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The City of Colorado Springs received multiple awards in 2023 for the outstanding efforts of both the Planning Department and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department.

“These awards are a credit to the hard work, innovation and heart of our City staff, leaders and community partners who strive every day to bring their best to serve Colorado Springs residents,” said Mayor Yemi Mobolade. “They reflect the high standard of excellence that the City of Colorado Springs provides to its community every day, providing a government that is transparent, approachable and proactive.”

RetoolCOS Project Awards

The Planning Department accepted two awards from the American Planning Association (APA) Colorado Awards for the RetoolCOS project, which resulted in the adoption of a new and modernized Unified Development Code earlier this year.

The “2023 Honor Award for General Planning Project” recognized the City’s innovative concepts in the new code, specifically those that allow for increased housing opportunities, including the Residential Flex Districts which allows developments based on densities rather than permitted uses, and the conversion of existing commercial districts to mixed-use districts.

The “2023 Honor Award for Growing Water Smart”, which the City shared with Colorado Springs Utilities, recognized the new landscape and Water Efficiency Plan regulations that require a 25% high-water use turf limit for new commercial and residential development developments and redesigned water demand forecasting to include water use by land use type.

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department Awards

The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) Department received two awards from the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association. The Colorado Parks and Recreation Association Awards Program celebrates the individuals and organizations that contribute to the success and value of parks and recreation throughout the state of Colorado. 

Former City Council Member Stephannie Finley-Fortune posthumously received the “2023 Community Champion Award”, which recognizes an individual who truly is a dedicated supporter and voice for the parks in our community. Finley-Fortune’s dedication to several park initiatives include the resumption of the City operation of the Westside Community Center where Stephannie was key in listening to and forging relationships with the Westside Community Center neighborhood. 

“These relationships formed the foundation for a new operational model for the community center that has been tremendously successful in its first year back with the City,” said PRCS Director Britt Haley. “Stephannie was also a critical voice in advocating for additional park rangers for both Garden of the Gods Park and the Urban Trails system to address ongoing citizen concerns around safety for park and trail users.”

The PRCS Department also received an award for the renovation of Panorama Park, which was completed last year. Panorama Park reopened on August 20 after undergoing the largest neighborhood park renovation in city history. Among the new park features that residents can enjoy are a splashpad, universally accessible playground, bike park with three separate courses to accommodate riders of all skill levels, a youth area with skateable features, a custom-designed climbing boulder, basketball courts, fitness stations, a multi-use sports field, and a community-made tile art mural comprised of 7,000+ tiles. 

“With everyone’s encouragement and commitment, we built a tremendous park through a model process that has set the bar high for future parks to come,” said Haley. “I applaud the community members who came together, including neighbors, the Trust for Public Land, RISE Southeast, teens in the Youth Advisory Council, the designers and contractors, City Councilmembers, City leaders and staff across so many departments who supported the project.”

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