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Avenue issues at forefront of March 19 community meeting

       Businesses and neighbors are invited to an informal meeting Wednesday, March 19 with the Colorado Springs Police Homeless Outreach Team (HOT team) and two Westside volunteer groups involved in community concerns.
       The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Upstairs Bar above the La Baguette restaurant, 2417 W. Colorado Ave. The access door is just east of the La Baguette main entrance.
       The HOT team is specifically assigned to matters involving transients and the homeless. The two volunteer groups are the Avenue Merchants, consisting of business owners, chiefly on Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street; and the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), the city-recognized advocacy group for residents of the older Westside.
       “There will be open dialogue on the current annexation process on the 'Avenue' and crime and safety issues with regard to panhandling in the heart of the Historic District and Westside,” a press release states.
       The merchants group and OWN have worked together over the last two-plus years to seek answers to blight and crime problems affecting businesses and residents in the area west of 31st, sometimes known as No Man's Land. Their efforts have included the formation of the Avenue Task Force (ATF), which meets regularly with public safety representatives and elected officials from Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and El Paso County.
       The annexation proposal would have the City of Colorado Springs take in the properties south of Colorado Avenue (roughly between the Sonic and the Manitou city limit west of Columbia Road) that are currently unincorporated. The north side is currently in Colorado Springs. The belief is that having all the area under one jurisdiction would be a boost to law enforcement and any future redevelopment.
       Regarding panhandling, the ATF is sponsoring a publicity campaign advising citizens that the wisest compassion is to give to recognized charities that help the homeless, not to panhandlers themselves.
       For more information, e-mail theavenuemerchants@gmail.com.

Westside Pioneer/press release
(Posted 3/11/14; Community: Ongoing Issues)

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