[Hpn] Colorado Springs Mega-Shelter

HOBOMATT@aol.com HOBOMATT@aol.com
Tue, 18 Jul 2000 21:04:08 -0400 (EDT)


 
 
   
  This was in the local newspaper last July 8th.
  
   
<<Shelter plan revamped to allay neighbors' fears

By Eric Gorski/The Gazette

The idea was to build a $6 million center for the homeless in harmony with 
the working-class neighborhood next door.

But revised development plans filed Friday show the project has fallen out of 
favor with neighbors: The proposed Montgomery Community Center south of 
downtown Colorado Springs now looks more like a fortress.

The controversial project headed by the American Red Cross and the El Pomar 
Foundation would put a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, medical clinic and 
other social services currently scattered across town under on roof. 

Colorado Springs Utilities has agreed to donate 3.7 acres south of the Drake 
Power Plant for the complex.

A month ago, city planners asked developers to make 20 changes to their 
original plan because residents to the east wanted to be as separate as 
possible from the center. The project's organizers filed their point-by-point 
response Friday.

The site is now completely fenced or walled - a brick wall, in fact, shields 
Conejos Street residents from an outdoor dining area inside the complex - and 
the building has been turned around so the entrance doesn't face the 
neighborhood. 

The plan goes before the city Planning Commission on Aug. 3. 

When the project was unveiled in December, neighborhood reaction was mixed. 
Some residents jumped at the chance to sell their property for a planned 
day-care center across from the complex.

Others who got the same feelers were angry when they learned later their land 
wasn't needed.

In a highly unusual move, city planners, developers and neighbors have met 
almost weekly in recent months to discuss concerns. 

But the negotiations have fallen apart. Neighbors now say the only solution 
is to find another site.

The changes to make the center more isolated could increase the cost of the 
project, said Tony Koren, associate vice president for programs with El 
Pomar. 

"We would have preferred to have something that is part of, or as inclusive 
as possible, in the neighborhood," Koren said. "At the same time, we have to 
respect what we think is a consensus from the neighborhood."

The plan tries to allay some neighborhood concerns. Organizers pledge to run 
a shuttle bus system to cut down on shelter foot traffic.

But Rickie Stuart, a member of a neighborhood task force that's been meeting 
with organizers, said the revised plan doesn't come close to covering 36 
concerns residents gave the city May 4.

She said there's been no response to demands for a mitigation fund for 
potential property damage. Neighbors opposed a dog kennel. 

The revised plan includes a kennel "for temporary use" to prevent animals 
from roaming free.

"I feel as though they're not trying to work with us," Stuart said. "I feel 
like I've wasted my time for the past three months."


   Neighborhood concerns

The proposed 53,000-square-foot Montgomery Community Center would include the 
Red Cross Shelter, Marian House Soup Kitchen, a Community Health Centers 
clinic, Pikes Peak Mental Health office and other agencies and services.

Other features, some to allay the fears of neighbors, include:

A 6-foot chain-link fence would surround much of the property. A brick wall 
and black aluminum fence would be built along Conejos Street where homes are 
located.

One vehicle entrance would be located off Conejos Street farther north than 
originally planned. The entrance would be across from a planned day-care 
center rather than across from homes. A pedestrian entry would be on Conejos 
north of Mill Street.

A shuttle bus system to reduce foot traffic. 

The back of the building would be closer to Conejos Street; the entrance 
would face railroad tracks to the west.

The fenced parking lot would have 151 spaces; "no parking" signs would go up 
on Conejos Street's westside.

The center would set up a community hotline for safety concerns.

Source: Thomas and Thomas, the land planner for the proposed Montgomery 
Center.