Home  About  Advertise  Archive  Calendar  Contact  Help  Links  Maps  Subscribe  Topics  Updates
Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 2 - February 5, 2005

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

Prior Up Next

Contents:

the PDF file. This is a 11.4 Mbyte file and will take about 66 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

Return to the top of the page

Wal-Mart among likely new Monument Marketplace tenants

View renderings, photo, and download the latest Marketplace site plan

Below: Monument Marketplace rendering showing the proposed locations of the Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Office Depot, Petco, and other tenants.

Zoom in

Click on the rendering to zoom in

Zoom in

Below: Following announcement Jan. 10 (L to R) Wal-Mart’s Keith Morris and Roger Thompson, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, Monument Marketplace developer Tom Phelan and his representative Rick Blevins. Photo by John Heiser 

Zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

On Jan. 10, representatives of the Marketplace developer, Monument Towne Center, LLC, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced that Wal-Mart signed a contract Dec. 22 to occupy 206,288-square-foot pad A at the northern end of the 88-acre Marketplace site plan.

It was also announced that additional likely Marketplace tenants include several restaurants and a variety of other stores including a Kohl’s department store, Petco, and Office Depot.

Wal-Mart plans

Rick Blevins, representative of the Marketplace developer, said the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter is consistent with the overall Marketplace plan approved by the Town of Monument in 2003. He added, "The Wal-Mart store plan was approved through the town administration."

Roger Thompson, Wal-Mart’s real estate manager, said Wal-Mart would own, not lease, the store. He said that assuming no major problems arise, Wal-Mart would likely submit building plans to Regional Building in early March 2005. He added that they intend to start construction before the end of the summer and hope to have the store open in February or March 2006.

Thompson said, "This store will include a full array of retail services including grocery, a garden center, tire-lube-oil express, pharmacy, and a separate gas station."

Noting that a gas station was not on the approved plan, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn said the town must determine if inclusion of a gas station constitutes a major amendment to the approved plan. If so, he said the Monument Planning Commission and Board of Trustees would hold hearings on the change.

Thompson added, "We are hoping to have a gas station."

Blevins noted that a convenience store with gas pumps has been planned for the southern tip of the Marketplace site plan near Rodeo Drive. He added, "At present, there is no tenant or interest."

Glenn noted that the exterior architectural features of the store must conform to the Marketplace design standards and will be consistent with the existing Home Depot store.

Thompson and Keith Morris, Senior Manager of Community Affairs for Wal-Mart’s Midwest region, said it was a difficult decision for the company to switch from the Baptist Road site, which is directly south of the King Soopers shopping center. Thompson noted that Wal-Mart had held a land contract on that site since 1996.

Morris said the company considered resubmitting the plan for the Baptist Road site to county planning. He said, "We spent a good deal of time looking at how to make the Baptist Road site work. The [three] new county commissioners introduced a whole new set of unknowns." Thompson added, "It was hard to pull away, but the company is now 100 percent committed to the Monument Marketplace."

Morris added, "The project makes much more sense in the Marketplace location that serves the same population. It benefits from the traffic of being next to the Home Depot. This is an excellent location without compromising the amenities."

Thompson said, "We dropped our purchase agreement on the other site." Reportedly, plans have recently been circulated for a mixed residential and light commercial development on the 30-acre Baptist Road site. The plan is said to be similar to the plans suggested by the Wal-Mart opponents at the July 15, 2004 hearing before the Board of County Commissioners where the Wal-Mart proposal was unanimously voted down.

Morris declined to estimate first-year sales at the store but said $1.5 million to $2 million in local sales tax would be generated. Since the store will be within the Triview Metropolitan District, the sales tax will be split 50-50 with the town in accordance with a long-standing intergovernmental agreement between the town and the district. Morris’ sales tax estimate does not take into account sales tax losses at the other stores, including King Soopers and Safeway, that are within the town.

Morris said there would be about 350 employees at the store. Of those, he said 70 percent to 75 percent would be full-time positions. He said hiring would start midway through construction and added that a local wage survey would be conducted at that time to determine what King Soopers, Safeway, and other larger local stores are paying. He said the survey results would influence the average wages to be offered.

