City buys Manitou Section 16

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The City of Colorado Springs has purchased Manitou Section 16 for $3.8 million.

The deal, which had been in the works for several years, closed today.

The 640-acre property has been added to the city’s network of parks, trails and open spaces. At the same time, the Palmer Land Trust closed on a deed of conservation easement on the property, which guarantees, in perpetuity, the protection of Section 16 as open space.

If this arrangement had not been made, the city’s lease on the property would have expired at the end of this year.

Since 1972, the land has been held in trust by the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners, and was leased for public recreation.

The city assumed the property lease in 2004 to pursue permanent preservation of the parcel through the trails and open-space program, or TOPS.

“Manitou 16 is the successful completion of a long-term partnership between the State Land Board, Colorado Springs and El Paso County,” said Tobin Follenweider, acting director of the State Land Board. “This transaction will allow the SLB to place its equity into more productive uses for the School Trust.”

The purchase was funded largely through the TOPS program and a $1 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, which was awarded to the city in 2007. GOCO also gave the city $200,000 in 2004 to fund the current property lease.

El Paso County, Manitou Springs, Trails and Open Space Coalition, and the Intemann Trail Committee also contributed funds for the land acquisition. The Palmer Land Trust raised an additional $40,000 to put the property under conservation easement and to preserve it as open space.