SWEEP homeless from South Platte River parks, say dev. planners

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 29 Jul 1998 16:58:59 -0700 (PDT)


"We don't want to create some nice greenway and have it become a homeless
park."  -- Jim Rees, project coordinator, Colorado Springs city development
office

Currently, the Confluence Park area is a haven for the homeless because of
its proximity to the bridges under I-25. And, in the brush along the creek
banks, some homeless people have built ramshackle shacks that are
frequently removed by city police and code enforcement officials. -- from
article below

http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0728e.htm
FWD  Denver [Colorado] Post  July 28, 1988


     SPRINGS HOPES TO CLEAN UP RIVER

     By Erin Emery, Denver Post Staff Writer


COLORADO SPRINGS - City planners are jumping on the river-park bandwagon.

A plan to build a 30-acre park just west of downtown Colorado Springs comes
on the heels of a $45 million Denver project to build trails and parks
along the South Platte River and a $23 million Pueblo water-park project
along the Arkansas River.

The Colorado Springs plan calls for a "Confluence Park" where Monument and
Fountain creeks meet. The area along Interstate 25 would be the centerpiece
of a 35-mile greenway system that runs the length of El Paso County, from
the towns of Monument to Fountain.

Supporters say the park - with grass, fountains and sculpture - would
deliver a knockout visual punch to travelers along I-25 and serve as an
invitation to visit the city's downtown.

"The possibility for improving the image of our city ... is considerable to
me," said Kyle Blakely, project chairman for the city's portion of the
greenway system.

"It'll be a pretty dramatic entrance," said Jim Rees, the project
coordinator for the city development office. "Now, it's kind of
seedy-looking, and that would class that up quite a bit."

So far, the city has $3.5 million to spend, thanks in large part to grants
from the El Pomar Foundation and Great Outdoors Colorado. The amount,
however, is far less than the estimated $25 million it will take to fully
develop the park. Even if the city doesn't raise the full amount, a small
park with trees, sidewalks and grass would be built.

On Monday, the Colorado Springs City Council heard presentations about
Confluence Park and other community improvement projects throughout the
city. In the coming weeks, the council will decide whether to ask voters in
November to approve $11 million in bonds for the park. The bonds would be
paid for over 15 years with cash from the general fund.

The first $3.5 million has been used to acquire property. So far, the city
has purchased nine parcels - not quite half of the land it needs. In all,
about 16 homes and businesses will be relocated.

If the bond issue makes the ballot and voters approve $11 million in bonds,
the city would use that money to acquire more property, purchase and
relocate the gas department of Colorado Springs Utilities and purchase some
property currently owned by railroad companies.

If the city can purchase the railroad property, it would build an elaborate
overpass to provide easier pedestrian access to downtown restaurants, shops
and office buildings.

Rees said the city's been talking to the Children's Museum about moving
into the gas department building. He said the Colorado Springs Convention &
Visitors Bureau also has shown interest in moving into the building.

"Bringing activity into the park would be key to its success," Rees said.
"We don't want to create some nice greenway and have it become a homeless
park."

Special events, open-air markets, concerts and other activities could be
held along the creeks, which roar with white-capped water after heavy rain
showers and during spring snowmelt.

Currently, the Confluence Park area is a haven for the homeless because of
its proximity to the bridges under I-25. And, in the brush along the creek
banks, some homeless people have built ramshackle shacks that are
frequently removed by city police and code enforcement officials.

Numerous trains, most carrying coal, rumble through the area several times
a day - a practice that will continue.

Blakely said he doesn't think the railroad tracks would be a detriment to
the park because the walkways will be built over them.

"I don't see that as a major obstacle," he said. "In the future, if the
railroad ever abandons the tracks, it could become an amenity. In Denver,
the trolley transfers people back and forth." Though people in the city are
just beginning to talk about the possibilities for Confluence Park, Blakely
said he hasn't heard any negative comments.

"Personally, I don't see the downside to it."

END FORWARD

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