Community protests closing of Leechpit

Eric Steen, an art professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, stood in the grassy median of Nevada Avenue surrounded by his students, hoisting a sign calling to “Save The Leechpit.” Steen’s class, as part of a community-based project, chose to spend the remainder of their semester protesting against the closing of the iconic downtown area shop.

Community members oppose the closing of the Leechpit. Photo by Morgan Bak”I have lived down the street from The Leechpit for two years and this is the most idiosyncratic shop in town,” Steen said as honking cars buzzed by.

Along with his students, wielding signs bearing phrases like “The Leechpit Saved My Life” and “We Love the Leechpit,” Steen and his class plan to protest every Monday and Wednesday afternoon for two hours until the conclusion of their class in order to rally support and stop the closing of one of their favorite local stores.

Colorado College recently announced that it plans to end the store’s lease this coming summer and hopes to use the existing, college-owned 60-year-old gas station as an open space for student activities. The reclaiming of the property and ending the lease will force The Leechpit, a decade-old staple of CC culture, to relocate or close.

“Ever since we announced we were leaving it’s been kind of overwhelming how passionate people feel about the shop,” said Leech.

Though those protesting the closure of the shop draw support and business, Leech still recognizes the power that CC holds on the property.

“I figure the ball is in their court. There’s nothing I can do. We really love this spot so we’re going to take advantage of the time we have now,” said Leech.

Leech feels the protest of the lease termination would be more influential to the administration if CC students were involved. CC students Weston Sandfort and Elliot Mamet have assumed the responsibility of organizing that support.

The two CC students recently submitted a proposal to the executive council of CCSGA, “imploring them” to stand in opposition to the termination of the Leechpit’s lease.

“I felt that through student government, we could have an active dialogue between student leaders and administration about whether or not this decision would benefit the student body,” Sanfort said. “I am also concerned about how this decision might impact our school’s image with the community at large.”

Sandfort simply wants to get a discussion started between administration and students to get a consensus of what the majority wants.

“I am trying to find a way to get some feedback from local bands about the supposed lack of band space,” he said. “I want to know how much we need it, and whether or not we are willing to deal with the consequences of losing a local business.”

Leech is ready for that conversation, too.

“If they want to talk they know where to find me,” Leech said. “When I went to the town hall meeting I just wanted to open the dialogue to let them know that the Leechpit has support.”

UCCS Professor Steen identifies with that support.

“There’s a good congregation of kids that like that shop here,” Steen said. “And I think the shop makes the neighborhood a whole lot more interesting. I’m just nervous that this might get turned into something not quite as great as what it is right now.”

Leech has yet to contact VP for Finance and Administration Robert Moore and puts frankly that he “doesn’t see the point” in contacting him.

“[Moore] knows kids practice at the Carriage House or in their dorms and that there’s parties all over campus to play at,” Leech said. “There’s plenty of places to do what they say students want to do.”

The school-owned and abandoned Whitney Electric building, suggested by Leech, could be one of those places rather than closing down the shop.

“At this point awareness is all we need,” continued Leech. “One way or another, whether we leave or not, more people knowing about what we do here is a good thing. Supporting your local community is pretty damn important when it comes down to it.”

 

News Editor Jesse Paul contributed to the reporting of this article.

 

Jack Sweeney

Staff Writer

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