Old Colorado City ‘accent’ lights aging; Utilities help sought

       With Old Colorado City's 52 historic-style street lights starting to show their quarter-century of age, the area's property owners have begun looking at ways to replace them.
       The effort is being led by the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District (funded by a separate property tax on the district's property owners), which oversees public improvements in the three-block area on and beside Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets.
       Recently, however, cost-sharing talks between the district board and Colorado Springs Utilities have stalled. Utilties officials claim a money shortfall because City Council recently rejected a rate increase geared to a street-light fee.
        At a meeting of the Security & Maintenance Board March 2, City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, whose district includes Old Colorado City, questioned the Utilities rationale. “We rejected an increase in the fee (for street lights), not the fee itself,” he said. “I want to know where that money is going.” He said he would research the issue and bring it up to council.
        Board President Judith Kasten said the board would look at financing to pay (or help pay) for the work, but she remarked that the city ought to keep in mind the fiscal contributions of Old Colorado City businesses, in terms of sales tax revenues and property values.
       Two basic replacement approaches are being considered.
       One would eliminate the district's historic (typically called “accent”) street lights and replace the 35 city-installed (non-historic- style) street lights with historic-looking lights that would become the city's maintenance responsibility. The estimated cost for that is about $90,000, according to Ric Geiman, senior analyst with the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department who serves as liaison to the district board.
       Utilities believes street lighting would actually be improved in such a scenario because the lamps would have double globes instead of the current single and be 16 feet high instead of the present 30, he said.
        A sample of one such light is going to be installed by Utilities crews - at no charge to the district - on Colorado Avenue in front of Bancroft Park sometime in the next few weeks, so people can decide if they like the design, Geiman said.
        The other replacement approach being mulled by the board would replace the accent lights only. The tentative cost for that is about $160,000, including new underground wiring, Geiman said.
       The condition of the accent lights has come to the fore in recent years, with at least six becoming so worn they had to be taken down and parted out to fix some of the other lights, he said.
       The board has not yet voted on the matter. Any board action would be a recommendation to City Council, which would have the final say.

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