CDBG sidewalk work continuing
Midland area major benificiary in ‘03 budget

       Where once were worn dirt paths, concrete sidewalks with curbs and gutters have been appearing along the north side of Broadway Street and adjacent streets in the Midland area of the Westside over the past several weeks.
        The work, including handicapped-access ramps at street corners, is being accomplished by contractors through the City of Colorado Springs Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, according to its manager, Don Sides.
       The sidewalks are going in along Broadway Street as needed between Midland Elementary and a block past Westend Avenue, as well as on blocks of Adams Street and Westend; on the other side of Highway 24 on 16th Street between Cucharras Street and Vermijo Avenue, he said.
       There is no charge to the adjacent homeowners for the CDBG work because the older Westside is in what the federal Housing and Urban Development Department calls a Neighborhood Strategy Area (NSA). One of seven NSAs in town, it has been so designated by City Council over the years because 51 percent of the older-Westside property owners earn below median incomes, Sides said.
       CDBG sidewalks are nothing new to the Westside, which had few sidewalks – at least of the concrete variety – when it was originally developed.
       “When a lot of these areas were annexed in, there weren’t any sidewalks,” Sides said.
        “People moving into new areas already have these amenities. That’s why this came about, to help the older areas.”
       Concrete sidewalks are good for reducing mud on shoes, but curbs and gutters are the key functional components. “What happens without curb and gutter is that the water just kind of spreads out,” Sides said. “A lot of times the street is too high and the water floods yards. If you put in curb and gutter, it directs the flow of water toward the storm inlet.” The Broadway sidewalks, particularly, are expected to get much of their use from students walking to Midland Elementary School.
       Additional sidewalks are being built as part of the Broadway Bluffs subdivision west of Westend Avenue; however, these are being installed by the developer, not through CDBG funds, Sides pointed out.
        CDBG work is not limited to sidewalks. A project in 1999-2001 along Uintah Street between 19th and 25th streets built retaining walls and widened the street in addition to sidewalks.
       In 2002, CDBG money built a new park, Promontory Point Open Space Park, on about 4 acres north of Limit Street and south of West Platte Avenue, a project which also included tree trimming, trash cleanup, a concrete loop trail and two gravel trails and picnic tables.
       The current sidewalk work is being covered with about $200,000 in 2003 funds. Sides, whose budget runs from April to March, said he usually starts meeting with the Organization of Westside Neighbors, the volunteer citizen group representing the Westside NSA, around February to get ideas on where work can be done for the next budget year.
       Once work locations are decided on, meetings are held to get input from the affected property owners. “I spend a lot of up-front time talking with people,” Sides said. “We try to have meetings in the evenings, a lot of times on the site.”
       He can’t do all the work that’s perceived as needed, saying he has a “limited budget” that he has to spread evenly among the seven NSAs. That budget limitation is also why the Uintah project, for example, had to be spread over three years, he said.
        In a more northerly part of the Westside (based on city definitions), the Mesa Springs area (straddling Chestnut Street between Uintah and Fillmore streets) has also been an NSA. However, Sides said, after meeting with the neighborhood this week, it looks as if, other than “pockets here and there,” the needed upgrades there have been accomplished and, as a result, Mesa Springs will be phased out as an NSA within a few years.
       Sides, who has been with the city 10 years, said he believes the CDBG work has been going on for at least 20 years.

Westside Pioneer Article