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Unsolved mystery: After $50K this year, no 2019 LART grant sought for Bancroft

June 22, 2018
       It would be a stretch to call it a murder mystery.
       But something did die - a chance to fund more (or any) improvements in Bancroft Park in 2019.
Colorado Springs Parks provided this slide, showing different views of damage from the the January 2017 fire, at a City Council meeting in the spring of 2017. At the time, councilmembers were urging Parks to respond more speedily to the situation.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Parks
The money would have come from the Colorado Springs Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART - which is chiefly paid by tourists).
       Bancroft Park was awarded $50,000 from LART revenues for 2018, thanks to an application to the LART citizens advisory committee last year by City Parks.
       David Deitemeyer, the Colorado Springs Parks planner assigned to the Bancroft renovation project, has since elaborated that the $50,000 will help pay for a public restroom, a construction project in the Bancroft master plan that was approved in 2017.
       Furthermore, he has pointed out that the restroom cost will likely use up the last of the available funds for Bancroft master-plan work. So to continue upgrades in the park after
Dave Brackett, president of the Old Colorado City Foundation, claims that City Parks waited too long this year on the application process for 2019 LART funding.
Westside Pioneer file photo
this year - including a plaza, a playground, the pavilion removal and improved lighting and landscaping - more money is needed.
       Yet no Bancroft-related application was submitted to LART for 2019.
       So whodunit? (Or didn't do it?)
       One inarguable fact is that the LART deadline was May 3. Other than that, as in many a mystery, some of the evidence conflicts.
       The Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), a volunteer entity that has previously fundraised and set aside about $20,000 for park upgrades, points the finger at City Parks. OCCF President Dave Brackett said the department waited too long before addressing the issue and then proposed that the OCCF submit the application. “The first time it [that idea] was presented to OCCF was April 27 while I was in Europe, with a May 3 deadline for a complex application,” he summarized in an e-mail. “I didn't get back until May 2. Park & Rec couldn't even answer an e-mail in that time frame.”
       To support his April 27 assertion, Brackett copied the Westside Pioneer on an e-mail he received that day from Eric Becker of City Parks. Becker's e-mail reads: “Hi, Dave. I know you are out of the country but was asked to contact a member of the OCCF to find out if they intended to submit a 2018 application for
Colorado Springs Parks Director Karen Palus insists that City Parks did its part to help the Old Colorado City Foundation submit a LART application.
Westside Pioneer file photo
LART funding; specifically for Bancroft Park renovations. Will someone on behalf of the foundation be applying?”
       Providing the Parks side of the story, Karen Palus, the department's director, told the Westside Pioneer in an e-mail that Parks “did put together a LART application, but based on feedback from the [LART] committee from last year [we] thought it would be better received coming from a not-for-profit [meaning OCCF].” As a result, “we reached out to [the] OCCF president. He told us they would submit… All they needed to do was add their group's information.”
       However," Palus' e-mail continues, “I then received an e-mail saying they were declining to submit for this year [but] would consider a possible submittal next year.”
       The Westside Pioneer actually played a part in the LART saga, inquiring of Deitemeyer in an April 17 e-mail as to whether (with the May 3 deadline date approaching), “What (if any) dollar amount has City Parks requested for Bancroft from LART for 2019?”
       Deitemeyer's e-mail reply the same day was: “This has not been determined at this point.”
       Three days later, the Pioneer sent him a follow-up question: “Guessing that your department won't wait till the last second to decide, when would be a
This was the timeline for renovations in Bancroft Park, as approved by the Colorado Springs Parks Advisory Board in May 2017. Although the planned completion date was April of this year, the only work accomplished so far has been Phase 1 (the bandshell repair) and some planning aspects of Phase 2. But note the timeline caveat - "subject to change."
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Parks
reasonable time, prior to May 3, for me to check back and find out that dollar amount?”
       Deitemeyer did not respond to that e-mail.
       Later in May, after learning that LART had not received a Bancroft application for 2019 funds, the Pioneer sent a “post mortem” e-mail to Deitemeyer, asking why.
       His explanation was similar to Palus'. He added that “Parks is continuing to pursue additional funding necessary to complete the entire park renovation per the master plan.”
       As a side note, the original Parks request for Bancroft for 2018 had been $250,000. This was revealed at a City Council meeting in March 2017, when several councilmembers were expressing views that park renovations should be a priority in the wake of the bandshell fire the previous January.
       However, in its decision-making process in late 2017, the LART committee allocated Bancroft "only" $50,000 for 2018. It's since become apparent that a simultaneous Parks request (for upgraded restrooms in the Garden of the Gods) was seen as a higher priority. The LART committee gave that project $180,000.
       “As you probably realize, funding is limited and it is not possible to fully fund all requests,” outlined Jacquelyn Puett, the assistant to City Council, in a May e-mail to the Pioneer.

Westside Pioneer article
(Outdoors: Bancroft Park)

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