Pioneer's top 20 Westside stories of 2017: numbers 15-20 & honorable mentionEditor's note: The article about story numbers 1-7 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 8-14 at this link.
Jan. 10, 2018
15. Robbin Place. In November, a construction crew poured 28 of the required 40 caissons for the six-unit Robbin Place townhome project, only to have the city issue a stop work order after residents complained.
This incident fit in with the two-year saga leading up to it. Neighbors of the hillside site (between the west 500 blocks of St. Vrain and Boulder streets) have steadily opposed the project, citing compatibility, land stability and fire safety concerns.
Developer Paul Rising only gained City Council approval this fall when a motion to uphold a neighborhood appeal of a Planning Commission decision failed in a tie vote.
The stop-work decision was based on the city position that Rising had failed to obtain the necessary grading permit and to make certain “technical modifications” on the plat that council had approved.
The project is expected to restart eventually, and the city plans no penalties against him.
16. Election ballot issues. All four ballot issues/questions on Westsiders' ballots passed in the Nov. 7 election. These were:
- 1A, by El Paso County. The county can keep “excess” property tax revenue from 2016 (about $14.6 million) for parks needs and help fund a future state/federal widening of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock (the “gap”).
- 2A, by Colorado Springs. The city can start charging stormwater fees on “all developed real property” - $5 for residential and $30 per acre for all others - to pay for drainage upgrades from 2018 to 2038.
- 3E, by School District 11. This is a permanent mill levy override to help fund needs including teacher pay, building upgrades, school security and technology.
- 5B, by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA). Depending on its revenues, the RTA is now authorized to help pay for “gap” construction (up to $10 million) within the county. The RTA's 1-cent sales tax will not change.
17. Paint the Town Blue. After 11 years of summer concerts in Bancroft Park, the Pikes Peak Blues Community (PPBC) had to relocate to Thorndale Park in 2017, due to the fire that charred the bandshell in January followed by repairs that lasted into September.
But the relocation didn't go badly. In fact, “there was so much enthusiasm for Thorndale from the people attending” that the free “Paint” shows will likely return there in 2018, according to PPBC spokesperson Jim Sesters.
Sesters gave four reasons for the decisision: Thorndale is a “natural amphitheater” for sound, has a playground (helpful for attendees who bring kids), has “great shade trees” and has “less homeless people to deal with.”
PPBC is a nonprofit consisting of area musicians and their supporters. “Paint the Town Blue” typically offers 10 or so concerts between June and August, with a different local band each time.
In 2017, new leaders came on board with several prominent agencies/groups on or directly affecting the Westside. Elected to Colorado Springs City Council was Richard Skorman, representing District 3, which includes the southerly part of the Westside, including Old Colorado City. At West Middle School, Shalah Sims, who had been the principal since 2015 of West Middle (grades 6-8) and Elementary (K-5), now heads the middle school only; and Karen Newton, formerly middle school assistant principal, is principal of West Elementary.
Other new leaders are Sean Mandell, Gold Hill Police Substation; Janina Goodwin, Old Colorado City Library; Thomas Zelibor, Space Foundation; James Thompson, Organization of Westside Neighbors; Welling Clark, Alliance for the Historic Westside; Kristy Milligan, Westside CARES; Ken Norwood, Westside Community Center; Dave Brackett, Old Colorado City Foundation; Karen Cullen, Old Colorado City Associates; and Jody Barker, Alzheimer's Association (Central Colorado).
19. Arveson Shrine. The property that was long known as the Arveson Shrine at 3540 W. Pikes Peak Ave. has been cleared of those trappings and has a new owner whose plans are not yet known.
From the 1960s until the early 2000s, the daughters of Rose Arveson, believing her to be a Christian saint, had offered the quarter-acre site - where they also lived - as a free place for anyone wanting to come and seek spiritual solace. Most
But both daughters had died by 2011, and the shrine fell into disrepair. The property was finally sold in September 2016 and again in March 2017. It is now owned by a Cascade-based entity named Atlas Development LLC.
20. In memoriam. Three prominent Westsiders...
- Beverley B. “Bev” Disch, 91, a retired schoolteacher, eight-year president of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) and co-founder of the Pleasant Valley Swim Club. She died in October 2017.
- Joel Beck, 70, a Vietnam War veteran, builder, retired operating engineer, 34-year blood donor and community volunteer. He died in February 2017.
- Marie Pemberton, 96, who had owned and operated the Maverick Motel for 25 years She died in January 2017.
· Discouraged by lack of support from most El Paso County Health Board members at their December meeting, a nonprofit agency abandoned plans (for now, at least) to open a needle exchange program for intravenous drug users in a church at 21st and Broadway streets. If approved, the program would have been the first in El Paso. Supporters said it would make drug users safer; opponents argued that it would do nothing to reduce their habit…
· Despite privacy fears by the neighbor whose property line it's next to, a formal trail through a vacant lot was backed by Colorado Springs Planning Commission in September, legalizing a longstanding walking shortcut for Holmes and Coronado students. Supporters with the Friendship Lane/Crescent Lane neighborhood's HOA had built the roughly 85-foot-long path - nicknamed the Tolerance Trail - in the past year, connecting Friendship Lane with Pioneer Park. The construction was made possible by a supportive neighbor who bought the vacant lot…
· The Westside Community Center organized its first “Community Picnic” in August, attracting about 250 people. The free event included a celebration of the neighborhood effort that had gone into building a playground in the mid-'90s when the site at Bijou and 17th streets was still the Buena Vista School. City Parks installed a new playground there in September…
· A project this fall and winter upgraded the city's King Street detention pond. The pond collects runoff from homes on the hillside above King. According to city engineers, the $518,829 project improves water quality, in part by slowing the pond's flow into city storm drains en route to Fountain Creek. The contractor was Langston Concrete of Florence.…
· The Avenue Merchants group donated $1,200 to the Colorado Springs Police Department, requesting that the funds help its Downtown Area Response Team (DART). DART provides specialized police coverage to the downtown and the West Colorado Avenue corridor, including Old Colorado City. Started in 2010, the Avenue Merchants consists of about 10 businesses along West Colorado…
· Bristol Elementary, a K-5 District 11 public school at 890 N. Walnut St., won a $15,000 grant this fall from the Colorado Succeeds program, a non-profit coalition of business leaders that seeks out and recognizes public schools that are having a “transformational impact” on Colorado education…
· Ten suspects - one of them an illegal alien with federally reported gang affiliations - were arrested in connection with the murders in March of Coronado High students Natalie Partida, 16; and Derek Greer, 15. Five are to be tried for murder.
Westside Pioneer article