Colorado Springs Open Space Vote Praised (CO)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, 4/4/2003 – The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization, today hailed the landslide vote in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, April 4, 2003, to extend a local sales tax which will help preserve open space in one of Colorado’s fastest growing cities.

“The vote on the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) tax demonstrates once again that voters care deeply about open space and are so in favor of it that they are willing to vote with their pocketbooks,” said Doug Robotham, Director of TPL’s Colorado program.

Robotham noted that “we’ve seen similar results in local elections all across the nation.” TPL has just released LandVote 2002, tracking the results of local conservation ballot measures across the country. The report showed that of 189 ballot measures in 28 states, voters approved 141, or 75 percent. The measures will generate more than $10 billion to protect open space. A copy of the report can be obtained from

The vote Tuesday was 68% to 32% to approve an extension until 2025 of the TOPS sales tax of 1/10 of one cent. The levy, first adopted in 1997, was set to expire in 2009. It raises about $5.5 million a year, meaning the extension will generate about $80 million to protect the city’s water supply and create new neighborhood parks and trails.

TPL provided legal work, assistance with two public opinion surveys and other technical support through its Conservation Finance program, which helps local communities that want new sources of public funds for open space.

“The residents of Colorado Springs have shown that even in these uncertain times, they are willing to support – with their checkbooks – the protection of water quality, wildlife habitat and the creation of new neighborhood parks and trail,” stated Richard Skorman, Colorado Springs City Council member. “Colorado Springs residents have not only ensured conservation of open space in this city, but have set an example for other cities to follow.”

Terry Putman, manager of the Colorado Springs TOPS program, said, “The TOPS extension will allow for the preservation of many important open space areas that we would not otherwise have been able to do with the current sunset (2009) date. It will also allow us to develop neighborhood and community parks to keep up with the tremendous growth and complete our trail system. The passing of the extension was a tremendous boost to the program and a remarkable victory for trails, open space and parks for the citizens of Colorado Springs. The assistance of the Trust for Public Land really helped get this extension passed.”

The TOPS extension was backed by a broad coalition of local groups, including homebuilders, realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, and the Garden Club.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, and ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and businesses.