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Our Community News - Home Vol. 4 No. 5 - May 1, 2004

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County planning commission to hear Wal-Mart proposal May 11

View photos of the Wal-Mart Community Meeting March 2

The proposal for a Wal-Mart store on a 30-acre parcel on the south side of Baptist Road, directly across from King Soopers, is the only project on the agenda for a special meeting of the El Paso Planning Commission May 11, 9 a.m., at the El Paso County Building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs. The specific request is for approval of a rezoning of the parcel from R-4 to planned unit development (PUD) and approval of a preliminary plan for the site.

The proposal is for a 24-hour supercenter, with a 203,000-square-foot (4.7-acre) store that includes a grocery store, garden center, and six-bay tire lube express. There would be parking for about 1,000 cars. The store would be at the eastern part of the parcel, with the parking lot to the west. It would occupy Lot 1 (about 24 acres).

Lot 2 (1.4 acres) on the northwest corner is proposed to be a Wal-Mart gas station that includes a 975-square-foot building.

Drainage from the approximately 25 acres of impervious area would be collected in Lot 3, a roughly 2.5-acre snow storage and runoff detention area on the southeast corner of the parcel.

Three points of access to the store are proposed. At the western edge of the development, Jackson Creek Parkway is already a full-motion intersection with a traffic signal. The plan calls for two entrances off the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road. The third access to the store would be a right-in/right-out directly onto Baptist Road toward the mid-point of the parcel. That access would be about 275 feet west of the right-in/right-out access to the King Soopers shopping center.

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For more information on this project and to provide comments, contact Carl Schueler, Director, El Paso County Planning Division, 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 on the project 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.

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Confrontation with county leads Black Forest residents to consider incorporation

By John Heiser

At the April 8 meeting of the Black Forest Community Club (BFCC), Larry Stanley and Gary Schinderle solicited volunteers to help study possible incorporation or other measures to preserve the Black Forest lifestyle. After some discussion, the committee was named the Black Forest Future Options Committee.

Formation of this committee was precipitated by recent county actions, including the proposed update to the county’s major transportation corridors plan. The revised plan shows extension of several major roadways through the Black Forest.

One of these is the controversial extension of Milam Road from where it ends at Shoup Road north to Hodgen Road or Walker Road. The courts have ruled against the county’s original plan to extend Milam through a portion of Black Forest Regional Park. The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners is now going ahead with eminent domain proceedings to force property owners near the park to sell property needed for the right-of-way. With this plan, the proposed extension of Milam would pass adjacent to the western edge of the park and then curve to the east through portions of the park not covered by the court rulings.

"Many feel we don’t have the kind of representation that will protect our lifestyle, the reasons we moved to the Black Forest," Schinderle said.

BFCC president Eddie Bracken, a retired Air Force major general, described the contentious situation regarding the major corridors plan as "frontal combat with the county over transportation. This is a watershed moment for our community."

Schinderle said the Future Options Committee plans to form several subcommittees and review research from the 1970s and 1980s regarding possible Black Forest incorporation. They are also in contact with the Colorado Municipal League. Schinderle said some of the issues include what services are legally required, what potential revenue sources are available, and what the boundaries should be for a possible Black Forest municipality.

The BFCC has also formed a separate transportation committee headed by Phil and Barbara Hosmer to provide a rapid unified response to the county on transportation issues and in particular the major transportation corridors plan.

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The Black Forest Community Club was formed in the mid-1920s. Its bylaws state, "The purpose of the BFCC is to promote community among the residents of the Black Forest; to promote interaction among its members; to provide a place: for social and intellectual growth, for the dissemination of information, for discussion of public affairs, and for entertainment and social activities; to obtain local improvements; to assist in the preservation of the Black Forest; and to provide a point of contact for issues affecting the Black Forest."

The BFCC meets the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Black Forest Community Center near the corner of Shoup and Black Forest Roads. The next meeting will be May 13. There is more information on the club and the center at http://www.blackforest-co.com/bfcc/.

Gary Schinderle can be reached at 495-1809. Larry Stanley can be reached at 495-7825. The Hosmers can be reached at 495-3948.

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County planning commission Apr. 20

By Steve Sery

There were two items of particular interest to residents of northern El Paso County at this month’s meeting: Forest Lakes and Wal-Mart.

Final Plat Forest Lakes Filing No. 1

On May 16, 2002, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the Forest Lakes PUD zone change and preliminary plan. This is a 1,070-acre property, including 467 dwelling units, a 10-acre school site, utility tracts, roads, trails, open space and two parks. It is located west of the railroad tracks and north of Baptist Road. Filing No. 1 consists of 33 single-family lots, an elementary school site, a park site, and an open space tract of 135.5 acres. Initially, water will be supplied by a well and central water system; ultimately, the water source will be surface water from Beaver Creek and Beaver and Pinon Lakes on the property.

A development agreement between Forest Lakes LLC (the developer), Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (the provider of services), and the BOCC provides for participation in off-site infrastructure improvements. In particular, these are the extension of Mitchell Avenue and a two-lane grade separated rail crossing on Baptist Road. The agreement caps the amounts the developer and/or the metro district will pay at $117,126 for Mitchell Avenue and $572,591.28 for the railroad crossing.

Wal-Mart

The Wal-Mart zoning change and preliminary plan is scheduled to be heard by the planning commission at a special meeting on May 11. This will be the only item on the agenda that day. The location of the planned Wal-Mart Supercenter is directly across Baptist Road from King Soopers.

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The county planning commission normally holds hearings on the third and, if necessary, the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next regular meeting of the planning commission will be May 18. The agenda will be posted at http://adm.elpasoco.com/planning/Agendas/PC/PC-Agn.asp. The hearings begin at 9 a.m. in the 3rd floor hearing room of the county building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs.

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USGS to study Denver Basin

By John Heiser

At the El Paso County Water Authority’s regular monthly meeting April 7, Suzanne Paschke, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), announced that the USGS, in partnership with the state of Colorado, has been authorized to conduct a three-year Denver Basin study to understand groundwater flow and storage, evaluate and predict changes in aquifer levels, and evaluate the monitoring network.

Of the 32 proposals submitted last August, this project was one of three picked for funding. The other funded projects were in central California and the Carolinas.

A main focus of the Denver Basin project is development of a three-dimensional flow model, with explicit modeling of each layer including the alluvial. That will be calibrated against a variety of existing data, including logs for 4,400 wells and the research results produced by Dr. Bob Raynolds (see front page article in the April 3, 2004 issue of OCN).

One of the anticipated results of the model will be particle travel times. The model results will be compared with the measured age of water drawn from a variety of wells. Water age is estimated using radiocarbon dating and by measuring the amount of dissolved gases. Once the model has been validated, it will be used to predict anticipated changes in water levels, storage capacity, and stream flow to the year 2100.

The USGS has a network of 260 Denver Basin monitoring wells. Part of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness of that network and to identify existing or inactive wells to be added to the network to improve its effectiveness.

Paschke said the state’s role is to coordinate data collection. The USGS will focus on modeling.

When asked about inclusion of data for private wells, Paschke said, "I would be interested in talking to people about that. There are anecdotal stories about dropping levels." The Protect Our Wells organization is conducting a survey of local private wells.

In other business, Gary Barber, consultant to the water authority, discussed possible formation of a water conservation district along the Front Range. He said water conservation districts are formed by the legislature. Funding requires voters to approve a property tax mill levy. There are currently three water conservation districts in the state: the Colorado River Conservation District, Rio Grande Water Conservation District, and the Southwestern Water Conservation District.

Barber said the new conservation district would extend from Denver to northern El Paso County. The exact boundaries are still be negotiated. The water authority unanimously voted to support the concept of the proposed conservation district.

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Founded in 1998, the water authority is composed of 19 water system operators in the county, including the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake, the local Donala Water and Sanitation District that serves Gleneagle, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District intended to serve the Forest Lakes area, Triview Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Even though the county is not a water service provider, it is a member of the authority, contributes $27,000 annually, and donates a variety of services including administration of the master plan consulting contract with John C. Halepaska and Associates of Littleton. While liaison is maintained with Colorado Springs Utilities, it is not a member of the authority.

The water authority normally meets at 9 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the 3rd floor hearing room of the county building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs. The next meeting will be held May 5.

For more information on the water authority and the water report, contact the county planning department at 520-6300. The water report is posted at http://adm.elpasoco.com/planning/water_report.asp.

Suzanne Paschke with the USGS can be reached at (303) 236-4882, x352, spaschke@usgs.gov. The USGS Web site is http://co.water.usgs.gov.

For more information on the Protect Our Wells organization, contact Larry Stanley at 495-7825 or visit the Web site, www.protectourwells.org.

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BRRTA meeting Apr. 9

By John Heiser

The regular quarterly Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting was held April 9. County Commissioner Jim Bensberg was absent. The BRRTA board is composed of three county commissioners (Bensberg, Chuck Brown, and Wayne Williams) and two Monument Board of Trustees representatives (Mayor Betty Konarski and Trustee Byron Glenn). This was Konarski’s last meeting as a BRRTA board member. In the April 6 election, Glenn succeeded her as mayor.

2003 Financial Report

Conner Shepherd, BRRTA project manager, distributed copies of an accountant’s report for calendar year 2003. Total budgeted expenses for 2003 were $321,300. Actual expenses for the year totaled $91,640. The largest discrepancies between the budgeted and actual expenditures were in the areas of engineering services, legal services, accounting, and district management.

For engineering, $190,000 was budgeted; actual expenses totaled $45,570. Shepherd attributed the wide disparity to delays in the engineering work due to switching consultants from Loris and Associates to Post, Buckley, Schuh, and Jernigan (PBS&J).

Legal services were budgeted at $5,000, but actual expenses were $15,679. In addition to preparing the new engineering contract, the district was involved in negotiations over the Creekside Middle School impact fee levied against Lewis-Palmer School District 38.

Accounting was budgeted at $3,000 but actual expenses were $5,969. During 2003, BRRTA switched accountants from R.S Wells to BKD.

District management had $20,000 budgeted, but actual expenses were $22,725.

District revenue for 2003 was budgeted at $105,000; actual revenue was $192,303. Shepherd attributed the deviation to the unanticipated receipt prior to the end of the year of the impact fee for the Home Depot store.

Due to higher than expected revenues and lower than expected expenditures during 2003, the fund balance grew from $333,037 to $433,700. The adopted 2003 budget had called for the fund balance to decline to $65,551.

The budget for 2004 calls for engineering expenses of $475,000 and a resulting decline in the fund balance to $88,949.

Developments within the district

Mike Davenport, assistant Monument town manager and town planner, said he expects applications for about 100 new houses in Jackson Creek and for the Wells Fargo branch in the Monument Marketplace.

Williams announced that county staff is reviewing the revised traffic study for the Wal-Mart proposal. Regarding the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road to serve the Wal-Mart, Konarski remarked to Williams, "Half of that road is in town limits, and we have not been contacted."

Brown said the remaining property needed to extend Baptist Road to connect to Hodgen Road at Highway 83 is being appraised. He said, "Maybe mid-year, we [the county] will have that property. That connection will be another generator for traffic down through here [Baptist Road]."

Engineering contract

Deana Bakkar, county contracts administrator, reported that the contract with PBS&J is being finalized. Stephen Sandvic of PBS&J reported that they have received a notice to proceed. They are collating data from Loris, CLC Associates—who did the traffic analysis for the Monument Marketplace project and the Wal-Mart proposal—and prior work PBS&J did for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). He added the overall modeling work was already done for CDOT.

At the request of James Hunsaker of law firm Grimshaw & Harring, attorney for the district, the board unanimously ratified the PBS&J engineering contract and approved intergovernmental agreements with the county regarding the engineering work.

Hunsaker reported that inclusion of additional Forest Lakes parcels will be considered at BRRTA’s July 9 meeting.

Election

The following slate of officers was unanimously approved:

President – Commissioner Williams
Vice President – Monument Mayor Glenn
Secretary-Treasurer – Commissioner Brown
Assistant Secretary-Treasurers – Commissioner Bensberg and a Monument Trustee to be appointed to BRRTA.

RTA planning status

Duncan Bremer, former county commissioner and a current Highway Advisory Commission (HAC) member, reported that the HAC met with the Colorado Springs Citizens Transportation Advisory Board to develop recommendations on the priorities of various roadwork projects. These recommendations will be used in presenting the November ballot issue on formation of a countywide rural transportation authority (RTA) funded by a 1 percent sales tax.

Bremer said all of the Baptist Road projects were included in the top priority group of 85 projects. He added, "The RTA board would decide which projects get funded and in what order. We don’t want to tie their hands." Bremer said the RTA board would be composed of elected officials from the county and participating municipalities.

Brown added that 25 projects would be listed on the ballot. He said, "Those would be moved around as engineering, design, and right-of-way acquisition are available. There would be some flexibility on how projects would be done."

Williams said, "The needs across the county vastly exceed what would be brought in by the RTA 1 percent sales tax." He gave as an example intersections that cost $40 million. Williams added that there is a statutory limit on the total tax burden, so if the 1 percent sales tax for the RTA is approved, BRRTA would be precluded from seeking an additional sales tax within the district.

Ridge at Fox Run resident Ronald Henrickson asked, "Would the RTA supercede BRRTA?" Williams responded that the intent is to collect the BRRTA impact fees for new developments within BRRTA’s boundaries. He said there would be an equity issue if current Jackson Creek homeowners paid a BRRTA fee and future ones did not. He added, "When development is completed, we might dissolve BRRTA." In the course of the discussion, Williams inadvertently referred to Baptist Road as "Wal-Mart Road."

At the end of the meeting, Williams made a motion thanking Konarski for her insight and counsel.

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BRRTA meetings are held the second Friday of the first month of each quarter. Notices for the meetings are posted not less than 24 hours ahead at the Monument Town Hall, the Baptist Road King Soopers, and the County Office Building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs.

The next meeting will be held Friday, July 9, 2:30 p.m., in the 3rd floor hearing room of the county building, 27 E. Vermijo.

The last meeting of the year will be held Friday, Oct. 9, 2:30 p.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd St., Monument.

Articles on prior Baptist Road-related meetings are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#baptist. There is also background info at http://adm.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:

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Sheriff’s office holds community meeting Apr. 6

By Jim Kendrick

Sheriff Terry Maketa and 14 members of his senior leadership gave a spirited presentation that explained new programs, crime statistics and patterns, and ways to prevent crime to an attentive and supportive audience of over 60 people at the Gleneagle Golf Club on April 6. Despite a recent spate of windshield vandalism in Gleneagle in March and mailbox bashing in Woodmoor in late April, Tri-Lakes and Black Forest have little crime compared to the rest of the county. Drug-related crime is very low, but empty and isolated buildings in the rural areas are increasingly vulnerable to becoming drug labs.

The message from every presenter was that they want to be notified of even "small" crimes and that no information or complaint is too trivial. All county enforcement officials want to know what crimes are occurring, not only because they want to do their best in serving the public, but also because the statistics help them get federal and state grants for crime detection and prevention. Monument crime statistics were not presented because the town has its own police department.

Crime Prevention: Lt. Todd Evans gave the main presentation on crime prevention in the Woodmoor, Gleneagle, and Black Forest districts. Although these three districts comprise 15.4 percent of the county’s population, the numbers of cases recorded were 420 (2.4 percent), 548 (3.1 percent), and 555 (3.2 percent) respectively out of 17,527 cases countywide in 2003. Evans said there is no particular crime pattern in the region, but he did make some generalizations regarding vehicle-related thefts. In Gleneagle, they are more the result of windows being smashed, while in Woodmoor they tend to occur in unlocked cars. In Black Forest, it’s roughly half and half. Attention-getting visible items in victimized cars are purses, wallets, checkbooks, and stereo equipment, as they are in many burglaries.

Half of area burglaries result from unlocked doors and windows, half from forced entry. As with cars, if the following can be seen through a window in a home, they often precipitate a burglary: X-box computer games and other computer equipment, liquor, and weapons. In rural areas, burglars may ring doorbells to see if people are home, and then look for unlocked doors and windows for easy access, which Evans classified as "opportunity crimes." As with cars, lock everything and make sure high-value items cannot be seen through a window to attract a "smash-and-grab" theft. Construction burglaries are more prevalent in Tri-Lakes than elsewhere in the county, accounting for about 25 percent of all burglaries in these three districts.

Evans also listed vehicles most likely to be stolen: Ford/Chevy/GMC/Dodge pickup trucks, Honda Civics, and all-terrain vehicles. The latter are especially vulnerable if trailer-mounted, because trailers are highly prized targets of theft. It is very easy to remove a trailer’s serial number and re-register it as "home-built." Typically, coupler and tongue locks are only slightly discouraging to a trailer thief. In far too many cases, trailer owners do not know that their trailers have been stolen, because they are stored in remote locations on the owner’s or someone else’s property.

Every speaker emphasized that lack of reporting is a serious problem because it prevents investigators from identifying patterns of criminal activity. Several attendees said during the presentation or in conversations afterward that they or their neighbors have failed to report "minor" incidents that then rapidly accumulated into serious crimes. Multiple misdemeanors become felonies when they can be tied to a single individual. Citizens should not be discouraged if someone does not take the report instantly; it will be taken as soon as possible. In addition to active officers, three retired volunteers known as the "Apple Dumpling Gang," take reports.

Evans recounted a citizen’s tip that solved the windshield vandalism cases in Gleneagle. Slingshots were wielded by three individuals from Pine Creek High School, and one perpetrator’s girlfriend who lived in Gleneagle tipped off police. This information enabled Sheriff’s Office investigators to tie a number of separate cases to these individuals, which allowed for stronger prosecution at a higher level of crime than just a single broken windshield would have justified in court.

Commander Brad Shannon reported on violent crime in this area: There have been 12 sex crimes in the past year (April 1, 2003-April 1, 2004), four against a child and eight against an adult. There are 17 registered sex offenders living here, out of 238 in the county. Of 621 assaults reported to the Sheriff’s Office, 60 occurred in the Tri-Lakes area.

Patrol Division Sergeant Kevin Acre discussed the difficulties that are coming to the area due to construction on Baptist Road. He introduced volunteer Reserve Deputy David Fell, who he said performs traffic enforcement, drawing a round of applause from the packed house. Acre noted that one-third of traffic complaints (233 of 741 phoned in during 2002, and 194 of 621 in 2003) come from this area. He also discussed the likelihood of increased traffic, speed, and aggressive driving on Gleneagle Drive as frustrated motorists seek to avoid delays at Exit 158 of I-25. Deputy Chris DeStefano talked about the speed box set up on Gleneagle Drive in recent weeks. It records statistics on detected speeds, how much vehicles slow down as they approach the radar unit, and also how much they accelerate back above the speed limit going away. He added that far too many resume their original speed as soon as they pass the speed box, but this data helps them plan where to deploy traffic officers to apprehend the most speeders.

A major attention-getter of the evening was a listing of the top 10 aggressive driving areas in the county. Confirming what many in the room already suspected, Highway 83 from County Line Road to Hodgen Road ranked number one, followed by the intersection of Higby and Furrow Roads, and the surrounding area.

Coordinator Cindy Corsaro asked all in attendance to work with their homeowners associations to set up Neighborhood Watch committees and also to organize and update area citizen e-mail lists so she can send them "Neighborhood Newsletters" and special crime alerts. She also distributed handouts on Neighborhood Watch, home security surveys, and auto theft prevention. Sheriff Maketa and Chief Paul Zani thanked all the attendees individually, shaking hands with them as they departed at the end of the evening’s presentation.

Contact Information: Traffic complaints should be made to 520-7192. The Web site for crime alerts and statistics is www.shr.elpasoco.com. Because criminals often return to a former meth lab location, citizens were encouraged to call the County Assessor’s Office at 520-6600, to check if such a lab was found at a particular address in the past two years. Motivated citizens can help Corsaro create notification lists or start a Neighborhood Watch group by calling her at 520-7151.

