Plans to reopen the Cog Railway are moving forward Tuesday night.
The Manitou Springs City Council held a special meeting to discuss a tax incentive program agreement with the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. City Council unanimously voted to approve the agreement on the first reading.
What this means, the Cog Railway owners will pour tens of millions of dollars into fixing the attraction, if the city can give them tax breaks. "Today was a very important day because we could not have proceeded without this agreement," said Greg Pierson of the Cog Railway.
The decision follows months of intense negotiations between the Manitou Springs City Council and the owners of the railway, but now both entities are moving forward.
"Their budget has been made whole by our contribution, voluntary of $500,000 each of the next two years so that they don’t have to suffer for a budget deficit resulting from the closure of the Cog," said Pierson.
"In exchange we have a predictable tax rate for the next 50 years, so that we can get some return on the substantial amounts of money that we’re investing."
Their investment, between 75 and 95 million dollars. But rest assured, "we’re not asking taxpayers to pay for this project. This is all privately funded," said Pierson.
Two particulars also in the agreement are provisions for traffic and parking, and donating certain historical rail related assets to a Cog Rail museum. "We will prosper, Manitou will prosper, and our customers will have a more enjoyable experience both at the Cog and in Manitou."
While they wait for a final decision, there is still a lot of work happening behind the scenes. "Finalizing contracts and designs so that phase is going to take another 30 days or so."
But, the Cog says this vote is a huge step in bringing the attraction back to life. "It gives them a chance to have the Cog in place for the next century," Pierson said.
Another meeting and public hearing will be held on June 26, where council will consider giving the final approval of the deal. For the full agreement, click here.