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Our Community News - Home Vol. 2 No. 7 - July 6, 2002

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the PDF file. This is a 5.7 Mbyte file and will take about 33 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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A Fabulous Fourth - Click here for pictures of the parade and street fair in Monument

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Fire study recommends unification - Residents urged to attend important July 15 joint public meeting

The study

The long-awaited, report by Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group (ESECG) entitled Regional Fire Protection Feasibility for the Tri-Lakes Area was received in mid-June by its joint sponsors, the Town of Palmer Lake and the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection Districts. The study strongly recommends that the two fire protection districts unify, either operationally or legally through consolidation or inclusion, and that Palmer Lake join the unified district so long as the town’s voters can be convinced to pass a fair-share tax contribution. If not, the consultants recommend that Palmer Lake, as a minimum, contract for various administrative services from its neighboring district or districts, services that it is not now configured or funded to provide adequately for itself.

The study recommends ways in which the operations of each of the three departments can be improved and identifies substantial benefits to be expected from creating a unified district. In the latter case, the study argues that benefits should be realized in terms of significantly better, more responsive service at somewhat lower cost achieved principally by reducing the need for future capital outlays.

Preparation of the report progressed smoothly, due largely to the efforts of the local Steering Committee chaired by Tri-Lakes Board Member, Charlie Pocock, as well as to the very extensive and timely support provided the consultant by each of the department chiefs and their staffs.

The July 15 joint meeting on the report

The study and its recommendations address vital fire response and EMS services in the foreseeable future. As recent events have made manifest, these subjects are extremely important to Tri-Lakes area residents and business owners. In view of this, the three boards jointly sponsoring the effort are interested in the public’s input on the concept of unification.

A joint public hearing will be held Monday, July 15, at the Pinecrest Event Center in Palmer Lake. A public joint meeting of the boards with the consultant will be held at 6:30 pm followed at 8 pm by a full public presentation.

Directions to the Pinecrest Event Center: Travel west on Highway 105 until you reach the 30 mph speed limit sign. Take a left onto South Valley Road (not marked). Take an immediate left onto Spring Street (tight U-turn). Follow Spring Street until you arrive to a stop sign with a choice to turn left or right (Greeley Blvd). Turn left on Greeley Blvd, follow the road a few hundred yards, and turn right onto Pinecrest Way. Once on Pinecrest Way, the event center is on your right.

To provide a basis for public comments, OCN is printing the executive summary of the study in its entirety below. If more detail is desired, the complete study is available for public review at a number of convenient locations:

  • The Monument and Palmer Lake Town offices

  • The three fire stations (Palmer Lake, Tri-Lakes or Woodmoor-Monument)

  • The Vaille Library in Palmer Lake

  • The Tri-Lakes Branch Library in the Mine Shopping Center in Woodmoor.

REGIONAL FIRE PROTECTION FEASIBILITY – TRI-LAKES AREA 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Purpose Of The Report

This report details the study of fire protection and emergency medical services in a portion of El Paso County, Colorado known as the Tri-Lakes area. Three generally contiguous fire protection agencies serve the area; one municipal fire department and two fire protection districts. The three agencies are:

  • Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, (PLVFD)

  • Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, (TLFPD)

  • Woodmoor – Monument Fire Protection District, (WMFPD)

The first half of the report details all administrative and operational systems of each agency. We make recommendations for improvements based on a risk analysis of the programs and character of that agency. The second half examines the potential for service improvement based on joining the programs or organizations of two or more of the agencies.

We recognize that information, by its very nature, is always incomplete. Every effort is made though, to compile data that are as comprehensive and as accurate as possible. Our information gathering process includes a broad evaluation checklist of each organization, measuring results against acceptable industry standards and good practices. Whenever possible, we make quantifiable comparisons to other fire and emergency medical service organizations. Checklists and documentation are followed-up by one-on-one interviews with key staff members from each of the agencies and every program area.

Scope

This study follows the Scope of Work as outlined by the ESECG contract dated November 6, 2001. The report surveys the management and operational components of each of the area departments focusing on the identification of organizational strategies likely to result in improved service to the public. The study also analyzes system improvements and cost reduction strategies derived from shared services or from a complete union of fire protection services. This study considers partnership strategies that include only the three jurisdictions.

Critical Issues

Each agency faces challenges in the performance of the emergency mission. In the past, the departments addressed critical issues and overcame difficulties on their own. We know though, that the economy and geography of the area, along with the interrelationship of the three fire departments, results in an interdependent emergency services system. Our study of the Tri-Lakes area fire departments brings to focus certain critical issues that influence the level and efficiency of emergency service. A regional fire protection strategy should address these issues. The most important critical issues are:

Fire Department Administration

A fire chief heads each fire department. The chief is generally responsible for oversight of the agency and for the development of rules, procedures, and plans crucial to effective and efficient service delivery in that jurisdiction. Each fire department also devotes the time of other staff members who assist the chief in the administration of the agency. The fire departments are all faced by emerging safety regulations, and all acknowledge the challenge of maintaining effective fire protection services in the future given the demands of regional property development, increasing regulation, and the limitation of fiscal resources. Quite clearly, the administrative staff each of the fire departments duplicates the efforts of the others. Administrative duplication detracts from other important functions such as strategic planning, of which the three departments have done very little.

Logical and Efficient Emergency Response

Colorado first authorized fire protection districts to give unincorporated communities the means to protect lives and property from fire. The system has worked wondrously for many years, undoubtedly saving countless persons and preserving billions of dollars of property in the process. During the time that the law has been in effect however, Colorado and the nature of fire protection have changed a great deal. Cities and rural communities have grown to the extent that previously isolated villages and neighborhoods now blend, becoming regional centers with interdependent economies and service demands. At the same time, modern fire protection has evolved to include much more than just extinguishing fire. Today, fire departments are sophisticated and indispensable channels for all forms of emergency service including natural and man-caused disaster management, fire and accident prevention, and pre-hospital care. In the process, the role of many fire districts has transformed from a rural to a regional emergency service provider.

Just as economic development drives the creation of fire districts, so does the process lead to the eventual amalgamation of fire district boundaries to improve emergency service delivery to the public. This is because the successful outcome of emergency service is highly dependent on the rapid mobilization of significant numbers of personnel and equipment. Regional fire protection agencies inherently have the ability to field greater numbers of emergency workers and equipment while capitalizing on efficiencies of scale in management, oversight, and planning. The evolution occurs just about everywhere that rapid economic growth spawns brisk suburban development. Numerous examples exist where the usual patchwork of fire districts surrounding core cities gives way to more strategically based service.

The illogical service boundaries of El Paso County have not escaped the notice of the media and others in the community. The boundaries and fire station locations of the Tri-Lakes area fire departments are a case study in inefficiency. The emergency service system of the Tri-Lakes area must address these issues in going forward. In fact, the State of Colorado supports such action as a general statement of policy in CRS 32-1-102 (4).

Funding

All three departments operate within the constraints of limited financial resources. The fire districts must manage budgetary tax requirements below millage rates approved by their respective electors. In the case of TLFPD, the authorized annual mill rate is 7.01 mills, while WMFPD enjoys a slightly higher endorsement of 9.5 mills. On the other hand, PLVFD must operate with resources that are not only limited, but also severely constrained. In order to maintain continued operations, the Department must supplement the funding of the Town with contributions from the community and the Volunteer Association. All three fire departments must plan budgeting to meet current operational needs while reserving funds for the renewal of the emergency fleet and the development of additional facilities.

Seen from the air, no clear geographical demarcation separates the communities of the Tri-Lakes area. Each neighborhood and subdivision is highly dependent on the economic health and vitality the others of the region. In a like manner, the area fire departments demonstrate interdependence, relying on the joint capabilities of mutual aid departments for serious emergencies. Consequently, it makes sense to design a regional emergency response system that spreads service and funding across the area.

Volunteer Retention and Response

Fire departments that rely on volunteer workers for all or part of emergency response must continuously deal with recruitment and retention of volunteer members. The number of volunteer firefighters maintained by TLFPD and PLVFD is of critical importance. Fire departments that depend on volunteer firefighters for some, or all, emergency response must make certain that membership numbers are adequate to guarantee timely and appropriate response in all but the most infrequent cases.

Emergency Planning

Many of the emergency planning and practice functions of the region take place at the county level. Individual departments do some limited unilateral emergency planning, but little interdepartmental coordination or training takes place. While the agencies have adopted a common command structure, not much training or practice in the routine use of the system takes place.

EMS System

Emergency medical services are an important element of the emergency system of the region. The nature of the service assures frequent contact between fire department personnel and the customer base, and yields great lifesaving potential in proportion to tax dollars spent. The three Tri-Lakes area fire departments provide differing forms of EMS; PLVFD at the first responder level, WMFPD with paramedics, and TLFPD fields emergency medical transport service. There is little planning or coordination between the EMS programs of the agencies, which equates to lost revenue and poor patient outcomes across the Tri-Lakes area.

Firefighter Training Program

An active firefighter training program is key to the successful recruitment and retention of volunteer personnel. Training is also of vital importance in maximizing the value of the limited availability of human resources, whether volunteer or career. There is significant variation between the training standards of the Tri-Lakes area fire departments. Some joint training occurs, but not nearly enough given the interdependence of the area. Training procedures, nomenclature, and practices area not standardized.

Fire Prevention Program

Each of the three Tri-Lakes area fire departments devotes human and fiscal resources to a jurisdictional-based fire prevention effort. TLFPD and WMFPD maintain senior staff positions for a fire prevention officer; the Town of Palmer Lake contracts with an individual for fire prevention services. All of the agencies use the same edition of the UFC, but fire prevention efforts are not coordinated across the region.

Concepts For Shared Emergency Service

This report examines four options uniting the departments into different combinations. The options represent all possible combinations of the three. We intend each option to serve as a tool for policy makers to compare the financial and operational outcome of the concept with the known state of the present. It is important to remember that each of the options presented here is possible through either operational and/or legal strategies.

The reader should remember that while the scope of this study is limited to three jurisdictions, other regional players do exist. Most notably, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) serves territory near Baptist Road, just south of the Tri-Lakes study area. Geography, the transportation system, jobs, and other demographics unavoidably connect the areas. While we present options to assist policy makers in moving forward, such a decision should not be necessarily limited to any one of the four models. One or more of the options presented by this report can easily be modified to include DWFPD (or others) if greater efficiency or economics are a likely result

The organizational combinations are:

  • Option 1: Unification of PLVFD and TLFPD

  • Option 2: Unification of PLVFD and WMFPD

  • Option 3: Operational Unification of TLFPD and WMFPD

  • Option 4: Unification of PLVFD, TLFPD, and WMFPD

Basis For Financial Analysis

Financial analysis is an important part of the evaluation of options. To this end, we develop a computer-driven model budget for each of the fire departments. The model budget is designed to fairly represent monetary policies on an equal basis, to neutralize the normal differences usually found in unilateral fiscal practices, and to account for any financial peculiarities (such as budgetary back loading). The technique assures that an "apples to apples" comparison is made to each of the agencies. Budget modeling allows the estimation of the true public cost of each department, and provides the means for an analysis of the effects of consolidation options.

We generate a modeled property tax mill rate for each agency by applying the calculated operating requirements of the organization against the assessed value. The calculated mill rate represents the amount of public tax support each fire department needs to provide fire protection services. The tax rate permits the comparison of the effects of the proposed action only. The model tax rate may not equal the actual tax rate of the agency for a number of reasons. (In the case of PLVFD, no tax rate is associated with the department because it is supported by the general levy of the Town.) The estimated tax required to support emergency services in each agency is shown in Table 1 below.

TABLE 1: Calculated Financial Comparison
Tri-Lakes Area Fire Departments

 

PLVFD

TLFPD

WMFPD

Assessed Value

$19,582,170

$108,199,050

$96,148,150

Requirements

$68,606

$1,172,586

$1,387,610

Revenues

0

$441,588

$478,415

Modeled Tax Levy

$68,606

$730,998

$909,195

Calculated Mill Rate

3.503

6.756

9.456

Benchmarks

We identify a series of benchmarks to aid in study of the operational and financial outcome of each of the four options. In analyzing each benchmark, we compare the three agencies (as they exist today) compared to the predicted outcome of the proposal. The first four benchmarks measure elements of the organizational efficiency. The last two measure the cost of service to the community. The benchmarks are:

  • Firefighters per $1,000,000 of assessed value

  • Emergencies each 1,000 population

  • Firefighter alarm load

  • Distribution of administrative and support jobs

  • Cost of service per capita

  • Cost of service in property tax mill rate

Finding

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word "feasibility" as: "Capable of being done." Largely, the feasibility of a proposed legal unification of fire departments depends on the outcome of a public election. A proposal for inclusion or consolidation will probably fail at the polls if even one of the existing jurisdictions experiences an adverse tax impact as a result. More than anything else therefore, we base our judgment of the feasibility of legal consolidation on the probable impact of the proposal on public funding.

Of the four options for legal unification, we consider only Option 3 (joining TLFPD with WMFPD) to be conditionally feasible. All of the other options involve significant increases to the property tax rates of one or more of the partners and are not likely to survive an election. Our analysis of property tax rates for Option 3 predicts a unified tax rate of 7.8 mills, which represents a 17.5 percent saving to residents of WMFPD and a 15.47 percent increase for those in TLFPD. Success of Option 3 at the polls depends largely on how much negative energy is created by a proposed tax increase in TLFPD, offset by improved service efficiencies and avoided future capital facility costs. Victory at the polls will require a dedicated educational campaign by the leadership and members of both fire departments.

Other factors tend to become more important when judging the feasibility of an operational unification. Cost is still material, but the focus shifts from individual tax rates to the cost of the overall system. No public election is required because the process involves a contract for service between the governing bodies of two or more public entities. As a result, agencies have greater flexibility to design an equitable funding plan. Therefore, when considering the feasibility of an operational consolidation we first look to see that the overall cost of the proposal is commensurate with benefit, and then we examine more closely how the proposal will change the level of service in the community

A cost analysis of operational unification options shows that three of the four have potential to save varying amounts in tax support. We consider Option 2 (joining PLVFD with WMFPD) as the only nonviable alternative because of a potential for significant cost increase. Of the three alternatives judged as feasible, we consider that Option 1 and Option 4 are only marginally feasible because of the difficult prospect of financing a fire station in the Palmer Lake community. We regard Option 3 as feasible because the model predicts an operational saving, and because the fewer fire stations more effectively protect the resultant jurisdiction.

The Table 2 below summarizes the cost-based feasibility of the four unification options in both the legal and operational strategic modes.

Cost-Based Feasibility of Unification Options

Options

Legal Unification

Operational Unification

1) PLVFD, TLFPD

No

Yes, marginal**

2) PLVFD, WMFPD

No

No

3) TLFPD, WMFPD

Yes, conditional*

Yes

4) PLVFD, TLFPD, WMFPD

No

Yes, marginal**

* Conditional because of 15.5% TLFPD tax increase and requirement for election.
** Marginal because of capital facility costs in Palmer Lake.

The success of any of the strategic alternatives hangs on the resolution of a number of important details. We summarize the issues that should be addressed prior to (or during) the implementation of each alternative in our description of the options. Although some of the challenges are complex matters, none is considered to be a fatal flaw of the option. We are confident that diligence of fire department staff and political leadership will overcome all of the negative issues.

Preferred Option

We judge that three of the four alternatives for legal unification are infeasible; one (Option 3) is conditionally practical due to the requirement for election. Of the four operational consolidation choices, one is not is not viable (Option 2: PLVFD and WMFPD). The other three operational proposals are feasible. Of those, we consider operational unification Option 3 (TLFPD and WMFPD) to be superior to the others in terms of citizen benefit. Our financial analysis shows that the option can offer modest cost reduction.