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All incumbent Monument Trustees reelected Apr. 6

By Jim Kendrick

Byron Glenn became the new mayor and five trustees were elected to Monument’s Board of Trustees (BOT) at elections held April 6. Seventy-seven ballots were cast, which is only 3.3 percent of the 2,317 registered voters. Well over twice as many votes were cast by "old town" residents than in Jackson Creek: There were 56 votes cast at Town Hall out of 1,155 eligible voters and 21 votes cast at Creekside Middle School out of 1,162 eligible citizens

Two trustee incumbents were successful in gaining reelection: George Brown received 55 votes and Frank Orten 51 votes. Both previously appointed trustees were also elected: Dave Mertz, former Planning Commission chairman, got 55 votes; and George Case, a former Police Advisory Committee member, got 45 votes. Gail Drumm secured the final trustee position with 52 votes. Leon Johnson lost after receiving 38 votes. Glenn was an incumbent trustee, so the BOT will appoint a sixth trustee to fill that position, which was not officially vacated until the BOT accepted Glenn’s resignation at its April 19 meeting. Volunteers are being sought for this position.

Mayor Betty Konarski is stepping down even though she was eligible for another term. She was elected on Sept. 11, 2001, along with Glenn during a recall election that ousted Mayor Leon Tenney and Trustees Skip Morgan, Kristi Schutz, and Steve Wilcox.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting Apr. 5

By Jim Kendrick

At its last session before the elections, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held only a regular meeting. Mayor-elect Byron Glenn honored the contributions of Mayor Betty Konarski, who did not run for reelection, and Trustee Glenda Smith, who is term limited, presenting them with bouquets. The BOT approved the annexation of Kerr Addition No. 1 and a number of routine payments for public works projects. George Brown was absent.

Monument business owner John Dominowski was appointed to the Police Advisory Committee (PAC) as a nonresident alternate by 5-1 vote. Smith voted no. The newly approved alternate position on the PAC and Parks and Landscape Committee help each to reach a quorum. Alternates may vote if there are not five residents in attendance. Dominowski also showed the BOT the T-shirts that will commemorate the town’s 125th anniversary on July 3. By a vote of 4-0-2, the BOT approved a request for $5,000 for anniversary activities from the town’s Community Development Fund. Konarski and Brown abstained, as they serve on the anniversary committee. The total budget for these activities is $9,600.

Substitute Water Supply Plan approved

Town water attorney Robert T. F. Krassa, of Krassa and Miller, LLC, was reappointed unanimously for another year. For medical reasons, Krassa was unable to attend. The firm has been providing this service since 1982. Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall reported that Krassa had received approval on April 2 from the state engineer’s office for the town’s Substitute Water Supply Plan to refill Monument Lake. Refill would require 469 acre-feet of water in order to limit the actual lake surface to no more than 46.3 acres. Evaporative losses are estimated at 102.7 acre-feet annually. Water would be purchased from Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) under a new contract that has not been completed. Konarski noted that she will appear before the Colorado Springs City Council to request purchase once Krassa finishes writing the request. She also reported that she had gained 100 percent support for the plan from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners and will be receiving a letter to that effect from Commissioner Chuck Brown. She further noted that nothing can happen until there is substantial water flowing in the creek even with CSU approval, and recommended that the town pursue a one-time full refill at that time. The substitute water plan is only approved by the state for one year and must be renegotiated 90 days prior to its expiration in April 2005, should the drought continue and not allow diversion from Monument Creek.

Trails End Subdivision Presentation

Kim Catalano gave a presentation on his plans to seek annexation for a residential, and possibly commercial, development just south of the town’s current boundary, between Old Denver Highway and the railroad tracks. The 45-acre parcel is adjacent to the Santa Fe Trails and Village at Monument subdivisions. The small commercial portion on the southeast portion of the parcel is adjacent to the commercial area in the Village at Monument. Nearly half of the land is proposed for open space due in large part to potential habitat areas for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. There would be 13 acres of undeveloped open space west of the railroad track. The town would be asked to provide water for the Trails End subdivision, unlike other recent and projected annexation proposals. Houses would range from $150,000 to $275,000.

Most of the proposed lots are substandard in size, even though the average for the 45 acres meets regulation minimums. There are 50 3,375-square-foot lots, 41 5,000-square-foot lots, and 14 7,150-square-foot lots. Trustee Dave Mertz expressed his unhappiness with this kind of single-family home density within town limits. No member of the BOT expressed a position on simultaneous initial and final plat approvals.

If the commercial area is used for construction of a new tax-exempt Abundant Life Church building, as is currently planned, there is no possibility for the subdivision to generate sufficient tax revenue to pay for required town services. Church representative Kenneth Kale said they would propose to build the new church in three to five years. It would lie on a 2.07-acre lot on Old Denver Highway next to the southern boundary of the Village at Monument. Trustee Byron Glenn observed that Old Denver Highway would have to be significantly improved before a church could be constructed and that all open planning issues would need to be defined in writing before the town could consider moving forward with any formal annexation process.

The 1.93-acre lot south of the proposed church, with equally narrow frontage on Old Denver Highway, would be passive open space because it would be mouse habitat along the north shore of Teachout Creek. The 3.93-acre lot west of these two lots is proposed to be a non-irrigated public park, to be owned by the proposed subdivision’s homeowners association. The developer has proposed land dedication, but Glenn suggested cash-in-lieu to help pay for land for Limbach Park.

The proposed town requirement to provide water to the annexed land may be problematic in the short run until the actual production and allocation of water by the new town well 9 is proven and formally adjudicated by the water court.

In the interim, the number of taps the town can provide to the Trails End subdivision from well 7 is short by 28 to 30 single-family-equivalent taps, according to Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall. It could be 18 months before water from well 9 could actually be used. Town well 7 can provide 88 additional taps in the future, but each of these is already allocated to the two adjacent subdivisions currently under construction. Catalano has offered up to $200,000 toward construction costs for water access if the town meets his timetable for annexation, rezoning, and plat approval. He also proposed giving the town 6 to 8 acre-feet of the parcel’s 65 to 69 acre-feet of water rights from all four aquifers. Wall and Catalano assume that well 9 will have enough excess physical production capacity to supply Trails End as well as currently planned in-town requirements. Wall added that well 9 will fulfill all the water needs of remaining undeveloped land within town limits.

The other major proposed annexations do not require town water. The Wahlborg addition would get water from the Woodmoor water district, and the Walters addition would be supplied water by Triview.

The developer is anxious to move forward with approval and construction, but there are a number of unresolved issues such as drainage, usable open space, and the actual extent of mouse habitat (up to 40 percent of the parcel) that may cause problems once the state-mandated, tightly constrained annexation and rezoning timetable is initiated. The developers of Santa Fe Trails and Village at Monument are currently involved in lawsuits regarding drainage and dangerous erosion under the ties along the east side of the railroad tracks and related uncontrollable mudslides onto the property of Mike Watt, who owns the agricultural-zoned parcel between the subdivisions and Soc ‘n’ Roll.

Kerr Addition Annexation approved

John Kerr’s petition for annexation of his property bounded on the east by the railroad tracks, the south by Second Street, the west by Mitchell Avenue, and the north by the Third Street right-of-way (currently the driveway to Mountain Farmer) was approved unanimously. Kerr proposes to build a commercial wholesale building on this parcel to relocate his Present Perfect Gifts business from Colorado Springs. The building’s exterior will look like a commercial office building. Kerr has met all town requirements for changes requested in previous reviews and hearings for downtown B zoning (business). The B zone was extended to the lake by revision to the Comprehensive Plan. Future approvals for Kerr’s property will now be handled by the staff.

Kerr agreed to reposition the building 5 feet west, away from the tracks, in order to provide space for more landscape buffering from the rest of downtown. He also eliminated a portion of the proposed parking lot immediately in front of the building in order to locate a septic system there, since there was no cost effective way to obtain sewer service from Monument or Palmer Lake. If sewer pipes are ever constructed within 400 feet of the building in the future, Kerr is obligated to build a connection. Annual water use is expected to be 2.25 acre-feet from the Denver Basin aquifer, comparable to a single-family home. A detention area on the property will mitigate drainage problems.

The board unanimously approved the annexation, rezoning, and plat for the Kerr addition and all accompanying ordinances.

Dad’s All American Hot Dogs and Links

By a 6-0 vote, trustees approved an ordinance allowing Lawrence Hicks to run his kiosk business in front of the foyer of Foxworth-Galbraith. He also plans to have similar outlets in Gleneagle and at the Air Force Academy. His application for a Monument business license was also approved.

Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Regional Building

The board unanimously approved an amendment to the IGA between the Regional Building Commission and its constituent municipalities, which are Colorado Springs, Monument, Palmer Lake, Manitou Springs, Fountain, and Green Mountain Falls. The amendment enables Regional Building to maintain a capital reserve fund of $2.9 million for unforeseen expenses at its soon-to-be-occupied new building. The amendment also allows Regional Building to adjust the implementation date of its new permit fee schedules from other than Jan. 1 of each year. Regional Building is a joint regulatory agency that provides regional standardization of building code enforcement formed under the Colorado Constitution.

Valley Ridge Subdivision Improvement Agreement amended

The warranty period for the subdivision’s streets, sidewalks, associated drainage, and auxiliary structures was extended from two to three years. The extension was recommended by town consulting engineer GMS, Inc. and would provide additional protection for the town and residents because of unexpected cold weather during construction. The vote was 5-1, with Smith voting no.

Well 9 Construction Contract Approved

Layne-Western Company’s lowest bid of $262,800 was unanimously approved by the board.

March Financial Report Approved

The report was approved unanimously. Trustee George Brown commended Treasurer/Town Clerk Judy Skrzypek for the quality of her reports. Other trustees concurred. Although not discussed, her status report recommends better software for water billing and business licensing, as well as electronic fund transfer payments through Wells Fargo Bank for water bills. There were no disbursements over $5,000.

Appraiser for Limbach Park Railroad Land

Jan Winkler was selected to perform the appraisal on the three parcels that the railroad is offering the town. Two parcels are west and south of the current park boundaries. The third parcel is west of the railroad tracks, south of Second Street and east of Mitchell Avenue. Winkler’s fee will be $4,000-$4,250, depending on the type of report required for the southern parcel along Front Street.

Change Order for Booster Pump Station Upgrade Project Approved

GMS, Inc. negotiated a reduction in the previously approved change order cost from Layne-Western. Originally the change order cost was about $28,000; it is now $21,072. Approval of the lower cost order was unanimous. In a separate action, an interim payment to Layne-Western of $39,403.93 for this ongoing project was unanimously approved.

Monument Lake Mouse Payment Approved

The board unanimously approved a payment of $14,927.40 to Western States Reclamation for habitat construction at the empty lake. The contract provides for mouse-friendly plantings at the lake and Dirty Woman Creek Park. The funds come from the 2003 Water Capital Improvement fund.

SCADA Payment Approved

The board unanimously approved a partial payment of $75,659.16 to Applied Control Equipment, LLC for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) equipment used to monitor water production and distribution by Public Works.

Sand/Salt Spreader Purchase Approved

The board unanimously approved a purchase order for $7,340 issued to MacDonald Equipment Company for a new 10-foot box spreader with a stainless steel hopper. Wall recommended buying it now to avoid a price rise expected due to escalating steel prices.

Pay Request for Mitchell Avenue Bike Lane and Santa Fe Trail Changes Approved

Trustees unanimously approved a payment of $3,816.62 to GMS, Inc. for additional engineering services requested by the town for these two projects. Planning Commissioner Skip Morgan suggested that the trail intersection traffic lights on Second and Third Streets be changed from normally green to normally flashing yellow ($2,119.94). Changes in drainage and striping for the bike lane cost $1,696.71. A state grant covered 80 percent of these expenses; the town’s share was $763.33.

Town Comments to County Planning Commission Regarding Wal-Mart

Woodmoor resident Scott Saunders wrote to the town planning staff on March 8 regarding his concerns about the proposed Baptist Road Wal-Mart. Saunders indicated that the town could make stronger comments and recommendations to the county planning commission that would improve the appearance and landscaping of the proposed superstore. He asked that the town research the ability to require a more upgraded façade than the one proposed, to parallel the quality of the Safeway store in Woodland Park. Town Planner Mike Davenport circulated copies of the upscale façade on the Wal-Mart in Durango, noting that a Walton heir living in Durango specifically requested this exception to company standards.

In response, Davenport reported that the town does have some indirect approval authority over Wal-Mart through the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA), since the mayor and a trustee are on the BRRTA board and have a say in road construction along the parcel’s north boundary. BRRTA has no direct power to review and approve land development, however. Triview Metropolitan District can act independently in providing water to Wal-Mart, in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement it has with the town.

Davenport also concluded that the western half of the proposed Struthers Road, a southward extension of Jackson Creek Parkway, lies within Monument town limits. This land was purchased by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) from developer Steve Schuck for mouse mitigation related to improvements at interstate exit 158. Thus, indirectly, Monument would have a say in road improvements in front of the Wal-Mart parcel as well as along Baptist Road.

Konarski noted that this was pointed out to Wal-Mart and CDOT 18 months ago, but the county and state have said nothing in reply. Davenport said that CDOT sees it as their land and thus exempt from oversight by Monument or the county. The county has given no input to the planning staff on its position in the six months since Davenport’s additional request. Konarski quipped, "We’re the gnat on the elephant’s behind." Mertz suggested that Davenport re-submit the town’s concerns in a letter describing the town’s full history with the Wal-Mart project.

Town Staff Reports

Sonnenburg reported that work on the definition of "permanent residence" was not yet complete with regard to the controversy surrounding off-season occupancy at Ernie Biggs’ Lake of the Rockies trailer park. Permanent residency at the campground has always been specifically prohibited by the town plat, even as recently amended. However, there is no ordinance prohibiting ongoing off-season occupancy. The term must be clarified in order to write an ordinance that will be enforceable by the Monument Police Department and will also hold up in court. Biggs is expected to fight enforcement of an ordinance prohibiting permanent residence. Voters "permanently residing" at the Lake of the Rockies Campground have in the past registered to vote in Monument.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that depositions are being taken for the Transit Mix concrete batch plant lawsuit against the town by Kalima Masse.

The board unanimously approved an advertisement for a new member for the town’s Board of Adjustment.

Police Chief Joe Kissell reported that the town has been given 600 gunlocks to be given away free to town residents to promote improved gun safety in the home. The town of Palmer Lake gave away over 100 locks on April 5. Monument residents are urged to contact the Police Department if they can use one of these locks.

Tree City USA

The town of Monument has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the year 2003, to honor its commitment to its community forest. It is the third year in a row and the 10th year Monument has received this national recognition since 1981. The foundation, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service, sponsors the Tree City USA program. Monument Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg stated he wished to thank Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall, Street/Parks Foreman Ray Fisk, and Fisk’s crew for their hard work and dedication in again accomplishing this goal.

The next BOT meeting was scheduled for April 19.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting Apr. 19

By Jim Kendrick

Trustee Byron Glenn’s resignation from the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) was accepted unanimously at their meeting on April 19 at Grace Best Elementary School. He was then sworn in as mayor by Town Clerk/Treasurer Judy Skrzypek. Re-elected Trustees Frank Orten, George Brown, Dave Mertz, and George Case and newly elected Trustee Gail Drumm were also sworn in by Skrzypek. Glenn reciprocated by swearing in Skrzypek. Orten and Skrzypek will serve two-year terms; the others will serve for four years. Orten was unanimously approved as mayor pro tem and also unanimously approved to become Monument’s alternate representative to the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG). Mertz was unanimously approved to replace Former Mayor Betty Konarski on the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority.

Volunteers are being sought through newspaper advertisements to fill Glenn’s vacated trustee position. The BOT will select a candidate to fill a two-year appointed term.

Konarski and Smith Honored

Konarski and former Trustee Glenda Smith received plaques and copies of resolutions praising their service to the town. Both expressed satisfaction with their times in office and thanked those they had served with, commending them for their achievements in what is "not an easy job." Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Bonnie Biggs thanked both for their contributions to the community.

Wahlborg Addition Annexation Hearing scheduled for June 7

Town Planner Mike Davenport recommended the BOT hold this hearing on June 7 to satisfy Colorado law that requires a hearing within 60 days of the property being determined eligible for annexation. The BOT approved unanimously.

2003 Audit

Kyle Logan of Swanhorst and Cutler gave the town a clean opinion, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, in their audit for 2003. He praised Skrzypek for having such thorough and accurate documentation that he could make his report so early in the year. He made some recommendations to improve record keeping and suggested the town have two people prepare tax/utility bills and record payments. The report was unanimously approved.

Plans for Lariat Ranch Filing 3 to be considered concurrently

A request by Rick Blevins of Vision Development, Inc. for concurrent (preliminary and final) review of plans for Lariat Ranch Filing 3 in Jackson Creek was narrowly approved by a 4-2 vote, with Mertz and Drumm voting no. Mertz told Blevins that as chair of the Planning Commission and as a trustee, he had been asking Blevins for over three years for Vision Development’s plans for parks, trails, and open space that were required following adoption of the town’s new Comprehensive Plan. Mertz said he told Blevins at the June 11, 2003, meeting—when the Regency Park rezoning was approved, allowing Vision Development to build out Jackson Creek—that he would no longer approve anything they propose until their parks, trails, and open space plan is presented and approved. Mertz reminded Blevins that Planning Commissioner Kathy Spence had said the same thing when the commission approved Monument Marketplace. Glenn said he wanted to see a plan too.

Blevins replied that Jackson Creek has 18 percent open space, more than the minimum 12 percent required. The planned "field of dreams" athletic complex was lost when the space allocated for it was determined by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be mouse habitat. He said they will redesign the master plan as they build north to add parks. Davenport said the town was not in a strong position due to vesting of Jackson Creek in 1997 before Fish and Wildlife made their habitat declaration in 2001. He asked Blevins to provide the latest mouse map before the next BOT meeting.

Plans for Monument Rock Business Park to be considered concurrently

A request by William Guman and Associates for concurrent preliminary and final review of plans for the 4.27-acre Monument Rock Business Park, on the northeast corner of Mitchell Avenue and Synthes Avenue, was approved unanimously.

Kerr Addition Annexation approved

The Kerr Addition annexation was approved by a vote of 5-0-1, with Drumm abstaining since he was not a trustee during any of the previous hearings on the annexation. John Kerr will be building a wholesale warehouse for Present Perfect Gifts on the northeast corner of Second and Mitchell, just west of the railroad tracks.

St. Peter K-5 Elementary Approved

Over 30 people were present to observe this hearing regarding opening a private elementary school in the St. Peter Parish Education Center. Trustees expressed concern about the traffic through a 100-year old residential neighborhood during drop-off and pickup times. Currently, plans call for an additional 280 students (14 classrooms of 20 students) to use the facility. The number of additional students proposed was higher in previous estimates but was said at this meeting to have been an error.

A condition of approval was developing a parking and traffic flow plan that controls on-street parking by neighboring homes and Grace Best Elementary School, as well as ensuring that traffic on Second and Jefferson Streets is not brought to a standstill during peak hours. The town’s and the church’s traffic consultants said their studies for the initial construction of the Parish Education Center were still valid; the town’s planning staff concurred. An ad hoc committee of four representatives will be formed and meet as required over the next few years to prepare, then adjust, this plan as the school grows in attendance. Members will be from the Monument Police Department, the town’s traffic consultant, town planning, and the school.

