Hoping to rein in ugliness, OCC District board mulling ‘corrals’ for newspaper boxes

       Members of The Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District Advisory Committee think a willy-nilly plethora of variously colored newspaper boxes is unsightly and ought to be corralled.
       In fact, a corral is just what the committee has in mind. The eventual goal is to have the news boxes in the district painted the same color (preferably black) and enclosed in six Old Colorado City locations within decorative metal fences.
       The idea is not to stifle the free press, according to Chair Judy Kasten, but to provide a neat, safe appearance that is compatible with Old Colorado City's historic commercial district. A similar set-up is being used effectively in downtown Denver, she explained.
       A corral would surround the news boxes on three sides and have a raised underside so that the area beneath could be easily cleaned.
       “They're just going to look so much better,” Kasten said.
       A recent district count in Old Colorado City found 22 different publications and a total of 60 boxes in the public right of way.
       A district written report notes that when the district was established as part of Old Colorado City's revitalization 26 years ago, “newsracks were not as abundant as they are now and accommodation for newsrack placement was not included in the design of the sidewalks and landscaping.” Now, the report states, “In many areas the newsracks impede access on sidewalks (and) impede the line of sight at intersections for drivers… The Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District has borne the difficulty and expense of maintaining these areas and public structures that support and secure the newsracks.”
       Before the corrals can become reality, City Council must pass an ordinance allowing that method to be used. Kasten is hopeful of success. “None of those council people would like those yellow, orange, blue and purple boxes along their streets,” she said.
       The district has talked to City Planning and is waiting for word back on city legal questions. Once those wrinkles are ironed out, a meeting will be scheduled to get feedback from the local publication representatives, Kasten said.
       Should the corrals go in, the district has no plans to impose its own fees, but committee members would like the city to start requiring an identification label on each newsbox so the district will know if the publication owning the box has a revocable permit from the city (which also requires an insurance policy).
       One goal is to avoid clutter. Sometimes boxes are left behind when publications go out of business or change distribution plans. For instance, a long-unused box near 25th and Colorado is marked “Go.”
       Currently, the only way the district can find out if publications have city permits is to call them individually - a time-consuming endeavor that does not appeal to the Maintenance District, which has no paid administrative staff.
       “Right now it's just a hodge-podge, with no enforcement,” commented Mary Purinsh, a committee member who has led the research effort in the matter, at the Nov. 16 committee meeting.
       The district's suggested locations for corrals are:
       The 2400 block - in front of La Baguette (where several racks are now) or Garman's.
       The 2500 block - in front of Sno-White, or near the bus stop on the south side of the avenue (another long-popular spot).
       The 2600 block - the parking lot by Red Mountain Sports, or in front of Yakitori.
       Lately, the numbers have dropped off near the bus stop in the 2500 block. This is due to the October district landscaping project, in which notes were left in the boxes asking their owners to remove them for the project, Kasten said. With the landscaping work now complete, only three boxes had returned as of this week.
       The district oversees the upkeep of Old Colorado City's historic commercial district, taxing property owners within the three- block area to pay for improvements.

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