The successful outcome of Option 3 (in either the legal or operational mode) positively influences each of the critical issues identified by this report As a result, we recommend Option 3 as the preferred option of this feasibility study. The agencies may choose to implement the alternative through legal means (inclusion or consolidation), or through operational means (intergovernmental agreement) creating a Service Authority. If the agencies execute Option 3 through the process of inclusion, and in so doing preserve the authorized tax rate of WMFPD, the district will be better positioned to meet the service demands as the Tri-Lakes area continues to develop. Because of this, we also recommend that TLFPD and WMFPD pursue a strategy giving priority to the process of inclusion. The Districts should execute an operational unification if inclusion fails in an election, or if the merger proves impractical for political reasons.

The operational alternative of Option 4 does not fare as well as Option 3 under analysis, but the model does register as neutral or good in a comparison of the four benchmarks. Including PLVFD in the outcome of Option 3 could serve to improve overall service and efficiency, but the alternative carries some complicating financial problems. The uncertain ability of either the Town of Palmer Lake or PLVFD to adequately fund any proposal for complete organizational unification makes Option 4 problematic. The desperate need of a suitable fire station in Palmer Lake only adds financial burden to full unification. Consequently, while we do not recommend the full addition of PLVFD in the unification of TLFPD and WMFPD, we do recommend that the Town of Palmer Lake contract with the unified department as it is able for incremental administrative and support services such as: administration, human resources, accounting, EMS management, training, fire prevention, maintenance, and operational management.

Policy Action

First steps are important. If the partnering jurisdictions support the conclusions of this report, action by the elected bodies needs to focus the efforts of many persons toward the goal of unification. Indecisive or counter-productive activity will result from any lack of clear direction from the political boards. It is also important that all of the region’s fire departments actively participate in the planning process that needs to follow the adoption of a unification goal. If everyone shares in shaping the unification, adverse outcome can be more easily anticipated and adjustments made.

Consequently, we recommend that the fire district boards and the town council jointly resolve to adopt the outcome of the preferred option (including the role of PLVFD for contracted administrative services) as a Regional Vision. The jurisdictions should also resolve to cooperatively work toward carrying out the chosen goal within a specific time. We suggest that the goal be targeted just far enough in the future to allow for systematic planning and implementation, but not so far as to loose valuable momentum. From past experience in such matters, we consider that 18 months is about the minimum amount of time needed to plan and implement these sorts of system changes. We suggest January 1, 2004 be fixed as a target for completion of the goal.

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County Water Authority’s master plan nears completion, raises concerns about "water war" with Douglas County

By John Heiser

At their regular monthly meeting June 5, the County Water Authority made plans for completion and public presentation of their water master plan that has so far cost $187,833. Half of the cost of the study is to be paid by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Two public meetings on the report are planned: One at Lewis-Palmer High School and one in Widefield. The meetings would be held in September or October.

The Water Authority

Founded in 1998, the County Water Authority is composed of 19 water system operators in El Paso County including the Towns of Monument and Palmer Lake and the local Donala Water and Sanitation District that serves Gleneagle, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District intended to serve the Forest Lakes area, Triview Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

Each member pays an annual membership fee of roughly $500 to $1,500 based on the number of water taps they service. Even though the county is not a water service provider, it is a member of the authority, contributes $27,000 annually, and donates a variety of services including administration of the master plan consulting contract with John C. Halepaska and Associates of Littleton.

While liaison is maintained with Colorado Springs Utilities, it is not a member of the authority.

The water authority board of directors:

President: Roy Heald, Stratmoor Hills Water and Sanitation District
Vice President: Phil Steininger, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District
Secretary: Larry Bishop, Security Water and Sanitation District
Treasurer: Dana Duthie, Donala Water and Sanitation District
County Representative: Duncan Bremer

There are also two at-large members:

Stu Loosley, Cherokee Metropolitan District
Ron Simpson, Triview Metropolitan District

The Report

After three years of work, nine of the twelve sections of the report have been completed including an inventory of water demands, inventory of aquifer and surface resources, identification of water supply shortfalls and limitations, water conservation and reuse, potential projects with Colorado Springs, optimum water distribution infrastructure, and potential water import projects. All completed sections are available for purchase at $25 per section.

Remaining to be completed are sections on water supply standards regulations, water plan for private well owners, and the summary and conclusions.

Bruce Lytle, vice president of Halepaska, said draft copies of the completed report will be distributed to members of the water authority for discussion at the July 3 meeting. In response to suggestions that distribution of the draft report should be limited, Lytle asked, "How do you get good public comments unless you make it available to them?" Distribution of the draft report will be discussed further at the next meeting.

There was some discussion as to whether the final report should be printed prior to the planned public meetings. Bremer recommended that it should be prepared after the public meetings are completed. Heald agreed saying, "It will lend more credence to the public process." Simpson added, "The boards have put money into this report and have a right to review and control the content."

Douglas County Satellite Well Field

Lytle presented highlights of the section covering the optimum water distribution infrastructure. He reported that Halepaska Associates modeled the anticipated impact of Douglas County’s plans to build a satellite well field on Greenland Ranch north of the border with El Paso County. He said their plans call for pumping up to 20,000 acre-feet (6.5 billion gallons) per year. According to the models, he said, "It will have a dramatic effect on northern El Paso County. The draw down of water levels will be evident 12 to 14 miles from the site of the pumping." The models assumed there would be pumping from all four aquifers (Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie Fox Hills).

El Paso County Satellite Well Field

Lytle also reviewed projected results for the proposed construction of a satellite well field on the Younger Ranch in El Paso County near the corner of Highway 83 and Highway 105. Water from these wells would be piped to the districts in the northern part of the county to reduce pumping within the districts.

Unlike Douglas County, El Paso County rules limit pumping to one-third of that allowed by state law.

The combined effect and interaction of the two proposed well fields is expected to become a bone of contention between the two counties.

**********

The water authority meets on the first Wednesday of each month in the third floor hearing room of the county building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs.

For more information on the water authority and the master plan, contact the board members or the authority’s manager Philip Voegtle at 380-7233.

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County commissioner candidate forum/debate July 17

The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) will sponsor a forum/debate between Bill Guman and Wayne Williams, the two leading Republican candidates for county commissioner district 1 to succeed Duncan Bremer. The forum will be held July 17, 7 pm to 9 pm, Lewis-Palmer High School. Please plan to be seated by 6:50 pm.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Each candidate will make a three-minute opening statement. For the next sixty minutes, the candidates will alternate answering questions posed by the audience. Each candidate will then make a three-minute closing statement.

This is a particularly important election. One of these candidates is very likely to become our county commissioner for the next eight years – a time of important decisions regarding land use, water, and infrastructure issues.

For more information, contact Steve Sery, NEPCO President, at 488-8533 or seryj@earthlink.net.

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NEPCO meeting June 1 reviewed history of county zoning and subdivison

By John Heiser

At the June 1 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), Carl Schueler, assistant director of the county planning department, presented an historical perspective on zoning and subdivision in El Paso County. Schueler has been with county planning for 17 years.

Zoning and subdivision

Zoning started in San Francisco in the 1880’s and was applied in New York City beginning in 1916. In 1926, the US Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

Within the unincorporated parts of the county, zoning was first applied to about 249 square miles in 1942. Minimum lot size on the plains was set at ten acres. In 1951, that minimum was reduced to five acres. There are currently about 10,000 five-acre parcels in the county. According to Schueler, "These five-acre zones, which were originally used as holding zones, have taken on a mantra of their own and have become the basis for whole comprehensive plans."

In particular, reliance on five acre zoning is an important element of the Tri-Lakes comprehensive plan that figured prominently in the recent board of county commissioners decisions to approve the Forest Lakes project and deny the Hay Creek Ranch project. [For details see the Forest Lakes and Hay Creek Ranch articles in the June 1 issue of OCN.]

In an accompanying handout, Schueler wrote, "Although zoning (in almost all cases) is not a legal entitlement, it typically becomes a perceptual one." Those whose land is zoned for five-acre minimum lot size usually resist efforts to increase the minimum lot size on their land. As happened with Forest Lakes and Hay Creek Ranch, the neighbors often object if an owner wants to reduce minimum lot size below 5 acres. This has led to a convergence on five-acre minimum lot size.

Schueler noted that around the state there is no consistency in minimum lot sizes with different areas using 1 acre, 5 acres, 10 acres, etc.

The first zoning in the Tri-Lakes area was applied in 1955. It called for five-acre minimum lot size.

The minimum lot size for use of individual septic systems was 5 acres up until 1981 when it was reduced to 2.5 acres. Minimum lot size of 2.5 acres is now common west of Roller Coaster Road.

The most recent major zoning action was the 1999 initial zoning of 840 square miles in the eastern part of the county to A-35 agricultural zone district with 35-acre minimum lot size. Emotions ran high about the highly controversial action by the board of county commissioners.

Schueler cited a recent trend toward use of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) zone district. PUD allows for a more customized design instead of the typical "cookie cutter" design promoted by conventional zones. Schueler commented, "[With PUD] we can get more out of the developer in terms of off-site improvements." Often the average lot size in a PUD is less than what would have been allowed by conventional zones. This is characterized as giving a "density bonus" for good design. Schueler noted that the county’s Land Development Code (LDC) does not specify clustering goals or density bonus criteria.

The county’s subdivision regulations were adopted in 1972. Prior to that, property owners just filed a plat map with the clerk and recorder. That process led to such projects as the Brentwood cabins developed in Black Forest in 1926 that put 400 lots on 160 acres in an area that now typically requires five-acre minimum lots.

Water availability

Schueler cited availability of water as a key factor in determining appropriate zoning and subdivision Throughout Colorado, approval of a subdivision requires that the State Engineer certify that the proposed source can supply water for a minimum of 100 years. The county adopted a more stringent 300-year rule.

Schueler noted, "The board of county commissioners has the ability to waive the 300-year requirement and has done so. Woodmoor and Gleneagle are two areas where the board has seen fit to waive the rule." A recent example was the approval of a waiver of the 300-year rule for the Struthers Ranch development between Gleneagle and I-25 south of Baptist Road. The developer proposed using water from the Donala Water and Sanitation District that serves Gleneagle. During the course of the planning commission hearing on that project, Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala district, stated that the district may have as little as 30 years and probably no more than 156 years of water available to be pumped. Chaparral Hills resident Dale Turner remarked, "I don’t see how the board could approve Struthers Ranch because it damages Gleneagle residents."

Questions arose concerning the recently approved Forest Lakes subdivision. It was noted that there exists only enough water for 115 houses, but the remaining 350 need to use surface water from the reservoirs. Former Monument Mayor Leon Tenney expressed the view that the Town of Monument owns the senior surface rights to Beaver Creek that feeds Bristlecone Lake from which the water would be drawn.

Roads

Steve Sery, NEPCO president, noted that the road network is not keeping up with population growth. Schueler added, "It is a local, state, and national issue." He said that during the time the population in the county has doubled, traffic has increased fourfold. There are now more vehicles registered in the county than people living here.

Schueler asked, "How much [of the cost of roads] do you hang on the developer?" He cited the case of the ongoing redesign of the Baptist interchange and said that, based on generated traffic, the Forest Lakes developer might conceivably be required to pay 10% of that cost or about $3 million.

Schueler stated that traffic at the Baptist interchange is expected to reach Level of Service (LOS) F, the worst there is, sometime before the rework is completed. He said, "If Wal-Mart is approved, the day it opens the Baptist interchange will go to LOS F. No matter how much Wal-Mart contributes to Baptist Road improvements, the day it goes in it would kill the interchange." He added, "The state says if you want a new interchange, you pay for it. If you want to swamp an existing one, you don’t." He characterized it as an "incrementalist" issue. Former Gleneagle Civic Association President Bob Swedenburg said, "It is the board of county commissioners’ responsibility to balance public safety vs. development."

Comprehensive plans

Beth Courreau, President of the Woodmoor Improvement Association, noted that comprehensive plans are advisory. Schueler agreed, saying, "Comp plans are not binding and are subject to interpretation." He went on to say that furtherance of the master plan is the first justification listed in the LDC for changing zoning. The other reasons are a change in circumstances in the area, a mistake in the original zoning, and promotion of the general health, safety, and welfare of county residents.

Schueler observed that state law for PUD rezoning is more stringent. For approval, the board of county commissioners must be able to make a finding that the proposal is in general conformity to the master plan; however, Schueler noted, "[The board] can almost say black looks white to me."

The role of the planning department

Turner suggested the planning department should require developers to build road improvements before they are allowed to go ahead with a project.

Schueler asked "How do you hold someone’s feet to the fire?" He added that the county does not have the tool of annexation that municipalities have to compel developers to make expenditures.

Leon Tenney, former mayor of Monument, said, "You don’t have to approve the project."

Schueler said the planning department is finding itself in the role of a negotiator trading off density vs. off-site improvements. He noted that the ongoing revamping of the LDC will give more guidance on clustering provisions and off-site improvements. One area he said will not change is the water availability regulations including the 300-year rule.

To quote from Schueler’s handout, "The conclusion of all this is that the numbers used in zoning are important but they may come as much from tradition and convention as from any more rational planning approach. Even if they started out as rationally based, their collective shoe may no longer fit. Communities would do well to step back once in a while and look at the more collective impacts of the numbers they have chosen."

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Triview board evening meeting draws capacity crowd

By John Heiser

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting at a new day and time – June 26, the fourth Wednesday of the month, at 6:30 pm. Formerly, the meetings were held the fourth Thursday at 8:30 am. Few residents ever attended the Thursday morning meetings. The Wednesday evening meeting was packed with about 30 Jackson Creek residents.

Election of Officers

Vice President Jim Perry nominated Kathy Walters to continue as President. She was confirmed unanimously. Gary Walters and Linda Jones were nominated for Secretary-Treasurer. Walters won by a vote of 3 to 2. The vote was split along residency lines with residents Martha Gurnick and Linda Jones voting for Jones and non-residents Perry and the two Walters voting for Walters. Triview district manager Ron Simpson was reappointed as assistant secretary-treasurer.

In response to a request by a resident, the agenda item for citizen input was moved to the end of the meeting to let attendees observe board actions prior to providing their input. As the meeting progressed, questions and comments from the residents were spontaneously given on many of the topics.

Construction manager’s report

Rick Blevins of Jackson Creek Vision Development Company reported on trail and landscape work including tree replacements and asphalt paving of the trail through Lariat Ranch.

Tap water treatment plant B is substantially complete and is expected to be operational the first week in July. This will relieve some of the stress on plant A and help address water quality issues.

Blevins noted that the 23-lot Carriages at Jackson Creek project approved by the town has been sold to Elite Properties-Classic Homes.

The 76-lot Homestead Filing #3 project is scheduled for a hearing at the July 10 meeting of the Monument planning commission. The project is expected to go before the town board of trustees in August.

District engineer’s report

District engineer Chuck Ritter of Nolte Associates reported that the Donala Water and Sanitation District that serves Gleneagle is seriously considering switching to use Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) for wastewater treatment. If that happens, it will free capacity in the present wastewater treatment plant jointly owned by Donala, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, and Triview. Simpson noted that there could be a signed agreement between Donala and CSU by August of this year and conversion in 2004. If this does not occur, the wastewater treatment plant will be at 85% of its design capacity by 2004.

As reported last month, Ritter noted that Union Pacific has approved an at-grade railroad crossing for access to the wastewater treatment plant. The crossing will be southeast of the silver dome that can be seen west of I-25 one mile south of Baptist Road. The type of crossing approved will cost about 20% of the type of crossing previously anticipated.

Wal-Mart and Baptist Road status

Simpson reported that he has been in contact with Wal-Mart’s broker. The project is still being reviewed in Arkansas. Simpson said, "It is unknown if and when an application might be submitted."

He noted that monies from the county’s road and bridge fund are being sought for improvements to the Baptist Road bridge over Jackson Creek. State funds are being pursued to help pay for other improvements needed to Baptist Road. The county is expected to require that Wal-Mart help fund the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway south to connect to the stub of Struthers Road that extends north from Northgate Road east of I-25.

