Too late for Bancroft fund-raisers, City Parks rules
Library, T&B’s events lose out to crafter corporation that snared summer Saturdays first

       With the acquiescence of City Parks, crafters' representatives denied three of four requests at a special meeting Jan. 12 to give up their Saturday Bancroft Park reservations next summer to allow Westside-related fund-raising events.
       The meeting was held at the Colorado Springs Parks Office, with Parks Principal Analyst Mike McCauley attempting to mediate among about 30 citizens.
       JEI, the corporation that organizes the Saturday craft fairs, agreed at the meeting to let the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) have Saturday, June 11 for a garden show. But JEI rejected requests from Thunder & Buttons II, an Old Colorado City restaurant/bar, to hold Saturday benefit concerts, one in June and one in August; and from the Old Colorado City Library for a new “Books at Bancroft” event Saturday, July 23.
       The latter rejection was tempered with an offer to work with the library to share the park that day. “You can have the whole concrete pad and stage,” suggested Helen Glass of JEI, proposing that the $75 rental cost be split between them. Steven Taube, a silversmith who participates in the craft fairs, additionally suggested that crafters could help promote the library effort.
       Old Colorado City Branch Manager Julianne Rist said she was willing to try the sharing idea this year, although she is unsure if that would allow sufficient “name recognition” or space for the event. She said afterward she would talk with the different library friends boards helping plan the new event and see what they think.
       For the benefit-concert proposals, JEI did not offer to share, but suggested the music be scheduled after 4 p.m. Saturdays (when the crafters have gone) or on Sundays. But Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) President Nancy Stovall, speaking on behalf of Thunder & Buttons, said this was not the business' desire.
       The scenario of a craft group determining what Westside events could occur in Bancroft Park next summer was set in motion last Nov. 1. Annually, that is the earliest date that anyone can sign up to rent a park in Colorado Springs. As it has for the past two years, JEI requested on Nov. 1 to rent as many Bancroft Saturdays as possible from early June to mid-September, targeting the time frame to the dates the highly attended Farmers Market sets up next to the park. The corporation sub-leases the park to 20-some crafters per Saturday (at a rate of $40 a booth last summer).
       The preliminary meeting Nov. 1 resulted in OCCA getting park guarantees for the traditional Old Town events of Territory Days over Memorial Day weekend and Scarecrow Days in September and the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) gaining Aug. 13 for its annual Founders Day.
       Afterward, Colorado Springs Parks Principal Analyst Mike McCauley said he thought there was a good spirit of compromise. However, this spirit dissipated quickly at the Jan. 12 meeting, when it became evident that McCauley had left no Saturday dates open. Stovall and event organizer Lynda Dunne said that they had left the Nov. 1 meeting with the belief that City Parks would leave Bancroft dates open; also, they were acting on McCauley's “precedent” (as Dunne put it) in 2004 of not allowing the crafters on consecutive Saturdays.
       McCauley gave no reason during the meeting for allowing the crafters consecutive Saturdays this year, but told the Westside Pioneer afterward that last year was essentially an experiment to see how many spontaneous, alternative uses would appear on the off-Saturdays. For the most part, they did not, so he is more strictly following the city's first-come, first-served rule this year.
       The crafters went into the Jan. 12 meeting with the clear impression that they had offered substantial compromises. “We've already taken the leftovers,” Jackson Ivey of JEI commented, after Stovall said, on behalf of T&B's, “We've got a new business coming in who wants to do benefit concerts. I don't see why you can't give up one of these Saturdays.”
       McCauley said he could not interfere in such a case. “If a group has a legitimate use, we have no legal precedence to deny them,” he said. He added that this was especially true because the park had been rented for craft fairs in previous years by OCCHS.
       The merchants traditionally don't set their year's schedule until January, T&B's did not open business until after Nov. 1 and the library, according to Rist, just started organizing the “Books at Bancroft” event.
       But this did not draw any sympathy from the crafters. As Glass commented during the meeting (in the direction of the OCCA representatives), “What part of Nov. 1 don't you understand?”
       McCauley said that next year the library, T&Bs and any others who are interested will know the rules. But this was not enough for Dunne, who said she was “personally disappointed” at the crafters not giving up the day the library wanted. “The library belongs to all of us,” she said, prompting a reply from an unidentified crafter supporter: “So does the park.”
       The merchants have been at odds with the crafters because they claim the their fairs hurt established businesses and furthermore they do not have to pay rent, insurance and employees. The crafters say that just the opposite is true - that their presence attracts people to Old Colorado City, which ought to be a good thing.
       According to McCauley, no other park in Colorado Springs has the same sort of competition, but he sees no “compelling reason” to set up a special set of rules to govern the Bancroft situation.

Westside Pioneer article