October 20, 2016 Vol. 15 No. 48
Hiawatha Gardens’ fate up in the air until work session
Written by Jeanne Davant   


Running — er, walking — with burros


Bri Salazar walks Natasha during Manitou Brewing Co.’s annual Run with Burros 5k event on Saturday, Oct. 15.

Photo by Casey Bradley Gent

Manitou Springs City Council will decide the future of Hiawatha Gardens on Tuesday, Oct. 25, before it begins deliberations on the 2017 city budget.

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) recommended that the building, once a popular dance hall, be returned to the Historic District area and that Council approve a detailed rehabilitation plan.

Neale Minch, HPC chairman, said the Historic District designation would make the city eligible for tax incentives and urged Council to place the recommendations on a future agenda.

Alan Delwiche, chair of the Planning Commission, called for a public hearing on the building’s fate.

“We do lip service a lot to collaboration,” Delwiche said. “A public hearing would seem appropriate. It isn’t appropriate, in my opinion, to get RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for demolition before a public hearing.”

Mayor Nicole Nicoletta said Council would take formal action on the recommendations next week, but she declined to set a formal public hearing.

“We have had several public meetings,” Nicoletta said, noting that she had held two events to collect input and ideas about the building.

It will be Nicoletta’s choice about allowing comments at next week’s meeting, but citizens can still express their views by emailing their representatives.

Council discussed options ranging from complete restoration to demolition of the building at its last meeting and asked city staff to look into the cost of preserving the part of the building that contains the historic dance floor.

Councilor Bob Todd added a request Tuesday for an estimate of the annual cost of maintaining the building.

City Administrator Jason Wells said he would present a spreadsheet of estimated costs next week.

The Hiawatha Gardens vote will determine whether Council includes those costs in the 2017 budget.

Council will closely scrutinize budget requests that are not currently funded in the draft 2017 budget, and Councilors likely will have to make some tough decisions on what to include and what to cut.

In other business Tuesday, Council discussed options for permanent enclosure of the Soda Springs Park pavilion.

Public Services Director Shelley Cobau said the construction netting that has been used to prevent access to the pavilion has been repeatedly slashed.

“It looks very, very shabby,” Cobau said.

No one showed up at a meeting in connection with a request for proposals the Public Services Department issued, she said. The RFP is open through Nov. 16.

“I was hoping that through the RFP process we could come up with some out-of-the-box ideas — something that would make it look not so penal,” Cobau said. “We need to come up with another temporary option and put together our own ideas if we don’t get responses.”

The RFP includes 12 items in the requested scope of services, including consideration of the building’s historic nature, but it does not include an option for security cameras.

For cameras to be an effective deterrent, the city would have to purchase high-quality equipment and pay staff to monitor them 24 hours a day and immediately respond to any violations they see, Councilor Randy Hodges said.

“This is a tough project,” Hodges said. “It would take engineering. Fencing contractors … are way busy. They can pick and choose.”

Nicoletta suggested that the construction netting be kept until the bid period expires and asked Cobau to develop some options if there are no bids for Council to consider at its Nov. 29 meeting.