Simpson announced the July 23 open house on the redesign of the Baptist Road and Northgate interchanges with I-25. The open house will be held from 4 pm to 7 pm at Lewis-Palmer High School. He said there remain two design alternatives for the Baptist interchange and one design for the Northgate interchange.

State modeling of the traffic on Baptist Road by PBS&J has yielded results 30% lower than the results of Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority efforts by Loris Associates. Discussions to resolve the discrepancies are ongoing.

Gurnick asked what effect the differences would have on how far east Baptist would be expanded to four lanes. Simpson replied that using the state traffic estimates, the four-lane section should end at Leather Chaps whereas using the BRRTA estimates there should be four lanes all the way to Tari. Simpson said in both cases Baptist would be expanded to six lanes from Old Denver Highway on the west to Jackson Creek Parkway on the east.

New subdivision being planned north of King Soopers

Simpson said there is a proposal in the works for a residential subdivision north of King Soopers. He said that Miles Grant, operating as Monument PRD-4, LLC, is developing the plan. Grant, who builds under the name Genesis Homes, reportedly plans to sell the land to another homebuilder once the plat has been approved. According to Simpson, the area has been shown as residential since 1987. Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat mitigation will be required. A bond or letter of credit will be posted to guarantee that the habitat mitigation is completed. In response to a question, Simpson said that out of 1,580 acres in the district, 175 acres (11%) have been dedicated to mouse habitat. An additional 30 acres (2%) are wetlands.

2003 budget

Simpson announced that discussion of the 2003 budget must begin at the July 24 meeting. The budget must address operational transition in the event Donala decides to have CSU handle their wastewater treatment. Triview also needs to assess whether it is time to do its own meter reading and billing, tasks presently handled by Donala. The Inter-Governmental Agreement with Donala is up for renewal in August.

Water quality and cost

Lariat Ranch resident Bill Chin complained about black greasy spots in his tap water. Simpson said they will look into it and added that the iron that was getting into the water supply has been corrected.

As required by the EPA, Jackson Creek residents should have received the annual water quality report for the district. Simpson noted, "We test constantly."

In response to remarks that the billing rate is high compared to Colorado Springs, Simpson said, "Colorado Springs has economies of scale." Noting that Donala has among the lowest rates in the area, he said, "We try to stay equal or below Donala." He added that Triview’s tap and impact fees to developers are the lowest in the area.

Parks and open space

Many resident questions and comments focused on landscape, park, trail, and open space issues.

Chin noted that his Lariat Ranch neighborhood averages two children per house. He asked if the acreage set aside for parks and open space has changed from the original plan. Blevins replied that the original 1987 plan required 10% parks and open space. So far, not counting the mouse habitat, parks and open space averages 12%. Simpson agreed, "We have more green now than originally approved in 1987." Blevins added that plans for the original "Field of Dreams" ball field were scuttled by the need to preserve mouse habitat. The park space is in pocket parks of one to two acres each.

Water conservation and reuse

Simpson reported, "There are not as many over-users with $200+ monthly water bills this year as last year." He added that water consumption is two to three times greater during the months when lawns are watered as at other times of the year.

Simpson noted, "Our major user is the Texaco car wash. There is a lot of water going into that. We told two other car washes that we are not interested. King Soopers seems to use a lot of water for what they do."

The middle school took over landscape maintenance from the landscape contractor and cut their water use in half. Simpson said this is thanks to more care in irrigation and that the lawns are now established.

Peter Susemihl, attorney for the district, reported that the state has not yet responded to Triview’s application for school irrigation with reuse water from the wastewater treatment plant. Gurnick asked if reuse water could be used at the car wash. Ritter said it was unlikely to be approved due to the possibility of human contact with the reuse water. Irrigation at the school will be done at night when wind speed is less than 15 mph to minimize contact. According to Ritter, irrigation at the school offers "less potential for human contact in the eyes of the state."

The district currently uses only water from deep wells. Deep wells are not immediately impacted by the current drought. Simpson said, "There is no source problem with deep water." He later added that drilling a well into the Arapahoe aquifer and building the associated water treatment facility costs about $2 million. He estimated that Jackson Creek will need 18 or 19 wells at full build out.

District resident Sonja Beaudoin noted that the covenants often require Kentucky Bluegrass instead of xeriscape. Simpson said, "It is difficult to convince builders [to remove the bluegrass requirement]." He attributed it to concerns about the appearance of poorly done attempts at xeriscape.

Water Authority Report

Simpson said that the final draft of the water authority’s master plan will be available next week. It projects resources and needs through 2025. Regarding the plan’s proposal to build a satellite well field in the northern part of the county, Simpson said, "Because Douglas County is consuming more, northern providers should adopt a defensive posture." He added, "Douglas County pumping could reverse the flow of the [Denver] basin to go north." Public meetings to discuss the master plan are to be held in September or October.

Video inspection of sewer lines

Simpson said that the district presently pays $1,100 to $1,500 for the initial video inspection of sewer lines in new subdivisions. He asked, "Is it really appropriate for the district to be paying for it? I don’t think so." In response to a question, he said Colorado Springs requires developers to pay. Susemihl urged the board to postpone action on this until next meeting so they can hear the developer’s side.

Sewer interceptor

Simpson reported that an escrow account is being used to pay the cost of building a line to handle sewage from future commercial and industrial developments on the west side of I-25.

Susemihl said prior owners of the property on the west side of I-25 owed several million dollars in taxes, more than the market value of the property. According to the terms of a negotiated agreement, the county agreed to waive past due taxes, the Triview and Forest Lakes metro districts agreed to sell the property and use the proceeds to pay the taxes owed to other entities and set up a $1 million escrow account to provide water and sewer to the parcel. Pine Tree properties and its subsidiary Phoenix Bell now own the property.

Bill payments

Jones asked for some sort of "overview of bills" to get a better feeling for the reasons money is being spent.

Susemihl described the four-step process of creating a budget, making the decision to pursue an individual project, approving a contract for that project with reference to the budget, and finally approving the contractor’s bills as the work is done.

Bonds and trustee

In prior meetings, concerns have been expressed about the trustee fees being charged for administrating the district’s bonds. Susemihl said that an alternative trustee with the requisite $75 million in reserves has not yet been identified.

Jones suggested that the district approach the present bondholder to discuss renegotiation of the bond interest rate. The blended doubly tax-free rate on the older bonds is more than 12%, which is significantly above current market rates.

Public Input

Susemihl urged residents to raise questions or concerns first with Simpson and his administrator Dale Hill and said the board meetings are not the best forum for getting questions answered. Beaudoin disagreed saying, "This is the forum."

Residents reported that many of the replacement landscape trees along Dawson Creek and Candle Creek are dying again. After the meeting Heights resident Catherine Rice remarked, "It is terrible to plant a tree and then not water it."

Residents were also concerned that the native grass areas are weedy or dead.

Simpson noted that the trees were replaced by Classic Homes under warranty. He said there is a drip irrigation system but this has been a dry year. The district is getting bids for irrigation of the plantings using existing taps.

Jones said, "Classic supposedly cares about what everyone thinks. I don’t believe in letting them off the hook." Simpson replied, "They redid it. This is mostly our problem. I am not putting it on them. What they were supposed to do doesn’t quite work. Maybe it is time to see if there is something else we should be doing." He added, "It is unbelievable what it is costing for maintenance. It is scary." He said the district has maintenance responsibility for 1.3 million square feet of parks, trails, and open space.

Susemihl suggested that the district have a landscape architect assess the situation and bring options to the board.

A resident suggested that if the district has more than enough water then it should consider selling water to other districts.

Simpson noted there is a plan for interconnection to other districts to supply water for fire fighting but well water is expensive.

Susemihl said, "It’s the board’s responsibility to make sure this district is served first. The policy is to not serve anyone outside the district unless they are on the tax roles" that is, they must have been included into the district.

After the meeting, Rice commented, "Water is a very important resource and needs to be conserved. You can’t live without it."

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The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 6:30 pm, at the district offices, 174 North Washington St. The next meeting will be on July 24.

For further information, contact the Triview Metropolitan District at 488-6868.

View a picture of the meeting.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Meeting June 25

By John Heiser

At the regular monthly meeting of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors, thanks were expressed for the many donations received during the Hayman fire. Board member Charlie Pocock said, "The outpouring has been touching. It almost brings me to tears."

Changes in leadership

Keith Jensen, long-time chief of the Tri-Lakes district, resigned effective June 11 for personal reasons. Jensen was a 16-year veteran of the district and had been chief for more than 10 years. Jensen was an outspoken critic of proposals for unification of the districts raising speculation that his departure was related to the recently completed joint study recommending some form of unification of the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument fire protection districts. Assistant Chief Robert Denboske will serve as acting chief until the board names a new chief. Denboske, who has been with the district for 25 years, has expressed interest in becoming the new chief.

Board president Oscar Gillespie, who is recovering from serious health problems, proposed that he switch offices with vice president Charlie Pocock. The motion was unanimously approved.

Financial Report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that the district has received 51% of the anticipated annual income and expended only 31% of the budgeted amount. Maintenance costs and expenditures for 800 MHz communication equipment have exceeded budgeted amounts.

Emergency Responses

Acting Chief Denboske reported that the district responded to 80 alarms since last month’s board meeting, bringing the year-to-date total to 410. The staff including paid, volunteer, probationary, explorer scouts, and board members totals 40.

The Hayman Fire

Denboske noted that some of the information received about the fire was of poor quality. One of the problems was difficulty determining the exact location of the fire. Denboske said that at one time there were five maps showing five different locations. Pocock noted, "Winds made airborne infrared mapping inaccurate."

Brian Jack was commended for his work exchanging information with the Lake George center.

Ron Thompson, EMS Coordinator for the district, was commended for taking over leadership of day-to-day emergency operations at the firehouse while Denboske was working with the North End Group of chiefs.

Denboske highlighted some of the lessons learned. He described it as a "great tabletop exercise. We gained a lot of information for the next incident. It was good for the Tri-Lakes district in that it showed we are cooperative. It hashed out some training issues."

Denboske said, "The North Group of chiefs functioned very well." Pocock added, "It brought together the North Group."

Pocock said, "Raymond Blake [Woodmoor-Monument fire marshal] did an outstanding job as Public Information Officer."

Pocock said that while it was right to have the incident center at the Tri-Lakes firehouse, it did generate additional overhead expense. Denboske said the district had already applied for a fire management grant to help with the extra costs.

Emergency Services Study

The consultant study of operations and prospects for unification of the Palmer Lake, Tri-Lakes, and Woodmoor-Monument fire organizations is completed. A public meeting on the final report will be held July 15 at the Pinecrest Event Center in Palmer Lake. A joint board meeting will be held at 6:30 pm followed by a presentation to the public at 8 pm. [See "Fire Study Recommends Unification, residents urged to attend important July 15 joint public meeting" in this issue.]

The district is planning to address the deficiencies identified by the study. A prioritized list of items from the study and a draft joint resolution about the study will be discussed at the next board meeting.

The meeting concluded with an executive session to discuss realignment of pay scales.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors meets the fourth Tuesday of each month, 7 pm, at the district firehouse, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be held July 23.

For more information, call Acting Chief Rob Denboske at 481-2312.

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Regional Planning Effort Shows Results

By John Heiser

At the June 28 meeting, it was evident that the $50,000 Heritage Planning Grant is beginning to bear fruit. The grant was awarded by a state agency in 2001 to a collection of local jurisdictions to help fund regional planning.

The fire protection district study, partially funded by the Heritage Grant, is completed and will be presented July 15 [See "July 15 Presentation of the Regional Fire Protection Feasibility Study" in this issue.] That meeting was rescheduled from June 20 due to the Hayman fire. David Youtsey, Chief of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District said, "Our goal in all this is to improve service and increase efficiency."

Using an estimated $20,000 worth of information provided by El Paso County, the City of Colorado Springs, and Colorado Springs Utilities, Monument Town Planner Mike Davenport has developed preliminary projections of Tri-Lakes area population, households, and employment. After being revised based on review by the Heritage Grant participants, these projections will be the basis for the next phase that will identify specific transportation improvements and associated costs needed to address current needs and future growth.

Preliminary population projections

Davenport noted that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) projects growth in the region starting at 5% per year in 2000 and declining steadily to about 3% per year in 2025 with an average over the 25 year period of about 4% per year. Davenport noted, "This is considerably less than the 9% per year figure commonly quoted."

Using the PPACG model, the Tri-Lakes area total population of about 20,000 in 2002 is expected to reach more than 52,000 in 2025.

Davenport’s analysis found that, due to the modeling methods used by the PPACG, year 2000 projections were very close to the overall 2000 census count for the Tri-Lakes region, but differed sharply for areas, such as Jackson Creek and Woodmoor, within the region. For example, the PPACG model forecast only 40 houses in Jackson Creek by 2025. That projection was made before there were any houses in Jackson Creek. Ron Simpson, manager of the Triview Metropolitan District, said current projections call for about 2,200 dwelling units in Jackson Creek. The PPACG model also projected substantial growth in Woodmoor, most parts of which are approaching build-out.

In order to be useful for traffic planning, more accuracy is required in the small area projections. To improve the accuracy, Davenport turned to current zoning and structure of existing water and sewer systems. Each of the PPACG’s roughly two-dozen Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZ’s) in the Tri-Lakes region were divided by zone district to yield more than 200 sub-areas. For each sub-area, a year 2002 estimate was developed based on the county tax assessor’s database. Counting the number of vacant lots in each sub-area produced a build-out projection by assuming all land zoned residential or agricultural will be subdivided to the maximum density allowed under the current zoning.

This led Davenport to the surprising conclusion that based on existing zoning and current central water and sewer systems, residential build-out of remaining land zoned residential or agricultural corresponds to the PPACG forecast Tri-Lakes area population of about 42,000 in 2018.

That raises the question: Where will projected additional 10,000 population growth from 2018 to 2025 go? Davenport suggested it might go to existing tracts through rezoning to greater densities and expansion of the associated water and sewer systems or it might go east into Black Forest or south into Colorado Springs.

Preliminary employment projections

To project employment growth within the region, Davenport used the assessor’s data to obtain building floor area and parcel acreage for each of seven types of land use: vacant, school, public, commercial, office, light industrial, and industrial. Areas zoned Planned Industrial Development (PID) were treated as 50% office and 50% industrial. Again, PPACG projections were used to establish overall growth rates.

Davenport’s preliminary analysis found there are currently 1.8 million square feet of non-residential buildings in the Tri-Lakes region. Based on the PPACG projections, there will be roughly 3.4 million square feet of non-residential buildings in the region in 2025. Existing zoning would allow approximately 18 million square feet of non-residential buildings. Based on the analysis, Davenport said, "If current trends don’t change, a lot of that commercial will likely be rezoned." Simpson cautioned that projecting commercial, office, and industrial land use is tricky. A single user such as a semiconductor company could develop a large part of the available space quickly.

The consensus was that these are valuable results and that Davenport made tremendous progress since the prior meeting. Carl Schueler, assistant director of the county planning department and a long-time participant in the PPACG modeling effort, remarked, "Nobody has tried to do anything this sophisticated."

Next steps

Simpson and others are reviewing the data and projections and submitting revisions. Once those have been incorporated, Monument consultant Transplan, Inc. will use the population and employment projections to develop regional traffic projections. Those projections will be used to develop a prioritized list of transportation projects for which funding can be sought from PPACG and El Paso County.

The deadline for the final report on the effort has been extended by the funding agency to September 30. The group plans to submit an application in August or September for follow-on 2003 funding.

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The next Heritage Grant meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 19, 1:30 pm, Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd St.

For more information on this project, contact Mike Davenport, Monument town planner, at 481-2954.

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County planning commission recommends denial of revised Phillips Ranch plan

By John Heiser

By a close vote at the El Paso County Planning Commission meeting June 18, a revised seven-lot plan for the Phillips Ranch subdivision was recommended for denial. A prior plan with nine lots was unanimously recommended for denial by the planning commission April 16.

