District 3 Report: Let T-Days process work

By City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher

       A lot has been said in recent weeks following this year's Territory Days celebration. There was a public meeting held the week after Memorial Day with a large number of citizens attending to recap and discuss what went well and what needed to be improved for future years. However, some of the attendees openly asked for the Territory Days to be discontinued. The leading opponent who is a local merchant complained that he lost business because his customers could not get to his location over the Memorial Day weekend.
       The vast majority in attendance agreed that the Territory Days should continue with a citizens group addressing those areas listed for improvement. To this end, it was agreed that the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) would set up a committee to work over the next 12 months to identify and improve the event even more. I agreed to be on this committee, as did a number of citizens and employees from the city's Parks and Recreation and Cultural Services Department. That was how the public meeting ended. I pledged to the business owner that I would personally get involved to see if we can figure out a way for customers to get to his business during the three-day weekend.
       Since that meeting, it appears that the business owner has been circulating a petition to gain support to prohibit closing Colorado Avenue for any event of over four hours duration. The petition does not single out Territory Days and the St. Patricks Day Parade, and therefore those who sign the petition may be unaware of the impact on these long-time events. This approach is not in keeping with the spirit of the decision reached at the public meeting. It was pointed out that most people objecting to Territory Days moved into Old Colorado City, including the business owner, within the last 30 years and therefore knew this annual event occurred each year before they moved to Old Colorado City.
       If you follow this business owner's approach to getting a petition signed, why not have citizens who moved into homes around the Air Force Academy since 1960 ask to have the Air Force Academy closed and moved to another community due to the noise from planes flying overhead? Why not eliminate the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo since it inconveniences some of those who live in the new homes immediately adjacent to that event? What about the second oldest vehicle race in the United States? - surely some are inconvenienced at that event. Let's dump all of those things that inconvenience us from time to time.
       We agreed on an approach at the public meeting, and it would be far more honorable for those opposed to Territory Days to work to address all areas of concern instead of circulating a misleading petition to local citizens and businesses. I am committed to working with OWN and the Parks Department to make next year's Territory Days celebration and each successive year's event better and better.
       Territory Days is a 30-year tradition that showcases the residential and business areas of Old Colorado City to thousands of people who may have never been there and may have never gone there. It celebrates the heritage of this unique part of Colorado Springs and is an event that's looked forward to by many in our area and outside our immediate area. For those with self-interests to suggest dumping Territory Days without any attempts to improve it is wrong and not in keeping with the decisions made at the public meeting.

Councilman Heimlicher represents District 3, which includes much of the Westside.