To stay focused on the goal, Mayor Steve Bach reminds himself every day why he is here. In that spirit, he began May’s Monthly Media Briefing by re-stating his priorities.
“My priorities are jobs, transforming City Government and building community. Kinder-Morgan will remain in Colorado Springs, which means 450 jobs will stay here rather than move to Lakewood,” said the Mayor.
“We’ve inherited half a billion dollars in unfunded stormwater projects and need to repair a number of bridges. We may have to close some. We need to move to priorities-based budgeting or we’ll have to come to grips with a long deferral of capital improvements. I’ve asked City Council to ask Colorado Springs Utilities to find efficiencies anywhere they can. It’s up to all of us to evaluate how we’re doing things.”
PIKES PEAK SUMMIT HOUSE PROJECT
“Pikes Peak is our beacon and we’re proud of it. However we won’t use tax dollars to rebuild it,” said the Mayor. Then he introduced former County Commissioner Jim Bensberg and former City Councilman John Hazlehurst. Due to John Hazlehurst’s dapper appearance, the Mayor joked, “I’ve never seen him look so good!”
Unfazed, Mr. Hazlehurst announced, ”We’re cleaning up Pikes Peak Summit House. This will be a shovel-ready project, but our challenge is to get the shovels up there. Visitors are disappointed at what they find up there.”
Jim Bensberg added, “Both John and I are Colorado Springs natives. In the 1990’s we were on opposites sides of the debate regarding whether we should pave the Pikes Peak Highway.”
Now they are collaborators on a project that could have a very positive reflection on Colorado Springs and do justice to the beauty of the mountain.
When Jim and John came to the Mayor to discuss the need to improve the site, they said, “We should do something about this!” The Mayor responded, “Why don’t YOU do something about it?”
Mayor Bach said, “The Pikes Peak Highway is the most spectacular highway. There is money available in the Pikes Peak Highway Gift Trust Account; this is a collaboration that brings together Federal, State, Local and City resources. The Summit House needs to be replaced with something bigger.”
It won’t be hard to visualize the outcome, since the original designs pictured above were displayed at the meeting by Mr. Clifford Taylor of Clifford Taylor Architects PC of Colorado Springs.
But most agree it won’t be an easy project. Things have to be constructed down here and then trucked up there before being reconstructed. Cost estimates have ranged from $12-15M, but taxpayers won’t be on the hook. Mr. Bensberg and Mr. Hazlehurst are up for the challenge and enthused at the opportunity to improve a nationally renouned site which inspired the words to “America the Beautiful” penned by Katharine Lee Bates.
SWIM CAPS MAY BREAK GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS
Mary Scott announced an exciting opportunity for Colorado Springs to break the Guinness Book of World Records. She attended a “What If” employee brainstorming session facilitated by Nick Kittle and Jay Anderson of the Office of Innovation. During breakout group discussions, Brian Kates, Facility Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services presented a number of creative ideas.
(Above L-R: Doug Martin, Mary Scott, Emily Silver)
Brian’s idea and Mary’s former position with USA Swimming led to a plan to break the world’s record for the number of people wearing swimming caps in one place at one time. The previous record was set in January 2012 at 2049. The gathering will be held on July 27th at America the Beautiful Park and Speedo has donated 5000 swim caps.
Great ideas and Mary’s outreach attracted enthusiastic partners. The City will collaborate with USA Swimming and the Colorado Springs Sports Corp. Emily Silver, representative from USA Swimming said the timing was perfect since their Spring 2012 Swim Today Program inspires people to get involved with swimming.
Doug Martin from Colorado Springs Sports Corp said, “The State Games will collaborate with the City to break the record. You only need to wear the swim cap for 10 minutes and anyone can participate. There will be 1000 swimmers at the Air Force Academy during that time.”
FIRE DEPARTMENT OFFERS BASIC HEALTH SCREENING
Mayor Bach encourages innovative solutions, so when Chief Brown suggested a health screening service, the Mayor was very supportive. He said, “It’s essential our City Government rethink and re-invent to find more effective ways to serve the community. Our Fire Department is on the cutting edge within the entire United States.”
Chief Brown explained, “We had 44,000 medical calls this past year. Of those, 1000 were stroke and 700 were cardiac arrest. Over 800 calls were related to diabetes and 44% seek care at an emergency room if they have no insurance. So I asked myself, can’t we do this better by being pre-emptive?
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is the leading cause of disease. We’ll be partnering with Memorial and Penrose to do basic well checkups. We’ll use resources we have today more effectively. Chief Carey and I have talked about police and fire participation and believe we can do more with what we have. Stations 8, 11, 4 started last week.”
In response to the Mayor’s question, “Will this have any impact on our service?” Chief Brown said, “No, this will in no way denigrate our service. It will in no way affect response times or the ability to get to emergencies.”
Mayor Steve Bach’s Media Briefings are held each month at the City Administration Building on 30 S. Nevada, Rm 102.