Old Colorado City to outshine downtown
Utilities revises streetlight plan, candlepower estimate in new letter to Security District
Historic-looking streetlights 25 percent brighter than Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs? That's what Colorado
Springs Utilities has pledged in a letter to the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District.
The plan is financially similar to the one that Utilities presented to a skeptical district board July 6 - the district cost for the light replacements would still be about $97,000 - but the latest offer includes a new streetlight on Colbrunn Court and a considerably brighter estimate of the candlepower.
District Board President Judy Kasten told the Westside Pioneer she was pleased to get the letter from Brent Schubloom, Utilities' system extensions manager, especially the part that states the lights could be installed by November.
“I polled the (six-member) board yesterday,” she said July 21. “Everybody said 'yes' except one member I haven't heard back from.”
She credited City Councilman Jerry Heim-licher, whose council district includes the Westside, for getting back with Utilities officials after the July 6 meeting. That meeting dismayed both Kasten and Heimlicher because Utilities representatives made it sound like the candlepower would be substandard, the Utilities share would be less than anticipated and legal issues might prevent the deal altogether.
“We (board members) were ready to go it alone, but then Jerry asked for one last chance,” Kasten said.
That turned into the present deal, in which the average candlepower is to be 2.17 candles (compared to the city standard of 2 and the average level of 1.62 on Tejon Street between Bijou Street and Pikes Peak Avenue downtown). Also, Utilities will contribute $29,600 to the cost ($3,600 more than was stated July 6).
Kasten said she appreciates Utilities' willingness to keep working toward a solution, but stopped short of unabashed praise. She noted that $6,640 of Utilities' contribution is for “permits and fees,” which she considered odd because all but one of the new lights will be replacements. Also, she noted that the district is footing the majority of the bill even though the lights belong to the city.
The agreement is the latest development in negotiations between the two entities over the past two years. Utilities had wanted district cost-sharing because the current streetlights (most of them installed in 1953) were perceived as still having a few more years of useful life and the historical-type lights are more expensive.
Kasten's next step will be a meeting with the Pikes Peak Regional Develop-ment Corporation, which played a key role in the economic development that began renovaing Old Colorado City in the late 1970s. Her hope is to work out a borrowing plan - possibly a lease-purchase agreement because a simple loan is not allowed under the taxing district's legal framework - that would enable the district to come up with its share of the cost. The exact amount is $97,234.
The deal with Utilities calls on the district to have that amount in hand no later than August. If so, Utilities will be required to install the new lights by November, Kasten said.
“We're really going to push to complete this so we can have the lights in before Christmas,” she said.
One side effect of the plan will be the eventual removal of many of the 25- year-old, globular “accent” lights that the Security District had installed when it was formed. About 10 of the original 60-some accent lights have already been removed because they were too delapidated to fix, and others are reportedly nearing that point. But a big reason for removing even more of them will be the need to the reduce the cost of keeping those lights operating: The district will then be able to use the savings to help pay off the $97,000, Kasten said.
She did not know how many accent lights would be removed or when. She said the board wants to see how bright the new lights really are, once they're installed.
The city streetlight replacements would be along Colorado Avenue and on side streets up to the north and south alleys between 24th and 27th streets.
Utilities has installed a working sample of its new lights on Colorado Avenue in front of Bancroft Park. At the board's request, the final model will be shorter (14 instead of 16 feet high) to keep the head out of the trees.
The Security District is formed of property owners in the Historic Shopping District, who tax themselves for its public improvements.
Westside Pioneer Article