OCCA plan: 2-lane avenue through Old Town

       Hoping to improve business, the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) board would like to narrow Colorado Avenue to two lanes between 24th and 27th streets. The merchants' desired result, as explained by OCCA President Jim Heikes at the May meeting of the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District committee, is to slow down traffic and add parking spaces (because they would be angled instead of parallel).
       The committee took no vote on the idea, but Ric Geiman of City Parks (which has ultimate responsibility for the district's improvements) said he would contact City Traffic Engineering to see what might be involved.
       “We want to set apart the three-block area as more of a tourist area and historic attraction,” said Heikes, who, as a district property owner, is also a member of the maintenance committee. He added that the OCCA board vote had been unanimous, and he decided to talk to the maintenance committee because “there is strength in two boards.”
       The committee has previously sought slow-down solutions, having asked the city (without luck) for a stoplight or crosswalk at 24th and Colorado.
       The conceptual idea is a “16th Street mall feel,” Heikes said, with the possibility of redevelopment, if funding can be located.
       Judy Kasten, chair of the maintenance committee, agreed that “slowing it down is a good thing… Why somebody isn't dead is a miracle.” Noting the ongoing Manitou Springs redevelopment effort (which included two-laning the avenue through its downtown three years ago), she said that Manitou had wanted angled parking but found there was insufficient room, and so the parallel parking was retained.
       Committee member/ shop owner Cretee Nemmer said she would favor changes that helped commerce. “I want the buildings filled up,” she said. “I want it to look pretty, and I want people shopping.”
       The one two-laning opponent at the meeting was Bill Grimes, the most senior member of the maintenance committee. “I personally think it would be a mistake,” he said. “We have the parking in the lots.” He also noted that Colorado Avenue is a thoroughfare for cross-town traffic: “The locals won't want to slow down.”
       Heikes responded that maybe motorists in a hurry could find another route. “I just think something needs to be done to draw more people to Old Colorado City,” he said.

Westside Pioneer article