‘Midland Greenway’ ideas abound at first open house

       Parks. Trails. Water features. Historical interpretation. Benches. Swings. Evergreens. Pavilions. An ampitheater. Fishing.
       These were just some of the citizen ideas that emanated from the first public open house, attended by about 75 people, on a planned Midland Greenway Jan. 18.
       The planning effort involves ongoing meetings with a volunteer citizen committee and several of the same Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) consultants who have been working for the past 2 ½ years on plans for a major expansion of Westside Highway 24.
       The “greenway” would be possible - if sufficient funding were located - should the expansion take place, CDOT representatives have explained.
       At least two more open houses are planned before the committee and consultants recommend a plan in June, based on the schedule.
       A main plan element is the capability to realign the Midland Trail to follow the highway corridor. Because new bridges would be built over Fountain Creek as part of the highway expansion, this would solve current crossing problems by building them so the trail could go underneath, CDOT landscape consultant Kevin Shanks said at the meeting.
       Colorado Springs Parks trail planner Jeff Haley, who attended the meeting, said afterward that while the concept offers a “great opportunity and we're willing to participate,” Parks also has to bear in mind potential maintenance costs and what the city's priority would be for a new greenway through the Westside. “The city has all kinds of projects on the books,” he said. “We can't all of a sudden decide to add a linear park.”
       One possible outcome of a greenway, if it comes to pass, would be the realignment of trail that hasn't even been built yet. The city has prior plans to extend the Midland Trail this year from 21st to 31st Street. The work will include a segment along Naegele Road - a street that would disappear in the state's tentative highway expansion plans. Haley said there's no way the city can hold off on its trail work at this point. “We have money, plans, and construction that needs to be done in the next year ,” he said. “We can't put the trail on hold while CDOT figures out the greenway.”
       Some money would be available through federal funds related to flood plain mitigation as part of the highway expansion, Shanks said. But unspecified additional funding would be needed to develop the kinds of amenities citizens were suggesting.
       Shanks also noted that the greenway width would vary in different parts of the corridor. As examples, he said it might be as wide as 1,000 feet in the area where Naegele Road would be removed, and only 100 or so between Fountain Creek and the sheer cliffs west of 31st Street.
       Dan Cleveland, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition and a member of the City Planning Commission, was at the open house. He indicated that the greenway ought to be considered apart from the controversy over the highway expansion. The way to look at it, he suggested, is that “if they're putting the road in, what can we do?”

Westside Pioneer article