permits the current city council to ignore or undo the 1885 dedication. There is ample modern case law, including cases involving home rule cities, supporting my client's contention."
The 6-3 Council vote handed the swap to Mayor John Suthers' administration to carry out. That will include oversight of The Broadmoor's plan to develop a stable and pavilion on nine acres of the 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space in Cheyenne Cañon, perform due diligence on specific conditions of the trade and monitor the creation of a conservation easement with Palmer Land Trust on the open space.
In return from The Broadmoor, the city will receive 460 acres that includes stretches of the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail, Chamberlain Trail, nine acres near Bear Creek Regional Park and 208 acres of wilderness property around Mount Muscoco.
Voting against were Councilors Bill Murray and Helen Collins, and Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler. To make her case, Gaebler offered a touching plea to retain Strawberry Fields in the spirit of the city's founder, Gen. William Jackson Palmer, who dedicated big swaths of land for parks and later said, "Let it not be for the present delight, nor for the present use alone; let it be for such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, that a time is to come when men will say, 'See, this our Fathers did for us.'"
The land swap has been the most controversial issue faced by Council in several years and generated hundreds of emails, most from residents who opposed the deal. Several councilors expressed concern over the pre-arrangement of the deal before public input was sought, and the lack of transparency.
But many said it is a good deal for the city, and Councilor Tom Strand — without citing a poll, survey or other source — said the majority of Springs residents support the trade.
Save Cheyenne, which has reportedly raised $35,000 for its court case, isn't throwing in the towel.
"The fight is just beginning," Louis says. "The next stage of the fight will be decided in court."