Side Streets: Old North End puts messages for future (copy)

Preserving historic neighborhoods

If you live in one of the dozens of neighborhoods in Colorado Springs that are 50 years old or older, than you will want to know that preserving the very best parts of what you have come to love about your neighborhoods are about to change. Today our current zoning code only has one specific zoning overlay for Historic Preservation, it’s called a Historic Preservation Overlay.

Since our founding there has been only one Preservation Overlay created and that’s in the Historic Old North End. Only one! The purpose of the overlay is to preserve the architectural legacy of the neighborhood through the review of any proposed construction requiring a building permit to submit those plans to the City’s Historic Preservation Board for a Report of Acceptability.

So why is there only one neighborhood that wants to preserve its unique character? There must be others? Because it’s hard to do. It requires tireless volunteers doing the heavy lifting of meeting and advocating with their neighbors.

Is that the only reason? Well perhaps not. But all of our city’s zoning rules are being updated through ReToolCOS which is before City Council this month. If one drills down into what remains of Historic Preservation, the good news is that the HP Overlay remains. There is now a new possibility called an Area Design Overlay. It may become the next best tool for preserving our historic neighborhoods.

Tim Boddington

Colorado Springs

Small businesses and insurance

I own one of the 690,000 small businesses in Colorado that have remained resilient despite the challenges of the last two years. As I worked to keep my doors open, concerns about rising healthcare costs remained top of mind.

Two major small-market health insurance companies will leave the Colorado marketplace this year. In just one year, the number of insurers in the state will be reduced from eight to six. There’s already a strain on our state’s healthcare marketplace, especially for smaller firms. These retreats leave tens of thousands to find new coverage during this open enrollment season.

I know that a big part of supporting the small business workforce is the ability to offer quality and affordable healthcare. I’ve made this my goal for years.

However, healthcare is typically small business owners’ biggest cost outside payroll.

Small businesses like mine want to offer health insurance to their employees but struggle to afford it in the face of tight margins. Limiting insurance provider options only creates barriers to small business growth.

Additionally, closures could have a domino effect that leads to monopolization in our state–reversing positive trends in making healthcare more affordable for small businesses.

Through the Colorado Option, the state can drive down healthcare costs and help small businesses like mine offer our employees an array of plans.

I strongly support policies that will help to maintain a healthy workforce, which is why I encourage policymakers to pursue additional programs that promote competition and address rising costs.

Michelle Talarico

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Colorado Springs

School board’s open forum

Before last Thursday’s D49 Board meeting people were in line to sign up to speak during Open Forum. My husband had never spoken at a meeting before so he wrote a short speech, put on a jacket and his best boots.

He was early and signed up first. But my husband did not speak first; he did not speak at all. His name was called after 11 p.m.

In October, Rick VanWeiren and Lori Thompson co-wrote and introduced — for the 5th time — revisions to Policy BEDH which regulates public speaking. It passed 3-2. Speakers sign up on an iPad which has an algorithm that picks the order of who speaks and when they speak depending on what they want to say.

Open forum is split into two speaking times; a half an hour early in the meeting and a half an hour late. The first session is limited to those speaking about agenda or discussion items. Priority is given to students, then teachers and staff, then active committee members, and then all others.

My husband said this about the process, “They are screening to find out who is going to talk and what they want to say. There are no good options if you want to speak about something that is not on the agenda.”

Why is late a problem for my husband? He is on cancer medications — something the entire board is aware of — and he physically can’t make it to the second session.

Debra Schmidt

Falcon

Tradition of Democrats serving

There seems to be some uncertainty about Democratic representation in the Colorado State Senate. Your-story about legislative priorities calls Tony Exum either the fourth (Gazette) or the fifth (Colorado Politics) Democrat to represent our county in the state senate.

I can add one more to either list: Senator Bill Comer, who represented us with energy and intelligence in the 1970s. Bill, who died in 2008, was a long-time junior-high social studies teacher and a leader in the Colorado Education Association.

He was elected during a time of greater partisan forbearance here: we also had a long tradition of Democrats serving as county clerks and commissioners (I think of Charlie Ozias, Harriet Beals, Fred Bland and Charlie Bickley).

Interestingly, the Gazette’s short list of four previous Dems forgets the most contentious: John Morse recalled in 2013 for pushing through modest gun control and cannabis-tax legislation.

Owen Cramer

Colorado Springs

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