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City Parks' 'full vision' for Bancroft Park includes removal of pavilion

       UPDATE, April 28: The city has created an online view of its proposed "Bancroft Park Action Plan" and is seeking public comment. The link is at coloradosprings.gov/Bancroft.

       A glimpse of what the Parks Department now sees as its “full vision” for Bancroft Park improvements was given to Colorado Springs City Council at its April 24 work session.
The three principal structures at Bancroft Park can be seen in a view from Colbrunn Court: the bandshell (left), the pavilion (center) and Garvin Cabin (right). The conceptual City Parks "vision" for the park, as presented to City Council April 24, includes the removal of the pavilion, which was installed in a city project timed for the state centennial in 1976.
Westside Pioneer photo
Pointing to what staff sees as a “consensus” of citizen views, City Parks Operation and Maintenance Manager Kurt Schroeder displayed a slide showing a future park with:
       · A restroom at its southeast corner.
       · Expanded plaza space at its south side (near Colorado Avenue) and/or west side (next to Colbrunn Court), the latter of which could be designated space for farmers markets.
       · No pavilion.
       · Restricted driving access to Colbrunn (which could be tied in with plaza space on that side of the park).
       · A way to secure the bandshell when it's not in use.
       Parks staff will seek approval for what they are calling the “Bancroft Park Action Plan” before the City Parks Advisory Board Thursday, May 11. The meeting starts at 7:30 a.m. in the Parks office building, 1401 Recreation Way. A period will be offered for public comments. The board is empowered to approve plan implementation.
       The bullet-point concepts listed above originated as alternatives and options staff offered to attendees at the April 18 Action Plan public meeting. See the Pioneer's meeting article at this link.
This is a close-up of a few of the options suggested by City Parks staff for the design of a future security door for the bandshell and a stand-alone restroom in Bancroft Park. These and other park design options, along with three park-changing alternatives, were revealed for the first time at a public meeting April 18, when attendees were broken out into small groups and given about a half-hour to analyze them and provide written feedback. That feedback is now being used by City Parks in developing a "Bancroft Park Action Plan" that will go before the Parks Advisory Board May 11.
Courtesy of City Parks

       Staff has since posted “Verbatim Group Responses” from citizen feedback at the meeting. Those responses show that the first and last bullet points were not opposed by any groups, but the other three were. See the bottom of this article for tallies derived from those comments.
       At the April 24 work session, councilmembers offered no comments on the concepts themselves. However, three of them - Don Knight, Richard Skorman and Tom Strand - scolded Schroeder for not moving faster on actual construction.
       Knight cited council's expectation that work would be starting in early May. But Schroeder's report showed no future “dates or next steps,” he pointed out.
       Strand asked, “When are you going to start fixing the bandshell? I think people want to know that.”
       The administrator's answer was that City Parks sought bids on the project and is talking to a company that is likely to be hired as the contractor. However, at this point, “I can't tell you who the low bid is.”
       As for a work schedule, Schroeder said, “I wouldn't want to throw out dates now because they might be incorrect and raise expectations.”
       Eventually, council agreed to have Schroeder return to the next council work session in two weeks (May 8), “when I can give you those dates,” he pledged to the group.
       A lingering Bancroft unknown - not probed by council at the April 24 work session - concerns the cost. Responding to a question from the Westside Pioneer at the April 18 meeting, Schroeder estimated $180,000 to $200,000 for the bandshell work. However, he told council April 24 that $250,000 “ought to” be enough.
       That's the amount that City Council allocated in March.
City Parks Operation and Maintenance Manager Kurt Schroeder talks to City Council at its April 24 work session.
Westside Pioneer photo from Springs TV
Council's urgency on Bancroft stems from a fire in January that charred the bandshell stage, leading City Parks to board up the stage and close it indefinitely.
       The only estimates for fixing the bandshell and upgrading other aspects of the park have been $400,000 to $700,000, depending on what upgrade options are decided, as Parks planner David Deitemeyer said in response to a citizen question at the April 18 public meeting.
       More money could be on the way. Schroeder said that Parks has designated $225,000 in Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) funds for Bancroft improvements, which could be available by fall.
       Also, council has talked about seeking another $250,000, if need be, from the city's LART tourism tax.
       Schroeder expressed general optimism to council about Bancroft, in large part because he thinks that his department got useful guidance from the two public meetings (the first being April 5).
       “I know our contractor is motivated, and we aim to do it as quick as we can now that we have a full vision,” he told council. “We feel really good about the direction we're going.”
       Schroeder estimated that 35 people attended the April 18 meeting. As at the April 5 meeting (which drew about twice as many people), Parks staff had attendees break up into groups of five to seven (typically those sitting at each of the tables that were arranged for that purpose).
       According to the April 18 Verbatim Group Responses - as posted on the city's Bancroft Park website - the strongest attendee preferences were for the stand- alone restroom and the secured bandshell.
       Six of the seven groups said yes on the restroom, with none opposed. Reasons included safety and visibility - such would be “easier to police,” as one group put it.
       Four groups spoke in favor of security for the bandshell; none said they were against it.
       Here are other tallies derived from the Verbatim Responses:
       - Expanded plaza space. Three of the seven groups liked the idea of a plaza area for farmers markets, but two others disliked it. Another favored a bigger plaza at the south end, near Colorado Avenue.
       - Pavilion. Three groups wanted to remove the pavilion, which sits in the middle of the park, while one group said to keep it. Schroeder said such a change will let people see “all the way from Colorado Avenue to the bandshell, so that's something we're going to explore.” The group opposing removal suggested eliminating the walls "where vagrants sleep," and that the facility, "if kept, can be used for city revenue. If people rent the park for any sort of party/event they will want a place to gather."
       - Colbrunn Court, restricted access. Four of the seven groups liked the concept of Colbrunn being more pedestrian-oriented (although not necessarily closed); however, two groups wanted it left open and were concerned about losing the Colbrunn parking spaces.
       To view these comments and/or see other online city updates, go to coloradosprings.gov/Bancroft.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/25/17, updated 4/28/17; Outdoors: Bancroft Park)

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