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Yolanda Avila

Last year was a historic year in many ways. Under the umbrella of COVID for most of the year, the disparities that we experience in the Southeast have been exacerbated and can no longer be denied. Our two zip codes, 80910 and 80916, have been the most consistently impacted in El Paso County by this pandemic. Many of our residents are front-line workers, rely on public transportation and in several instances live in multi-generational families.

Southeast, you showed how resilient you are and how you came together to support our community from our babies to our elderly. I couldn’t be more proud. So many of you make sure our students receive lunches during remote learning. You make sure those without transportation receive food and medication at their front porch. You check on your neighbors to see if they need a lawn mowed or snow shoveled.

This is what our city is doing to complement your efforts. There is an unprecedented amount of housing being constructed; including low-income, workforce and market rate. Regarding economic development, for the first time ever we have started the process of investing in two exciting Urban Renewal Authority projects in the Southeast. The first URA project, Zebulon Flats, is affordable housing designed to encourage an interactive community at Verde and South Academy. The second project located at Mission Trace includes retail spaces, community services, a hub and universal affordable housing. The surrounding area will include walkable sidewalks, safe crossings and a transit stop, as well connections to trails and parks.

Despite the pandemic, our robust new infrastructure projects and redevelopment has continued. We’re entering into the design phase to replace the 50+ year old bridge at 1-25 and Circle, which will include art at the recommendation of our Student Ambassadors. The bridge at Spring Creek and Airport Road is 57 years old and has not been accessible as the community became denser. In June of this year that structure will be replaced with a pedestrian friendly bridge and serve as a connection to retail shopping and transit routes. These are just two examples of the many infrastructure projects happening throughout the district.

We can look forward to a re-imagining of the 13-acre aptly named Panorama Park, with many amenities that bring out the character of our neighborhood through your input. All these projects and more are bringing more than $100 million of improvements into our Southeast community. We also will continue to improve bus stops, transit frequency and fixed routes. In July there will be a long-awaited express route to the airport. We have a lot to celebrate.

Challenges still lay ahead and there’s no one I’d rather face them with than my Southeast neighbors.  We will put COVID behind us with continued safe practices and with the availability of vaccines. Soon we will turn a corner and head in the right direction. Southeast, you have proven yourself over and over again and we have so much to look forward to. My gratitude goes out to our SE residents, many nonprofits, the city, the El Paso County Public Health, Colorado Springs Utilities, the Pikes Peak Library District and the Southeast Express for standing with us.  I am committed to continuing my service and working with all of you as your District 4 representative.

Yolanda Avila is District 4 councilor for Southeast Colorado Springs. Reach her at Yolanda.avilla@coloradosprings.gov.