Blevins said adding Wal-Mart and its estimated 13,500 car trips per day to the Marketplace will increase the developer’s commitment of funds for Baptist Road improvements by about $500,000. He said Jackson Creek Parkway would remain a two-lane road from the north boundary of the Marketplace to Highway 105. Marketplace marketing materials showed the current traffic counts on Baptist Road and Highway 105 as 12,461 trips per day and 14,417 trips per day, respectively.

Regarding the water supply for the store, Ron Simpson, manager of the Triview district, said, "No additional wells will be required [to serve the Wal-Mart]. All the infrastructure is in place." Much of that infrastructure, including construction of Jackson Creek Parkway, was funded by $15 million in additional bonded indebtedness the district issued in 2003.

Glenn noted that the addition of the Wal-Mart traffic will increase the urgency for the Colorado Department of Transportation to rework the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange. He described it as a "dire need." Funding for that estimated $30 million project has not yet been identified.

Other likely tenants

Blevins noted that the Wells Fargo Bank branch is nearly completed and will open soon. He mentioned the following additional likely Marketplace tenants, some of which he said are not currently under contract:

  • Big City Burrito

  • Blockbuster

  • Countrywide Mortgage

  • Del Taco

  • It’s a Grind Coffee Shop

  • Kohl’s

  • Office Depot

  • Petco

  • Supercuts

  • Verizon Wireless

  • Wendy’s

**********

Marketplace representative Rick Blevins can be reached at 385-0555 or rblevins@jacksoncreek.com

View renderings, photo, and download the Marketplace site plan

Return to the top of the page

Gleneagle pond site of tragic drowning

Below: Photo by Jim Kendrick shows the rescue effort.

Zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

Zoom in

At about 5 p.m. on Jan. 23, Jeremiah Brockett and Mike Schmid tried to bicycle across the thinning ice on the 15-foot deep Gleneagle golf course pond next to Huntington Beach Drive. It was about 60 degrees. Brockett fell through the ice first, then Schmid fell in as he attempted to rescue Brockett. Brockett was able to pull himself out of the water but was not successful in rescuing his Pine Creek schoolmate and good friend, who sank before the first emergency crew arrived.

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District was assisted by AMR Ambulance, Colorado Springs Fire Department Heavy Rescue 9 and Engine 9, Flight For Life Helicopter, Black Forest Fire Rescue District, U.S. Air Force Academy Dive Team, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, T.S. 7, and Fire Rehab. Schmid’s body was recovered by the divers a little after 8 p.m. The search was hampered by visibility of less than four inches in the 35-degree water.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Board of Trustees, Jan. 18

Franchise fee dispute settled; Mountain View Electric to pay town $102,500

By John Heiser

At the regular Jan. 18 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT), the board approved a settlement agreement with Mountain View Electric (MVE) and selected three planning commission members and an alternate from among six candidates.

Among numerous other actions, the board approved relaxation of the noise standards for heavy industrial districts, reviewed a proposal to expand the detention pond for the Peak View Ridge subdivision, and received a pre-application presentation for Home Place Ranch, a proposed 440-acre residential development on Higby Road.

Planning Commission Appointments

The candidates were current planning commissioners Lowell Morgan, John Kortgardner, and Jim Thresher; planning commission alternate Tim Davis; Travis Easton; Len Erickson; and former Monument trustee Glenda Smith.

Each of the candidates—except Davis, who was absent, and Thresher, who withdrew his candidacy during the meeting—made a statement and answered questions from the trustees.

Lowell Morgan

Morgan said he is a self-employed physicist who has lived in town seven years, had an office in town for nine years, and lived in the area for 18 years.

Trustee David Mertz asked whether Morgan, who chairs the Monument Sanitation District, might have a conflict of interest continuing to serve on the planning commission. Morgan said there would not be a conflict since the sanitation district constructs and maintains a sewer system and does not have any role in the land use decisions the planning commission considers.

Mayor Byron Glenn asked for Morgan’s views on large lot versus small lot developments. Morgan replied that he objects to plans that put single-family houses on 3,000-square-foot lots. He said, "You are asking for trouble." He added that for affordable housing, he prefers creative concepts with patio houses and townhouses.

