Westside tourism also hurt by blight
Because the Avenue Merchants meeting ran long last night [Sept. 29], I didn't get to voice some of my thoughts: First off, let me say I care deeply about the Westside. Doing business here for the past two years has given me an appreciation for the unique character of this side of the city, for its history and for its residents. I enjoy the sense of community that I don't believe exists - to this extent, at least - in other parts of the city.
One of the big issues that wasn't touched on much last night was tourism. West Colorado Avenue and Highway 24 are the gateways to America's Mountain - Pikes Peak. Tourists come from across the nation - and the world - specifically to climb or drive up Pikes Peak. The feeling of blight on both stretches of roadway, I feel, is an embarrassment to the city, county and state. Pikes Peak is a national icon, and the roads leading to the base of the mountain should - at a bare minimum - be clean and welcoming, not a black eye. We want to give people a first impression that sticks with them long after they've gone back home. In addition to the general sense of blight, they go home with memories of homeless camps stuck between the two roadways along Fountain Creek. Or being hit up by aggressive panhandling. The idea that the problems - the blight, possible code violations, lack of sidewalks, fires in homeless camps, panhandling - may be insurmountable because it is a multi- jurisdictional area involving the city, county, state and Manitou Springs is not an excuse.