City of Manitou Springs divided on Cog Railway deal

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Manitou Springs residents who are wary of the city’s play to repair the Cog Railway gathered at the Briarhurst Manor Wednesday.

Many say the deal reached between the city and the Broadmoor is giving Manitou Springs the short end of the stick.

“I support the Cog,” Pikes Peak Bulletin owner John Weiss said. “I just have questions about the deal and if this deal is the best interest in the community,”

The deal was reached last month. In a six to one vote, the city council approved the agreement which will hold Oklahoma Publishing Company, the owner of the Broadmoor, liable for paying for the nearly $100 million needed to repair the railway.

The deal will give the company tax breaks and cap off excise tax payments for the next 50 years as an incentive for repairing the Cog.

Those tax breaks are what many people in Manitou are fired up about, along with plans put in place to keep up with parking.

The Cog will also be required to pay the city $1 million by 2019 to make up for lost revenue.

Mayor Ken Jaray said parking plans are being negotiated, and side agreements between other communities, including Colorado Springs, could be reached.

“The city of Colorado Springs is committed to working with Mayor Jaray and his administration to make sure we address those impacts,” city Chief of Staff Jeff Greene said.

Jaray says the long-term deal was quickly reached in order to begin construction by this summer and open the Cog and a new Summit House in two years.

“The Cog Railway is important for a number of reasons,” Jaray said. “Financially, certainly one of them, historically is another, and culturally.”

Those against the agreement are putting together a petition to challenge the ordinance. If enough signatures are gathered, the ordinance can be put on the ballot for voter approval come election time.

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