COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Over 1,000 acres of open space are coming to the east side of Colorado Springs. City Council voted unanimously in favor of acquiring the land Tuesday, March 14th, 2023.
Funded through the Trails, Open Space and Parks Program (TOPS) the $7.5 million dollar purchase with the assistance of acquisition partner The Conservation Fund, the City plans to expand its open space network by 1,018 acres.
The planning process can now start for the Wild Horse Ranch Open Space for the property located on the east side of Colorado Springs in the Corral Bluffs Candidate Open Space, which is south of State Highway 94 near South Franceville Coal Mine Road.
The space was identified as one of the potential candidates for the City’s open-space system in 2014 with the Park System Master Plan.
Once the purchase is completed, the Wild Horse Ranch property will have a master planning process with opportunities for public input on wildlife, future recreation, and public access.
"We are excited to work with The Conservation Fund to secure a major addition of open space, as the eastern edge of the city experiences urban development. Wild Horse Ranch is a unique property that will provide needed open space, wildlife conservation, and greater connectivity across the unique Colorado Springs open space network,” said Britt Haley, City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Director.
”Once we are able to achieve an acquisition, there's always a lot of excitement to get right out to the property,” said Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Director, Britt Haley.
The property purchase is a teaser of sorts for what is to come in years ahead. A design has to be created, a building budget okayed, and then public comment follows.
“Sometimes we also need to know what special circumstances are with the property. Does it have water rights? Does it have easements? So, we do that initial research, then we engage in the public process, and we try to fit it all together,” said Haley.
Wild Horse Ranch also falls in line behind the expansion of the Blodgett Peak Open Space and the addition of the Fishers Canyon Open Space at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. Those properties were also purchased with TOPS dollars.
The funding for developing the two open spaces recently came together.
“We were lucky with this last budget request to get to open space planning processes together in the same year,” said Haley, “So we'll see a lot of activity to open up those open spaces and then be able to work on the next ones in line.”
It all means Wild Horse Open Space is likely several years away from opening to the public.
Map: Shows Corral Bluffs Candidate Open Space. The new property is to the south, below Highway 94 near the intersection with South Franceville Coal Mine Rd, a property that was part of the Wild Horse Ranch.
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