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Balloon Classic's future in Colo. Springs up in the air

Balloon Classic's future in Colorado Springs up in the air

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Road closure costs estimated at $24,000 are causing the president and CEO of the Colorado Balloon Classic to reconsider holding the event in Colorado Springs in future years.

Patsy Buchwald told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that she does not want to take the event elsewhere, but is frustrated with the added costs.

"When it was mandated that the Balloon Classic has to pay for all the barricades and it was the city's decision to close the street, and the fact that I've not been able to speak with some of the decision makers, that was, I felt, very disrespectful," Buchwald said.

Buchwald said 2013's event would still go on as scheduled, but she wasn't sure about next year.

"The balloon classic could leave Colorado Springs," Buchwald said.  "If we have to write a check this year for $24,000, as a business owner I have to decide if this a good decision for our business to stay in this city."

The Colorado Springs Police Department decided to close Pikes Peak Avenue from South Hancock Avenue to South Union Boulevard, and Union Boulevard from Pikes Peak Avenue to Eastlake Boulevard during the Labor Day Weekend Event.

Buchwald said she thinks the community should have had input on the closures.

Skip Arms with CSPD told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that deciding to close the streets is a safety issue.

"Safety is not really a process where you have community input because safety falls on our shoulders," Arms said.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 asked the city spokesperson about the costs but was told the Special Events Coordinator was on vacation and could not comment on the specifics. 

The city provided a statement that said the Balloon Classic has paid for services related to the event since 2009. 

The city provides a sponsorship of $21,350 as set by City Council resolution in 2005 and in-kind services valued at approximately $8,000.  The city says it is working to keep costs as low as possible.

City Councilwoman Helen Collins said at a community meeting Thursday that she planned to offer a resolution for supplemental funding.  Finals costs for the Balloon Classic have not been confirmed.

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