John Kortgardner

Kortgardner said he works at Synthes as a quality engineer and project manager, has a background in architecture, and has served on the planning commission for 6 months. Kortgardner said he has concerns about overall growth, wants to preserve quality of life and small-town atmosphere, and wants to avoid "a sea of houses."

Travis Easton

Easton said he works as a civil engineer and construction manager for engineering consulting firm Nolte and Associates, and that he is working on the proposed Timbers project south of the Home Depot.

Trustee Tommie Plank noted that Nolte works on various developments in the area and asked how Easton would handle potential conflicts of interest. Easton said, "I would probably just abstain."

In response to questions, Easton said he likes the area and wants to keep "the open feel, the open space."

Len Erickson

Erickson said he is an operations manager for Rampart Supply, has lived in Monument for one year, and cares for the town and being in touch with the townspeople.

In response to questions, Erickson said he wants to preserve the "friendly, small-town, family feel of Monument."

lenda Smith

Smith said she has lived in Monument for nearly 24 years. She added that she has been off the Board of Trustees for about one year and wants to continue looking after the community. Like Morgan, she said there was no conflict between serving on the planning commission and her position on the board of directors of the Monument Sanitation District. She said it is important for the town to "stick to the comprehensive plan."

After two rounds of secret ballots by the trustees, Kortgardner, Easton, and Davis were elected to the planning commission, and Morgan was elected as a planning commission alternate.

Peak View Ridge detention pond improvements proposed by John Laing Homes

Jim Miller, Vice President of Land Development for John Laing Homes, and Mike Bramlett, Principal and Director of Operations for JR Engineering, presented a proposal to reduce the discharge rate from the detention pond for the Peak View Ridge subdivision from 18 cubic feet per second to 5 cubic feet per second.

Miller and Bramlett said they are seeking permission from the board to expand the pond by about one-half acre. The purpose is to reduce existing downstream drainage issues. Bramlett noted that the expansion would infringe on a portion of a planned park. They proposed offsetting that by expanding another portion of the park.

Miller said, "Our project is done and accepted. This is not something we have to do. We wanted to do more. We are a good builder, and we want to stand by our development. We are willing to spend money to expand the pond. We are asking you to contribute land."

Trustee Gail Drumm, who lives in the area, asked if Miller had contacted the homeowners association (HOA). Miller replied that he approached the town first before contacting the HOA.

Drumm recommended that more general solutions be considered. He said that only 15 percent of the drainage is from the John Laing Homes project, while 85 percent is from the Santa Fe Trails subdivision. He suggested that the increased detention capacity should be constructed further south.

Trustee George Brown asked about construction of a common detention pond for the two projects.

Bramlett said there is a 16-foot difference in elevation between the two existing ponds, making it difficult to construct a common pond. He noted that the Santa Fe Trails pond discharges at 70 cubic feet per second.

A motion was unanimously passed to support the concept of the pond expansion. The action was subject to development of legal descriptions of the changes and approval of the HOA.

WWTF expansion

Roger Sams presented a summary of the proposed expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). The WWTF is jointly owned by the Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, and the Triview Metropolitan District. It is located south of Baptist Road.

Sams said the plant was constructed in 1988 and has been operating since 1995. He noted that it is now operating at about 59 percent of its rated capacity. He said the $85 million expansion project, which will double the capacity of the plant, is proposed to start in the fourth quarter of 2006 and be completed in early 2008. He said the expansion would provide for roughly 15 years of additional growth in the area.

Sams said state regulations require that the town, county, county health department, and Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments be given the opportunity to review the plans and make a recommendation regarding the project.

Sams said the plan is to present the proposal to the state in April with a decision anticipated in June or July.

The trustees agreed to review the plan and discuss it further at their Feb. 7 meeting.

Noise ordinance relaxed

Town attorney Gary Shupp presented revisions to Ordinance 32-2004, increasing allowed noise levels in heavy industrial noise districts from 45 dB to 75 dB from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and from 55 dB to 80 dB from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. He said the changes were needed for anticipated heavy industrial district applications.

