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SIDE STREETS: HOA at Satellite Hotel is veering out of orbit

By: BILL VOGRIN
January 14, 2011
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photo - The Satellite Hotel, built in 1969, includes 76 rooms and 241 condominiums. Today, the hotel averages just 6 customers a night leading some residents to demand it be closed and the rooms converted to condos. This is a 2004 file photo. Photo by The Gazette.
The Satellite Hotel, built in 1969, includes 76 rooms and 241 condominiums. Today, the hotel averages just 6 customers a night leading some residents to demand it be closed and the rooms converted to condos. This is a 2004 file photo. Photo by The Gazette. 

Ugly allegations have surfaced as residents fight for control of the homeowners association that runs the Satellite Hotel, a “futuristic” 14-story, three-winged hotel/condo hybrid built in 1969.

The HOA president and her officers portray board newcomer Hayward Rigano as a bully who has used threats and intimidation in his quest for power over the 300 or so who live in the Satellite’s 241 condos.

Rigano denies the allegations, describing himself as simply trying to do what’s right for the Satellite, which sits along South Academy Boulevard at Airport Road.

The two sides don’t even agree on what separates them. Is it the 40-year-old heating system that needs major repairs? Or the HOA dues? Or the attempt to cap the number of condos that can be rental units?

Maybe it’s the alleged after-hours sex parties in the building’s restaurant. Or is it the under-performing hotel operation?

Margaret Thomas, HOA board president, said Rigano is the problem.

The board ran relatively smoothly until he joined it last February, she said. Ever since, it’s been one long argument punctuated by insults, shouting matches, even two lawsuits Rigano has filed against the board.

Rigano said the hotel operation is the big issue.

When it opened, the Satellite was the closest hotel to the Colorado Springs Airport. Not anymore. Today, it averages just six customers a night in its 76 rooms.

“If the hotel was closed, we could convert the rooms into about 35 to condos and the HOA could sell them,” Rigano said. “We’d make a little money and have more owners paying HOA dues. We’d save on housekeeping and round-the-clock desk staff and maintenance.

“Instead, the HOA is subsidizing the hotel at about $250,000 a year. I’m trying to talk sense into people.”

Unfortunately, Thomas said, Rigano rarely talks to anyone. She said he argues and berates and belittles people.

In fact, she and two other HOA officers wrote a letter to the nine-member board in November urging them to censure Rigano, citing a series of complaints from Satellite employees, vendors and business operators. (See details and photos on my blog.)

The letter accused him of “harassment and intimidation” and “threatening and bullying actions.”

“He has gone into rages, badgering board members,” Thomas said. “I am fearful for my life. He scares me to death.”

Rigano admits its been stormy.

“It’s been a war,” he said. “When I started last February, it was 8-1 against me. But little-by-little people listened to me and came around to my side. Now it’s 5-4 in my favor. The old guard doesn’t like that.”

But he insists he is no threat to anyone.

“I’m shocked, absolutely shocked,” he said. “I’ve never had a physical confrontation with anyone in my life. I’ve never, ever threatened anybody. I’m a Christian.”

Maybe an election next month of new HOA board members will restore the Satellite to its proper orbit.

“Friend” me on Facebook at
Side Streets Bill Vogrin

 

 

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