City applies for state historic grant to help with costs for OWN overlay effort

       A year and a half ago, the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) applied unsuccessfully for a grant from the State Historic Fund to help with costs related to a proposed historic overlay for the older Westside.
       Now OWN is trying again - this time in partnership with the City of Colorado Springs.
       In keeping with City Council direction from a meeting in February, City Planning has been working with OWN representatives to hammer out a strategy, schedule and costs for developing the design guidelines (which are needed to define how to renovate different types of historic buildings in a historically correct manner).
       The effort has included a grant application, submitted in early April, in which the city is offering to put up $19,652 in hopes of matching that amount with $18,031 from the State Historic Fund.
       According to Tim Scanlon, City Planning's historical specialist, the state should announce by early June if the grant will be awarded. The city money would come from $15,000 in a fund built up from fees paid in existing overlay zones over the years, plus about $5,000 of Scanlon's salary for working on the project.
       “The Westside is the city's largest collection of turn-of-the-century buildings that illustrate our link to our past,” Scanlon said, when asked why his department was willing to use its built-up fee money. “The desire to preserve this character is shared by those in City Council and administration, and I think it's a wise investment of city resources.”
       Dave Hughes, leader of the OWN effort, has occasionally butted heads with city staff regarding overlay zone strategies, but his view on the area that would be overlaid is not that different from Scanlon's: “Middle and lower-middle class blue collar Westside 'historic preservation' is a rare thing,” he said. “I'm proud of it.”
       Under the OWN-city agreement, Al Feinstein, a long-time area architect who helped with Old Colorado City's revitalization 30 years ago, is to be the consultant drafting the guidelines.
       Assuming the grant is approved, the tentative schedule calls for Feinstein to have the guidelines ready for review by the end of the year, after which there would be public meetings to discuss them.
       In a proposal to City Council, OWN representative Dave Hughes had passed along Feinstein's offer to do the work for $10,000, but under the grant application the consultant fee will be $30,00. The increase represents additional up-front work - chiefly determining which of the 3,600 buildings in the overlay area qualify as historic buildings - plus the labor needed to meet anticipated extra work resulting from the Historic Fund committee's grant review, according to Scanlon.
       At the OWN meeting April 26, Hughes said there had as yet been no feedback from the state about the grant application. Kristine Van Wert, who (with Hughes) has been working on the overlay effort for several years, said she thought this was “a good sign,” noting that when the state rejected OWN's 2005 application, “it came back quickly.”
       OWN, a city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside, has previously invested $2,000 (matched by the Old Colorado City Historical Society) to photograph the proposed zone's residences, plus volunteer hours entering each residence's information on a spreadsheet.
       Under OWN's plan, which has received consensus conceptual approval from City Council, property owners could use the overlay voluntarily, with the “carrot” being up to 20 percent tax credits for improvement costs.

Westside Pioneer article