Home  About  Advertise  Archive  Calendar  Contact  Help  Links  Maps  Subscribe  Topics  Updates
Our Community News - Home Vol. 3 No. 5 - May 3, 2003

 Any word  All words   Help
Category:     Results per page:     Sort by date

Prior Up Next

Contents:

the PDF file. This is a 6.3 Mbyte file and will take about 36 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

Return to the top of the page

Monument concrete batch plant hearing May 12

View photos of the Rockwell Ready-Mix Concrete Plant Site

By Judy Barnes

The Monument Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 166 Second St., to consider the appeal of Kalima M. Masse, president of Rockwell Ready-Mixed Concrete, Inc., regarding the denial of issuance of a business license, by the Monument town clerk, for a concrete batch plant to be located on Washington Street at Highway 105. This is the property the town once bid on, authorized by the previous board, at a federal auction. The town was the winning bidder, but Mayor Betty Konarski and the current board chose not to buy the property, forfeiting $10,000 in earnest money. Masse acquired the land at a subsequent federal auction.

Masse sent a letter dated March 20 to Konarski requesting an appeal of the October 2002 denial. As the basis for her appeal, Masse claimed that the town clerk’s decision was "arbitrary and capricious" and that the clerk "exceeded her jurisdiction and abused her discretion in denying the application" and "failed to make specific findings as to why she denied the application." Masse further claimed that the clerk’s denial of the business license "is a thinly veiled and illegal attempt to rezone the property [704 N. Washington St.] on which we proposed to conduct our business, thereby avoiding a formal process involving notice and opportunity for protest, and denying us due process and equal protection." Additionally, Masse claimed this denied her "the right to use our land in a manner consistent with existing zoning ordinances and the historic use" and "is an attempt to take our property without compensation."

If granted a business license for the concrete batch plant, Rockwell may be able to operate without obtaining traffic and environmental studies and approvals, possibly bypassing existing environmental and traffic issues and the public hearing processes.

Masse previously appeared before the board on April 15, 2002, as the president of GeoTech Corporation. At that meeting, Masse described her corporation’s plan to establish a recycling business on the 5-acre parcel. The first phase of the business would have been to recycle yard waste. She pointed out that local fire departments felt there was a need for such a facility in the area because of the high fire danger. Gary Flanders, also of GeoTech (and currently listed on the business license application for Rockwell), further explained that the proposed recycling facility would recycle tree slash, brush, old roofing, concrete, and asphalt, turning these into products such as mulch and driveway materials. Masse and Flanders then asked the board to consider passing an emergency ordinance to allow their service to begin at once. They claimed that their request was supported by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the fire districts of northern El Paso County. They further asked that their request be put on an agenda very soon. Their request for permission to begin work was denied on the grounds that they had not yet submitted an application, including a plan, to the planning department. GeoTech took no further action on its proposal.

View photos of the Rockwell Ready-Mix Concrete Plant Site

Return to the top of the page

Revised Wal-Mart traffic report submitted, planning commission hearing could come in June

W-M NEWS - At presstime, OCN learned that Wal-Mart is considering increasing the size of the proposed store from 186,245 sq. ft. to 206,000 sq. ft. According to Carl Schueler, assistant director of county planning, if that change is pursued, the site plan and traffic report would have to be revised again and the project would not come before the planning commission until July at the earliest.

By John Heiser

On April 7, Wal-Mart submitted to the El Paso County Department of Transportation a revised traffic impact analysis prepared by CLC Associates in Spokane, Wash. The supercenter is proposed on the 30-acre parcel on the south side of Baptist Road, directly across from King Soopers—just south and west of the Monument town limits.

Submission of the revised report means the project may resume moving through the county process. Depending on the outcome of the county’s review of the analysis and other submissions, a hearing before the El Paso County Planning Commission could come as early as June 17, with a Board of County Commissioners hearing in July.

Last October, the county planning department requested the revised traffic impact analysis to address several significant deficiencies found in the prior study, dated April 2002, submitted with the application. In particular, the April 2002 report

  1. Was based on obsolete traffic counts.

  2. Did not model traffic resulting from completing the connection of Jackson Creek Parkway-Struthers Road south to connect with Northgate Road. That traffic could have a significant impact on the turning movements for access to the store.

  3. Did not model any access to the church and adjoining houses to the east of the project.

The revised report contains a much longer list of road improvements needed prior to opening the store in the event the county and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) do not complete their planned improvements to Baptist Road and the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange. It is very likely the county and CDOT improvements will not be completed until 2008 or beyond. Under these circumstances, the prior report called only for widening Baptist Road, to accommodate two eastbound lanes along the store site’s frontage, and signals at the I-25 southbound ramp/Baptist Road intersection and the intersection of Baptist Road and Leather Chaps. The revised report says:

  1. A traffic signal should be installed (by others) at both I25 ramp intersections.

  2. The southbound off-ramp should be widened to two lanes at Baptist Road.

  3. Lane improvements should be completed at Baptist and Leather Chaps.

  4. Install a traffic signal at Baptist and Jackson Creek to accommodate full build out of the intersection including the fourth leg.

  5. Widen Baptist Road from I25 northbound offramp to Jackson Creek Parkway to accommodate two eastbound through lanes and necessary tapers for proposed lane configuration at Jackson Creek Parkway.

  6. Construct a freeright turning movement for the northbound I25 ramp to Baptist Road.

  7. Widen Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to Leather Chaps to a fivelane cross section; two eastbound through lanes, two westbound through lanes, and a center turn lane. At Jackson Creek, a wider cross section may be required to accommodate the necessary lanes at the intersection.

  8. Construct Jackson Creek Parkway from Baptist Road to Struthers Road.

The source of funds for these improvements is not identified.

Next steps

County agencies and the Town of Monument are reviewing the traffic impact analysis report and other Wal-Mart submissions. According to Carl Schueler, assistant director of the county planning department, the project will not be included in the May 20 planning commission hearing. Planning commission hearings are held on the third and, if needed, fourth Tuesdays of each month, so the project could be heard on June 17 or 24. Once the planning commission renders a recommendation, since there is a rezoning involved, there must be a minimum 30-day notice prior to holding a hearing before the county commissioners. That would mean the county commissioners’ hearing could come in July.

**********

For more information on this project and to provide comments, contact Carl Schueler, Assistant Director, El Paso County Planning Department, 520-6300, CarlSchueler@elpasoco.com. Mail comments and questions to the El Paso County Planning Department, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903-2208.

Additional information is available at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#wal-mart and www.CoalitionTLC.org/wal-mart.htm, or by calling John Heiser at 488-9031.

Return to the top of the page

Fire district merger working group reaches an impasse

View a photo of the JWG meeting April 22

By John Heiser

The fire protection district merger joint working group (JWG) consists of two representatives each from the Tri-Lakes district, the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. The JWG held two meetings in April. Having reached an impasse, no further meetings are currently scheduled.

April 8 meeting

The meeting was attended by Chuck Cornell and Scott Russell, representing the Palmer Lake department; Charlie Pocock and John Hildebrandt, representing the Tri-Lakes district; Bill Lowes and Brian Ritz, representing the Donald Wescott district; and Tom Conroy and Russ Broshous, representing the Woodmoor-Monument district. Conroy presided.

Open meetings

The first item addressed was the protest filed to require that JWG meetings be open to the public, with posting of meeting announcements and preparation of minutes. The JWG has been meeting in private. The JWG’s attorney, Raule Nemer, says there is a good legal basis for meeting in private, but she urged the group to consider the political implications and impact on public acceptance of its recommendations.

With one vote recorded for each department, the group voted 3-1 to hold open meetings. The lone dissenter was Palmer Lake. Russell said Palmer Lake’s position is that holding open meetings would inhibit the debate and that the "sunshine law" open meetings statute does not apply since only two representatives from each department attend the meetings. The sunshine law applies when three or more members of a board attend.

The board unanimously appointed Conroy as the JWG point of contact for dissemination of information.

Merger considerations

Broshous presented a working paper entitled "Merger Considerations," which looks at a possible three-way merger of the Tri-Lakes, Wescott, and Woodmoor-Monument districts. In it, he examined two of the districts’ needs:

  1. The Tri-Lakes district would require the use of volunteers, a property tax rate not to exceed 7 mills, use of the Tri-Lakes ambulance service, and the construction of a station at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105.

  2. The Woodmoor-Monument would require that the board of the merged district be representative of the residents served, that the merged district control its own budget, that the mill levy be equal for all residents and businesses, that the district have permanence (e.g., 20 years), and that there be no degradation of service in the merging districts.

To accommodate those positions, the paper assumed all the existing stations would be retained and the Roller Coaster station would be built. It was further assumed the stations would be staffed 24/7 with a fire crew of three paid staff and one volunteer, the Tri-Lakes ambulances would be assigned to the Tri-Lakes stations and the Donald Wescott station, paid staff would be compensated at Woodmoor-Monument rates and benefits, and volunteer benefits would match the Donald Wescott district.

With those assumptions, Broshous’s calculations concluded that the property tax rate in the merged district would have to rise to 7.5 mills for the first four years, after which it could drop below 7 mills. Also, the financial reserves would dip to 3.8 percent in 2006 before returning to about 16.9 percent.

One of the issues noted in the paper was the current debt each of the districts is carrying. The Tri-Lakes district’s debt was shown as $1.556 million. The Donald Wescott district’s debt was shown as $756,000. The Woodmoor-Monument district’s debt was shown as $272,000. The Tri-Lakes district is planning to assume about $881,200 in additional debt to construct its station 2. Broshous said that if all the debt is transferred to the merged district, the property tax rate would have to go above 7 mills.

Hildebrandt objected to some of the assumptions in the analysis. This brought the discussion back to the issue of whether the Woodmoor-Monument station would be redundant. Hildebrandt said all the areas would still be reachable within five minutes even without the Woodmoor-Monument station. The Woodmoor-Monument representatives pointed to the potential degradation in service to some Woodmoor residents. Conroy said, "I don’t want to go to our constituents and say, ‘You guys are losers for the greater good.’"

Ambulance service was another sore point. Hildebrandt cited the Woodmoor-Monument district’s continued use of American Medical Response ambulances. He said, "The ambulance service is the heart and soul of our paid and volunteer service." He suggested that rather than take the leap of faith required with a merger, the districts enter into intergovernmental agreements (IGA) to share services. Pocock seconded that view, saying, "Let’s do what the ESECG study said and move forward incrementally."

Broshous said the Woodmoor-Monument board does not favor a fire authority.

Russell said, "We all need to think what is in the best interest of the entire community."

On that note, the group agreed to review Broshous’s paper and meet again April 22.

April 22 meeting

The meeting was attended by Susan Miner and Scott Russell, representing the Palmer Lake department; Charlie Pocock and John Hildebrandt, representing the Tri-Lakes district; Bill Lowes and Brian Ritz, representing the Donald Wescott district; and Tom Conroy and Russ Broshous, representing the Woodmoor-Monument district. Conroy presided.

Merger considerations revisited

Hildebrandt objected to the salary expense assumptions in Broshous’s paper, saying it resulted in a cost increase of $250,000 to $500,000. Conroy suggested Hildebrandt and Broshous review the numbers off-line.

Broshous said there are three main issues: The number and configuration of stations, in-house or contract ambulance service, and acceptance of the debt.

Hildebrandt said, "My vote would be to form a fire authority and cooperative agreements. Work from the bottom up and align the departments."

Donald Wescott Chief William Sheldon noted that with a fire authority, "Anyone can walk out the door."

Pocock said, "A fire authority can be viewed as an interim step toward a legal merger." He cited a Fort Collins-area fire authority that encompasses 15 stations and has been operating for 15 years. Pocock said, "The chief thought it was the best of all worlds." Pocock also mentioned a Durango-area fire authority that has been operating for two or three years and was helpful in allocating resources in fighting the Missionary Ridge fire.

Sheldon said it would be good to go and talk with both and report back to the JWG.

Broshous said, "We have been consistently against a fire authority." He cited the lack of permanence and budgetary control.

Russell said, "One hiccup and someone is out the door." Broshous added, "Broomfield came apart."

After a short break to let the representatives confer, Conroy called for a vote on pursuing a fire authority. Lowes said, "Wescott does not object to considering a fire authority." Hildebrandt said, "Tri-Lakes supports working toward commonality and formation of a fire authority." Russell said Palmer Lake is opposed, adding, "It would fall apart." Broshous said, "Woodmoor-Monument is against forming a fire authority but is willing to work with any district that is interested in a merger."

The Tri-Lakes and Wescott representatives said they would work together on possible formation of a fire authority. Ritz said, "We need to do the baby steps with the authority." Conroy asked, "Does the authority give you anything we haven’t had for the last 35 years?" Pocock replied, "Perhaps not in fire response but combined training, fire marshal, development plan review, fire prevention education, etc. A fire authority gives an opportunity to develop as you go and wouldn’t preclude a merger."

Miner asked, "If [Tri-Lakes and Wescott] proceed, then would the JWG meet quarterly for updates or go away?" Hildebrandt replied that it would not be needed since updates would be provided directly to the other boards.

All the representatives agreed to report the situation to their boards.

**********

For more information on the JWG, contact Tom Conroy 884-8900 (work), 488-0529 (home), or thomas.conroy@usa.net.

View a photo of the JWG meeting April 22

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board meetings

By John Heiser

Regular board meeting April 17

Potential merger with other fire districts in the Tri-Lakes area and plans for station 2 were again topics of discussion at the regular meeting of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors April 17. Director and district treasurer John Hildebrandt was absent.

Financial Report

Tri-Lakes district board president Charlie Pocock reported that as of the end of the first quarter, district revenues stood at 30 percent and expenses were at 17 percent of the annual budgeted amounts.

Chief’s Report

Chief Robert Denboske reported that in the first quarter, the district responded to 215 calls. Of those, 87 were handled in March. The 87 consisted of 31 medical, 11 fire, 32 traffic accidents, and 13 public assists. The district transported 32 people to area hospitals.

Denboske said 13 people took the Firefighter II written test and are awaiting the results.

The chief announced that firefighter John Vincent, who was in the audience, returned from overseas military service and is scheduled to be released from active duty in June. The board extended a welcome to Vincent.

Denboske reported that the district will again apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to purchase a large-capacity tanker truck. The district would be required to make a 10 percent matching payment of $17,000.

The chief said an analysis of the district’s responses during the first quarter identified 18 emergency calls where having the planned station 2 would have reduced the response time per call by about seven minutes. Pocock added, "That might be the difference between life and death. If we can save a life with that station, it will be worth it."