The trustees and Planning Commission Chair Skip Morgan all spoke in favor of the school, expressing a solitary concern over traffic and parking. Several parents who intend to enroll their children in the fall—mostly nonresidents—earnestly agreed to do whatever was required to minimize traffic and parking problems. The audience was quite restless as the trustees asked architect Brian Bucher a number of questions about traffic flow, playground availability, utility use, alley paving, and screening. The church agreed to provide a screening fence to a neighbor who rents a house from the church. The measure passed 5-0-1, with Case recusing himself as a neighbor of the school building.

Jackson Creek Market Village rezoning approved

The BOT approved the rezoning of the 5.8-acre area on Baptist Road just east of the King Soopers shopping center, part of Regency Park Amendment 4, from multi-family to retail (PRD-10 to PCD). The rezoning passed 5-1, with Mertz voting no.

There was considerable concern about approving a preliminary site plan lacking detail about building elevations for both the shopping center and residential areas. Trustees expressed the same concerns that the planning commissioners had expressed at their meeting on April 14. Concerns about the 4.3-acre residential portion focused on road width, play areas, grading, and a long steep driveway down from the residences to the shopping center becoming a skateboard raceway. Concerns about the shopping center centered on traffic flow past King Soopers, adequacy of the existing right-in, right-out Baptist Road access—which would now have to serve both shopping centers—and doubling the existing traffic flow to and from Jackson Creek Parkway. Trustees also wanted more data on the effect Wal-Mart would have on Baptist Road access if the superstore is approved. No new access from Baptist Road is possible due to the steep grade east of the existing shopping center access, nor is access from Leather Chaps possible because of neighboring mouse habitat.

Owner and developer Miles Grant, of PRD 10 Development, Inc., withdrew his application for a preliminary plan until he could provide more details to answer the concerns and comments he had received from the planning commissioners and trustees. But he is satisfied that further investment in engineering design is warranted since the town is likely to approve the development eventually. [See the article on the April 14 Planning Commission meeting on the facing page for these issues.]

Wild Bob’s Barbecue continued to May 3

Paul Lundeen is seeking approval in principle of a kiosk-type retail food business. He will later seek town staff approval for specific locations within town limits, somewhat analogous to a peddler’s license in other municipalities. This would require that the town’s regulation on kiosk businesses be amended. The item was continued to May 3 to allow time to research what regulation changes would be required.

Other items

A number of other items were also approved unanimously with little discussion:

  • A resolution authorizing temporary closure of portions of Second Street and Washington Street for a July 5 street fair.

  • A contract for $6,500 for new Police Department records maintenance software.

  • A water fund allocation of $5,000 for a town Denver Basin aquifer water availability resource study by Halepaska and Associates.

  • The March financial report and transfer of $6,531.13 in motor vehicle sales tax and $9,530.30 in general sales tax from the state to Triview Metropolitan District per intergovernmental agreement.

  • A recommendation to refinance 1995 water revenue bonds that would produce a savings of $95,239.08.

  • A proclamation declaring May 8, 2004, to be Arbor Day.

  • A trustee orientation and retreat to take place at Town Hall on May 10 and 24.

  • A liquor license renewal for Columbine Gardens.

  • A resignation letter from Planning Comissioner Chair Bob Mooney. Commissioner Skip Morgan was elected to replace him.

Staff Reports

  • Work on the lowered well 7 pump has been completed; preliminary testing shows 25-30 percent increase in output and some operational tests will be completed soon.

  • A new pump has been set at the booster pump station. Electrical panels are being configured prior to installation.

  • Water demand is increasing with warm weather, perhaps due to irrigation of new landscaping.

  • Only two water conservation program rebate requests have been received; both were paid.

  • A close eye is being kept on the Dirty Woman Creek culvert under Old Denver Highway because of beaver activity.

  • All of the original dedication tiles at the skateboard park have been damaged, and there is a lot of graffiti that is derogatory to the police and the town.

  • The arborist is spraying for Ips beetles.

  • The Police Department gave a presentation to educate the elderly on protecting themselves from lottery scams.

  • Officer Mark Owens is now assigned as the town’s liaison to the Colorado Springs Police Department for their Gang Net partnerships.

  • Monument Police Department Explorer Bruce Case was selected by Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera as a Top 100 teen.

  • Police cases totaled 44 in March: 36 criminal, 6 traffic accidents, 2 combined traffic and accidents, and 4 incident reports (information), in addition to 55 traffic citations and 55 warning notices issued. The highest categories were 31 speeding citations and 31 traffic offenses.

  • There were nine arrests in March: 4 DUI, 2 larcenies, 1 other for adults; 1 larceny and 1 other for under 18.

  • Crimes for March were 1 assault, 4 burglaries, and 14 larceny; 6 of the 19 were cleared.

  • The Board of Adjustment approved a 2.6-foot variance on the maximum height for a sign.

  • A request for qualification has been sent to landscape architect firms in the Colorado Springs area.

  • The Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) staff advised the town planning staff that neither the Monument Lake Regional Facility nor the Park and Recreation Complex center (next to Lewis-Palmer High School) would be likely to receive Legacy Grants. GOCO indicated these projects may be considered in the next cycle of regional grants.

  • Total cost of the April 6 election was $1,723.57. This compares with $2,867 for the mail ballot election last April. There will be additional election expense in November. The November election in 2003 cost $1,027.42.

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Monument Planning Commission meeting Apr. 14

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission met at Grace Best Elementary School on April 14 and heard citizen comment on the St. Peter Catholic Church proposal to start a private elementary school. The meeting was expected to draw as many as 100 parents; only about 20 attended the session when the K-5 school proposal was conditionally approved. Several comments and concerns, mostly regarding traffic control, were forwarded to the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) for resolution at its April 19 meeting. In other matters, several previously deferred or postponed changes to the recently approved overhaul of the town’s Zoning and Subdivision Regulations were also discussed. Commissioner Kathy Spence was absent.

There was unexpected turnover again at this tier of town leadership. Chairman Bob Mooney stepped down from the Planning Commission, effective on April 12, saying in his e-mail letter of resignation that "changes in my work environment and a general need to simplify my life have driven this difficult decision." Commissioner Skip Morgan was unanimously elected to replace Mooney as chair.

Work Session

The commission first held a work session at 5:30 p.m. regarding a pre-application review of the proposed Trails End Subdivision Annexation and Rezoning request and a Zoning and Subdivision Regulations Update. The Trails End presentation by Catalano-Way Group was similar to the one given to the BOT on April 5, giving the developer and the commissioners a public opportunity to exchange views before the tight timeline of annexation begins. [See page 19 for a report on the specifics of this Trails End proposal and its many unresolved, controversial issues.]

A typographical error in the notices the town sent to neighboring property owners said that citizens could comment at 6:30 p.m., which resulted in residents from Shoshone Trails arriving well after the developer’s presentation concluded at about 6 p.m.

Discussion of the many revisions to the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations was not completed during the time remaining in the work session. However the discussion was resumed and completed during the regular meeting.

Regular Meeting

Public Comments on Trails End Annexation and Rezoning Proposal: Though the subdivision’s developer had left, citizens who came at 6:30 p.m. were allowed to speak. Developer and adjoining property owner Mike Watt addressed the commission regarding drainage and sedimentation problems on his residential unincorporated property between the Soc ‘n’ Roll Indoor Recreation Rink and the Village at Monument subdivision. If annexed, Trails End would be adjacent to Watt’s northern rural property boundary. Like the Trails End parcel, Watt’s property also spans the railroad tracks, though his house and outbuildings are on the west side of the tracks. He said that, as a developer, he is neither for nor against Trails End. He presented complaints and concerns about the town’s inadequate regulation of upstream drainage, sedimentation, and erosion from neighboring Monument subdivisions (Santa Fe Trails and John Laing Homes) to the north. Watt said they have created "huge physical and economic hardships" on him due to drainage issues the town has allowed to develop at these subdivisions and has done nothing to remedy.

Watt claimed additional development on the Trails End parcel will only worsen these problems that include severe and dangerous erosion under the railroad tracks just north of his property. He showed pictures of numerous railroad ties under which there was no ballast whatsoever due to erosion caused by the inadequate drainage. He said the railroad has twice made emergency repairs to restore the stability of the rail bed. He showed a photo he said was taken just after a rainstorm deposited nearly the entire first load of repair ballast onto his property. The second repair, more extensive than the first, appears to have stabilized the risk of derailment but has done nothing to preclude continued washout of subdivision sedimentation along the railroad drainage ditch onto his property by Teachout Creek. He also showed a picture of exposed underground Sprint telephone trunk line cables along the eastern right-of-way.

Watt said sediment from these subdivisions is delivered to his driveway, where it goes under the tracks after every rainfall. He showed pictures of the aftermath of one storm’s sediment deposit, which he said cost over $8,000 to haul away by truck. He has filed lawsuits against the Santa Fe and John Laing subdivisions to recover damages from repeated massive flows of this sediment and said they have made no effort to correct this problem.

Morgan noted that the town had approved these developments and had heard of drainage issues along the railroad tracks, but this was the first time he had seen documentary evidence of how substantial Watt’s problem is. Town Planner Mike Davenport said Town Engineer Tony Hurst and the town’s consultant engineers were trying to determine what corrective measures need to be made. Watt noted there is a significant potential for derailment that would occur next to 125 homes and said that continuing erosion from the Village at Monument and Santa Fe Trails subdivisions is still damaging wetlands, upland habitat, and Preble’s mouse habitat, in addition to destroying his pastures. He displayed photos he said he had taken of collapsed and missing silt fences on clear-cut lots in the Santa Fe Trails subdivision, saying the sediment pond had never been drained. Watt added that the subdivisions’ homeowners associations or the town should treat the standing storm water that is "dumped on his property" for West Nile virus.

Watt also showed pictures of what he said were hay bales that were deliberately placed so as to dam up sediment/detention ponds. These pictures also showed erosion damage caused by drainage from recent rainfalls flowing around, rather than into, these blocked ponds. Morgan and several of the commissioners assured Watt that the town needed to take action to prevent further damage to Watt, before considering the Trails End annexation. So far, Watt has sued the developers. The town has made no offer to compensate Watt for his damages.

Several residents from Shoshone Trails and other nearby areas complained about the density proposed in Trails End, with lot frontages of only 45 to 72 feet. Their primary concern was the extremely high density and minimal separation of the single-family homes on mostly very small, substandard lots. Though other neighbors had hoped to speak, Morgan closed the public comments portion of the meeting at 6:50.

Relocation of Union Pacific Freight Rail Route: Morgan asked Davenport to comment on a remark by Leon Tenney, who said there is a plan for a new north-south freight rail line to be built east of Monument and Colorado Springs as a continuation of new tracks to be built east of Denver. Tenney was inquiring as to whether a passenger train would use the abandoned rails through town. Davenport said studies show that there is no forecast passenger load through 2020 that would justify or sustain passenger rail service along the current freight route. However, he said inquiries are being made into commuter bus service between Denver and Colorado Springs, with a stop in Monument.

Regency Park 4th Amendment Rezoning Proposal: Wendell Ayers of Paragon Engineering Consultants, Inc., in Littleton, presented the most recent version of the proposal contained in a formal application for a preliminary plat and site plan for Jackson Creek Market Village formerly known as Academy View. The 4.3-acre, 40-unit multifamily residential development is proposed to be built on Lyons Tail, northeast of the Baptist Road King Soopers shopping center. Also proposed in this 4th Amendment is a zoning change from residential to commercial for the 5.8-acre portion next to the shopping center. Owner and developer Miles Grant wants to build a second shopping center directly east of this existing center that will look like an expansion, even though it would be built by a different developer. Grant noted that the name of his Littleton company for this subdivision development has a new name, Monument PRD 10, LLC.

Although the commission had heard and approved the previous proposal three months ago, several changes had been made based on their comments and concerns and were being presented again as a courtesy before the BOT hearing of April 19. The subdivision’s private road right-of-way was widened from 30 feet to 40 feet. The latest revision provides 30 foot-wide paved surface, flow-line to flow-line, and adds 5-foot sidewalks. There are now minimum setbacks of 18 feet, and driveways have been lengthened to 20 feet. Parking has increased to 140 spaces, with 56 garage, 56 driveway, and 28 dedicated street parking places for guests resulting in roughly 3.5 parking spaces per unit, well above the minimum average requirement of 2.0. There is no on-street parking, which addresses town concerns about snow-plowing. These new specifications also meet all Triview Metropolitan District regulations.

No play space for children, playground equipment, or play areas were shown on the plan, despite a concern Commissioner Spence previously expressed to Grant. However, the commission unanimously approved and endorsed the changes shown in the preliminary plan and plat, as well as the rezoning of the shopping center portion of the parcel to commercial.

St. Peter Elementary School (K-5) recommended for approval: Architect and St. Peter parishioner Brian Bucher, of Bucher Design Studios, designed the Monument church’s Parish Education Center. He presented the application for approval of this "use by special review," often called a conditional use, on behalf of Father Bob Jaeger, of St. Peter Parish.

The issue was first considered by the commission on March 10, but was continued to allow time to receive additional information regarding the original traffic study performed in 2001. The church’s and town’s traffic consultants reviewed their original findings, which included development that has occurred in the intervening years, and determined that their original findings were still valid and made no additions to their respective studies.

Traffic and parking are the primary concerns of the commissioners, neighboring residents, and town business owners. No one spoke in opposition to any other aspect of the school; there was near unanimous approval of adding the K-5 option. Bucher noted that only 15 to 20 students would be added in fall 2005, and the number of additional elementary students would grow to no more than 280 over time. A traffic consultant, police representative, town staffer, and parish representative will form an ad hoc committee to determine a drop-off/pickup procedure to minimize disruption of local traffic that will eventually double, and perhaps triple, in the neighborhood. However, only members of the police department would have the authority to temporarily restrict existing traffic patterns by using traffic cones and enforcing temporary "rush hour" one-way traffic and parking prohibitions by nonresidents, by writing parking tickets or having cars parked on adjacent residential streets towed away. Likewise, only police officers could close First Street during drop-off/pickup intervals to help reduce the likelihood of children being struck by cars. The commissioners expressed particular concern about parents worsening the existing rush-hour traffic on Second and Jefferson Streets caused by area manufacturing employees and parents of Grace Best students.

Several parents, mostly nonresidents, who want to place their children in this parish elementary school spoke in favor of the proposal, vowing to abide by any traffic or parking restrictions. The use by special permit was approved by a vote of 4-0-1, with Morgan abstaining. As they were leaving, parents and church officials expressed apprehension about what would happen at the BOT hearing on April 19, despite the relatively easy approval by the planning commission.

Wild Bob’s Barbeque: Paul Lundeen of Bosque Verde, LLC, dba Wild Bob’s BBQ, is proposing to operate a hot dog cart at various parking lot locations in Monument, with permission of the property owner, under the new regulations covering this kind of mobile business. He was seeking a general approval by the town of his overall business plan, with the ability to gain approval for specific parking lot locations at a later date from town staff, rather than a BOT approval for each parking lot operation. The cart would be removed from the lot each night.

Commissioners initially expressed concern about creating a loophole in the parking lot kiosk regulations, but settled on approving his application with a condition that no more than three locations could be approved by staff. The required change in the regulation and his application were unanimously recommended for approval.

Jackson Creek Electric Fence Dispute: The commission heard a citizen request from Julie A. and Marie L. McCearley, who live in Jackson Creek, to change a town zoning regulation prohibiting residential electric fences within town limits after the Board of Adjustments decided it did not have the authority to grant their appeal of a town order to remove the existing electrified fence around their Candle Creek Drive residential property. Julie McCearley told the town that the electric fence was installed with approval from Classic Homes, the builder, before she bought the home in January 2000. She said it was needed because her mother, Marie, is highly allergic to animals, and neighbor’s dogs entering her yard were a problem.

Neighbors John and Debbie Warren said they opposed the fence on humanistic grounds. They also were concerned about the negative effect the presence of the adjacent fence and its many warning signs might have on the resale value of their home if they ever had to sell. Initial agreements with the McCearleys to turn off the power to the fence when the Warren children were playing outside have broken down, according to a letter the Warrens sent to the town.

The town received a complaint about the fence in 2001 and first ordered it removed in a letter to McCearley in June 2002.

Commissioner Ed Delaney stated he was unaware of the prohibition and has had an electric fence around the perimeter of his property for over a decade, though it is currently disconnected from a power supply. Morgan said that safe, defensible specifications for low but effective voltage and current ratings should be determined by the town engineer and that staff approval for such fences was appropriate. He noted that the Warrens’ dogs had jumped the fence, reducing the strength of his argument against it.

The matter was continued pending receipt of information from the town engineer on appropriate specifications that deter pets and children from contacting the fence without causing permanent injury. There was consensus that a change in the regulations to allow such fences was appropriate since there are also town officials that are or have been using them.

Changes to Zoning and Subdivision Regulations recommended for approval: The commission unanimously approved changes to the comprehensive update of these regulations that were still pending:

  • Low-voltage, low-amperage electric fences that were prohibited, may now be approved by town staff, once a ruling on maximum voltage and current ratings to be allowed is rendered by the town engineer.

  • Town staff will be able to administratively approve new or changed locations for kiosk businesses in parking lots, once the business is initially approved by the planning commission and BOT.

  • The town may use an alternate water standard downtown in the B zone to help promote business development and multifamily housing on small lots.

  • Procedures were defined in a new section on acceptance of subdivision improvements, such as streets, giving the Public Works Supervisor final authority.

  • A slight change was made to somewhat archaic prohibitions on making plans to subdivide and sell land before a development is actually approved by the town, which eliminated words that may have made every developer a potential criminal for performing normal planning, seeking investors, and marketing housing developments.

  • Some acts deemed comparable to a parking ticket that were nonetheless classified as "misdemeanors," were downgraded to "violations."

  • Traffic analyses are now triggered when any new development proposal generates 50 new trips per day or 10 additional trips per hour during the peak traffic hour.

The commission rejected a proposal that would have reduced its authority by allowing the BOT to override the planning commission with less than the two-thirds majority now required for commission decisions. The rejected citizen proposal asserted that planning commissions are less important now than before and that elected officials should have more authority on this small subset of responsibilities than appointed commissioners.

There was a brief discussion about what, if anything, the town could do about the orange color of the exterior of the Home Depot building under construction at Monument Marketplace, since this color violates the developers’ town-approved exterior building specifications.

Commissioner Jim Thresher volunteered to fill the empty commissioner seat on the Board of Adjustments created by Mooney’s resignation, then the commission adjourned.

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Monument Park and Landscape meeting Apr. 12

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Parks and Landscape (P&L) Committee approved several landscape plans for development proposals at its meeting on April 12. All four active members were present. There is still one empty position. The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) has approved filling empty advisory committee positions with nonresidents who have an active interest in Monument, and the P&L committee agreed to let an alternate fill the fifth position. No applicant for this position has volunteered yet.

Kerr Annexation Revision Approved: John Kerr has incorporated all the previously recommended comments and suggestions from the March P&L meeting in his revised site and landscaping plan for annexation. The amount of landscaping was increased to include the following:

  • Crabapple trees were added to mimic those planned for the rest of Second Street.

  • Evergreens and vines were added in the rear building buffer by the tracks.

  • Spirea shrubbery was added along the walls for the loading dock driveway.

  • Trees and shrubs replace the parking lot in front of the building where the newly added septic system will be installed.

Tuscany Hill Market Revision Approved: Tony Duca of Paisano LLC has incorporated all the previously recommended comments and suggestions from the March P&L meeting in his revised site and landscaping plan for a retail center with a restaurant on Cipriani Loop by Knollwood Drive. A six-foot privacy fence has been added along the south property boundary to screen residences to the south. Some notes were also added to the final PD site plan and landscape plan indicating that exterior lighting should be downward directed only. Signs will be on the opposite side of the building, out of view, from neighboring homes.

