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Historic Mill Street residents voice concerns about city growth

Historic Mill Street residents voice concerns about city growth
Posted at 10:16 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 11:08:58-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Growth can be a double-edged sword. The demolition of the Martin Drake Power Plant brings concerns from one small neighborhood in the Springs. I spent the day with residents who shared their fears on what their neighborhood could look like with the city’s renovations.

The historic Mill Street neighborhood has been a home for working class families and immigrants since the late 1800’s. Now, some locals tell me they’re concerned their town is losing its charm with the city’s redevelopment.

“I don’t know what to do anymore. We’re frustrated but maybe something will happen. Something good,” said Robert Edwards, a local resident.

For residents of the Mill Street neighborhood, seeing their little town get redeveloped is gut-wrenching.

“29 years ago, it was beautiful. It was old, they kept up with it. None of these high-rises here. It’s getting out of hand with the building. It really is,” said Edwards.

“I love this little neighborhood. Everybody knows everybody. Everybody knows everyone’s dogs and cats, we have a community garden that we try to take care of. It’s just a nice, quiet little neighborhood,” said Joanne Ziegler, a local resident.

"It’s losing all kinds of charm. All of the houses that are being built right now, they all look the same,” said Ziegler.

Ziegler bought her house on Mill Street in 1994. She says it was recently appraised for over 350 thousand dollars. She had bought it for 57,000. Still, she has no plans on selling it any time soon. And she isn’t alone.

“I paid 75,000 for my house in 2,000 and I’ve been offered almost 300,000 dollars for it. But there’s nowhere else that I could buy here that I could afford…they’ll have to take me out in a body bag because I’m not leaving,” said Ramona Lidmila, a local resident.

The area has been home for several uses over the years. A railroad, a flourmill, and the Martin Drake Power Plant. The city’s recent decision to close the Drake Power Plant has Mill Street residents concerned on what is going to be built in its place.

“I think developers are already sniffing around. Money talks in this town and those of live in this neighborhood don’t have much to compete with really anything,” said Lidmila.

They don’t think they’ll have a real seat at the table.

“They invite us, but they don’t listen to us,” said Ziegler.

Fighting to keep their town the way it is, isn’t new for these residents. The city and Mill Street neighborhood have been having discussions for over 20 years… coming up with the Mill Street Neighborhood Preservation Plan. And those conversations aren’t going to stop any time soon.

“We will continue to be engaged with them and listen to their concerns. And provide them with ways to comment on and give their perspective and opinions about how that development moves forward,” said Steve Posey, community development director.

The city tells me it's way too early to start having conversations about what is going to be put in the Drake Power Plant’s place. As for other projects taking place, the city says this is exciting. These private investments will bring additional dollars and jobs to Colorado Springs.

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