[Hpn] Colorado Springs Mega-Shelter
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
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
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
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
"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."
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
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