‘Neighborhood Improvement’ honor adds to Spirit Awards
In a new category this year, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (PPUG) and Fire Station 3 were honored for “Neighborhood Improve-ment” at the annual Spirit Awards at Westside Community Center Oct. 20.
Certificates were presented in seven categories in all by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), which originated the event in 2005 as a way of recognizing people who fix up Westside properties.
The new award allows recognition to be given for efforts - not necessarily on private properties - that result in improvements to the Westside in general.
Between 2009 and 2011, PPUG, a nonprofit group, started three Westside community gardens (a vacant lot at 2825 W. Pikes Peak Ave., Vermijo Park and the Community Center), all of which now have waiting lists. This earned PPUG the “gold” Spirit Award in the Neighborhood Improvement category. Silver went to Fire Station 3, which worked with a Troop 3 Boy Scout on an Eagle Scout project to put a flag pole outside the station. The project, including landscaping upgrades, sod and concrete work, was completed after a Scout fundraising campaign and extensive volunteer efforts by firefighters and Scouts. Until the project, Station 3 had never had a flagpole in its 61 years.
Larry Stebbins of PPUG wasn't able to be on hand, but several firefighters from Station 3 were present - at least until they had to respond to a call.
At the presentation, some award recipients talked about challenges they'd faced in their projects. At 487 Pyrite Terrace, Thomas Eisenbeis bought a house in which the previous resident had had an apparent “mental breakdown,” he said. The bank painted over grafitti the woman had painted on the outside, while he rounded up three dump trucks full of trash from the house.
Ron Eby, working on his 116-year-old house at 119 Williams St., revamped the front landscaping after having to put in a new sewer line. The work included raising a stairwell almost two feet and building a new retaining wall. “I'm pretty proud of it,” he said.
Aspenwood Veterinary Clinic, 1030 S. 21st St., has existed since sometime in the 1970s, and it was starting to look its age. Among the steps that Cody Laas and Kelly McCarty took - mostly this last summer while keeping the business open - were to clear up some overgrown vegetation, install a new sign, stain the shingles, put in new floors, stucco the outside wall, landscape and repave the parking lot.
Another recipient was the project at 16 N. 11th St., owned by Welling and Sallie Clark. Welling is the president of OWN, and Sallie is a county commissioner, but the couple have owned and operated the neighboring Holden House Bed & Breakfast for more than 25 years. They had been looking for a separate home after years of living in one of the rooms in their bed & breakfast. When 16 N. 11th St., across the alley from the Holden House, was condemned, “we put up an offer, and unfortunately we got it,” Sallie quipped. By the time the work was done a year and a half later, 14 dumpster loads of trash had been hauled away and the planned remodel had become practically a new house because of all the problem areas in the old construction, she explained. “I'll have to work for another 10 years,” commented Welling Clark.
For her new Stone Path Nursery, Edie Gibson took over a site that had historically been a nursery at 3178 W. Colorado Ave., but it had been a year and a half since the place had been used. On top of that, the old greenhouse had not been secured by the previous owners. As a result, she found to her dismay messes left by wild animals and homeless people. Eventually she renovated the greenhouse and building and opened for business last spring.
(Note: The trashy-looking property just east of hers, which was part of the old nursery, is owned by another entity.)
The Spirit Awards judging was done by OWN board members.
Below is a full list of this year's Spirit Awards:
Gold - 487 Pyrite Terrace (Thomas Eisenbeis).
Silver - 119 Williams St. (Ron Eby).
Bronze - 2210 W. Colorado Ave. (Kristine Van Wert).
Gold - Aspenwood Veterinary Hospital, 1030 S. 21st St. (Cody Laas and Kelly McCarty).
Silver - Behavior Health Center of Excellence, 2212 W. Colorado Ave. (Evelyn and Dennis Baleria).
Bronze - Island Orchids, 2204 W. Colorado Ave. (Mary Cohagen).
Gold - 1302 W. Pikes Peak Avenue (Eric and Brenda Kneifel).
Gold - 1380 Gold Hill Mesa Drive (J.M. Weston, builder).
Gold - 16 N. 11th Street (Welling and Sallie Clark).
Gold - Stone Path Gardens, 3178 W. Colorado Ave. (Edie Gibson).
Gold - 3178 W. Colorado Avenue, Windy Apron Café (Susan Sawyer).
Gold - Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (for three community gardens since 2009).
Silver - Fire Station 3 (Eagle Scout flagpole project).
Westside Pioneer article