It has been widely reported that Transit Mix is planning to submit a request to build a concrete batch plant near the WWTF south of Baptist Road. The ordinance change would make it easier for Transit Mix to satisfy the noise limit requirement.

The board approved the ordinance 5-2, with Plank and Drumm voting no.

Change in short-term disability insurance for town employees

This topic was continued from the Dec. 20 board meeting. Town manager Rick Sonnenburg reported that three town employees have accrued more than 360 hours of sick leave and three more have accrued more than 504 hours. The accrued sick leave was identified as a significant liability by the town’s outside auditor Kyle Logan of Swanhorst & Cutler, since terminated employees are paid for 50 percent of accrued sick leave.

Insurance agent Dick Welch submitted a proposal to change the disability insurance policy, reducing the waiting period from 90 days to 30 days for an additional annual premium cost of $4,353.

The board unanimously approved the change in policy coupled to reducing the sick leave accrual cap from 720 hours (90 days) to 360 hours (45 days).

Home Place Ranch pre-application presentation

View and download information on the Home Place Ranch property and vicinity

Dale Turner, representing Colorado Commercial Builders, said the project would cover 440 acres south of Higby Road, east of the Jackson Creek development. He said the project would contain 800-1,200 houses with an average density of less than four dwellings per acre, similar to portions of the Jackson Creek development.

Turner said the project, which would be mostly residential, would include a small area of neighborhood retail. He noted that the major commercial chains like Home Depot and Wal-Mart are interested in coming to this area because of the growing residential base.

He said the project would apply for annexation to the town and noted that the area was identified in Monument’s comprehensive plan annexation map as an annexation candidate area. He said, "I would much rather this be developed in the town than the county."

Turner added that the land includes 15-20 acres of beautiful rock formations and said, "It is our intention that those would remain as a park for public use." He also said connections would be included to the two trails that come from adjoining properties.

He said that some areas of the property are treed and the development in those areas would be similar to the Fox Run subdivision. He said, "We will maintain as much forest as we can. We want to do a plan that is sensitive to the surrounding environment."

Turner noted that there are also seven springs, several stock watering ponds, and mouse habitat on the property.

He noted that road connections to Fairplay Drive and Gleneagle Drive are intended to be part of the project. Both of these connections are shown on the county’s recently revised major transportation corridor plan.

Turner said he intends to obtain water and sewer service from the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District or the Triview Metropolitan District, both of which abut the property. He said that if the project is included in the Woodmoor district, a metro district would probably be formed to relieve the town of such responsibilities as maintaining the roads, doing snow removal, and mosquito control.

Brown said, "I’m not in favor of another metro district."

Glenn said he supported including a community park.

Drumm expressed concern about the amount of traffic generated: 800-1,200 dwelling units would generate 5,600 to 12,000 car trips per day. Drumm said, "They need to be quite a bit bigger lots to be consistent with the area."

Turner thanked the board and said he would return when he had more detailed plans.

Ten-year capital improvement plan

Glenn noted that with the coming of Wal-Mart, he anticipates the town will receive additional revenue in 2006. He said, "Let’s start saving Old Town." He added, "We need a master drainage plan for Old Town so we can phase the improvements."

Drumm suggested a high priority should be to pay off the town’s debt.

Glenn proposed a study session in March to start development of a capital improvement plan.

Reinstating the Public Works Committee

Plank said, "With the Public Works Supervisor not in the best of health, now might be a good time to bring back the Public Works Committee. They looked over sewer and water and access to streets to ensure the infrastructure would be done properly. It took some of the burden from the planning commission and board of trustees."

Glenn agreed it would be helpful to have a committee to review capacity. He said, "We need to come up with a mission statement."

Plank suggested the board discuss reinstating the Public Works Committee at its March 21 meeting. Trustee Frank Orten said, "We have done a fairly good job of streamlining the process. I don’t want to add another layer of bureaucracy."

Other actions and reports

  • Sonnenburg reported that the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency would cover town employees helping with construction of a new garage. The board approved Sonnenburg’s recommendation that Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall and his staff proceed with the project.

  • The board approved a grant contract with Great Outdoors Colorado for Limbach Park improvements. The grant is for $28,000 and requires a 50 percent matching payment by the town.