Pocock noted that he requested that a fire station site of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet be part of the planning for the Monument Towne Center. The prior proposed station site in Jackson Creek is unusable because it is within the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat.

EMS Report

Ron Thompson, assistant chief and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordinator, reported that the district has applied to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for a grant to purchase four sets of ice and cold-water rescue equipment. The district has also applied for a grant to purchase CPR mannequins so that CPR classes can be offered to the public again.

Thompson announced that the district is compliant with the Health Information Protection Act (HIPA). HIPA mandates privacy of medical patient information. He distributed copies of the privacy practices notice that will be given to all patients. The practices include provisions for patients to view, obtain copies, amend, and receive an accounting of the use and disclosure of their protected health information (PHI). The board approved the set of privacy policies. Thompson said further staff training and some additional policies are needed. The designated privacy officers for the district are Thompson and Paula Robbins, administrative assistant.

Station 2

Pocock reported that the district held two meetings with the neighbors. Two of the neighbors were very vocal in opposing various aspects of the proposal. They also opposed the project at the El Paso County Planning Commission hearing, where the project was narrowly approved by a vote of 5 to 4.

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners will hold a hearing on the project May 22. The district is seeking a subdivision exemption and a waiver of the conditions imposed in October 1982 by the county commissioners that the station not be manned and that water from the adjacent well not be used for domestic purposes.

Loan documents to cover the $860,000 cost are scheduled to be completed April 29. Funding of the loan will be contingent on approval of the project by the county commissioners.

Vice president Oscar Gillespie said the district is looking into the disposition of the existing metal shed.

District merger issues

Pocock reported on the April 8 meeting of the JWG [See article on page 3] and said, "The effort is not going anywhere."

Director Rick Barnes said, "There is a real desire to see this happen from the standpoint of the community. One of the concerns I have is that this has become so political it won’t happen."

Pocock referred to the plan from the study produced in 2002 by the Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group (ESECG). He sadi that as a first step, it calls for establishment of common operational, functional, and administrative practices and procedures. That would be followed by intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) between the departments. The next step would be formation of a fire authority with a separate board to oversee coordination of the activities of the departments. The final step would be a legal merger of the districts. Pocock said other members of the JWG "are trying to bypass the intermediate steps and go to legal merger."

Special board meeting April 24

A special meeting of the board was held April 24. All members were present. Following an executive session, the board unanimously approved the following resolution:

"The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board [of Directors] authorizes and encourages the development of a working relationship with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, possibly leading to a ‘Fire Authority.’ The Board further directs discontinuation of merger discussions with the Town of Palmer Lake and Woodmoor / Monument Fire Protection District until the working relationship with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District is firmly established."

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district firehouse, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting is scheduled for May 15.

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

Return to the top of the page

Wescott district hearing May 15 on proposed inclusions

By John Heiser

The board of directors of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District will hold a public hearing May 15, 7 p.m., at Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Station #3, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. The hearing is to address a resolution for inclusion into the district of approximately 16 square miles bordered on the south by Hodgen Road, on the east by Black Forest Road (Highway 189), on the north by County Line Road (also known as Palmer Divide Road), and on the west by Highway 83.

The developments of Hawk Ridge West; Walden 3, Filing 6, Phases 1 and 2; and Walden 3, Filing 7 are excluded from the resolution. The Tri-Lakes district is already serving them.

The eastern boundary of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District is the western boundary of the area proposed for inclusion.

The approximate center of the western side of the proposed area is the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 105/Walker Road. It is approximately eight minutes (driving time) northeast of the Wescott fire station in Gleneagle and also approximately eight minutes east of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District fire station on Highway 105 near Monument. The planned Tri-Lakes district station 2 at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105 will be within about one-and-a-half minutes from the intersection.

Anyone objecting to the proposed resolution must file their objections in writing.

Subsequent to the hearing, if the Wescott district board confirms the resolution, an election will be held on the inclusion. If approved, the maximum property tax rate imposed will be 7 mills.

A 7-mill property tax rate is expected to yield about $100,000 revenue in 2004, including property tax and specific ownership tax. That amount can be expected to increase in future years.

**********

For further information, contact Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Chief William Sheldon at 488-8680, fax 488-8929, or chiefwfd500@aol.com.

Return to the top of the page

County planning commission recommends approval of TLFPD station 2 and Hay Creek Ranch final plat

By John Heiser

The El Paso County Planning Commission narrowly approved the location for the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Station 2 and unanimously recommended approval of the final plat for Hay Creek Ranch at the April 15 meeting.

TLFPD station 2

The proposed two-story manned fire station has 6,576 square feet total, replacing the existing 1,800 square-foot metal equipment shed on the 0.367-acre site on Roller Coaster Road near Highway 105. A residential program is planned with four single firefighters living at the facility while they complete educational programs.

Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes board, noted that the property has been dedicated for a fire station since 1982. He presented benefits of having a station at that location and the results of meetings with the neighbors, and he described some of the alternatives considered. He said that even if the entire area develops to a density of 2.5 acres per lot, the station could handle it. Pocock estimated the proposed station would handle about 300 calls per year.

Matt Hood, project manager for Barnes Architects, which is designing the project, presented the design and some of the changes made to accommodate objections from the neighbors. Those changes include switching the residential area from the south side to the north side of the structure.

Neighboring property owners David and Alyce McElhoes objected to the project, citing close proximity to their house, and said that other alternatives were not adequately considered and that the architectural style of the structure is inconsistent with the area. David McElhoes described it as "New York City meets Bonanza."

Neighboring property owner Andy Reed said the building is too big for the lot and would be a detriment to the area.

Commissioner Steve Sery noted that there is a working group looking at the potential merger of Tri-Lakes area fire districts. He said, "I would like to hear from the other districts that this location really makes sense."

Pocock replied, "This is the most logical place to put a fire station." Regarding the potential merger, he said, "I don’t expect anything to happen for two or three years."

Ken Rowberg, director of county planning, said the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners would need to approve the subdivision exemption and waive the restrictions placed on the property in 1982. The architectural design would be subjected to an administrative plot plan review.

Commissioner Joe Salute made a motion for approval. Commissioner Robert Roulier seconded it. The motion passed by a vote of 5-4, with commissioners Sery, Mason, Will Brown, and Terry Bernstein voting against. Mason said the issues with the design should have been addressed before the hearing. Sery said, "I am not satisfied that it fits within the overall plan for Tri-Lakes area fire protection."

The request for subdivision exemption was recommended for approval by a vote of 5 to 4.

The approval of location by the planning commission is a final action and not forwarded to the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The recommendation for approval of the subdivision exemption is forwarded to the BOCC for final action.

Hay Creek Ranch final plat

The land is located on Hay Creek Road and connects to the western end of Baptist Road. The steep terrain, with Hay Creek running through the property, complicates development. After failing in May 2002 to get approval for a 15-lot plan, the number of lots in the revised preliminary plan was reduced to 10. The planning commission and the county commissioners approved that plan. The final plat is consistent with the approved preliminary plan.

The 10 lots range in size from 4.1 to 7.6 acres, with an average of 5.02. Included on the lots is 16.7 acres of dedicated open space, 1/2 mile of creek, and 1/3 mile of access road.

Unlike the hearings on the higher-density proposal, no one from the area spoke against the project. Jamie Hull appeared representing the Hull family, who owns the property.

The planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the final plat. The planning commission recommendation will be forwarded to the BOCC for a final decision.

**********

The county planning commission normally holds hearings on the third and, if necessary, the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next hearing will be May 20. The agenda for that hearing will be posted at http://adm.elpasoco.com/planning/Agendas/PC/PC-Agn.asp. The hearings start at 9 a.m. in the 3rd floor hearing room of the county building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs.

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

Return to the top of the page

Baptist Road design open house and BRRTA meeting

View photos of the BRRTA Open House and Board Meeting

By John Heiser

Open house, April 7

On April 7, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held an open house meeting on the preferred design alternative for the Baptist Road corridor from Tari Drive on the east to the railroad tracks west of I-25.

This was the third public meeting on the project. Prior meetings were held March 18, 2002, and October 28, 2002.

Sixty-four people attended the open house. Area residents reviewed the design, asked questions, and made suggestions. Thirty-eight response forms were submitted. Many of the comments were opposed to the proposed Wal-Mart. Several saw no advantages to the plan if it encourages big box development. Others favored the expanded capacity and potential for trail connections.

Many residents expressed concerns about the impact of expanding and regrading the roadway. Ronald Doolittle, a trustee with the Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Road, noted that the plan calls for the roadbed in front of the church to be lowered 10 to 15 feet. He said that would make the current difficult access much worse and would encroach about 50 feet into the driveway and parking area in front of the building.

Kingswood resident Steve Rempelos, whose property fronts on Baptist Road, was concerned the cuts and fills for the expanded right-of-way would take a significant portion of his property.

Loris and Associates, the design consultant on the project, will develop a preliminary design for the Baptist Road corridor based on the results of the open house and comments and approval of the BRRTA board. The preliminary design is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2003.

Since 1987, Baptist Road has been shown as a major east-west arterial on the county’s major transportation corridors plan. At full build-out based on current plans, Baptist Road is projected to carry up to 55,200 vehicle trips per day. The greatest traffic would be seen in the segment from I-25 to Jackson Creek Parkway.

The Baptist Road design project started in October 2001. In 2001 and 2002, the Baptist Road design work cost a total of $112,265. An additional $190,000 is budgeted for 2003, for a total of about $302,000 to complete the process through the preliminary design. Those costs are covered through fees paid by builders at the time building permits are granted.

The cost of preparing final designs and constructing the various improvements is estimated at $9.4 million, not including the upgrade to the Baptist Road interchange. The interchange work is the responsibility of the Colorado Department of Transportation. Funding for that work is not likely until after 2008.

BRRTA board meeting April 11

The regular quarterly BRRTA board meeting was held April 11. The BRRTA board is composed of three county commissioners (Jim Bensberg, Chuck Brown, and Wayne Williams) and two Monument board of trustees representatives (Mayor Betty Konarski and Trustee Byron Glenn). BRRTA president Brown was absent. Glenn presided.

Financial Report

District manager Conner Shepherd, of R.S. Wells, LLC, presented the financial report prepared by accounting firm Clifton Gunderson, parent company to R.S. Wells.

Konarski questioned the accounting expense paid to Gunderson. The annual accounting budget is $3,000, of which $1,771 had been spent by the end of March. She suggested the authority get bids for doing the accounting.

Of the annual budget of $5,000 for legal services, $4,278 had been spent. Shepherd said that was because of inclusion work and the school district conflict.

The fund balance at the end of March stood at $312,219.

County activities

André Brackin, county department of transportation (DOT) engineering design group supervisor, reported that Wal-Mart submitted a revised traffic impact report.

Brackin also said that DOT plans to advertise within a month for proposals to construct a bridge over the drainage way and mouse habitat that bisects Struthers Ranch. At the February 21 BRRTA meeting, County Administrator Terry Harris reported that one of the issues in his ongoing discussions with the Wal-Mart developer and the Struthers Ranch developer is construction of that bridge. The bridge is needed to complete Jackson Creek Parkway-Struthers Road south to connect to Northgate Road. Harris said, "We will put the $1 million into the bridge." Funding for the bridge could be handled through an Additional Funding Request (AFR) appropriation against the drainage fund.

Baptist Road Design Project

Peter Loris, president of Loris and Associates, presented the results of the April 7 open house and gave an update on BRRTA’s Baptist Road design project.

He said, "The number one issue was Wal-Mart." He stressed that the project is not being designed for Wal-Mart but is based on commercial development at that location based on the zoning and planning. Resident Steve Sery observed, "There is a big difference between a Wal-Mart and what it is zoned for."

Other major concerns were local property impacts and congestion.

Loris presented the current preferred alternative lane and grade configuration:

Old Denver Highway to Forest Lakes Entrance (1,325 feet) – Estimated cost $1.5 million

Loris said BRRTA would design this segment. Forest Lakes was assumed to participate in the construction costs. Ron Simpson, manager of the Triview Metropolitan District, added that an underpass in that segment for the Santa Fe Trail would add $500,000 to $700,000 to the cost.

Total Station access to Jackson Creek Parkway (2,775 feet) – Estimated cost per CDOT

Loris said design and construction responsibility for this segment rests with the Colorado Department of Transportation. Resident Chester Hamill said he is concerned that congestion during construction of this segment would lead people to use Gleneagle Drive instead. Glenn responded that the contract would require that the current capacity be maintained during construction. Williams said, "If Struthers Road [Jackson Creek Parkway] is completed south before CDOT gets to their project, a lot of traffic would go down Struthers."

Jackson Creek Parkway to Leather Chaps Drive (2,825 feet) – Estimated cost $2.3 million

Loris said, "This segment is tricky." The design includes two lanes in each direction, with a landscaped median. Problems include the grades and access to the church and houses. The road would be lowered, which would infringe on property lines. Loris said using retaining walls and realigning the road somewhat to the north might lessen some of the impacts. Those issues would be addressed in the preliminary design. Brackin added, "Long-term, those properties will lose access to Baptist Road. We need to come up with a solution." Loris said the current assumption is that BRRTA will design the segment and Wal-Mart would pay for the final design and construction.

Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road

Loris said the responsibility for that segment rests with Wal-Mart. Brackin added, "In recent discussions, the county is requiring Wal-Mart to build the road to their southerly property boundary as part of the development." Simpson noted that CDOT plans to build two lanes of Jackson Creek Parkway south to Struthers Ranch as part of the interchange project.

Leather Chaps intersection (675 feet) – Estimated cost $710,000

Loris said it is assumed that BRRTA would design the intersection, Triview would pay for it, and Wal-Mart or BRRTA would build the improvements. Simpson said, "It is not in any of [Triview’s] budgets to do that." Sery noted that the grades leading up to the intersection would have to be reduced.

Leather Chaps Drive to Tari Drive (5,875 feet) – Estimated cost $4.9 million

Loris said the design is for two lanes in each direction to Gleneagle Drive and then one lane in each direction to Tari Drive. He noted significant drainage and right-of-way issues. He said, "It would be a big taking of adjacent properties." Even so, the grade would not be changed significantly and in spots would greatly exceed county standards.

The total construction cost is estimated at $9.4 million not including the interchange and the construction of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road.

Sery asked, "Is there any value in going ahead with this earlier without the interchange [improvements]? Wouldn’t we just move the bottleneck to a different location?" Shepherd replied, "It is doubtful our funding will be in place prior to 2007." As to the interchange, Williams said, "CDOT doesn’t know when it will be done."

