Sept. 28, 2015
In a five to four vote on Sept. 8, Colorado Springs City Council rejected an appeal filed by Cragmor residents to keep the former Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School from becoming student housing.
The appeal was filed in response to the City Planning Department’s approval of a plan, submitted by private real estate company GG Land Group, for Bates to be torn down and turned into a 621-bedroom apartment complex targeted for UCCS students, as reported by The Scribe in April.
Some students were unaware of the development plan, and had differing perspectives.
“If (Bates Elementary) has been closed, it’s a really good thing because it’s of use to the school,” said Norma VanBuskirk, a sophomore undecided major.
“A lot of the schools are old and probably have asbestos. It’s doing the neighborhood a favor,” she said.
Kris Knigge, sophomore mechanical engineering major, also said if the school wasn’t being used for anything, he didn’t see any issue with tearing it down.
But junior Chris Earley expressed that he understood the neighbors’ perspective.
“I could understand if they’re like next to the school and it’s a quiet neighborhood. A lot of students aren’t compassionate about that,” Earley said.
Executive director of Public Safety, Brian McPike, said he could not take an official position due to the project being a private development.
“Officially, I cannot take a stance, as it’s an off-campus, private commercial development, and UCCS does not endorse or fund any part of it,” he said in an email.
But McPike also said the area the new housing is being built on falls within UCCS Police Department jurisdiction.
“Though the primary jurisdiction of the property will fall under the Colorado Springs Police Department, the property is within the Inter-Governmental Agreement area, and if requested by CSPD, UCCS PD would (as our resources allowed) respond to assist them on an as-needed/requested basis, the same as we do now for other areas contained within the IGA,” he said.
Tom Galuski, CEO of GG Land Group, LLC, said the company has taken different steps by adding an additional process to help Cragmor residents get used to the idea.
“Some neighbors have been more difficult than others; it’s just an educational process for those neighbors,” he said.
Galuski added that he understands the neighbors’ concerns.
“It’s a transition from a neighborhood with families in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They changed their neighborhood. We didn’t create it.”
“We’re not adding students.”
“There’s going to be people that don’t want change. You see this all over the country; older people for some reason hate college kids. They’re going to be your doctors, teachers,” Galuski said.
Austin Jacob, freshman computer science major, said if his elementary school was torn down, he would be upset if he had liked it.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of good memories (of Bates),” Jacob said.
Galuski said the successful growth of UCCS was the main reason GG Land Group decided to take on the project.
He added that work on Bates is slated to begin next winter and the new housing will open in fall 2017.