OWN board set for coming year; members hope to continue picnic traditionThe Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) established its board of directors for the coming year at its annual town hall March 12.
OWN has been the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside since 1978. However, the volunteer group lost its funding from the city last year, which ended its periodical newsletter and left uncertain whether OWN can keep its summer picnic tradition alive.
No unexpected issues arose at the meeting, set at a local restaurant and attended by about 25 people. Also included were updates by Gold Hill Police Commander Rafael Cintron and Lt. Jeff Jensen (that the hours of Westside police coverage have been expanded); and by Steve Murray, lead consultant on the upcoming civic project to upgrade Colorado
The new OWN board will again be headed by Welling Clark, who was first elected in 2007. The continuing directors are Mary Gallivan as vice president, Terry Brunette as treasurer and Jim Thompson as secretary.
Under OWN bylaws, residents at the annual town hall are empowered to vote on any board positions with expired terms or unelected vacancies. With no competition among the candidates at the town hall (and two of the nine OWN board seats still unfilled), the vote was by acclamation.
Thompson, a construction company owner, is one of two
Also becoming a board member at the town hall was Bonnie Lapora, who heads the neighborhood watch for several hundred homes north of Colorado Avenue and west of 31st Street.
Most of the board members are also involved with the Avenue Task Force, a group that formed three years ago to work with local officials on ways to reduce crime along the Colorado Avenue corridor.
Two questions about OWN's status arose during a question/answer period.
One was about OWN's financial situation. Clark said that a meeting has been scheduled in the near future with “senior city staff” to discuss various city issues. He expressed dismay that with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the federal government totalling more than $1 million, the city chose not to fund neighborhood outreach groups like OWN in the past year - even though the total cost for all of them would have been just $16,000.
Another question was whether OWN will have its free picnic this year - an annual event where (with some support from local businesses and individuals) the group has provided a free barbecue with side dishes and live music at the Westside Community Center. Clark responded that he did not know yet. In a follow-up e- mail the next day he announced that keeping the picnic alive will be “our next major public effort,” which could include seeking donations.
For more information, the OWN website is westsideneighbors.org.
Westside Pioneer article