City may help with historic-overlay grant; OWN seeks public input on plan

       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) board is considering whether to reapply for state funding related to its proposed historic-overlay zone for the Westside.
       But this time OWN might get a little help. Tim Scanlon, historic preservation planner for the city, told the board at its Jan. 26 meeting that he is “willing to fight for city funding” of up to $5,000 to help cover the grant's matching funds.
       OWN is also interested in hearing from the public on the issue. A survey form appears in the just-mailed winter edition of its quarterly newsletter, the Westside Story, which is direct-mailed to about 8,500 addresses. The survey contains background information and asks: “Would you support the creation of such an [Historic] Overlay Zone by the City?”
       An application to the State Historical Fund for $10,300 was rejected last fall, and part of the reason is believed to have been the lack of matching funds. OWN had hoped that the $4,000 previously invested in the project - from its own coffers and a donation from the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) - would be sufficient, along with support letters from several area elected officials.
       The grant money would have paid a consultant to develop design guidelines that would eventually be used in determining historical correctness in improvements on buildings in the overlay area, which is defined as most of the older Westside.
       Under the plan, property owners could use the overlay voluntarily, with the “carrot” being up to 20 percent tax credits for improvement costs.
       OWN's new grant request to the state would ask for more money ($40,000 or more), based on advice from Scanlon that quality-level design guidelines generally cost that much.
       OWN Treasurer Dave Hughes said that “what the state really wants” in terms of matching funds is 25 percent. So if the grant is for $40,000 and the city puts up $5,000, this means OWN would have to come up with $5,000 for its part of the match. Hughes said the group does not currently have that much money; however, the group would not be reapplying until October.
       Scanlon said that if the city contributes to the cost, as proposed, it would be willing to help put the grant together, and, if it succeeds, would want to participate in selecting the consultant and other aspects of the effort. However, he stipulated, “The city has no interest in doing this for you. We will want to have input, but not to run it.”
       The $4,000 spent so far covered the costs of a photographer to take digital pictures of about 4,000 historic structures in the overlay area. A follow-up volunteer effort to inventory the photos in a detailed, architecturally focused computer spreadsheet is about 75 percent complete.

Westside Pioneer article