No Man’s Land goal: a new name
In first meeting, task force also works up action items for area west of 31st

       Westside Gateway? Upper Westside? Every-one's Land?
       The first of these name ideas came from County Commissioner Sallie Clark, the second from hotel owner Mike Crepeau. Nobody suggested the third one, but it would be the opposite of “No Man's Land” - the nickname that's stuck in recent years to the Colorado Avenue area west of 31st Street.
       A public-private task force, formed in the wake of a heavily attended citizen meeting April 4 at the Shrine Club, is seeking answers to crime issues in that area. At its first meeting April 25, the task force came up with a list of short, medium and long-range action items, but along with these, in response to a suggestion by Sheriff's Office Patrol Division Commander Rob King, was a consensus that the area needs a less negative name.
       There just wasn't agreement on what the name should be. So the body reached another consensus, to think about it and see if a brainchild surfaces by the next task force meeting June 18. By then a consultant, hired separately with a $300,00 grant, will be on the job and may have ideas too.
       Attendees/participants also included Colorado Springs City Council members Merv Bennett and Lisa Czelatdko, Manitou Springs City Councilmember Coreen Toll, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey, Gold Hill Police Division Commander Pat Rigdon, Grandview neighborhood leader Bonnie Lapora, Homeward Pikes Peak Director Bob Holmes and Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) Welling Clark, who moderated the two-hour meeting in the Gold Hill substation community room.
       The earlier part of the session involved some rehashing of several problems brought out at the Shrine Club meeting - namely, that transients are not really homeless people at all, but are getting more brazen and even hostile, with begging centered around the Red Rock shopping center and thievery in the neighboring Grandview neighborhood.
       Bret Iverson of the CSPD's Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), which works with street people regularly, provided a more sympathetic view. Noting the weak economy, he gave a composite of a motel dweller who has an income (typically Social Security, food stamps and free meals from local charities) but is unable to get a job - or has physical/mental issues preventing him from doing so - and who begs at times to make rent money.
       Others close to the situation have described the area's problem people as typically begging so they can get drunk or high. In any case, Iverson said that the shopping center's liquor store owner has pledged to cooperate by refusing to sell to known trouble-makers.
       The task force's proposals for the short term (defined as within a year) are the following:
  • Creating an ordinance to prohibit soliciting on a public highway (the avenue west of 31st is Colorado Business 24).
  • Devising a campaign to educate people that giving money to panhandlers only worsens the problem.
  • Recruiting certain nonprofit groups to join the task force because of their vested interest in helping people living on the edge.
  • Using a benevolent form of code enforcement to work with the motels believed to house suspected criminal types on property unpgrades.
  • Identifying more precisely the “nuisance properties” in No Man's Land.
  • Getting the area's three jurisdictions (city, county and Manitou) together to compare ordinances and policies to ensure greater enforcement consistency.
  • Supporting the consultant that's being hired under the grant on behalf of the three jurisdictions, with the basic task of detailing and prioritizing infrastructure needs between 31st and the Highway 24 overpass in Manitou.
  • Developing posters and signage to make the related laws clear to everyone, in terms of panhandling, trespassing etc.
  • Calculating the costs of service to that area (for example, Holmes has previously revealed that just one transient had 260 emergency calls in one year).
           Under the medium range (one to two years) were the ideas of attracting new businesses, discussing city annexation of the area under county jurisdiction (although residents/property owners would have to initiate such a legal step), installing security cameras and forming a district or zone. The latter could be a security and maintenance district like Old Colorado City's, supported by its own property tax; or an area that would get incentives for business improvement.
           The only item under long range was the potential project that could result from the consultant's work. It would be funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, if voters renew that sales tax in the November election… which raises the question, would the vote be helped by a new name for No Man's Land?

    Westside Pioneer article