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King town hall to include 'No Man's Land' issues

       City Council President Keith King will lead a town hall Monday, Feb. 24 at the Westside Community Center, with “No Man's Land” as one of the agenda items.
       Also being called a "community conversation" by city public relations, the event will start at 7 p.m. The center is at 1628 W. Bijou St.
       No Man's Land is a nickname given to an area of Colorado Avenue roughly west of 31st Street that has seen limited public and private investment over the years.
Keith King

       Representing District 3 (which includes that area), King expects to be joined by two other council members - Don Knight of District 1 (just north of No Man's Land) and Merv Bennett, at-large.
       “We're trying to put together a plan to bring resolution to some of the issues there that have been around for 80 years,” King said in a recent interview. He was referring to a comment by Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) President Welling Clark at OWN's annual meeting in January that he'd found a 1938 press clipping calling it “No Man's Land.”
       Government jurisdiction is prominent among that area's issues. The south side of the avenue from 33rd to Manitou is mostly in the county while the north side is in the city, and the road is maintained by the state. Asked if he is interested in the city annexing the south side, King said, “Absolutely.”
       Clark, who also volunteers with the Avenue Task Force (ATF - a business/citizen group focusing on No Man's Land crime issues), vouched for the ATF's support as well. "It's our firm belief that annexation should be the number-one issue for ATF this year," he said.
       Annexation would require approval of the property owners in that area, based on Colorado's Municipal Annexation Act of 1965. The act also defines a process by which "land owners of more than 50 percent of the area" can petition for annexation themselves to an adjacent municipality (which in this case could be either Colorado Springs or Manitou). But this has not happened so far.
       The area west of 31st is slated to receive about $12 million in civic improvements next year through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA). King wants to be sure the work is done comprehensively. For example, he has heard citizen concerns about Colorado Springs Utilities digging up streets after they're paved. “A good time to investigate that [for the RTA project] is now,” he said.
       (Note: Asked about this point, Steve Berry of Utilities said that the enterprise and city officials meet quarterly to synch up on major work, but sometimes when emergencies arise tearing up existing streets is unavoidable.)
       The town hall agenda also lists an opportunity for other citizen concerns and a discussion on Mayor Steve Bach's proposed City for Champions, which would include impacts on the southwest downtown area.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 2/18/14)

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