Resident Steve Waldmann asked how the trail connections would be done. Loris replied that they are planning for a soft surface sidewalk on the south side of the road.

Waldmann questioned Loris’s assertion that the overall plan has been "accepted and endorsed by residents." He noted that the no-build option was not offered, and there was no polling of the citizens.

Hamill said, "Everyone I have talked with would rather not have you touch it at all than to have a Wal-Mart. If it is going in to support a Wal-Mart, we don’t want it."

Williams said, "The plan needs to be done whether there is ever a Wal-Mart. We are not adopting who is [shown as] paying for it."

Sery said, "I don’t want a Wal-Mart, but Baptist Road can’t exist as a two-lane road. All that use it in today’s condition agree it is inadequate."

Williams made a motion to accept the Loris report but postpone the decision on going forward with the preliminary design until the July 18 meeting. The motion was unanimously approved. Brackin said, "We need to finalize the scope of work for the next phase. Then a decision can be made whether to retain Loris or go to bid."

Open Records policy

Shepherd distributed copies of a list of categories of documents available. The board adopted a revised resolution prepared by James Hunsaker, from the law firm Grimshaw & Harring, requiring that a requestor "enumerate, as specifically as possible, which records the person would like to review." The resolution also specifies that copies "shall be $1 per page or the actual cost of copies whichever is greater."

**********

The next meeting of the BRRTA board of directors will be Friday, July 18, 1:30 p.m., 3rd floor hearing room at the El Paso County Building, 27 E. Vermijo, in Colorado Springs. Items on the agenda for that meeting include approval to proceed with the preliminary design and the outcome of discussions with the Lewis-Palmer school district regarding the BRRTA fee for Creekside Middle School.

Articles on prior Baptist Road-related meetings are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#baptist. There is also background info at www.elpasoco.com/Transprt/baptist_rd.asp and www.coalitiontlc.org/baptist_road.htm.

To get more information and provide comments on the Baptist Road Improvement Project, contact:

View photos of the BRRTA Open House and Board Meeting

Return to the top of the page

Monument Board of Trustees meetings April 7

By Judy Barnes

Special Meeting: Downtown Development District Concepts

There were two scheduled guests for the special board meeting on April 7. Clay Brown, of the Department of Local Affairs, was invited to help the board explore ways to finance public improvements. Barbara Silverman, who works with the private sector through the Colorado Community Revitalization Association (CCRA), was invited to discuss downtown revitalization.

Trustee Christopher Perry asked Brown for information on how to fund a new town hall. Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg asked which instruments allowed for tax increment financing. Mayor Betty Konarski asked about the potential of developing a larger storm water/sewer district. Brown noted Colorado is fortunate to have many ways of financing public improvements. First, the board members should decide what they want to accomplish, who the participants are, and what the scope of the process is going to be. After the project has been defined, town staff can contact an investment-banking firm that is familiar with these types of issues. Most of these firms offer free consultations. The following are some financing options:

General Improvement District (GID): GIDs can fund their improvements by taxes and are fairly easy to create, because only 30 percent of the property owners need to approve formation of the GID. They can construct, operate, and maintain public improvements, such as a new town hall. Also, all of the property in the district does not have to be contiguous. Konarski asked how a GID is influenced by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and noted that the town is already at the limit of what it can tax. Brown stated that all of these financing options, if they go to election, or if the town can create them by ordinance, are going to have to meet the TABOR test. No election is required if all the property owners in the district sign the petition needed to form the district. Only district residents and property owners can vote on the debt. The bonds are not the municipality’s bonds, so they would not count against the town’s revenue limits. In Colorado, an entity cannot be in debt more than 3 percent of its net worth; with this type of financing, that is not an issue. Also, the district has the ability to condemn property.

Special Improvement District: These districts are based on assessments and require an election to form. The people who are benefiting from those improvements pay for them. This type of district cannot tax. The only bonds that can be issued are assessment bonds, within the debt limit of the municipality. If the municipality can determine that the improvement benefits the entire town, the town can bear some of the cost, and assess the remainder to the properties affected. Triview Metropolitan District is an example of a special district; however, Brown was discussing special districts for financing purposes, not for providing services.

Building Authority: A Building Authority is similar to a Housing Authority, creating a nonprofit corporation to finance improvements on behalf of the municipality. It has a limited application—for instance, a parking structure, with a revenue stream coming in to pay for the asset. Brown discussed the mechanics of a lease purchase and how it might apply to the building of a new town hall.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs): A BID is an assessment district used for financing public improvements in a downtown area. Only commercial property can be included in the district. It does not require an election if more than 51 percent of property owners sign the petition needed for formation. BIDs are not yet in wide use in Colorado.

Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Urban Renewal Authority (URA): A DDA is very similar to a URA. Both are intended to halt or prevent deterioration of property in central business districts. However, a DDA cannot condemn property, and a URA can. A URA has the right to condemn and demolish existing structures, and can sell the property at fair value for development in accordance with its urban renewal plan. DDAs are formed by election; URAs are not. Both DDAs and URAs can use tax increment bonds, which are very complex and require advance planning and public communication. Silverman recommended consulting with other entities that have been successful with tax increment financing for ideas on building relationships with other affected local governments, such as school districts.

Konarski asked if any small communities like Monument use any of these strategies. Silverman noted there are communities that do. DDAs and URAs are flexible and not subject to TABOR.

The town’s current needs are for storm water drainage and a new town hall. The town is constrained by being a statutory town, as opposed to being home rule.

6:30 p.m. Board of Trustees regular meeting

Public Comments

Leroy Schmidt, owner of the McDonald’s in Monument, appeared before the board to comment on the planned closure by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) of the I-25 off-ramp near the truck weigh station. He predicts the financial impact of the closure on local businesses will be severe. He would like the town to adopt a resolution to present to CDOT, requesting they keep the existing exit open. This issue will go on the board’s agenda after the next CDOT meeting.

Continuation of public hearing for Valley Ridge final plat and final PD site plan

Trustees Christopher Perry and George Brown, who live in an adjoining neighborhood and have no pecuniary interest in the outcome of the hearing, stated they could act in an unbiased manner. Konarski noted she had been on the planning commission when this project was first proposed, but felt she, too, could make an unbiased decision.

Steve McFarlane, for applicant McFarlane Development, LLC, requested approval of a Minor Plat and Final PD Site Plan for a total of 32 single-family detached dwellings on a 10-acre site. The original application in 1999 had proposed 41 detached and attached dwelling units.

The board opened the public hearing on this application on March 17, then continued the hearing to April 7 to allow time to gather further information concerning the application.

The board has reviewed the following:

  • Colored rendering showing elevations of two different housing units.

  • Comments received and distributed at the hearing on March 17:

  • Mountain View Electric letters regarding the site plan and plat.

  • Referral comments from Alan W. Omo, Bruce & Debbie Langton, Cindy Ladish, Todd & Allison Heffner, Don Bratsch, Carol Monahan, Alice A. Henshaw, Richard & Carolyn Klatt, George Hammond, Dennis Belay, Kath Cox, and John C. Beatty.

  • Staff memo for the March 17 hearing with all attachments, including 11-by-17 drawings of the final plat, landscaping plan, and final PD site plan.

The trustees and concerned neighbors requested the planning staff obtain additional information related to the application.

  • Building elevations from the applicant. Color copies in the board of trustees packet.

  • Response from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat. (Over the past several years, in similar situations, the board has approved the overall subdivision, but required a plat note restriction on just the affected lots until the required information was obtained from USFWS.)

  • Subsequent to the hearing on March 17, planning staff received several questions about the feasibility of eliminating the drainage pond in the proposed Valley Ridge subdivision, and handling the Valley Ridge storm water runoff with the detention pond on the west side of the Peak View Ridge subdivision (1st Amendment). Investigation of this question by the town’s consulting engineer firm, GMS, Inc., and applicant consulting firm JR Engineering indicated the Peak View Ridge drainage had not been designed to handle this additional drainage, and it would be expensive to make the modifications needed to eliminate the proposed detention pond in Valley Ridge.

  • The decision by the trustees about this application also includes a decision by the board regarding public land dedication: The board’s options are:

  1. Require 10 percent public land dedication (which the applicant has proposed along Dirty Woman Creek (10 percent was the dedication requirement when this application was originally considered).

  2. Require cash in lieu of land (cash equal to the market value of 10 percent of the property).

  3. Count private open space areas within the proposed development against the requirement for public land dedication.

Discussion ensued about drainage, and the difference between detention and retention ponds. Detention ponds hold back the water and release it at a slow rate. They do not retain the water. Konarski stated the land issue should be handled separately from this project’s approval process, and the state’s interest in mouse mitigation trades should be handled separately.

Tom McClarnan, of GMS, Inc. elaborated on the drainage criteria. The developed piece of ground cannot impose a burden on already developed property. He discussed the technicalities of sizes of pipes and ponds.

Town Planner Mike Davenport reported that after recalculating the mouse habitat line on his own, he noted that there are actually two lines due to the use of old drawings and a 15-foot distortion factored in because of copy machine distortion. He advised that a surveyor deal with this issue. A survey would determine how many lots would be affected, from radius and parallel line points of view.

Angie Bratsch and Robert Burgess commented on the drainage problem and the retention pond. Burgess noted that nothing had been done to address the spacing between buildings. Regarding drainage, he noted that water would still go into the storm sewer, which everyone agrees is incapable of handling that amount of water. He further discussed children’s safety and possible devaluation and damage to neighboring property. He was concerned that the mouse line might result in empty lots with no homes, full of weeds. He urged the town to wait to approve the entire project until an alternative plan for mouse lots is in place.

Arrin Seal, of JR Engineering, addressed the drainage issues again. The detention pond is designed with a water quality feature. This feature would hold the water a little longer so dirt could settle, and the water released would then be cleaner. In a little less than two days, the water should be gone. Overflow would only be in a 100-year storm event; the pond was designed for the 100-year event. A grate would keep children out of the detention pond’s drain. The homeowner’s association would be in charge of keeping the grate free of debris.

Lisa Hickey, attorney for McFarlane, noted that the board needs to consider that this project fits into the town’s master plan. She further noted her client has made extensive changes to the plan to meet the desires of neighbors. Trustee Brown asked McFarlane about the mouse habitat. He noted that the mouse issue resulted in John Laing homes losing money and therefore selling off the rest of the land because of the loss of the mouse lots. McFarlane was comfortable with the JR Engineering survey (following Fish and Wildlife guidelines).

Glenn made a motion for approval with conditions: that dependent on the mouse habitat line, the potentially affected lots be held up for any type of building permits until this issue is resolved, and that should overlot grading begin, and they grade on lots that are later determined to be mouse lots, that the developer reseed those lots, and also to include existing staff recommendations. Town Attorney Gary Shupp suggested that instead of restricting building permits, restrict the sale of those lots, because the lots shouldn’t be sold in the first place if in fact they are not going to be built upon. Glenn and Orten accepted Shupp’s amendment, saying the lots can’t be sold. Davenport noted the specific lots, and not the entire subdivision, should be identified in the amendment. He felt it would help to clarify the area of concern. He further suggested the applicant prepare an exhibit that goes parallel rather than using the arc, and that the area of concern is what the difference is between the arc drawing and the parallel drawing. He felt this would be a good way to identify the lots in question until a definitive answer is received from USFWS. The motion passed 5 to 1 by roll call vote, with Perry dissenting.

Downtown development regulations

The board previously discussed certain town zoning and subdivision regulations that limit potential development in the downtown area, specifically parking and water supply regulations. Recently the planning department received several inquiries about potential businesses or development in and around the historic downtown area. The planning department is requesting policy direction regarding several matters.

  1. Parking: Last year the board determined the previously adopted requirement for paved parking was not retroactive. The planning department recently received the following question: Would a change of use in an existing older structure in the downtown area (the B zone district) require the existing unpaved parking area to be paved? Davenport’s interpretation is "no," unless the change in use required an expansion of the parking area. The board of trustees agrees. Konarski noted the board’s goal was to encourage more business development downtown.

  2. Water Supply: Much of the downtown area was developed before the town adopted standards or regulations regarding water supply. Current water standards require a larger parcel of land than what is the typical lot size in the downtown area. For example, there are lots in the downtown area that are 8,000 square feet or less. Under current regulations, often a lot twice that size would be needed for a single family dwelling. This could limit downtown development in several ways.

(a) A restaurant, which is a desirable use in the downtown area, often has a high water usage; under current regulations, it might require a larger lot than the typical lot size downtown.

(b) In other communities, allowing residences to locate above businesses has been encouraged as a way of aiding downtown. However, the combined first-floor business and second-floor residential space may exceed the available water underground. Does the board want to consider a change in the water supply standard, as it is applied to the downtown area?

The water availability regulations have impacted development opportunities downtown. Usually renters, not owners, live above shops. The future water supply is a significant issue. Davenport wants to know the views of the board because there is a conflict between the existing policies. The staff has been taking the more conservative approach, based on the water regulations. Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall said easing the restrictions currently in place in the downtown area would dramatically change the allocation. He said the town is allocating water that’s disproportionate to what they’ve allowed for other pieces of property. If more water is allowed in one place, less will be allowed somewhere else. Another undeveloped property somewhere else in town will be affected, for example.

Bob Krassa, the town’s water attorney, said this is really a question for a water engineer. He noted that it might be helpful to distinguish between high-consumptive use components and low-consumptive use components. Consumptive use is the difference between water that’s pumped out of the ground or from a creek and what’s put back in. Homes and restaurants have a small consumptive-use factor (5 or 10 percent). In contrast, outdoors uses, such as lawn irrigation and car washes, are highly consumptive. Most of the water that is applied to a lawn never makes it back to the stream system. The water demands could be reanalyzed based on revising how those two uses are looked at. He recommends having different standards for the downtown area, so there’s no real net loss to the total picture. Davenport mentioned putting better xeriscape regulations in place as part of the landscape regulations. The consumptive-use grid needs to be examined and reworked so there is no actual net loss.

Contract with salary survey consultant

There is $40,000 in the FY2003 budget for a salary survey and possible salary adjustments deriving from the survey. Of the $40,000, there is $28,000 in the General Fund, and $12,000 in the Water Fund. The director staff (excluding Davenport, by his choice) and the town manager sent out 14 Request for Proposals to in-state firms that do this kind of work, according to the Colorado Municipal League. The town received 10 responses and interviewed six of those firms. After extensive discussion and checking of references, the selection committee is recommending the town hire Jaramillo & Associates, for a fee of $8,500. A motion to accept the proposal, not to exceed $8,500, passed unanimously.

