No-cost MIPP offer sways Manitou council

       Nothing is certain, but at least “No Man's Land” is still in the game for grant funds for public improvements.
       This was made possible by Manitou Springs City Council May 12 reversing its vote of a week earlier that would have halted a grant application to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
       Manitou's support was needed because the request is a combined effort that also includes Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
       Still unknown is whether CDOT will even award the local entities their requested Maintenance Incentive Pilot Program (MIPP) grant, which would provide $2.5 million - along with permanent maintenance re-sponsibility - for a 1 ˝-mile segment of Business 24 (Colorado Avenue/Manitou Avenue between 31st Street and Manitou's Highway 24 interchange). But at least the Manitou support will let the proposal “keep moving forward,” as County Commissioner Sallie Clark phrased it at the May 12 Manitou meeting.
       Manitou's council members had voted against the idea May 5 because the $2.5 million was well below the $9.5 million the three entities had originally asked for and, with a very tight budget this year, they feared the city's share of the $2.5 million would not be enough.
       Their minds were changed when Clark, who was worried that no other No Man's Land funding source could be found in the near future, presented them an offer on behalf of the county and city. The offer was that Manitou would not have to pay any maintenance costs until it felt it could. In the meantime, Colorado Springs would take care of the Manitou portion and El Paso County would handle a city road out east that might fit better for that entity, anyway, Clark explained.
       Both Manitou Mayor Eric Drummond and Financial Director Mike Leslie termed this a “generous offer.” The vote in favor was unanimous.
       There is no definite decision date by CDOT, but the cut-off for final MIPP applications was May 11 (with an extension to May 12 for the city/county/ Manitou request). The local concern is that statewide there are nine applications for MIPP funding, but the program only has $20 million.
       “We'll keep our fingers crossed,” Clark said.
       Should the local $2.5 million be awarded, the top priority is replacing the 75-year-old bridge near Columbia Road while planning other improvements - such as drainage and utility relocations - and seeking funding sources for them. The belief is that having local control of the 1 ˝-mile corridor will prove beneficial; state maintenance has meant little more than pothole fixing and pavement overlays every 10 years or so.
       Nicknamed No Man's Land (because it has been essentially neglected for years by all the government enties touching it), the area - at least on the non-Manitou side - comprises the historic town of Arensdale that was annexed into Colorado City in the early 1900s.

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