BOT Work Session on Trails End Annexation: Town Planner Mike Davenport briefed the committee on Kim Catalano’s presentation to the BOT about his plans to build a 45-acre subdivision, upon annexation and rezoning. The parcel extends from Old Denver Highway west across the railroad tracks and north behind the western boundaries of the Santa Fe Trails and Village at Monument subdivisions. The development would be mostly residential, while the narrow portion by Old Denver Highway is planned for commercial or use by Abundant Life Church for a new, larger building. About 40 percent of the parcel would be open space (mostly mouse habitat), parks, or trails. The 13 acres west of the tracks would all be mouse habitat open space. Davenport noted that the BOT recommended some changes to Catalano.

Davenport then reviewed annexation policies, procedures, and timelines. This is the first annexation in years that would require the town to provide water service. He discussed the fact that all currently available town water taps are already allocated to other subdivisions under construction, except for only 28-30 available for Trails End, until town well 9 construction is completed and the actual water it produces is adjudicated. If annexed, Trails End would get over 100 single-family equivalent taps for residential lots, as well as the church.

As did some on the BOT, the P&L committee suggested that requiring cash-in-lieu from the developer, rather than all the open space proposed by Catalano, might be better for the town. The cash could be used to buy railroad land for expansion of Limbach Park or improvements for the expanded park. It was also noted that cash-in-lieu requires a compromise in that much of the mouse habitat that can only be open space might be developed in the future, if the mouse is de-listed as no longer endangered. This delisting by U.S. Fish and Wildlife would not occur within the next five years at the earliest, if at all.

Other matters

Committee Chair John Savage expressed concern that money might be diverted from park expansion or improvements to "buy lawn mowers." Davenport said the cash-in-lieu could be restricted to park improvements. Other options were briefly discussed, and then the matter was tabled.

Davenport distributed copies of changed zoning and subdivisions that showed the committee members that their recommendations had been accepted and approved by the Planning Commission and BOT.

The committee’s annual visit to the town’s cemetery and parks was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on May 11.

The town’s request for a Colorado Coalition Tree Grant for up to $3,000 was not granted.

Several suggestions were made to solicit "Adopt-a-Bed" volunteers to help maintain flower beds around town facilities, donations of trees, and donations of park benches and other equipment.

Bent Tree resident Diane Figgins attended the meeting to ask how she should apply for the alternate committee position.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m. The next meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. on May 12 at Town Hall in the parking lot to form carpools for the parks and cemetery tour. The regular meeting will start at or after 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall after the tour is completed.

The P&L committee normally meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

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Triview Metro Board meeting Apr. 28

By Jim Kendrick

The Triview Metropolitan District Board meeting on April 28 was marked by the start of a "changing of the guard." Julie Glenn replaced Linda Jones as a board member, while Gary and Karen Walters served in their final session. As the membership was changing, the agenda remained the same as it has been for some time: Moving forward with the paving of Jackson Creek Parkway, providing services to Monument Marketplace, arranging a short-term loan from the developer to build subdivision utility infrastructure, and coping with mouse habitat issues. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn attended the meeting as a constituent of Triview whose spouse now serves on the board.

Monument Town Planner Mike Davenport discussed the projects his staff has been working on. He noted that there have been six applicants for Monument Marketplace’s pads along Jackson Creek Parkway and that an amendment to the shopping center’s site plan is in the works. He also said that he had an appointment on April 30 to discuss adding another restaurant to the Marketplace. He concluded by saying that the town should know within 30 days whether they have been awarded a state trail grant to widen to trail width (10 feet) the sidewalk that is to be built along the extension of Leather Chaps to Jackson Creek Parkway then north past Higby to Highway 105. The district would be responsible for building the trail/sidewalk south of Higby and the town between Higby and Highway 105.

Rick Blevins, of Vision Development, the construction manager for the District, reported that the six pads Davenport referred to would be a gas station/convenience store, three restaurants, a Wells Fargo Bank, and a retail store. He also announced that the pad next to Home Depot would most likely house a mortgage broker, a coffee shop, and a cell phone retailer, though all of this is subject to change. He said this would complete Filing 1 for the Marketplace. He added that retailer Target has been consulting with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and appears to be nearing a decision to build. Triview’s G-1 phase is nearing completion with all roads, utilities, signalization, and street lighting under construction.

Since the Marketplace is being built faster than anticipated, there are insufficient funds in the current budget for required landscaping for 3,600 feet of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps. The landscaping is part of phase G-2 that has not been finalized or financed yet. Another possible complication is the need to build a parallel water re-use system that will save water and money in the long-run, but has significant up-front costs. The board approved an offer from Blevins to loan the district $300,000 at 6 percent to finance the landscaping including 180 trees and shrubbery and irrigation. Ron Simpson, manager of the Triview district, implied that this might be a short-term loan if Wal-Mart is approved and starts producing revenue for the district. There was also unanimous approval to switch from 6x6 inch wooden street sign posts to two-inch dark bronze galvanized steel street posts similar to those Monument has just begun installing. They are about half the price of wooden posts, easier to work with, and far more durable as well as safer if hit by a vehicle.

There has been a delay in digging for the main sewer line from the Marketplace at the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road. The directional drilling performed by Arapahoe Utilities to avoid hitting the large number of fiber optic cables under the intersection has missed the existing sewer main in the eastbound lane of Baptist Road. It may be necessary to make a claim against the construction bond to reach a settlement on how much Arapahoe should forfeit in payment. An additional $45,000 was unanimously authorized to hire another trenching company to complete the Marketplace line that is 120 feet short of the Baptist Road connection at this time. A different method of excavation will be used which will require closure of the eastbound lane of Baptist Road for about three days, but avoids the need to completely close Baptist from the Shell station to the bridge over I-25.

Construction will begin soon on an extension of Kitchener Road to connect Leather Chaps to Lyons Tail through Lariat Ranch and Filing 3. Developer Miles Grant will build the southern half and Triview the northern part. Grant has financed the bonds for the roadwork he is responsible for through a public financing authority. Triview is seeking a $1.4 million loan for construction of the north half of Road B.

In other matters:

  • A final decision on whether to move forward with a new sewage treatment plant using Sequencing Batch Reaction (SBR) technology will be made by July 1.

  • A UCCS student majoring in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be hired again this summer to enter GIS data into the district’s database. The cost for data entry should be about $33,000.

  • The board declined to pay for half of the mouse habitat that must be set aside to satisfy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) requirements for alternate mouse habitat for Wal-Mart. Triview’s share would have been $25,600 if they had agreed to pay.

  • Simpson indicated that a decision on whether or not to move forward with the long process of delisting the Preble’s mouse will be made in December.

  • The district also declined to guarantee for Wal-Mart that Target would be prohibited from building within Triview. Simpson said that Target must be ready to build in Monument Marketplace and be considered a serious threat by Wal-Mart. He added that the final FWS decision on the adequacy of the alternative mouse habitat would be made by April 30.

  • Blevins told the board that the four lanes of Baptist Road across Jackson Creek that the Marketplace is about to build between Jackson Creek Parkway and Exit 158 will be removed and replaced by CDOT when they improve the interchange.

  • The contract for the Triview’s consultant who inspects Marketplace construction was increased from $26,400 to $41,400. Simpson said that the amount of money saved by the inspector in finding numerous deficiencies was well worth the overtime and extra expense. The increase was unanimously approved.

  • Triview will ask its patrons to voluntarily limit watering to every other day using the odd/even address method.

  • Simpson noted that Triview cannot afford water police and that watering has no significant effect on the Denver Basin. He said he wanted to restrict watering because the summer supply load is five times that in winter and it requires around the clock pumping. He said he had no idea what long-term effect that would have on installed equipment.

  • The board unanimously approved a construction payment of $140,000 for well A-4. Blevins had left the building to buy his wife flowers for their anniversary and did not offer a 7 % construction loan. Simpson was unsure how to cover the check.

  • The board unanimously approved a semi-annual $205,000 payment for year 2008 bonds to be paid on June 1.

At 6:37 p.m. the board went into executive session to discuss condemnation litigation on Jackson Creek Parkway.

**********

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 held May 26.

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

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Palmer Lake elects four trustees Apr. 6

By Jim Kendrick

At elections for the new term of the Palmer Lake Town Council on April 6, those who participated in Candidates Night were elected: incumbent Trustee Brent Sumner, Planning Commissioner Gary Coleman, George Reese, and Max Parker. Gary Atkins and Nick Casale were unable to attend the session at Town Hall due to long-planned vacation and business trips. Mayor Nikki McDonald ran unopposed and was re-elected to a two-year term. Two separate ballot issues passed, authorizing the town to retain excess revenue in 2004 (157-32) and 2005 (148-41).

There were 192 votes cast overall, resulting in the following vote counts: McDonald, 137; Coleman,131; Sumner, 129; Parker, 98; Reese, 98; Casale, 85; Atkins, 83. Coleman and Sumner were elected to four-year terms. At the Town Council meeting of April 8, the tie was broken between Parker and Reese when Judge John Ciccolella drew numbers from a hat, giving Reese the third four-year term and Parker the two-year term.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop Apr. 1

By Jaqui Parker

Reports

Park and Recreation Committee: Trustee Cindy Allen reported that the Easter Egg Hunt was scheduled for April 10.

Water Committee: Trustee Chuck Cornell reported the water situation continues to be much less than desirable. Water restrictions are still in place. Even addresses may water Tuesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. the next day. Odd addresses may water Wednesday and Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. the next day. This information is on the Palmer Lake Web site.

Roads Committee: Trustee Randy Jones presented two requests. One was for a holding tank for magnesium chloride, the chemical applied to the roads for dust control. He proposed the town will save money by storing the magnesium chloride, rather than having to apply it on the date it was received. The roads must be wet to apply the dust control. Currently, if they are not wet when the magnesium chloride is received, they must use town water to first wet the roads. With a holding tank, the dust control can be applied after a rain. The cost is $12,000 for a 6,500-gallon holding tank, including $4,000 for a concrete containing area. There was concern about the tank cracking or leaking. Cornell strongly advised Jones to review the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) the vendor would be required to provide. The MSDS includes detailed information regarding toxicity, storage, application, etc.

The second request was for the purchase of a skid loader with broom and bucket attachments at a cost of $16,000. Later, an auger attachment for street signs, lighting, etc., would be purchased. Mayor Nikki McDonald questioned if this is the most financially efficient approach. The answer was yes. Jones stated the money is currently available in the Road Capital Account.

Police Committee: Trustee Ed Kinney reported 111 total calls. The department is currently working 12 cases. They gave out 42 traffic citations, more than 20 traffic warnings, and one dog citation.

Fire Committee: Trustee Brent Sumner reported 13 calls for March. Of the 53 calls year to date, 37 were in Palmer Lake, 16 were mutual aid calls. He reported on classes given. The fire department has applied for federal aid. A reply should be received within three months

Mayor’s Report: McDonald reminded people of the election April 6.

Town Staff: Town Clerk Della Gins invited everyone to attend a Sky Warning Weather Spotter class scheduled for April 7 at Town Hall.

Conditional Use for a single-family residence and a chiropractic office 20 Primrose St., Sharon Hamand

Dr. Christy Meisland would like to lease this property from Hamand for use as a single family dwelling and place of practice. She proposes to be open for business three days per week. The other two days would be used for administration and for Reiki sessions. One concern is parking; installing more parking would result in a drainage issue for the Post Office. Current parking will be used and a walkway (ADA compliant) installed. Another concern was the use of X-ray equipment, whether lead-lined walls are required. The X-ray room is in the basement corner, underground. Currently, the inspector feels there is no need to install lead-lined walls, but this issue is still outstanding. Dr. Meisland needs to apply for her business license. The Town Council will vote on the issue at the April 8 meeting; the applicant must be present.

Resolution No. 1-2004 Amending Paragraph 18 of the Intergovernmental Agreement with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department

There was some confusion about what the amendment is. The Town Council plans to consult with the lawyer.

Request for New Business Licenses

High Country Trees – Kyrsten Jenkins, 80 Highway 105: Landscape supplies and remote control car racetrack. The property, located where Highway 105 splits to the left and Spruce Mountain begins, is not zoned for the remote control car racetrack. Jenkins can apply for conditional use and may reapply for the nursery. Jenkins reported she has a contract to truck water in for this year. Each year, she will reapply for a business license, and at that time it will be determined if she must supply her own water or, if the drought should ever let up, if she can use Palmer Lake’s water supply. There was discussion regarding existing water taps. Gins noted that two taps exist, but one is broken and unusable. Jenkins will return to the Town Council meeting on April 8 for a vote.

As You See It – Terri Lynn Whittaker, 4 Highway 105: Retail products/supplies for body and spirit (candles, incense, candy, Reiki sessions, and classes). The shop (next to Bella Pannini) would be a metaphysical gift shop. Whittaker was advised this would be a consent item; she does not have to appear at the Town Council meeting for the vote.

Tree Man Fire Prevention – Jonathan Eckberg and Bill Eckberg, 315 Chatauqua: Tree removal, trimming, felling, chipping, and hauling. A father/son business, Dad has 30 years of experience, son has 5 years’ experience. They are fully insured. They have a 65-foot bucket reach truck and a chipper, and are in the process of purchasing a skid loader. Discussion included concern about bringing beetle-infested wood into the area. That would be resolved with the chipper. The issue of cut wood storage was also raised. Much of what they cut is donated to Pinecrest. Sales of cut wood is not a priority; such sales would require another license. They are in the process of getting a certified climber’s license. This business request will be voted on at the next Town Council meeting, and the applicants must be present.

Sports Riders’ Agreement Annual renewal for the lease of town land on County Line Road for the motorcycle track

There was no discussion.

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Palmer Lake Town Council meeting Apr. 8

By Jim Kendrick

The outgoing Palmer Lake Town Council held two separate meetings. First was the Liquor Licensing Authority Board meeting that is actually the Town Council but with its own separate, brief agenda and then the April Town Council meeting. Lastly, Judge John Ciccolella administered the oath of office to newly elected council members and all town officers. Ciccolella was then reappointed, with Town Clerk Della Gins administering his oath of office.

Mayor Nikki McDonald was reelected for two years. Incumbent Trustee Brent Sumner was elected to a four-year term, along with Planning Commissioner Gary Coleman. The tie vote between George Reese and Max Parker was resolved when they were selected for four-year and two-year terms, respectively, based on numbers drawn from a hat by Ciccolella.

Reappointed for two-year terms were Gins, Deputy Town Clerk Tara Barreth, Town Engineer Paul Gilbert, Chief of Police Dale Smith, and Town Attorney Larry Gaddis. Resolutions praising the contributions of outgoing trustees Susan Miner, Eddie Kinney, and Cindy Allen were passed unanimously and read aloud by newly elected trustees. Allen had the longest tenure of the three, with 14 years on the council.

Liquor Licensing Authority Board: Special event liquor licenses were approved unanimously for the gala opening parties of Tri-Lakes Views on May 7 and the Palmer Lake Art Group on June 5, both to be held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts.

Three business licenses approved unanimously

As You See It, owned by Terri Lynn Whittaker, is a retail store at 4 Highway 105 that sells products and services for body and spirit. The license was approved by consent.

High Country Trees, owned by Kyrsten Jenkins, sells landscape supplies and wants to operate a remote control car racetrack at 80 Highway 105. Only the landscape portion was approved, with the voluntary condition that Jenkins, who said she does not want to use town water for her business, must get water by contract from another source. Gaddis advised her that in the future, applications for renewal should have water contracts attached.

Tree Man Fire Prevention, owned by Jonathan and Bill Eckberg, is located at 315 Chatauqua and provides tree removal and trimming service to include branch hauling and chipping. Resident Sue Coons spoke against bringing in wood from out of town and chipping during pine beetle season.

The license was approved with the condition that no trees or branches could be brought in from outside town limits to be chipped and that felled branches have to be chipped immediately.

Reports

Kinney reported that the Police Department had purchased a 2001 Blazer through Palmer Lake Motors (before George Reese was elected). All police equipment would be installed and the Blazer would be in service by May 1.

Miner said that the town would be building a walkway from the athletic fields, past the Rock House, to the Village Green. An easement for the trail and arbor will be obtained before construction begins. The budget sets aside $1,400 for this project.

Trustee Sumner asked all citizens to thank the town’s volunteer firefighters as election and merger discussions in neighboring districts begin to peak. Bob Miner is now representing the town on the Fountain Creek Watershed study group, being sponsored in part by the county water authority.

Tree City USA and Arbor Day

For the 22nd year, Palmer Lake has been declared a Tree City USA participant. McDonald read a proclamation declaring April 16 Arbor Day.

Resolution No. 1 – 2004

The council unanimously approved a resolution for an amendment to the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department and its member municipalities. The amendment allows the maximum in Regional Building’s capital reserve account to grow to $2.9 million and sets limits for the cash balance on hand at between 25 and 50 percent of the overall annual budget.

Hamand Conditional Use Approved

Sharon Hamand’s request for mixed residential dwelling rezoning for her home on 20 Primrose Street was approved unanimously. Gins noted that the state has responsibility for regulating installation of X-ray equipment and that the neighboring Palmer Lake Post Office had agreed to her drainage plan.

Items Not on the Agenda

Allen thanked those she had served with, noting she had served with five mayors but only one town attorney. She also thanked her husband for his patience in helping her think through solutions to the variety of issues the council had faced during her 14 years of service.

Several trustees expressed concerns about teenagers creating fire hazards around the base of Ben Lomond mountain. A proposal to block vehicle access to the private road primarily used to drive to this vicinity and the establishment of fines for misuse of the area were discussed extensively; the issue was continued.

There was a discussion about the low water levels in the two town reservoirs. Miner noted that although there is water flowing by the reservoirs, the town has no water rights to any of it at current flow rates.

Coons registered a complaint about developer and trustee Randy Jones’ Meadow Lane construction project. She said that the requirement for revegetation to prevent erosion along the roadway of his development had not occurred in the past four years. She said that the number of buildable lots exceeded the maximum authorized of 10, that the number of trips on the road were too high, and erosion extending along the railroad made the town liable for disturbed habitat that didn’t belong to Jones. She said he was receiving special favors that were unethical and discriminatory.

In further discussion, residents Tom Martinez and Gary Atkins expressed concern about the erosion that may occur as Jones uses the town’s alleyway to access Meadow Lane construction lots. The matter was continued to provide time for staff to gather documentation about the citizen concerns.

A recess was then declared for a reception for the new trustees at 8:45 p.m. Afterward, the mayor, new trustees, and town staff were all sworn in by Ciccolella, who was then sworn in by Gins.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m. The next meeting of the Town Council will be at 7 p.m. May 6 in Town Hall.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission meeting Apr. 21

At the April meeting, which lasted only 15 minutes, the following were recommended to the town council for approval:

  • Request for vacating a street right-of-way, Fair Street, by Wilma French represented by Nikki McDonald.

  • Request for a conditional use in a C1 zone, a commercial zone, for two single-family residences on the south side of Mystic Lane, by Wilma French represented by Nikki McDonald.

  • Denise Cornell and Gary Atkins volunteered to fill the vacancies left by Gary Coleman, now a trustee, and Denise Hammond, who resigned when she moved to Black Forest.

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Donald Wescott Board meeting Apr. 21

By Jim Kendrick

Bill Lowes presided over a historic Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board (DWFPD) deliberation in his last full meeting as president on April 21, as he led a lengthy executive session to polish the final wording of a merger agreement with the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) (see article on the fire authority). W/MFPD signed the merger document on April 26, but its closely contested election leaves the door open for the merger to dissolve (at least two of their board members and one candidate oppose the merger). In other matters, Chief Bill Sheldon reported the recruitment of six new volunteers.