  • Drumm reported that the search for a new police chief narrowed the field to three candidates. Sonnenburg said he would start checking references for the three. Brown suggested that the board hold an executive session with the selection committee.

  • Glenn reported that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority has started preparing for property acquisition needed for improvements to Baptist Road. He said, "A bone of contention is the [proposed] full-motion intersection at Jackson Creek Crossing." The intersection would be near the current right-in/right-out access to the King Soopers shopping center.

  • Glenn reported that work is progressing on an agreement to accelerate improvements to the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange.

  • Glenn reported that County Commissioner Wayne Williams is supporting the town’s effort to use Monument Creek water to refill Monument Lake. Glenn said he will seek approval from the Colorado Springs City Council and has invited former mayor Betty Konarski to help in the lobbying effort.

  • Sonnenburg reported that President’s Day, a town holiday, falls on Feb. 21. The board meeting was rescheduled to Feb. 22.

  • Sonnenburg distributed copies of a letter drafted by the town’s water attorney. The letter is to be sent to 180 property owners and requests that they sign a deed transferring to the town rights to the water under their property. The deeds were to have been provided by developers when the properties were annexed to the town but the town’s records are incomplete.

  • Kortgardner suggested the board hold a joint meeting with the planning commission in April.

Settlement with Mountain View Electric

The board went into a short executive session to discuss negotiations with Mountain View Electric (MVE) regarding the franchise fee issue.

Following the executive session, the board unanimously approved a settlement agreement whereby MVE will pay the town $102,500 as settlement of the franchise fee dispute. MVE further agreed to provide detailed accounting regarding future collection of the franchise fee. The agreement also called for negotiations within 45 days of a replacement franchise ordinance that would "more precisely define terminology and the rights and responsibilities of the parties." As part of the settlement agreement, both parties agreed not to further discuss the merits of the dispute.

**********

The Monument Board of Trustees normally meets on the first and third Mondays of each month. The next meeting will be held Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St.

For further information, contact Rick Sonnenburg, town manager, at 481-2954.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Planning Commission, Jan. 12

Higher-density senior housing and Higby Road subdivision proposals previewed

By Jim Kendrick

Two pre-application proposals were presented at the Jan. 12 Planning Commission meeting to the four commissioners present. Commissioners Jim Thresher, Ed Delaney, and Eric Johnson, and alternate Tim Davis were absent. (See the article covering the Jan. 18 Board of Trustees meeting for changes in planning commission membership for 2005.)

Goldwest senior housing

The first pre-application proposal was from Goldwest II, LLC, which proposed a new and substantially different design for a seniors’ "independent assisted living facility with unbundled flexible services and home health care offered." The undeveloped 3.5-acre property lies between Beacon Lite and Grace Best Elementary School, south of the Pankratz Gallery Center building.

The Goldwest parcel is an undeveloped 3.5-acre "old downtown" city block consisting of 16 very small "historic area" lots that were originally platted when the town was first created. Goldwest first proposed replatting and rezoning the parcel for 26 to 28 patio homes on May 17, 2004. This revised proposal includes replatting and rezoning for 50 to 52 dwelling units, 44 apartments in a two-story structure and 6 to 8 patio homes. The parcel is currently zoned R-2 (downtown residential), so this second proposal for senior housing would also require rezoning to PUD (planned unit development).

Last May, the planning staff report to the trustees noted that the lots were "legally created and zoned" when the town was first incorporated, but are "too narrow by today’s standards for typical single (family homes)." However, one developer has designed new single-family homes with garages that fit on these lots and are under construction between Jefferson Avenue and the Santa Fe Trail, north of Third Street.

The stark contrast between historic construction codes and new Comprehensive Plan and Regional Building Department regulations creates complications that can often confound developers and town officials, as was evidenced by comments at the May 17 and January 12 presentations.

The new regulations add complexity for owners of existing "old downtown" structures who may not be able to afford to modify their buildings for new purposes because of the additional costs they would have to bear to comply with current Regional Building codes.

Even though the Goldwest parcel is undeveloped, re-platting the parcel would require that new construction conform to new downtown zoning regulations. The default residential zoning would normally be R-2, which is residential single-family homes on half-acre lots, calling for no more than two homes per acre or seven single-family homes total.

