Keep it closed for now, Heimlicher says in council confab on St. Vrain/18th St.
District 3 representative wants to wait for resolution of ‘public process’
Despite an appeal from colleague Tom Gallagher and a question from Mayor Lionel Rivera at the April 9 City Council meeting, council member Jerry Heimlicher
opted to keep the St. Vrain/18th Street access closed while a “public process” takes place on how best to resolve the matter.
Evidently following unwritten protocol, council members deferred to Heimlicher - who had raised the closure issue in the first place - because the Westside intersection is part of his District 3.
At issue is the one-lane access between 18th and St. Vrain, which Heimlicher said “goes back to annexation days (referring to Colorado Springs' annexation of Colorado City during World War I), while Gallagher said that “the property lines got made in 1889.”
Whichever is accurate, the recent reality is that City Traffic Engineering erected a barricade blocking the access after receiving a complaint from a resident at that corner. The resident hadn't asked for it to be closed, Dick Carlson of City Traffic Engineering clarified for council. But when city officials looked at it, “our obligation was to make it safe and so we closed it,” he said.
Heimlicher has not argued the safety issue; his crusade has been the city's acting on just the one complaint without consulting the neighborhood. Through his efforts - after being contacted by a neighbor angered by the access closure - Traffic Engineering and the City Manager's Office have sent a letter of apology to the neighbors and pledged to set up a neighborhood meeting.
“Let's leave it (the barricade) for now, have a (meeting) and hopefully we can make it a better intersection than it used to be,” he said. He added afterward that he also is concerned about an unofficial land survey that seems to show the street access is actually on private property.
Gallagher, who lives in that part of the Westside, agreed with Heimlicher's public-process stance, but suggested removing the barricade until a final decision is reached. “There's never been an accident there,” he said. “It's a unique neighborhood, a unique street. We've all grown accustomed to it. I know that the neighbors would appreciate the barricade coming down.”
Rivera said he had “no problem” with Heimlicher's strategy, “but I heard someone say they've been using that road for 50 years without a problem. The neighbors are going to ask Mr. Heimlicher at some point, 'Why did you block our road?'”
Contacted after the meeting, Fred Bishop, who's lived in the 1700 block of St. Vrain for 53 years, said he would like to see the access reopened. “I can't imagine its going to be that big a hazard,” he said.
No date has been announced yet for the neighborhood meeting, but Heimlicher said it should be later this month. For now, Carlson said, the department is “exploring alternatives,” starting with an official survey to straighten out possible street and property line conflicts. The city is also exploring the chances of purchasing land from the property on the north side of 18th and St. Vrain, whose odd angle creates the tight access squeeze.
“One possibility is a safer intersection,” Carlson said. “If that's not possible, maybe it could become a one-way.”
Westside Pioneer article