Lowes is stepping down due to term limitations. Directors Brian Ritz, Joe Potter, and Kevin Gould are running for re-election on May 4, while Dennis Feltz has two years left on his term. Voting will take place at Antelope Trails Elementary School. Unlike W/MFPD, there is no controversy among the candidates, or the staff, over the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that forms an interim fire authority between the two fire districts. All members of the board expressed the hope that the Palmer Lake Town Council will vote to join the fire authority and also that the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District will eventually change its position on the merger, which it currently opposes.

Chief’s Report

The district had 100 calls in March, 58 within the district and 42 for automatic or mutual aid. There were 36 medical calls in district and 35 out of district.

Gould and Sheldon reported that the architect is pricing the electrical and mechanical work to be done in adding a bay, office space, and a meeting room on the north end of the station, and Regional Building is moving forward on finalizing review of the drainage report.

There has been an increase in death and disability benefits statewide for volunteer firefighters.

The next board meeting has been rescheduled from May 19 to May 26 at 7 p.m. at Station 2. Normally, the meeting is on the third Wednesday of the month.

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DWFPD Candidate Statements

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) will hold an election for two four-year term board positions and two two-year positions on May 4, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Antelope Trails Elementary School, located at 15280 Jessie Drive, in Gleneagle.

An eligible elector is a person who has been a resident of DWFPD for not less than 30 days or who (or whose spouse) owns taxable real or personal property within the district, whether they reside in the district or not. For further information about eligibility, contact DWFPD’s Designated Election Official, Ginnette Ritz, at 488-8680.

Two candidates are running for the two open four-year terms: Joseph Potter and Brian Ritz. Three candidates are competing for the two open two-year terms: David Cross, Kevin Gould, and Vincent Schauer. Our Community News offered each candidate the opportunity to respond to the following questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a board member?

  2. Do you favor a merger by DWFPD with another north county fire district and/or Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department? If not, why? If so, which form of merger would you prefer (consolidation, inclusion, or fire authority) and with which organization(s)? Why?

  3. Other than merger, what are the greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose that DWFPD should do to deal with it?

Joseph Potter

1. My background and experience that help me as a board member of the DWFPD is that, as a senior military officer and commander, I have been responsible for several fire departments and their operations from home fires, hazmat situations, major fire structures, fuel tank "farms," evacuation and cordoning off of residential and commercial buildings, mutual aid agreements with large cities, airports and nearby military bases, and providing emergency training for fire and medical teams. I have served on the DWFPD board for over a year, protecting our citizens and ensuring efficient operations. I have taken the CERTs course for El Paso County and completed the "professional development" FEMA courses for Colorado.

2. Yes, I favor a "merger" with Palmer Lake FD and W/MFPD to help obtain increased operational efficiency, lower overhead costs, decrease response times, and to provide the best trained and best motivated firefighters and medical personnel possible to better serve our mutual constituents.

3. Other than merger, the greatest issue facing DWFPD is to obtain expensive and specific training for Homeland Security and Defense emergencies. Rather than attempt to raise mill levies of our constituents, I believe that we must initiate well-crafted grant proposals to state FEMA officials, unilaterally and with our "partner" fire protection districts.

Brian Ritz

1. I am currently with the Colorado Springs Police Department, having served for almost 25 years, which has provided me with an extensive insight into public service. For the last 10 years, I have been a first line supervisor over a patrol team, Community Policing Unit, and Investigations Unit. I have been with the DWFPD for the last two years, during which time we have dealt with complex issues such as exclusion of property and a mill rate increase.

2. I am in favor of a unification of the DWFPD with other districts in the area for the purpose of enhancing fire protection services in the community. Increased demands and budgetary concerns threaten the service levels of all of the districts in the area north of Colorado Springs. Unification offers the chance to maintain and enhance fire protection and emergency medical services to the area.

In order to establish a unified fire protection district, I feel that all involved districts should work under the auspices of a fire authority until such time that each district has demonstrated the ability to work and act as one district and is prepared to go to its voters and recommend the dissolving of all existing districts and the formation of the new consolidated district. Each involved district has its own distinct history, and while that history is important, it could interfere with the development of the new district. I believe that any new district would need to develop its own history; for this reason, I do not feel that any other form of unification is the correct way to go. Ideally, all three fire protection districts in northwest El Paso County should consolidate. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department should also be involved in a consolidation. Efforts in the past to examine the options have met with mixed results. Individual demands and expectations by various members of the respective fire district boards hindered these efforts.

3. As with most public service organizations that operate on tax dollars, budgetary constraints are an issue the DWFPD must deal with. The continuing expansion of the city of Colorado Springs further enhances the challenges of the DWFPF in maintaining professional fire services to an ever-shrinking area with an ever-shrinking budget. I feel that it is incumbent on the board of directors—having recently obtained voter approval of a mill levy increase for the district—to demonstrate fiscal responsibility and meet or exceed those promises that were made during the campaign to seek the mill levy increase. This included enhancing fire protection services to include 24-hour/seven-day-per-week coverage, which was done.

To further offset the operating budget, I feel that the district must aggressively seek state and federal grants. Partnering with other districts to enhance purchasing power and training should also be pursued. Another issue is maintaining a quality workforce, which can only be done by ensuring that they know they are a valued member of the district and receive appropriate compensation.

David Cross

1. I have served as a volunteer firefighter in both Mississippi and Colorado. I am also a certified and current Emergency Medical Technician. I spent seven years as an Air Force pilot and currently serve as manager of Crew Resource Management (teaching airline crews how to work together in high-threat environments) for United Airlines. I am very familiar with the job of firefighter and the management decisions (budget, training requirements, policy issues) necessary to ensure a top-notch department.

2. I do favor creating a fire authority to guide Wescott and Woodmoor departments. One authority should have operational control, while allowing the departments to build a strong working relationship. As two departments working together, both will have the opportunity to grow stronger while maintaining their own history of community service. This will create a win-win situation for both the departments and the people they serve.

3. The greatest issue facing any fire department is budget. Budget drives critical issues such as training, number of full-time personnel, and quality of firefighting equipment. Budget issues require two actions:

  • Get the best quality training and equipment for the dollar. A department must always train for the mission the way they would conduct the mission. This includes a maximum amount of hands-on training with the highest quality equipment.

  • Always aggressively seek new sources of income via state and federal grants. Creating opportunities for funding and actively pursuing grant money is a high priority of every board member.

Kevin Gould

1. I have served on the board of directors for the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District for one year. I am an architect and have had the pleasure of working at numerous airports in Colorado and Wyoming, where I was involved with the design and construction of the Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) buildings. These buildings house the airport firefighting and rescue personnel as well as all of their equipment. I also have extensive experience with the Colorado Springs Fire Department and the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department for building permit reviews where the building, fire codes, and life safety issues are reviewed and approved prior to construction of a building.

2. I favor ultimately a consolidation of the north county fire districts (Donald Wescott, Woodmoor-Monument, and the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection Districts) as well as the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. But, first we must begin this process by creating a fire authority amongst these districts. This would allow each department the necessary time to work out all the specifics of a consolidation and the opportunity to work together while continuing to operate independently as separate departments. This authority should only be in place for a short period of time (approximately one year), then the consolidation issue should be presented to the constituents for approval. A consolidation of the departments should be beneficial by providing better services at no additional costs.

3. I believe the biggest issue facing the Wescott Fire Protection District is the continuation of the excellent services the department already provides. We have a professional and efficient department that I believe cares deeply about its services to the public. Like any good organization, sometimes the toughest obstacle is staying on top and providing the best possible services to those who pay for it. I believe this department is fully capable and committed to that mission.

Vincent Schauer

1. I have been a resident of this district for 11 years and have witnessed the growth and changes of this area. As a member of a Commercial General Contractor, my daily involvement with the continual updating of building code requirements, development issues, and changing insurance regulations would help with the ongoing development within our district.

2. I would agree with a consolidation of all the northern El Paso County fire districts into one organization. I believe the most important issue is the life safety of the residents of northern El Paso County and the individuals traveling through this part of the county. A merger would shorten response times and distances to calls, which is currently an issue with three fire districts. This merger could possibly reduce homeowners’ insurance premiums, since a fire station from another district may have a shorter response distance than its current district.

It would eliminate the confusion as to which district is the primary or secondary unit in command on major fires or crashes within the area. It would also allow better distribution of current equipment and personnel to stations throughout northern El Paso County.

The merger would allow for one unified firefighting training and procedures for this area. Currently, you have three districts that have different training requirements and firefighting procedures.

3. Growth is an important issue to Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD). With both the residential and commercial growth in northern Colorado Springs, Northgate, and Gleneagle, DWFPD needs to have the necessary capital, equipment, facilities, and personnel to maintain the safety of the residents and occupants within the fire district. This may require the expansion of current stations within the district or the addition of new stations.

Second, the continual drought and changing environment will require that the personnel of DWFPD maintain current training on wildland firefighting procedures and certifications.

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Tri-Lakes FPD board meeting Apr. 15

By John Heiser

At its meeting April 15, the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors approved petitions for inclusion of six additional parcels and subdivisions east of Highway 83 and approved purchase of two new fire trucks. Director Oscar Gillespie was out of town. Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board member Dennis Feltz and Tri-Lakes board candidate Jim Lipper were in the audience.

Inclusion hearings

Hearings were held on the following petitions for inclusion:

  • Approximately 40 acres in Walden III filing 5, 48 of 49 lots, excluding Lot 43.

  • Approximately 240 acres in three parcels owned by Cross Bar P Land Company

  • Approximately 70 acres owned by Ronald Brown

  • Approximately 80 acres owned by Lowell and Sandra Haugen

  • Approximately 240 acres owned by Andrew and Linda Marcus

  • Approximately 40 acres owned by Susan and Nolan Koch

All the petitions were signed by 100 percent of the property owners. The board unanimously approved all the inclusions.

Financial Report

Director and District Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that as of the end of March, the district had received 37 percent of the anticipated income for the year and had expended 21 percent of the annual budget, 4 percent less than expected at that point in the year.

Chief’s Report

Chief Robert Denboske reported that the Colorado State Firefighters Association made telephone solicitations that mentioned the Tri-Lakes district. He said he contacted the organization and discussed the calls. He said, "The organization is legit but they are not allowed to mention specific districts. They went about it the wrong way."

Denboske reported that Monument is considering annexation of the 140-acre Wahlborg property. He noted that the current plan includes single-family houses, multifamily and patio homes, and 48 acres of commercial businesses. Director Rick Barnes said, "My concern is with improvements to Highway 105. It needs to be widened and flattened."

Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes district, noted that the Wahlborg property will add about $30,000 in property taxes per year to district revenues. He added that current estimates are that the recently included areas east of Highway 83 will add about $70,000, the Monument Marketplace will add another $70,000, and other growth within the district will add about $30,000 for a total increase of about $200,000. He concluded, "We need to be thinking about where we are going and what it is going to cost."

Station 2

Ron Thompson, assistant chief and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordinator, reported that removal of the concrete pad left from demolition of the equipment shed at the Station 2 site on Roller Coaster Road near Highway 105 is scheduled to start on April 19.

He said the plumbing changes for the well are being completed. He added that there will be separate water meters used to keep track of station usage and water for the water augmentation plans implemented by Great Divide Water Company.

Rick Barnes, board member and architect for Station 2, reported that value engineering on the project has produced cost savings.

Pocock announced that a groundbreaking ceremony will be held April 17. He added that a ribbon cutting and open house should be held in about six months when the station is completed. Click here to view photos of the groundbreaking.

Two new fire trucks

Firefighter John Vincent presented the results of research into potential purchase by the district of two new pumper fire trucks. Vincent said, "Everyone had input." He said one of the goals was a piece of apparatus that could be used for structure and wildland fires. The list of requirements from the request for quotations included 330 hp diesel capable of 75 mph, 750-gallon water capacity, 1,250 gallons per minute pumping capacity, seating for eight people, 31 feet bumper to bumper, 8 feet 4 inches wide, and 9 feet 5 inches tall.

Quotes ranging from $216,282 to $242,714 were received from four vendors: Smeal, E-One, Central States, and Sutphen. Smeal had the fewest deviations from the requirements and the lowest price. After holding an executive session, the board approved the bid from Smeal. Pocock later said a purchase order has been signed for delivery of the first truck in October for assignment to Station 2. The second truck would be delivered in 2005. He said the total amount authorized by the board was $230,000 per truck. Pocock added that each truck will carry more than $50,000 in hoses, nozzles, extrication tools, and other equipment.

District debt

Hildebrandt said, "I have been through all of our debt. We should be able to handle it quite nicely. I feel very comfortable." He noted that in the five years from 1999 to 2004, district revenue grew from about $500,000 to $1.4 million. At the March board meeting, Hildebrandt said the district has $1.8 million in debt.

Campaign issues

Pocock, Hildebrandt, and Barnes expressed outrage at statements made in a campaign flyer supporting the re-election of Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District director Tom Conroy. They objected to the claim that if the Woodmoor/Monument and Tri-Lakes districts merged, the station on Woodmoor Drive would be closed. Barnes said, "There has been no discussion of closing that station." Hildebrandt said, "The core area of Monument is a high liability area. There is an advantage to having two stations nearby." They also objected to the claim in the flyer that merger would mean "reduction in the quality and training of emergency services personnel serving Woodmoor." Pocock cited improving Tri-Lakes district skill levels and said, "Woodmoor hired two of our firefighters. Everyone is certified to the same levels."

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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 20.

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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TLFPD Candidate Statements

By Jim Kendrick

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) will hold an election for two four-year term board positions on May 4, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., at Station 1, located at 18650 Highway 105 in Monument.

An eligible elector is a person who has been a resident of TLFPD for not less than 30 days or who (or whose spouse) owns taxable real or personal property within the district, whether they reside in the district or not. Further information about eligibility can be obtained by calling TLFPD’s Designated Election Official, Chief Robert M. Denboske, at 481-2312.

One ballot issue has been certified by TLFPD: "Shall the limitations on terms of office imposed by Article XVIII, Section 11, of the Colorado Constitution, be eliminated for directors of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District?"

Three candidates will compete for the two open four-year terms: Robert Keith Duncan, John M. Hartling, and James M. Lipper. Our Community News offered each candidate the opportunity to respond to the following questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a board member?

  2. Do you favor a merger by TLFPD with another north county fire district and/or Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department? If not, why? If so, which form of merger would you prefer (consolidation, inclusion, or fire authority) and with which organization(s)? Why?

  3. Other than merger, what are the greatest issues facing the Tri-Lakes FPD and what would you propose that TLFPD should do to deal with it?

Robert Keith Duncan

1. As an 11-year Tri-Lakes resident, with over nine years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT and officer with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD), I am intimately familiar with the operation, management, and future needs for the TLFPD and surrounding area. In addition, I have actively participated on emergency calls with all the other northern El Paso County fire departments. My priority to the residents of the district is to ensure the best possible emergency service 24/7.

2. Yes, I strongly support a merger that provides the best service to our community and at the lowest cost. I prefer inclusion, where one district is merged into the other. Inclusion is best for several reasons: 1) eliminates management overlap—and by definition, creates a more uniform department; 2) lesser cost than consolidation—with consolidation of two districts, both are dissolved and a new district is formed that encompasses both former districts’ boundaries, but at added taxpayer cost to establish; and 3) the Fire Authority has both success and failures in this state and needs more research if we are to proceed.

The Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District (WMFPD) is a logical choice to merge into the TLFPD. The Woodmoor-Monument district is nearly surrounded by the Tri-Lakes district, and one of many positive outcomes is better ambulance response times at less cost. Transporting the patient to the emergency room is what is really important. The multi-agency study completed several years ago recommended a cooperative arrangement using the Tri-Lakes district’s ambulances.

Currently the WMFPD board members are in merger discussions with Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) in spite of very little common borders of their respective districts. In the past, the Palmer Lake voters defeated a proposed 6 mill levy to fund the PLVFD; a successful election would be required to create a mill levy on Palmer Lake residents equal to that of WMFPD (9 mill levy) at the time of the inclusion into WMFPD. Tri-Lakes Fire continues to provide mutual aid fire and ambulance service to Palmer Lake residents, and in spite of attempts by PLVFD management to use other fire departments, I feel the current agreements between TLFPD and PLVFD provide the best service to the Palmer Lake residents.

3. The largest challenge is how to continue to deliver first-rate emergency services in an effective, cost-efficient manner, given the region’s tremendous growth and the area east of Highway 83 just included in the Tri-Lakes district,. We must address the effects of the expected growth and maintain the required capability to provide emergency services with highly trained and professional personnel. A perfect example is the ongoing construction of TLFPD Station 2 on Highway 105 and Rollercoaster Road.

John M. Hartling

1. I have resided in the TLFPD since 1976 and have seen it grow in both population and geographical area from a very small ranch/farm and bedroom community to a bustling residential and business community. For almost five years in the early 1980s, my wife, two sons, and I worked as volunteers with the TLFPD. At that time, I was an EMT, a state-certified Firefighter II, and briefly a lieutenant in charge of Station 2. I feel that, in spite of the tremendous growth in the area and concomitant demands on resources, I remain familiar with the overall operation and personnel of the TLFPD. I retired from the U.S. Navy in 1980 after serving for five years as an assistant professor of computer science at the Air Force Academy. I had a subsequent 20-year career in the computer industry as an engineering and general manager, retired in 2000 as CEO and chairman of the board for Sistina Software. I am currently a certified scuba diving instructor and am working with the TLFPD to certify a rescue diver team. I am active in the Monument community, serving as the vice president of Tri-Lakes Cares, secretary of the local Knights of Columbus council, and tutor for the Step-by-Step remedial reading program in support of School District 38.

2. I am strongly in favor of consolidating the fire and rescue resources into one fire district serving the northern part of the county. As residents, our tax dollars and resources are scarce and the demands on both are growing yearly. Having redundant resources (e.g., two hook and ladders) within several miles of each other is a waste of money, which could be reallocated to boost the coverage in the eastern and southern portions of our district. I fully understand the history and complexity of this issue, but I feel strongly that if the board of directors of the collective agencies would put the interest of the community as their highest priority, they will find a way to make it happen.

3. I believe the greatest issue facing TLFPD is providing adequate and timely fire and rescue services to the entire district. Getting Station 2 up, staffed, and running is critical. Having waited for an ambulance on two occasions in the last year, I can vouch that the response time to the eastern portion of the district is long, given the climb up Highway 105; all too frequently in the winter, this road is closed. The only true solution to this problem is Station 2. I believe the same issue will exist in the southern part of the district until local resources are established.

James M. Lipper

1. I have to admit to being a fire buff. Being a fire buff also means that I have an intense interest in the local fire departments. I volunteer with the Pikes Peak Firefighters Association Fire Rehab Service and have seen up close how the local fire departments work together. As a part of my hobby, antique fire apparatus, I subscribe to fire trade magazines and have a much better understanding of the fire service and its history than the average person. If elected to the board, I plan on representing the taxpayers’ interest. Respecting what our firefighters do and wanting to help make the district better I consider to be my qualifications. Following what’s been going on, I have many ideas that will help to provide for a better district.

2. I consider the best solution to the merger question is one district for all of the northwest part of the county. The district boundaries as they now exist would make Governor Gerry of gerrymandering fame proud. Without throwing stones at any one department, the utilization and type of equipment purchased in the last few years, in some cases, has not made sense. If all the departments and districts were one, the best use of manpower, equipment, stations, and long-range planning would benefit all. My preference would be for Tri-Lakes to absorb the other departments. I think that TLFPD has the best "corporate culture" when it comes to making the volunteer/paid department work. We can and should stay with the volunteer/paid system. Volunteers enable a district to provide fire protection at a reasonable cost. The other plus to this is that it has a much larger manpower base for major incidents.

