Old Colorado City Foundation anticipates ‘marathon’ to get Bancroft improvements

       After two money-making events on behalf of Bancroft Park, the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF) should already be implementing a laundry list of upgrades, right?

In a photo last summer, Dick Wilhelm of the Wilhelm Monument Company makes a repair on the four-sided Westside history slab in Bancroft Park. Using text and graphics from the Old Colorado City Historical Society, Wilhelm engraved the stone for the 2009 Colorado City Sesquicentennial.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Not so fast.
       Still needed are OCCF fine-tuning its plans, additional citizens becoming supportive and City Parks getting behind any locally desired improvements.
       “What we don't want is people to start scratching their heads and saying what happened to the money from the events,” said Dave Van Ness, the OCCF founder and a member of its board. “We never thought this was a sprint, more of a marathon.”
       Led by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group - for which Van Ness is the executive director - the foundation formed last winter as a charitable nonprofit, capable of writing grants to improve the historic shopping district. An early consensus by the volunteer OCCF board is to focus first on Bancroft, and two fundraisers so far have raised close to $30,000. It is clear, though, that serious park improvements won't come cheap. For example, estimates for major restroom enhancements have been pegged as high as $75,000.
       As for City Parks, the earliest it could budget staff for a lengthy look at Bancroft Park improvements would be 2015, according to Kurt Shroeder, the department's director of maintenance. He also noted that to make major changes there, it would be necessary to “go through a master plan process.” He confessed he did not know how old the park's current plan is. “In my 15 years with the city, it hasn't changed,” he said.
       But it's nothing new for City Parks to work with and even provide matching funds for volunteer groups, with such past examples as skateboarding, handball or tennis facilities, Schroeder said.
       Van Ness pointed out that the OCCF has never thought city funding was absolutely necessary. “I don't know if we even started on this with the expectation that Parks would use its funds,” he pointed out. “They just have to agree.”
       But what to agree on? That too may take some time. Plans for the park are still preliminary from a board standpoint, with only one landscape architect having presented concept drawings so far.
       The OCCF board wants local people to feel involved. Van Ness has urged citizens to contact him with ideas (phone 440-0234 or dave@shopoldcoloradocity.com. He also hopes to keep the issue before the public eye by using (with permission) Colorado Springs Utilities' summer-season water-usage sign near the cabin to show any increases in OCCF fundraising totals.
       In the meantime, fund-raising will continue. Van Ness said the board hopes to make the two 2013 events (“Taste of OCC” in the spring and “Harvest in the Park” in the fall) into annual affairs. Also, donation boxes, in which people can donate to OCCF, are starting to appear in Westside retail stores. And, Van Ness said he plans to start writing grant applications, once Christmas season is over.

Westside Pioneer article