arohr 
Member since Dec 29, 2016


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Re: “Who will fight for old downtown?

The article by Mr Hazelhurst (December 21) was both enlightening and necessary. The perspective he provided for the Pikes Peak region certainly applies to many areas of the country. It seems the protection and preservation of our priceless historic buildings and sites can be cyclical, victims of whimsical trends more often than not. American history will always be driven by economic forces that arent particularly sensitive to local cultural activities, marvelous designs or highly publicized associations with famous people. And yet surprisingly every era has its heroic personalities that seem to respond to a higher calling. That is the story of historic preservation. It can be the most challenging of exercises and yet the most rewarding and sustainable of all endeavors.

It is interesting to note how study after study for the revitalization of downtown Colorado Springs stresses providing accommodations for current and future young professionals. The result has often been modern high-rise condominiums near the periphery of downtown. Yet as the city moves forward in its mission to provide an inviting urban experience, and as we relentlessly pursue our long-honored infill development policy, we must as a 'community' endeavor to balance the old with the new. We need to work together to decide what older areas of town are worthy of preservation for future generations and how to allow sensitive, sustainable change to occur within these neighborhoods. Most of us now refer scornfully to those unenlightened decision makers of the past who arbitrarily demolished architectural gems (Antlers Hotel, Burns Opera House, etc.). And yet what scenario could be lurking just around the corner which would simply be a repeat of the tragedies of the past? What major housing or college or hospital or commercial complex lies maliciously on some developers drawing board? Will our descendants once again lament about our era of rampant modernization? Will they deplore our just plain sloppy stewardship regarding the city's precious past? In fairness some of our government officials have led attempts to respect the jewels of our community; they were generally able to preserve important areas while fanning the flames of the economic drivers that maintain the vitality of our city.

The Historic Preservation Alliance (HPA) serves the greater Colorado Springs area as your local historic society. Our nonprofit organization of 300+ members is part of a consortium of other voluntary, like-minded organizations existing in the Pikes Peak region whose primary purpose is to make our history available for those interested in being exposed to it. The HPA in particular provides tours of historic sites throughout the summer and a high caliber lecture series in the winter. We also lead the effort to preserve buildings and sites that are endangered or are in need of new life.

Our board understands and appreciates the article by Mr Hazelhurst, not only in the context of offering a factual history of our city, but as a call perhaps to stir the soul. Let us hope his concerns reach the ears of local officials, property owners and community leaders who have the power to take our beautiful historic city to a higher level of living while celebrating its heritage. With this hope comes the trust that they take measure of the mistakes of the past. Let us remain optimistic the public awareness Mr Hazelhurst so eloquently seeks can serve as the guiding principle in shaping this most honorable endeavor.

If readers are interested in the goals of the HPA or wish to become involved, please visit our website at www.hpasprings.org.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by arohr on 12/29/2016 at 12:45 PM

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