photo - Signs with the Colorado Springs logo were posted at Strawberry Hill open space earlier this year.
Signs with the Colorado Springs logo were posted at Strawberry Hill open space earlier this year. 

A third public workshop on a master plan for Strawberry Hill yielded a few results, harsh words and some defiant walk-outs.

Many of the approximately 50 people at the meeting Tuesday evening at Cheyenne Mountain High School expressed frustration at the ambiguity surrounding an 8.4-acre building envelope in the 182-acre plot. And the crowd wants The Broadmoor, which now owns the land, to consider a few things.

The city controversially swapped Strawberry Hill with The Broadmoor in exchange for 371 acres in 14 parcels last year. Save Cheyenne, a nonprofit citizens group, is suing to overturn the trade.

Trails were the focus of Tuesday's meeting organized by NES Inc., a local firm hired by The Broadmoor. Firm owner Tim Seibert said some opposition was to be expected, but he was pleased to see so many people offer their thoughts.

City Council President Richard Skorman called the meeting a "waste" because the firm wants to plan a trail system while the future of the building envelope, slated for a picnic area and horse stable, remains unclear.

That envelope sits on a meadow on the property's north side, which is flat, accessible, most popular and has "pristine views, quiet and open spaces," Skorman said.

"What master plan for a development puts the trails in first?" Skorman asked Seibert.

The rest of the land - to remain open under a conservation easement - sits on steep, eroded ground, Skorman said.

Skorman nonetheless stayed to provide input. Doug Greenberg, however, walked out.

"I don't want to legitimize what's going on here," Greenberg said.

The workshop was "inappropriate" because the courts have not yet determined whether the swap was legal, he said.

Donna Strom walked out, too, and echoed Greenberg's sentiment. The public can't provide meaningful input when the fate of the land is undecided, she said.

Acknowledging that he had few answers on the building envelope, Seibert said the meeting is still constructive. Plans likely will change, but the process has to start somewhere.

Seibert said The Broadmoor intends for the trails to be open to horse riders, mountain bikers, hikers and dogs alike. Skorman and others, however, questioned whether that will be the case.

Addressing the lawsuit, now in the Colorado Court of Appeals, Seibert said the plan will be useful regardless of who owns the property. While the lawsuit doesn't prevent work from starting on the land, nothing can begin until a master plan is finished, he said.

Not everybody was dissatisfied. Larry Sportsman, who said he's lived near Strawberry Hill for 30 years, said the process has worked well and The Broadmoor has always been a good neighbor.

Sportsman said he's not worried about the building envelope, but he doesn't want to see more parking on Alta Vista or Sanford roads along the east side of the site.

Becky Wegner, who sits on the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks Working Committee, said the old Hobo Trail used to cut from the northeast side of Strawberry Hill south to the center of the property, near Old Stage Road. She marked the trail on a map and reminisced.

"When they did trails in the old days, they did them smart," Wegner said. Now, many trails work their way uphill in a way that leaves them susceptible to erosion and degradation.

The site has many social trails, but only a few might be made official, said Bill Mangle, of the project's planning team. The others cut deep into the landscape or face erosion.

Mangle walked from table to table, watching people mark their maps with current trails or trails they'd like. While many people use the meadow where The Broadmoor will build, Mangle said many people also gravitate toward the center where rocky outcrops offer a view of the city.

As the property is developed, people might still be able to park on the north side, off Old Stage Road or on the southwest portion, he said. The planners will have a better idea of what trails to keep or develop, based on the workshop input, Mangle said.

More workshops will be held to discuss the building envelope, legal boundaries and environmental impact, Seibert said.

If Save Cheyenne's appeal is denied, said group President Kent Obee, the nonprofit will appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.