The wearin’ o’ the green
Patsy Adams and Joel Grotzinger wear their best Irish garb for the Manitou Springs Kiwanis Club St. Patrick’s Day dinner Saturday, March 18. The 140 attendees helped raise money to pay for $1.80 vaccinations that will fight maternal and neonatal tetanus around the world. Rich Baker and Craig Carnick prepared a feast of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes; Kiwanis members and spouses made the desserts; Manitou Brewery supplied the beer; and the Finn MacCool band performed Irish music. Donations are still being accepted through www.manitoukiwanis.org.
Manitou Springs City Council gave a green light Tuesday for Concrete Couch to begin fabricating an enclosure for the Soda Springs Park pavilion.
With a 5-2 vote, Councilors authorized Steve Wood and his Concrete Couch team to move forward with decorative fencing and gates that will be made by Manitou Springs Middle and High School students. Councilors Bob Todd and Becky Elder cast the dissenting votes.
Wood said the students will fabricate the wrought-iron panels that will sit above the pavilion’s railings and large, double gates with a 12-foot span to allow ingress and egress. The panels will be embellished with scrollwork and decorative glass rondelles.
“We’ve started working with a group of high school students who are coming down every Monday and learning metal-working skills,” said Kendall Kultgen, Concrete Couch program director.
Concrete Couch also will employ engineer Steve Lowe, glass artist Mimi Mitchell and a flood plain engineer to assist with the project.
“We will almost assuredly go above budget, but not your budget,” Wood said. “We don’t need to make a profit.”
The pavilion was secured with construction fencing in July 2016 after a series of incidents ranging from a damaged stage to a man attacked and left paralyzed.
After the Public Services Department fielded estimates for a more permanent structure, Council on Feb. 21 appropriated $1,500 for Concrete Couch to work up a conceptual design.
On Tuesday, Council approved $34,500 for completion of the project.
“I really think we need this enclosure,” Councilor Coreen Toll said. “It literally is the only thing that has worked.… When we fenced that park off, people immediately started talking about how much better it was.”
Toll said other measures, including increased policing, “had some success, but vagrants and transients kept coming, and the problem kept growing. I anticipate this year that we’ll have even more transients than we had last year.”
“Times have changed; people have changed,” Mayor Pro Tem Gary Smith said. “We have to look at a future where we have to secure things even if we don’t want to.”
Councilor Randy Hodges said involvement of local students was a big plus.
“This is a project for future generations,” Hodges said. “They are going to make this town a better place. It gives them something to rally around.”
“The kids are really excited about it,” Middle School SMARTE Design teacher Dan Sieck said. “A lot of them say they aren’t allowed in Soda Springs Park. I think making it nicer looking will attract a better clientele.”
“Middle School students indicated the pavilion is a place that they want to change, in the same ways you want to change it, and have it more usable,” Middle School Principal Ron Hamilton said. “As somebody who grew up in this community, I support this project.”
Todd and Elder urged more deliberation to address to address the underlying issue of controlling undesirable behavior and transients hanging out in the park.
“We need to know exactly what the problem is and put a good amount of resources into understanding it,” Todd said. “If we had really gone in and looked at the problem, might the solution come a little easier?”
Elder said she would not vote for the enclosure “because outside of the school district, everyone else I’ve talked to doesn’t support it.”
She said “chasing (transients) out like roaches” would simply cause them to move to other city open spaces, where the city would have to enclose more structures.
“I’d be really happy to have something that’s beautiful to protect the stage,” Elder said. “Going slow and being thoughtful is the way to go.”
Several citizens urged Councilors to reconsider enclosing the structure.
“We want to encourage more programs to bring in more people and activate the space,” architect De Lane Bredvik said. “Closing the pavilion would hold the community back from that space.”
“Please don’t put the pavilion in prison,” resident AJ Brisk said. “Enforce the existing laws.”
Todd asked that Council continue a community dialogue on the pavilion before acting on the Concrete Couch contract.
“We’ve discussed all that,” Mayor Nicole Nicoletta said. “Right now, we need to at least decide what’s in front of us. We have to allow this to go to a vote. Then we can go a different direction if that fails.”
Nicoletta said she expected “some rebellion, but eventually people are going to honor that space. People are feeling sorry we have to do this, and I’m sorry to a degree, but also really thankful. I think it shows Manitou’s resiliency. Social norms are getting more extreme, and I for one will not turn a blind eye to that.”
After stating that “we do not have the police force to patrol every 30 minutes,” Nicoletta moved for approval of the Concrete Couch contract, and a majority supported it.