Can we form a workable merged fire district? It remains to be seen. With new faces coming to all the fire boards, maybe merger talks can start up again and progress made. I do not support a fire authority. This only adds another layer of government and is a halfway measure to what really needs to be done. Forming a new district to accomplish the one fire district goal has a set of problems that it is not necessary to get into. What if the vote turns out like the recreation district: approval for a district but not a mill levy? I am not saying that I would only support my idea of the best solution. If a workable plan is proposed, I will consider supporting it.

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W/MFPD board meeting Apr. 26

By Jim Kendrick

President Bob Browning presided over a memorable final Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) Board Meeting on April 26. He signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) forming an interim Palmer Divide Fire Authority with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) that is to lead to a consolidation into a unified district after the 2005 special district elections. While not binding on either of the next boards, the MOU is the culmination of over a decade of merger discussions between the four north end fire districts. The MOU also provides for near-term inclusion of Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) into the fire authority. The MOU was approved 4-1. Sibell voted no, saying he would vote only for a merger of all four districts. [Details of the MOU are discussed in a separate article]

Public Comments

Browning, who chose not to run for re-election, thanked the board for its hard work during two challenging years. He has been on the board for eight of the past 12 years. He said the board has had "great opportunities to do good things," adding that he hoped Sibell and Tom Conroy were re-elected based on their dedicated service to the district. He said he would be swearing in three electees at the next meeting on May 24. Incumbents Russ Broshous and Bob Harvey are not up for election.

Browning commented extensively on recent newspaper reports regarding merger and the election. He said it is "interesting now that everyone is for merger. I hope that’s the case. We’ll find out if they’re really serious about it." He noted that Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) President Charlie Pocock "looks at 7 mills and $2 million in debt as no problem." He challenged Pocock to prove his beliefs by agreeing to a merger under the MOU and said, "He should agree that the debt stays with Tri-Lakes only."

Browning also noted that Pocock agreed to resume merger talks when the North Group suspended TLFPD for failure to attend meetings and participate in training, but then withdrew from the talks when the type of merger preferred shifted from a fire authority to a consolidation last July. Assistant Chief Jim Rackl pointed out that the planned TLFPD station in Jackson Creek is closer to DWFPD than Woodmoor’s station is to Tri-Lakes.

Harvey observed that he and Broshous had initially opposed an interim fire authority but now support the MOU. Conroy suggested forming a civilian advisory board, and several directors initially agreed. However, Assistant Chief Jim Rackl serves on the Service Improvement Task Force for the city of Colorado Springs, and he said that members of civilian boards don’t completely understand the practical realities of fire and emergency operations. He recommended against forming a civilian board for the new fire authority.

Chief’s Report

Bid Accepted: Chief Dave Youtsey reported that there was only one sealed bid on the 1997 Tahoe that has been replaced. The envelope was opened, revealing a bid in the amount of $9,100. It was accepted unanimously. The average NADA trade-in value for the vehicle was $8,800; average retail was $12,900.

Activity: As of April 23, there have been 63 AMR ambulance responses since service began on Feb. 9, resulting in 33 transports. This is roughly one transport every other day, which is the "breakeven rule-of-thumb," Conroy said. In March, there were 45 calls consisting of 13 structure fires, 24 medical, one traffic accident, four wildland fires, and three public assist calls. Total calls year to date are 134. There was considerable discussion about several recent Sheriff’s Office dispatching errors where a TLFPD ambulance was dispatched to a W/MFPD address. This costs W/MFPD and AMR needed revenue. Several directors questioned why TLFPD would respond to a call that was an obvious error and take the transport fee, rather than tell the dispatcher to change the call to Woodmoor. The chiefs were asked by the board to provide the Sheriff’s Office with a current list of W/MFPD taxpayers. Secretary Donna Arkowski recommended using County Assessor tax records as a reference to help correct errors in the new dispatching software data base. Youtsey said he would deliver a letter of complaint at the April county fire chiefs’ meeting he would be attending that evening.

Benefits Review: The report, when completed for distribution to the employees, will compare the W/MFPD benefits package to Manitou Springs, Security, Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, and Fountain fire districts/departments. The report will be finished for the next board meeting. The board asked that employee comments be gathered and forwarded to the board to help in making future decisions.

Attorney’s analysis: Attorney Tim Schutz wrote an opinion about charging for calls to unprotected property that is not part of a fire district. This analysis was requested after the board decided it would like to charge for fire responses and actual employee hours expended in areas that have not asked to be included by TLFPD and are no longer covered by DWFPD. Schutz determined that Colorado law only allows billing for "ambulance or emergency medical services" or "for requested or mandated inspections if a fire code is in existence…." The absence of permission to charge for firefighting service disallows charging or attaching a lien. The district has no choice but to respond to a North Group automatic aid fire call to an unincluded property, under current regulations, and has no way to recoup expenses for work performed out of district.

Board Secretary Bob Harvey said the district needed to amend automatic aid agreements with other districts for areas northeast of Hodgen and east of Highway 83, noting that DWFPD had already done so as of April 1. Furthermore, Harvey said that W/MFPD should not respond to a mutual aid call in that area with lights and sirens on, to minimize liability risks. Also W/MFPD should set a policy that its firefighters would not enter a burning structure unless there is a defined life threat. Firefighters should only try to confine the fire to the property if no taxes are being paid. He said the board must take the position that it will not "risk our firefighters in an area where property owners have thumbed their nose to the districts for decades." He said that action should be taken to ensure that a fire does not spread into a fire protection district, however. Broshous, Conroy, and Browning concurred with Harvey. Sibell had no comment.

Youtsey reported that Gasper Blea is no longer an employee of the district. Firefighter I/EMT-B Kristian Naslund was hired on April 12, and Firefighter I/EMT-B Joshua Verplank was hired on April 27.

Browning announced that there would be a special executive session meeting on April 30 to discuss legal and personnel matters.

The meeting adjourned at 10 a.m. The next board meeting will be at 8 a.m. on May 24.

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W/MFPD Candidate Statements

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) will hold an election for two four-year term board positions and one two-year position on May 4, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., at the W/MFPD Station, 1855 Woodmoor Drive.

An eligible elector is a person who has been a resident of W/MFPD for not less than 30 days or who (or whose spouse) owns taxable real or personal property within the district, whether they reside in the district or not. For further information on eligibility, contact W/MFPD’s Designated Election Official, Donna Arkowski, at 488-3303.

Three candidates will compete for the two open four-year terms: Bob Hansen, Marlin "Si" Sibell, and Rod Wilson. Two candidates will compete for the one open two-year term: Tom Conroy and Jeremy Diggins. Our Community News offered each candidate the opportunity to respond to the following questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a board member?

  2. Do you favor a merger by W/MFPD with another north county fire district and/or Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department? If not, why? If so, which form of merger would you prefer (consolidation, inclusion, or fire authority) and with which organization(s)? Why?

  3. Other than merger, what are the greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose that W/MFPD should do to deal with it?

Bob Hansen

1. I am a retired Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff and have extensive knowledge in emergency procedures. I also understand the feelings, attitudes, and concerns of emergency personnel.

2. I am in favor of a merger, and I believe the logical first step in unifying the north county fire districts is a TLFPD and W/MFPD merger. From the standpoint of efficient emergency service to the public, this makes sense, since W/MFPD is totally enclosed within the TLFPD and would not require traveling through another district to reach an emergency. Any other merger would create illogical boundaries and cause misunderstandings for the public. Boundaries drawn with little to no regard for service can result in poorly deployed emergency resources. This would result in duplication of services between competing districts, wasted public funds, and inefficient emergency service.

Currently W/MFPD relies on an outside ambulance service (AMR) to provide transport of patients. Under the current arrangement, if W/MFPD receives a medical emergency call, AMR would respond from the W/MFPD station with a W/MFPD paramedic. If the patient needs to be transported to the hospital, the ambulance along with the paramedic will be out of service for what could be several hours. This would violate the commitment of the district’s Mission Statement to provide "a fully manned station with four-man crews, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year." In the event of another medical emergency, an ambulance would be dispatched from as far away as Colorado Springs to Woodmoor/Monument. Bringing the districts together would improve ambulance response time and overall transport service to the residents.

3. In addition to the merger, I think the greatest issue is the concerns, feelings, and morale of the firefighters. I know the morale of the firefighters is low, and they do not have confidence in their chief. They have presented the current board with letters of no confidence twice, and the board chose to disregard their concerns. I believe it is time to start, "protecting the people who protect us." As a board member, this will be my mission.

Secondary to the firefighter morale, I think the mill levy on residents of Woodmoor/Monument is currently too high. TLFPD, which has an approximate service area of 50 square miles, runs their district on 7 mills while W/MFPD, with a service area of 9 square miles, runs theirs on 9.921 mills. I will make it my goal to reduce the current mill levy by investigating other options and more proficient processes to reduce expense while maximizing service.

Marlin "Si" Sibell

1. Years and years of public service.

2. Merger of all four north end fire departments.

3. Maximum fire protection for the minimum taxpayer dollars spent.

Rod Wilson

1. Water technician with the town of Monument; former firefighter EMT, 15 years service with TriLakes Fire Department; Monument resident for the past 22 years.

2. Regarding fire department merger/consolidations: We need to do what is best for the community and taxpayer. Unnecessary duplication of resources and services needs to end. This issue needs to be brought to the attention of the voters for their decision.

3. The two biggest issues facing W/MFPD are staff retention and management. Regarding staff retention, we need to discover why people are leaving for other fire departments. Is it pay, benefits, working conditions, or equipment needs? We need to provide a working environment that addresses all these issues. Regarding management, we need to discover if there is a problem between the chief officers and the line firefighters. If a problem exists, we need to create an environment of mutual cooperation and respect.

Tom Conroy

1. I am a current W/MFPD board member, appointed 19 months ago. I represent the district to the Joint Working Group (JWG), whose goal is the merger of the Tri-Lakes area emergency service providers. Professionally, I run the Storage Networking Industry Association Technology Center in Colorado Springs. We bring together the biggest competitors in the high-tech industry (IBM, HP, Sun, HDS, etc.), to work collaboratively on programs that benefit end-users. The challenges in bringing high-technology competitors together are similar to those with local emergency services providers. My educational background includes bachelor’s of engineering and MBA degrees.

There are clear potential benefits to a merger of emergency services providers in northern El Paso County:

  • Faster response times to some areas.

  • Improved ability to raise personnel skills through area-wide training programs.

  • Improved asset positioning to provide better defense against major fires.

  • Opportunity to reduce duplication and use tax dollars efficiently.

A successful merger depends upon several critical decisions. After the right skills and equipment, time is the most important factor determining successful outcomes of fire and medical emergencies. Station placement is therefore critical, with too-close placement being wasteful. Having the right skill levels of personnel and supporting them with the right equipment is also critical. If these issues can be resolved, best-in-class service can be delivered at the most competitive tax (mill) rate.

In order to move from the current collaborative three-way discussion and include all departments, I make the following recommendations:

  • Bring back the expert ESECG Fire Consulting Group to deliver (within 45 days) recommendations for station placement in a merged district.

  • Establish a Tri-Lakes Area Citizens Emergency Services Advisory Group to provide recommendations and advice. Important decisions include: What maximum response times are acceptable to residents? What levels of skill and training does the district want? Shall we have Advanced-Life-Support ambulance services? This advisory group would represent all geographic areas and fire districts and act as an advocate for citizens across the area.

In my proposal, final decision making would remain with the district boards of directors, but the merger process will become expert- and citizen-driven, as it needs to be. For any merger to succeed, it must be a win-win for all parties involved.

3. The greatest issues are: maintain and improve our high operational performance standards, and reach a long-term agreement with AMR to maintain our Advanced Life Support ambulance service. Operational excellence requires the commitment of all department personnel and the board. To succeed, district personnel must have the right skills, training, equipment, procedures, and leadership. Specific initiatives under way are:

• Management training and team building. The disruptive personnel experiences in the W/M station over the last months must be corrected. A leadership training program for all levels—chief through captain—needs to be implemented.

• A continuous improvement process for response times. Station management measures performance and have improved in all areas, extending even to the call dispatching done in Colorado Springs. All of the district employees deserve credit for the great progress that has been made.

• A hydrant maintenance program was implemented with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation and the town of Monument. The program should be completed.

Medical services represent the majority of the districts calls. The recent partnership agreement reached with AMR to station a paramedic-based Advanced Life Support Ambulance at the W/M station has been a tremendous win for residents. The agreement must be renegotiated in August 2004, and should be extended.

Jeremy Diggins

1. Being in business for myself, I have had plenty of experience managing a budget and managing people. I have learned the importance of making every dollar work for you and how higher taxes affect local businesses as well as homeowners. Also, having been a member of the Woodmoor/Monument community since 1986, I have seen many of the growing pains the area has gone through, which I believe gives me a better understanding of the problems we face in the future.

2. I feel that a merger of fire districts in northern El Paso County is essential to the future of the community. It will provide improved service and response times by pooling all resources under one management base. The best starting point would be the merger of Woodmoor/Monument and Tri-Lakes Fire Protection Districts. When looking at the district maps, Woodmoor/Monument is the donut hole in the center of Tri-Lakes. This causes fire trucks to respond from across major highways and intersections, even though neighboring district stations are much closer.

I am dedicated to finding a merger agreement that will work for both districts. With the consolidation of management and administrative expenses, the taxpayers of Woodmoor/Monument will save a considerable amount of money, without closing stations and still providing the best possible service to the community. The type of merger will depend on whatever scenario works best for the community and that the voters approve. When such a merger becomes a reality, a new board of directors should be put in place—fresh faces that only know how to function as one district, doing away with the pettiness of the past and with the struggle of who will be in charge. The old board members would serve the community best by remaining as an advisory committee.

3. The issue I am most concerned with is firefighter morale. I would like to know why longtime veterans of the department are suddenly in fear for their jobs, why other members of the department have left, and why the firefighters themselves have no confidence in their management or the current board of directors. It is important to listen to the voices of those who protect us; if the firefighters have concerns about the future of our protection district, then we need to be concerned as well.

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DWFPD and W/MFPD form interim fire authority

By Jim Kendrick

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been approved by the Donald Wescott and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection Districts (DWFPD and W/MFPD) that forms an interim Palmer Divide Fire Authority to direct joint operations between the two districts. While joint operations will begin, the actual consolidation of the two will not become official until it is approved by voters in the May 2005 election.

The DWFPD board unanimously approved the MOU at its meeting on April 21, and the W/MFPD board approved it at its April 26 meeting, with only Director Si Sibell voting against it. The memo provides an option to the Palmer Lake Town Council to have the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) also join the fire authority. Palmer Lake has indicated an interest in being a partner in the merger; if it signs on, it will be an equal participant in all acts, actions, decision making, and policymaking with the other two boards of directors. The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) board withdrew from merger discussions in June 2003 and is not a party to this MOU.

Background

The MOU is the result of several years of discussion among the north county fire protection districts about consolidation and merger. The end goal of the three fire districts that have worked on this MOU is now a unified fire protection district (FPD). However, until about two years ago, all the districts except W/MFPD initially supported formation of a permanent fire authority.

In May 2002, a study commissioned by TLFPD, W/MFPD, and PLVFD, was completed by the Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group (ESECG) that recommended consideration of consolidation/merger to improve fire protection services and emergency medical services to the residents at a reduced cost. DWFPD did not participate in the study, but agreed with its findings when they were presented at a public meeting on July 15, 2002.

However, an impasse with Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) subsequently emerged at the April 22, 2003, meeting over choosing between formation of a permanent unified FPD or a fire authority. At a special meeting held on April 24, the TLFPD board approved a resolution to terminate any negotiations with the town of Palmer Lake and W/MFPD. At the following merger meeting on June 3, the other three districts agreed to move forward toward a merger and formed the Joint Working Group that produced this MOU.

In the phone conversation where Tri-Lakes was invited to attend the June 3 meeting, Charlie Pocock, president of TLFPD, said they would not send representatives to that meeting because the agenda called for agreement by all parties on some items that Tri-Lakes had repeatedly said they could not accept. That included the requirement to stop work on their Station 2 and the decision to have the board of the merged district determine the use of Tri-Lakes’ ambulance service. TLFPD has boycotted the JWG meetings since then.

Goals and Objectives of the New Fire Authority

  • The DWFPD and the W/MFPD Boards of Directors will proceed with the establishment of a fire authority as soon as possible after the May 2004 special district elections, if the newly elected board members are in agreement with the provisions of the MOU.

  • Once a fire authority is formed, it will be governed by a board of directors consisting of five members: two from each of the boards of DWFPD and W/MFPD and one from PLVFD, if it joins. If Palmer Lake does not join, the other two districts will decide where the fifth member will come from.

  • The fire authority will have operational control over DWFPD and W/MFPD from the time it is formed until it is changed by election or otherwise.

  • The Boards of Directors of DWFPD and W/MFPD agree that they will pursue the formation of a Unified Fire Protection District Board prior to the May 2005 special district elections.

  • The current number of paid staff in each FPD will not be reduced without approval from each of the respective district’s Board of Directors. There will also be no staff reduction without board agreement at the time of a consolidation/merger.

  • The existing fire apparatus, fire equipment, and fire and staff vehicles will not be permanently relocated or assigned to locations other than their present location within either district without the prior approval of the respective district’s boards.

  • There will be no need for additional physical structures or fire stations during this interim period.

According to the MOU, a Unified Fire Protection District can:

  • More efficiently utilize existing fire stations and structures

  • Effect a better utilization of personnel

  • Effect a better utilization of fire equipment and fire vehicles and staff vehicles

  • Simplify administrative and operational services.

The MOU acknowledges that the makeup of either or both boards could be substantially changed after the May 4 elections. So, both boards agreed that the MOU can be changed or modified at any time, in writing. In addition, either district may terminate its participation in the agreement.

However, both current FPD boards agree that it would be in their constituents’ best interests to proceed with consolidation/merger plans, and they strongly urged any newly elected board of directors to commit the time, effort, and resources necessary to forming a Unified Fire Protection District. The MOU will dissolve when there is a vote on the consolidation as a ballot issue at next year’s special district elections in May 2005, unless modified by the newly elected boards. At that time, the unified district will be created or the districts will split and revert to separate operations.

It is also possible the MOU could be dissolved within weeks if Jeremy Diggins defeats Tom Conroy in the W/MFPD board elections on May 4. Recently, a group of W/MFPD firefighters who belong to the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) have allied themselves with the TLFPD board in supporting W/MFPD board candidates who live in the Woodmoor district yet are volunteer firefighters with TLFPD. The goal of these IAFF firefighters, and now the TLFPD board, is to change the makeup and majority position of the W/MFPD board from being in favor of the consolidation with DWFPD to seeking inclusion of W/MFPD by TLFPD.

Bob Hansen and Rod Wilson are running for the two open four-year terms, as is Sibell. All three have long-standing relationships with TLFPD. Sibell has already voted against the MOU and has long favored merger with TLFPD, so there will likely be two votes for TLFPD inclusion no matter which two of these three win. The swing vote on the MOU surviving is the contest for the two-year term between Conroy and Diggins. Conroy negotiated the MOU, and Diggins opposes consolidation. If Diggins is elected, TLFPD would have three votes of five on the W/MFPD board, and they would have a majority that would likely vote to be included by Tri-Lakes. TLFPD would then seek to include PLVFD as well. Pocock lives in Palmer Lake.

[The positions of all the candidates for the three fire district elections in the region are found on pages 25, 27, and 29.]

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Differences between fire districts make merger difficult

By Jim Kendrick

It has taken years to create the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Donald Wescott and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection Districts that was finally approved on April 26. The four northern fire districts that have been the subject of merger discussions, are Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD), Woodmoor /Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD), Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD), and Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD).

The tabular listing on the facing page shows the differences in equipment, supervisory structure, manning, and types of firefighting and emergency medical qualifications among the four districts shows why, in part, seeking a merger has been so difficult. The differences are the result of each of the districts meeting very different needs. The listing also shows why merger makes sense despite these differing requirements. Consolidation of so many valuable resources in equipment and manning should produce improved service and lower costs.

