'No Man's Land' now to be called 'The Avenue'

Change may make troubled area more attractive to annexation by Colorado Springs

From 'No Man's Land' to 'The Avenue'

What's in a name?  Community leaders hope a lot, when it comes to improving a long-troubled area between Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and part of unincorporated El Paso County.

Welling Clark, president of West Side Neighbors, said changing the name of the area around 30th Street and Colorado Avenue from "No Man's Land" to "The Avenue" will improve its image.

"Maybe Colorado Springs will look at it more favorably when it comes to annexation," he said.  "Most of the property owners here want to come into the city."

Clark also is on a task force currently studying the feasibility of annexation.  All three municipalities mentioned above are represented on the task force.

The Avenue has had problems with infrastructure improvements and law enforcement for decades because it's close to three different jurisdictions.  Recently, aggressive panhandling has become a concern.

"They're not individuals who are homeless," said Merv Bennett, a Colorado Springs city councilman.  "They're professional panhandlers and often use the funds they receive, for drugs and alcohol."

Bennett said every $20 a panhandler receives, costs the city as much as $2,700 in medical costs.

"I'm in favor of looking at annexation," he said.  "I think it makes sense.  But I'm not ready to make that a recommendation."

The task force is considering the advantages and disadvantages of annexation before making a final decision.  Should it happen, there is $12 million available for infrastructure improvements along the Avenue. 

Clark said if the city approves annexation, it likely wouldn't become affective until 2016.  Until then, he said there remains much work to do.

"We're actually going to have to go door-to-door to every single property (owner) that is being considered for annexation, talk with them and see if they want it," he said.

One of the annexation proponents is Michael Crepeau, owner of Hotel San Ayre on the Avenue.

"You may have people who don't want to come into the city for certain reasons," he said.  "They've never been through the annexation process before and it can seem kind of oppressive.  There's probably going to be a few people who say they don't want to pay the additional sales tax.  But everybody down here already is on city utilities.  They're on city water, they're on city sewer."

The idea of annexing the Avenue has been discussed since 2006.

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