Bancroft Park 'Action Plan' approved; bandshell work to start in June
Leading off in June with repairs to the fire-damaged bandshell, the plan also foresees - should funding become available - such “enhancements” as a restroom built close to Colorado Avenue, a small playground, better lighting, a broader concrete area for vendor tents and the removal of the covered pavilion.
All of these were among the many alternatives/options presented at a public meeting (one of two that City Parks had sponsored in April) late that month.
After the Parks Board meeting, City Parks planner David Deitemeyer and Parks Operations and Maintenance Director Kurt Schroeder told the Westside Pioneer that the bandshell work is planned to start shortly after the May 27-29 Territory Days. The delay is to avoid any possibility of construction impacts on the annual Old Colorado City festival, which uses the park. Event promoter Jim Wear has said he plans to bring in a temporary stage.
The Parks officials said the bandshell contractor is Murphy Constructors, a long-time Westside-located company. Murphy has already erected a fence around the bandshell and posted a sign with its name on it.
A timeline presented by Deitemeyer at the Parks Board meeting estimated mid-July for completion of the bandshell work. Another public meeting will be scheduled around that time, Deitemeyer told the board (whose members are appointed by City Council).
The Murphy contract is $99,327. However, Deitemeyer clarified to the Pioneer that this only covers fire-damage repairs identified by the insurance company.
The insurance payout was about $100,000; City Council has allocated about $150,000 more from its conservation trust fund (which is derived from state lottery proceeds). Additional funds are being sought for the other park improvements.
The meeting agenda item began with Deitemeyer giving a presentation that included several slides summing up key points of the Action Plan effort and proposal. New information included his report on citizen “feedback” to a survey posted online April 28. The posting had followed Schroeder's giving a similar Action Plan presentation at a City Council work session April 24.
Deitemeyer said the survey responses showed that the plan was “overall well received,” but noted concerns about removing the pavilion and perceptions that the plan had been “rushed” (having been developed over about six weeks after City Council allocated funds and told Parks to move faster).
Regarding the pavilion, Deitemeyer said the removal decision followed reports of vagrants taking advantage of the pavilion's low walls there. Calling it an "attractive nuisance," he said a "consensus" of the citizens participating in the Action Plan effort wanted it gone, but he did concede there were some dissenting views.
As for the planning pace, he asserted that, while it may have been “accelerated” (taking less time than typical master plans), the idea of improving the park had “been in the public eye for a couple of years” (a reference to fundraising by Old Colorado City businesses since 2013), so it was not rushed.
Deitemeyer's timeline shows three phases for the project, with Phase 1 for the bandshell work, Phase 2A for planning (and fundraising for)
He told board members that the rest of the planning stage (including the mid-July public meeting) is intended only to “fine-tune” the Action Plan that they would be approving.
Board members responded to the presentation with some fact-related questions and comments, but the only remarks approaching criticism concerned the improved electrical set-up, which will allow park outlets to be turned off when events aren't scheduled. This need was identified because of known issues with transients sleeping on the stage at night and the fire having occurred on the stage on a cold night in late January. Also, Deitemeyer's presentation pointed out that the "homeless presence" was by far the public's least liked aspect of the park.
Board member Scott Hume asked if this reduced outlet availability would deny homeless people a place to “plug in their cell phones.”
Schroeder responded that the downtown area, such as the Marian House, has such resources. To that, another board member, Hank Scarangella, asked if there was someplace closer for the homeless to get help, such as the Westside Community Center. He was told that the center has a food pantry and other aid for the needy.
Another board member, Carol Beckman asked how a park design can help alleviate the homeless problem. Deitemeyer said the idea at Bancroft is “to create a space less attractive to them and moreso to the general public." An example of this strategy, as he had mentioned earlier in his presentation, will be putting a restroom in a highly visible place.
After the board-staff exchanges, four citizens spoke on the plan, none of whom expressed opposition. Among these were three Westside advocates/leaders - Dave Hughes, Welling Clark and Jim Thompson.
Hughes ramrodded the Old Colorado City business revitalization effort of the 1970s and '80s, while Clark and Thompson work with groups involved in current community improvement efforts.
Clark said he appreciated the phasing approach, summarizing that “the entire community of the Westside is on board and looking forward to working with the Parks Department on this.”
Hughes, who had been involved in the 1970s effort that resulted in the pavilion installation, pointed out a previously unrevealed fact - that a time capsule is buried underneath it.
After the citizen comments, the Parks Board voted without further discussion.
Westside Pioneer article