In May, Goldwest only owned the six northeastern lots of the block. It now owns the entire city block, including the central north-south alley right-of-way between the eight eastern and eight western lots.

Background: Goldwest’s initial proposal was a patio home development, presented to the Board of Trustees at the May 2004 meeting. The higher density would require rezoning to PUD (planned unit development). The project then consisted of 13 or 14 one-story patio home duplexes, with two bedrooms and two baths and adjacent one-car garages connecting, while separating, the living units. The exterior grounds would be owned and maintained by the developer. These units would have cost about $250,000 and would have included front and rear porches.

The developer’s representative told the trustees in May that this type of housing would be the kind that older senior citizens would seek in order to continue living in Monument. He said they typically only have one car, are not interested in yard maintenance, and will accept 15-foot spacing between buildings for a lower purchase cost. He added that while this type of housing is on the low end for square footage and yard space, it is not low end in cost.

The major difficulty with the first Goldwest proposal was that it would have been difficult to legally restrict purchases to senior citizens. Also, the parcel did not have enough water rights, with or without re-platting. In addition to the water constraint issues, development of Goldwest’s parcel under either proposal is complicated by limited traffic access and proximity to the elementary school.

Water issues

The 16 lots were legal when platted long ago, but are too small to meet today’s water standards for new single-family houses. However, Goldwest still would like to increase the density of the parcel’s zoning, above the current R-2 designation. Downtown regulations for new construction require at least a half-acre per single-family house, after replatting, in order to have water rights for at least one-half acre-foot of water per year for each lot.

Average water availability in downtown Monument from the surface and four Denver Basin aquifers is a little over 1 acre-foot per acre, according to water engineer studies recently conducted for the town. The 3.5-acre parcel would only allow seven or perhaps eight standard residential taps under the current downtown regulations, if replatted. However, Goldwest wanted to build 26 to 28 residences.

Recently revised "downtown regulations," which are different than newly revised regulations for developments outside the original historic area, require stringent water conservation measures for residential development. In comparison, under the town’s new comprehensive plan, there are deliberately generous water and parking waivers available to promote commercial development of historic downtown lots. Both Goldwest proposals call for individual ownership of each of the developments’ residential units, with no subsidies for the unit owners.

The town staff generally agreed with Goldwest that senior citizen housing unit water usage is usually lower than the average of a half acre-foot per year. This lowered usage would only partially compensate for the limited available water under the parcel.

However, now that the Trails End Subdivision has been annexed and approved and 3 acre-feet per year of water rights have just been sold to John Savage for expansion of his Rocky Mountain Oil Change and Carwash Center, the town has very few remaining available taps to sell to developers until another new well is drilled.

The actual water available under the parcel would have to be adjudicated before any decisions could be made about the substantial waivers required. The parcel probably can only supply about 4 acre-feet of water per year. For the May 2004 Goldwest proposal, 26 to 28 single family residences would normally require 13 to 14 acre-feet of water per year, and a purchase of water rights for 9 to 10 acre-feet per year from the town. For the January Goldwest proposal, fifty residences would need 18.75 acre-feet of water per year, assuming seniors would only use 0.375 (3/8) acre-foot of water per year instead of 0.500 (1/2) acre-foot of water per year.

Difficult Access

The only current access to the parcel is from the Adams Street segment that extends south from the Second Street intersection, just west of the flashing Santa Fe Trail traffic light. This is a dead-end with no connections to other streets. Access to the parcel from the east is blocked for the most part by the Santa Fe Trail. There could be an entrance road from Beacon Lite at the southeast corner of the parcel, however.

The short segment of Adams is heavily used for student drop-off and pick-up. The pavement currently stops well short of the southwest corner of the parcel, limiting paved access to only some of the lots. The heavy use and the very short setback on Adams Street may preclude on-street parking by residents. On-street parking is similarly restricted on Jefferson Street by the school.

Adams Street access to the parcel is further complicated by the existing school fence that extends from the school’s main entrance through three of the southwestern lots. The school’s track area also "infringes on the property."

