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Bancroft restroom project delayed, probably till fall

       In a switch from previously announced plans, Colorado Springs Parks has decided that this spring and summer is not the right time to build its new Bancroft Park restroom facility.
       The schedule now shows construction starting in late October or early November, according to Karen Cullen, executive director of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, after a mid-April get-together involving City Parks, the OCCA and the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF).
       At a public meeting in January, city officials had predicted restroom work starting in February and continuing into June or July.
       Cullen said a fall start date works better for local merchants, who were not pleased at the prospects of construction in Bancroft for a second straight summer - although they have long pushed (and fundraised) for a public restroom there.
       Located at the southeast corner of Bancroft Park, beside 24th Street and facing Colorado Avenue, the facility will be equipped with automated locking and self-cleaning, plans now show. The city had said in January that such a design was being considered.

The Bancroft Park master plan (also called the "Action Plan") is shown as it was approved by the Colorado Springs Parks Board in May 2017. In addition to the already completed bandshell repairs, yet-to-come amenities and changes are identified, including a restroom building at the southeast corner (facing Colorado Avenue beside 24th Street).
Westside Pioneer photo

       Asked for confirmation of Cullen's reported October/ November work-start time frame, David Deitemeyer (the Colorado Springs Parks planner assigned to the project) replied in an e-mail to the Westside Pioneer that “we will be analyzing the park's special-event calendar to determine opportunities. We would seek to not impact or displace any planned events.”
       In any case, the city's “target goal” is to have the facility in place before the 2019 Territory Days, Deitemeyer outlined - which matches what Cullen said she heard him tell the merchants. “We would not want to impact this successful and popular event,” he elaborated.
       A public restroom was among several amenities/ changes identified in the park master plan (also called the “Action Plan”), which was approved by the City Parks Board last April, in the wake of the January 2017 fire that had damaged the Bancroft bandshell. Costing about $200,000, bandshell repairs went in last year, along with the start of a park-wide electrical upgrade.

City Parks held two public meetings in the Westside Community Center in April 2017 before Parks Board OK'd a Bancroft Park master plan that May. Above, at the first meeting (April 5). David Deitemeyer (standing) of Colorado Springs Parks listens to a citizen comment.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Other items in the Action Plan include a plaza, a playground, revised landscaping and removal of the pavilion. The original schedule had shown all the work completed by April of this year; however, delays occurred when City Parks faced project priorities elsewhere in the city and lost planning staff, Deitemeyer has previously summarized.
       In his recent e-mail to the Pioneer, he said that restroom construction will cost about $300,000 (on top of roughly $50,000 that's already allocated for architectural and engineering work), which will come close to exhausting the current Action Plan budget.
       Deitemeyer estimated that finishing the remaining plan items would require an additional $250,000 to $300,000. “We are looking into other funding opportunities,” he noted.
       Cullen said city officials (including Deitemeyer, Parks Director Karen Palus and Westsider/City Council-member Tom Strand) met in mid-April with the OCCA and OCCF, seeking feedback on construction planning. What Parks heard was that the restroom is the top priority.
       “We have 6 to 10 tourist buses that come here every day in the summer,” Cullen explained, noting that they pull in along 24th Street, on the east side of the park, close to where the restroom will be built. “Not having restrooms available is critical,” she said. “If we don't have them, they'll go elsewhere [to shop].”
       Under the current arrangement, Cullen or a designated volunteer typically meets the buses when they arrive and guides visitors as needed to the restrooms at the OCCA's Welcome Center, located about a quarter-block away at 2324 W. Colorado Ave.
       Cullen said that's not an ideal situation, and a public restroom in the park “would alleviate that.”
       Asked what the restroom exterior will look like, Deitemeyer told the Pioneer that a final design has not been determined. A variety of options are displayed on the city's Bancroft Park website.
       In answer to another question from the Pioneer, Deitemeyer spoke to concerns about the restroom location at the front of the park and how effective its automated features will be. (The words in quotes are from his e-mail.)
  • Location: This allows “higher visibility and use of the space by the public, shoppers, and tourists [and] promotes more active use of the space. [It also] aids to eliminate the undesired loitering that has been reported by the community. The proposed restrooms are an improvement from the porta-potties in the back of the park.”
  • Automated self-cleaning: This will “provide for more frequent cleanings than what would be possible from maintenance staff.” Contractor information shows that a sensor scans for motion inside before the wash cycle starts.
  • Automated locking: A person using the restroom door can lock it in the usual manner; however, it can to be programmed so as not to stay locked indefinitely.

    Westside Pioneer article