Invoice from El Paso County Health Department for West Nile Virus enforcement

On March 14, Orten and Wall attended a meeting hosted by the El Paso County Health Department regarding measures to fight West Nile Virus. The county sent the town an invoice of $3,528.90 and the support documentation arising from that meeting. Wall indicated the public works department can handle the commitment of eight hours a week of staff time during the 19-week mosquito season.

The town manager suggested the following options:

  1. Not pay

  2. Pay the invoice and request financial support from Triview Metropolitan District.

  3. Pay the invoice and request 60 percent ($2,117.34) reimbursement from Triview Metropolitan District, since their landmass is 60 percent of the town.

  4. Pay 40 percent of the invoice ($1,411.56 and send a copy of the invoice to Triview Metropolitan District with a request that they pay the 60 percent balance. Mosquito control is the responsibility of Triview in their district and is the responsibility of the town in the balance of the town limits.

Orten recommended the town pay the entire invoice to avoid any future problems. He made a motion, seconded by Trustee Glenda Smith, to pay the invoice in full. Orten noted the town should open a conversation with Triview to see if they are willing to discuss paying a portion of the cost. He volunteered to talk with Triview manager Ron Simpson about this and will bring a report back to the next meeting.

Disbursements over $5,000

GMS, Inc.(various invoices) $11,825.05

The motion to pay the invoices passed unanimously.

Struthers Ranch: Referral from El Paso County

The El Paso County Planning Department sent the town a copy of the Struthers Ranch application and requested comments. The application for this development was before the board of trustees on September 16, 2002. This revised application decreases the number of lots from 188 to 180, and increases open space and habitat preservation from 42.8 to 44 acres. It also added a buffer strip along Chaparral Hills Subdivision. Planning staff recommended approval. The motion to approve passed unanimously.

Spencer Realty setback variances – Referral from El Paso County

The El Paso County Planning Department sent the town a copy of the Spencer Real Estate setback variances application and requested comments back as soon as possible. Planning staff recommended denial.

This application for office/warehouse development was before the board of trustees on January 21. This referral is to consider recommendations about the request for setback variance only. The applicant is requesting setback variances for the retaining wall only. All buildings are within the county-required building setbacks. The building site has an elevation change of 50 vertical feet from the east property line down to Beacon Lite Road on the west. The applicant has stepped the buildings 4 feet in elevation (east to west) in order to absorb some of the elevation change and stay within the building codes. The planning staff did not recommend approval, based on the fact that the steepness of the property is not exceptional or peculiar to this property; other properties in the area also have steep terrain. Additionally, the extensive grading proposed in this site and removal of existing trees is contrary to the goal of the Tri-Lakes plan to maintain an attractive visual corridor along I-25. A motion to support staff’s recommendation to not support the application passed unanimously.

Concrete batch plant hearing scheduled

Kalima Masse of Rockwell Ready-Mixed Concrete is appealing the decision of the town clerk to deny a business license for a concrete batch plant in October 2002. Shupp recommended the board of trustees allow the appeal for a due process situation. The board scheduled the administrative hearing for a special meeting on Monday, May 12, at 6:30 p.m.

Town Manager’s report

Sonnenburg reported on the following items:

  1. The Town received the Tree City USA designation for FY2002.

  2. The sandblasting of the worn red curbs in West Oak Ridge has been completed.

  3. The candidates for staff civil engineer have been selected for interviews during the next two weeks.

  4. The Mitchell Avenue bike lanes and Santa Fe Trails pedestrian crossings projects have been advertised for bidding, with an opening date of April 25. The bids will likely be presented to the board of trustees at its May 5 meeting.

  5. The El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department has made arrangements with Lewis-Palmer School District 38 to hold a household hazardous waste collection day in the north parking lot of the school administration building on Saturday, May 31. The town’s Police and Public Works Departments will be providing assistance. A flier will be included in the town’s May newsletter.

At 8 p.m. the board went into executive session to receive legal advice concerning the Second Street right-of-way acquisition eminent domain case and to conduct the annual review for Sonnenburg.

The executive session adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Monument considers water fund revenue for new town hall

By Judy Barnes

April 21: Mayor Betty Konarski explained that the Monument Board of Trustees is exploring relocation of the town hall and ways to finance a new town hall complex. Town Planner Mike Davenport estimates that a new town complex would cost $2.5 million. During the public comments, citizens who had been watching the town budget over the years expressed doubts about the need for a new town hall complex and voiced concerns about using voter-approved sales tax money earmarked for future, long-range water infrastructure needs to finance a new town hall.

John Self, from the public finance department of Wells Fargo Bank, spoke about how to use the town’s existing cash flow. One percent of Monument’s sales tax is currently earmarked for water system improvements. Self suggested the town could use that money to finance a new town hall. He provided the trustees with two sample election questions for voters. One, a Certificate of Participation (COP)–like the type used by the county commissioners to finance the El Paso County jail project–would be an amendment, asking permission to use 1½ percent of the existing sales tax for a new town hall. A second election question, for sales tax revenue bonds, would increase the town’s debt to finance a new town hall. Self noted that entering into debt can be a problem with voters. He described the COP as "a glorified lease purchase" and noted it would cost $40,000 to $50,000 more because of the need for title insurance. Investors consider a COP riskier, requiring higher insurance as compensation. Self also noted that between now and November, interest rates could rise. In that case, the rate could be higher for a COP.

In reply to a question by Trustee George Brown, Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg explained that the ballot question would have to ask for 0.38 percent of a penny to make about $185,000 a year available from the water fund for the new town hall. Self suggested allocating $215,000 to cover the possibility of a drop in sales tax revenues.

Konarski concluded by noting there were two issues to consider: Is there public support for a new town facility? And if so, how should it be financed? She then solicited public comments.

Former Monument Mayor Leon Tenney noted that the Public Works facility is too small and shouldn’t be located in a residential neighborhood, as it is now. He added that the police station is also inadequate. He thought the current town hall structure would be adequate in size for the existing staff if the public works and police departments relocated. He suggested a joint state trooper/town police facility in the current Park & Ride on Highway 105. Tenney proposed offering the public three possible sites for a new town hall, if it had to be relocated. He suggested a site west of I-25, a site east of I-25 along Jackson Creek Parkway, and expansion of the existing site.

John Dominowski, who owns commercial property in downtown Monument, commented that he would like to see the plan for the new town complex before he sees the ballot issue. He also expressed concern about historic downtown Monument not being the town center. Dominowski thought there should be a study as to location and real costs. He added that the concepts the board was discussing were based on a good economy and asked about the risks of going into debt at this time. He noted that Monument is in a growth corridor and may fare better than the rest of the state. He favored setting funds aside now and allocating funds through a vote, so they’re earmarked for a new town facility. He questioned the wisdom of taking money away from the water fund during a time of severe drought.

Tim Schutz agreed there is a need for improvements to the town facilities. He expressed concern about the impact on the current water funds. At the beginning of the 2003 budget year, there was about $2.4 million in the water fund; however, it is being drawn down by capital projects to $400,000 by the end of this year. He urged the trustees to examine the projects they were contemplating financing from the water fund. Also, he thought it was important to go to the voters with the question and not use the COP method, which could alienate voters.

Trustee Brown said he did not favor using revenue from the water fund. He thought the police station should be a priority and liked Tenney’s idea of working with the state troopers to share a facility. He was opposed to putting this issue on the ballot. He also stated that he favored expanding the current town hall, possibly adding a second story.

Financial report for March

Trustee Byron Glenn asked for an update on Triview Metropolitan District’s outstanding balance of $100,000 for Jackson Creek Parkway. He also noted there was the potential settlement issue with Sally Beck (for the Second Street right-of-way acquisition) that could have an impact on the budget. Town Treasurer Judy Skrzypek explained that the Triview item will appear as a balance outstanding in 2002 and a payment in 2003.

Skrzypek also reviewed the sales tax revenue projections for the first quarter of 2003. She projected $344,986 through March 31. The actual 2002 revenues for the same three months were $365,341. Skrzypek explained that the 2002 sales tax collected was higher due to retroactive adjustments from years prior to 2002 that were added to the actual 2002 revenues.

Disbursements over $5,000

  1. GMS, Inc $39,777.25 (Various invoices)

  2. Triview Metropolitan District $12,929.91 (Various invoices)

A motion to pay the invoices passed unanimously.

Salary adjustment for town manager

A motion to increase the town manager’s salary by 2.5 percent passed unanimously.

Committee/staff reports

Trustee Frank Orten reported on his discussion with Ron Simpson, Director of Triview Metropolitan District, about West Nile Virus abatement. Triview has its own program in place to treat stagnant water with larvicide. Orten wasn’t comfortable asking Triview to reimburse the town for some of the costs already paid by the town to El Paso County. He suggested the town absorb the costs and not involve Triview. Trustee Christopher Perry wanted to be sure the town doesn’t "double-treat" the Triview area (Jackson Creek). If Triview is taking care of half the town and Monument is treating its half (outside of Jackson Creek), then the county should not charge Monument for treating 100 percent of the town. The cost is based on population and square mileage. Orten agreed to check with the county to make sure Monument is not being overcharged.

Town manager’s report

Sonnenburg reported that he would be meeting the following week to start the paperwork with the Colorado Department of Transportation for a traffic light in front of Safeway. Interviews with staff engineer candidates are in progress. The salary survey consultant has begun his work. Sonnenburg also noted there are vacancies on the Planning Commission, Public Works Committee, and Police Advisory Committee. The town is advertising in the Tribune, and there will be an article in the May issue of the town newsletter.

At the next meeting, the board will discuss lodging taxes and will continue the discussion about a new town hall. The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Triview metro board considers rate and tap fee increases

View a photo of the meeting

By John Heiser

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting April 23. Bondholder Tom Phelan and several district residents were in attendance. Proposed changes to tap fees and water and sewer rates were discussed, with a decision postponed to the June 22 meeting.

Jackson Creek Parkway

Rick Blevins, of Jackson Creek Vision Development, reported that CLC Associates’ preliminary design for Jackson Creek Parkway is completed and will be reviewed by the district’s engineering consultants Nolte and Associates. Last month, the Triview board approved a $9,500 payment to CLC for preparing the design, which is needed as part of the Monument Towne Center proposal. Blevins said bids would be solicited next month to prepare the final construction design.

Funding for the road project is being sought from the Colorado Department of Transportation and additional potential purchasers of Triview bonds. Blevins said Tim and Tom Phelan’s Centre Development of Colorado Springs would purchase additional Triview bonds to cover any shortfall.

Prior Jackson Creek Parkway studies have estimated the cost to build a four-lane divided road from Baptist Road to Higby Road at about $5 million. The current plan is expected to cost somewhat less than that since only two lanes would be built from the northern edge of the Monument Towne Center project to Higby Road.

District engineer’s report

District engineer Chuck Ritter of Nolte and Associates reported the district received tentative approval from Union Pacific railroad for the realignment of the crossing to access the wastewater treatment plant.

Ritter said it is expected to take about six months to complete planning for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. The jointly owned plant serves the Triview district, the Donala Water and Sanitation District, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District; it is reportedly approaching 90 percent of capacity.

The board approved cleaning of the drinking water storage tank for $2,850. The cleaning is done while the system is in operation.

Wal-Mart status

Ron Simpson, manager of the district, reported that there was a meeting two weeks earlier with Wal-Mart representatives. So far, there has not been any response to Triview’s recommendations. (For more on the Wal-Mart project, see the article on page 2.)

Landscaping

Simpson said Triview’s application for a Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCO) grant was not approved. The district applied for lottery funds to improve the Heights Trail and trickle channel landscaping. He added that in August, the Town of Monument is planning to submit an application for park-related funding; he said he would look into Triview’s possible participation in that application.

The board unanimously approved Simpson’s recommendation to accept a landscaping proposal from Timberline and allocate up to $65,800 from district reserves to cover landscaping along Leather Chaps. The approved Timberline proposal includes erosion control, fencing, irrigation, and replacement of dead trees. Blevins reported that Classic Homes and two other Homestead area builders have agreed to contribute $5,000 each toward the cost. He said he is continuing to solicit builder participation and added that the contributions will reimburse the reserve fund.

Mouse habitat

Simpson reported that the district is waiting for approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the habitat conservation plan submitted for the Monument Creek interceptor. The interceptor is a planned 5,000-foot sewer line to serve proposed commercial and industrial properties west of I-25. He said there has not yet been a response regarding the proposed exchange needed for Jackson Creek filing 5 of two habitat parcels.

Jackson Creek filing 5

Simpson said draft agreements between the district and the Jackson Creek filing 5 developer, Miles Grant, are being reviewed. They include a subdivision improvement agreement and documents covering the proposed public facilities authority. Simpson said the developer wants to start grading. Blevins added that until the agreements are approved, the district would not be in a position to inspect any infrastructure installed by the developer. Simpson noted that the district has not yet reviewed the plans for the commercial and townhouse portions of the project, which is proposed for north and east of King Soopers.

Palmer Divide Water Group

Simpson asked, "How do we want to work with the Palmer Divide Water Group?" The Palmer Divide group has six entities participating: Donala, Monument, Palmer Lake, Triview, Woodmoor, and a Douglas County district. The goal of the group is to study joint water projects. Simpson said last month’s payment of $1,700 covers the district’s current commitment.

Peter Susemihl, attorney for the Triview district, said, "The big issue is the well field in Douglas County. Do you spend dollars on that knowing that long-term it is not the solution, or do you pursue surface diversion you won’t need for 30 years?"

Phelan asked about obtaining water from Greenland Ranch just north of the El Paso county line. Susemihl replied, "It is reserved by the owners. We would have to negotiate with the present owners."

Simpson also questioned the need to pursue a satellite well field, saying that another 10 to 12 wells could be drilled within the district. Blevins added, "You have to get [the water] here," referring to the pipes and pumps needed to bring the water from the proposed well fields to the district.

Simpson said, "It is just a matter of time until [water] is an issue–10, 15, 20 years. Everyone is groping for solutions." In the meantime, he said the Donala, Forest Lakes, Monument, and Woodmoor districts are working on establishing interconnections for use in emergencies.

In response to a question from Monument trustee Byron Glenn about the condition of the aquifers, Simpson said, "The current problem is providing storage capacity for peak demand caused by irrigation. So far, there is no supply issue." He later cautioned, "There is a lack of consensus. No one really knows. There is expert testimony on both sides of the issue." He noted that Colorado Springs is considering drilling 49 wells and pumping 10 million gallons per day.