The original Goldwest proposal included construction of a half block of First Street, eastward from Adams Street, to the north end of the alley right-of-way. The second access to the duplex development would have been provided by a new Lincoln Avenue cul-de-sac extending west from Beacon Lite to the south end of the alley right-of-way. The alley would be called Lincoln Lane.

Downtown regulations allow alleys to serve as narrow streets, even though these lanes are not usually allowed elsewhere. However, the developer told the trustees in May that he would be agreeable to a town request to widen the proposed Lincoln Lane to a standard width for a downtown street.

The town opposes direct street access from Beacon Lite to Adams Street because of the traffic hazard that may be created for unsupervised children in front of Grace Best Elementary School. The town erected a temporary construction fence to prevent parents from driving to the school from Beacon Lite across the Goldwest parcel south of the Pankratz Gallery Center building. The high number of cars using this unauthorized route had created what appeared to be an unpaved alternative "park" lane, which has invited more frequent use by parents frustrated with school traffic on Adams and Jefferson.

The board concluded in May that it would be very difficult to legally limit ownership of the proposed patio homes to senior citizens under federal equal opportunity housing laws. Young or single-parent families might look at these as duplex units as starter homes—which would mean more water use and more parking needs than the proposed design can support. Goldwest revised its proposal to the Planning Commission on Jan. 12, based on this advice and conclusion from the board and town staff.

Staff report

There was no formal staff presentation because the Town Planner position is vacant. There was also no discussion of the alternative Goldwest proposal and second sketch plan for 16 patio home duplexes that Goldwest also submitted for review.

The developer did not make a presentation of its first proposal to the Planning Commission in May. Commissioners did not receive a copy of the May proposal or staff report for that presentation.

No agency has reviewed the plans yet. The staff report says the developer "will work with the town and District 38 staff to optimize traffic flow given the peak parental automobile traffic at the beginning and end of the elementary school day."

Goldwest’s Revised Development Proposal

James and Mert Hull of Tecton Corporation, in Colorado Springs, will be "serving as the owner and construction company." Tim Irish of Designed Properties, LLC, in Omaha, NE, "will be responsible for the development, marketing and management of the new community." Irish gave the presentation after James Hull gave a few introductory remarks. Irish’s firm would also manage the senior housing services after completion of construction.

The revised Goldwest proposal would also require a rezoning to PUD and a formal replat to meet current zoning and subdivision regulations.

Road access remains limited

The sketch plan indicates that the western half-block of the First Street right-of-way would still be paved, but would be a dead end with no access to the parcel’s internal parking. As with the first proposal, the eastern half of this right-of-way would still be vacated and undeveloped. The plan shows some open space and a walking path in the vacated right-of-way. The platted north-south alley (Lincoln Lane) would be entirely vacated.

Adams Street only provides access to the parcel at the northwest corner via a driveway to parking lots for the patio homes and the western parking lot of the 44-unit apartment building. The western parking lot would be separated from Adams Street by a median.

Street access to the east side of the parcel is still blocked by the Santa Fe Trail, where it crosses Beacon Lite Road. A walking trail and open space would run along the eastern side of the parcel. The Lincoln Avenue cul-de-sac off Beacon Lite would provide access to the southern parking lot at the front of the apartment building. The southern and western parking lots connect at the southwest corner of the parcel, where Grace Best’s fence and track infringe on the Goldwest property.

Density further increased in new proposal: The proposed development includes two separate portions. There would be six to eight "senior oriented independent patio homes" along the northern Front Street boundary of the parcel. No description of the size or features of the patio homes was given. A common driveway onto Adams Street separates the patio homes from the two-story "senior assisted living center" with 44 apartment-sized units. The resident-owned apartments range from 700 square feet to 1,200 square feet. The units would have one or two bedrooms and one or two baths, as well as a balcony, deck, or walk-out patio.

There are only 40 parking spaces (less than one per unit) for residents and assigned supporting staff in the apartment building lots. The concept plan lacked specifics on how many apartment parking spaces would be open, carport, or garage.

