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$ found to finish master-plan work in Bancroft Park

       With $300,000 in new funds, a Colorado Springs Parks official pledged to City Council in June that the changes master-planned for Bancroft Park last year are to be finished by April 2019.
       Groundbreaking is planned in late September, David Deitemeyer, the Colorado Springs Parks planner assigned to the Bancroft renovation project, said in his presentation at a council work session.

A small crowd facing the Bancroft Park bandshell enjoys a summer concert in 2016. The area at the far left (a currently grassy area on the east side of the park) will get a playground, based on the park master plan being implemented. Also as part of that plan, the pavilion in the background will be demolished.
Westside Pioneer photo

       As it wasn't explicitly stated at the session, the Westside Pioneer asked the planner after the meeting to clarify the full extent of the work. His e-mail reply was: “All improvements per the master plan will be completed by April 2019.”
       In addition to a public restroom - which was already scheduled to start construction this fall - the work will feature a small playground, demolition of the roughly 40-year-old pavilion, creation of a plaza in its place, landscaping changes and picnic tables and benches.

The exterior of the planned Bancroft Park restroom will have a photo "wrap" similar to the one shown here, except customized to show local history, according to Colorado Springs plans.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Parks

       Council still needs to vote on the matter, because it involves an amendment to a city ordinance. But no dissent arose during the work session, and Council President Richard Skorman directed that the item be put on the “consent agenda” for the approvals it needs at future meetings.
       The Parks Department is planning to wait till fall on construction, so as to avoid disrupting any special events in Bancroft. “We can initiate final design and get contracts up and going, so by late September we can start moving dirt and get this in the ground,” Deitemeyer explained.
       His presentation also revealed more detail than before of how the playground and restroom will look. What the public has seen at public meetings has been a wide variety of types.

Rock Ledge Ranch blacksmiths Andy Morris (foreground right) and Ray Sutherland (rear left) ply their trade during the 2007 Territory Days. The blacksmith location, as at other Territory Days, was the southeast corner of Bancroft Park. However, that will have to change in 2019, because by then the new public restroom is to be built on that spot.
Westside Pioneer file photo

       Slated for the east side of the park, the final choice for a playground will be a “nature playscape,” the presentation showed. Such a style follows a modern trend to make playgrounds more natural-looking.
       The park has not previously had a playground, but Parks proposed the idea to a somewhat favorable response during the Bancroft master-plan process, which included two public meetings at the Westside Community Center in April 2017.
       The City's Parks Advisory Board approved the plan the following May.
       As for the restroom, Deitemeyer's presentation to council displayed a sample image (see photo, Page 5) of a building with a “wrap” of photos around its exterior. He clarified, in answer to a question after the work session from the Westside Pioneer, that the Bancroft version “will be customized for the park to show the history of the area.”
       In addition, he told council that the facility will “mirror the appearance of the historic cabin” in the southwest corner of the park.
       The restroom will be located, as stated in the master plan, at the park's southeast corner. There has been some Westside opposition to this positioning, based on concerns that it will mar the park's beauty and even lead to abuse by vagrants; however, the city's belief is that a front-and-center location will lessen the chances of vandalism.
       Concern about vagrants also led to the decision to demolish the pavilion, Parks officials have previously said.
       Support for the restroom plan has come from the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF) and the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, based on a long-held belief that tourists will appreciate the amenity.
       Working restrooms remain operational below the bandshell, but they don't meet modern handicapped-accessibility requirements. They are only unlocked for special events, Dietemeyer pointed out. Instead, in recent years, porta-pots have been situated at the back of the park.
       With an automated self-
       cleaning feature, the coming restrooms will be a new type for Colorado Springs. “I'm quite excited about this,” said Skorman, whose District 3 includes Old Colorado City. He added the hope that the design can be used elsewhere in the city.
       According to information provided by Parks, the self-cleaning capability, lasting eight minutes, uses an “antibacterial detergent” and will only come on when no one is inside. The restroom door can be locked in the usual manner; however, it can be programmed to unlock after a certain time.
       Councilmembers Tom Strand and Merv Bennett, both of whom live on the Westside, praised City Parks for its plans. “This is a park that hasn't had a lot of attention over the past many years, and it's a critical component of the old Westside,” Bennett said.
       The fund that the $300,000 will be drawn from is made possible by the city's park land dedication ordinance (PLDO). It requires the city to be given land in a new development - or fees in lieu of land, which go into the PLDO fund.
       Although City Parks officials have said in recent months that different funding sources were being sought to pay for Bancroft's master-plan work, PLDO had not previously been suggested as an option. Recently, questions were raised because the department did not apply for funds from the city's Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) for 2019 - even though $50,000 had been awarded from that source for this year.
       A project delay had also become an issue because the original master-plan schedule had called for full implementation by April of this year.
       A master plan for Bancroft Park was in the works for some years, and the OCCF has held fundraisers for new restrooms there since 2013. However, it wasn't until the as-yet-unsolved, bandshell-damaging arson fire of January 2017 that the city put a priority on park improvements.

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