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Attendees at the April 5 community meeting, coordinated by City Parks staff, were seated at tables to allow small-group brainstorming of ideas for Bancroft Park. The location was the meeting hall of the Westside Community Center. Standing at right is David Deitemeyer, a City Parks planner who coordinated the discussion effort.
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Brainstorming for Bancroft: City Parks sets 2nd community meeting April 18

Dave Hughes (right), a long-time Westside civic leader who helped organize past improvements in Old Colorado City and Bancroft Park, talks with three City Parks staffers at the April 5 meeting (from left), Michelle Bies, Jon Carlson and Carly Kobasiar.
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After a brainstorming session attended by 70-some citizens April 5, City Parks has set a second community meeting Tuesday, April 18 on the Bancroft Park issue.
       The time will be 6 to 7:30 p.m. The location will again be the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
       It's part of the citizens outreach element in developing an “action plan” - as Parks staff are calling it - to repair/upgrade the fire-damaged Bancroft bandshell and possibly upgrade other aspects of the 1.2-acre public space in Old Colorado City.
       In late March, City Council allocated $250,000 toward the project, including roughly $100,000 from the city's bandshell insurance policy, while leaving open the potential for additional funds, depending on how the action plan take shape.
       With the scope of work still being crafted, a time frame for construction has not yet been specified, but the city has deemed the bandshell unsafe, so upcoming events such as Taste of OCC (April 30) and Territory Days (May 27-29) are still scrambling for temporary stages for their live bands.
       Parks does have a schedule for getting the action plan together. Staff intends to update the council-appointed Parks Advisory Board at its monthly meeting April 13. The April 18 community meeting could be followed by “additional meetings to be scheduled as needed,” states a slide that Parks staff projected on a screen for attendees at the April 5 meeting.
       The idea is to have a “proposed action plan” ready to present to the Advisory Board at its May 11 meeting, the slide states. Board approval would allow the work to go forward.
Sarah Bryarly and Kurt Schroeder of City Parks prepare to hand out colored markers for Bancroft Park community meeting attendees to use during the small-group discussion period at the April 5 meeting. On the screen behind them is the last of their department's project slides, summarizing the "group exercise."
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       The staff's “project goals” for the action plan, as defined at the start of the April 5 meeting, showed a desire to maintain a reasonable balance between the park's historical heritage, the surrounding neighborhood (which is both residential and commercial) and the park's role as a public locale.
       About two weeks before the meeting, staff posted an online survey about park issues. Going into the meeting, parks planner David Deitemeyer said that more than 220 people had responded.
       A staff slide titled “What we've heard to date” [from the public] listed the following: bandshell repair, better security lighting, children's play equipment and “concerns over homeless.”
       The survey can still be accessed at this link.
       At the meeting, citizens were seated around a dozen tables, each of which was identified by a “group” number and asked to spend about a half-hour considering staff questions related to the park. A spokesperson from each group then addressed the meeting as a whole.
       A consensus appeared to favor improved security, upgraded amenities (such as the electrical system and public restrooms) and a general desire to enhance Bancroft's “town square feel,” as one group phrased it.
       A few groups also talked about how city fees to use the park have increased in recent years, thus reducing the number of local events; and about more transients using Bancroft as a hangout and illegal activities in the vicinity.
       Deitemeyer's presentation also included a timeline for the one-block site, including its service as a Colorado City school (going back to 1889) and Colorado Springs making it a neighborhood park in the late 1920s (after annexing Colorado City in
A slide presented at the April 5 meeting shows what City Parks staffers refer to as Bancroft Park's half-mile "service radius."
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1917). City research has also found that the bandshell was built in 1935, the concrete dancers' pad in front of it poured in 1948, the cabin relocated to the park's southwest corner in 1961, the pavilion in the middle dedicated in 1976 and the park contributing to Old Colorado City's designation on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
       Regarding the bandshell fire, the City Fire Department has defined it as “purposely set” by one or more people lighting trash on the stage on a cold night in late January. No arrests have been made.
       For about two months after the incident, concerns were raised by Westside business and neighborhood leaders about slow city reaction, lack of communication and insensitivity to a heart-felt Westside locale.
       In early March, City Council took on the matter, led by Keith King (whose District 3 includes the Old Colorado City area), Don Knight and Tom Strand. This led to the $250,000 allocation.
       All three of them were at the April 5 meeting, along with Richard Skorman, who was elected the day before to the D-3 seat. King had not sought a second term.
       King, who had initially been critical of the Parks response, said at the outset of the April 5 meeting that he likes the way staff has responded and now the Bancroft effort has become “kind of a fun way to end my service.”
       Skorman made it clear that he shares King's interest in the project. “I'm behind this 100 percent,” he told the meeting attendees.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/6/17; Outdoors: Bancroft Park)

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