Garden of the Gods Blue Frame Photo Op: Violation of Cultural Landscapes

     I hate Rainbow Falls! There, I said it! Rainbow Falls, located at the extreme west end of Manitou Springs/beginning of Ute Pass. A road construction over the beautiful landmark, using a Mohawk hair design style, straight over her tributary. In my opinion, graffiti that lies outside a commercial landscape is not art. Adding it to natural rock formations, trees, dirt does not improve the medium? Why does one feel the need to place their mark on nature? Why obscure the original beauty that took billions of years to create and humankind says, “Just let me add a toluene, xylene, and acetone, three headed baby inducing, icing to make that rock complete…” Imagine my horror at the addition of a BLUE frame structure to the Garden of the Gods Park. Horrible memories of twenty-five years ago come crashing through my head.
     I live in Manitou Springs and have been an active Historic Preservation Commissioner for the past eight years. I live & breathe history to defend our collective memory of places that we love. Cultural Landscape protection has become a hot topic over the years and has a 150 page home on the Secretary’s Standards for Cultural Landscapes with Preservation Brief 36. Twenty-five years ago we did not have such a reference to guide us. All we knew was that people with atrocious amounts of money was going to make GOG into a commercial tourist playground crowned by a visitor center and access would be allowed through paid admission. The Master Plan was a mix of concrete teepees, large lighted “interpretive” signs, radio antennas for transmitting park info, and “Seven Falls” style lighting throughout. The hope of restoring Native American religious access would die. A small group of us brought a lawsuit against the City of Colorado Springs, Parks & Recreation Department, and Lyda Hill (owner of GOG Country Club, Kissing Camels Estate, Seven Falls, and many more developments). To add to our horror, GOG Park land was traded for land on the east side of the Mesa, near Coronado High School. We lost a section of the park to a private, commercial entity to build a visitor center. The park that was “gifted” to the citizens was about to be given away without a public vote. In the end, the visitor center was built with the agreement that no human-made structures were to be constructed within the park boundaries. The Hidden Inn was a casualty of the agreement and was removed. The Trading Post was allowed to remain because of the restroom availability. The rights were granted to Native Americans to host religious ceremonies, including Pow Wows.  Erosion control measures and a few small “earth tone” education boards were agreed upon completed the new Master Plan. I could sleep.
     Fast forward to last week when an addition of a commercial oddity was placed at High Point in the form of a blue frame. The materials, labor, and permit fees were graciously donated by G.E. Johnson with the 501C3 organized, Olympic City Colorado Springs Committee as the client. The client is responsible for verifying the legalities of a project (please stop calling the G.E. Johnson’s receptionist names). Was the blue frame a violation of the City Charter? With certainty, the commercial addition was a violation of the agreements made in 1992. Why wasn’t the photo op placement at the GOG Visitor Center? The view is great there too and would be located within the commercial area of the park. I thought we had systems established, governed by the Parks & Recreation Department, to prevent an event like this from occurring again. I was very wrong! Isn’t there an app for this that did the same thing for less than the $12K spent? Colorado Springs, please remove the GOG Blue Frame as respect to the natural, religious, and historical aspects of the Garden of the Gods. Keep nature natural!

Update: IT'S GONE!!! The GOG blue frame was removed at 12:15pm! THANK YOU EVERYONE!  See removal here!!!!


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