Local nonprofit is forced to relocate after city demands park fees

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A local organization called More Than A Meal has been serving hot breakfast to the homeless at Antlers Park every Saturday morning for the past 18 months. But a city park official recently warned them that if they don’t pay a park fee every week, they have to take their service somewhere else.

“Well we are attending our last morning breakfast that More Than A Meal hosts at Antlers Park,” said Randy Sirota, Director of More Than A Meal Inc.

Since they’ve provided their service at the park for the last year and a half, they’re wondering why the city says something now.

“We do have a number of events that aren’t aware of the permit process and that are happening out there and every once in a while we stumble across one and we see what’s happening,” Carly Kobasiar, Special Events Supervisor at the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, said. “This case, a member of our staff did see it, and so when we find that happens we like to reach out to those folks and let them know and give them the information they need to complete the permit process and follow the proper protocols.”

The city said because they draw such a large crowd, it is considered a special event.

“We went to the city and were told there’s a fee to have a crowd this large and we can’t really afford what that would be,” said Sirota.

More Than A Meal said the permit would be $250 a week.

“If that was $1,000 to $1,200 per month, we might be able to get another downtown location for less money,” Sirota said.

According to the city, they’ve been working with More Than A Meal to find a park they can afford.

“We are looking at some different parks. We have a number of parks available throughout the area,” Kobasiar said. “Antlers is one that is booked for other special events pretty regularly so we would like to maybe look at a park that doesn’t see so much use so that they can continue to be there every week without interrupting the other events that are going on.”

“I hope to work closely with the city again and I think the avenue they’re saying is they don’t want us in their parks,” Sirota said.

The city did allow More Than A Meal to gather at Antlers Park for one last service. More Than A Meal is now taking their breakfast service just a few miles away to Legacy Wesleyan Church.

For more information on how to donate and volunteer, or if you’re in need of More Than A Meal’s services, visit their website at www.MoreThanAMeal.org.

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