Pioneer's top 20 Westside stories of 2018: numbers 8-14Editor's note: The article about story numbers 1-7 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 15-20 and honorable mention at this link.
8. Vagrancy issue. 2018 was another year for conflicts between neighborhoods and businesses on the Westside and a relatively small segment of people who camp illegally - which has resulted in out-of-control fires, toxic waste and reports of theft and intimidation.
Colorado Springs City Councilmember Richard Skorman said at a public meeting that “the Westside is the most heavily impacted” part of the city, and City Homelessness Prevention Coordinator Andy Phelps said he often hears that “people don't feel safe on trails and in parks.”
On top of an existing city no-camping law, City Council passed an ordinance disallowing camps within 100 feet of waterways for safety reasons, but it's not clear how successful that has been.
According to police, enforcement of such laws can get complicated because of manpower and not always knowing when campers are on private or public land. The city continues to address vagrancy issues in concert with the Continuum of Care - a group of nonprofit agencies that seek ways to help the homeless and other needy people.
Creating affordable housing is a major city focus, but the city has said it is powerless to force illegal campers to move into such units.
9. Centennial extension. Planned completion of the $13.5 million Centennial Boulevard extension project has been pushed back - from late 2020 (the date announced a year ago) to the summer of 2021.
The four-lane extension will continue Centennial south from Fillmore Street about 1½ miles to the Fontanero/I-25 interchange. The northern half is built. A city contractor filled in the last part of the segment from Fillmore to Van Buren this
The 47-acre MVS property, on which a group led by Ted Waterman hopes eventually to build more than 400 houses, straddles the extension right of way south of Van Buren.
Under state law, MVS needs to restore a long-ago, unofficial dumping ground on the site. The process will be overseen through a state-approved process called a Voluntary Cleanup Plan (VCUP). MVS has formally agreed with local governments to complete the VCUP by summer 2019, which will allow extension construction to start.
10. Westside commerce.
Bar replacing bike shop - Cerberus Brewing Company, which opened at 702 W. Colorado in 2016, has found a unique way to add space. According to Cerberus' application to Colorado Springs Planning, the current site of the Colorado Springs Bike Shop, on the opposite side of Seventh Street, is to be remodeled for a “tasting room (bar), banquet hall, office and storage space, with capacity for a 2,929-square-foot brewery.”
The effect will be Cerberus still operating in its current location as well as that of the bike shop (which will have closed after 45 years in business).
City approval will require variances on parking and a bar's proximity to residences, but indications from City Planning are that such won't be a problem.
Brewery hops to Westside - The Smiling Toad, a five-year-old brewery, relocated from the Cheyenne area to a building that formerly housed a bar at South 21st Street and Sheldon Avenue. Having more than twice the space will allow a larger brewing operation, according to owner Biff Morehead.
Bookstore survives - Desperate to avoid a major rent hike at its long-time home in the Red Rock shopping center, the Bookman searched the Westside for a new home before settling in at 631 W. Colorado Ave.
Historic name for eatery - Templeton's Restaurant opened in a historic Old Colorado City building at 2 S. 25th St. It's named for the man who built it, prominent late-1800s resident Henry Templeton.
Full circle for former bar - The opening of the Wobbly Olive at 2611 W. Colorado Ave. invokes the brick structure's historic origin in 1904 as Jacob Schmidt's beer hall.
11. OCC changes.
New event - West Fest, a free June event in Bancroft Park that included live music, local brewers, and food trucks along Colbrunn Court, drew an estimated 600 people over seven hours. The Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), which raises money for the park and Old Town, plans a second annual West Fest June 23.
Change of seasons - The OCCF moved another of its annual Bancroft fundraising events, Taste of OCC, to September. It had been scheduled in April its first five years, but rain was a constant nemesis. Unlike West Fest, people pay for admission to Taste, but get free food and drink samples.
