Mayor Steve Bach’s first Town Hall Meeting was held at the Penrose Library in the Carnegie Reading Room on Wednesday, February 22, 2012.
The room was set for about 170 people. By the time the meeting began it was standing room only.
Participants observed a moment of silence in memory of Detective Jared Jensen on the 6th anniversary of his death in the line of duty. Then Chief of Economic Vitality, Steve Cox, opened the meeting and introduced the evening’s speakers:
- Chuck Murphy, Downtown Renaissance Solutions Team Chair
- Peter Scoville, USA Pro Challenge
- Tom Osborne, Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb Fan Fest
- Ron Butlin, Olympic Opening Ceremonies Celebration
- Deborah Thornton, Executive Director of the Imagination Celebration
Mayor Bach began by sharing his vision for downtown.
“After 45 years in Colorado Springs, I know it’s an incredible place. Successful cities have a vibrant downtown and are the “soul” of a community – a focal point. At the same time we focus our energy on a Downtown Renaissance, it’s important to do more for people who are homeless. We must consolidate services, become more efficient, help to raise money and be an advocate to do better. It’s a balancing act to help those in need and also build a safe downtown that’s a fun place to be.”
There will be more Town Hall meetings coming up, with one on May 2nd in the northeast and a Fall meeting in the southeast. Mayor Bach’s intent is to get folks together who have similar interests and concerns to create a forum for discussion.
Chuck Murphy, Chair of Downtown Solutions Team spoke next.
“I was born and raised here 76 yrs ago. I spent a lot of time downtown and went to St. Mary’s. I remember coming into the library with nuns in front and behind. Everything had to be a whisper if you had to say anything at all. I’d hang around the church when there was a funeral. We would grab the cigarette butts, then skinny out onto the terracotta ledge to smoke cigarettes. I was a bit of a devil back then.”
Mr. Murphy said he was excited to be a part of the Downtown Solutions Team. “We’ve accomplished so much but as much as we’ve done, there’s still so much to do. I visited Oklahoma City recently and brought home ideas of what we can do here. A new day has dawned. We have a new Mayor, new Police Chief, new City Attorney. We have Steve Cox who is so dedicated. It’s a great group here; they’re on fire. They really want to make a difference – to make a change. That’s what’s so exciting for me.”
Steve Cox was also born and raised here.
“The first time I saw an escalator was in the J.C. Penney store downtown. I have a passion for restoring downtown to its glory and want to make sure government is doing everything it can to get out of way of business. We need to streamline the process and make sure small business can work. We must make it as painless as possible for those who want to invest in downtown to work through planning process.
We have a subgroup working on homeless issues and we invited Bob Holmes to be part of that. I have a fundamental belief we have many good groups doing many good things and believe we can be efficient. And from city services, we must make sure citizens are getting a bang for their buck. For example: how do we develop City Auditorium into a world class venue so there’s activity going on there all the time. General Palmer had a concept of an ‘Emerald Ring’ for our downtown. We’d like to bring that to fruition.
We’re also working on security issues. We’ve beefed up patrols downtown and now have the Homeless Outreach (HOT) Team. We’re suggesting to Council we need more of a police presence downtown. We’re also looking at sidewalk conditions and investing in equipment to clean them up. We want to create an environment where investors will invest their money here. Chuck Murphy has an Art Districts plan. I’ve had many requests from those who want to be part of our Solutions Team, but we’ve had to keep it a manageable size. We have such great assets in Colorado Springs, like the Pioneers Museum, but many are underutilized.”
Peter Scoville discussed the USA Pro Challenge.
“It’s rare in professional bike racing to have races come back to the same city year after year. The fact that we did the Prologue last year and got it back for 2012 says a lot for this community. The Race organizers are making a long term commitment to it and we are making a long term commitment to it as a community.
