[Hpn] Mega-Shelter Mediation in Colorado Springs

HOBOMATT@aol.com HOBOMATT@aol.com
Wed, 30 Aug 2000 09:21:14 -0400 (EDT)

 The following is in our local daily paper. The neighbors, having been 
confirmed in their asertion that this is un-needed and just too damn big by 
the Planning Commission (5 to 1 vote), are VERY suspicious at this point.  So 
am I, the Red Cross and El Pomar Foundation have yet to discuss why the 
enthusiasm for this one narrow model to help our homeless population (that we 
count in the hundreds) There are many ways to effectively assist this 
population without creating such an imposing facility.  We also have yet to 
see a needs study for this monster.
Matt Parkhouse, RN; Colorado Springs, CO

Red Cross wants mediator

Neighbors willing to continue homeless center talks

By Eric Gorski/The Gazette

The American Red Cross wants to bring in a professional mediator in another 
attempt to negotiate with opponents of the agency's proposal to build a 
one-stop social services center for the homeless.

The Red Cross has asked neighbors who oppose putting the building in a south 
downtown neighborhood whether they'd be willing to sit down for a new round 
of talks with a third party: a representative of Judicial Arbiter Group Inc.

The firm, which is based in Denver and has a Colorado Springs office, employs 
former judges who charge between $200 and $260 an hour to provide 
arbitration, mediation and conflict resolution.

The gesture was in response to neighbors' willingness to continue discussions 
after the city Planning Commission voted Aug. 3 against allowing the $6 
million project near Mill and Conejos streets, said Sarah Jack, chairwoman of 
the Red Cross board of directors.

The City Council will consider the project Nov. 14. The project organizers, 
neighbors and city planning staff met almost weekly for months hashing out 
neighbors' concerns.

"We want to work with neighbors," Jack said Tuesday. "We want to allay their 
fears and meet their needs and concerns."

Jack said the Red Cross is seeking "an impartial third party" to pay for the 
mediator to avoid any appearance of the mediator being swayed by who pays the 

Pam Perry, president of the Mill Street Neighborhood Association, said 
residents plan to discuss the mediator proposal tonight. The Red Cross asked 
the neighbors to make a decision by Tuesday.

It's uncertain whether more discussion will change the debate - or whether 
either side will make concessions at this point.

Neighbors argue that bringing as many as 500 people a day into the 
neighborhood - as the project would - poses too many safety and traffic 
issues. Project organizers, including the El Pomar Foundation, which has 
pledged $5 million, say they've made many concessions but draw the line at 
scrapping a soup kitchen and other neighborhood demands.

As it stands, the neighborhood still is opposed but is open to discussing 
alternatives, Perry said.

"We've always said we've been open to dialogue about the problem of 
homelessness and homeless people," she said.