Answers to Your Questions

Why should Manitou’s residents put money toward a project that is intended to draw summer tourists and not serve them?

Retention of the historic dancehall portion of the building would provide a use for the site that is primarily targeted to the Manitou Springs community.  If instead, the dancehall were scraped off and replaced by more parking, that use would mostly benefit tourism and ultimately bring more vehicles to the community.  Over the years, local citizens have consistently expressed a desire for fewer cars and a smaller carbon footprint.  Retention of the historic dancehall would be one step toward that goal.   

When will Manitou make its residents’ needs the priority above the unending demands of businesses hoping to attract more and more tourist dollars?

City Council passed a resolution in 2020 calling for the transformation of the historic Hiawatha Gardens building into a site for community use and for a mobility hub. The ultimate goal for Hiawatha Gardens is to make it a place that all community residents will be able to use and enjoy.

Why do you think it (the Hiawatha Gardens building) is worth saving?

At least three professional historic preservation experts have concluded that the historic dancehall is well preserved and worthy of rehabilitation. A successful restoration of it would provide needed community meeting space and may support other city needs as well. In addition, the community engagement process that was facilitated in late 2018/early 2019 revealed that the people who participated in the process consistently preferred options that focused on retaining the Hiawatha Gardens building for some type of community use. This process was open to everyone in the community and was conducted through multiple channels, including a community open house, workshop and an online survey accessible to all. 

If it is such an historic building, why wasn’t it included in the large historic district to begin with? 

Hiawatha Gardens was in the Historic District when the District was first drawn up. However, there was an effort to reduce the District’s footprint and as a result, a sizeable portion of the properties to the east of downtown, including Hiawatha Gardens, was removed. It was not until the City purchased the property in 2015 that the first Hiawatha Gardens Task Force did research on the building and discovered that it had an extremely rich and unique history. 

Does Manitou need such a facility (Mobility Hub)? How would it benefit pedestrians? Cyclists? Autos? 

Currently, the Hiawatha Gardens site serves multiple community mobility needs as a transit hub, parking site and bicyclist center. The City’s 2019 Transportation and Mobility Master Plan recommendations include establishing Hiawatha Gardens as one of three community mobility hubs to serve all modes of transportation. In addition, the adjacent and popular Creekwalk Trail used by pedestrians and cyclists is currently being improved which will help bring multi-modes of transportation to intersect at Hiawatha Gardens.    

How many parking spaces would be lost by keeping the building and at what cost?

Approximately 20 additional parking spaces at Hiawatha Gardens will be gained through the selective demolition that will remove the exterior, non-historic building additions and possibly leave the original historic dancehall structure for community use. If the original historic dancehall structure were also demolished, it is estimated that an additional 25 parking spaces would be made available.   

Why not put the costs to restore on the ballot for a vote?

The resolution passed by the majority of the Manitou Springs City Council in October 2020 directs that “The historically significant sections of the Hiawatha Gardens building be retained for future use as transportation center and community hub.” It also directs the Hiawatha Gardens Task Force, made up of seven local residents, two City Council members, and City administrative staff, to “Investigate and implement the restoration of historic aspects of HG with the goal to establish it for community use including but not limited to a multi-modal transportation hub.” The Task Force has been following City Council’s direction by first gathering data regarding the feasibility of retaining the historically significant sections of the building. If the determination is made that saving the historic sections is a responsible decision, the Task Force will continue to fulfill its charge from City Council by considering and narrowing options for building use, gathering estimated costs and identifying potential funding sources. Once that is accomplished, all interested community residents will be encouraged to review and provide their ideas about a Draft Recommendation. Needed adjustments will be made before a Final Recommendation is presented to City Council. City Council members will ultimately make the decision about how to proceed.

What ever happened to our elected representatives’ charge of taking care of the city’s needs before stuffing the barrel of pork projects?

Through its October 20, 2020 resolution, City Council recognized that our community needs include a building which can serve our local residents, both for community-focused uses and for mobility purposes.

How is the building restoration going to be paid for?

Once partial demolition of the building is complete and a professional assessment of the dancehall’s historical integrity and potential financial implications is conducted, a decision will be made about whether to retain the building. If the building is to be retained, the Task Force will research restoration costs, explore funding sources and propose a strategy.  We expect grants to be made available for the historic portion of Hiawatha Gardens as a designated historic structure.  Other transportation and City funds would be explored for other improvements at the site such as restrooms.

What exactly will this 7,400 square foot building with 8-foot eves be used for? 

If the decision is made to retain the building, the Task Force will first review the suggestions for use of the building which were recommended by local residents in 2018/2019. Options for use as well as cost data and additional information will be included in a Draft Recommendation that will be reviewed through a community engagement process. Based the community’s response to the Draft Recommendation, the Task Force will make adjustments and present a Final Recommendation to City Council, as called for in City Council’s 2020 resolution.

How is the building going to support itself? 

Once final building use(s) are determined (see above response), the Task Force will investigate and recommend to City Council avenues to make Hiawatha Gardens as self-sustaining as possible.

If the Mobility Hub bathrooms need to be separate from Building 1, what exactly is left over for Building 1 as a Mobility Hub?

If the decision is made to retain the building, the Task Force will consider options for use of the building. Additionally, in conjunction with the City’s Transportation and Parking Board, the Task Force will determine how it can best serve the needs of a mobility hub at the Hiawatha Gardens site.  These options will be reviewed by the community and then with City Council before any final decisions are made about the use of the building.

Are we being forthright with the PPRTA?

The City has been transparent with the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority which has provided funds for transportation-related improvements to the site. The Hiawatha Gardens site is and will continue to be used for transportation. Additional other community uses may also be planned for the site.

What are the requirements for the Police Station and City Hall expansions? Can the unknown requirements be reasonably satisfied by reconfiguring Main Hall?

Determination of such requirements are not within the purview of the Hiawatha Gardens Task Force.