Homeless info, board election Jan. 28 at OWN meeting

       An election will decide three seats - and possibly four - for the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) board of directors Thursday, Jan. 28.
       The voting is scheduled as part of an OWN meeting starting at 7 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
       Also scheduled at the meeting is information related to the homeless situation. These will be provided by Bob Holmes, director of Homeward Pikes Peak (a non-profit serving as the city's umbrella agency for homeless issues), and Robert Maez, leader of the Avenue Merchants Association, a consortium of merchants west of 31st Street who have had issues with transients.
       They are expected to discuss a recent shift in the City Council position toward favoring a no-camping ordinance. The body had spurned the idea when presented by City Police in December, but recent reports of garbage and wide-scale creek pollution from creekside homeless camps seem to have inspired a majority now in favor - with the issue scheduled for discussion again in February.
       Formed in the late 1970s, OWN is a volunteer, non-profit organization that serves as the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside “strategy area.” Under the OWN bylaws, any residents or residential property owners within the strategy area can attend the meeting and either vote or become candidates in the election.
       There are nine board seats in all, three of them at-large and six representing specific areas within the strategy area as designated in the bylaws. However, the bylaws also state that if there is no candidate from an area, anyone living in the Westside strategy area can serve as a board member representing that area.
       Open in the OWN election this year are two area seats (1 and 6) and the At-Large 1 seat. Each is for three years.
       However, the Area 4 seat continues to be a question mark. The person elected to a three-year term last January never made it to a meeting, and this has also been true of a person who was appointed in her place in November, according to OWN President Welling Clark.
       Area 1 is south of Highway 24, including Midland and Gold Hill Mesa.
       Area 4 is bounded by Uintah, 21st, Highway 24, 25th Street, King Street and 19th Street.
       Area 6 the Near Westside area bordered on the West by Seventh Street and Manitou Boulevard, on the north by Uintah Street, on the east by I-25, and on the south by Highway 24.
       According to the bylaws, OWN has four main purposes:
       “1. Inform residents of the Westside of their rights and of the impact of governmental and commercial actions upon their lives.
       “2. Facilitate the provision of needed goods and services for the residents of the Westside.
       “3. Sponsor activities on the Westside which reinforce community spirit and citizen initiative.
       “4. Communicate to government officials the concerns of Westside residents and residential property owners.”
       For more information, contact Clark at 471-4023 or welling80904@yahoo.com.

Westside Pioneer article