The table of numbers does not take into account other important differences in mill levies, voter-approved methods of calculation of mill rates, or debt. Three districts have mill levies; one has none. Two have about the same mill levy. The third is higher. One district has $1.8 million in debt; another has none. In the other two districts, one has cash reserves equal to debt and one has no cash reserves whatsoever. Three districts have roughly $1 million budgets. Palmer Lake’s volunteers are forced to make do with only $47,935 and a firehouse where their pumper can only back in if nothing is behind it and the mirrors are fully retracted.

Three districts actively support all North Group (NG) training goals, while Tri-Lakes had been suspended from North Group for not consistently participating in group meetings and because its personnel did not participate in training conducted jointly. Tri-Lakes remains on probation, which was scheduled for review at the April 14 NG meeting, but was continued because no TLFPD representative attended.

Response times (not part of this chart) have exceeded six minutes in each of the four districts for varying reasons at times over the years, but some will be reduced when the Tri-Lakes’ Roller Coaster Road Station is opened. They will continue to exceed six minutes in TLFPD and W/MFPD because Monument’s interchange construction has impeded traffic, contributing to delays; the potential but unfunded Baptist Road interchange construction will make the problem worse for several more years.

Note the following differences among the district statistics listed:

  • Two have 75-foot aerial ladder "quint" fire engines, and two do not.

  • Three have tenders to carry water to isolated locations away from hydrants and cisterns. One has no tenders because the entire district has readily available hydrants.

  • One has a six-wheel drive tender to drive off-road or climb the mountainous trails behind Mt. Herman; the others do not.

  • One owns three ambulances, and one has none, while the other two contract with AMR.

  • AMR provides a driver/EMT to one district, but a driver/paramedic to the other.

  • One district has three smaller SUVs, one has a Suburban, one has a Hummer, and one has none.

  • Two districts have two staff cars for their chiefs, two have no vehicle for their chiefs.

  • One has two spare pumpers and a spare tender; the others have none.

  • One has two supervisors; another has 10.

  • Two districts have lieutenants, two have none.

  • One has a fire marshal, the others have none.

  • Two have certified fire officers, two do not.

  • One has a certified Fire Officer IV, the others have none.

  • Two have part-timers budgeted, two do not.

  • One district is staffed completely by full-timers, one has none. The others recruit and develop volunteers differently.

While merging equipment will benefit all, the inevitable changes in staffing models that are needed to achieve standardization will require firm leadership, skillful management, and a spirit of compromise to avoid bad feelings among the personnel in the new unified district. Should repositioning of fire engines, ambulances, or other vehicles or equipment also prove to be more cost effective, a similar spirit of acceptance will be helpful. However, since all four staffs have worked together on automatic and mutual aid calls for years, the initial merger should start smoothly.

All these differences are pointed out to help voters understand that merger issues are not trivial. OCN does not propose solutions or priorities to these inherent systemic conflicts. That is the job of the Joint Working Group and the respective boards. The voters will have a say on May 4 when they vote for candidates in special district elections. The views of most of the candidates on major issues are printed elsewhere in this edition; often they differ as well. Who you choose to vote for does make a difference in this election.

Equipment DWFPD PLVFD TLFPD W/MFPD
Quints (aerial ladder)  1 (1,750 GPM/450 gal)
(75 ft ladder)
1 (1500 GPM/300 gal)
(75 ft ladder)
Pumpers  1 (1500 GPM/500 gal)

1 (1250 GPM/750 gal)

2 spares available

1 (1250 GPM/1000 gal)  1 (1250 GPM/500 gal) 1 (1500 GPM/750 gal)
Tenders  1 (1500 gallons)

1 (1100 gallons)

1 Spare available
1 (1000 gallons)
(all wheel drive) 
1 (1500 gal)  0
Brush Trucks 2 2 2 1
Ambulances 1 (AMR contract) 0 3 (owned) 1 (AMR contract)
SUVs  1 Hummer  1 Suburban (Rescue)
(used for medical calls)
0 1 Tahoe

1 Blazer

Staff Cars 2 (Chevy Impalas) 0 0 0
Supervisors DWFPD PLVFD TLFPD W/MFPD
Chief 1 (Full-Time) 1 (Volunteer) 1 (Full-Time) 1 (Full-Time)
Assistant Chief 1 (Full-Time) 1 (Volunteer) 1 (Full-Time) 1 (Full-Time)
Battalion Chief 1 (Full-Time)      
Training Chief 1 (Volunteer)      
Shift Captain 2 (Full-Time)   3 (Full-Time) 3 (Full-Time)
Shift Captain 1 (Volunteer)      
Safety Captain 1 (Volunteer)      
Lieutenant 1 (Full-Time)   3 (Full-Time)  
Lieutenant 1 (Volunteer)   1 (admin volunteer)  
Fire Marshall       1 (acting)
Qualifications (Full-Time) DWFPD PLVFD TLFPD W/MFPD
Total Personnel 10 0 12 13
Fire Officer VI       1
Fire Officer I 1     7
Firefighter II 2   9 3
Firefighter I 6   3 2
Paramedic 2   4 6
EMT-I     6  
EMT-B 8   2 6
First Responders       1
Driver/Paramedic N/A (1 from AMR)      
Driver/EMT-B       N/A (1 from AMR)
Qualifications (Part-Time) DWFPD PLVFD TLFPD W/MFPD
Total 0 0 7 7
Fire Officer I       1
Firefighter II       5
Firefighter I     7 1
Paramedic     7 4
EMT-B       3
Qualifications (Volunteers) DWFPD PLVFD TLFPD W/MFPD
Total 26 17 40 0
Firefighter II 1 4 7  
Firefighter I 20 13 15  
Paramedic 2   3  
EMT-I 1   3  
EMT-B 19 6 30  
First Responders   11 1  

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Meeting of North Group chiefs Apr. 14

By Jim Kendrick

The North Group (NG) chiefs met at the Woodmen Valley Fire Protection District on April 14 to coordinate training, communications, and group policies. Representatives from Larkspur, Palmer Lake, Woodmoor/Monument, Donald Wescott, Black Forest, and the Air Force Academy fire organizations attended. Assistant Chief Woodrick of the Franktown Fire Protection District (FPD) also attended, and his district has expressed an interest in joining the North Group. This would further strengthen automatic and mutual aid support for members.

The chiefs had planned to review Tri-Lakes’ probationary status as a member of North Group but continued the issue to the May meeting. No representative from Tri-Lakes FPD attended this meeting. Reportedly, lack of attendance is one of the reasons Tri-Lakes continues to be on probation.

The NG departments are testing the use of plain language radio identifiers for emergency vehicles in lieu of the current numbering system. For instance, "Engine 2112" does not mean much to new personnel using emergency frequencies, but "Wescott Engine 1" may be easier to say and understand when under stress and in a noisy operational environment.

Member departments announced several training programs and arrangements were made to fill seats and share expenses. One benefit that NG can offer cash-strapped members is discounts for training.

One unique training program NG provides is hands-on operations with portable water storage tanks that are common equipment for rural fire districts but rarely seen in city fire operations. These "porta-tanks" look like, and are sometimes called, swimming pools and hold up to 2,500 gallons. The Colorado Springs Fire Department will take this training on May 22 and will practice using three "pools" to simulate operations in areas without hydrants.

Black Forest FPD Chief Dave Ury briefed the group on his current plans to establish a joint station with Falcon FPD in the north end of the county east of Highway 83. This unincluded area is surrounded by Franktown, Falcon, Black Forest, and Tri-Lakes. Ury is trying to get residents of old ranches and new subdivisions to join a district and thus reduce the likelihood of wildfire problems spreading to these four districts from areas without fire protection. Serious ethical and legal questions are raised when fire companies leave their districts to fight fires on property where owners pay no fire taxes.

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Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners meeting Apr. 8

By Jim Kendrick

Despite the wet snows of April, the wildfire season has already begun. Recently, about 60 acres near Filly Road in north El Paso County between Franktown, Tri-Lakes, Black Forest, and Falcon burned after a rocket launch went awry. The Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners (PPWPP) constituent fire districts are once again taking on the task of informing the public of the need for preparedness as the wildfire season approaches. They are also organizing programs to help property owners eliminate or reduce slash by chipping and mulching, as well as minimizing other wildfire hazards.

Twenty organizations from El Paso, Douglas, and Teller Counties were represented at the PPWPP meeting at the Monument Work Center on April 8. Chief Julie Lokken of Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Chief Dave Youtsey of Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District are officers in PPWPP.

Locally, Youtsey will supervise the chipping project that is set to start at the Woodmoor/Monument fire station at 1855 Woodmoor Drive on May 15. Further information is available at 488-3303. Lokken will be directing a Palmer Lake mobile chipping program that started on April 7. Contact town staff at 481-2953 for additional information.

A video will be available on wildfire mitigation at www.rockymountainwildlandfire.info, and a summary of appropriate wildfire mitigation steps can be found at this Web site by clicking on the PPWPP logo.

The next PPWPP meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on May 13 at the Larkspur Fire Station, 9414 South Spruce Mountain Road. The Larkspur district is a member of the North Group and provides automatic and mutual aid to Palmer Lake, Tri-Lakes, Woodmoor/Monument, Wescott, and Black Forest Fire Protection Districts.

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Lewis-Palmer School Board meeting Apr. 15

By Tommie Plank

Charles Holt presented a comprehensive proposal from Monument Academy requesting the addition of tenth grade next year. Curriculum guides for nine course offerings as well as budget estimates, including personnel and facilities have been submitted. Director of Curriculum Mary Ann Wiggs commented on the curriculum guides, saying they were a great improvement over the previous offerings. The Board will meet on May 6 with the Monument Academy board of directors for a final review and possible approval of the application.

Wiggs presented a long list of programs and services District 38 provides to all students in the district. This report was in response to the Board’s request to discuss what is offered to the majority of students in the district. While special programs for students at the lower or higher ends of performance and achievement are often discussed, the Board wanted the community to know that District 38 also offers exceptional opportunities for "typical" students.

The Board approved contract extensions for personnel for the 2004-05 school year. Joe Subialka, financial director, reported that there will be a 2 percent increase in premiums in health insurance coverage for the coming year. This follows a 34 percent increase last year. Educational sessions concerning insurance usage have been held with the staff this year and are felt to be largely responsible for the significantly lower increase in next year’s coverage.

Board members discussed the meetings they have been conducting with various groups within the district to receive input regarding high school education. They feel that the essential question is, What opportunities do students need in the high school experience to be ready for life after high school? Board members expressed their appreciation of the participation and comments they have received thus far. Next month they will begin meeting with leaders in the community to receive their input.

Dr. Pete Heinz reported on the April District Advisory and Accountability Committee (DAAC) meeting. He believes the building plans process has made a difference and DAAC has never been so energized. The next meeting will be May 4, when Joy Quaite will discuss the CSAP grading process. They will wrap up the year by electing officers, and currently are in need of a secretary for next year.

Superintendent Dave Dilley announced that the District has received approval from the Colorado Department of Education to become its own special education administrative unit next year. The District will maintain an associate status membership in the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Nate Keisling, a fourth grader at Lewis-Palmer Elementary, showed a video of his construction of a steam engine and his explanation of how steam engines work, a project in his Gifted and Talented program. The Palmer Lake Elementary School’s Cat’s Meow Choir and the Lewis-Palmer Elementary School Choir entertained the board and audience by performing three songs.

Robin Mossman received a commendation certificate for her work with the Booster Club concession stands over the past three years.

Due to security measures at the Air Force Academy, Lewis-Palmer High School graduation has been changed to Wednesday, May 26, 6 p.m., in Clune Arena at the Academy. The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be May 19 at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building.

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Donala Candidate Statements

By Jim Kendrick

The Donala Water and Sanitation District will hold an election for two four-year term board positions on May 4, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., at Antelope Trails Elementary School, 15280 Jessie Drive, located on the southwest corner of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive.

An eligible elector is a person who has been a resident of the Donala district for not less than 30 days or who (or whose spouse) owns taxable real or personal property within the district, whether they reside in the district or not. For further information on eligibility, contact Donala’s Designated Election Official, Jackie Sipes, at 488-3603.

Six candidates will compete for the two open four-year terms: Dale E. Schendzielos, Charles L. Schmidt, Mark T. Moore, Edward H. Houle, Kristine (Teena) Barager, and George (Tom) Wall. Our Community News offered each candidate the opportunity to respond to the following questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a board member?

  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the Donala district and what would you propose that Donala should do to deal with them?

Dale E. Schendzielos

1. I have recently retired after 30 years from Colorado Springs Utilities, where I was the telecommunications manager, a senior position. I was responsible for a staff of 42 highly technical folks, a yearly capital budget of approximately $2 million, and a yearly operating budget of nearly $3 million. I am very familiar with how a water and wastewater (sanitation) utility functions—from rate structures, budgets, maintenance, security, pipelines, pumping stations, environment, and personnel to drought concerns and water rights. I graduated with a major in business administration, with minors in accounting and computer science.

2. Like many districts in Colorado, the Donala W&S district faces population growth issues. How to provide the water that will be required and the wastewater facilities to handle the growth will always be a challenge. I feel that the staff and board at Donala have worked hard on finding new sources of water (buying water rights and drilling deep wells) and looking for partners to help expand the wastewater facilities. I would expect to continue these efforts, possibly through more inter-governmental agreements with other districts.

Another issue is water conservation. I recognize that most of us intuitively know how to conserve water, but I think an occasional expansion of the monthly newsletter would benefit us all. Too often, I see sprinkling systems running while it’s raining—a simple detection device would turn the system off. Also, programming the system to water every other day would help conserve water while providing sufficient water for the lawns. I do read the newsletters and have found good advice in it. I would promote more Xeriscaping, which doesn’t mean using rocks and bark exclusively. For example, I have replaced 50 percent of my Kentucky bluegrass with a Colorado native seed that is greener, uses less water, and seems to be free of dandelions. I am a big advocate of lower water bills—only conservation can make it happen.

Charles L. Schmidt

1. I have a bachelor of science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and did post-graduate studies in industrial relations at the University of Minnesota. During many years serving my country as an officer in the U.S. Army, I held numerous command and staff positions requiring leadership as well as administrative skills to get the job done.

Since retirement from the military service, I have served on volunteer civilian boards as director, finance chair, fund-raising chair, vice-president, and president. I currently serve as president of two volunteer organizations: Gleneagle North Homeowners Association and the 11th Armored Cavalry Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia. The former serves some 480-plus homeowners in Gleneagle, and the latter has a membership of over 4,000 veterans. As president of each organization, I coordinate myriad activities to include various committees, volunteers, budget, monthly and annual meetings, and an annual reunion at numerous locations around the country, with attendance normally exceeding 1,000.

Both my military experience and my volunteer work as a retired officer provide me the background to serve on the Board of Directors of the Donala Water and Sanitation District.

2. The first and most important issue facing the Donala district is the reliance on the Denver Basin of aquifers as the primary source of supply.

There is no simple answer to the issue of relying on a nonrenewable water supply. Donala must continue to work through the El Paso County Water Authority and seek to form and join other coalitions to locate and develop renewable sources. As other communities around the Donala district continue to drill more and deeper wells, the problem will only worsen. The key to solving this problem will be working with other users in a cooperative effort. The future is now when it comes to ensuring a future supply of potable water.

The second greatest issue facing the Donala district is encouraging customers to conserve water while avoiding mandatory restrictions.

Education is the key to solving this problem. Since Colorado Springs and surrounding communities have imposed mandatory water restrictions and Donala has not, the district must rely on voluntary efforts on the part of customers to conserve. Increasingly higher prices for increased water usage is another method, which could be a form of rationing, but this impacts lower-income families without necessarily having the desired outcome. It is essential to convince customers through education on both the need and how to conserve water (Xeriscape is one method).

Mark T. Moore

1. Over the last 14 years I have dedicated myself to achieving the highest levels of certification in the Water/Wastewater industry. I currently hold “A” certifications in both Water/Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations, the highest certifications in Wastewater Collections, Water Distribution, as well as Backflow Prevention/Testing. During this time I have been employed in numerous management positions and performed as a consultant. At present I am the Operator in Responsible Charge of the Triview Metropolitan District’s Water/Wastewater infrastructure.

2. It is my belief that the greatest issue that we, the residents served by Donala Water and Sanitation District face is the challenge to provide water in the future. It is quite the hot topic in this time of unpre cedented growth, limited precipitation and diminishing ground water resources. There are solutions to these issues such as better land usage/planning, xeriscaping, the use of native vegetation, the utilizing of reclaimed waters for irrigation, and conservation. The old saying that “You never miss the water until the well runs dry” is profound. I believe and will be an advocate for the best use of our most precious resource “water”. The second issue I believe to be of greatest importance is the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility. This is a process that has begun and will require extensive review and oversight. Having been involved in numerous projects of this nature I am certain that as a member of this board I can help to achieve maximum utilization of our expenditures on a project of this magnitude.

Edward H. Houle

1. Of the six candidates, I’m the only incumbent board member standing for re-election. I’m completing my first term on the board and am currently serving as the board’s vice-president. For the past few years, I’ve been involved with the wide variety of operations and development issues related to supplying water and sanitation services to the residents of the district. This includes several long-range strategic projects that will help the district meet future requirements. I know the current issues and future challenges that we face, and I offer experience and continuity as a current board member. Finally, I know the people and operation at Donala.

2. Let me first say that neither of the issues that I mention below is related to managing growth in the area. The properties within the Donala Water and Sanitation District have almost completed their final development/build-out, and the district has set aside both water resources and sanitation capacity to meet all future requirements. But, we do have challenges related to water and sanitation.

One major challenge is securing a long-term source of renewable water since we are currently dependent on the nonrenewable Denver Basin aquifer. Although this is a long-term issue and we currently have a sufficient water supply, we must address it now if the district hopes to supply water at reasonable rates in future years (2020 and beyond). To that end, the district is working very hard to find and secure that renewable source with a combination of interim steps (acquiring available aquifer water rights as a backup water source) while working in conjunction with other area water suppliers and municipalities to secure that long-term renewable source.

The other major challenge, providing sanitation services to the residents, is more pressing. We are quickly approaching the capacity limit on our waste treatment plant. The good news is that we are working with our partners in the plant to expand and update the treatment facility to meet all projected requirements. Visionary long-term planning allowed us to forecast this future need in a timely manner while also setting aside the funds over time, so that the update and expansion project will not present a financial burden to the residents of the district.

Kristine (Teena) Barager

1. There have been numerous times in my background that I have worked on teams to meet a common goal both as a volunteer and as an employee—most recently, as an employee of a large corporation working on the sales and marketing team. In this capacity, we established goals and objectives, then organized and executed a plan of action to meet those goals and objectives. I have also been elected to the vestry (the governing board) at our church and served for five years.

2. The two greatest issues facing the Donala district are growth of the district and its future water supply. The growth issue I feel is at the forefront because most decisions will be based on the resolution of this problem. I believe that the growth in the Donala district must be planned, sensible, and controlled. I know that there are many political implications, many different opinions on this matter, but it is one that needs to be discussed and resolved in a very orderly manner.

The second greatest issue is the availability of a future water supply. I feel that Donala district needs to be proactive in pursing this issue, rather than reactive. I know that this issue is and has been addressed and that it is on the front burner. I want to ensure that there will be a water supply for the Donala district for many many years to come.

George (Tom) Wall

1. The board will be well served by taking advantage of the knowledge and skill-set that I have developed by working in the trenches of the water and wastewater industry. I will use my experience from sitting on several boards in both municipal and private environments, as well as past and present managerial positions, to review and develop budgets, evaluate supply/demand issues, provide technical knowledge for capital improvement projects, set policy and practice guidelines, and establish reasonable goals for the district. My ability to demonstrate each of these attributes contributes to my capability of meeting the expectation of a board member to hit the ground running and have an immediate impact.

