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Late August seen to finish Bancroft bandshell repairs; other park work later

      

This is what the beams and rafters inside the Bancroft Park bandshell look like after being treated with a solution (including sodium bicarbonate) that eliminates the odor from burned wood. The photo takes in the northwest corner in the rear of the stage, which had gotten the worst of the damage in the January fire. The plywood across the back covers part of an area that burned on the back wall. The wood coating was applied by Master Blaster, a subcontractor for Murphy Constructors, which has contracted with City Parks for the bandshell repairs.
Westside Pioneer photo
Started at the end of May, work on the fire-charred Bancroft Park bandshell will continue until at least the end of August, according to Colorado Springs Parks Operations and Maintenance Director Kurt Schroeder.
       Murphy Constructors initially was contracted to repair the damage from the January fire and is now enlisted for the following “change orders,” Schroeder elaborated:
  • A security door (to block off the front of the stage when it's not in use).
  • An upgraded electrical service (including the capability of shutting off the on-stage outlets as needed).
  • A ramp rising to a door in the back of the building (to give stage access to anyone in a wheelchair).
           The change orders will raise the Murphy bill to $199,000, Schroeder said. In March, City Council had allocated $250,000 for Bancroft, using an insurance payout and state lottery funds.
           He clarified that the $51,000 difference will be applied to future work at Bancroft, in keeping with a master plan that was unanimously approved by the City Council-appointed Parks Advisory Board in May.
           The plan's timeline shows the bandshell work as the project's first phase, with other elements needing until April 2018. These extras, as explained to the board by Parks staff, will mean significant modifications/ upgrades to the 1.2-acre Old Colorado City site, as follows:
           - Construction of a stand-alone restroom at the front right corner (replacing the restrooms under the bandshell that are usually closed; that space will be cleared for future City Parks storage).

    A photo taken for Colorado Springs Parks shows some of the worst of the charring a short time after the January fire. Note: The areas shown in these photos are behind the temporary wood wall with the photo collage that currently blocks access to the stage.
    Courtesy of Colorado Springs Parks

           - Removal of the pavilion in the center of the park (for the joint purpose of eliminating a vagrant hangout and expanding the concrete “activity plaza” in front of the stage).
           - Construction of a small playground on the east side of the park (seen as a positive activity for families with children).
           - Traffic bump-outs on the east corner at either end of Colbrunn Court (to better control traffic, especially during special events).
           Costs have not yet been determined for the above items. Because the $51,000 remaining will not be enough, other funding sources are being tapped. Schroeder said another $225,000 has already been approved in 2018 from the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) fund. He added that Parks staff has applied for $250,000 from the city's LART tourism tax.
           City Parks staff developed its Bancroft-upgrade concepts following two online surveys and two public meetings, both held at the Westside Community Center in April.
           Another public meeting is tentatively scheduled in mid-August to “fine tune” the approved changes, as Parks planner David Deitemeyer put it. Contacted in late June, he said an exact date depends when park survey drawings are completed, pointing out that construction plans can't start without them.
           During the April meetings and surveys, Deitemeyer referred to the effort as the “Bancroft Park Action Plan.”
           He told the Parks Board that judging from survey responses, the Action Plan proposal had been “overall well received,” but he acknowledged citizen concerns about removing the pavilion and that the plan had been “rushed” (having been developed over about six weeks after City Council allocated funds and told Parks to move faster).
           Regarding the pavilion, Deitemeyer said the removal decision followed reports of vagrants taking advantage of the pavilion's low walls there. Calling it an “attractive nuisance,” he said a “consensus” of the citizens participating in the master-plan effort wanted it gone, but he did concede there were some dissenting views.
           As for the planning pace, he asserted that, while it may have been “accelerated” (taking less time than typical master plans), the idea of improving the park had “been in the public eye for a couple of years” (a reference to fundraising by Old Colorado City businesses since 2013), so it was not rushed.
           Parks Board members responded to the presentation with some fact-related questions and comments, but the only remarks approaching criticism involved the electrical service upgrade that will regulate the on-stage outlet. (Also, until the fire, unregulated electrical outlets had been available in the pavilion as well.)
           Board member Scott Hume asked if the future outlet restriction would deny homeless people a place to “plug in their cell phones.” Two other board members expressed similar concerns, but none voted against the master plan.
           The outlet regulation is needed, staff had previously summarized, because of known issues with transients camping on the stage at night. (Note: No arsonist has been found in the fire, but the incident occurred on the stage on a cold night in January.)
           Four citizens spoke on the plan, none of whom expressed opposition. Among these were three Westside advocates/leaders - Dave Hughes, Welling Clark and Jim Thompson.
           Hughes ramrodded the Old Colorado City business revitalization effort of the 1970s and '80s, while Clark and Thompson work with groups involved in current community improvement efforts.
           Clark said he appreciated the phasing approach, summarizing that “the entire community of the Westside is on board and looking forward to working with the Parks Department on this.”
           Hughes, who had been involved in the 1970s effort that resulted in the pavilion installation, pointed out a previously unrevealed fact - that a time capsule is buried underneath it.
           Regarding Murphy's bandshell work, Schroeder said the initial contract's performance bond allowed no more than 56 days after the May 31 start date. With the recent change orders, 30 days have been added to that total, he said.
           Asked to confirm that this means completion by the end of August, Schroeder replied, “Basically, yes. But of course you never know what Mother Nature may throw our way that could create delays.”
           If the schedule holds, the Coronado High School Homecoming Parade pep rally could be the first event to use the upgraded bandshell. It's scheduled Saturday morning, Sept. 16.

    Westside Pioneer article