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Our OWN column: Despite city $ loss, outreach continues

Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors, speaks during a music break at last summer’s Westside Neighbors Picnic. OWN has organized the free, annual event for over a decade.
Westside Pioneer photo
By Welling Clark
President, Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN)

       The City of Colorado Springs has informed OWN, along with all other neighborhood strategy areas (NSAs), that effective immediately no CDBG funds will be used to support any neighborhood outreach. This came three months after the city stated in writing that it would support NSA outreach for a full year.
       The city made this unilateral decision even though OWN still qualifies for CDBG funding due to its high percentage of low/moderate income census data; city-provided data shows that 80 percent of the Westside NSA still qualifies for CDBG funding.
       The loss of CDBG funding will not impact normal OWN operations, but will severely degrade OWN's ability to reach out to the neighborhood. The primary function and efforts of OWN will remain unchanged. OWN will continue conducting all its normal functions:
       - Land Use Review efforts.
       - Neighborhood public safety oversight efforts.
       - Code enforcement oversight efforts.
       - Government/resident interaction efforts.
       OWN currently has $3,326 cash reserves. OWN core financial obligations run about $220 a year. OWN has determined that the annual summer picnic (outreach membership event) is very desirable, but is more than three times the annual core operating costs. Board liability insurance is considered very important, but is three times the annual core operating costs.
       The 2014 OWN board will recommend that the 2015 OWN board review and determine if the picnic and board insurance are financially viable. OWN has requested that Council of Neighbors and Organization (CONO) investigate the feasibility for CONO to provide an umbrella coverage capability to all incorporated neighborhoods (i.e., a pass- through) with the intent to lower insurance cost to make it affordable to individual neighborhood organizations.
       Starting in 2015, OWN will hold a bi-monthly board planning meeting on the second Thursday of each odd-numbered month; for a total of six planned board meetings. Special board meetings addressing unique issues could be held as necessary.
       OWN will hold its annual membership in conjunction with the March board planning meeting. The first portion of the March meeting will be dedicated to membership/elections and the second portion will be a board meeting to elect new officers. This will require extra pre-planning prior to this meeting.
       It is recommended that the 2015 board make a determination, in early spring, if there will be a picnic based on funding/support to conduct the event.
       Westside Pioneer Support
       This is the offer from the Westside Pioneer to OWN to help us with our outreach:
       “Starting in 2015, we plan to print the Pioneer six times a year (every two months - January, March, May, July, September, and November). The print run will range from about 10,000 to 15,000 copies. In each of those issues, we invite OWN to provide a column about its Westside outreach activities... I hope this will help you with your outreach, Kenyon Jordan [Pioneer editor].”
       Note: We are most grateful and OWN shall make every effort to support the Pioneer given its support of OWN.
       Other communication efforts
       OWN will update its website at westsideneighbors.org. The OWN board determined that the website should be adequate as a reference library for OWN documentation, with OWN cross-linking to other entities that support OWN. The website will be streamlined and easy to use, offer simple navigation pathing, and be updated with OWN- planned events. This website will provide a reference library for OWN.
       OWN has created a Facebook page as one mechanism for immediate outreach to the public with regard to issues that affect the Westside. It is OWN's intent that this site will cross link to the WP and other Westside entities that support OWN. The address is https://facebook.com/TheAvenueColoradoSprings.
       OWN plans to establish an electronic newsletter (free distribution) augmenting its other outreach efforts. Our intent is to make it a monthly newsletter providing the latest updates. E-mail addresses will not be released to any entity. The e-mail newsletter will cross-link to the WP and other Westside entities that support OWN.