Glenn said, "Our board would like to see drought restrictions imposed [by the district]." Simpson replied, "We haven’t made a decision on that."

Water and wastewater rates and fees

Richard Giardina and Kevin Burnett of Rick Giardina and Associates, presented the preliminary results of the utility rate study they have been doing for the district. Giardina, who has been doing utility rate analysis for 24 years, said the rate structure could be refined now that the district has several years of usage and cost data. Giardina emphasized that the rate structure must be supported by the cost of providing service. The rates must be set so the district meets it debt service and cash reserve requirements. He said many districts set rates to allow a 25 percent surplus in covering the debt service; however, the Triview study was done with no surplus. He added that the study encompassed repayment of existing and proposed new debt. The working capital reserve was set at 17 percent of the annual budget, about 60 days of reserve. Industry norms are 45 to 90 days.

Giardina recommended residential water tap fees paid by developers be raised from the present $4,450 to $7,365, a 66 percent increase. He said that because of the district’s agreements with the bondholder, the residential wastewater tap fee must be kept at $4,100. Giardina recommended the tap fee for the reuse water system, which currently has no users, be raised from $1,000 to $2,458. The tap fee for commercial, office, and industrial (COI) users would be calculated as a multiple of the residential rate based on the size of the tap. Giardina noted that the proposed tap fees fall between the higher fees in Woodmoor and the lower fees in the Donala district.

In order to make the water, wastewater, and water reclamation systems self-sufficient, Giardina said that the revenue collected from the water system would have to increase 9 percent for 2003 and then remain at that level. The revenue generated by the wastewater system would have to increase 25 percent in 2003 and then 7 percent additional each year from 2004 through 2008. The revenue from the reclamation system would have to increase 151 percent in 2003, 10 percent in 2004, and then remain at that level.

The current monthly water rate structure has a $20 minimum charge that includes 6,000 gallons. From 6,001 through 30,000 gallons per month, the additional cost is $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. Above 30,000 gallons per month, the additional cost is $3.50 per 1,000 gallons. He called this "an inverted block structure." He said that compared to a fixed charge plus a rate that applies to the first gallon used, the present structure is not very conservation-oriented. He said, "There is not much price incentive for anyone to conserve."

Giardina outlined two options to achieve the water revenue targets:

  1. An across-the-board 9 percent increase.

  2. A conservation-oriented inverted block structure for residential users and a uniform rate of $2.30 per 1,000 gallons for COI. The residential users would pay a fixed charge of $6.25 per month and then a rate of $2.00 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons per month. The rate would rise to $2.80 per 1,000 gallons between 6,000 to 20,000 gallons and to $3.64 per 1,000 gallons for all usage above 20,000 gallons per month.

He said that while an inverted block structure is effective for promoting residential conservation, for COI it is less effective than education and water audits since utility bills represent a small part of overall operating costs. Giardina suggested that a refinement would be to charge COI $2.80 per 1,000 gallons for irrigation, to match the typical summertime residential rate. COI irrigation is metered separately.

Fifty-two percent of the current residential bills show usage of less than 6,000 gallons per month. They would be charged the lowest rate. Thirty percent of the bills show usage between 6,000 and 20,000 gallons, and 18 percent show usage over 20,000 gallons per month. During 2002, the 600 residential accounts used 82.3 percent of the total water consumed. The 20 COI accounts used 17.71 percent.

Compared to option 1, Giardina said option 2 would mean 76 percent of residential bills would be lower, while 24 percent would be higher. Applying the same comparison to COI, 92 percent of the bills would be lower, while 8 percent would increase. The top seven water consumers are all COI. Their bills would decrease by 39 percent to 49 percent. The heaviest users would see the greatest percentage decrease.

Simpson said, "King Soopers does a lot of wash down of floors in the meat department and deli. It is unbelievable how much water they go through. Their usage is really high."

Triview resident Sonja Beaudoin expressed concern about the potential perception that the district would be lowering the rates for the proposed big box stores and shifting the burden to the residential users. Giardina said that (under option 2) the COI at $2.30 per 1,000 gallons would still be paying more than most residential users, who would be paying $2.00 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons.

While the residential water users would bear a larger share of the cost of the water system, with wastewater, the situation is reversed. Currently, residential customers pay a flat wastewater charge of $22.50 per month. COI pays a charge of $10 plus a volume charge of $1.25 per 1,000 gallons of water used. Since wastewater is not metered, for residences it is estimated using average water consumption from November to February when irrigation is not a factor. It is assumed residential irrigation water does not end up in the wastewater treatment system. Since COI irrigation water is separately metered, it is excluded from the wastewater charges.

Giardina outlined two options to achieve the wastewater revenue targets:

  1. An across-the-board 25 percent increase.

  2. A fixed charge of $9 per month per residential tap equivalent and then a volume charge of $1.77 per 1,000 gallons of water used.

Compared to option 1, Giardina said option 2 would mean 97 percent of residential bills would be lower, while 3 percent would be higher. Applying the same comparison to COI, 100 percent of the bills would increase. The increase would be between 14 percent and 20 percent.

The options for reuse water charges were:

  1. An across-the-board 9 percent increase.

  2. A fixed charge of $6.25 per residential tap equivalent plus a rate that is 90 percent of the lowest water rate.

The board postponed a decision on the proposed changes to the fees and charges. Simpson was asked to prepare recommendations and associated resolutions and ordinances for consideration at the May 28 board meeting.

Mosquito control

Simpson reported that the district is spending $2,000 per month on mosquito control. Altosid briquettes are used to treat standing water. He said the county health department has requested funds from the district to help with the $70,000 countywide mosquito control program. Glenn added that the town board is researching the basis for the assessments. It was suggested that the town and the district share in the costs assessed to the area.

Debt level

The district’s current debt level is $23 million, including developer loans. Much of the debt is "limited tax liability" bonds with no required payment schedule. Currently, annual payments are less than the debt service, so the total debt is increasing each year. The $23 million does not include the proposed indebtedness to build Jackson Creek Parkway. Bondholder Phelan said, "We are more than interested in getting this paid off."

Blevins added, "The original service plan authorized the district to issue $55 million." He added that the debt is outside the constraints of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).

**********

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 p.m., at the district offices, 174 N. Washington St. The next meeting will be May 28.

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

View a photo of the meeting

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake town council April workshop and meeting

By Judy Barnes

New business licenses

Gamer’s Haven: Brian Jennison, Tommy Fletcher, and Peter Jennison will operate a computer rental, sales, and service business with recreational paintball at 797 Highway 105. Phone 243-1789 for more information.

Outdoor Space Design: Jon Walsh will operate a landscape architecture consulting service. For information, call 487-2839.

Annual Easter Egg hunt

Due to bad weather, the festivities took place inside the town hall. In preparation for the event, Eilene Facinelli led a group of volunteers who filled more than 2,000 plastic eggs with treats. Melissa Gray donned a costume and played the role of the Easter Bunny’s helper. About 50 children enjoyed games and goodies.

Fire Truck Fundraisers

The Chuck Pyle concert at the Estemere carriage house is scheduled for Thursday, May 8. Also, Kaye Book is planning a dance at Pinecrest on Friday, June 13.

Palmer Lake Motors

The council approved George Reese’s request for spaces to park seven additional vehicles on Highway 105, in front of the former cabinet shop.

Lakeview Heights

Bill Johnson requested that the council vote on its decision to require a second access to Lakeview Heights. The town’s decision was based on fire department access rules of the 1997 Uniform Fire Code. Pattie Brooks and Mike Dregar spoke in opposition to Johnson’s proposal, citing concerns over increased traffic and the need for a second access in the event of a medical or fire emergency. The town told Johnson it would attempt to identify a second access into the development, which could take up to a year. His request to improve 600 feet of Lake Avenue so he could build five new houses in Lakeview Heights Unit 2 was temporarily denied. Development of Lakeview Heights Units 2, 3, and 4 could add up to 170 new houses to the area along the Santa Fe Trail at the base of Ben Lomond Mountain.

May 1 workshop

The trustees will address eliminating the water bill surcharge and water use restrictions, and resuming the issuing of water taps.

Return to the top of the page

Lewis-Palmer school board meeting April 17

By Tommie Plank

Ray Blanche, principal of Kilmer Elementary School, was appointed to fill the newly created position of Executive Director of Assessment, Research, and Technology. This position, effective beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, is a result of the reorganization of some of the duties of executive directors in the Central Administration Office. The search to find a new principal for Kilmer Elementary is underway.

Because of near-capacity enrollment, all District 38 middle schools and the high school will be closed to open enrollment by students from outside the district next year. Elementary schools may remain open at certain grade levels, depending on class size and subject to that school principal’s approval.

The board approved the extension of personnel contracts for the coming school year. The action included transferring current Board of Cooperative Services (BOCES) licensed personnel who work solely in District 38 to regular district employment status.

The board also approved the employee health insurance premiums for next year. New categories have been added to the program, while the number of plans offered has been cut to three. The changes will cost the district an additional $295,000. Health insurance costs continue to be a major part of the district’s benefits package.

John Genz, president of the Monument Charter Academy (MA), introduced the new principal, Charles Holt, former principal of the Classical Academy in Academy District 20. He replaces Tina Leone, who submitted her letter of resignation last month. The board of MA is working on a business plan that will include the scope and sequence of their expansion plans: moving the elementary school and portable buildings to their new site in the summer of 2004, and building a K-12 facility to open in the fall of 2005. School board member Hugh Eaton suggested that they work closely with Lewis-Palmer High School administrators and Central Office executive directors as they plan their high school, since they have no experience with high school-level educational programs. Next month, Genz plans to submit a request for D-38 board approval to increase MA’s enrollment cap for the coming school year.

Dr. Marie Revak and Maryann Wiggs, Executive Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, presented the revised Professional Development Guide for final approval. The refinements and procedural modifications in the document reflect dramatic changes regarding professional development opportunities, bringing it in alignment with the Evaluation of Learning model, adopted last year. Teachers—planning with their evaluators and in conjunction with their evaluations—will now develop professional growth plans that support their instructional improvement in the classroom.

The board enjoyed presentations by forensic students Kelsie Hiester, of Creekside Middle School, and Lindy Wenner, of Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Several board commendations were awarded:

  • Teresa Lanier, retired accounting coordinator, for 11 years of outstanding service in the financial services office

  • Elena Hayes and Helen DeLaney, elementary school secretaries, for their development and presentation of a class at a state conference on the district’s computerized attendance program

  • Trudy Finan, Palmer Lake Postmaster, and Nancy Anderson, Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) counselor, for their partnership and contributions to the Wee Deliver Post Office at PLES.

Dr. Keith Jacobus also announced that Peggy Ritchie has been named the Colorado Secondary Counselor of the Year.

**********

The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be Thursday, May 15, at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building at Jefferson and Second Streets in Monument.

Return to the top of the page

WIA April meetings

By Chris Pollard

At the two April meetings of the Woodmoor Improvement Association board, a number of new issues came up. Members of the board are having ongoing discussions with the owners of what is known as the South Golf Course property, but no firm decisions about the use of the property have been made. The present owner wants to build homes there, but neighbors expected the property to remain green space. Bonnie Hawkins, Director of Forestry and Common Areas, indicated that she would probably be handing in her resignation in May, as she expected to move from the area.

Director of Public Safety Paul Lambert reported about discussions held with the El Paso County Roads Department over the plowing situation encountered during the March storm. There were reports that the county had problems getting its employees in to man the ploughs and the state had trouble getting the major access roads like Highway 105 clear. Lambert’s concerns were over the priority of road clearing and a lack of communication about what the schedule was for clearing.

As a result of those discussions, Lambert was able to get a map showing how the priority for roads is set within Woodmoor. An immediate concern was that there are several long cul-de-sac’s in Woodmoor, with further cul-de-sacs off those. After the storm, residents who had managed to get to the end of their street found themselves facing a long, uncleared road ahead of them. As it was, there were medical emergencies during the storm, so Lambert gave Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen the task of reprioritizing the roads to benefit some of the longer cul-de-sacs. Nielsen found that some did have access on other sides, but a few did not. These suggestions will be passed on to the county. As far as communicating the plowing schedule, the county is interested in eventually putting this information on its Web site.

In another county-related issue, Camilla Mottl and Bonnie Hawkins have been working with the county on a possible wood-chipping service to reduce fuel woods. The county would acquire a large chipper and make it available curbside on designated weekends for a suggested donation of $25. They would not be able to remove the chippings from the lot. However, it was felt that this would be a worthwhile service, considering the current drought problems and the many dying and overcrowded trees. Details on how this service would work are not yet finalized.

Return to the top of the page

Appeals court upholds decision to block the extension of Milam Road through Black Forest park

By Judy Barnes

On April 24, the Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court ruling barring developer Dan Potter from building a road through a portion of Black Forest Regional Park. An October 12, 2001, a ruling by Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Kirk S. Samelson prohibited the extension of Milam Road through the park in response to a suit brought against El Paso County by the Friends of Black Forest Regional Park (FOBFRP). The extension was proposed to provide more direct access to the 161-lot Cathedral Pines project proposed by King’s Deer developer Dan Potter.

Without the extension of Milam Road, the Cathedral Pines project could use available access points from several surrounding roads. Many of those roads are in poor repair and in need of design improvements. Improvements to those roads would likely be a condition for approval of the project if it were redesigned without the Milam Road access. Nearby residents are concerned that the additional traffic generated by the increased density approved for the subdivision would create a hazardous situation on those roads and diminish their quality of life.

In 1999, the county acquired an 80-acre tract of heavily wooded land from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The land, previously owned by a lumber company, was conveyed to the USFS in 1944 and has been used solely as a park ever since. The conveyance from the USFS to the county was subject to a federal law called the Sisk Act that allows forest service lands no more than 80 acres in size to be conveyed to state, county, or city government only if its use does not change. In this case, the prior use was as a recreational park, so that is all the conveyed land may be used for in perpetuity.

In July 2001, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved Potter’s proposal to build Cathedral Pines—161 upscale homes in an 800-acre subdivision on the northern edge of Black Forest Regional Park. Potter offered to donate 208 acres, which would nearly double the park’s size. Potter requested permission to extend Milam Road through the north portion of the park to his property. Milam Road currently dead-ends on the west side of the park. The extension would be the main access to Cathedral Pines. A group of neighboring property owners and other residents, the FOBFRP, filed a lawsuit to block the Milam Road extension and obtained a temporary restraining order to stay the rezoning proceedings. The BOCC subsequently approved Potter’s development plan with the road as proposed.

