MedWheel-COS Parks Working Agreement

MedWheel agreement with the city of Colorado Springs Parks Department

In early 2022 following several years of discussions with the SuperFriends group, the city of COS Parks proposed a new working agreement (MOU = Memorandum of Understanding) , for volunteer activity on Parks property. MedWheel did NOT sign that agreement because we had concerns with major changes they were proposing for collaborative work. It turns out that several long time partners and SuperFriends attendees, including Friends of Garden of the Gods, Friends of Stratton, Friends of Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Guardians of Palmer Park has similar concerns – some groups signed the agreement anyway and some did not.

The primary & simplest issue was that for years MedWheel has cooperated with Rangers across multiple Parks properties – but the city’s proposal restricted us to communicating with a single Park ranger only.

A second and crucial aspect of the MOU was MedWheel’s request for a staff commitment to increased communication about planned upcoming work on these public spaces, including a commitment that staff would not close existing trails on Parks properties without public consultation – except where already approved in a master plan. This request surfaced following incidents where staff closed existing trails with no notice to users. The most recent incident had just occurred in late 2021, when staff closed the bottom portion of Fenceline trail – later making the claim that this was done by request of the Stormwater department due to erosion and sedimentation. We learned after some digging that this request was never made, and the closure was a unilateral decision made by Parks staff..

In March of 2022 MedWheel drafted a modified MOU for staff consideration, and requested a discussion to address these points. Disappointingly, staff declined to meet with us to discuss the concerns for over 10 months. For the first time in 30 years, we did not have a general working agreement with COS Parks for most of 2022.

Thankfully during this time, we were able to sign a specific working agreement focused on the construction of the Cresta Bike Park – a collaborative project with Kids on Bikes and Cheyenne Mountain HS Cycling Team, with all of the construction management overseen by MedWheel. Cresta consumed a lot of our focus anyway, so MedWheel was busy working on city property during 2022 despite not having this general MOU. A positive outcome from this situation was that it also gave us an opportunity to expand our partnerships with other land managers, public and private.

The board of MedWheel is pleased to report that in the spring of 2023, after significant engagement by MedWheel at COS Parks board and city council, staff agreed to make the necessary modifications to the MOU, addressing the concerns brought forward by MedWheel and our partners. We were then able to sign the revised agreement and return to cooperating with Rangers.

From 2023, MedWheel has authority to work with the rangers we’ve supported for years, and we are back to planning and executing Trail Love Dig Dates on multiple Parks properties including Palmer Park, Ute Valley, Austin Bluffs, North Cheyenne Canyon (Chutes).

We are proud of the collaborations we’ve had with COS Parks for over 30 years, including trail work on the Lake Moraine Trail, Palmer Trail, Chamberlain Trail, Codell Trail, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks, Palmer Park, North Cheyenne Canyon, Austin Bluffs, Ute Valley, and more.

Feel free to reach out with any questions about this topic.