Heimlicher stops Bancroft fee increase
But he ‘didn’t have the votes’ to waive costs for Santa Claus in cabin
Colorado Springs City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher was unable to get Santa a Bancroft Park freebee, but he was successful in
stopping a fee increase there.
After discussion at council meetings Dec. 12 and 13, Heimlicher gained a council majority to keep Bancroft's rental fee at $75 a day.
City Parks had proposed raising the fee to $200 next year for both Old Colorado City's Bancroft and the downtown's Acacia to bring them into rental parity with other city parks.
The two parks are similarly unique because they are small and located near major retail areas. But during council discussion, key differences became evident. According to Councilman Richard Skorman, downtown business people think Acacia has too many events, so, to discourage that, its fee ought to go up; while, according to Heimlicher, Bancroft is heavily used by non-profit entities, so its fee ought to stay down.
At council's Dec. 12 meeting, Heimlicher asked City Parks Director Paul Butcher about waiving the rental fee paid by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group so that Santa can meet children in the historic cabin at Bancroft Park. Butcher said a waiver could be done, but “we don't do that in any other park.”
Heimlicher retorted that “we don't have any other park with a cabin like this.”
However, he did not pursue the matter beyond that. Afterward, he told the Westside Pioneer he had figured out that “I didn't have the votes for Santa,” so he decided to settle for keeping the general Bancroft fee down.
He also sensed some opposition for reasons other than money. “With all the political correctness, you can't even say Merry Christmas without getting in trouble,” Heimlicher said.
But he hasn't given up entirely on helping St. Nick. He said he expects to come back another time and propose a reduced fee for partial park use. In the case of Santa, OCCA only uses the cabin, so it would qualify under that category, the councilman said.
Before council's action, the OCCA had been concerned about not being able to afford Bancroft next year. For instance, by Dec. 24 this season, OCCA will have rented the park for Santa 16 days. If the same time frame were followed next year, at a $200-a-day fee, the total expense would be $2,000 more costly than this year's.
Westside Pioneer article