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GUEST COLUMN: Untold problems in city's Bancroft Park restroom plan

By Judy Kasten

Feb. 4, 2018
       Recent news articles regarding City Parks' planned restrooms in Bancroft Park do not tell the whole story about how they will impact the area.
       According to plans, these bathrooms are going to be "state of the art," self-cleaning, and stainless steel, with sinks and running water, plus a full 10-minute
Judi Kasten (right) poses with her daughter Lori while both were volunteering for Territory Days in Old Colorado City.
Westside Pioneer file photo
locking feature for privacy. Not only will they face Colorado Avenue at the front of the park, they will have the SAME prominence and size as the historic cabin.
       So the entrance to this small, quaint, historic park will be flanked on one side by a cabin with tons of history and on the other side by a state-of-the-art bathroom oasis for the homeless.
       The city is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into Bancroft Park, also including the now-repaired bandshell and future picnic tables, a plaza, playground and updated landscaping and lighting. But the park is only one square block, 1.2 acres in size. It will be dwarfed by the oversized outhouse (no matter how you disguise it) that will stand in front of these improvements.
       There are at minimum 100 homeless people on the Westside, and that count is probably low. If each of them uses the facility once a day for the 10 minutes of allowed locked privacy to wash up, change clothes, do their bathroom thing and dump their trash, it amounts to 1,000 minutes, or more than 16 hours of daily use by just that group alone. Even with two bathrooms, there would be eight hours of use daily per “room.” The future will see a long line for those restrooms constantly - every day, all day.
       Each 10 minutes of privacy would also allow time for a lot of drug use and the trash it creates. Yuk! Needles - double yuk!
       Currently, because many Old Colorado City businesses don't provide public access to restrooms, homeless people often use the facilities at the library, as well as less sanitary locations. As a business owner who has done her fair share of poop-scooping at my building, in the back alleys and behind dumpsters, I too would appreciate having something for them. I just cannot believe the front of our small park in a historic business district is the right place.
       A better location could be Vermijo Park, which is only a couple of blocks south of the avenue. Its restroom has plumbing and running water, but is padlocked now, Vermijo Park is used very little by the public, so it could be ideal for this self-cleaning rest stop. (Does self-cleaning have trash pickup automatically? Just wondering.)
       Our Old Colorado City Historic District is only three blocks long. It is one of the most unique and charming in the United States, and Bancroft Park is a big part of that. But that could be spoiled if the city goes ahead with its restroom plan.
       I urge all residents of the Westside, and especially the historic community, to contact City Parks Planner David Deitemeyer (ddeitemeyer@springsgov.com) and City Council to express your opinions. Not everybody is on the same page, of course, but the city has not heard from enough of us to make a good decision. The park master-plan process lasted less than a month last April, and very few of us were in on it.

       Editor's note: Judy Kasten is the owner of the Kasten Accounting business in Old Colorado City. She has also served for many years as a volunteer member of the Old Colorado City Special Improvement Maintenance District (SIMD).

(Opinion: Guest Columns)

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