Large Blue Frame At Garden Of The Gods Sparks Outcry

Dec 15, 2017

UPDATE: As of mid-day Monday, 12/18/17, the city had removed the frame.

ORIGINAL STORY--FRIDAY 12/15/17: A newly-installed structure at Garden of the Gods has local outdoor enthusiasts crying foul. In a widely shared post on Facebook, the outdoor adventure non-profit UpaDowna brought the frame to the attention of its followers, many of whom have described the structure as “ugly” and a blight on the natural beauty of the park. 

The frame was installed Tuesday at the High Point Overlook parking lot on Ridge Road: a popular viewing spot with an expansive westward vista of Pikes Peak. According to the minutes of a February Parks and Recreation Board meeting, plans for the frame were presented to the Parks Board by Janet Suthers, wife of Mayor John Suthers, and included a visual of the frame with an Olympic City U.S.A. logo at the top.

As of Saturday morning, the logo and location had been added to the frame.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

Suthers explained that the structure would be placed strategically to allow Garden of the Gods visitors to take photos alongside a life-sized framed image of Pikes Peak, while, according to the minutes, "promoting our city as Olympic City U.S.A." The minutes indicate the frame was donated by GE Johnson, the contractor working on the U. S. Olympic Museum, currently under construction in downtown Colorado Springs. As of Friday morning, the logo was not present; by Saturday morning, it had been placed on the frame.

"I can't believe it's this huge! Unbelievable! What were they thinking?"

In an emailed statement Friday, a city spokesperson explained the feature as “a whimsical and fun way for residents and tourists alike to share the beauty of Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA.”  Responding to concerns about the impact of the structure on the landscape, the statement went on to emphasize that “no rock formations were impacted by the installation of the frame, which is adjacent to the parking lot.”  

Nevertheless, commenters on UpaDowna’s Facebook post about the frame voiced concern about the larger impact of on the aesthetics of the park.

“Such a view, and now this ugly thing ruins it,” wrote one commenter.

”A view this beautiful doesn’t need a ‘frame,’“ said another.

Jana Kaiser, a photographer based in Manitou Springs, went to see the frame for herself Friday morning.

“I can’t believe it’s this huge! Unbelievable! What were they thinking?” Speaking to 91.5 KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin, she said she regularly brings clients to that particular overlook for photoshoots, describing the location as “really, really, special to me.”

The blue frame affixed to the ground in Garden of the Gods park, at the edge of the High Point Overlook parking lot.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

“This is defacing,” she continued, “it’s got to go.”

Nehla Lang, a tourist from Florida on her first visit to Colorado Springs, stopped to snap a photo with the frame.

“I saw it and I figured it’s there as a picture frame, kind of,” she said. “It’s a little unnecessary,” she added, “it’s big and blue, so I think I would’ve had the picture just as well without the frame.”

UpaDowna encouraged people with thoughts about the frame to submit comments to the Colorado Springs Parks Department, which oversees Garden of the Gods. 

The city spokesperson explained that administrative approval for the structure came in February, but that the Parks Board and the public were offered a chance to ask questions and comment on the project at the meeting where Janet Suthers presented the design.

According to the spokesperson, no tax money was spent on the project, and the location and installation of the frame is set to be “re-evaluated at the end of 2018."

This post has been updated to reflect the addition of the "#Olympic City USA" logo and location on the frame.