Folks in the Boulder Crescent neighborhood accept the fact that they live next to the Marian House Soup Kitchen, which serves upwards of 800 homeless and poor people every day.
And they applaud Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs for all they do on behalf of the needy.
They also applaud Catholic Charities for engaging in months of mediation with the neighborhood when it launched plans to raise $7.2 million to rebuild the soup kitchen, creating a kitchen and dining hall and build a new human-service center. Below is an early architect’s drawing of the new complex.
Catholic Charities and the neighbors negotiated the position and size of the buildings on the 1.3-acre lot along Bijou Street near Cascade Avenue. And the non-profit group agreed to things like installing the signs in the photo above stressing the importance of protecting the neighborhood.
It also formed teams of volunteers to daily patrol the neighborhood and adjacent Monument Valley Park for trash brought in by its clients.
So neighbors were surprised to learn Catholic Charities had declared its campus a no-smoking zone and ordered smokers into to the park.
Suddenly, dozens of smokers were congregating in the neighborhood and the park each day.
Neighbors weren’t the only ones upset. Paul Butcher, director of Colorado Springs’ park, recreation and cultural services department, denounced the policy as unacceptable. Here is a look at the area prior to construction of the new soup kitchen.
Here is a look from FlashEarth.com at it after construction began:
The city and neighbors hope Catholic Charities will find a spot on the outer reaches of its parking lot where smokers can go instead of clogging the park, sidewalks and curbs around homes.
Catholic Charities’ executive director Jason Christensen vowed to work on a solution including lifting the ban and designating a location on-site for smokers.