[Hpn] Colorado Springs Mega-Shelter

HOBOMATT@aol.com HOBOMATT@aol.com
Thu, 10 Aug 2000 12:23:48 -0400 (EDT)


This was in today's local paper. The backers are really starting to swim 
upstreram in their desire to locate an un-needed (our main shelter has 
enjoyed empty beds for over a year) "homeless campus" in a quiet residential 
neighborhood. The primary purpose is looking more and more like a plan to 
sequester homeless providers, and their clients, in an out-of-Downtown Gulag.
Matt Parkhouse, RN; Colorado Springs, CO 

Shelter backers not giving up

By Eric Gorski/The Gazette
Edited by Mike Braham

Six days after being dealt a blow by the City Planning Commission, the 
American Red Cross and El Pomar Foundation made it clear they are pushing 
forward with plans to build a one-stop center for the city's homeless.
The agencies on Wednesday appealed the commission's 5-1 vote against the 
project and asked for an Oct. 10 hearing before the City Council.

The commission broke with a city Planning Department recommendation and sided 
with neighbors' concerns that the $6 million Montgomery Community Center 
would overwhelm their small working-class neighborhood south of downtown with 
increased traffic and safety concerns.

The appeal counters that the proposal meets city zoning criteria and is in 
city's best interests.

The likelihood of at least a two-month delay between votes means both sides 
will get a chance to either work together one more time or, if that fails, 
sharpen their arguments.

"This is a proposal we've been working on diligently on for three years," 
said Debbie Mitguard, who's coordinating the project for the Red Cross. "We 
still believe adamantly this is the right thing to do in this community."

The neighborhood group that opposes the project is already balking at the 
Oct. 10 date before the City Council. Two of its leaders are going to be out 
of town.

Typically, appeals to Planning Commission decisions are heard at the next 
regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

But in its appeal, the Red Cross cited scheduling difficulties as the reason 
for needing more time. Granting such delays is normal, said Quinn Peitz, head 
of city planning. The neighbors can ask for a delay, too.

Organizers, neighbors and city planners met for months trying to craft an 
agreeable design. Several changes were made to the design, but they weren't 
enough for neighbors.

On some matters, compromises weren't possible. The neighbors wanted a soup 
kitchen removed from the design, a demand that organizers were unwillling to 
meet.

The center would consolidate services - including a shelter, soup kitchen and 
medical clinic, all run by different agencies- that are now scattered around 
town. El Pomar has pledged $5 million.

Representatives from the Red Cross, El Pomar and the neighborhood said 
Wednesday they are open to more talks.

"We hope by all of us staying in the process, we can find the best solution," 
said Lyn Akers, a neighborhood representative. The best approach, she said, 
is "to keep hammering away at what works and what doesn't work for each side 
and find the middle ground together."

At the same time, both sides will seek to frame the discussion as reaching 
beyond one neighborhood.

"We hope we can bring this issue to the whole city, so the whole city can see 
it doesn't belong in any residential neighborhood that affects children and 
families," said Pam Perry, a neighborhood resident.

Project organizers take a different view. El Pomar president Thayer Tutt said 
he hopes the City Council will take a look at the "bigger picture."

"From El Pomar's point of view, the whole reason we got involved with this 
project was to try to help a segment of the population - the homeless - get 
back on their feet," Tutt said. "This has been cast as El Pomar versus the 
neighborhood. That is the last thing we ever intended it to be. We hope we 
can get back to the real issue at hand."