Landscape efforts stepped up in Old Town

       Landscaping has always been a part of Old Colorado City, but new enhancements are occurring this year - some of them in time for Territory Days.
       The beautification efforts are being led by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group and the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District.
       More than 50 merchants have taken the OCCA up on its offer to provide free whiskey barrels and dirt, as well as discounts on flowers, to encourage individual plantings in front of stores in the three-block historic business district along Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets.
       Some are waiting until after Territory Days to plant, while others - most noticeably Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory - have already begun filling their barrels with flowers.
       “We just have to water them and provide TLC,” commented Mazie Baalman, co-owner of the Chocolate Factory and vice president of the OCCA Board of Directors.
       The OCCA walked the avenue with district representatives to find locations that were not in public areas that the district is required to look after.
       The Maintenance District's landscaping work this year involves several aspects: seeding grass in dry locations, implementing a new “fertigation” process that pumps fertilizing nutrients through district sprinklers, and adding flagstones with new drought- tolerant bushes and shrubs.
       The flagstone upgrade - which started this week at 27th Street and in front of the parking lot on the south side of the 2600 block - is “kind of a first phase, to see how people like it,” said Ric Geiman, Colorado Springs Parks liaison to the district's advisory committee. “We don't have thousands of dollars to spend, so it'll probably take two to three years.”
       In addition to filling three barrels with flowers along 25th Street, the Chocolate Factory's Ron and Jason Baalman have put plants at the corner of 25th and Colorado - a spot that actually belongs to the district. Jason Baalman said he took this on because the district's grass there had died. Geiman said he has no problem with this volunteer effort as long as Jason keeps the corner looking good. “It was an area that needed some help,” he said.
       Funding for the OCCA work comes from money raised by the merchants group - chiefly through Territory Days. The district is funded by taxes paid by owners of the 100-some properties in the district.

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