Following the lawsuit by FOBFRP, the county and the developer filed motions to dismiss, but the trial court denied both motions, ruling that the plaintiffs (FOBFRP) did have standing to contest the validity of the easement and that the 1921 deed did not create a road easement. The court further ruled that the property was subject to the Sisk Act, which prohibited construction of a road through that portion of the park and that the developer did not have standing to argue otherwise.

Judge Samelson concluded: "The primary purpose for the proposed Milam Road extension through the park property would be for access to the King’s Deer [Cathedral Pines] development. As such, the proposed road would not be utilizing the park property for purposes for which the park was being used prior to ... 1999." The county appealed the judgment, claiming it is entitled to use the property for any public purpose, including a road.

The three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Samelson’s rulings on each of six main points. The judges first ruled that the county exceeded its jurisdiction and abused its discretion when it approved rezoning and a 30-foot wide road easement. The county’s jurisdiction extends only to the construction and application of its own ordinances, regulations, and procedures, and such matters delegated to it by the state or federal governments. Their jurisdiction does not extend to other statutes, etc., that might impact the use of the land. Since the Sisk Act is a federal statute, the plaintiff’s request that the trial court determine the validity of the road easement was proper.

The judges also disagreed with the developer’s contention that the plaintiffs (FOBFRP) did not have standing to challenge the validity of the road easement. The U.S. and Colorado Supreme Courts have held that aesthetic and ecological interests are sufficient to grant standing to a plaintiff. Also, where the land is public, an organization whose members have rights to be on the land and use the land may bring a suit if those protected rights are in jeopardy. The construction of the road through the subject property would harm plaintiff’s aesthetic, ecological, and property interests. This direct injury satisfies the standing requirement. The judges agreed with the trial court that plaintiffs have standing to challenge the validity of the road easement.

The judges further agreed with Samelson that the road easement—although specified by the lumber company in deeds from 1921 and 1932—was not granted and does not exist and that the Sisk Act prohibits construction of the road. The language of the 1921 and 1932 deeds does not constitute a dedication of an easement to the public.

The developer argued that a recent survey showed the subject property was actually 80.5 acres, so the restrictions of the Sisk Act, which applies to conveyances of 80 acres or less, do not apply to it. The judges ruled that the U.S. government survey approved by the Surveyor General’s office in 1866 is conclusive, and it is immaterial that a modern measurement indicates that portion of the park consists of 80.5 acres. A survey made by the officers of the United States and confirmed by the land department is not open to challenge in the courts. The judges also agreed with the trial court "that there is an inherent dichotomy in the developer’s argument that the Sisk Act does not apply. On the one hand, if the Sisk Act does not apply because the transfer was too large [80.5 acres instead of 80], then the conveyance to the county was void or is voidable and the county could not grant permission to the developer to construct a road. On the other hand, if the county has the legal power to grant permission to build a road, it must have title to the subject property, which it acquired pursuant to, and subject to the limitations contained in the Sisk Act. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not err in concluding that the Sisk Act’s restrictions apply to the park."

The court further rejected the county’s argument that the park may be used for any "local government purposes." The statute is clear that the property may only be used for those purposes for which it was being used prior to conveyance. The developer presented evidence that an extension of the road would provide benefits for the park, including improved access for park users, improved capability to fight forest fires and deal with mistletoe problems, and access to an additional 280 acres that the developer would donate to the park. "While these uses may be legitimate, we agree with the trial court that they are secondary to the road’s primary purpose–access to developer’s new housing development. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not err in finding that the extension of the road violates the Sisk Act. The judgment is affirmed."

On December 16, 2002, the BOCC voted 4-1 (Jeri Howells dissented) to commence condemnation proceedings to acquire an 80-foot right-of-way easement immediately west of the southernmost 80 acres of Black Forest Regional Park. The condemnation includes portions of properties south of Shoup Road to enable alignment with existing Milam Road. In all, 14 separate easements are to be acquired from 10 property owners for a total of 7.5 acres. Referring to the residents’ success in court against the county, one neighboring resident commented, "This feels like a punitive action."

The commissioners authorized up to $200,000 in county legal expenses associated with the action. According to Bill Lewis, assistant county attorney, additional funds may be needed. The property owners whose land is sought must pay their own attorney fees associated with the eminent domain negotiation and any related court action.

Lewis noted that King’s Deer development will purchase the land and construct the road. King’s Deer contributed an initial $25,000 and is expected to provide an additional $105,000. Lewis said the public purpose was demonstrated by the approval of the Cathedral Pines plan by the county planning commission and the board of county commissioners. The approved plan is dependent on construction of the Milam Road extension. Lewis also cited improved access to the existing park and to the proposed park expansion.

The county recently announced its intention to petition the Colorado Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision. County Commissioner Wayne Williams said, "By a strict wording, that would prevent us from adding more amenities at the park." However, Judge Samelson’s original ruling specifically addressed that issue: "The court holds that the purposes for which the park property was being used prior to the conveyance were the purposes set forth in the Term Special Use Permit, ‘providing a park and recreation area to serve the needs in the Black Forest Area and general public.…’ As such, the uses of the park can be expanded beyond the nine uses set out alphabetically in the Term Special Use Permit but only if the uses or improvements are for recreation area purposes."

Return to the top of the page

Letters to Our Community

FOBFRP condemns condemnation

The Friends of Black Forest Regional Park are pleased the Colorado Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld the district trial court ruling in the Case of Friends of BF Regional Park v. Board of Commissioners of El Paso County (see article on facing page).

On December 16, 2002, the board of county commissioners passed two resolutions approving the seizure of private land through eminent domain in the event the county lost the appeal. I would like to draw attention to the Gazette article from Sunday, April 27, on page 6 of the Metro Section titled "Misuse of eminent domain makes governments act like Iraq." This article references a report "Public Power, Private Gain," by the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm: "Cities love eminent domain because they can offer other people’s property to lure or reward favored developers. Developers love eminent domain because they don’t have to negotiate for property. In the end, developers get the land and property owners get the boot."

Duncan Bremer, while county commissioner, stated at the commissioner’s hearing on the Cathedral Pines subdivision that the main road (one of three) already in existence was currently only using one-eighth of its design capacity. There already exist roads now to service the proposed development of the Robison Ranch. The Milam Road extension continues to be a "want" versus "need" issue—i.e., a private entrance through a park to a new subdivision.

It is our understanding that the county commissioners now plan to petition the Supreme Court to hear the case. This was not unexpected but is an unfortunate use of taxpayer money when the county is facing so many other issues and needs of a greater magnitude.

 It is indeed unfortunate that a group of private community citizens has spent well over $120,000 to force the county to live up to its agreement constituted in the deed it signed to acquire the park.

The Friends continue to solicit tax-deductible donations to assist us in continuing our mission. Families can join the Friends for a $10 annual membership fee. For additional information about the Friends, to join, or to donate, please visit our Web site at www.friendsbfrp.org.

Gary Schinderle
President, FOBFRP

Return to the top of the page

NEPCO meeting April 5 featured Sheriff Maketa

View a photo of the NEPCO with Sheriff Maketa

By John Heiser

At the April 5 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), the land use committee discussed land development proposals, recently elected El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa responded to residents’ questions and comments, and Steve Plank discussed his concerns about the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority.

About 30 people attended the meeting. Numerous northern El Paso County homeowner associations and residential areas were represented at the meeting—including Bent Tree, Chaparral Hills, Falcon’s Nest, Gleneagle, Fox Run, King’s Deer, Nichlas Court, Sun Hills, and the Woodmoor Improvement Association.

Land Use Committee Report

Dave Swanson, land use committee (LUC) chair, summarized the LUC’s responses to the following recently reviewed land development proposals:

  1. Struthers Ranch: The LUC comments raised concerns about the sketch plan density transitions to Chaparral Hills and Gleneagle.

  2. Flying Horse Ranch: The LUC is concerned about the proposed use of groundwater for golf course irrigation. The Flying Horse Ranch project, south of Northgate Road and west of Highway 83, covers approximately 1,600 acres and includes more than 3,000 dwelling units on about 700 acres, more than 200 acres of office and light industrial, about 100 acres of commercial and retail, a K-12 school site, a conference center-resort, and a private golf course. The project has requested annexation to Colorado Springs.

  3. Hay Creek Ranch: The final plat calls for 10 lots on 50 acres. It is consistent with the previously approved preliminary plan.

Vice-chair Bill Eckert noted that Colorado Springs has proposed drilling more than 40 wells between Briargate Road and Northgate Road. He said the wells would draw from the Denver and Arapahoe aquifers. Eckert said, "The city is coming, and it will take what it can get. They are attempting to solve a broad city problem by taking water from nonrenewable resources."

County Sheriff Terry Maketa

Dick Durham introduced El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who is the second youngest sheriff in Colorado, is the youngest sheriff in El Paso County history, and was elected by the highest percentage in the county’s history.

Maketa said that during his 16 years in the sheriff’s office, he has served in a wide variety of areas including the jails, internal affairs, patrol, and administration.

Regarding the Tri-Lakes area, he said, "This part of the county is still a very safe area to live in." He said the leading problems are traffic accidents and vandalism of mailboxes and driveway lights. In the past six months, there have been 390 traffic accidents in the Tri-Lakes area. He said that because of growth, many of the roads are not designed for the volume of traffic they are carrying.

Maketa reported that his office recently implemented an agreement with the Colorado Springs Police Department that allows deputies to leave arrestees at the Falcon Substation off North Academy Boulevard. County jail deputies pick them up there and transport them to the county and city jails. This frees deputies and police officers to more quickly get back to patrol duties. He said, "It is like gaining 1.5 full-time employees. The city reports their gain as equivalent to 3.5 full-time employees."

Maketa said that typically one patrol deputy, one traffic enforcement deputy, and one civil (e.g., process server) deputy are assigned to the northern part of the county at any time. If the deputies are busy and one has to come from another sector, the delay can be 30 to 35 minutes.

Maketa said his office is making greater use of crime statistics to quickly spot trends. He said, "Last year, there was a string of more than 100 mailbox bashings. Using the crime data, an arrest was made with 15 days." He said it is very important that all crimes are reported, so the office can track the trends and use the information to improve law enforcement.

In response to a question about drug problems in the area, Sheriff Maketa said there has been a problem of meth labs east of Woodmoor. He added that Lewis-Palmer High School has one of the lowest number of reports of marijuana and cocaine use in the county.

He said 911 hang-ups are a serious problem. When a 911 call comes in, a car is dispatched. If the 911 operator determines there is no emergency, the dispatch of the car is canceled. If the caller hangs up, the deputy proceeds to the location of the call to determine the situation; there were 100 such instances in the past six months.

The sheriff said the federal homeland security restructuring has removed some of the services his office used to rely on. He said, "The federal government probably didn’t realize the impact it would have on the local area."

When asked about phone solicitation by law enforcement associations, he said neither of the two legitimate organizations—The Fraternal Order of Sheriffs and Police, and The County Sheriffs of Colorado—does phone solicitations. He said, "Any phone solicitation is not supported by us."

He said the sheriff’s office has more than 250 volunteers and a full-time coordinator. He encouraged anyone interested in volunteering to contact the sheriff’s office.

BRRTA

Steve Plank described the history of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) and concluded by saying, "We need to go to the Board of County Commissioners and the Town of Monument and vote it out of existence."

**********

The next NEPCO meeting is scheduled for June 7, 9:30 a.m., at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, across from Lewis-Palmer Middle School.

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

View a photo of the NEPCO with Sheriff Maketa

Return to the top of the page

FireWise seminar sends home message to be proactive

By Jim Kendrick

An enthusiastic group of speakers and insurance and fire-retardant building supply vendors presented a FireWise seminar on April 16 at Lewis-Palmer High School. The clear message was the need for residents to proactively participate in fire prevention. Recent research shows that homeowners can make a far larger contribution to structure preservation by preventive mitigation than firefighters can with hoses.

Woodmoor-Monument Fire Marshall Ray Blake opened the seminar—which was hosted by the North Group Fire Prevention Bureau—saying, "Many people do not realize that they face serious wildland fire dangers." Blake then showed two videos that graphically demonstrated how big a difference property owners near the wildland-urban interface can make. New research indicates that structure ignition is more likely to be caused by blowing hot firebrands (small burning embers) in the powerful swirling circulations of air caused by wildfires than by burning limbs of canopy-to-canopy fires falling on a house. The video showed how these dense clouds of wind-whipped firebrands can enter open windows, gaps in fire-retardant siding or soffits, and foundation-siding gaps by window wells, defeating fire-wise construction.

Blake noted that wood shake roof materials can be only minimally protected by liquid wood treatments. These preventatives remain effective for three years at most because of much higher intensity ultraviolet exposure at our altitude and dry climate. In the video, a demonstration fire was set on a standard shingle roof completely covered with 1.5 inches of dry pine needles. The pine needles burned completely but did not ignite or severely damage the shingle roof; a shake roof would have burned catastrophically.

Clearing about 30 feet of slash, debris, and dead vegetation around a structure, which might serve as ladder fuel, and ensuring your address is clearly posted are a few key aspects of owner participation in mitigation. "As learned from the Hayman fire, when the strong winds and hot, dry days lead to wildfires, you cannot expect a fire engine to park in front of your home to protect your family and possessions," Blake said. Wildfire crews are not trained, nor legally allowed, to fight structural fires, and few people know which fire district they are in.

Woodmoor-Monument Fire Chief Youtsey discussed his concern that recent heavy snows are leading people to believe that we won’t have an equally critical, if shorter, wildfire season this year. Forest floors have still not been substantially cleared of dead vegetation, which is starter fuel if ignited by lightning or by careless people, who cause roughly 70 percent of wildfires. Youtsey also noted that the availability of firefighting aircraft may be far more limited this summer.

Julie Lokken, assistant chief of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, spoke about people who are still tossing cigarettes from vehicles and exercising very poor judgment regarding location and control of campfires—often at sites where campfires are still prohibited.

Both Woodmoor and Palmer Lake have secured Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to help pay for chipping of debris, branches, and logs that residents bring to their street edge. Property owners must then clear the chips left at the street side. .

Arnie Lavelett, district fire marshal of El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, said evacuation plans were being updated and evacuation specifics would be listed at the Sheriff’s Department Web site. He stated that reverse 911 evacuation calls would only occur within city limits this year, but his department would like to expand the program if additional funds become available.

Following the seminar, attendees adjourned to the lobby to discuss options with a large number of firefighters from all the represented departments. The close coordination between the departments was evident in these conversations. Specific wildfire equipment was displayed and demonstrated in front of the school, particularly the chow wagon with coffee and treats for all.