The proposed Phillips Ranch Subdivision would be on a 35-acre parcel at the corner of Roller Coaster Road and Higby Road near Fox Run Regional Park. The request was to rezone the parcel from Rural Residential (RR-3) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) to allow seven residential lots ranging from 2.8 to 8.6 acres with an average of 4.5 acres and five acres per dwelling unit gross density, including an internal private cul-de-sac and arterial road dedications along two sides of the parcel. The present RR-3 zoning would allow a maximum of six lots of five acres or more each.

The planning department that previously recommended denial of the project due to inconsistency with the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan, now found that even though the plan "is inconsistent with the strict adherence language in [the plan, it now] approaches the standard closely enough that a finding of general conformity with [the plan] could be made."

David Jones, representing the owners, noted that with a net density of one lot per five acres, 6.32 lots would be allowed. In exchange for the additional 2/3 of a lot, he cited design improvements enforced by PUD development plan restrictions on building locations and architecture, landscape buffering, grading, drainage, wildfire hazard mitigation, wildlife habitat, and a variety of other topics.

Planning commissioner Will Brown, who owns farmland surrounding the parcel, again recused himself from the vote but this time did not address the commission. At the April 16 hearing, he argued against the project saying no lots should be smaller than five acres.

Several neighbors expressed concerns about increased traffic attributable to the project and sight distance problems at the access road. Margaret and Christina Summers also said a residential PUD is inconsistent with the agricultural character of the area. Margaret said, "PUDs force out farmers." Betty Baughman said allowing other than five acre lots would not be fair to other landowners in the area who are held to that requirement.

Following a tie vote (4-4) on the proposed PUD rezoning, the planning commission voted five to three to recommend denial of the associated preliminary plan. Commissioner Steve Sery voted in favor of the rezoning request but when that failed to pass, he voted to oppose the preliminary plan.

The planning commission recommendations are forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners for a final decision.

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For more information on this and other projects within the county, contact the planning department at 520-6300 or visit www.elpasoco.com/planning.

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Open House July 23 on Proposed Baptist and Northgate Interchange Designs

By John Heiser

On July 23, an open house will be held at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 E. Higby Road, 4 pm to 7 pm. There will be displays illustrating the alternatives currently being considered and opportunities express your views and get answers to your questions.

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For more information on the proposed redesign of the two interchanges, visit

Contacts for both of these projects:

  • Colordo Department of Transportation: James Flohr, Project Manager, 1480 Quail Lake Loop, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, (719) 634-2323, james.flohr@dot.state.co.us

  • Project Design Consultant (PBS&J): R. A. Plummer, 5500 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Suite 150, Greenwood Village, CO 80111, (303) 221-7275, Fax: (303) 221-7276, rplummer@pbsj.com

  • Public Involvement Contact, Wilson & Company: Cheryl Everitt, 1099 18th St. Suite 940, Denver, CO 80202, (303) 297-2976, Fax: (303) 297-2693, caeveritt@co.wilsonco.com

Links to prior OCN stories on I-25 are at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm.

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Forest Lakes neighbors file lawsuit

By John Heiser

The Dellacroce Ranch and 29 people who live in Green Mountain Ranch and the Pine Hills subdivision near the proposed Forest Lakes residential subdivisionfiled a district court lawsuit June 14 against El Paso County. The project was unanimously approved by the board of county commissioners May 16.

The suit claims, "The board exceeded its jurisdiction when it approved the Forest Lakes preliminary plan without a valid sketch plan as required by the [Land Development] Code." The suit claims the 1984 sketch plan had lapsed or was not applicable due to differences between the sketch plan and the preliminary plan.

The suit further claims, "The board’s decision to approve the preliminary plan was arbitrary and capricious, and not in harmony with the comprehensive plan which is the guiding document as it pertains to land use."

The suit concludes that the development will "severely impact the Dellacroce Ranch’s ability to continue to operate its cattle ranch" and "will likely decrease the value of the [plaintiffs’] properties and impact their quality of life." It then requests that the court direct the county to require a new sketch plan, adhere to the requirements for PUD rezoning, and consider and use the guidelines in the comprehensive plan.

The plan proposed by the Schuck Corporation, operating as Forest Lakes, LLC, is to build 467 dwelling units on about 990 acres located at the western end of Baptist Road, primarily on the former Beaver Creek Ranch. The plan calls for a clustered design with areas of high-density patio homes coupled with an assortment of larger lots, open space, trails, and recreational use of two lakes. On February 26, the county planning commission voted 6-3 to recommend denial of the preliminary plan.

At the county commissioners hearing May 16, Carl Schueler, assistant director of county planning, represented the county planning department, which recommended approval of the project. Schueler said the clustering of lots and road plan "conforms generally to the [1984] sketch plan. There are significantly smaller lots in this plan." Two of the lakes proposed in the 1984 plan cannot be built due to Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat. After a nine-hour hearing attended by about 75 people, the county commissioners unanimously approved the plan.

Despite the lawsuit, the developer is expected to prepare a final plat for hearings by the planning commission and board of county commissioners. Unless the district court judge intervenes, those hearing could come later this year. A major issue for those hearings is the requirement for a finding of sufficient water quantity and dependability. The existing Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, currently with no users, would serve the Forest Lakes project. The developer proposes that the metro district would draw water for the project from Bristlecone Lake fed by Beaver Creek. According to former Monument Mayor Leon Tenney, the Town of Monument owns senior surface water rights on Beaver Creek.

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For more information on the Forest Lakes project and the May 16 hearing, see "Forest Lakes plan approved despite concerns of residents and planning commission recommendation for denial" in the June 1 issue of OCN available on-line at www.ourcommunitynews.org.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting June 6

By Judy Barnes

The June 13 Town Council meeting was canceled. The June 6 meeting served as workshop and voting meeting combined.

Committee Reports

Parks & Recreation. Cindy Allen reported that numerous volunteers were organizing the 2nd annual Blue Columbine Festival Concert in the Park, scheduled for June 22 at the Village Green from 3 pm to 7 pm. Literature on xeriscape is available at the town offices and the post office. The town is experimenting with a reservation system for the east tennis court. A reservation permit will cost residents $2 and nonresidents $3 for an hour reservation. Trustee Allen wants the users of Palmer Lake parks to be aware that no outdoor cooking is allowed in the parks. There is a town ordinance prohibiting firearms and open flames. In Glen Park there are some tree stumps, indicating that someone has cut trees without permission, which is illegal.

Water

Chuck Cornell displayed a chart that showed that the town is doing well conserving water. Even though the town has more taps this year, water usage is down from last year at this time. The town’s new well should be on line in September.

Roads

Randy Jones reported that there is no water available for dust abatement. On June 7, the department is planning to test application of 23,500 gallons of magnesium chloride solution without adding water.

Police

Eddie Kinney reported that arrests and calls were up from last month. Police cannot enforce the ‘No Parking’ signs in front of the town offices; however, the signs are working for most people, so the trustees recommended leaving them up.

Community and Economic Development - Buildings

Susan Miner reported that the annual fishing derby was very successful, with 430 young people registered. Numerous local businesses, schools, and individuals were part of the team that organized the event and made it possible. Trustee Miner and Town Clerk Della Gins attended a workshop on small towns by the CoCommunity Revitalization Authority.

Fire

Scott Russell reported that the burn ban is still in effect due to the extremely high fire danger. The town’s slash/mulch site is open for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th weekends in June. The cost is $10 or a donation of a nonperishable food item for local food pantries. An electrician will rewire the star on Sundance Mountain, donating materials. The final report from the consultant studying the area’s fire districts has been released. On [July 15], the consultants will conduct a meeting that is open to the public.

Mayor’s Report

In regard to fireworks, the town has an ordinance prohibiting them. Mayor McDonald reported that Police Chief Dale Smith would like to deputize firefighters to help enforce the town ordinance prohibiting firearms and fireworks. Violators could receive the stiffest penalty possible--a fine of $1,000 and one year in jail.

Last year, the town council discussed the possibility of having the star illuminated July 4. Mayor McDonald had an idea to add red and blue bulbs on the star for Memorial Day and July 4 to show support for our country and our armed forces. Due to the work being done to renovate the star, it probably will not happen this year. Trustee Miner expressed her conflict with the idea; she likes the idea of the red, white, and blue bulbs, but on the other hand she wants to keep the star sacred.

Mayor McDonald received a letter from Governor Owens in which he declared the time from July 4 to August 6 Good Neighboring Month. Owens encouraged activities and events that promote social bonds among neighbors; neighborhood block parties, neighborhood watch meetings, and Night Out, for example. In accordance with the governor’s recommendations, Mayor McDonald proclaimed Good Neighboring Month for Palmer Lake.

Palmer Lake Tennis Courts

Kerry Hockemeyer appeared before the council to express his concern about professionals using the public tennis courts for private lessons. Hockemeyer was assured that use of the public courts for financial gain by an individual or business was not allowed and that the person would lose reservation privileges. Hockemeyer and Greg Thomas questioned the need for the town’s new court reservation system, stating that in the years they have been playing tennis here, they hadn’t noticed a problem with people waiting to use the courts. Thomas stated that at the post office he had seen a brochure from the Palmer Lake Tennis Association offering private lessons twice a week for $60. Town Clerk Della Gins agreed to add a statement on the reservation application saying that giving private lessons on the tennis court is prohibited. This would be posted at the court, also. She suggested that residents call the police if they see anyone giving lessons on the town’s court. Trustee Miner noted that the town could revoke the individual’s business license if they use the public court for private lessons. Ms. Gins added that if they don’t have a Palmer Lake business license, than they are violating an ordinance by operating a business without a license. In the meantime, town staff planned to check the brochure at the post office and the web site of Palmer Lake Tennis Association.

New business licenses approved

Greg Pfeifer applied for a license for his carpentry business, Pfeifer Construction, dba Rudy’s Backyard Builders. Pfeifer has been in the carpentry business in Colorado since 1969. Christine Hightower applied for a license for Hightech Inc., dba Image, Etc., which will operate in the West End Center with An Escape Day Spa. Christine will offer skin care products, cosmetics, and color analysis.

Ordinance 16-2002 Concerning Water Conservation

In order to protect the town’s limited supply of water resulting from the ongoing and severe drought in Colorado, the council passed an emergency ordinance amending the Palmer Lake code concerning water conservation and declaring an emergency.

The ordinance describes how and by whom water emergencies may be declared, how residents will be notified of such emergencies, and what the restrictions on water use might be during stage 1 and stage 2 emergencies. Additionally, the ordinance describes how the restrictions will be enforced. The water restrictions imposed in a stage 1 emergency apply to all persons using water in and outside of the town regardless of whether they have a contract for water service with the town. The board, by resolution, may continue the water use restrictions imposed under the stage 1 emergency, may modify the water use restrictions, or may impose other water use restrictions as appropriate.

Stage 1 water restrictions

  • Irrigation of landscaped areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems is prohibited.

  • Irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet-filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less and shall be limited to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with street addresses ending in an even number and Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with street addresses ending in an odd number. Irrigation of landscaped areas is further limited to the hours of 8 pm to 12 midnight on designated watering days.

  • Use of water to wash any motor vehicle, motorbike, boat, trailer or other vehicle is prohibited except on designated watering days between the hours of 8 pm and 12 midnight. Such washing, when allowed, must be done with a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff nozzle for quick rinses.

  • The following uses of water are defined as non-essential and are prohibited:

    • Wash down of any sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas.

    • Use of water to wash down buildings or structures for purposes other than immediate fire protection and fire training.

    • Flushing gutters or permitting water to run or accumulate in any gutter or street.

    • Failure to repair a controllable leak(s) within a period after having been given notice directing the repair of such leak(s).

    • No customer will apply to any lawn, turf, sodded area, or landscape, irrigation water that results in pooling or flowing water across the ground or into drainage ways including ditches or town right-of-ways.

    • Use of water to fill, refill, or add to any indoor or outdoor swimming pools or Jacuzzi-type pools is prohibited.

    • Operation of any ornamental fountain or pond for aesthetic or scenic purposes is prohibited except where necessary to support aquatic life or where such fountains or ponds are equipped with a recirculation system.

    • All restaurants are prohibited from serving water to patrons except upon request by the patron.

    • Use of water hydrants shall be limited to fire fighting, related activities, or other activities necessary to maintain public health, safety and welfare.

Stage 2 water restrictions

All stage 1 restrictions remain in effect. In addition:

  • Irrigation of landscaped areas is absolutely prohibited.

  • Use of water to wash any motor vehicle, motorbike, boat, trailer or other vehicle is absolutely prohibited.

  • No application for new, additional, expanded or increased-in-size water service connections, meters, service lines, pipeline extensions, mains or water service facilities of any kind will be approved and time limits for approval of such applications are suspended for such time as the Stage 2 Water Restrictions are in effect.

Ordinance 11-2002 Commercial Water Rates, revisited

Trustee Eddie Kinney proposed that the town charge businesses similar water rates to residential users. He noted that Woodmoor and Monument charge commercial rates very close to residential rates. Only thirteen businesses would be affected, and only five of those use more than 20,000 gallons per month. Trustee Cindy Allen responded, "Businesses are the lifeblood of our community. We should do what we can to make them viable. To some, a small amount [of money] makes a big difference. I think we need to encourage our businesses and be good to them." Trustees Jones and Cornell expressed similar sentiments, as did Palmer Lake resident Gary Coleman. A motion to deny the ordinance passed, with Trustee Kinney dissenting.

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Monument Board of Trustees Meeting June 3

By Judy Barnes

The regular meeting of the board of trustees began at 6:45 pm following an executive session with the town attorney for legal advice pertaining to Monument vs. Gulf Coast Properties (Ernie Biggs’ Lake of the Rockies Campground) and Monument vs. Beck. Trustees Glenda Smith and Byron Glenn were absent, but Byron participated in the meeting via speakerphone. He was not allowed to vote on any motions, however.

Former trustee Faye Elbaum appeared before the board to ask to be appointed to the Public Works Committee. A motion to appoint her passed unanimously.

Peak View Ridge Second Amendment

Ron Covington appeared on behalf of John Laing Homes to request approval of a combined preliminary plat, preliminary PD site plan/final PD site plan, and a final plat for a proposed 14-lot single family detached development on an 8-acre site on the south side of Santa Fe avenue, west of Old Denver Road. The request was approved unanimously, subject to five conditions.

Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee

John Dominowski, a local commercial property owner, requested a grant of $2,000 from the Town of Monument’s Community Development Fund. Mayor Betty Konarski strongly supported the grant, and noted that the Town of Palmer Lake has donated $2,500 for the annual fireworks display and has requested a donation of $3,000 from Monument. Tommie Plank, representing the Historic Monument Merchants Association, opposed the donation from the fund, stating that the money could be better used to make more permanent improvements, such as beautifying the new Second Street entrance into the town, rather than "to go up in smoke in a single night." Dominowski noted that historically, the downtown area’s sales tax revenues on July 4th are good, and that the exposure Monument gets on that day is important. The request passed 3-2, with Trustees Frank Orten and Christopher Perry dissenting.

Monument Lake Dam Rehabilitation Project Update

Ed Toms of Boyle Engineering reported on the status of the dam repairs. The project is expected to be completed by October 13. Boyle Engineering is proposing that dredged material from the lake bottom be placed in two locations at the dam site. The first location would add 10 feet to the south (downstream) face of the embankment. A second location would add a berm top the dam embankment. The areas would then be covered with topsoil and seeded. Using the dredged material at the dam site will save the town $85,000.

