I Am Against the Land Swap Proposed by the Broadmoor

It is rare for me to use my blog as a place for political action or political views.  I am very passionate about a land swap that has been proposed by the Broadmoor Hotel to the City of Colorado Springs. If you live in Colorado Springs, I urge you to write Mayor Suthers on this matter.  I also urge you to sign the petition linked below this letter.

Dear Mayor Suthers,

I am a third generation native of Colorado Springs.  My grandfather on my father’s side came here in 1908 to work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  My great-grandparents on my father’s mother’s side settled in the Florence area as early as 1889.  On my mother’s side, her great-grandmother was in Colorado Springs within just a few years of its founding.  My mother’s father, came to live with his grandmother within a few years after his grandmother arrived, around 1893.  Needless to say, my roots go deep in this community.  

My father, William (Bill) French, was born in Glockner Hospital one hundred years ago on April 11, 1916. During his early childhood he lived on the west side of Colorado Springs.  The neighborhood where he grew up in his earliest years was razed to build some of I25.  When he was around ten years old, my grandparents bought a home at 823 E. Boulder, which was the family home until the 1980’s.  My father grew up going to Columbia School, North Junior High School, and Colorado Springs High School.  When he graduated from high school, he attended Colorado College and worked at Busy Corner Drugstore.  During the war years, after he had married and started a family, he purchased a home at 924 E. Boulder.  This was my childhood home.  Just before I was born, and just before he left for World War II duty, he went to work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as a clerk.  My grandfather, A.M. French, was a telegrapher for the D&RG RR and had been since 1908.  So, not only do my roots go deep in Colorado Springs, but they also go deep when it comes to General Palmer’s railroad.  I am a railroader’s daughter.  For that I am extremely proud.

 A lover of Colorado Springs, her beauty, and her history, my father would take us on long rides every weekend showing us the town, the land, and the area that he considered our heritage and our legacy.  He was a storyteller, and oh how I wish I could remember those stories.  I think we all could benefit from hearing the stories my father and his uncles could tell us about Colorado Springs.  

During the time the Air Force Academy was built, my father was assigned as a loss inspector for the railroad and it was his task to inspect all the building supplies that were shipped to the Academy by rail. Since my father was able to have a bird’s eye view of watching the Academy be built from the ground up, he wanted to share that historical time with us by taking us on rides up to the area every few weeks so we could see the progress being made.  Those are treasured memories.

During this same time, and after, my father was involved with the Colorado Springs Planning Committee.  I am not sure of the exact dates when he served on this committee.  I only know of how much he wanted to preserve what he thought made Colorado Springs the wonderful place that it was.  He was against anything that took away from the natives having access to public lands that had been bequeathed to the city.  He believed that we had a duty to honor General Palmer’s views of preserving the beauty of Colorado Springs.  He did not want developers of any type to destroy the natural beauty of Colorado Springs.  He believed we could have growth while also preserving our natural treasures and keeping them open for the general public.  It was then the public’s duty to keep these treasures of land safe.  Whenever we went for picnics in The Bluffs or in the Garden of the Gods, we had to form a human chain just before we left so that we picked up every piece of garbage, paper, cigarette butts, or bottle caps we might find in our path.  We were taught to leave things and places better than we found them.  We were taught to leave no or little footprint when we were in the places of nature that surrounded Colorado Springs or in other part of our beloved Colorado.

My father worked with and for Mr. Thayer Tutt, who was director of the D&RG RR.  He would always tell of stories of when he had to go see Mr. Tutt at the Broadmoor.  Mr, Tutt would ask, “Bill, how’s your railroad doing?”  My father would answer with, “I believe it is your railroad, and it is doing well.”  There was a close connection in those days with the holdings of the Broadmoor and the railroad, but I don’t think my father ever saw that as anything that would indicate that the Broadmoor was interested in a what many would call today a “land grab.”  The Broadmoor was a local treasure and enjoyed by her citizens, just as so many other showplaces of Colorado Springs were.