For more information, check out the following Web sites:

Colorado Office of Emergency Management: www.dola.state.co.us/oem/PublicInformation/firebans/sitrep.html

Colorado State Forest Service at CSU: www.colostate.edu/Depts/CSFS

The Firewise website: www.firewise.org

Interactive FireWise Landscaping prep: www.firewise.org/pubs/fwl

Rocky Mountain Area Fire Plan: www.fs.fed.us/r2/nfp

USDA Forest Service: www.fs.fed.us/

Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners: http://www.ppwpp.org

El Paso County Sheriff’s Department: http://shr.elpasoco.com/

Firewise Practices

- Plan and confirm with everyone involved how you will evacuate, pack, meet, and communicate if evacuated.

- Plan and rehearse a home fire escape drill.

- Know where safety areas are within your subdivision. Meadows, rock outcrops, and wide roads are good examples.

- Know all emergency escape routes.

- Inspect and clean your chimney on a regular basis.

- Equip your home with smoke detectors and at least one 10-pound ABC-class fire extinguisher.

- Dispose of leaves and debris with your trash.

- Install a chimney screen or spark arrestor.

- Post your house or lot number so it is clearly visible from the street to firefighters and other emergency personnel.

- Maintain an adequate driveway and turn-around space (15 feet of vertical clearance) for emergency vehicles.

- Store tools such as shovels, axes, rakes, and hoes for use in case of fire.

- Keep debris from accumulating or firebrands from entering porch, foundation, roof, and attic openings.

- Protect windows and sliding glass doors with nonflammable shutters.

- Provide fire-resistant drapes or blinds, especially on the downhill side.

- Develop an external water source (pond, stand-alone faucet, or well) with a separate power supply away from the house.

- If utilities are not underground, keep poles clear of branches, and remove any potential fuel from the pole’s base.

Subdivision Activities

- Form a committee for fire protection and forestry to oversee needed wildfire hazard reduction projects.

- Install and maintain community, road, and street signs.

- Clear at least 3 feet around and above all fire hydrants and have them checked periodically for adequate flow/pressure.

- Install "Current Fire Danger" signs at the community’s entrances that are updated daily.

- Help utilities reduce/eliminate fuel under utility lines and around poles.

- Install fuel breaks within the subdivision.

- Thin dense stands of trees and/or brush in common grounds and greenbelts.

 

Return to the top of the page

High Country Highlights: The Principles of Xeriscape Gardening, Part I

By Woody Woodworth

The first three principles of xeriscape gardening are planning and design, practical turf areas, and appropriate plant selection.

Principle 1 - Planning and Design

This first principle is the most important step in xeriscape landscaping. Planning lets you make a mistake and correct it before it’s too difficult. Begin with a good design that considers the function of the landscape and the mature size and water needs of the plants.

Tearing out lawns and replacing them with rocks and cactus is poor planning and design. A thoughtful design can allow you to install your landscape in phases and avoid costly mistakes. Xeriscape gardens may be installed in phases to save on initial costs, and re-landscaping a section of your yard may be the most manageable and affordable method. When planning your landscape, evaluate the various microclimate conditions in your yard to help determine where different plants will thrive. Always consider keeping native vegetation already growing at your site, and always consider planting native plants before non-native varieties.

It is important to know what you want from your landscape and how much time you want to spend working in your yard. Realistically think about your yard activities. Do you need a yard where children can play? Is your desire a garden for entertaining? How about outdoor game space?

Consider your interests: vegetable gardening, rock gardening, perennial flowers, home orchard, specific plants you can’t live without, annual flowers, and plantings for beneficial insects, butterflies, hummingbirds, and wildlife. Design with your style in mind. If the design is for a formal garden and you’re more of an informal gardener, you won’t be happy with the results. Think about whether you prefer a monochromatic or more colorful garden, a cultivated appearance or native natural look. If designing isn’t your strength, there are many resources you can rely on.

Consider how the layout of your property will affect the overall design. Identify views that need to be shielded or preserved. Unsightly features can be hidden by your plan, while those you like can be maintained. Include existing plants on the site plan you want to retain, as well as landscape features like slopes or low spots that drain poorly.

It’s critical to divide your yard into water-use zones. This is the part of the design when you decide which plants are to be used in your landscape and where they should be placed to aid in efficient watering. Try to plan to use water runoff from your house, outbuildings, and paved surfaces, such as driveways. Design appropriately for this water use by directing it back onto your garden. Define your yard’s microclimates and water-use zones. Buildings, existing plants, and topographic features that alter the climatic conditions of the area create microclimates.

Areas that collect water run-off will require moisture-loving plants. Trees will shade planting areas and require the use of shade-loving plants. Fences, groups of evergreen trees, and buildings can act as windbreaks.

Don’t intermix your water-use zones. Keep them separate to allow efficient watering and maintenance of your garden. Use the right plant for the right water-use zone.

Principle 2 - Practical Turf Areas

We suggest using grass only where necessary and removing as much of it as is practical—and replace it with a garden or two or three. While lawns may be necessary for play areas, picnics, games, and pets, in most cases turf can be replaced with other, less-thirsty materials. Grass is often a landscape’s largest user of irrigation water so separate it from gardens. In little-used areas of your yard, consider alternatives to grass, such as mulched walkways, ground covers, beds of drought-tolerant plants, or hardscape.

A typical home’s landscaping is up to 90 percent Kentucky bluegrass lawn, which requires 25 to 30 inches of water each growing season. While this is a beautiful grass, it belongs in Kentucky. Buffalo Grass is an excellent drought-tolerant alternative. Always look for drought-tolerant varieties of turf when installing new turf areas. Wildflowers and native grasses make excellent lawn substitutes, especially in large open spaces and low-use areas.

Most lawns receive twice the amount of water they require. Wait until the grass starts to turn dull green or until footprints leave lasting impressions in the grass before watering again.

Principle 3 - Appropriate Plant Selection

Xeriscape does not mean landscaping with rocks and cacti. Lush and colorful plants are possible and they are a significant part of a successful xeriscape garden. Choose native and drought-tolerant plants and consider their growth rate, mature size, and light, water and temperature needs. It is critical to match these needs with a suitable spot in your landscape. Group plants according to their water and sun needs; this is called hydrozoning.

There are many interesting and colorful low-water-use plants now available. Nurseries carry numerous trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers that are low water users. Choose a variety of plants with different heights, colors, and textures to create interest and beauty in the garden. Also choose plants for their seasonal interest, including fall color as well as berries, bark, or seed heads for texture. Select proven plants for our area. Young trees and shrubs will require water more often; after they’re established, water thoroughly on an infrequent basis. This will encourage them to grow deep roots and be tolerant of hot, dry conditions.

Use "xeric plants" for hot, dry, south- and west-facing areas. Use plants that like more moisture along north- and east-facing slopes and walls. Don’t mix plants with high and low watering needs in the same planting area. Almost any plant is a xeric plant if it is placed where it can thrive in your landscape by proper placement.

When selecting new plants, look for the "drought-tolerant" label or ask your garden center for suggestions. Select plants that require a minimal amount of supplemental watering. Choose a diversity of species for greater visual interest, and buy from reputable suppliers and nurseries.

Share your successful plants with friends and neighbors. Field-collected plants should only be used by permission of the landowner. Rare plants should never be collected from the wild!

Next month: The Principles of Xeriscape Gardening, Part II

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Store and is a member of Garden Centers of Colorado and the Green Industry.

Return to the top of the page

Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: A Spring Potpourri

By Judith Pettibone

Spring! First flowers, rain, wind, longer days, planning gardens, hikes, vacations, and—since we live in Colorado—spring blizzards. All of these are normal in these post-winter days. Unless you are a bookseller. Then, springtime conjures categories: book titles that fit into the spring themes of gardening, lighter cooking, Mother’s Day, and Graduation. Here are a few new titles in each of our traditional spring categories for your personal or gift-giving pleasure.

Gardening

Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces by Patricia Lanza, $15.95

The title alone inspired my putting this book on order. Published by Rodale Press, this is an organic approach to intensive gardening. The "lasagna" part refers to creating layers upon layers of organic materials, allowing you to plant more in less space. In this climate, giving our gardens the best start possible makes very good sense. Lanza addresses flowers and vegetables for small spaces as well as container, rock, and trough gardens, and tackles some problem solving. She has a unique solution for planting a strawberry garden container using a central watering pipe. Quite fun.

Eat More Dirt: Diverting and Instructive Tips for Growing and Tending an Organic Garden by Ellen Sandbeck, $10.95

A book about organic gardening that has diverting in the subtitle is worth looking at, don’t you think? As the cover states, this "is a delightful compendium of homespun tips and tricks for designing, nurturing, and beautifying your land without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals." The "delightful" aspect of this book is perfectly illustrated by the following sentences in the chapter on pests: "My favorite way to control pests is to use their weaknesses against them. This style of pest control is very similar to playing poker–she who understands her opponents best, wins."

Lighter Cooking

Half-Scratch Magic by Linda West Eckhardt and Katherine West De Foyd, $17.95

Quite frankly, I am loath to give up winter cooking, even when I am delighted to finally be out in my garden. The authors give us 200 ideas to use prepared food—deli, freezer case, and dairy—to jump-start our menus. One example: five fillings for a frozen pie shell…and not one of them is a quiche! And again, I like the title!

Cooking for Two by Better Homes and Gardens, $16.95

Since graduations may create a "cooking for two" household, this book could come in handy. If you just can’t make coleslaw for fewer than 12 guests, this book may be perfect. There’s a handy chart on the cover, showing how to package and how long to store leftovers. The rest of the book is comprised of interesting recipes with the appropriate measurement of ingredients for two. Many are marked for "heart healthy" and "fast." Although an impossible concept for many, how about Veggie Reuben Sandwiches?

Mother’s Day

1003 Great Things about Mom by Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman & Patricia Marx, $9.95

It is obvious that there are at least 1003 great things one could say about mothers. And while some of the suggestions in this book are pretty obvious, many go beyond the trite. How about "Who else would hold your chewed up gum in her hand?" Or, "She still has her original copy of Abbey Road and it is worth a lot of money."

Dear Mom, Thank You for Everything by Bradley Greive, $9.95

Greive is the author of the popular Blue Day Book, and he continues with this very pink book for mothers. Each page has a black–and-white baby animal photo with a "thank you Mom"-related caption, some funny, some tender. It is not difficult to imagine sitting down and reading these together with a child.

Graduation

Yay, You! by Sandra Boynton, $14.95

"You already have wit; You already have style; You have very kind eyes and a dazzling smile." So goes Boynton’s tribute to "moving on." The flyleaf is nearly as amusing as the book: "For new graduates, or for anyone facing imminent change, here is profound insight, bold inspiration, and truly ensloxifying advice. Also an occasional hippo. No Wombats." A picture book for everyone—especially those launching or getting launched.

Been There Should Have Done That by Suzette Tyler, $9.95

Faithful readers with excellent memories (maybe those on ginkgo) may recall this book from last year’s graduation review. This book is just too good not to recommend twice. The perfect gift for any high school grad. From Kyle Ryan, University of Toledo: "My friends passed it around for about 2 hours during the Super Bowl! They loved it … I couldn’t believe it; those guys don’t read anything!" I rest my case.

Reflections: The Last Firsts

By Judith Pettibone

Since August, I have been living in the throes of last firsts. On one very hot day that month, when we should have all been languishing in the final days of summer, our last-born and Lewis-Palmer High School senior daughter finished the first day of her last year in high school. And although obvious, it was my last first day of school as well. At the end of the day, I left her a message saying that even though she was no longer in elementary school, I still wanted to know about her first day. "You aren’t crying are you?" she asked when she returned my call. I replied there were no tears—and then thought, there will be time enough for those when she spends that last night under her extra-long twin sheets before we pack them into the van for college.

After two daughters and 16 years, it is an odd feeling. My daughter was amused but mildly scoffed, "You know Mom, there will still be my first day of college and then my first day of graduate school." I quietly informed her that unless she wanted me for her college roommate, I wouldn’t be there for those. Perhaps her new roommate will take the "first day of college" picture as she hoists that new backpack on her shoulders.

Hoping for more sympathy, I called my oldest daughter, now a senior in college. I said, "Do you remember your last first day?" She said "for sure" and proceeded to tell me that on one hand it seemed like a nanosecond ago and on the other hand like an eternity. Ditto.

When I was in the throes of whining, potty training, and nighttime awakenings, I often thought time crawled. Even the pleasure of putting a cute pair of Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls on a toddler body didn’t always make up for being so tired.

Then, in a snap, our second daughter was in first grade, and every day was Friday. Of course, there was middle school (a whole other story) and high school; but it amazes me how brief those years now seem. Granted, while living it, there have been times when the fatigue from teen angst mirrors parenting two preschoolers. But mainly those feelings are a bit vague. Mostly, I feel surprised that I’m old enough to have children who drive, who make some quite rational arguments, and who will one day be paying their own insurance premiums.

And yet, now that I am living those lasts—report cards, dances, conferences, signing permission forms, and scheduling our lives according to the school year—I am pausing. Although it has been many years since we have known the exquisite delights of a September vacation, I’m not looking forward to that last last day of school.

Return to the top of the page

An update on Ben’s friends

By Sue Buell

Friends of Ben Lomond have been enjoying getting to know a variety of trails through The Friends of Nature Adventure Club activities.

No new fundraisers are on the calendar yet for raising money to help buy Ben Lomond Mountain. Jim Sawatzki plans on making a video later this spring for use in spreading the word about buying the mountain.

The Friends of Nature Adventure Club has just a few adventures left to enjoy! They are fun and there are always wonderful people to meet. In one adventure, four brave souls hiked Ute Valley Park on a cold, wet morning and basked in the warmth of the Colorado sun at the end of the hike. Another adventurous group walked with llamas from Touch the Earth Llamas (719-495-2242) in Black Forest Regional Park. Some people even got an idea to line up a trip with them! Sandy Miller, Marlice Van Zandt, and Michael Shealy donated their time and animals for the group’s enjoyment.

Cyclists have two chances for excellent rides coming up. There are walks for birders and wetland lovers. Get ready for two Rocky Mountain High hikes in July!

For more information, contact me at 719-481-2474 or suebuell@earthlink.net.

Below: Nan Graber atop Blodgett Peak with Pikes Peak in the background. She climbed to the summit along with Roth Hyland, Ron Hyer, Daniel Geary, Kathy Allen, Joan Murphy, Tom Smith, and Sue Buell.

