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Winter Highlights #6: Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department celebrates several milestones

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo — From a new and improved Manitou Incline to brand new playgrounds, the City of Colorado Springs’ Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is celebrating several 2017 accomplishments and milestones.

  • TOPS TURNS 20

The Trails, Open Space and Parks Program known as TOPS celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. TOPS is funded by a 1/10% sales tax.  For each $10 spent, the parks department receives one cent for trails, open space and parks. TOPS has purchased open spaces such as Red Rock Canyon, Corral Bluffs and Stratton Open Space. TOPS has raised more than $97 million dollars for our parks system, and helped preserve and protect more than 4,700 acres of open space, 46 miles of trails and 37 parks. For more about the TOPS anniversary, visit https://vimeo.com/196647386.

  • NEW PIKES PEAK HIGHWAY ANNUAL ATTENDANCE RECORD

New resident Cletis Weitmauer became visitor number 482,964 on Dec. 9, setting a new annual attendance record for the Pikes Peak Highway. Weitmauer recently moved to Colorado Springs from Minnesota and was making the trip up the highway with several friends. (photo attached) In related news, the environmental assessment is underway for the new Pikes Peak Summit Complex and organizers hope to break ground in 2018.

  • NEW AND IMPROVED MANITOU INCLINE

The Manitou Incline is open after a massive three-phase overhaul. The project had four major goals: improve safety, enhance user experience, improve the trails’ long-term sustainability and increase accessibility. The project cost for the final phase completed in 2017 was approximately $2 million and was funded by federal grants. Please visit www.coloradosprings.gov/incline or https://vimeo.com/244914562 for more.

  • JOHN VENEZIA COMMUNITY PARK

The first new community park built in Colorado Springs in over a decade, John Venezia Community Park is a welcome place for residents to gather and play. The park boasts a universally-accessible playground, a farm-themed splash pad, three multi-use artificial turf fields, an in-line hockey rink, a basketball court, four pickleball courts and six tennis courts.

  • 8 NEW PLAYGROUNDS OR PLAY SURFACES

Five new playgrounds were installed across the city during the summer and fall months of 2017. These include Westside Community Center, Wasson Park, Homestead Park, Jenkins Park and Roswell Park. In addition, Memorial Park, Foothills Park and Wilson Ranch Park received new surfacing at their playgrounds. These new additions increase safety, provide more ADA access, reduce maintenance costs and encourage family time outdoors. To view a video about the new and improved playgrounds, visit https://vimeo.com/247872188.

  • INCREASED FUNDING FOR DEPARTMENT

The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department will receive approximately $900,000 in additional funding this year, which will primarily be used to improve the level of service in the city’s parks and programs. Funding comes from the cable franchise free and will be allocated in a variety of divisions such as cultural services, therapeutic recreation, community centers, parks operations and forestry. 

  • LEGACY LOOP PROGRESS

Legacy Plaza, the new trailhead for Legacy Loop, opened in Nov. 2017 creating a gathering place for trail users and a staging area for special events. The Legacy Loop is a 10-mile trail, park and recreation loop around downtown Colorado Springs that will provide a way to connect, create and protect our community values, inspired by the legacy and vision of Colorado Springs’ founder General William Jackson Palmer. To find out more, visit www.coloradosprings.gov/legacyloop.

  • THERAPEUTIC RECREATION WATER SKI PROGRAM TURNS 20

The Adapted Water Ski Program started at Prospect Lake in 1997 after the Therapeutic Recreation Program researched the idea, trained volunteers and purchased the necessary equipment. The program has expanded over the years to include water ski times in the morning and tubing rides in the afternoon, serving 20 participants each Wednesday for six weeks every summer. Volunteers contribute an average of 500 hours per summer and many have been with the program from the beginning. To view a video about the program, visit https://vimeo.com/227111455.

  • TWO PARKS RECEIVE MASTER PLAN UPDATES

Bancroft Park and Garden of the Gods Park both went through a series of community meetings to establish new amenities and updated facilities. Bancroft Park created a more usable event space, added several small playground elements and a new restroom facility.  Garden of the Gods Parks identified new and improved locations for public restroom facilities and gathering spaces.