Open-space debate rolls on
By Jan Wondra
Running for office does have its share of campaign stops, and on March 18, candidates for mayor and judge of Ameritowne at St. Mary’s Academy made a visit to the Cherry Hills Village City Council session to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
“We welcome these future municipal and business leaders to our City Council session,” said Mayor Doug Tisdale. “Leadership training should begin early and so too should learning how to serve your community.”
Young Ameritowne is an educational program of the Young Americans Center for Financial Education, an educational nonprofit associated with Young Americans Bank. Focused on fourth and fifth graders, the curriculum teaches students about business, economic concepts and free enterprise. More that 235 schools across Colorado participate each year, providing a simulation of how government and business interact, and the real economics of a community.
Open-space debate continues
The ongoing City Council discussion about open space continued in another public forum. It was the third public discussion in two months. Contrary to past public hearings about open space, this one was sparsely attended with many in the Village considering their voices to have already been heard. Among the issues before the council included what exactly is open space, what sorts of activities are appropriate for open space, what should Cherry Hills Village do to protect open space, and who should be involved in that work?
“We all love open space,” said Tisdale. “The question is what are we going to do about it?”
He offered an initial discussion document about forming a task force to work on the issues and develop a recommendation to City Council and Parks Trails and Recreation Committee.
“This is one way of adding voices to the discussion who can begin to sort out the questions and the options, and there are many,” Tisdale said.
“I think the idea of a task force is a good one,” said former Mayor and PTRC member Jeff Welborn. “But City Council can help by giving the task force context. Does open space mean ‘open-ness?’ Does open space mean that the space can be used actively? Is open space the land only, or the view? We are struggling with the definitions.”
“All the topics on this memo are worthy,” said Councilman Alex Brown. “But there might be a better way to approach this. A year ago, if you asked people what they wanted from Quincy Farm, they would say, ‘I don’t know.’ My view is that some issues are already dealt with in the Master Plan and some belong with PTRC and some of this could be done by a task force. I think No. 3 (addressing open space acquisition opportunities) is the City Council’s responsibility. I think it’s not a policy issue, it’s how to go about encouraging citizens to offer land for open space.”
Open space has generally been considered to include public spaces, neighborhood areas, trails, streams and wetlands, but no official definition exists.
“I keep coming back to this critical definition,” said Councilwoman Katy Brown. “What should be done with open space and what does open space mean? It has been crippling not to have a definition. And the PTRC is only seven people. Adding more voices might help increase the value of the end product.
The discussion hinged on the need for specificity, both in the exact tasks given to a task force and in how it might bring open space topics to the public.
“I can’t see dropping two mills on our residents and saying some day we’ll buy open space,” said Alex Brown, who submitted a document to City Council that suggested dividing tasks between PTRC and a dedicated task force. “It seems to me that park designations should be made by PTRC. There are things like an open space study that belong with a task force. Then there are subdivision requirements, which might require code changes.”
“Involving citizens is always good,” said Councilman Scott Roswell. “But we have to define the scope of work; what do we want PTRC to do, what would we want a task force to do, and what is clearly our council responsibility? As the City Council, we need to go out on a limb and tell people what we think open space is. I come back to the word that the mayor used…he said, ‘Let’s be bold!’”