Buena Vista’s Planning & Zoning Commission has adopted the Rodeo Grounds and Chicago Ranch Master Plan after more than a year of planning, community input and consultation. The plan will go before the board of trustees at their March 14 meeting.
“Just by passing the plan, it doesn’t mean that anything’s gonna change tomorrow. But what it does mean is that we, as a community and decision makers, have a holistic representation of what we all want to happen on that land,” said town planning director Joseph Teipel. “So when we do have money or when we are pursuing money for it finally, we don’t have to go back out and ask what we want because we already know.”
The Buena Vista Master Plan encompasses both the town Rodeo Grounds and the Chicago Ranch, a 300-acre parcel and associated water rights purchased by Triview Metropolitan District from Joyce Sailor in 2020.
TMD then engaged the project team to work with the town and community to develop a master plan for the rodeo grounds and Chicago Ranch.
“The project team and TMD understand the community’s desire to develop the rodeo grounds as an iconic, resilient and sustainable resource,” reads the master plan’s executive summary. “This plan is an opportunity to enhance one of the community’s assets creating a healthier and ecologically rich environment for people and wildlife. Developing a master plan for the Chicago Ranch and rodeo grounds crafted by and for the Buena Vista community is critical to successful implementation. The plan creates a unifying vision for improving the natural qualities and recreation opportunities associated with the town.”
In addition to public input meetings, the master plan process included numerous surveys for stakeholders, in-field site analysis and multiple project plan presentations.
The plan, as adopted, “lays out a vision” broken down into short-, medium- and long-term goals and recommendations tied to public input received during the planning process
There is not a set timeline for when projects will be started or completed.
“Just because the plan says, for instance, ‘XYZ trail network is a short-term priority,’ it doesn’t mean that the town has dedicated funding to build that,” Teipel said. “But any decision made and any funding brought to that land will need to follow and be based on the master plan.”
The acreage already provides town assets in the form of a drone-flying park, model plane airstrip, sportsmen’s club and the rodeo stands and arena.
One aspect Teipel is particularly excited about is the proposed trail system, which includes 4 miles of paved trails as well as soft surface trails, a 3.1-mile soft surface loop and a natural surface loop.
“BV has a lot of really intense singletracks available to us, but not much else in the way of more flat (trails), whether it’s beginner mountain biking or walking or cross country skiing,” he said. “A lot of stuff is pretty far out of town, so it’s really exciting to have the potential to have some of that stuff right at our fingertips.”
The master plan also includes a large dog park, bike skills course and a multi-purpose pavilion. A wide variety of stakeholder groups engaged in the process, which helped contribute to a diverse set of perspectives.
“I think it’s important that folks not only on the town team are acknowledged but also the variety of user groups that are already using the rodeo grounds, like the sportsmen’s club, the drone club and others,” Teipel said. “Everyone really pitched in in a really concerted way to make sure that this plan represents a really diverse stakeholder group.”
As for annexation, Teipel said the town is anticipating a petition for annexation from TMD within the next month or so, which is followed by an annexation process that may take up to 3 months.
“Then, assuming the trustees choose to annex, it would be annexed and then there are certain agreements that will be in place between TMD and the town of Buena Vista that will … dictate how the land is going to be used and when it might be transferred over to ownership by the town.”
In response to an FAQ on the project’s page on www.my-bv.com, the town clarifies that the Chicago ranch water rights were not acquired by the town.
In the 1880s, water was diverted from Cottonwood Creek to begin irrigating the Chicago ranch site. In 2020, TMD purchased this parcel with the intention of returning the water flow back into Cottonwood Creek, have it flow through Buena Vista and down the Arkansas River.
After reaching Pueblo the water will flow north through a pipeline, through Colorado Springs, and ultimately be utilized by residents of the TMD located near Monument.
“It’s really exciting to have that master plan in place,” Teipel said.
The master plan will now head to Buena Vista’s Board of Trustees at their March 14 meeting. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, at the Community Center at 715 E. Main Street.
Planning & Zoning Commission and Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public in person and via Zoom. Meeting packets and agendas, as well as virtual access information, can be found at www.buenavistaco.gov
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