Sidewalk style - The sidewalk future for Old Colorado City appears to be colored concrete instead of the bricks that the city laid 40 years ago to support a historically themed revitalization effort in the late 1970s by Old Colorado City business leaders.
A city official confirmed the new strategy in September, after a roughly 100-foot section on the south side of Colorado Avenue's 2400 block was repaved that way. Brick sidewalk repairs cost “approximately three times as much” as colored concrete, the official explained.
New president - Franco Pisani, owner of the Paravicini's and Sopra's restaurants, took over as president of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) from Julie Fabrizio, owner of the Holly Leaf store, who had led the business group since 2012.
Welcome Center sold - In 2014, the OCCA had bought a house in the 2300 block of Colorado Avenue for a “welcome center.” Deciding it wasn't working out
Assessment - Forty years after a revitalization that reinvigorated Old Colorado City, leaders of the main groups with a stake in the historic shopping district's future began meeting last fall in hopes of solving looming mutual problems stemming from aging infrastructure, traffic issues, promotional obstacles, changing times and lack of funds. They're working with a hired consultant, Downtown Colorado Inc. (DCI), on what's been titled the “Old Colorado City Corridor Assessment.”
After two get-togethers in 2018, no specific goals or projects had been agreed upon, but the leaders plan to meet again in mid-January.
12. Camp Creek. This waterway through the Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge Ranch and the Pleasant Valley neighborhood is scheduled for upgrades in two locations in 2019. One will improve the creek's channel for several hundred feet north of Pleasant Valley, from Chambers Way into the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.
The other project will build a detention/sediment collection pond and a 28-foot-high dam in front of it on 17 acres at the north end of the Garden of the Gods city park.
The pond, seen as needed to slow water and hold back sediment in a major flood, had previously been scheduled for construction in 2016.
However, an earlier creek-stabilization contractor discovered what turned out to be two trash dumps exclusive to Glen Eyrie of General William Palmer's time. So the pond work was delayed to let a separate contractor study the find and to set up a since-completed archeological dig on the site last fall.
Also in 2018… A city-led public open house revealed that Colorado Springs Engineering wants to build a roundabout at 31st and Fontanero streets, as an offshoot of the Pleasant Valley element of the 2013-14 Camp Creek study. Although not drainage-related, this construction will “improve public safety,” the newsletter states.
13. Emphasis on art. During the monthly, three-hour-long First Friday ArtWalks from April to December, a free, passenger shuttle bus was made available on the half-hour to carry art-lovers between the downtown, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.
This coincided with Colorado Springs City Council recognizing that stretch of Colorado/Manitou Avenue as a “creative corridor.”
The shuttle will be offered again in 2019, according to Jonathan Toman of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. He described the shuttle service as an “important first step to developing a strong brand for the creative corridor.”
Adding to the art experience in 2019 will be the new Art on the Avenue, in which juried sculptures by local artists will be placed on pedestals at four OCC locations
Call to entry applications became available to artists in early January. The initiative is organized by local art advocates through the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group.
14. In memoriam. Colorado Springs native Don Ellis, an engineer, historian, life-long outdoors lover and a leader in saving the Red Rock Canyon and White Acres open space areas, died Nov. 9 of cancer. He was 78.
An active volunteer, Don wrote frequent articles for the OCCHS newsletter ( West Word), and had served as its editor for the previous 10 years.
Don is survived by his wife, Merle (Landberg) Ellis. They had been married since May 21, 1977. He was born in Colorado Springs Aug. 10, 1940. His parents were William and Lucille Ellis.
Don attended Midland Elementary, West Junior and Colorado Springs (Palmer) High School before earning a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado.
From 1987 on, Don worked as an “inventor for hire” in his own business, Spiderwort Design. From the late 1990s into the 2000s, Don was a key advocacy figure with the volunteer Red Rock Canyon Committee (later the Friends of Red Rock Canyon) and in 2010 co-authored a book, “Geologic Folio: Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Colorado Springs, Colorado,” which provided historical and technical details about the property.
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