Faulty Pavement on Beacon Lite Road south of Second Street

The new paving on Beacon Lite Road was found to be substandard and a negotiation session was held with the paving contractor, Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt Company, on May 29. In addition, some of the pavement on Beacon Lite at Santa Fe was found to be crumbling, but that condition has not worsened. If it does continue to crumble, it will be covered by the warranty. The board explored three options for remediation of the pavement situation. Option 2 involved leaving the pavement as is and accepting a credit of $15,000 offered by the paving contractor, along with an additional year of warranty on the project. The other two options involved resurfacing the Beacon Lite Road extension and Santa Fe Avenue intersection. The board voted 3-2 to accept option 2, with Mayor Konarski and Trustee Perry dissenting.

Contracts

Following considerable discussion, the board voted 4-1, with Trustee Brown dissenting, to approve three agreements with GMS Engineering, for Mitchell Avenue bike lanes (design fee $25,000, project cost $91,000), Santa Fe trails pedestrian crossings (design fee $19,900, project cost $156,000), and Jackson Creek Parkway (design fee $38,915, project cost $200,000). The Jackson Creek Parkway project currently has a cost overrun of $50,000 that increases the cost from $150,000 to $200,000. Part of the problem, explained Roger Sams of GMS, is that the town needs to look at projects in more detail before budgeting. The trustees requested alternative designs for the projects.

The board voted unanimously to approve an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to continue the countywide Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse Habitat Mitigation Group study. The study also includes El Paso County, Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities, and Palmer Lake. This year’s budget for the study is over $200,000. Monument and Palmer Lake must each contribute $2,000 for their continued participation in the study.

Acquisition of alley property north of Second Street

A town alley runs north and south behind Rocky Mountain Oil Change, the Broiler Room, and Seven-Eleven. The south end of the alley dead-ends into property owned by Rocky Mountain Oil Change. When the Colorado Department of Transportation constructs the new Highway 105, eastbound vehicles on Third Street will not be allowed to turn left onto 105. Furthermore, centerline barriers on 105 will prevent northbound vehicles from making left turns into the businesses on this block. The alley will become an important additional access for these businesses. Consequently, a 17’ x 20’ piece of the alley must be acquired by the town in order to continue the public alley south to a new Second Street access. Mr. John Savage, owner of Rocky Mountain Oil Change, will have the right of refusal to buy that land at appraised value, and in exchange the town will obtain the remainder of the alley. A motion to approve the agreement passed unanimously.

Town Attorney’s report on Transit Mix case

Gary Shupp, town attorney, reported that the judge has dismissed the takings claim, the claim with the largest potential for monetary damages. The remaining claims are all covered by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Association (CIRSA), which insures the town.

Town Manager’s Report

Search for town treasurer: The town received 33 applications. The list has been pared to 17 applicants each of whom will be interviewed by Town Manager Sonnenburg and Dennis Yockey of Grant-Thornton, the town’s accounting firm. A committee that includes Mayor Konarski, Trustee Glenda Smith, Mr. Yockey, and Mr. Sonnenburg will then interview a resulting list of 5 to 7 candidates.

Additional Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat at Monument Lake: The environmental consultant for the Monument Dam repair project advised the town that additional mouse habitat is needed near Monument Lake, due to the contractor’s accidental destruction of mouse habitat at the dam. An adjoining property owner, Dr. Buskas, has a 50’ x 1,220’ strip of land northwest of the lake that he could offer as a conservation easement for a fair fee.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50pm.

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Tri-Lakes fire stations declare fireworks amnesty

By John Heiser

Raymond Blake, fire marshal for the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, announced that people who have legal or illegal fireworks may drop them off at the local Palmer Lake, Tri-Lakes, and Woodmoor-Monument fire stations. No charges will be filled and there is no cost.

According to Blake, "The use, possession, and sale of fireworks is banned in El Paso County municipalities including Monument and Palmer Lake. Until recently, the sale of fireworks was allowed in the unincorporated parts of the county, but a statewide fire ban issued on June 10 prohibits all sales. All fireworks turned in will be taken to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office where they will be incinerated."

With the current high fire danger, it is extremely important that fireworks are disposed of properly. Please do your part to help.

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Addresses and hours for the stations:

  • Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department: 12 Valley Crescent. Call Assistant Chief Julie Lokken at 499-1066 to make an appointment.

  • Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District: 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley), 8 am to 7 pm.

  • Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District: 1855 Woodmoor Drive, 8 am to 7 pm.

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Monument board amends 2001 and 2002 budgets

By Judy Barnes

The Monument board of trustees held two special public meetings to discuss FY2001 and FY2002 budget issues, one on June 2 and the second on June 10. The Town of Monument historically has maintained at least three separate funds: 1) the Cemetery Fund, 2) the Water Fund, and 3) the General Fund. For one of these funds, the General Fund, the board had passed a 2002 budget last December that had almost a $900,000 deficit. There may not have been enough reserves in the General Fund to cover that deficit. To address this imbalance, Mayor Konarski and Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg presented a solution in the form of a budget amendment. This budget amendment was for two purposes, one to address the deficit issue and the other to address the establishment of a debt service fund, which was required for the town to receive a $2 million low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Fund.

At the special meeting June 10, there were three additional changes to the General Fund in the proposed amended budget for FY2001 that improved the "available fund balance" figure by $74,487.50. Since the June 2 meeting, an additional $47,800 was found to be available for the FY2002 budget, more money to apply to reinstatement of some proposed expenditure cuts. The board’s priority reinstatements included two additional police officers, grant matches for the Mitchell Avenue bike lanes and Santa Fe Trail pedestrian crossing, and preservation of the Community Development Fund. The amended 2002 budget for the General Fund revised the expected revenues upward to an estimated $2.6 million and reduced the anticipated expenditures to $2.4 million.

The June 10 meeting included public hearings on the proposed amendments to the 2001 and 2002 budgets. Leon Tenney, former mayor, appeared before the board to address several points, including large discrepancies between the figures from the town’s financial reports for budget year 2001. One report was compiled in March and the other report for budget year 2001 was compiled in May. The explanation for the discrepancies was that the information put into the town’s financial computer software programs during the year 2001 was incorrect. The latest information from the April 2002 town financial report shows over 3.8 million dollars in the Colorado Trust accounts and in local bank accounts. However, there is some uncertainty about what the actual fund balances are in the different accounts. Even though there are eight separate Colorado Trust accounts for different funds, money is deposited from the different funds into the local bank account and the town has lost track of how much money came from each fund.

The trustees and town staff spent considerable time examining and discussing the proposed amended budgets. During the meeting, they found three adjustments that gave the town an additional $41,500 to go into a Board Contingency Fund. At the board’s discretion, this money will be available for such uses as reinstating some of the expenditure cuts and helping to defray unexpected cost increases.

Tenney and John Dominowski, owner of local commercial property, questioned why the board was taking action on the budget now instead of waiting a month when more complete financial information would be available. Tenney noted that the trustees had to pass a budget at the end of December 2001 without sufficient information, and now they are doing the same thing. The financial information currently available is incomplete and possibly incorrect. Mayor Konarski later commented, "I really value the fact that we’ve had the community looking at this [budget]. I think it’s been really helpful."

Trustee Christopher Perry questioned why they had to pass the budget right away. Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg explained that one reason for the rush was the need to move money from the water fund to a debt service fund. Setting up a debt service fund is a requirement for the $2 million loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Fund that was needed for the Monument Lake dam repairs. The town has already received money on the loan and the fund is needed to start repaying the loan. When asked if it was important to his department to approve a budget immediately, Police Chief Joe Kissell replied, "there are things we can’t do, like fix the car, until the budget is approved."

Both amended budgets were proposed as emergency ordinances that require approval of 6 out of 7 members of the board of trustees and go into effect immediately. The amended 2001 budget passed unanimously as an emergency ordinance. However, when it became clear that all of the trustees would not approve an emergency ordinance for the amended 2002 budget, a motion to pass the amended budget as a regular ordinance was proposed. The motion passed by a slim margin, 4-3, with Trustees Christopher Perry, George Brown, and Glenda Smith dissenting. Regular ordinances go into effect 30 days after publication.

Looking at the whole financial picture, it appears the town has plenty of money in its reserves, $3.8 million at the end of April 2002. This amount has grown by almost $400,000 since the end of February and by over a quarter million since May of last year. The town has many strong sources of revenue and it has been largely controlling its expenditures to get value for its dollar.

However, the town has failed to properly account for the money its various funds during the year 2001 and possibly during 2000. This improper accounting, which has cost the town over $80,000 in 2001 and possibly another $80,000 in 2002 in payments to its accounting firm, combined with the lack of a full-time town treasurer, are the real causes of the perceived financial crisis in the town. With its large cash reserves, the Town of Monument is not in any danger of insolvency.

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Monument board meeting June 17

By Judy Barnes

The regular meeting of the board began at 6:50 pm, following an executive session that began at 6 pm to receive legal advice pertaining to Monument vs. Gulf Coast Properties (Ernie Biggs’ Lake of the Rockies campground) and Monument vs. Beck (regarding the Second Street right of way).

Colorado Springs National Bank

The board approved a combined Preliminary and Final Development Plan for the property near the intersection of State Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. Jim Houk, a community planner with Thomas & Thomas, appeared on behalf of Colorado Springs National Bank.

Public Hearings:
Sundance Centre Final PD Site Plan
Valley Vista Estates Filing #3 Preliminary Plat, Preliminary PD Site Plan, and Final Plat

Town Planner Mike Davenport presented the applications and noted that both applicants began the application process last summer and were delayed by problems not caused by the applicants. Consequently, it has taken an additional six months to appear again before the board of trustees. Both ordinances were approved unanimously subject to five conditions, one of which includes a left turn lane from Highway 105 westbound to Knollwood Drive southbound.

Left turns from Second Street at Highway 105

Mike Wicklund, Second Street project manager, sent a letter describing the current left-turn lane restriction to the board of trustees. At this time, the Highway 105 intersection at Second Street is not designed to accept westbound left turns from the eastbound lane of the new Second Street extension. The design and construction of this intersection was the responsibility of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) as part of the CDOT I-25/Highway 105 interchange project. Due to delays in the CDOT project, Monument is ahead of the new CDOT schedule. Improvement of the intersection would cost under $10,000. The town received a temporary access permit from CDOT to include left turns, but left turns in and out of Second Street might be prohibited in the future. Trustee Byron Glenn asked if CDOT might reimburse the town if the town constructs the improvements. Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg agreed to ask about that. Glenn also suggested that Sonnenburg check on the likelihood that CDOT will prohibit left turns at that intersection in the future.

Research addressing citizen complaints regarding the Lake of the Rockies

Neighboring residents Tim Schutz, Don Smith, and others complained about the Lake of the Rockies campground at the board meeting on May 20. Their complaints included (1) RVs stored outside the storage area designated by the master plan, (2) a line of trees that had never been planted as required by the master plan of 1993, (3) an auction being planned and held without a permit, (4) excavation activities, and (5) concern about an access road near the south end of the property.

Staff research found the following. (1) The approved master plan identifies one storage site, a 45-space area at the southeast portion of the property. After considering whether or not "in-season" storage is allowed in the camping sites, the conclusion of the board--based on their interpretation of the master plan and May 1983 minutes--was that the storage of RVs was not allowed outside the designated storage area. (2) The board agreed that fall planting of the trees, as opposed to summer planting, would give the trees a better chance of survival. Trustee Glenn asked if a tree size was specified, and Davenport replied that it was not. Biggs wanted to plant cottonless cottonwoods, and Davenport informed him that he could include the request in his amended application, as it was not in the original plan. Mayor Konarski said that this issue should not be discussed at this meeting, but should go through the committees with the amended application, to be addressed by the board when that process is completed. (3) Biggs scheduled an auction in May without approval from the Planning Department. On May 21, when Biggs requested permission to hold the auction, Davenport told him it would require a master plan amendment, which Biggs decided not to apply for. Davenport informed Biggs that he had 20 days to remove the auction equipment--by June 11. The auction was held on June 8, and the equipment was removed by June 12. Trustee Glenda Smith asked why the town did not shut down the auction, since it was being conducted without a permit. Additionally, she commented on the traffic and numerous cars parked on the sides of Mitchell Avenue, which might have impeded emergency vehicles in the case of fire.

Tim Schutz reviewed the complaints to the town concerning the auction. The "junk" started accumulating in mid-April, and neighboring residents called town hall about it. Town staff told Schutz there had been some verbal approval of a special use permit. Schutz requested a copy of the special use permit, and did not receive one. He then appeared before the board at the May 20 meeting and raised that issue and several others concerning Lake of the Rockies. Schutz went on to say that he thought Biggs was informed of these issues on May 21, and that when Biggs then contacted the town, he was told what the requirements were for filing an amended development plan. At that time, Biggs allegedly said he did not want to file the plan and was issued a notice of violation, giving him 20 days to clean up the auction materials, which was after the auction was to be held. Schutz wanted to know why Biggs was being allowed to continue to violate land use rules on an ongoing basis.

Biggs appeared before the board and stated that he had approached the town before he decided to have an auction, and asked what type of permit an auctioneer required. He further stated the town did not seem to have regulations governing an auction. Biggs said that he did not intend for the auction to be a violation of any regulations, and that the proceeds of about $200,000 resulted in substantial sales tax revenue for the town. (4) The excavation activity was in compliance with the approved master plan because it is for the construction of the required berm where the tree buffer will be planted. Tim Schutz noted the area of excavation was not the berm, but was being used to park cars. He asked how the excavated dirt was going to be used. (5) Mayor Konarski addressed the issue of the access road near the south end of the property at the May 20 board meeting.

Professional services agreement with GMS Engineering

Roger Sams of GMS, Inc. described the proposed agreement for the water system capital improvements project that includes improvements to the distribution system, wells, SCADA system, booster station, and water treatment plant. Trustees questioned Sams about the cost overruns occurring in the past. Trustee George Brown questioned if the town would be held financially responsible if GMS misses something in the design process. Brown also questioned what would happen in the case of negligence on the part of GMS. Trustee Smith remarked that she was displeased with being regularly presented with cost overruns and contract changes that had to be immediately decided upon. She asked that this information be presented to the board earlier. Trustee Warner noted that the board has recently communicated these issues to Sams, and that now it is up to Sams and GMS to perform to the expectations set by the board. Mayor Konarski reminded the board that this is the first time they will be involved with a project from the outset and be able to see it through, rather than inheriting incomplete projects from the past. Trustee Glenn asked the town manager if the town had ever sent out requests for proposals to see if any other firms are interested. Sonnenburg replied the town had not done that, but it could. A motion to approve the contract passed 6-1, with Trustee Frank Orten dissenting.

Ordinance prohibiting fireworks and open burning

Police Chief Joe Kissell described the ordinance he and Trustee Perry wrote. The ordinance bans open fires within the incorporated areas of the town and lets the police cite offenders in Monument municipal court with the intention of zero tolerance. Trustee Perry suggested including a section addressing the use of charcoal grills at private residences. Grills should be attended at all times and a method of extinguishing the fire should be nearby. Trustee Smith noted that in Colorado Springs grills had been removed from the parks. A motion to accept the ordinance passed unanimously. Chief Kissell noted the town has an emergency plan from 1996 and he intends to update that plan.

May financial statement

Dennis Yockey of Grant Thornton addressed Leon Tenney’s comment at a recent board meeting that there was an additional $800,000 available in the general fund as of December 31, 2000. Yockey explained that rather than comparing the fund balance to the cash balance, considering them to be one and the same, the fund balance is computed by taking the total assets, with cash being only a portion of those assets, minus the total liabilities. Yockey also reported the sales tax revenue this year is about $70,000 greater than last year.

Staff/committee reports

Police Chief Kissell reported that Mark Owens was selected as the new officer, beginning work on June 24. All officers have been instructed to act with zero tolerance in enforcing the burning ordinance, which also outlaws throwing lit cigarettes from vehicles. Town Manager Sonnenburg reported an increase in Adelphia’s cable services rates.

The meeting adjourned at 10:30 pm.

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Monument board meeting July 1

By Judy Barnes

The meeting began at 6:30 pm. Trustee Frank Orten was absent.

