New zone & plan define present, future uses at center

       Last April a community-spirited arm of the Woodmen Valley Chapel leased the former Buena Vista school property at 17th and Bijou from the City of Colorado Springs.

Looking west from 16th Street at the Westside Community Center facility, part of a current 10-car parking lot is at left. The development plan allows an 18-car extension to the lot behind the twin-cottage building at left and between the current lot and the playground at right.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Formed as the Westside Community Center LLC, it's offering a wide range of recreational opportunities, meeting rooms, programs and classes as well as outreach to low-income families at the site (including the Billie Spielman Center and the Westside CARES food pantry).
       LLC Director Dick Siever has expressed hope that this arrangement will prove viable in the long-term and said this week he is “cautiously optimistic” it is becoming so.
       However, the LLC's lease is only through the year 2012. With that uncertainty, city planning staff began a process several months ago - when the city was still running its own community center at the site - to clarify how the 2.8-acre complex with three older buildings could be used in the years to come.
       The city's concepts for a a property rezoning and a development plan were presented at a neighborhood meeting at the center in January, Planning Commission approved the finalized version in August, and City Council followed suit at its Sept. 14 meeting.
       The new zone, Public Facility, replaces the former conditional use the school had. The plan includes a list of “potential” building uses,” mostly matching what's there now. (See list, Page 13.)
       For other uses to occur at the center, “they would have to go through the process to amend the development plan,” said Steve Tuck of City Land Use at the neighborhood meeting. He described that plan as “very important - a contract between the city, the neighborhood and the operator.”
       Also at the January meeting, there were some complaints from neighbors about large numbers of center attendees parking on the streets. Parking has been addressed in the development plan, with 17 on-site spaces shown off the alley near the east building and another 28 behind the easternmost building off 16th Street (10 exist there now, with 18 more in the plan). Woodmen’s LLC has already installed the lot with 17 spaces. Another complaint at the neighborhood meeting, about unsavory characters occasionally hanging around, was to be monitored addressed in an individual way, based on city officials' comments at the January meeting. The issue is not addressed in the rezoning or development plan.

Westside Pioneer article