2. In Donala and all of the other surrounding and neighboring groundwater-dependent areas, the greatest issues are that of ensuring a continual supply of safe, high-quality, and affordable drinking water. I am confident that these are foremost in the thoughts and actions of board members and district management. These issues are long-term issues and cannot/will not be resolved during the term of an existing board. So rather than create new issues, elevate issues to an inappropriate degree of concern, or pursue a personal agenda, I think it is more important, prudent, and beneficial to all to have continuity of the future boards and the resolve to address these issues.

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Letters to Our Community

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in letters to our community should not be interpreted as the view of OCN even when the letter writer is a reporter for OCN.

Not a Fan

For several years, a dedicated group of citizens has invested countless hours to create a unified emergency services organization for the Tri-Lakes area. I have attended virtually all of those meetings. It amazes me that so many people, including individuals from Pueblo, have expressed opinions on the issue without having ever attended a meeting. It is also amazing that most of those opinions are so pro Tri-Lakes Fire Department (TLFPD) when they have withdrawn from the discussions. As one of the active participants, I offer the following:

An emergency services study was initiated at the request of the firefighters of the region. The board of directors of TLFPD refused to participate for many months. It was only when they were faced with a termination of relationships with the other participants that they agreed to join Palmer Lake (PLVFD) and Woodmoor/Monument (W/MFPD) in the study.

Upon completion of the study, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was formed for the purpose of studying the impact of merger on the community. At that time, it was determined that Inclusion was the method that was best suited to our community. This legal term is very important in understanding some of the following events.

Points of discussion included the number of and locations of fire stations, emergency response times, and appropriate staffing levels. All departments slowed capital spending to avoid overdevelopment and redundancy in staff and equipment in the event of unification—all except Tri-Lakes. TLFPD’s plan to build a station at Roller Coaster and Highway 105 was and still is a concern for the other departments. The study specifically states that a station at this location is redundant, wasteful and NOT recommended. Donald Wescott (DWFPD), encouraged by the progress of the JWG, asked to join in the discussions for the purpose of joining the unified organization.

Meanwhile, TLFPD was removed from participation in the North Group for unsafe practices—a serious concern for the other members of the JWG. TLFPD was eventually returned to the North Group on a probationary basis, but has yet to meet the requirements for being a member in good standing.

At a regularly scheduled JWG meeting, after months of discussing the details of an Inclusion, TLFPD called for a vote for a "fire authority." PLVFD and W/MFPD voted no, DWFPD voted yes—a vote they later withdrew. TLFPD terminated their relationship with the JWG and left the negotiations.

Today, due to the diligence of all boards involved, W/MFPD, DWFPD, and PLVFD have reached the major benchmarks of compatible relationships in daily operational procedures, Preliminary Pre-Inclusion Agreements, and low or no debt financial status—all as recommended by the study. All have excellent working relationships, from firefighter to the board level. Discussions continue to identify the strengths of each department so the unified organization can maximize its use of the expertise available. The goal date of January 1 was delayed by the reorganization required when TLFPD walked out.

I guess it is not so amazing that those from TLFPD keep writing the Tribune about nothing happening—they are not aware of what has been accomplished since they left the discussions. Those seeking to make major changes in the W/MFPD board need only read the minutes of the meetings to know that the JWG does not take election schedules into account in our actions.

TLFPD refused to participate in the study.

TLFPD violated the study recommendations with redundant facilities.

TLFPD’s debt load continues to escalate.

TLFPD walked out on the unification talks.

TLFPD cannot maintain the safe working and training standards of the North Group.

The facts of the Inclusion (both pro and con) will be presented at public meetings so the voters can make a decision driven by safety, service, and personal economics. I encourage citizens in W/MFPD, DWFPD, and PLVFD to talk to members of the JWG for answers to questions. Get your information from someone who is actually attending the meetings, hearing the information firsthand, and knows the details of the discussions—not from individuals who do not even participate in the process.

Susan L. Miner

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Oops

In a recent Our Community News article ["Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Mar. 15" in the April issue], you wrote that Pegasus Transit is discontinuing its Monument Express due to lack of ridership.

Pegasus Transit does not provide a Monument Express (not as yet). That is Springs Transit.

Pegasus Transit does plan to begin where Springs Transit leaves off this summer.

Further, Pegasus Transit plans to begin operations in the Tri-Lakes region as a local (through town) service, as well as regional bus services for Colorado Springs and Denver, for commuters.

Please visit our Web site at www.pegasustransit.com (then click routes, "Tri-Lakes") for more information on the services planned.

We look forward to providing the Tri-Lakes community with bus services. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions, comments, or anything. We would love to hear from you.

K.B. and the Pegasus Transit Staff

Editor’s note: In that article, OCN reported that express bus service provided by Pegasus Transit between Monument and Colorado Springs would be terminated in April. The article should have said Colorado Springs Transit. OCN regrets the error.

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Re: Re: Tickets

My letter entitled "Tickets on the Road to Tyranny" which mentioned no individuals by name, printed in the March 6 Our Community News, advised the people of the TriLakes area to beware of the possible abuse of government power by the Monument police department. In the April 3 Our Community News, a letter by one Diane Wilson attacked me by name in a rebuttal of my original letter. That being the case, I feel justified in returning her favor, even at the risk of beat­ing a dead horse. Her closing remarks admonished me: "If you ‘do the crime,’ then ‘do the time.’ Get real."

If my memory serves me correctly and my history books were accurate, in 1773 some of the colonists in Boston dumped a load of tea leaves into the harbor as an act of defiance against laws emanating from the government in London. If Ms. Wilson’s education failed to include this protest against govern­ment authority, she can probably learn more about it on the Internet somewhere. Our older history books called it "The Boston Tea Party."

And then in 1776, a couple of dozen individuals in the colonies pledged their lives, their fortunes, and sacred honor in support of our Declaration of Independence. This document can also probably be found on the Internet if Ms. Wilson is unfamiliar with it. In any event, if it were not for these few courageous souls, many of whom did lose their lives and/or fortunes, there probably wouldn’t be any "land of the free and home of the brave."

Every citizen of a free country has the responsibility, indeed the duty, to resist oppressive government. My advice to Ms. Wilson is to take the ring, by which the government is leading her around 24/7, out of her nose. Get a life!

Wm. R. Lamdin

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Don’t blame the mouse

There have been several letters published in the local newspapers in recent months that somehow want to blame "the mouse" for just about everything that is going wrong in the area. The mouse is responsible for there not being enough affordable housing, for the government taking away people’s property "rights," for eating farmer’s crops where there are no crops, for spreading disease (as if humans didn’t), and causing the realignment of roads.

In one such letter, the mouse was accused of not being smart enough to find other accommodation and not standing up for itself, but in another letter the mosquito was accused of killing people with West Nile. So apparently, the mouse is doomed to failure–do nothing and people want to get rid of it, and if it manages to figure a way to kill people to defend itself, we’ll get rid of it then as well.

All this ignores the real issue that bringing more people to the area is the real cause of the problem. If the area weren’t so popular, land prices would fall and there would be plenty of affordable housing. Only last week, a coworker talked of an area in another part of the country where a house could be bought for $9,000. Presumably, the landowners in these areas are also whining about their "property rights" and how they are losing money because they cannot develop it because there aren’t enough people.

At some point we reach sustainability limits that weren’t apparent many years ago. The recent proposal to pump water from the Western Slope to provide supplies for the Front Range might have looked good years ago, but the recent photographs of a less than half full Lake Powell clearly show that there is no surplus to be had. A more recent letter complained that we let water leave the state for other people–apparently forgetting that they had "rights" to use it first.

The mouse serves as a warning flag to point out that taking wetlands and the riparian areas nearby is the wrong thing to do. Converting the most diverse and interesting areas into concrete channels has been proven in the Springs to be the WRONG thing to do. Mouse habitat and wetlands take up only a small percentage of the available area and should be preserved–we cannot afford the irrigation water to replace them with grass anyway. The wetlands moderate the temperature and control the runoff, and maintain a diversity of plant and animal life.

On the scientific side, no evidence is presented to support the case of getting rid of these "unwanted" creatures. As it is, the percentage of man created and controlled animals is quickly overtaking the natural world to the point where it would be easy to understand an animal population crash. This being outside the fact that many fish populations have already been reduced by a factor of 10 or more. Doesn’t this give us some indication that continuing sprawl and development might be a bad thing? Or is the idea to make Colorado a rolling carpet of concrete and patio homes with the occasional interspersing of Home Depots, Wal-Marts and McDonalds?

Why exactly are we wanting to celebrate the mass destruction of any species, be they abundant or scarce?

Chris Pollard

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High Country Highlights: Soil Textures & Treatments

By Woody Woodworth

Plants need a balance of minerals, air, and organic matter throughout the root zone to perform well. The single most important thing you can do for your garden is amend the soil. Care of the plants will be more effective and will conserve water and save on fertilizing costs.

In our region, there are three types of soil: clay, sand, and decomposed granite. Your soil texture affects the amount you water and fertilize. You can test your soil texture like this: Slightly moisten some of your soil and roll it between your thumb and fingers. If it forms a ball and is sticky, you have too much clay. Clay retains moisture and in such tight soil conditions, your plants may be unable to use the nutrients available to them. You will need to open the soil pores or aerate the soil. If you can’t form a ball and it feels a little grainy or won’t stay together, you have a better texture. If your soil feels too coarse, however, it may be too sandy and won’t hold enough water.

The solution to these problem soils is adding organic matter. In sandy soils, adding organic matter will create a sponge effect and help retain moisture. In clay, it will loosen the soil, letting it breathe and drain better.

The best organic matter is somewhat coarse decomposed or partially decomposed compost, peat moss, and aged manure. Compost from the compost bin is great, but if you don’t have compost developed, purchase some bagged compost or peat moss. My favorite compost is a brand called EKO. It has a good coarse texture and seems to be consistent bag after bag. Peat is available in bagged bales also. Barnyard manure should not be too fresh because young manure has a high ammonia content that injures plant roots.

Adding too much organic matter at one time can create a soluble salt problem, especially in clay. To avoid this, spread about 1¼ inches of your soil amendment on the surface and till it in to create a more uniform texture. Add organic matter seasonally to create the perfect environment for vigorous and healthy growth in your plants.

Knowing fertilizers is important. The "NPK" reading is on all bags of fertilizers, and what you select depends on what you want to achieve. The "N" is nitrogen, which stimulates top growth and aggressive growth. The "P" is phosphorous, which concentrates more on root growth and blooms in flowering plants. The "K" is potash or potassium, which helps plants fight off diseases and drought.

A good rule of thumb for early spring is use a fertilizer that has approximately twice the amount of nitrogen as potassium, such as 16-8-8. Lilacs and irises will bloom more using a concentrated phosphate in the fall, such as 0-18-0, to increase the blooms in the spring. Formulas comprised of even amounts, like 10-10-10, are also a good, general fertilizer to use anytime.

So remember: Amend the soil and fertilize wisely to achieve a little better luck in the elevated, dry climate where you and your plants live.

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

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The Society Page: Society and the High Praire

By Leon Tenney

The Palmer Lake Historical Society hosted Robert Connerly, one of our last prairie settlers, at the April event. Mr. Connerly told us about four generations of his family going West during the 19th century. He wrote a book about it called Settler’s Prairie: A Family Triumphs over Tragedy. In this book, he cleverly changed all the names so the living relatives would not be too embarrassed by the antics of their ancestors.

Mr. Connerly began by singing, "Who threw the overalls into Mrs. Murphy’s chowder?" He followed with tales about one of his ancestors in New England who managed to triumph over the many challenges that life had thrown at him. He was abandoned, and he found his grandfather. He was apprenticed to a hard-driving and tough disciplinarian, and he ran away to his uncle. He had no prospects, and he met his future wife in Chicago. He was beaten and robbed, and found a new employer in Pittsburgh. He eventually found his mother living in Nebraska and forgave her. He began living near a town called Sedgwick on the high prairie in a sod house called a dugout. He and his wife, Myrtie Chloe, had five children; two died young and his wife died in childbirth, but he went on. Their homestead was burned out by a prairie fire, but he saved his livestock. All of these adventures are chronicled in Connerly’s book.

All of us who have come to live in the West have ancestors like this. They failed in the East or in the old country and came to America for a better life. If they were doing fine where they were, they would not have settled this land around us. They all had to overcome many hardships, the least of which was poverty, and they all were willing to put up with raising many children to carry on into the indefinite future.

Robert Connerly has these memories that he is willing to share, and he has written many of them into books. Why aren’t we all doing this? Each of us should tell our tales of getting here and enduring here. Not just every January at Old Timers’ Pot Luck, but also to those who care the most, our own children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

We had a grand time with the Watkins and the Allens, who actually knew some of these folks Mr. Connerly mentioned.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events.

  • May 20, 7 p.m., the Society will see the Buffalo Soldiers of the Old West.

  • June 19, 1 p.m., local historian Jim Sawatzki will lead an informative Vaile Museum tour and walking tour of Palmer Lake. Meet at the Vaile Museum.

  • July 17, 1 to 5 p.m., the McGuireville Tour and BBQ Feast, featuring a superb antique exhibit. Chuck Pyle will entertain.

  • Aug. 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the annual Estemere Tour. Don’t miss this opportunity to tour the elegant Victorian mansion in Palmer Lake. Watch for details.

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Special Events and Notices

Save Rosie

There is a sweet little female cat named Rosie who desperately needs a good home. She has tested positive for feline leukemia, but she does not have any symptoms of the illness. Rosie is very playful, friendly, and loving. All she needs for a happy life is a real home. She is currently living at the Cat Tails Feline Health Center, but she has to live in a cage away from other cats. The feline leukemia virus can be transmitted to other cats via fluids from an infected cat such as saliva and tears. Humans cannot catch feline leukemia, and there is no danger to other species of animals. Rosie can be safely kept in any home that does not have other cats or in a home with other feline leukemia positive cats. Rosie was rescued three months ago by veterinarian Dr. Laurie Clauss. If you or someone you know could give Rosie a home, call Laurie Clauss, DVM, at Cat Tails Feline Health Center, 575-0007.

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Black Forest Garage Sale

The Black Forest Spring Show and Sale, along with the garage sale, will be held May 1 and 2, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the old fire station at the corner of Shoup and Black Forest Roads. Proceeds go toward school and community fire prevention programs, CPR classes, and equipment for the Black Forest Fire & Rescue. For information, call 495-4300 or visit www.bffire.org.

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Railroad Repairs Scheduled

Repairs will be made to the Union Pacific railroad crossing at Second Street in Monument on May 1-3, no times given. A detour will be set up that will route cars through Palmer Lake. Repairs will be made to the railroad crossing at Baptist Road on May 6, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will be no traffic through this point during these times. For more information, contact Scott Gaddy, (800) 689-3549, or e-mail sgaddy@aw-inc.com.

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Wal-Mart Committee Meeting

Concerned citizens are invited to a meeting May 4, 6:30 p.m., to help prepare for the El Paso County Planning Commission hearing of the Baptist Road Wal-Mart project May 11. The meeting will be at the Bethesda building, 15475 Gleneagle Dr., located on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive. Enter on Gleneagle and drive to the building entrance that faces Baptist. The meeting will be in the downstairs break room. For information, call John Heiser, 488-9031.

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Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Antelope Trails Elementary School will observe Cinco de Mayo with a school-wide celebration on May 5. Students from every grade level will perform traditional Spanish songs and dances. Performances are at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. After the performances, students will visit Antelope Trails’ version of a Mexican marketplace, where they can sample traditional Mexican fare such as tamales, sopaipillas, and salsa. Antelope Trails is located at 15280 Jessie Drive in Gleneagle. For more information, call Deanie Allen or Maria Claflin at Antelope Trails at 234-4100.

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Palmer Lake Art Group Annual Art Show

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) will present its 39th Annual Fine Arts Show and Sale, May 7-27 in the Tri­-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. The opening reception will be held May 7, 5-8 p.m. The exhibit will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays, May 9, 16, and 23; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Admission is free. More than 50 PLAG member artists will exhibit a wide variety of art works in different media. Funds raised from this show will be used to support the arts in the community and aid the awarding of scholarships to senior students at Lewis Palmer High School who plan to continue their studies in art. For information, phone John DeFrancesco, 4889685, or email: jdefrancesco@LCWA.com.

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Pleasant View Estates Neighborhood Garage Sale

Many sales along Becky and Tari Drives and the side streets. May 8, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. West of Roller Coaster off Stella, or take Baptist Road (Exit 158), east of I-25, right on Tari Dr. For information, call 487-8387.

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Mayfair in Downtown Monument

The Historic Monument Merchants Association is sponsoring its annual celebration on May 8, the day before Mother’s Day. [See ad on page 7].

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Spring Fling Event at the Woodmoor Center

Bella Art & Frame and The Woodmoor Center Merchants invite you to their Spring Fling Event, May 8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. [See ad on page 9].

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Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site Opens May 15

The Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a Wildfire Mitigation and Recycling Program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department, co-sponsored by Colorado Forestry Association and Black Forest Fire Department. The site is located at the southeast corner of Herring and Shoup Roads in Black Forest. For more information, call El Paso County Solid Waste Management at 520-7878 or Ruth Ann Steele at 495-3107, or visit www.bfslash.org.

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Wendy Woo Concert at TLCA

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) and The Wine Seller Concert Series presents Colorado’s award-winning singer/songwriter and recording artist Wendy Woo on May 15. Summer Hartbauer will open. Tickets, $10 for members and $12 nonmembers, are available at The Wine Seller, The SpeedTrap, and TLCA. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.com.

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Tri-Lakes Views Art Show and Opening Gala

TriLakes Views 2004 is a juried art show that will be on display June 4-July 4 in the TriLakes Center for the Arts, located in the historic Kaiser-Frazer building at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. Scholarships are available to offset entry fees for students. Cash prizes will go to winners in Best of Show, Best Painting, Best Photography, Best ThreeDimensional Art, and Judges Awards in Adult and Junior Divisions. The deadline for entry applications is May 15. The show’s Gala Opening Party is June 5, 7 to 10 p.m. and will feature a "performance piece" by world-renowned puppeteer Patty Smithsonian. Specialty wines, boutique beer and creative foods will be on hand. Tickets for the Gala Opening Party are $30 in advance or $35 at the door with the tax-deductible price benefiting the TriLakes Center for the Arts. Tickets are available in Monument at the TriLakes Chamber of Commerce, The Folk Art Gallery, Covered Treasures Bookstore, Petal Pushin’, Sabrina’s, and The Feed Store or in Palmer Lake from the Speed Trap or TriLakes Center for the Arts. Tickets may also be obtained by sending a check, made out to TriLakes Views, to PO Box 2564, Monument, CO 80132. For information on how to submit art for the show, contact Sandra Kinchen at 4810475, or visit tri-lakesviews.org.

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AARP Mature Safe Driving Program at Monument Library

The AARP Driver Safety Program is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older. The course will be offered at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., May 17 and 18, noon to 4 p.m. You must attend both days. Upon successfully completing the course, graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agents for a discount. Registration is $10; call 488-2370 to pre-register.

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Annual Gleneagle Garage Sale and Neighborhood Clean Up Coming June 11 and 12

This year’s sale will take place on June 11 and 12, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are a Gleneagle resident who wants to participate, simply choose one or both days, gather up all your treasures, and put them out for display in your garage. Around May 15, you can pick up your Garage Sale Help Packets at Peoples Bank in Gleneagle and First Bank in the King Soopers Shopping Center. For more information, call Terry Galloway, 487-3326.

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