Monument Dam Repairs

Ed Toms of Boyle Engineering reported that the work on the dam is ahead of schedule. In response to a question about when the lake could be filled, Toms replied that it could possibly be filled by August 1. Mayor Betty Konarski commented that there are questions about the adjudicated right to capture water to fill the lake.

Status of Lake of the Rockies RV storage relocation

Town Planner Mike Davenport sent a memo to the board as follows: On June 21, Davenport sent Ernie Biggs, owner of Lake of the Rockies, a letter identifying what was needed to complete his application for an amendment to the master plan for Lake of the Rockies. On June 24, Biggs sent a response. On June 26, Davenport sent a response, noting that he would follow up after researching some of the items Biggs brought up. In that letter, Davenport recommended against planting cottonless cottonwood trees because of problems of pests, fungus, and excessive water use. He agreed with Biggs that the rapid growth of the cottonwoods would quickly provide screening for the adjacent residences. On June 28, Davenport sent a follow-up letter to Biggs. On June 28, Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg observed a row of six RV units and a row of twelve RV units near the southeast corner of the property, apparently fewer than had been there previously. Also, excavation remained to be done.

Biggs has until July 21 to move the RVs. Trustee Glenda Smith asked if the town could impose a fee if Biggs failed to comply. Trustee Christopher Perry mentioned that noncompliance would be a zoning violation that could go to municipal court. Davenport explained that if Biggs thinks he could be misinterpreting the regulations, Biggs could go before the board of adjustments to appeal Davenport’s decision that an amendment to the master plan was required. Such an amendment requires that Biggs appear before the planning committee and then the board of trustees. Trustee Smith said that she recalled from the board meeting when the master plan was considered that the board’s intent was to ensure that the park did not become an RV storage and sales lot. Biggs disagreed with that observation. Trustee Perry commented that the town has an ordinance against parking RVs for longer than three days.

Sundance Centre Subdivision Improvement Agreement (SIA)

Applicant Kathy Clowes questioned whether the Sundance Centre could open before the completion of the required left-turn lane for traffic from westbound Highway 105 to southbound Knollwood Drive. Town Planner Davenport replied that if the Colorado Department of Transportation wrote a letter stating that they do not see a problem with opening before the left turn lane is in, then the town would allow it. Trustee Byron Glenn expressed concern about who is responsible for a right-turn lane at the intersection. Apparently, Mountain View Electric has to move a power line before the right-turn lane can be built, and is negotiating for an easement with Mr. Ottoway, who owns adjoining property. The board voted unanimously to approve the SIA.

Safeway traffic signal

When the town approved the Safeway store, Safeway had to obtain a permit from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to access Highway 105. One condition of that permit was to give the town a $100,000 bond for a traffic signal to go at the 105 entrance to Safeway. That bond expires December 16, 2002. A CDOT representative indicated that CDOT might have flexibility to relocate the signal, such as placing the signal at the current on/off ramp north of the Conoco station. Town Planner Davenport sent traffic study information to CDOT regarding the coordination of a traffic signal at Beacon Lite Road with a traffic signal at Safeway. The board agreed that Davenport should continue planning the signal with CDOT.

Parks, trails & open space plan

Earlier this year, the town obtained a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant to assist with the cost of developing a parks, trails, and open space plan for Monument. The trustees agreed on the cost-saving community assistance program using graduate students from Colorado University in developing the plan for the town. The CU development coordinator, Judith Bergquist, prepared written proposals for doing the open space and trails concept master plan as well as several "focus" projects in connection with the plan: viewshed analysis from I-25, I-25 pedestrian underpass project near the high school, streetscape enhancement project in the downtown area, and a landscaped design at the Highway 105 interchange as an entrance to Monument and Tri-Lakes. GOCO has already provided $3,500 that would cover one focus project. The board agreed that the entrance project should be done first, and the open space project second.

The board went into executive session at 8:45.

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Lewis-Palmer School Board Meeting June 20

By Tommie Plank

A $31,325,342 million budget for fiscal year 2002-2003 was given final approval at the June 20 regular meeting. Following a presentation by Mr. John Pope, who responded to several questions of the Board, the Monument Academy (MA) portion, which had been deleted from preliminary approval the month before, was also adopted as part of the entire district budget. They begin the year with a deficit of about $148,000. MA expects to receive a check to cover this deficit on July 1, drawn on their line of credit loan with First National Bank in Monument, which they will sign over to Lewis-Palmer school district, thereby starting the year with no debt to District #38.

Monument Academy and First National Bank had requested that the District make the monthly automatic payments to the Bank from funds available to MA. The school board agreed to this arrangement, making it clear that the District will not incur any liability or effect to its credit by accommodating these payments. Therefore, the financial office of District #38 will continue the practice set in place February 28, 2002, to distribute money on behalf of Monument Academy, up to a total of one/twelfth of their annual allocation, on a monthly basis. Staff salaries, rent obligations, District deductions, and payments to First National Bank of Monument will be disbursed first, with any remaining monies available for other obligations of MA.

The Board also approved Addendum No. 1 to the Charter School Renewal Contract, allocating 100 percent of per pupil revenue ("PPR") to Monument Academy, instead of the 100 percent of per pupil operating revenue ("PPOR"), as agreed to in the renewal contract last year. District deductions and purchased services are unchanged except for a clarification that "central administrative overhead costs" shall also expressly be deducted from funding.

The board saw an abbreviated version of the future high school presentation that Superintendent Ted Bauman, Assistant Superintendent Dave Dilley, and LPHS Principal Keith Jacobus have given to community groups numerous times since April. A summary of patron questions and concerns was included. The Board asked that some concrete concepts, with dollar implications of each, and data from experts, be prepared as they deliberate this matter, which will have great impact on the district and community. It is anticipated that the Board will come to a decision within the next eight months, and prepare for a bond campaign next summer.

The Code of Conduct policy, with a review of consequences for violations as it applies to student drug and alcohol use while on school grounds or school-sponsored events was discussed. The Board indicated that it would consider differentiations of punishments for infractions made by students at various grade levels. However, the current policy has been tested and upheld in Colorado courts, and the Board felt that any changes should be very carefully considered. The Administrative Team will continue to review ways the policy might be improved, allow for bad choices that some students might continue to make, but provide a consequence that is sure, and sends the message that certain misbehaviors will not be tolerated in the schools. The current policy will stay in effect for the coming school year.

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There will not be a school board meeting in July. Normally school board meetings are held the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be Thursday, August 15 at 7 pm at the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson in Monument.

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Letters to Our Community

Letter Guidelines

Our Community News welcomes letters to the editor on topics of general interest. Please include full name, home address, and day and evening phone numbers. A limit of 300 words is recommended. Letters may be edited for length, grammar, and accuracy.

Send your letter to our_community_news@hotmail.com or mail to Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.

Forest Lakes - Commissioners should apologize or resign

Dear County Commissioners,

I do not need tell you how the public feels about your vote in regards to the Forest Lake LLC project. Many have or will voice their opinion in a format they feel comfortable. My hope is now you and others in this community will see and understand the crime you have committed as clearly as I see it. Any public trust you held, will and should diminish as you have so blatantly and egregiously sold it the highest bidder - the money-laden, power hungry usurpers of our community. Those people who have taken it upon themselves to decide the fate of our county by creating whatever scheme will make themselves rich regardless of the impact to the citizens of our great state.

How many constituents did you support in this vote, potentially several hundred as families move into the planned community but one for sure - Steve Shuck! How many constituents did you fail or betray in this vote, hundreds nay I would say hundreds of thousands. Certainly the hundreds of people who live in the Green Mountain Ranch Estates, Pine Hills area and Mount Herman Estates but also the rest the county as you have taken away the LAST bastion of open space along the Front Range in El Paso County.

Time will prove me correct. Unfortunately I will take no solace in this fact. The ambiguity of the plan, the points of contention in this plan, the lack of foresight in this plan will all come back to haunt El Paso County. I have lived in this community for more than twenty years and without a doubt feel it is my home. I have seen developers of all sorts come into our county and in piecemeal fashion divvy up our land to create a reckless, hodge-podge blotch of housing areas with no consideration of a community plan. That is not their fault, as county commissioners you should have taken steps to ensure any and all developments conformed to a central plan, a central plan that should have benefited and enhanced the county. The Board of County Commissioners failed -- pure and simple. You have abandoned your civic duty. You have failed the electorate that supported you and put you up to represent them. You have made us ashamed of ourselves as much as we are appalled by your lack of consideration.

You can argue that you had the best interest of El Paso County in mind, you can defend yourselves that the much needed tax revenue will come from this (eventually), you can hide behind the politics and the notions of representing all of the people but we the citizens of the county know what you have truly done and why you have made the decisions you have made. No amount of smooth talking chicanery will negate the reality of the damage you have reeked upon us. In vain I am sure, I ask for each and every one of you to apologize publicly or resign your position.

Steve Mabon

Commissioners should reconsider Forest Lakes

As a "peon" on the planet earth that believed in legislative process, and my elected officials I am saddened at the course of events in the Forest Lakes issue. It seems to me the County Commissioners are biased only to REVENUE, and not to the desires of the folks that elected them! HELLO! ……You just voted for developers and an OUT OF STATE LAND OWNER and downed the over 400 families that reside in El Paso County and VOTE! You had 100% compliance in petitions on both the Hay Creek and Pine Hills area AGAINST the darn development and voted it in anyways! By my "peon" observation, it does not take much knowledge to see that money talks and neighbors walk! How dare you! What vote from Kansas did you get, and can they vote you back in? Better yet, what monies were you promised? Something smells fishy here!

It was evident before we ever walked into that 10 hour Commissioners Meeting, that all of your minds were made up: all of you! By the way, what kind of one-sided tactics let the developers speak for 5 hours, and rebut for 2 hours, after the opposition, consisting of "peons" that VOTED you in, only had 2 hours at the microphone. Call that justice? Call that representing the people? As your mission statement states: Need I remind you:

Working Together, We Provide Leadership, Resources And Services, To Carry Out The Will of The People of El Paso County.
"Community, Commitment, Collaboration"

I feel sadly violated as a member of the Community, County, and State!

There WAS a COMMUNITY, with COMMITMENT, but the only COLLABORATION was between County Commissioners and the Developer!

How dare my elected officials sit there and judge this to be "OK" in lieu of the voters, they supposedly represent! What an injustice! How can you justify houses 7 feet apart in the midst of 5 acre minimum communities? I suppose tax revenue is all you care about, and that money that will be generated in the future makes it good for the county! I will be lobbying against you for re-election.

Furthermore, it is with great disgust that I ever approach a government entity again. If ever there was a reason to NOT have faith in our governmental system, you have shown me the way.

Again, as a measly "peon" who’s only representatives are MY County Commissioners, and their "worldly ways", which I voted in, I relied on you to make the right decision. Yet, the BoCC seems to rely on their one good eye, because they can’t see out the other, and were totally blind to the PEOPLE, the people! The people were there, and you turned your one good ear the other way, and could not hear out the other!

Deaf too, blind, and inept! Yep, I want to be in government. Maybe there, I can be paid to do a job, I cannot hear or see about, but can sit in a chair all day and call it a day’s work! Be blind, be deaf, call it in best interest for the people, sleep well at night, collect a paycheck and have my insurance compensations…sounds good to me. So much for promises, the people, or the Front Range lifestyle, just pay me. I bet the developers are sending you flowers now, or contributing to your re-election. Smell Good?

Smells fishy to me. What I teach my children is if they have a principle they believe in, to stand up! However, in this case, the people that represent the people, have let us down. Yes, you have let my children down. They know the value of a vote, a voice, and have learned this from watching this scenario unfold. I have voiced, and floundered, and find all five Commissioners to be true only to the all mighty dollar. I have taught my children well, stood up to what I believe in, gone though the process, only to find it so flawed, that I now have to revise that statement. What a joke. My children will learn to stand up against bureaucrats like you who have no respect for the people. They will also learn to take it further than I did, because, they are the generation of the future. I am pleased with what I have taught my children about preservation and homeland. What have you taught yours, and are you proud of it?

I ask you to reread the Planning Commission notes, the BoCC notes, the testimony of the people, and be proud enough to say you made a mistake in this case.

Carla Tandy

Tri-Rec Should Continue

It is my belief that Tri-Rec District needs to continue in order to effect positive change for our community. Yes, it is true that the electorate has turned down bond issues for the large scale projects at the last election. However, by refocusing on smaller projects and working with the individual homeowners associations, towns, and others, many improvements can be done.

Some past small improvements done by volunteer labor and donated materials are the town arch, the sidewalk along 3rd Street, and the Monument skateboard park.

As a result of working with CDOT, CDOT has added to their new Highway 105 bridge over I-25 project, at no cost to the community, a pedrestrian/bike lane from the west side along 105, across the small bridge at Dirty Woman Creek, and up to the new road to the high school at Jackson Creek Parkway

Ongoing projects receiving grant money:

  • New crossing lights on Santa Fe Trail at 2nd and 3rd Street

  • Pedrestrian/Bike Path along Mitchell Avenue from West Oak Ridge to 2nd Street

  • Pedrestrian path along Beacon Lite from Mobile Home park to 105

  • Pedrestrian path along 2nd Street from 105 to Beacon Lite Road

Possible ideas for Tri-Rec focus:

  • 40 to 50 yard connections to Santa Fe Trail at key point to enable residential areas to link with trail, such as John Laing Homes, Santa Fe Trail Homes, etc.

  • Trail along 2nd Street to Monument Lake

  • Trail along Woodmoor Drive from Middle School to Highway 105

  • Trail along Jackson Creek Parkway from 105 to High School

  • Get CDOT to put a bike/pedrestrian path along Baptist Road when CDOT completes that interchange project (being designed this summer)

Tri-Rec can get approximately $50,000 each year from outside the Tri-Lakes area and can use that money to partner with those communities wanting to make incremental improvements, such as parks and trails and open space near where they live. They need your ideas and energy to make such ideas become a reality. Come to their next meeting at 7 pm on July 16th at the Lewis Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson in Monument.

Leon W. Tenney

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High Country Highlights: Perennial Garden Ideas

By Woody Woodworth
High Country Feed & Garden

If trees, shrubs, and vines are the main cast in the garden, then perennials are the scene-stealers. You can achieve months of long lasting color, with ever-changing landscapes that include beautiful cut flowers.

Here are a few suggestions to help stimulate your imagination for planning a perennial garden. When choosing perennials for a flower garden, select varieties with medium to long stems with a succession of bloom times. Foliage is equally important as well as flower shapes to maintain interest. Use our favorite colors and include fragrance, to add your own personal touch. Contour your landscape with small hills and boulders. Curve pathways of mulch and flat stone to achieve a relaxing flow through your garden paradise.

Get a jump-start with some late spring and early summer bloomers that are sure to provide early cut flowers from your garden. Oriental Poppy, Bearded Iris, Foxglove, Lupine and Salvia will all combine well with the branches of late spring flowering shrubs and trees. Plant plenty of these "sure bets" too - Columbine, Siberian Iris, Painted Daisy, Allium and Coral Bells.

You’ll see a dazzling exhibition in mid-summer when garden perennials are at their best. Non-stop blooms, and growth patterns are impressive to say the least. Use Agapanthus, Liatris, Delphinium, Russian Sage and Penstemon to obtain sharpness and contrast. Shasta Daisy, Purple Coneflower, Monarda, Valerian, and Yarrow will soften the bouquet with rounded petals.

In your new garden, remember to add fillers like ornamental grasses and boulders for contrast. Garden fillers take your eye away from seeing only flowers and soften the landscape. Use three of the five-foot "Karl Forester" ornamental grasses in a cluster, then border them in a semi-circle with smaller clumps of "Elija Blue" Fescue. The contrast is amazing when the short, blue clumps send their plume up in mid- summer against the green, bushy taller grass.

