1-year delay seen on Mesa demonstration facility

       In an effort to improve design and hold down costs, Colorado Springs Utilities is delaying for two years the opening of the demonstration facility it began developing last year on Mesa Road.
       Instead of partially opening the facility to the public this June, the rest of the year will be spent on design, Conservation Programs Supervisor Ann Seymour told the Westside Pioneer, with construction to start in spring of 2005 and the opening anticipated in 2006.
       “It gives us the opportunity to do a better job with integrated design work,” Seymour said. Moving at a slower pace also acts as a “cutback to save our rate payers,” she said.
       The goal is to create a facility that would demonstrate, free and open to the public, state-of-the-art commercial and residential energy conservation methods - both in its exhibits/displays and in the design of the building itself.
       “We really think it will be a tool for our customers to use and the community to learn and apply technologies from their own situations,” she said “I think in the long run there's a potential to save a great amount of energy and water because of the programs we create there,”
       The location is 2855 Mesa Road, in the building behind the xeriscape gardens that Utilities staff and volunteers have maintained for many years.
       It currently houses some employee offices and a water lab. The lab is scheduled to relocate to CSU's Las Vegas Street facility.
       The building will undergo extensive renovation for energy efficiency. “We don't want to reconstruct much of the site, yet the mechanical systems are pushing 35 years old,” Seymour said. “It makes sense to us to construct and promote efficiences wherever we can in the building.”
       The original schedule, calling for a June partial opening (and full opening next year), had been provided to the Westside Pioneer by a Utilities spokesperson in January, prior to the city-owned agency's change in plans.
       The estimated $4.5 million cost is to be covered by customers from their utility bills. Seymour said it is hoped that by spreading the cost out over a longer time, the impact on rate-payers will be lessened.
       The working name for the development is the “center development project” (CDP), although Seymour said she hoped that a “nicer name” could be found.

Westside Pioneer Article