Mary Lou Makepeace knows a little bit about governing and earning the trust of voters.
In 1997, she became the city’s first female mayor, re-elected in 1999.
Her re-election coincided with voter approval of an $88 million bond issue to pay for a variety of civic projects from police and fire protection to street and bridge repair to drainage to parks and community recreation centers.
Stop laughing. This is no joke.
Springs voters just 11 years ago actually agreed to spend millions on parks and recreation centers.
In fact, the $88 million bond issue, called the Springs Community Improvement Program, or SCIP, included $11.1 million to build the 21-acre America the Beautiful Park as well as $12 million for pools and rec centers!
Is this a time warp or a space continuums?
Makepeace, 70, is saddened by the dismantling of the city’s parks department, the closing of pools and the threat to its community centers and services.
She calls it “tragic” and worries it will be hard for elected officials to rebuild the trust of the people.
“I think SCIP was very successful and the reason is so many citizens stepped forward took advantage of chance to give their input in community. Hundreds of citizens were serving on committees.
“It’s going to take a better economy and a deliberate rebuilding effort to regain that trust. A big part of it is engaging people in government. Government has to get a lot closer to the people. And not just listen to the few who comes before them at council.
“If people feel ownership, they’d be more interested in participating. The ultimate goal is people feeling good about their community.
“People have to participate. The council has to communicate. If they don’t, the form of government — manager or strong mayor – won’t matter.
“We do have a great community. Come on folks, let’s figure this out. We can’t just depend on nine people on City Council. We have a lot of brains in the community. We need citizen input.”
Makepeace had a clear vision for Colorado Springs. She wanted to create a vibrant downtown with a centerpiece park, convention center and major hotel. She envisioned a downtown were people could find a variety of restaurants, shops and entertainment options. An urban soul for the growing city.
Although the convention center never materialized, most of her vision did and America the Beautiful Park is her crowning achievement.
Here’s a link to the history of the park.
At its heart is The Continuum – the Julie Penrose Fountain. It is a four-story tall sculpture of steel and weighs 24 tons. It is equipped with 366 jets that spray a curtain of water as the entire structure rotates, taking 15 minutes to make one revolution.