Some medium size perennials to be used in clusters are "Brilliant Red" Dianthus, Soapwort, "Goblin" Gaillardia, Gazania, and Spurge. Use them against boulders or small rock walls and ledges. Plant them in groups to achieve the color and effect you want.

Remember to use Sedum in your hot, dry areas. They take a lot of neglect and will reward you with yellow, pink and red flowers. Sedum tolerates poor soil and are perfect for filling in between rock wall areas and along pathways. Acre, Dragon’s Blood, Bronze Carpet and Autumn Joy are a few of the common Sedum. They are available in variegated colors and in short and stubby or fern-like shapes that are as bullet proof as the most common of varieties.

Eventually summer will blend to autumn and the change in the season will bring the fall colors to your garden. Mums, Fall Asters and Autumn Sedum are great for this elevation and will provide a different crop of flowers and color palette.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Its About Colorado

By Judith Pettibone

Books set in a home locale have instant appeal to local residents. If you live in Trenton you probably would love reading Janet Evanovich; and certainly those living in the Four Corners must relish a new Tony Hillerman. It is delightful to recognize landmarks or guess at the less disguised characters. Colorado is an intriguing setting for a number of authors. Writers of contemporary and historical fiction use our home for its compelling landscapes and western flavor. Western historians find no shortage of colorful characters or fascinating events to chronicle. Perhaps one of these titles might find its way on to your "must read" list.

Historical Fiction

Centennial by James Michener

I read Centennial in 1974 when it was first published and thought, ‘what a place!" I reread it when we finally moved to Colorado in 1980 and remember thinking, "Michener was right." In his completely identifiable, epic style, Michener chronicles Colorado from its geological birth (crocodiles in Colorado?), through statehood and into recent times. This would make a terrific gift for someone just moving into our state.

The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas, $12.95

Sandra Dallas, a Denverite, made her biggest literary splash with the well- received The Persian Pickle Club. One of her more recent books, The Diary of Mattie Spenser, takes place on the Colorado frontier. No one is more shocked than Mattie when Luke Spenser, the ‘catch of the town’, asks her to marry him. Her personal diary then chronicles her life in this marriage to ‘a handsome but distant stranger’. The Rocky Mountain News considered the book: "A wonderfully vivid portrait of frontier life … Mattie is a marvelous creation … It’s a story that’s genuinely moving and impossible to put down." Finding love where Mattie least expects it is part of the suspense that makes this an engaging portrayal of hardship, friendship and survival.

Contemporary Fiction

Plainsong by Kent Haruf, $13.00

Set in the sometimes-harsh landscape of eastern Colorado, the warmth of this story of two curmudgeonly bachelor brothers belies its unwelcoming locale. Persuaded by a teacher friend to take in a pregnant high school teen, the brothers and their community are revealed in a poignant and heartwarming tale. Some have said it is a ‘glorious’ book … agreed! We are big fans of Colorado author Kent Haruf.at Covered Treasures, and hope that Plainsong is chosen for the next ‘Colorado Reads’ book. Haruf’s other two books, The Tie That Binds and Where You Once Belonged share the same fictional Colorado locale.

Culinary Mystery Series by Diane Mott Davidson, $6.50

This popular cuisine cum murder mystery series is set in Aspen. Goldy Bear, Aspen’s premier caterer, not only routinely solves baffling crimes but teaches us how to cook as well. Some read her books not for the plot but for the recipes. With definingly culinary titles like Dying for Chocolate, Killer Pancake, and Prime Cut, Mott Davidson, in her eleven book series, has a loyal group of Colorado and national readers. A perfect summer read.

Non-Fiction

A Lady’s Life in the Rockies by Isabella Byrd, $5.95

Daniel Boorstin, the noted historian, wrote the foreword to this compilation of letters from Elizabeth Byrd to her sister in 1873. On her way back to England from the Sandwich Islands, Byrd decided to make a tour of the Rocky Mountains on horseback. Boorstin says, "The trip which took all the courage and stamina of this brave English horsewoman in 1873 has now become a casual summer excursion for American families". See Colorado from Miss Byrd’s unique perspective.

Tomboy Bride by Harriet Fish Backus, $16.95

At 20 years old, Harriet Fish Backus hopped a train in Oakland, California to join her fiancé in Denver and was late for her wedding. So begins this autobiography of a life in the Colorado Mountains. Backus tells tales of mining and of life as an assayer’s wife in the San Juan Mountains, in Telluride, and in Leadville. As the author of the foreword writes, "It tells the much less often told tales of a woman’s life in the mining towns" … of how one feeds a family when all the food is frozen into blocks of ice, or what it is like to step headfirst into an eight foot snowdrift right outside the front door, or how a woman opened a Sunday School despite the snow and isolation. It is her rich details that make Backus’s book such a worthy read.

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All Pikes Peak Reads "To Kill a Mockingbird"

The Pikes Peak Library District is sponsoring the first "All Pikes Peak Reads" beginning this fall, September 9 through October 20. The goal is to engage everyone in El Paso County in the reading and discussion of a single book each year to encourage community dialogue and promote literacy. The 2002 project will feature the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Book discussion groups in various areas throughout Colorado, a mock trial, movie screenings, writing competitions, children’s programs and other events are planned. For more information on how to get involved, call 531-6333, ext.1204, or e-mail: appr@ppld.org.

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The Hayman Wildfire - A Personal Diary

By Bill Chin

Saturday, June 8

A little after 6 pm, I noticed a big, black smoke plume from the area behind my house in Perry Park Ranch. The evening news reported the start of the Hayman fire.

Sunday, June 9

There was abundant heavy smoke throughout Perry Park Ranch. The Douglas County Sheriff issued a yellow alert for standby evacuation.

Monday, June 10

The fire burned 45,000 acres in 24 hours.

Tuesday, June 11

The U.S. Forest Service provided maps of the fire boundaries. The maps usually lagged behind the live fire lines and were slow to reach the press briefings at 7 am, 2 pm, and 8 pm. The newest map was from 10 pm Monday. It shows the fire with two leading edges: One pointing to the north and the other east with Deckers in the middle. The fire was getting more intense and traveling east/northeast

The burn area left by the Schoonover fire near Deckers last month helped slow the advance of the Hayman fire in that area. Still, many homeowners in Jefferson County were on standby to evacuate.

Denver Water started monitoring water quality in the Cheesman reservoir. Ash from the fire could cause taste and odor problems for metro water supplies. Keven Keefe, with the Water Board, said that for now there is not a serious concern. But debris from the fire does pose some long term problems.

"The concern is the same as we had with Buffalo Creek…we get debris flows, sediments, soil movements at the slopes of the reservoir and they end up in one of our four terminal reservoirs downstream, which is Strontia Springs ," said Keefe. "It actually fills up the reservoir thereby shortening the life of the reservoir."

The Teller County Sheriff’s office called for mandatory evacuation of the following areas: Florissant Heights, JDK, Indian Creek, Valley-Hi Mountain Estates, and the Crystal Peak Mountain area - near West Indian Creek Subdivision.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office stopped short of ordering an evacuation but strongly encouraged residents to evacuate from areas between Perry Park on the south and Roxborough Village on the north including Sedalia, Indian Creek Ranch, Oak Valley and surrounding areas.

One concern was that if the fire quickly advances toward a residential area, an emergency evacuation order may not give people enough time to leave in an orderly manner, especially with the inevitable traffic congestion.

Roadblocks have been set up along Highway 105 in and out of Sedalia to help with voluntary evacuations.

Residents were strongly encouraged to pack medications in their original containers, insurance and other important papers, ID, a change of clothing, and any other items they would need if they were evacuated.

It was announced that evacuees will be notified by reverse 911. Local officials warned homeowners that privacy protection features on phones will block reverse 911 emergency notifications. Unless they disable the feature, they will not receive evacuation orders.

The sheriff’s office established checkpoints to discourage non-residents from trying to get into the area. Residents were instructed to make sure they have identification showing their current address with them at all times. If an evacuation is ordered, residents will not be allowed back into the affected areas until it is safe to do so.

Roxborough Elementary was closed Tuesday due to the possible evacuation and fire danger in the area.

Wednesday, June 12

The urgency was slightly downgraded. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tim Moore said that while he is not telling people to leave immediately, he still wants them to have a plan in place and be ready to take off at a moment’s notice.

The fire remained dangerous and unpredictable. Higher humidity and lighter winds overnight Tuesday kept the fire from significantly spreading. Winds out of the north fanned the southern side of the fire Wednesday but spared residents living on the north side. The northeast flank of the fire that had been advancing towards the Sedalia and Roxborough areas of Douglas County barely moved Wednesday. The wind was expected to continue to blow from the northeast Thursday, but those communities remain on alert in case it shifts.

A total of 5,430 people have been evacuated with 925 of those in Douglas County.

Some fire officials said the Hayman fire could grow as big as 130,000 acres before it is contained. That would make it close to 200 square miles almost equaling the area of the City of Denver.

There were 546 personnel assigned to the fire including two Type 1 crews – the federal government’s top firefighters. Another 1,800 from as far away as California and South Dakota were on their way or had already arrived. A tent city was set up at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

The federal government had dispatched 46 teams with 20 firefighters each to Colorado. Since mid-April, the government had dropped on Colorado and elsewhere more fire-retardant chemicals from planes than it used during the entire 2000 fire season,

Joe Allbaugh, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said the federal government is committed to paying 75 percent of the state’s firefighting costs.

The Hayman fire prompted the federal government to close Pike National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management areas in five counties to all recreational activities. Government officials were considering closing more public land throughout the state.

Thursday, June 13

After surveying the fires in Colorado, FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh decided to advance $20 million in federal funds. Normally, the agency would reimburse the state for expenses instead of making an advance.

The Hayman fire was so large; the U.S. Forest Service estimated it could take up to three months to get a fire line built around it. At least 22 structures had been lost. The fire was big enough that it was now being handled by two different command posts – one in the north in Castle Rock and one in the south near Lake George. It was referred to as Hayman North and Hayman South.

Friday, June 14

Afternoon thundershowers helped the growing army of firefighters hold their ground against the fire. Crews continued cutting lines on the north and south sides of the fire. Structure protection was carried out in the North Rainbow Falls subdivision in Douglas County.

The south end of the fire got some drizzle. While the storms only lasted for a few minutes before moving east, more rain was forecast for Saturday. One-third of an inch of rain is the equivalent of 9,000 gallons of water per acre.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office escorted homeowners into any mandatory evacuated area to check on their properties and animals. Once they got in, some residents chose to stay at home and hope for the best. Most citizens picked up belongings and left their homes voluntarily. Residents who came back out of the mandatory evacuated areas were not allowed back in again until the evacuation order was removed.

Firefighters from Idaho, Oregon, California, and North Dakota arrived to help fight the fire. They were camping at the Douglas County Fairgrounds and putting in 10 to 12 hours a day on the line. For some, the workday started as early as 4 am.
Firefighters are required to drink at least one gallon of water per day and eat more than 4,000 calories. First year firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service make around $8.62 an hour. Most of them do this as a summer job.

Saturday, June 15

The Douglas County Sheriff removed all personnel from Perry Park Ranch front entrance at 3 pm.

Sunday, June 16

Families started to return to Perry Park Ranch not realizing they can be evacuated again at any moment.

Monday, June 17

Evacuations ordered around 3:30 pm affect 450 properties or about 1,000 people living along the fire’s edge south of West Creek in Douglas County and north of Woodland Park in Teller County. The town of Woodland Park with 7,500 people was put on standby to evacuate.

The fire was six to seven miles from Woodland Park Monday night and some residents packed up their things and drove away. Traffic on Highway 24 west of Colorado Springs increased through Tuesday as more residents left.

Woodland Park was a key center for helping people who were already evacuated. The Red Cross ran an evacuation center at the Woodland Park High School. Monday’s developments were a big setback for a community that thought the worst was over.

Greg Griswald with the Teller County Sheriff’s Office said the following areas were evacuated; Painted Rocks Road, Quinlan Gulch sub-division, Ridgewood sub-division, Sky High Girls Camp, Hotel Gulch, Long Gulch, Quaker Ridge Camp and residences along Forest Service Road 339.

"The fire has crossed over a line and is compromising a trigger point," said Griswald.

The fire sprinted a quarter mile in four minutes during its run south. It jumped a containment line at the southeastern edge, about 12 miles northwest of Woodland Park. Sheriff’s officials went door-to-door notifying people about the evacuation order.

Flare-ups Monday afternoon: One on the west side of Cheesman reservoir and more smoke on a ridge southeast of Deckers. The plume of smoke along the fire’s southeast flank was visible from the Denver Tech Center and other parts of the south metro area. Weather reports predicted the winds will die down overnight but then pick up again Tuesday, with temperatures in the 90s and low humidity. The winds will be gusty out of the southwest. Heat rising from the fire will also cause swirling winds.

"Tomorrow could be the most challenging day since the beginning of the fire," predicted one U.S. Forest Service officer.

A cold front was expected to drop across northeastern Colorado Wednesday, possibly bringing some rain.

So far, it has cost $11.4 million to fight the Hayman fire. A lot of the cost comes from paying, moving, and feeding firefighters. It’s also expensive to fight the fire from the air. Slurry bombers cost a couple thousand dollars per flight.

The blaze has burned 102,895 acres.

The U.S. Forest Service released the latest boundary map. It showed the newest burn areas in the south, near Lake George and on the eastern side along Highway 67.

Crews have the fire 47 percent contained. Sixty-six structures have burned, including twenty-five homes.

Fourteen aircraft from Lake George (Hayman South) were fighting the fire, and more elite firefighting crews had been ordered to help out. An estimated 2,200 personnel were battling the blaze.

Tuesday, June 18

The Hayman fire grew during a hot, windy, dangerous day. The U.S. Forest Service scaled back its containment estimate from 47 percent to 40 percent.

The dangerous conditions forced more people to evacuate their homes in three counties Tuesday afternoon. Conflicting information on the fire and evacuation status in Douglas and El Paso confused many residents in Monument and the Tri-Lakes area. As early as noon, Perry Park was noted on News 5 in Colorado Springs and News 9 in Denver as being already evacuated when in fact they were on standby to evacuate status.

I went to Palmer Lake to talk with a friend. Nothing seemed wrong until I went over to the cable company office in Monument at 2:30 pm and heard a strange conversation, "…be prepared to have your employees leave early and prepare for evacuation by 8 pm and be out of your homes by midnight." The workers in the cable company office did not know who called and they could not understand why they would have an evacuate notice prior to Perry Park or Palmer Lake. As I stood watching a TV in the cable office, I heard a boy from the neighborhood say that his friend in Red Rocks ranch was evacuating their home because while the TV screen ticker was reading Teller County the name of the Red Rocks subdivision came across the screen. As I walked out of the office, I noticed a red and yellow helicopter hovering over the Tri-Lakes firehouse. It landed about 3 pm as I drove back to the Palmer Lake Fire Department. The firefighters gave concerned citizens a press release from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners. It called for standby evacuation status. The Mayor of Palmer Lake signed an emergency proclamation at 3:30 pm. The fire department personnel were unsure what they were to say to the local citizens. A Palmer Lake resident found the city hall deserted and locked up with no message on the front door.

I drove back to Perry Park and talked with some friends at the front entrance. No Douglas County Sheriff personnel had been stationed there since last Friday afternoon when the standby to evacuate order was cancelled.

The fire crossed a trigger point Tuesday evening forcing evacuations along Rampart Range Road from the Douglas County line south to Eagle Lake. The distance from the fire to Perry Park Ranch was now four to eight miles. This area was on standby to evacuate earlier in the day. El Paso County ordered evacuations after the fire crossed Highway 67 near the Manitou Experimental Forest, in Teller County. Evacuees were sent to the Woodland Park High School.