Last year, the prologue ran for 5-6 hours in the middle of the day. We didn’t quite know what we would get but it exceeded our expectations. This year, downtown Colorado Springs will be the finish of Stage 5. We’re going to condense everything we had last year into a Friday and all the way through the Friday evening showcase. The local organizing committee, including Meredith Vaughn and Chris Carmichael, with a host of other people are getting things together. The goal of the whole event is to showcase downtown and the Colorado Springs community. The event will be broadcast in over 220 countries with increased television coverage nationally.”
“Entries are way up this year to about 208, as compared to last year at this time when we had about 114. Part of the reason for the difference is because the road is paved for first time in 90 years of the running of the race. We’re seeing new manufacturers too.
The Fan Fest downtown attracts about 30-35,000 people. We’re also doing new things this year like buses you can catch at the World Arena and then be dropped off afterwards. We only have so much room on the mountain for cars, but are trying to get more people up there. The event dates are:
- July 3: Scheduled for staging
- July 4: Celebration and ride through the Air Force Academy
- July 5: Press Day
- July 6: Downtown Fan Fest
We have new cars coming in this year – million dollar cars that are extremely fast. The Monster broke the ten-minute mark last year and records will fall again with 100% of the roads paved. There’s an IndyCar open-wheel in the future; we’ve had good discussions with the CEO of IndyCar. Electric cars and motorcycles are big this year; manufacturers are testing these at altitude. We have a volunteer driven group; everyone on board is a volunteer and we have one paid employee.
Ron Butlin of the Downtown Partnership described the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies Watch Party.
“It seems too easy to do a celebration wrapped around the Olympic games. On July 27th we’re working with Tom Osbourne in the Sports Corp and wrapping in with the State Games. It’ll be a celebration downtown with exhibitions and lots of things happening to engage kids and adults. You can watch the opening ceremonies, have dinner in a restaurant or outside in front of the screen. We want to celebrate the USOC being here and start a tradition every two years around the Olympics. We’re optimistic it could take off and be an annual event to celebrate the USOC being here. Colorado Springs is on the map in a big way and these types of events will keep us there.”
Steve Cox spoke about the Fire Festival
On Sunday, August 4th we’ll have the Fire Festival, a celebration of culture and diversity. It’s the 50th Anniversary Celebration of our Sister City relationship with Fujiyoshida, Japan.
Deborah Thornton, Executive Director of the Imagination Celebration: What If Festival
“With our performances at the Pikes Peak Center, we had 29, 750 people attending in 2009 with 52% from far north and northeast corners. We’ve been doing 20 years of free family festivals at the Pikes Peak Center. We decided to stretch outside chair limitation and make something that could be inside and outside. With help of Downtown Authority, we did a phased experience to do something inside and outside and launched the What If Festival in 2010. We’re all creative individuals. There was lots of handwringing at the time about streetlights going off and what’s going on in the parks. We thought it was time to bring the community together and celebrate our strengths. We invited the community to be a part of this and show off creativity in their organization. We wanted to get people out of corporate offices and schools and launched on Sept. 11th on purpose. The 9-11 Report said it was more than a failing of mechanics – it was a failing of imagination. This was a very serious part of our life. Not frivolous. But it helped to create this festival on six city blocks downtown, inside and outside.
We had more than 100 presenters engaging 15,000 people the first year. We do the festival in September on purpose to draw our community together. We have rural ranch folks and people on the plains who interact with the suburban and urbanites. As a resident of Manitou Springs, I agree how important downtown is. Just picture people ready to launch water balloons with a Lockheed Martin launcher at the side of the Pikes Peak Center. I challenge you to imagine what you can do as individuals, businesses, etc. If we want to be a creative, problem-solving, critical-thinking area, we need to push our imaginations. We have to do something that engages people. Think about the ways you can participate. Possibilities are what help us move forward as a community. On September 15th, imagine our region as a more vibrant connected area by bringing us together and celebrating our strengths!”
Part Two of the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting comprised of a “question and answer” session.