Friday, April 27, 2012

Interesting Points from This Week's Task Force Meeting

We had a pretty good turnout of people who hang out down at Soda Springs Park on Wednesday. Some interesting things were said, so I took notes and will share those notes with you here.

-A local named Justin Bailey came up with the idea of turning the triangle planter into a 3-way bench. At first thought, Steve Wood from Concrete Couch figured it would be too small. Adam Withrow, a writer for Manitou Springs Street News and local construction worker, asked about the dimensions, which got Steve to think a little more about it and offer up the idea to bring chairs down and see if we could make it work.

-Adam Withrow pointed out that the whole area concerned during these meetings happens to be our version of a town square. You meet people, get word on the street, find work, etc. "We should find a way to nurture our town square," instead of trying to eliminate it.

-Steve Wood talked about how, in 20+ years of living here, he never really felt the "gauntlet" (a word used commonly to describe the bridge area in front of the Mate Factor, because it is often hard to get through with all the people). He mentioned that after a while, though, he started hearing more people saying they were scared or disturbed by the goings-on down at the park. I, Amanda Lane, mentioned that it was because of the problem bums who were drunk on the street at 9am, demanding food and clothes and spare change from any poor soul walking by, that caused that. Those people are gone now, so we need to help people to understand that what they are afraid of is no longer there.

-Matt Carpenter, City Council Ward 3 and Mayor Pro-tem, talked about how he was scared to bring his daughter to the park and he saw "a drug deal go down ... with a pipe, a guy named Monkey climbing the poles and people all over the place climbing on the rails of the pavilion." Some of the people who were also at the park on the day he spoke of came to the table with their own opinions and common sense and shot holes in Matt's words. Matt Carpenter was asked repeatedly by a number of participants to be respectful.

-Jan Johnson from PARAB has lived here since 1996 and spoke about how it does take a village to make a place safe. She applauds regulars of the park for setting the tone, as far as respect and behavior. She can see that people who care about Soda Springs Park are trying really hard to make it a really nice place to spend time. She does feel that some environmental changes, such as moving benches or eliminating rails, etc. would be a great idea.

-Chris Nason, a street minister, spoke about how he and some member of his church have brought lemonade and cookies during the summers and hot cocoa and cookies during the winters to Soda Springs Park. They just finished their third winter. He said that all they do is hand out cookies and lemonade (or cocoa) and talk to people who wish to talk to them. They have only had 2 negative encounters in these 3 years, which was amazing to him, as he had done similar things in bigger cities. Most of the park occupants were very respectful, though he noted that he was also very respectful to them. He suggested that respect bred respect (hm, who knew?).

-I mentioned that, if anybody took a look at the plan for the park, there would be less to talk about. Many of the so-called problems that we are facing will be entirely eliminated once the plan is executed (See the attached photo of the plan).

-We agreed the next meeting should be a potluck at Soda Springs Park. So bring something good to eat and come down for an evening at the park on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. We will start the meeting at 5pm.

Manitou Springs Soda Springs Park
Come one, come all, but most of all, respect.

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