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Preservation of the historic buildings in Old Colorado City was a key to its original revitalization in the late 1970s, and they remain an attraction nearly half a century later, as seen in this recent view of the south side of the west end of Colorado Avenue's 2400 block.
Westside Pioneer photo

Revitalization - the sequel: Old Town ‘Corridor Assessment’ Sept. 17-19

Sept. 2, 2018
       One of the best all-time feel-good stories for Old Colorado City is its revitalization in the late 1970s. Through the ideas and initiatives of local business leaders, the fading commercial district - once the center of the gold-mill/railroad town called Colorado City -
A scene from several years ago outside the Colorado City Creamery (26th and Colorado) captures the feel of a warm summer night in the historic shopping district.
Westside Pioneer file photo
dodged a wrecking ball and transformed into a destination shopping area.
       Forty years later, revitalization is becoming a thing again. For the past several years, current leaders have seen a growing list of civic concerns, based on changing times as well as wear and tear.
       One such matter that's been in the public eye is whether Colorado Avenue should be necked down to two lanes through Old Town. But less well known are questions about security (how best to provide it), electrical system (antiquated), irrigation system (inefficient), bicyclists (how to route and accommodate them), handicapped access (how to fund potentially pricey fixes), failing sidewalks (same) and aging underground utilities and stormwater drains (same).
       Complicating these questions is the number of entities with a stake in finding solutions. They include the following that each have “Old Colorado City” in front of their names: Special Improvement Maintenance District (SIMD), Historical Society, Library, Associates (business group) and Foundation.
       An intensive set of activities/meetings Monday to Wednesday, Sept. 17-19 will focus on developing an “action plan” for what's being called the “Old Colorado
The brick sidewalks that were a feature in city-funded upgrades from the late-1970s revitalization have been showing their age in recent years. This pedestrian is walking along the south side of the 2400 block.
Westside Pioneer photo
City Corridor Assessment.” Involving the above-named entities (and others that might participate), the assessment has been organized by the SIMD with a revitalization consultant it hired using $15,000 from its budget, according to Jonathan Neely, the SIMD chair.
       The consultant is Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI), a Denver-based nonprofit that “aims to build better communities by providing assistance to downtowns, commercial districts and town centers in Colorado,” a DCI press release states.
       During the three-day Assessment, two updates will be presented for the general public, both at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St., Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. The latter talk will reveal the recommended “next steps” in the action-plan process, according to the DCI release.
       Supported by a tax on Old Colorado City property owners (who also make up an advisory committee), the SIMD is tasked to maintain the district's public improvements, with oversight from Colorado Springs Parks. But historically its budget has only been big enough for targeted fixes, aided by one full-time and some seasonal part-time employees - not for upgrades that could run into millions of dollars.
       None of the other Westside entities named above (other than the library) has a dedicated income source.
       The SIMD committee met with a DCI representative last spring, discussing conceptual possibilities. More recently, Neely has been coordinating the September arrangements with DCI's Katherine Correll.
       His hope is that from the Assessment can emerge a sensible yet economical plan that all the Old Colorado City-related entities can come together on. If so, that will allow the effort to move to a future stage, in which the proposed action plan will go before City Council.
       Neely outlined that aspect: “We can tell council, 'This is what we're working on here, that we're organizing, we'd like you to help, and this is the most affordable way for us to do it.' ”
       The DCI press release adds that it was established in 1982 and works with each of its clients to “shape an action plan based on existing assets and partners already active in the community.” The plan for Old Colorado City “will be focused on a phased approach to implementing the ideas with community engagement.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Community: Ongoing Issues)

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