City Puts Up 'Big Blue Frame' At Park — And Removes It After Citizens Put Up A Fight

Dec 19, 2017
Originally published on December 19, 2017 11:21 am

The goal was to promote the city of Colorado Springs as "Olympic City U.S.A." But the method — erecting a big blue frame at the edge of a scenic overlook at Garden of the Gods Park — drew anger from residents. Just days after it was put up, the frame was taken down.

The frame, seemingly meant to add pizzazz to park visitors' photos, sparked "sustained outrage" instead, member station KRCC reports. Its arrival last week took many residents by surprise. It was taken down on Monday, without ceremony.

"It seemed like a very strange thing to put in this natural landscape," Peg Shannon, of Colorado Springs, told KRCC.

Commonly referred to as simply the Big Blue Frame, the 8-foot-by-12-foot structure drew criticism even as it was being installed. It had "mysteriously" appeared, said the outdoor hiking and adventure group UpaDowna, which raised awareness about the frame on its Facebook page — where a visitor to the park wrote on Friday, "Even the installers are sad about it."

The Colorado Springs' city government responded to the negative reaction by calling the frame "a whimsical and fun way for residents and tourists alike to share the beauty" of the park. And, the city added, it hadn't been paid for with tax dollars.

But others persisted in calling the frame tacky and ridiculous and a blight on a beautiful park that already draws millions of visitors yearly.

As the structure was being removed on Monday, the city issued a statement saying that the blue frame "was conceived by the marketing advisors" who had hoped it would trigger interest on social media.

As it turned out, there was interest on social media — but it was passionately negative. The city acknowledged that the frame "was not well-received by local residents who feel a great deal of ownership of the Park."

Citing city records, KRCC reports that the frame project had been presented back in February by Janet Suthers, wife of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. It was to be paid for through a donation from a company that has been working with the city on a museum project.

Colorado Springs says it will relocate the frame to a more appropriate spot, "where it can meet its original objectives and become an amenity for both our visitors and our local residents to enjoy."

Responding to that statement, many people thanked the city for listening to their concerns. A Facebook user named Danielle MC posted an image of the frame at its overlook site along with the message, "I survived the big blue frame. 2017 - #NeverForget."

But another popular response came from Tristan Schwartz, who wrote: "You permanently damaged the rocks to install the sign. You broke your trust with the city and residents of Colorado Springs. You vandalized the city's most treasured natural wonder for a few measly tourism dollars."

After saying those involved in the big blue frame project should also be removed, Schwartz concluded, "This was a shameful act of natural and cultural vandalism."

Here is how Garden of the Gods Park is described on its website:

"Explore Colorado Springs' paradise in one magical stop. Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300' towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.