COLORADO SPRINGS — According to the Trust for Public Lands, Colorado Springs just recently dropped again in the country’s annual city park rankings.
The Springs placed 58th out of 100 parks in the most populated cities in the nation. And our ranking has been declining over the past decade. In 2013, the Springs reached its highest ranking of 14th in the nation. But what has caused the decline?
The city receives money for its parks through the TOPS tax which costs you one penny for every ten dollars you spend. But that is set to expire in Dec. of 2025. However, the last election showed that the majority of residents weren’t in strong favor of a TOPS increase. The tax dollars to go maintaining our parks. But let’s rewind the clock. Back in the 2010 during the recession, the city was given a cut in park funding.
“We got to the point where we were relying on our citizen groups and our groups that help to maintain our parks to really keep everything just barely going and over the course of time since that big cut in our budget in 2010, we have been able to recover that capacity and our parks look pretty good, but our city is also growing,” said Britt Haley, Parks Design and Development Manager, Trails and Open Space Program Manager.
Since the recession, Colorado Springs has actually seen a tremendous improvement of its parks.
"We've been able to build over 53 miles of trails for people and people in Colorado Springs love our trails. And we've also been able to purchase over 7,500 acres of open space," said Haley.
I’ve spoken with some residents who say they’d like to see more bathrooms available at parks. But Haley notes that her team is trying to make the parks as user friendly as possible. It just takes time and money.
Although it’s still an honor to be ranked in the nation’s top parks, there is always room for improvement.
That is why Mayor Suthers has endorsed the vision that everyone should have a park or walking space within 10 minutes of their home. Right now, 76 percent of residents can do just that.
To read the full park score, visit here.
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