Trail Talk: Optimistic manager of Trails, Open Space and Parks will be missed
This is a column I never wanted to write.
In less than a week, Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation will lose a great asset and our public spaces will lose a champion. Someone with more understanding and knowledge of our trails, open spaces and parks than most people in this region.
Institutional knowledge is an underrated commodity. We don’t miss what we don’t know. But we will miss Chris Lieber, current manager of our essential Trails, Open Space and Parks program.
We will miss his tireless optimism and gentle approach to difficult problems. Many times we’ve groaned at his tendency to treat challenges as opportunities. Lieber was strategic and smart and generally two to three steps ahead of the rest of us.
During my last lunch with him as a city employee, I peppered him with questions between bites of salad and took two pages of notes. My guess is that fellow members of the parks staff have been doing the same since he announced his departure.
The good news is we’re not losing him to a better-paying parks department elsewhere. He’s staying in Colorado Springs, moving into the private sector. One day in the future I fully expect to see him standing before the Parks Advisory Board presenting a plan for trails and parks in a new housing development. We’ll all be impressed by the innovative design and connected trail system and it will most likely be unanimously approved. Lieber will continue to hold a vision for our community close to his heart and find new ways to pursue that vision. A vision where the parks, trails and open space he worked so hard to secure are well maintained and appreciated for the treasures they are.
The Trails, Open Space and Parks program is about to celebrate its 20th birthday. Lieber and TOPs have been joined at the hip for most of those years. The best way to pay tribute to this popular public servant and the places we adore is to use them lovingly and respectfully. And commit to finding the resources to take care of them for those who come after us.
Susan Davies is executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. Read her columns on the fourth Monday of each month in Life.