Colorado Springs City Council votes yes to controversial land swap

The controversy surrounding the Colorado Springs-Broadmoor land swap primarily centers around a little-known swath of land on the southwest side of the city, Strawberry Fields.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) The Colorado Springs City Council voted 6-3 on Tuesday on the controversial land swap proposal.

The city will now trade 189 acres of public land, known as Strawberry Fields, for 371 acres from the Broadmoor.

The proposal had the support of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, as well as city park officials.

Supporters say the swap would benefit not only the city, but Strawberry Fields as well.

"I wasn't aware of Strawberry Fields in the beginning of this, but I have busied myself in learning about it and hiked the property, looked at it; I saw the same thing that the mayor did, and that is that we have a property that is not healthy. It's beautiful, but not healthy," said Johnny Walker.

It was a packed room inside City Hall when opening statements began Tuesday afternoon. Many people at the meeting were holding signs that said "Just Vote No."

"We are going to challenge this in court and we didn't want to have to. We would rather have used the money to turn Strawberry Fields into a public park, but unfortunately we're going to move that direction, and if that doesn't work then we're going to circulate a petition and take this to the voters," said Richard Skorman, who has been an organizer for the group of residents who are against the swap.

As part of the agreement, Strawberry Fields will be placed under a conservation easement, which would restrict certain types of development on that land and keep it open to the public.

"We'll put the entire parcel into a trust that will be managed by a neutral third party and that forever...the restrictions on the property can't be changed and it is something where this will go on for perpetuity," said Jack Damioli, the president of The Broadmoor.

The mayor's office said they would not be signing the transaction until the conservation easement is finalized, which could take five to eight months.