It was in the 80’s, after my father retired, that the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was changed forever.  That was when Phil Anschutz, a man who owned "more land than any other private citizen in the United States” bought the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  It broke my father’s heart because he saw it as a way for the new owner of the railroad  to access some of the most valuable land in Colorado.  He knew the railroad was a good as dead when this deal for Anshutz to purchase the railroad was over.  He was right.

Some of us are not fooled by the transaction called a land swap. I see this as one more way for Phil Anschutz to acquire another piece of Colorado for his empire.  My father was not one to mince words; neither am I.  I think the winner in this swap is not the people of Colorado Springs.  The winner is the Broadmoor and Phil Anschutz.  I urge you to stand on the side of the people of the town whom elected you by making sure this land swap never happens. I urge you to keep Strawberry Fields as an undeveloped area owned by the City of Colorado Springs to be treasured and loved by, and enjoyed by her citizens.  I urge you to stand against corporate gain that may drive small businesses out of business.  I urge you to stand with the “little guy” that doesn’t have power in city politics.  I urge you to listen to the taxpayers of this town who do not wish to have a land swap of a piece of land that should remain in the City of Colorado Spring’s possession and under her protection.  

Yesterday, as I parked my car near what was once know as Busy Corner, Tejon and Pikes Peak, and I crossed Pikes Peak heading south on Tejon, my eyes drifted to where the magnificent Chief Theater and Burn Building once stood.  As I looked at that empty space that is covered with a parking lot, I was reminded of a conversation my father had with Mayor Larry Ochs back in the seventies.  My father was in Colorado Springs visiting after he had been transferred to Grand Junction to serve as Superintendent of the Western Slope of the D&RG RR.  As the two visited, Mayor Ochs asked my father what he thought of all the changes in Colorado Springs.  My father’s reply was, “I think Colorado Springs is becoming a kleenex town.”  Mayor Ochs asked for clarification, “A kleenex town.  What do you mean?”  My father’s reply was so indicative of his wit, his ability to use great metaphors, his love of Colorado Springs, and his disappointment over the loss of historic buildings and spaces, “Yes, a kleenex town.  You use it once, then you throw it away.”

Mayor Suthers, I urge you not to throw away Strawberry Fields.  Making a land swap with the Broadmoor Hotel for this property would bad for the citizens of Colorado Springs, for those whom may wish to visit our city in the future, and for wildlife.  Again, I urge you to remember not to throw this property away by making a deal that is not in our best interests.  Remember my father’s kleenex analogy when you ponder this decision.  Vote against the swap.  


Sally L. Wessely

Birthday Celebrations - Part I

As I approached my birthday this year, I found that I was experiencing conflicting emotions.  Last year's celebration had been so special.  Turning 65 had seemed like a milestone that deserved special recognition. Since I'd written about the celebration on my blog (linked) last year,  I decided to look back and see what I'd written.  The feelings of excitement that I felt that day all came flooding back.  I love entertaining, and my favorite group of ladies were all coming to my house to celebrate.  During the celebration, I received flowers from my son and my sister.  Now, looking at the photo from last year, I am again reminded that one of our dear classmates, seated in the center of the photo that I included in last year's post, lost her battle with cancer in the year since we all gathered at my house a year ago.

Birthday Lunch
Garden Room
Broadmoor Hotel
In the past year, my life has also been forever changed.  I am not the same lively, outgoing, cheery person who loved nothing more than being with my friends and family.  I have experienced that which I feared most, the loss of a child.  The shock, the pain, the sorrow, and the loss that I have suffered have greatly changed me and the way I see and experience the world around me.  I certainly no longer take anything or anyone for granted.  

I also know that life is to be celebrated, and on my birthday,  I chose to celebrate that I have survived the events of this past year.  At first, I could think of no way to celebrate.  Then, on Sunday morning last week, the day before my actual birthday which falls on the 28th of February, I suggested that my husband and I drive up to Colorado Springs for brunch at the Broadmoor. (See the link here.)  We couldn't get reservations for brunch.  (No surprise here because I know that the waiting list is always long.)  So, instead, we made reservations for a late lunch at my second favorite place to go at that dear old hotel:  The Garden Room.