A few hours later at 9:50 pm, Douglas County officials ordered evacuation of the Perry Park area southwest of Castle Rock. The decision was made after the fire crossed Highway 67 south of Trout Creek. Fire officials expected the fire to advance very rapidly with winds blowing north/northeast. I was with the Larkspur Fire Department and the Perry Park Fire Patrol at 8:30 pm when they decided to call it a night. It was clear the fire was dying down for the night despite fierce smoke plumes at noon that resembled a question mark. I went home only to get a call from the Douglas County Sheriff via Reverse 911 to evacuate by midnight.

Douglas County Sheriff Zotos decided that all areas west of Highway 105, bounded by the current mandatory evacuation area of the Pike National Forest boundary on the west, Tomah Road on the north, and the El Paso County line on the south were to be evacuated. There are about 800 homes with 2,000 residents living in the area. People were given until midnight to evacuate and directed to shelters at the Castle Rock Middle School and the Lewis-Palmer Middle School in Monument.

The subdivision of Perry Park in Douglas County had been on standby evacuation status since Sunday, June 18. At noon Tuesday, a thick, ominous cloud of smoke mushroomed into the sky north of Mt. Herman. But the fire pushed northeast, and remained about six to eleven miles outside of Perry Park. Police said Monday that if it came within five miles of town, an evacuation would be ordered.

But it wasn’t all bad news Tuesday. Despite the move toward Perry Park late in the evening, most of the northern side of the fire did not grow. People living in thirty-two subdivisions on the northwest side were told early in the day that they might have to evacuate, but the call from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office never came.

"We were really keeping our fingers crossed," said Gordon Warren, with the U.S. Forest Service. He said the helicopters were a lifesaver. "We’ve got seven helicopters, they were just in there dropping water. Every time they saw a flare up or a hotspot, they were on it."

I checked with the Castle Rock Middle School Red Cross facility and only six families were there overnight. Over 250 people showed up for the media briefing at 6 pm. There were rumors the Red Cross had shutdown the facility due to lack of public use.

Wednesday, June 19

There was no access to Perry Park Ranch while fire crews continued to build firebreaks in Bear Creek Canyon. Although we were asked to evacuate, an estimated 15 of 560 families were still inside Perry Park Ranch despite the fire danger. It was raining at 9:30 pm when I spoke to the Fire Patrol Supervisor. The Larkspur FD was camped out in the open space area on ready status. The Salvation Army was working with the sheriff to patrol the area for possible petty crime.

In the afternoon, Castle Rock merchants began to offer their services to the fireworkers and firefighters at the Hayman North ICP ( Incident Control Point). Massages, shaves, hair trims, even repairs to volunteer autos or fire trucks were donated. Many unsung heroes were there in the fire camp. It is very encouraging when you see children cheering the vehicles passing the front gate.

I stopped by Lewis-Palmer Middle School and heard there were two to four families using the rescue shelter area. The management of the Red Cross facility had not received recent information so I gave them the press materials I had from the Tuesday media briefing. I suggested to a US Forest Service friend at Castle Rock who to contact in El Paso County. I carried press materials to the 5 pm El Paso County meeting after I stopped at the Perry Park Ranch front gate to deliver the most current press information to the deputy sheriff.

Thursday, June 20

At the 5 pm citizen briefing at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, there was great concern from the citizens of Perry Park Ranch, Woodmoor Mountain, Palmer Lake, and Monument. There was confusion over the conflicting media information from TV, radio stations, and the responses to telephone calls to local fire department personnel.

Friday, June 21

I got a phone call at 7:45 am to attend a media press tour. I went with local and national news reporters of CBS, ABC, Fox, NPR and NBC to view some of the fire areas that were being fought on the North Hayman fire. We dressed as US Forest Service workers with US Forest Service colors of yellow shirts and green pants of Nomex material. We had a demo of how to use a fire tent if we were caught in a sudden fire zone. At 10:45 am, I saw the fire damage first hand at Rainbow Falls and could see how the fire ravaged the countryside around Deckers. The fireworkers and fire rescue teams were on readiness alert at the intersection of Deckers Highway 67.

What a contrast of attitudes. The reporters wanted to be in the thick of the action whereas the Forest Service personnel were more concerned with the safety of the reporters. The main action was watching the helicopters crossing over the mountaintops carrying water buckets to extinguish the spot fires.

We had another media tour in Perry Park Ranch where we watched trees being cut down for the additional firebreaks. Some of the national press reporters left to cover the Arizona fires when the US Forest Service described mop-up conditions on the northern part of the Hayman fire.

Later, I stopped at the cable company office and viewed films taped earlier in the day by the CBS and NBC networks. I attended the 5:30 pm media meeting where the Perry Park and Tri-Lakes evacuation plan was presented. I returned to Castle Rock media center to return the fire outfit at 9 pm.

Saturday, June 22

At 8 am, fire teams started to transfer to the Missionary Ridge fire in Durango and the Arizona fires.

Rain and pea-sized hail resulted when the low-pressure zone encountered the hot fire temperatures.

The media center said they had fire lines connected in four northern areas.

At the Castle Rock and El Paso County public meetings they announced the evacuation would be lifted for Perry Park Ranch, Woodmoor Mountain, and Valley Ranch on Sunday morning.

Sunday, June 23

People lined up as early as 7 am to get back to their homes. The deputies permitted the public to enter after they showed proof of residency. Cooking teams and the Red Cross made plans to relocate to new relief areas in western Colorado and Arizona.

Wednesday, June 26

At 6 am, the Hayman North Center transferred control to Lake George. I drove to Lake George and saw the firefighting helicopters airfield. The southern zone evacuations were lowered from red alert (mandatory evacuation) to yellow alert (voluntary standby). The Red Cross and Salvation Army started to shift to the Arizona fire zone.

Tuesday, July 2

The Hayman fire was fully contained (i.e., completely surrounded by fire lines) at 6 pm, 24 days after it started. Total acreage burned: 137,760. Estimated cost to fight the fire so far: $31.8 million. The fire destroyed 133 homes and 466 sheds, barns, and other outbuildings in four counties. At one point, 2,400 firefighters were involved in battling the blaze. That number was now down to 600 as personnel were shifted to fires in Colorado, Arizona, and elsewhere. 8,000 people had been evacuated. As many as 40,000 more had been told to be ready to evacuate. Six people died as a result of the fire: Five firefighters from Oregon died when their van crashed June 21; a resident died June 10 of asthma and smoke inhalation. In the next few days, once the last of the hot spots has been extinguished, survey of damage and rehabilitation of the burned area will begin.

OCN reporter Bill Chin is in transition from a house in Perry Park Ranch to one in Jackson Creek.

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Gleneagle Garage Sale June 7 and 8

Ralphy and Tyler

By Elizabeth Hacker

Saturday, June 8, the Gleneagle annual garage sale was the place to be. People were busily driving from one garage sale to the next. Neighbors were out walking, riding bikes, and working in their yards. The colorful irises were in full bloom and home improvement projects were plentiful on every street in this attractive subdivision.

First, I must confess I am a garage sale junkie. In addition to the opportunity to chat with neighbors, I enjoy rummaging. However, I never take more than $20 because I tend to be an impulse buyer when it comes to good deals. And Gleneagle was a garage sale junkie’s dream with more than 100 garage sales.

On Pompeii Square, I first stopped at the home of Sue and Ken Webb where they and their children were sitting under an umbrella selling books, baskets, dolls, toys, clothes, various household items and lamps. While I managed to escape without a purchase, I ended up talking to Sue for a few minutes between hurried sales of merchandise and lemonade. The Webb’s have a beautiful home with an outstanding view of the Front Range where the Forest Lakes subdivision would be built. Understandably, Sue expressed concern about losing this view to the high-density housing project. She also is concerned about the increasing traffic on Baptist Road and the possibility of having a Wal-Mart across from King Soopers.

While furniture, rugs, computers, exercise machines, clothes, stuffed animals, toys, framed art, and bikes were quite common, lawn mowers, saddles, camping gear, basketball hoops, kitchen sinks and other items were more limited.

One pair of entrepreneurs, Ralphy and Tyler (about 8 years old) set up a lemonade and bottled water stand across from an auction tent in the neighborhood and what they weren’t drinking themselves, they were selling and bringing in the dollars.

It was a great day to be in Gleneagle. I ended up purchasing a beautiful picnic basket, a set of durable dishes for camping, a tent, a tablecloth, and some funky sunglasses and still had a dollar left for a glass of lemonade and a tip for Ralphy and Tyler.

View pictures of the Gleneagle Garage Sale.

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Tennis Anyone?

By Elizabeth Hacker

This summer, the Palmer Lake Parks and Recreation Department is offering affordable USTA group lessons in their beautiful Glen Park. This is a great opportunity for kids in the Tri-Lakes community to take affordable tennis lessons from knowledgeable instructors and begin a sport they can play for life. As evidence of the success of this program, the first summer session that began June 10 is full. There is still space available in the second session, July 16 – August 9.

The Palmer Lake Tennis Center (PLTC) has a scholarship program for 5% of the allotted class times in Session 2. This program is available for families who may not be able to afford lessons. To apply for a scholarship, parents must demonstrate financial need through a written statement and the child must submit in his/her handwriting a short essay completing the statement "I want to take tennis lessons because…" Simply attach the essay and statement of financial need to a registration form and mail it to PLTC, POB 34, Palmer Lake, CO 80133 or drop it off at the Rock House. The winning entries will be notified.

When I grew up in rural small-town America in the 1950’s, there were few athletic opportunities for girls. Fortunately for me, the recreation department had a summer tennis program and a park with two tennis courts. Today you can still find me on the courts hacking away, albeit at a much slower pace. In my youth, tennis provided me with a focus and something to do with my time. It was reassuring to my parents that my friends and I could most often be found at the park playing tennis.

While today there are many sports opportunities for most kids, tennis still offers a unique opportunity for active kids who may not function well on a team to channel their energy. Tennis is a sport that can be played at many levels and provides exercise that is fun. For a minimal monetary investment that includes a few lessons, a racquet, and some balls, kids may develop an interest in a sport that can endure throughout a lifetime.

For further information call the PLTC at 487-9184 or go to www.palmerlaketennis.com.

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Fire Hazards and Forest Management

By Bill Chin and John Heiser

The Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a Wildfire Mitigation and Recycling Program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department, John Fisher, Director. It is co-sponsored by the Colorado Forestry Association, the Black Forest Fire Department, and the El Paso County Forestry and Noxious Weed Department in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners.

Volunteers man the Black Forest site so residents of El Paso County who want to improve the fire safety of their homes can bring their slash to the recycling site to be ground into mulch. The mulch is available to the public for $3 loading charge per pickup truck or trailer load. Those who load their own mulch are asked to donate a non-perishable food item to the Black Forest Share & Care program. Monetary donations are also appreciated.

This recycling program is in its ninth year. This is the seventh year at the current site on Herring Road south of Shoup [See map]. The program this year will run thru September 15. The site is open Thursday evenings from 6:30 pm to dusk and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 am to 4 pm.

According to site coordinator Ruth Ann Steele, more than 1,000 loads of slash were brought to the site on May 18, the day the site opened this year. As of the end of June, the site had received 8,820 loads compared to 3,865 loads at the same time last year. 1385 loads of mulch have been picked up compared to 700 loads of mulch by the end of June last year.

The second of four monthly presentations at the site by Dave Root was held June 15. At the presentation, Root gave a detailed description of early events in the Hayman forest fire. He also explained how forest fires can be beneficial to the forest’s long-term survival and regeneration and how people can be good forest stewards. Another forester at the presentation, Merrill Kaufmann of the US Forest Service at Ft. Collins, was at the Chessman Reservoir doing forestry research at the time the Hayman fire started. The foresters showed how to make homes defensible from forest fires and handed out four brochures: Living with Fire - A guide for the Home Owner, Home Fire Protection in the Wildland-Urban Interface, Fire Resistant Landscaping, and Landowner Guide to Thinning.

Schedule of presentations at the Black Forest site
All presentations start at 11 am.

  • May 18: Chain Saw Usage and Safety (12 Families attended)

  • June 15: Fire Hazards and Forestry Management, (3 Families attended)

  • July 20: Tree Diseases and Insects (may include Firewise information as well)

  • August 3: Mountain Pine Beetle

[Postscript: Saturday, June 29, four families attended a Firewise presentation in Perry Park similar to the Black Forest presentation June 15. Low attendance at these important presentations is surprising given the recent fires and high fire hazard.]

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For further information on the Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site, contact coordinator Ruth Ann Steele at (719) 495-3107 or the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department at (719) 520-7878 or check the websites www.bfslash.org and www.elpasoco.com/solidwst.

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Old Mining Times

By Bill Chin

On weekdays, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry offers free guided tours at 10 am and 1 pm. On weekends, there are family activities with demonstrations of the various mining equipment. On June 8, they held a Mega Super Saturday to open their "Mother Lode" Summer 2002 season of family fun and activities.

Museum President Linda LeMieux opened the event by having the morning donkey wake up call at 9 am. Following were games for children, demonstrations of steam locomotives, ore crushers, old time photography, panning for gold, and a western skit acted out with a covered wagon by Old West Productions. There were also displays by the Mile High and Pikes Peak chapters of Model A Ford car clubs and by the model railroad G gauge clubs.

The museum is located 1025 East Northgate Road in Gleneagle on the Reynolds Ranch. It can be reached from I-25 Exit 156a.

For a fun and educational time this summer, get more information and the schedule of events by calling 488-0880, visiting www.wmmi.org, or sending e-mail to info@wmmi.org. Special tours can be arranged with the museum.

Some Upcoming Events at the Museum:

Saturday, July 13: Outside Machinery Tour, 10 am.

Feel the rumble of the Osgood Steam Shovel as its three steam engines operate, hear the chugging of a high pressure air locomotive trammer as it rolls down its track, learn how ore was processed in Colorado in the 1890’s and see the tables shake in one of the last operating stamp mills in the United States, the Yellow Jacket II. WMMI brings you all of this and more as we preserve "America’s Living Mining Heritage."

Osgood Steam Shovel, 1927

Sunday, July 21: Burro Birthday Bash, 1-3 pm.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Horseshoes and Burro Bingo are some of the fun games we will be playing to celebrate the birthdays of Polly, Oro, and Nugget. Come for the carrot cake and apple cider and hear our own "alpha burro," Brad Poulson, Public Programs Coordinator, talk about the exciting burro programs of the museum. Gifts for the burros are greatly appreciated. Cash donations will help to buy hay bales, treats, and provide support for the maintenance of the barn.

Saturday, August 10: Walking Tour of the Reynold’s Ranch & Museum Grounds, 1 pm.

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Friends of the Monument Preserve to do trail maintenance

The Friends of the Monument Preserve need your help doing trail maintenance the second Tuesdays in July, August, and September; that is, July 9, August 13, and September 10. Show up at 6 pm at the parking lot at Schilling and Mt. Herman road. For more information, call Tim Watkins, Balanced Rock Bike and Ski, 488-9007.

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Ben Lomond Trails and Open Space Effort - Alive and Well

By Sue Buell

The Friends of Ben Lomond Mountain (FOBL) citizens group is disappointed but remains undaunted by the recent Tri-Rec vote to not use tax monies for purchasing open space and developing trails. FOBL appreciates those who voted in favor and is continuing with fundraising, with the goal of helping the multiple group purchase of Ben Lomond Mountain by raising $300,000.

FOBL had a float in the 4th of July parade and distributed information about the effort and collected donations at Monument Street Fair booth #8.

The closure of National Forest Trails due to drought and fire conditions underscores the importance of creating trails on county property.

See you on the trails!

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For more information, call 481-2474.

Anyone wanting to support this effort to buy 190 acres of natural beauty for use as publicly accessible open space may send donations to FOBL, PO Box 654, Monument, Colorado 80132. Checks should be made out to the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC). In the memo field, indicate that the donation is for the Ben Lomond project.

The Friends of Ben Lomond meets on the fourth Thursday each month at 7 pm, Palmer Lake Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent. The next meeting will be July 25.

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