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OWN moves annual Westside picnic back to Bancroft Park June 25

       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) will bring its annual picnic back to Bancroft Park Sunday, June 25.
       Along with barbecued brats and hotdogs and various side dishes, the event from noon to 2 p.m. will feature live music (folk guitarist Curtis Boucher), community booths, public safety displays and a raffle. People are also encouraged to
At the July 2006 picnic in Bancroft Park, then-Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera (right) works the barbecue grill with Stormie Wells (left) and Bob Kliewer, who were both Organization of Westside Neighbors board members at that time.
Westside Pioneer file photo
bring blankets or camping chairs to add to a “picnic-type atmosphere,” said OWN President Jim Thompson.
       “It's exciting. It should be good,” he enthused. “We're hoping for a turnout of 200 folks.”
       A flyer describes the event as offering “free food”; however, it adds a clarification that “a donation of $5 per family will be asked."
       According to Thompson, proceeds are to help with repair/upgrade costs in Bancroft stemming from its bandshell fire last January.
       The picnic tradition started about 20 years ago at Bancroft Park. From 2011 to 2016, the OWN picnic was held on the lawn at the Westside Community Center. There have been no problems with that site - plus, the center didn't charge a usage fee - but the OWN board decided to change the venue this year to show solidarity with Bancroft. “The OWN board believes the park is extremely important to the identity of the Westside,” Thompson commented.
       Over the years, wherever the picnic has been held, it has proven to be a popular way for Westside residents to connect with one another, as well as with OWN, a nonprofit advocacy group for residents on the older Westside since 1978.
       The OWN board has nine members. Three of the posts come open for election each year at the group's town hall for Westside residents. This year's was in March.
       Often attending the picnic have been city, county and state elected officials, government staffers, police and fire officers and school and business leaders. In 2006, then-Mayor Lionel Rivera worked the grill for a while (see photo above).
       For the raffle this year, the cost to enter is $1 (cash). Consisting of more than 100 donated items with a cumulative value of about $2,500, the raffle will help OWN with some of its funding needs. For most of its existence, the group had received a city stipend (up to $8,000 a year), but that ended after 2014.
       Food for the picnic is being provided by Westside restaurants, the flyer notes. People are also welcome to bring side dishes of their own to share.
       With the bandshell unavailable because of repair work this summer, the picnic musician, Curtis Boucher, will play to one side, according to Thompson.
       Regarding usage fees, City Parks planned to charge OWN $250 to rent the park this year, the Westside Pioneer has learned. But that fee was covered by former District 3 Councilmember Keith King, using discretionary funds that were left over when he stepped down in April. He had also led City Council in pushing City Parks to expedite bandshell repairs.
       Asked why there was a fee at all, when the picnic will be a Bancroft fundraiser, Parks Special Events Supervisor Carly Kobiasar said that the $250 represents a “significant discount” from the normal rental fee for that size of event at Bancroft - $375.
       The discount results from applying for the use permit through the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), she pointed out. The OCCF itself has raised more than $30,000 for Bancroft through special events over the past four years.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 6/13/17; Community: Neighborhoods)

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