We left a little early so we could walk around the Broadmoor Lake a few times.  I love this place.  So many wonderful memories of childhood and my years as a single mom are associated with the Broadmoor.  As a child, we learned to swim in the pool here, or we ice skated in the old ice arena.  The same arena where Peggy Fleming trained.

 During the 80's, when I was a single mom, I worked at Cheyenne Mountain School District which is located just a few blocks from the hotel.  Many times after work, or during my lunch hour, I would walk around this lake with friends.  Or we would go for lunches and special dates in the evenings at one of the great restaurants in the hotel.  
I've never been to the Broadmoor that I didn't feel like the time and the place was special.  It seemed like the perfect place to celebrate my birthday this year.

As we walked around the lake, I had my first bona fide sighting of a robin for the season.  It seemed fitting that I should be blessed with this sight on this day.  I had heard what I thought were robins singing when I awoke that morning.  Yes, my day was being blessed.  I recalled that last year, my first sighting had been the weekend after my birthday when I went for a run with Amy and Julie.  I teared up at the memory, but was also deeply touched by how much I needed to see that red-breasted signaler of spring.

Jim and Sally
Birthday at the Broadmoor
Lunch in the Garden Room was also just what I needed.  I love going to this special restaurant in February for Valentine's Day or my birthday because the setting of lush greenery always uplifts the spirit.  It is the perfect place for a short respite from winter. 

After lunch, we of course had to visit the shops.  I always hesitate to admire something in a gift shop when I am with my dear husband because the next thing I know, he is buying it for me.  My eye was caught by the most beautiful tea pot and cup and saucers to match.  I loved the rose pattern, and noticed that daffodils, my favorite flower and symbol for my life, was also featured on china.  I really did try to dissuade my generous husband from purchasing the two sets for me because I knew he had already ordered my birthday gift.  He bought it anyway, and I do love it!  Even the boxes the china came in, deserved to be on display in my favorite red hutch. Thanks again, Jim for this beautiful gift.

Jung Hee puts candles on cake
Thinking my celebrations for the year were over, I got up on Monday morning, my actual birthday, and grumbled about having to work on my birthday.  When it came time for our morning break, my dear, wonderful students surprised me with a party.  I couldn't believe it when Jung Hee pulled tulips in a vase out of a bag.  Soon, Shin pulled a cake out of her bag.  Then, she began to pour orange juice in to small plastic cups.  It looked like they were getting a great party together!

Shin lights candles
Sure enough, there was a wonderful cake, flowers, colorful napkins, fresh organic strawberries and oranges, and wonderful little chocolate cookies spread out before me on what was our classroom work table.  My students even produced candles for the cake and matches to light the candles.  Shin is quite the party planner!

Birthday Spread

Before we all ate the wonderful birthday food, we gathered for a group photo.
English Language Institute Students

Here I am surrounded by my five wonderful students.  They gave me permission to post this photo of them. I am blessed to work with these five international students this semester.  Each one is very special. They will never know how much this party meant to me.  The gratitude that I feel for being able to teach these students will never be forgotten. 

 As I teach them, I am reminded that life is greatly enriched when we are able to do what we love most.  For me that is teaching and being involved with young adult who are just beginning their journeys through life.  My passion has long been wound up in teaching English to speakers of other languages.  I admire my students' fortitude in coming to a foreign land to attend college.  I celebrate their growth as individuals as they risk learning a new language, a new culture, and meeting new people who do not share their language and culture.  I also marvel how human connections transcend language and culture and how love and respect grow when we all learn together.  

For so many reasons, my birthday was indeed special this year.  I've learned that even after unspeakable loss, life is beautiful, and it should be celebrated.  Thank you, dear students, for making my day so special.  Your kindness will never be forgotten.