Return to the top of the page

Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale a huge success

View photos of the Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale

By Shawn Damphousse

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club hosted its 27th annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale on April 26 and 27 at Lewis-Palmer High School. The show draws antique vendors from several states and is considered "one of the best in Colorado." This year’s show featured more than 60 vendors, who sold all kinds of quality antiques, including furniture, jewelry, crystal, china, pottery, clocks, and quilts from around the world.

Club members also hosted a homemade bake sale that was "like no other." Many items sold out early; the pies went "really fast." The Country Café sold steak soup, croissant sandwiches, warm cinnamon rolls, pies, and Serrano’s coffee.

Over the past 26 years, the women’s club has given more than $340,000 back to the community from these shows.. This year’s sale was also a huge success. The entire Tri-Lakes community—including the police and fire departments, schools, and public service organizations—all benefit directly from the success of this event.

View photos of the Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale

Return to the top of the page

Time for Friends

By Tim Watkins, Balanced Rock Bike and Ski

We have, in our little community, a slice of wonderful Colorado history and scenery. Some of us enjoy this little slice on a frequent basis. Some of us practically live there. I’m referring to the U.S. Forest Service Work Center, aka the Monument Fire Center, aka the Monument Preserve—lots of different names for the same place.

The U. S. Forest Service and Mary Carew have been diligently working to record the archaelogical aspect of the thousand-acre parcel so the trails and other uses can be more firmly implemented by forest service workers. There is an amazing network of trails here—26-plus miles worth. I am fortunate to have been here long enough to have seen some of the history in progress and known the folks who are part of it. My mother worked in the "tree nursery when we first arrived here. She worked hard planting and harvesting trees in the summer when I was small. I got turned loose to run around on trails that are now well formed. We had picnics and played near what is now the administration site. I explored the old and mostly gone buildings alone or with my brother and sister. Now, all these years later, after a lifetime of playing there, it still holds charm and beauty not to be found elsewhere. Some of the pristine setting is still intact—unusual for a Front Range growth community.

We have this wonderful place to recreate. It needs some care and maintenance. There is only one trail that is recognized by the Forest Service, trail 715. It’s affectionately known as the Stoopid Trail; if you’ve ever tried mountain biking on it you’d understand why. It always launches us in the bushes somewhere and knocks us down, making us feel pretty dumb. It laughs and waits for us to gather up ourselves and try again. We rarely get by without some scrapes and bruises. We have seen a huge influx of usage and, hence, much damage to the trails and the rest of the grounds. We need to maintain, strictly on a volunteer basis, the preserve we enjoy.

Learn to stay off the trails when they are muddy and wet. Walk on the side of muddy trails to avoid damage to fragile plant life and the soil, and to reduce the risk of erosion. Learn how to get along with other users, respecting and recognizing the fact that others want to enjoy the same place you do. Learn the rules of the trails. Please don’t litter at all…ever. Don’t sabotage the trails for others; help maintain them instead.

Here’s how you can do that. Volunteer your time with the Friends of Monument Preserve, a local organization that maintains the trails. Volunteers are always needed to help control erosion and some of the misuses of the trails. Trail maintenance days are the second Tuesday of each summer month at 6 p.m. We’ll kick off the season with a special trail maintenance work day on Sunday, May 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. Grab your gloves and wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. We’ll meet at the parking lot at Mt. Hermann and Nursery Roads..

For more information, call Balanced Rock Bike and Ski, 488-9007; Kim Nordby, 481-3135; or Nancy Spielkamp, 481-3484. .

Return to the top of the page

Tree Monitor’s Corner

By Bob Pietsch

No doubt you have noticed an ever increasing number of dead and dying ponderosa pines around the Tri-Lakes area. The extended severe drought and parasitic dwarf mistletoe have combined to stress trees so badly that they are dying rapidly. Additionally, we are seeing an uncommon buildup in population of ips beetles. While ips normally attack small and newly planted trees, we are seeing them attack larger trees. And unfortunately, there may be as many as four generations of ips in one season. This is confirmed by Colorado State Forest Service officials. The first generation of ips for this season have already matured and are now infecting trees and slash piles. Trees that were green just a few months ago are now turning brown and will continue to do so as warm weather approaches. In addition to these stress conditions, trees that were hit with mountain pine beetle last summer will begin to brown out and die by mid-summer this year. A new generation of pine beetle will emerge by mid-July to infest nearby trees.

The net result of the above conditions is a forest that is in extreme fire danger. The heavy, wet snows we received in March and April were most welcome. However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. It will take much more moisture over an extended period before we can relax our vigilance. Forecasters predict another season of severe drought.

Property owners must continue thinning out their stands of scraggly and overcrowded trees to reduce the forest fuel load. Thinning will also produce a healthier forest in the long term. However, a note of caution: Dispose of cut trees and slash (branches) as soon as possible. Ips beetles love to breed in slash piles, and it only takes a matter of days before you will have a huge infestion of beetles moving to nearby trees.

For the "do-it-yourselfers": If you choose to rent a chipper to grind up the slash, you can save yourself time, money, and headaches by stacking the cut ends of the branches in one direction facing the street. Throwing them into a pile helter-skelter makes for a nightmare when trying to untangle branches to feed into the chipper. You can also hire a contractor to do the chipping or hauling.
If you decide to hire a tree service company, be sure to get at least two estimates. I recently obtained four estimates to remove 10 trees from my property, and they ranged from $500 to $2,500! Also, before you sign the bottom line, be sure to ask for a copy of proof of insurance.

The Woodmoor Improvement Association tree monitors continue to enjoy the support and cooperation of the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (WMFPD). Chief David Youtsey and Fire Marshal Raymond Blake are jointly working with the tree monitors in offering homeowners FireWise inspections. These inspections assist homeowners in determining the best course of action to take to reduce the threat of wildfires to their homes. We are most fortunate to have a fire department that is proactive and assists all of us in reducing the risks of wildfires; they, as well as the tree monitors, deserve our thanks. For a free FireWise inspection, call 488-3303, or check the department’s Web site at www.wmfpd.com.

Return to the top of the page

Special Events

Downtown Monument’s Annual May Fair coming up

Get ready for Mother’s Day in historic downtown Monument with fun for the entire family, courtesy of the Historic Downtown Merchants Association, at the third annual May Fair on Saturday, May 10. There will be drawings at various shops, free balloons, lots of refreshments, hair braiding, face painting, art demonstrations, gift certificates, a tree planting in Limbach Park (at 11 a.m.), and an outdoor quilt show hosted by the Quilted Cottage, featuring all sorts of quilts displayed on various buildings throughout downtown. Entries for the quilt show are being accepted through May 6; call 481-4887 for details.

Covered Treasures Bookstore will be hosting a book talk and signing by local author Liz Wallace, who will present her new book Images of America: Colorado Springs. The book features more than 200 vintage photographs. Reservations are required for both the 1 and 2:30 p.m. talks. Call 481-2665.

Return to the top of the page

New Exhibit Opening at the Mining Museum

On Friday, May 16, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry will open a new permanent exhibit showing how reclamation—the restoration of land back to productive use after mining—is a vital part of today’s mining process. The exhibit, entitled "Reclamation: New Life for Mines and the Environment," is an outdoor exhibit that features interpretive trailside stations, with audio and visual presentations focusing on issues related to mining and the environment. Environmental science pertaining to water quality and wildlife habitat is addressed, consumer choices about mined materials are examined, and a comparison between historic and present-day mining processes is included in this dynamic exhibit. Bring the family, a picnic lunch and stay all day.

Call 488-0880 for the event schedule, or visit www.wmmi.org. The museum is located at 1025 East Northgate Road in Gleneagle on the Reynolds Ranch. It can be reached from I-25, Exit 156a.

Return to the top of the page

New video about Tri-Lakes area to air on Channel 17

"Tri-Lakes Today," a video about the area produced by local historian Jim Sawatzki and Jan C.J. Jones, has been updated and returns for a second season with new host Angela Unruh. Three new programs have been filmed about the community. The film crew took a special tour of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Gleneagle. A second program features Heidi Juell interviewing the Palmer Lake Art Group, Tri-Lake’s oldest arts organization, which is celebrating its 40th year. The film crew also reviewed the group’s upcoming spring show that opens Memorial Day weekend at Palmer Lake Motors. Finally, a special segment was created showing viewers all the seasonal events celebrated in the Tri-Lakes area.

Watch for "Tri-Lakes Today" on Adelphia Channel 17 airing the weekend of May 16-18. It starts at 1 p.m. and repeats every two hours until 11 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Art Group presents fine arts show

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) will present its 38th annual Fine Arts Show and Sale, May 24-June 1. The extensive exhibit will be held in the showroom at Palmer Lake Motors, 780 Highway 105, unit G, across from the West End Center.

An opening reception, to which the public is invited, will be held on Saturday, May 24, 5 to 7 p.m. After that, the exhibit will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those Sundays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.

More than 50 PLAG member artists will exhibit a wide variety of artworks in different media. The artistry of the group’s members has been widely recognized throughout the Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs areas, most recently in an exhibit at the Pikes Peak Center.

Funds raised from sales will be used to award scholarships to senior students at Lewis-Palmer High School who plan to continue their studies in art.

Return to the top of the page

Household Chemical Waste Collection Day in Monument

On Saturday, May 31, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., El Paso County residents will be able to bring unwanted hazardous wastes to Monument for disposal. The disposal site will be at the District 38 administration building, 146 Jefferson Street.

Residents may bring any products labeled "Use with Caution," "Flammable," or "Keep away from children." Examples include household cleaners such as drain cleaners and oven cleaners; paint and paint thinners/removers; some cosmetics such as hair dye and nail polish; garden products such as insecticides and weed killers; and various automotive products, such as batteries and automotive fluids. All unlabeled products must be identified. Each household can bring up to 50 pounds of solid waste and up to 5 gallons of liquid waste. Experts will be on hand to properly dispose of fireworks, ammunition, and gunpowder.

The following will not be accepted: waste from business or industry, radioactive material except smoke detectors, PCBs, and other unidentified or unknown chemicals.

Volunteers needed are needed; call 520-7878 for information.

Return to the top of the page

Time to Start Planning for the Annual Gleneagle Garage Sale and Neighborhood Cleanup

In the next few weeks, Gleneagle residents will be receiving flyers about the upcoming garage sale and cleanup, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7. This reminder will have details about the event. Then, around May 15, the Garage Sale Survival Packets will become available for residents wanting to sell their goods. These include helpful information, last-minute tips, pennants for mailboxes, and garage sale paraphernalia. The packets will be available at Peoples Bank in Gleneagle and First Bank in the King Soopers Shopping Center during business hours. If you sign in at any of these locations when you pick up your packets, your address will be included on a directional map available to shoppers the days of the sale at both entrances to Gleneagle.

Other neighborhood associations bordering Gleneagle—including Sun Hills, Chaparral Hills, Jackson Creek, and Pleasant View—may join in the sale as well. Residents can participate one or both days. After the sale, a manned charity truck will be stationed at a convenient location for your discards.

A garage sale hotline message center has updated information, announcements, questions, last-minute hints, and suggestions; call 487-3444. If you would like extra flyers to post on a bulletin board or at a workplace or business, call Terry Galloway, 487-3326 (leave a message). Ideas, suggestions, and volunteers are always appreciated to help make the community event more fun. This year’s garage sale is being sponsored through the combined efforts of Terry L. Galloway, with McGinnis GMAC Tri Lakes Marketing Center, and The Gleneagle Civic Association. Additional help has been provided by volunteers with other Gleneagle homeowners’ associations and McGinnis.

Return to the top of the page

Kids Fishing Derby returns to Palmer Lake

The Kids Fishing Derby is a popular annual event at Palmer Lake, drawing huge crowds from all over the region. This year, it’s planned for Saturday, June 7, from 8 a.m. until noon. As always, there will be fun events and lots of prizes. The Colorado Division of Wildlife will give away free rods and reels on a first-come, first-served basis. Supplies are limited,– so get there early. Tickets are $2 in advance, $3 at Palmer Lake the day of the event. Advanced tickets can be purchased at Petal Pushin’, the Palmer Lake Country Store, YMCA-Tri-Lakes, The Depot, O’Malley’s, Radio Shack, Serrano’s, the Office Center, JJ Tracks, and the Tri-Lakes Tribune. All children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your own bait if you can; salmon eggs and worms are recommended. For information, call 481-3282.

Return to the top of the page

Lewis-Palmer Summer Institute Adds Evening Sessions for the Community

Lewis-Palmer High School will be the site of a summer institute for teachers on June 10 and 11. Two evening presentations have been added for parents and community members on Monday, June 9, and Tuesday, June 10.

On June 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Dr. Sylvia Rimm, of Educational Assessment Services, will present "Parenting for Achievement." Dr. Rimm is a contributing correspondent to NBC’s Today Show and author of the New York Times bestseller See Jane Win. She also wrote How Jane Won, Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades, and How to Parent So Children Will Learn. She has gained a national following with her practical and straightforward advice. During her presentation, she will share the four cornerstones of raising happy, achieving children.

There will be two choices of speakers on June 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dr. Gail Lynn Goldberg will present "Supporting K-6 Students as Readers" for parents of kindergarten through sixth grade students. Dr. Goldberg is an educational consultant who works with schools and school systems to improve instruction and classroom assessment. During her presentation, she will share strategies for supporting reading that parents can implement immediately. In addition, Laurie Artman and Corey Monroe, counselors from Lewis-Palmer High School, will offer a session for incoming ninth and tenth grade students and their parents. Their presentation, "The Secondary School Experience: What to Expect and How to Make the Most of It," will provide an overview of the high school experience, help students and parents build well-rounded and academically solid programs, offer resources for college and career exploration, and describe the "Freshman Plan."

The evening sessions are open to everyone in the community. They will be held at Lewis-Palmer High School. Registration is not required. Refreshments will be served.

In addition to the evening sessions, the two-day institute will provide an opportunity for teachers from Lewis-Palmer and throughout Colorado to attend a variety of sessions offered by national experts. The focus of this year’s institute is research-based instructional strategies for reaching all learners.

If you have questions about the summer institute for teachers or the community evening sessions, contact Marie Revak, professional development coordinator for the district (488-4700 ext. 130, or mrevak@LPSD.K12.co.us).

Return to the top of the page

Prior Up Next


Home  About  Advertise  Archive  Calendar  Contact  Donate  Help  Links  Maps  Subscribe  Topics  Updates
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, ads@ocn.me, editor@ocn.me, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on November 30, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.