OWN meeting takes on 3 key issues
Large audience(s) expected on block grants, Territory Days, Highway 24

       Come early to find a seat.
       Block grants, Territory Days safety issues and Highway 24 expansion plans are the agenda items for the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) town meeting Thursday, May 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the West Intergenera-tional Center, 25 N. 20th St.
       Based on the known interest in each of these topics, OWN President Welling Clark said he expects a large meeting turnout - some for all of them, others possibly for just one of them.
       The scheduled times are:
       7 p.m. - Presentation by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) by development coordinator Brad Lovell on the status of plans for this year's projects. The city has proposed sidewalk work along Kiowa Street and Pikes Peak Avenue, but has received proposals from several neighborhoods as well.
       7:20 p.m. - Territory Days safety presentation by Colorado Springs Fire Department. The issue arose at a City Parks-sponsored meeting April 25 on neighborhood impacts from special events such as Territory Days.
       8 p.m. - Westside Highway 24 report from the OWN-coordinated citizens task force that is pursuing a smaller-scale project than Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has proposed between I-25 and Manitou Springs. The discussion will come a day after the May 10 CDOT open house (5-8 p.m., also at the West Center).
       Citizen feedback is welcomed on all items.
       OWN is the city-recognized volunteer advocacy organization representing the older Westside.
       In other OWN news…
       The Colorado Depart-ment of Transportation (CDOT) has agreed to provide free installation for a 25-square-foot “Historic Old Colorado City” sign facing westbound Colorado Avenue traffic passing under I-25. However, CDOT will not pay for the sign itself, Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) board member Stormie Wells informed the rest of the board at its April 27 meeting,
       While pleased with the sign opportunity, board members observed that they do not have funds for it, nor are they satisfied with the size offered by CDOT. “It's dinky,” Dave Hughes said. “It's a postage stamp,” Jim Larsen said.
       Contacted after the meeting, George Hayward of CDOT said that such a sign would be mounted on the retaining wall for the Colorado Avenue bridge. It could be a square or a rectangle; the state does not care as long as it does not exceed 25 square feet. He added that CDOT likes the idea and wants to work with OWN to “facilitate the process,” within its rules.
       Although OWN has not yet narrowed down the exact appearance of the sign, Hayward said that CDOT is “not overly concerned.” There is plenty of time to work out such details - the bridge replacement project that triggered the idea won't be completed until fall 2007 - and CDOT trusts that OWN “wants to represent Old Colorado City in an appealing way,” he said.
       If a sign on the bridge is unworkable for size reasons, board member Jim Fenimore suggested that OWN scout out other places on the avenue nearby.
       Based on past OWN board discussions, the idea of an “Historic Old Colorado City” sign would be to let motorists know of a location they might want to visit that's west of the downtown.
       Another point, which did not come up at the meeting, was the sign wording itself. The shopping area on the west side of the bridge is not Old Colorado City; it's the Near Westside, basically encompassed by the Gateway Maintenance District.
       The Pioneer asked Dennis Sharon, who is the main district contact and also a property owner in Old Colorado City, what he thought. His first reaction was: “Old Colorado City doesn't start until 24th Street. Why would they put a sign on a bridge by the downtown when it's two miles to Old Colorado City?” But after thinking about it, Sharon decided the wording might have some merit. “Anything to get people to move in that direction,” he said.
       In other business... Vice-President Welling Clark became president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) at the advocacy group's board meeting April 27. The change, agreed on by a unanimous board vote, was an amicable trading of places with former President Jim Fenimore, who offered to become vice-president as a result of health issues that have slowed him down through the first part of this year.
       The move will allow OWN to be more effective and let Fenimore “get the wheel back on the wagon,” as he put it.

Westside Pioneer article