Nonprofits to move to county offices at Garden of the Gods

Segments of CASA of the Pikes Peak Region and Goodwill Industries, along with the county cooperative extension offices, will likely move into a building next door to the new El Paso County offices on Garden of the Gods Road.

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to allow the county to sign a lease for the old Arrowswest building at 4425 Arrowswest Drive. The lease hasn’t been signed yet, but county spokesman Dave Rose said he expected it to happen within the next month.

The two nonprofit organizations and the extension office of Colorado State University would be right next door to the county’s human services building at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road.

“We think that’s a really good fit, because quite often if you’re applying for certain types of assistance, they will tell you have to enroll in some of these other programs and you can just go, literally, right across the street,” Rose said.

Goodwill Industries would move about eight employees, said Jennifer Brown, communications coordinator for El Paso County human services.

They work in the segment of Goodwill dedicated to workforce training, job placement and temporary assistance for needy families, Rose said. Those services, which the county contracts out to Goodwill, have been scattered around town, Rose said.

CASA – which stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocate, a nonprofit that supports children in the court system and offers child abuse prevention services – also has contracts with the county to provide some required services, Rose said.

CASA will maintain its offices at 701 S. Cascade Ave., but will move its Supervised Exchange and Parenting Time program to the new location, said CASA executive director Trudy Strewler Hodges.

The program provides space and supervision for families dealing with custody and domestic violence issues, Strewler Hodges said.

“We thought it would be a real benefit to be close to the Department of Human Services,” Strewler Hodges said. “And many of our clients come from those organizations as well.”

She said the new location will allow CASA to offer extended hours for families and will allow the organization to be more flexible in working with families’ schedules.

CASA will also share conference and training space with Goodwill Industries.

Rose said the county got a good rate because of the large space it will occupy, and will be able to pass the savings on to  Goodwill and CASA.

The county will, however, cover the rent for the cooperative extension office. Brown said that office will likely bring 12 to 15 employees from its space in the old county health building at 305 S. Union Boulevard.

“We’ll definitely be saving money with (the cooperative extension office) over where they are now,” Rose said. “They’re still in that health department building we’re trying to shut down. They’re a small office in a big empty and inefficient building.”

The plan makes sense, Rose said, because people might need more than one service. Having them in the same location makes it easier for them.

Transportation isn’t an issue either. The same bus that stops downtown also stops at the county offices on Garden of the Gods.

The organizations intend to begin their moves in the first quarter of 2012, Brown said.