An OCC board takes a stand
Maintenance committee votes no to 2300 block Kum & Go

       The Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District's advisory committee became the first established organization in the historic district Aug. 21 to oppose the Kum & Go proposal on the south side of the 2300 block of West Colorado Avenue.
       The committee voted 5-0, with one abstention. The latter vote was cast by John Georgeson, chief executive officer of Pikes Peak National Bank, which has a separate contract with the convenience store/gas station chain to buy property that the bank owns for a store at 21st and Broadway streets.
       A formal letter is to be drafted by committee member Judy Kasten, who had urged the group to “make a stand” against the store in the 2300 block. The meeting consensus was for the letter to take a positive tone, making clear that the committee is speaking out for the historic district, not showing hostility to Kum & Go as a company.
       Under the city ordinance establishing the Maintenance District more than 30 years ago, the seven-member committee serves as an advisory body to City Council.
       Not yet having announced pro-or-con positions on the Old Colorado City Kum & Go are the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group and Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS).
       In a statement she read to the board at its Aug. 21 monthly meeting, Kasten paraphrased the Westside Plan, a 1980 city ordinance, as stating that “the blocks east of 24th and west of 27th are supposed to be part of the expansion of the historic district and Old Colorado City,” and added, “the Kum & Go will take the majority of the block between 24th and 23rd on Colorado Avenue and Cucharras. This will stop the hopeful expansion forever and always be relegated as 'just another giant gas station.'”
       This would be “an opportunity lost,” she added. “I for one do not want to carry that burden around my shoulders, especially after giving 15 years of service [on the committee] to preserve what we have. I would never be able to go past there without thinking of 'what might have been.'”
       Others backing Kasten's motion were Kathy Read, John Edwards, Keith Can-field and Marilyn Baylen. Committee Chair Jim Heikes said that under committee rules he could not vote except to break a tie. However, in comments before the vote, he indicated sympathy with Kasten's proposal, saying, “I want to preserve the integrity of the area.”
       Edwards asked before the vote if the committee might not want to wait a month and fine-tune the letter first. However, Canfield said “the sooner the better. If we wait, we might lose our influence.”
       Kum & Go has not yet submitted a formal plan to the city, but has a sales contract with Goodwill for the roughly two acres it owns on the south side of the 2300 block and has held two meetings with locals (one public in June, the other invitation-only in July).
       The stated concept is for a 5,000-square-foot store behind 10 gas pumps, with entrances off Colorado and Cucharras avenues. The facility would be open around the clock.
       In abstaining, Georgeson admitted to mixed feelings. He said he too would “prefer something else there,” but is not yet convinced of the viability of an alternate plan by local investors (as reported in the Aug. 15 Westside Pioneer). He also noted that with Kum & Go's overall investment in Colorado Springs (10 stores in two years), “it would be a longshot to stop them. We can stomp our feet and make some noise.”
       All the committee members are Old Colorado City property owners, as directed by the ordinance establishing the district.
       A special tax on Old Colorado City property owners covers the district's expenses, which include plantings, miscellaneous improvements and amenities and the salary of a full-time maintenance employee who works for City Parks.

Westside Pioneer article