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Bridging the divide: Colorado locals and newcomers

Posted at 9:53 AM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 20:28:24-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — For Dakota Malacara, his hometown of Colorado Springs is exactly where he wants to be.

"Pikes Peak is beautiful, how lucky are we every morning to wake up and have that view?" Malacara said. Growing up in the springs, he says he's noticed numerous changes over the years.

For him, one big change sticks out in particular, the area surrounding the Chapel Hills Mall.

"Us locals would jokingly laugh about a mall in the middle of nowhere, well now it's completely surrounded," Malacara said.

Dakota Malacara checks in on a client at his salon "Montage Downtown" in Colorado Springs

His family has a rich history in Colorado Springs, currently detailed in an exhibit at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum called "Una Familia Grande : The Conejos Neighborhood Project".

With all of the changes to the city's landscape over the years, Malacara has seen a lot of changes in other ways to Colorado Springs with thousands moving here over the last decade.

"I feel the energy and the vibe, and it feels good," Malacara said.

The beauty of Colorado is one of the bigger drivers for the thousands of newcomers the state has seen in the last decade.

Malacara's coworker SJ Dymond-tynes moved to Colorado Springs from Virginia in 2016.

"We just kind of fell in love with it," Dymond-tynes said, "it's a good midway point where it's still got that small town feel that you were saying, but it's big enough to where it's comfortable."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 744,000 people moved to Colorado in the last decade. El Paso County is now the most populous in the state with more than 730,000 people calling it home.

Depending on who you ask, the growth comes with its own challenges, setbacks, and positive changes.

Some tell News5 it's overcrowded schools, morning traffic, and a challenge to find housing causing headaches. Others welcome the growth of new businesses, landmarks with more people moving in.

Susan Szpyrka and her son, John look over historical photos and artifacts detailing their family's stories over the years in Colorado Springs.

The Szpyrka family has called Colorado Springs home for seven generations. Susan Szpyrka was a military brat and moved around growing up, but settled in Colorado Springs with her family again.

Her son John grew up in the springs. He served in the Army for several years before returning home.

They've inherited dozens of photos and artifacts from their family over the years, detailing the struggles and growth they've faced.

"Every picture has a story and I'm very interested in the story," Susan Szpyrka said, "They weren't rich people, they left us a rich legacy."

For Szpyrka, her family's roots trace back to Papeton, a coal-mining town, now part of Colorado Springs.

Through all the pictures and historical artifacts, the family remains proud of the growth they've seen in the area. Seeing how certain areas have changed and developed over the years.

As the area sees more growth, John Szpyrka echoes a sentiment many addressed, making sure everyone is taking care of the area around them and doing what's best for the community.

"Growing up here I've always liked the recreational opportunities, I like to spend a lot of time outdoors I like to camp," John said. "I think people just need to be respectful of what other people are doing."

For a full breakdown of all the numbers in the recent Census, visit the following link: Colorado Census Data.

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