Olympic party going annual?
The Olympic Downtown Celebration was eight months in the making, and the work paid off when an estimated 20,000 people showed up to party on Tejon Street and kick off the London Olympics. It exceeded all expectations, says Tom Osborne, Colorado Springs Sports Corp. CEO.
"It was a great crowd," he says in an interview with the Indy. "It was a home run. Honestly, I thought we'd have 5,000 to 10,000 [people] down there, but it just mushroomed and turned out to be a great night. And then to see Kristi Yamaguchi with those 50 firefighters up on stage passing the torch — it was real neat."
We didn't hear back in time from the Downtown Partnership on how area retailers did, but Osborne says the places he saw were packed. He adds that overall, people want to do it again.
"We're gonna meet with the committee that put it together and discuss options," Osborne says, "but it was such a positive thing for the community that we'll sit down with the folks that made it happen and see if we can't create an Olympic downtown celebration every year." — BC
West siders, unite
After one postponement during the Waldo Canyon Fire, the first stakeholder meeting for the Westside Avenue Action Plan will take place from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 6, at Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St. On tap will be a discussion on the future of West Colorado Avenue/Manitou Avenue between 31st Street and U.S. Highway 24, including the area commonly known as No Man's Land.
According to a public notice, the meeting will provide interested parties the opportunity to offer "input on the best way to address infrastructure improvements such as the lack of sufficient pedestrian and bicycle access, stormwater drainage, auxiliary lanes and mobility, access management and street lighting, as well as environmental and historical impacts."
If you're interested in taking part, check out westsideavenueplan.com. — CH
About that meeting ...
Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County commissioners didn't meet on July 27, after all. The special joint meeting — heralded as a way to look for regional solutions to shared problems — likely won't take place until September or October.
Council President Scott Hente addressed some reasons, including work that went undone during the Waldo Canyon Fire, in a mass e-mail obtained by the Independent. But there may be a larger problem. Tim Burke, city intergovernmental affairs liaison, explains that with the change in government, joint meetings aren't what they used to be.
"[T]here wasn't enough material for the two legislative bodies to work on and produce joint output at this point," he e-mails in response to Indy questions. "Even though state law gives county commissioners operational authority, the City Charter now gives nearly all operational responsibility to the Mayor, not the council. So even though the elected officials might have chatted about [the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority], Stormwater, Waldo Fire, etc., there wasn't much for them to actually accomplish."
Burke adds that there's no agenda yet for the next meeting. — JAS
TABOR headed to trial
The wins keep coming for plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
Democrats Mike Merrifield and state Sen. John Morse are among the 33 plaintiffs. TABOR, they have alleged in federal court, violates the U.S. Constitution's "guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government" by restricting the Legislature's ability to increase taxes without voter approval.
As the Denver Post reports, the judge in this case ruled Monday against Colorado Attorney General John Suthers in his argument that the case should be tossed; Suthers was arguing that the plaintiffs could not prove injuries and were using the court to settle a political matter. The judge didn't see it that way, and the next step is trial. — CH
Firefighters given $2 million
If the Waldo Canyon Fire made one thing clear, it was this: When a big fire hits, you can never have too many firefighters.
Now we'll have more. The Colorado Springs Fire Department recently won a grant worth $2 million to hire more firefighters, courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security. While Fire Chief Rich Brown called it "welcome news" in a release, it wasn't immediately clear how many extra firefighters would be hired. — JAS
Data center plans on hold
During a brief meeting July 25, the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority board put off voting on Vince Colarelli's controversial Vineyard Data Center project ("Our $62 million question," City Sage, July 25) until Aug. 22.
More than $50 million in public funding hinges on CSURA's decision. The project, slated to be constructed on the site of an abandoned golf course south of Harrison High School, might house multiple data centers serving national companies.
"A number of the commissioners had questions, including myself," says CSURA commissioner Robert Shonkwiler. "Also, three commissioners were absent."
The board meets again at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 8, at City Hall. — JH
Free day at state parks
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is celebrating Colorado Day on Monday, Aug. 6, by waiving fees for entry to state parks.
"Each Colorado Day, we invite everyone to get outdoors at the state parks, enjoy the natural beauty of these places and experience all the recreational activities that the parks have to offer," Rick Cables, Colorado Parks and Wildlife director, states in a release. Camping and reservation fees will remain in place. — JAS
Compiled by Bryce Crawford, Chet Hardin, John Hazlehurst and J. Adrian Stanley.