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Vagrants fouling History Center entrance; help requested to fund preventive work

ABOVE The current ramp entrance to the Old Colorado City History Center is seen from 24th Street. The upper part of the ramp, exposed now to its 2-by4's, used to have the same kind of vinyl siding as the lower part (as well as the rest of the building). The siding was removed earlier this summer to start on a project that will eventually replace the ramp sides with wrought-iron. But funding is needed to complete the work. BELOW: Although the disgusting part of this photo has been blurred out in Photoshop (for obvious reasons), it does at least show the location of the vagrants' "toilet" beside the welcome mat. Note in this photo and the one above how the siding at the end of the ramp makes it possible for someone at the entrance to avoid being seen from 24th Street. BOTTOM: Here's what the History Center volunteers would far rather be known for and spend their time on. This is a recently assembled museum exhibit of donated parlor items from a typical home around the turn of 1900.
Westside Pioneer photos
       A history museum is meant to keep track of memorable events from long-ago days.
       But all too often, over the past several months, the volunteers at the Old Colorado City History Center at 1 S. 24th St. have had to deal with an event that's as recent as the night before.
       And it's hardly memorable.
       “Currently we have a major problem with street people using the areas around our building for a bathroom, for sleeping and depositing their trash,” reads the first sentence of a letter to the membership by Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) Presidents Betty Baker and Kathy McBride in the new issue of West Word, the OCCHS' newsletter.
       “The problem stems from the bathrooms not being open
in the park and our building having dark, private areas,” the letter continues. “Although we have contacted the Police Department on numerous occasions, they can only provide limited surveillance.”
        Regarding availability to sanitary facilities, it could be quibbled that the OCCHS presidents are being too kind. While it's true that the permanent bathrooms in Bancroft Park across the street are only open when events are scheduled there, it does have a porta-john open 24/7.
       In any case, the area most frequently fouled is around the History Center's main-entrance door, which is off 24th Street and the alley between Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues. As designed when
the OCCHS first opened its museum inside a former church in 1997, a handicapped-accessible ramp leads up to the entrance, lined with a wood-framed, roughly three-foot-high wall. Because of the door's height above the ground, the ramp has to “switch back” halfway up so as not to be too steep. So for vagrants, the wall makes the area by the door into a hiding place.
       The OCCHS is trying to be proactive. Plans were already in place a year ago to change out the ramp walls, using a wrought-iron design that would allow more visibility and also be more sturdy.
       Now, with the vagrant problem worsening (at least once a week) and funds tight, the all-volunteer nonprofit will have trouble paying for the ramp upgrade without donations from the public
       “Last year we set aside money to replace our wooden handrail with wrought iron as its condition had become shaky,” the Baker-McBride letter continues. “Unfortunately that money was used for the flood problems we had in the basement [from last year's rains]. The iron rail will also prohibit people from sleeping and defecating behind the enclosed railing we have right now. Lighting will also provide less incentive and a more secure building. Floodlights will be mounted on the strategic areas on the outside of the building.
       “We love our museum and want to be sure that it is properly taken care of. We would appreciate any tax deductible donation that can be given at this time to use toward the completion of this project. Contributions can be mailed or dropped off at the center, indicating use for this project.”
       For more information, the center is open (free admission) Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone is 636-1225.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/1/14; Community: Old Colorado City History Center)

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