District may tap reserve funds for new, historic street lights

       Reserve funds should be used to buy replacements for historic-appearing, “accent” street lights, the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District board agreed by consensus at its meeting April 4.
       Board members were encouraged by a report from Ric Geiman, senior analyst with the Colorado Springs Parks Department. His information, based on preliminary cost estimates, showed the district could install 40-some new lights at a cost of about $125,000.
       The district reportedly has about $175,000 in its reserve account.
       Geiman serves as city liaison to the advisory board, which is charged with taking care of improvements and safety in the three- block historic district on and beside Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets.
       While not pleased at having to dip so deeply into its contingency funds, the board has exhausted other immediate alternatives for replacing aging lights that go back to the district's founding 25 years ago. The group will continue to look into possibilities such as grants or pole adoptions, Board President Judy Kastin said. She also urged the board to set aside $5,000 a year in the future to “start trying to build it (the reserve fund) back up again.”
       Geiman was upbeat about a historic light/pole design he'd seen. He suggested board members check out the company's web site while he narrows in on actual costs in preparation for a bidding process on installation.
       The plan is for him to come back to the board with more details at the next meeting, scheduled Tuesday, May 25.
       The condition of the current accent lights has come to the fore in recent years, with at least six becoming so worn they had to be taken down and parted out to fix other lights. A request to borrow money to pay for new lights - a typical government measure in such eventualities - has been denied by the City of Colorado Springs, to which the district is technically just an advisory board. And, Colorado Springs Utilities has not granted board requests for funding assistance.
       There are currently 52 accent lights in the district. The old-style lights were installed in addition to the regular Utilities street lights to accentuate Old Colorado City's historic image when the district started in 1979.
       In other business, board members complained about police coverage of the district. When police were called about a recent shoplifting, Kastin said, “They didn't even want a description.”
       Asked about this report after the meeting, Police Lt. Rafael Cintron questioned whether it happened as described because he said past police policy would have meant an officer coming out to take a report. However, under the new Direct Line Reporting (DLR) program, the police will begin taking such reports over the phone instead, he said.
       He said he would have an officer call Kastin to see about getting on the agenda of a future meeting to discuss Old Colorado City crime issues.

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