Task force to seek funding sources for ‘No Man’s Land’

       An intergovernmental “No Man's Land” task force was being formed this week, in response to direction from Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera at the informal City Council meeting Nov. 27.
       Rivera suggested the idea after a roughly 45-minute council discussion with City Engineer Cam McNair revealed that major work is needed on about a 3/4-mile segment of Colorado Avenue between 31st Street and Manitou Springs city limits but there are no clear funding sources to pay for it.
       The task force is to include representatives of the city, county and Manitou Springs, according to Sue Skiffington of the City Manager's Office, which Rivera had asked to lead the effort. She said meeting dates/times are being determined and the panel should report back to council in three to six months.
       McNair talked to council about a preliminary study by city and county staffers that had identified $2.6 million of needed public improvements: primarily sidewalk (in some places there is none on either side of the road), curb and gutter, utility relocations and drainage upgrades. Based on the hopscotch ing city and county jurisdiction through that area, the city would be responsible for $1.8 million (about 75 percent). The county would pay all but 1 percent of the rest, which Manitou (at its request) would cover.
       The issue arose at the request of Manitou, which recently completed a lengthy effort to establish an urban renewal authority intended to upgrade public and private properties around the avenue within Manitou. The area is dominated by about 20 small, older motels - some of them well-maintained, others less so - that were mostly built in mid-20th century days when the avenue was the only road between Colorado Springs and Manitou. Councilman Tom Gallagher suggested at the meeting that some parts of the public infrastructure is even older, possibly dating to the early part of that century.
       Concerned that the avenue serves as a “gateway” to her town, Marcy Morrison, the town's mayor and representative on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA), had asked at an October RTA board meeting if RTA maintenance funds might be used to improve the Colorado Springs-county segment.
       McNair, supported by Dan Cleveland of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board, questioned whether RTA funds could properly be used for such a project. He noted that the scope was more like a new, “capital” project because it chiefly would add “new features,” rather than maintain existing construction. But a capital project for the area had not been on the prioritized A, B, and C lists that voters had approved in supporting the RTA's one-penny sales tax in the 2004 election.
       McNair said other funding sources exist, but would need to be explored.
       Representing the county at the meeting was Sallie Clark, the Westside-based commissioner whose District 3 includes No Man's Land. “This has traditionally been an area no one wanted to deal with,” she said. “It wasn't all city, all county or all Manitou Springs.” The fact that it wasn't on the RTA priority list is just another proof of that, she suggested. “It wasn't on anybody's radar screen.”

Westside Pioneer article