Grinch dims Old Town
Pole-delivery delay may prevent pre-Christmas streetlight install
In July, the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District was thinking about Christmas.
After several years of studying ways to upgrade the street lighting in Old Town, board members had finally hammered out a plan with Colo-rado Springs Utilities that would result - both sides believed - in a shiny present for this season's Christmas.
There seemed to be lots of time in August, when Colorado Springs City Council approved the deal and, according to Utilities, orders were placed for the new light poles and related hardware.
Even as recently as late October, Utilities was pledging to the district that the new lights would be in before Thanksgiving.
Then came this week's bad news. The suppliers of the light poles told Utilities that delivery could not occur until Dec. 3. The apparent result? “Unless we can find a way to install the lights without disrupting shoppers, we'll have to wait till after Christmas,” a “disappointed” Board President Judy Kasten told the Westside Pioneer this week.
Although holding out hope for an as-yet-unknown solution, she said it looks as if “we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot” to try to install the lights during the height of the shopping season - especially knowing that installation will mean daily losses of traffic lanes and parking in one or more blocks for about two weeks.
Based on informal polls by Kasten and Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) President Nancy Stovall, board members and merchants feel the same way, Kasten said.
Utilities representatives stress that they did all they could to make the schedule. Utilities records indicate that orders were placed two days after City Council approval Aug. 10.
“We knew it had taken quite a while the last time we ordered poles from this supplier,” explained Jim Thomas, Utilities field engineering supervisor.
Meanwhile since late October, Utilities crews have been busy in Old Colorado City, preparing for the new lights. Crews have been boring holes and running conduit as needed for new wiring.
“We'll have the feeds, but not the poles,” Thomas said. He added that “we're still pushing, of course to get them here, and we can put on extra crews, if we have to, to meet our commitments.”
One outside hope, expressed by Kasten, is that Utilities crews could do the work (once the poles arrive) during off-hours. However, Utilities spokesperson Rachel Beck said, “There would still be a lot of disruption,” including equipment and supplies and possible open trenches near sidewalks.
The city streetlight replacements are planned along Colorado Avenue and on side streets up to the north and south alleys between 24th and 27th streets. When installed, there will be 41 new lights in all, including 34 replacements and 7 new. According to Utilities, the overall effect will be a brighter Old Colo-rado City at night.
The new lights will be 14 feet tall, and each will have double heads and a historic styling, unlike the existing, taller, single-headed lights. The Security District is formed of property owners in the Historic Shopping District, who tax themselves for its public improvements.
Westside Pioneer Article