Big Ideas for Colorado Springs: Skiing, Urban Water Park, New Tech, Arts Collaboration, More

    The Springs is a city on the rise. Here are visionary viewpoints on skiing Ormes Peak, creeks for recreation, young leaders, new transportation, new tech economy, and fresh, local food.

    ski ormes peak colorado springs
    Skiing on Ormes Peak. Photo by Jason Bebauer, courtesy of Ski Ormes Peak.

    Skiing in Our Backyard

    The proposed Ormes Peak Ski Area on the northern slopes of Ormes Peak would put all of Colorado Springs within 30 minutes of a ski resort. Ormes Peak is located immediately behind Blodgett Peak at the north end of the Waldo Canyon Fire, and the slopes would terminate in the valley at the southern border of the Air Force Academy. Our master plan includes developing gondola access directly off of Woodmen Road to quickly bring visitors up almost 4,000 feet to the snowy slopes above.

    Ormes Peak creates winter access to our mountains and is a great opportunity to develop youth ski programs and adult leagues for the après-work ski. Plus, it could substantially reduce our environmental impact by reducing the current two-hour drive necessary to access ski areas. Ormes also creates a great draw for Colorado Springs as a destination for other businesses selecting their locations.

    Opening and operating Ormes Peak will be a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. When we officially begin the permitting process with the Forest Service, we are likely within two to three years of getting the resort open.

    Eric Jesse, Chief Operating Powder Hound, Ski Ormes Peak

    ski ormes peak colorado springs
    Ormes Peak Trail Map. Courtesy of Eric Jesse, Ski Ormes Peak.

    Catalyzing the New Tech Economy

    My vision for Colorado Springs is to create community and stimulate job growth through collaboration and innovation. We are accomplishing this with Catalyst Campus, a privately funded co-working infrastructure platform launched in 2016—a collaborative ecosystem, if you will—where industry, education, workforce development, entrepreneurs, startups and venture capital intersect with the diverse resources such as our integrated support services. My Catalyst Campus team is leveraging a $750,000 Advanced Industries Infrastructure Grant from the State Office of Economic Development and International Trade to build the Space Operations and Cybersecurity Center (SpOCC). The SpOCC will house a community of research partners who have been awarded over $20 million in Small Business Innovation Research grants and have over $60 million pending in future contract awards. I believe in the next 10 years the SpOCC will dramatically reshape Colorado Springs, our economy and our national presence in space, defense and cybersecurity by providing future revenue and contract opportunities and jobs in these sectors.

    Kevin O’Neil, Founder, Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation

    camp creek colorado springs greenway
    Proposed greenway trail along Camp Creek and 31st Street. Rendering by Wilson and Company and Tapis Associates, courtesy of the Greenway Fund.

    Creeks as Recreational Amenities

    Can we embrace a new vision for our greenways as amenities to our community? Our neighborhoods have great potential to look to our historic creek channels as ribbons of nature woven through our city—not only do they safely transport rainfall during storms, but they can serve as recreational corridors for our community. Wider creek corridors with more natural materials and vegetation are restorative for the creek, people and wildlife. Paths can be included for easy walking or biking at gentle grades following the flowing water. The creek corridors can vary from small babbling brooks in quiet neighborhoods to exciting gathering spaces for high-density, mixed-use areas in the city center. Cities that have created urban water parks for activities like stand-up paddleboarding and tubing have seen big economic and recreational returns. Imagine something similar in Colorado Springs. We have completed preliminary designs to explore the possibilities in our waterways.

    Perhaps the future is becoming brighter for the greenways. It’s exciting to see a new orientation toward waterways along Cheyenne Creek in Ivywild, Shooks Run as the east side of Legacy Loop, Camp Creek through Pleasant Valley, and Sand Creek behind the Platte Avenue Flea Market. Can our community embrace a new vision for its greenways as amenities to our community? We are championing that view.

    Gary Barber, Board President, Greenway Fund

    Recruiting and Retaining Young Leaders

    I am inspired to help identify, position and promote the area’s next generation of business leaders. Programs such as Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, Leadership Pikes Peak, Rising Professionals, Young Professionals, and others are so important for mentoring, networking, and skill-building. The Chamber & EDC is providing tools, such as our new microsite and infographics, that address today’s workforce needs and help retain and recruit tomorrow’s leaders. By attracting and retaining young professionals, our citizens will continue to prosper, and our region’s businesses will continue to thrive in a strong economy. We need to ride this wave of our rising tide.

    Dirk D. Draper, President and CEO, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC

    New Transportation for Olympic City

    I see a downtown trolley system allowing for travel in all directions. Being home to one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in the country, we need to continue to awe travelers with the Garden of the Gods experience, while protecting this city park gem. A trolley system would carry visitors to and from the Garden while reducing traffic in and around the park; it would enhance the overall experience and connect visitors to other hubs of local business and tourism and continue to protect the site’s natural resources.

    Doug Price, President & CEO, Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau

    Creativity and Collaborative Innovation

    I am inspired when I think about all that Colorado College’s alliance with the Fine Arts Center will mean for the college and the community. CC and the FAC are two amazing institutions, but what we are envisioning is a program where the sum will be greater than the parts. We are confident that we can create a model here in the Rocky Mountain region for how an arts institution can serve both the community and the college’s students and faculty.

    I hope Colorado Springs can be known for the arts, creativity and innovation, which will make the Springs a choice city for more young people and, therefore, the growing industries of the 21st century.

    The city’s four higher education institutions are collaborating in new ways to enhance innovation and keep young people in the Springs. Our major initiative is The Quad, a joint program between UCCS, Pikes Peak Community College, U.S. Air Force Academy and CC to create space and support for recent graduates who are interested in starting businesses here. Our maker and collaborative space, which will be below Loyal Coffee downtown, will open this spring.

    Jill Tiefenthaler, President, Colorado College

    Building Community With Fresh, Local Food

    We envision a Colorado Springs that is self-sufficient in terms of food access, meaning that our local foodshed is robust and no one in our community is experiencing food insecurity or inequity. We also believe we can eliminate local food deserts. All this can be accomplished by ensuring that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food regardless of ability to pay, and by teaching them what to do with it.

    Seeds Community Cafe is poised for expansion into satellite locations where we can broaden our impact. We are also looking for a large commercial kitchen that would allow us to create jobs and expand the reach of our Culinary Arts Training Program and Healthy Cooking classes. Of all our programs and social enterprises, these two have the biggest potential to transform lives. Our core belief is that we offer people a hand up, not a handout. This is about dignity and inclusion and putting people on a path to owning their lives again. And it really does begin with food.

    Chef Lyn Harwell, Founder, Seeds Community Cafe

    More Big Ideas

    Read “More Big Ideas for Colorado Springs.”

    Read “Big Ideas for Colorado Springs: Creekside Rennaissance, Diversified Workforce, Space Hubs, Trail Connections, More”

    Read “PlanCOS: What’s Your Plan?”

    And find more in our Spring 2017 print issue.