Bancroft work during events again
After Colorado Springs Parks sent out a press release in early January pledging to “avoid any impact to the special-event calendar” for Old Colorado City this year, a later public meeting at the Westside Community Center revealed that construction is likely to extend into June and possibly July.
Contacted in late February, David Deitemeyer, the City Parks planner assigned to the project, offered no change to that timetable.
That will make two summers in a row with park construction impacts stemming from the bandshell fire in January 2017.
City-contracted bandshell repairs lasted from June to November last year, and three large-scale OCC events had to improvise for their live music.
The envisioned work this year will focus on a new public restroom at the southeast corner of the park and walkways leading to it, Deitemeyer said during a question/answer session at the meeting.
The gathering was called to get feedback on design options for the restroom as well as a small playground. Both are in the “Bancroft Park Action Plan” approved by the city's Parks Advisory Board last May, along with the removal of the pavilion, development of a centralized plaza, updated lighting and landscaping and a traffic bumpout to slow traffic into Colbrunn Court from Colorado Avenue.
But no work other than the restroom is slated to start before fall, Deitemeyer elaborated.
Full project completion, which the Action Plan had set for April 2018, is now expected in 2019. But even that timeline depends on “money available,” Deitemeyer told the meeting attendees.
More than $500,000 is in the current budget, he said, but there are uncertainties resulting from universally rising construction costs, park soil stability issues and the fact that upgrade plans have not yet gone to final design nor been priced through a contractor-bidding process.
Asked why the timeline had fallen behind so much since April, Deitemeyer said Parks has lost key staffers and is dealing with “other priorities.” For his own part, he is also the principal planner for the simultaneous Garden of the Gods restroom development project.
If, the Bancroft restroom work does start this spring and continues till June/July, it could affect two major annual events by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group - Mad Hatter Saturday March 24 and Territory Days May 26-28; and possibly a third, the OCCA's still conceptual “WestFest” June 17, as well as the summer-Saturdays Farmers Market.
Deitemeyer did say that he believes Parks “can localize” the project impact so that most of Bancroft, including the bandshell, remains usable.
The main concern for OCCA representatives at the January public meeting was rethinking the playground location. The Action Plan, reflecting a two-meeting public process last April, places it on the east side of Bancroft. The OCCA and its charitable nonprofit, the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), would prefer it at the northwest corner, nearer the library.
The OCCF is ready to donate as much as $25,000 for the playground, said Dave Brackett, its president.
Another location concern raised at the meeting was that of the new restroom. Bill Grimes and Judy Kasten, both members of the Old Colorado City Special Improvement Maintenance District (SIMD), argued against it being so close to Colorado Avenue.
“I find it objectionable,” Kasten said. “It's about as attractive as having a toilet in your front yard.”
Deitemeyer countered that OCC merchants have advocated for public restrooms in the park for several years. He also pointed to another citizen worry, based on feedback from last April's public meetings, which is vagrants abusing the facility; City Parks officials believe that having it closer to the main road would make that less likely.
Depending on cost, the design may also include self-cleaning and security features, based on options shown at the meeting, drawn up by the Colorado Springs firm of Mike Collins Architects.
Without self-cleaning, according to City Parks Operation and Maintenance Manager Kurt Schroeder, who joined Deitemeyer at the meeting, the best the city could do is have a crew clean the facility once a day.
The restroom designs in general reflect an effort to have the restroom “blend in architecturally,” Deitemeyer said.
Westside Pioneer article