City trails, parks reopened
Outdoor enthusiasts got a present from the city for the Fourth of July weekend: Red Rock Canyon Open Space and part of the Pikes Peak Greenway trail reopened after being closed due to storm damage.
But Red Rocks will be undergoing repairs for two to three months, and park users are asked to watch for and respect trail closure signs. The Section 16 trailhead will be closed about four more weeks. The Greenway, meanwhile, is open north of Janitell Road but closed from Janitell to El Pomar Youth Sports Park due to significant damage, including washed-out sections.
In other outdoor news, South Slope Recreation Area trails are open to fishing at McReynolds and Mason reservoirs. Permits are required and reservations may be made at coloradosprings.gov.
Due to mechanical issues, the Uncle Wilber Fountain in Acacia Park is closed until further notice. Other remaining closures include Midland Trail between 25th and 28th streets; Foothills Trail in Garden of the Gods between Gateway Road and the Navigators; and trails from Section 16 into Red Rock Canyon. — JAS
HUD audit finds problems
The city could be on the hook for millions of dollars based on an audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that found a lack of documentation for various projects in the Housing Development Division. The audit questioned the city's use or commitment of $4 million in HOME Investment Partnerships money and $7.1 million in block grant money from 2009 to 2013.
Among the findings: no payroll system or project records for community development block grant programs; no policies or procedures for HUD environmental reviews; lack of documentation for CDBG salary and project costs, and no required contract signatures and dates for HOME project commitments.
Also, $1.9 million wasn't spent, and the audit recommended HUD "recapture" that money. Details are being hashed out between the city and HUD officials in Denver, the city said in a release. — PZ
CSU settles for $7.1 million
Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo County rancher Gary Walker have agreed to dismiss their appeals of a district court ruling in exchange for a payment to Walker of $7.1 million for the city's use of 5.5 acres across Walker's land for the Southern Delivery System water pipeline.
A jury awarded Walker $5.78 million earlier this year, triggering appeals by both parties. The payment provides the city with "certainty surrounding ultimate project costs," approaching $1 billion.
SDS is to start delivering water in early 2016 from Pueblo Reservoir to project partners Colorado Springs, Pueblo West, Fountain and Security. — PZ
AMR chief switches hats
American Medical Response manager Ted Sayer joined the El Paso County Emergency Services Agency, which oversees contractor AMR, as a business analyst on Aug. 3 for $75,000 a year. Sayer has 32 years of EMS experience, including 22 years in Colorado Springs with AMR.
Sayer says the switch has nothing to do with the city breaking away from ESA in 2014 to contract separately with AMR, which pays the city a $1 million annual franchise fee. He says via email he wants to travel less, spend more time with family and focus on community service, which he considered before the city contract issue arose. "Once the contract issues emerged I felt obligated to see AMR and my crews through the process," he says.
His replacement at AMR is Scott Lenn, who oversees operations in Pueblo, Cañon City and several in Kansas and Denver. — PZ
Ending 'pale, male and stale'
A new group hopes to bring more diversity to local elected offices. Colorado Springs Fresh Perspective hopes to identify and support younger candidates for elected offices, boards and commissions, whatever their political leanings. Tony Gioia, circulation coordinator for the Independent's sister paper, the Colorado Springs Business Journal, is the group's president.
"To be competitive on a national scale with other cities that are attracting and keeping young professionals, we need ... to engage those young professionals in the decision-making processes that affect the future of the city," Gioia said in a release. Many young professionals were disappointed with the city election, in which a mayor and four councilors were elected — all white men older than 60.
The group invites the public to share perspectives at a launch party on Wednesday, July 8, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave. Young leaders will be featured. — JAS