The independent living building would also provide the following services and spaces for the residents and guests: dining hall and serving kitchen; housekeeping; maintenance; administration offices; barber and beauty shops; country store; library/media center; chapel; community room; activities area; hobby shop and craft room; meeting room; clubs; lounge; home theater; computer center; health and wellness center; billiards room; van transportation for shopping, medical appointments, and group outings; laundry; elevators; and guest rooms on the second floor for visiting out-of-town relatives.

During the informal discussion with the commissioners, Irish noted:

  • Terminology is important in assuring that only seniors could purchase the residences.

  • The development provides for "independent"–not "assisted living"– senior housing "with some services."

  • About 75 percent of the residents would have cars based on national statistics.

  • Seniors usually move in with only one car that is not used much.

  • Seniors would average 2.5 trips per day, much less than the 7 to 10 trips per day per vehicle in a typical single-family apartment or home development.

  • The property would have between 2.5 and 4.0 full-time-equivalent employees, depending on the use of dining, housekeeping, and grooming services.

  • Walkways would connect to the Santa Fe Trail, if possible.

  • The school district would support the residents’ interaction with Grace Best students.

Commissioner comments

Commissioner Lowell Morgan said that neither of the Goldwest proposals would work because of the limited water that would provide at most 11 low-use "senior" taps. The Goldwest proposals call for 26 to 52 taps. Morgan advised Hull and Irish to check with town water engineering firm, Halepaska and Associates, on how to adjudicate the actual amount of water the parcel could provide.

Irish said he thought that each of the 16 obsolete lots would authorize one-half acre-foot of water per year, and didn’t realize that tighter restrictions would apply after replatting. Sonnenburg said he would help Irish make the contact the next day.

Morgan noted that, while agreeing with the concept of the Goldwest development in a different location, those he worked with in developing the Comprehensive Plan really wanted the parcel to be commercial.

Kathy Spence expressed a similar opinion about the location. She asked for confirmation that the barber and beauty shops would not be commercial ventures open to the public, due to what she believed to be inadequate parking. She asked for specifics on which employees would work full-time for Design Properties, and which would be contractors, either part-time or "by appointment only."

John Kortgardner said he believed these seniors would be more likely than other residents to use small downtown shops, to which Morgan said he’d be interested on statistics about the number of trips by van to Wal-Mart compared to Safeway.

Home Place Ranch

View and download information on the Home Place Ranch property and vicinity

The second pre-application proposal was from local developer Dale Turner for Home Place Ranch. This large, undeveloped county property is south of Higby Road. Turner said he will seek annexation of this development by the town and by the Triview Metropolitan District.

Turner gave a brief presentation about the property he had just put under contract. He said the property, which is bordered by Jackson Creek on two sides, exceeds the minimum contiguous boundary requirement for annexation by the town. Because the deeds are over 100 years old, the parcel will have to be surveyed to find exact boundaries and acreage, which is between 400 acres and 440 acres.

Turner said he was a member of the committee that drafted the Comprehensive Plan and said the development would be consistent with its requirements. He estimated the development would include from 800 to 1,200 houses and one small community commercial "7-11 style" shopping center. Subdivisions in the woods would be similar to the Fox Run development and there would be apartments and townhomes in the pasture areas.

Other primary access routes besides Higby would be Fairplay Drive from the north and Gleneagle Drive from the south. Connections would be provided for the town’s trail system to connect with Fox Run Park and Palmer Lake. The existing rock formations and three ponds would be retained as park-type open space. He added that there is a fair amount of mouse habitat on the parcel that will have to remain undisturbed. (For more information on this project see the article on Page 3 covering the Jan. 18 Board of Trustees meeting.)

The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m. The next commission meeting will be Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 166 Second St.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, Jan. 13

New methods of funding lake restoration considered

By Tim Hibbs

Mayor Nikki McDonald convened the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting at 7 p.m. Trustee Brent Sumner was absent.

The council members first convened as the Liquor Licensing Board. Dennis Phillips of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts requested liquor licenses for two events: the opening of a photo show on Feb. 4, and a fund-raiser scheduled for Feb. 12. Both requests were approved unanimously, and the board adjourned at 7:04 p.m.

McDonald asked that reports from the Awake The Lake committee be added to the agenda for all council meetings and made several minor schedule adjustments. The council passed these unanimously, along with the list of consent items.

Committee Reports

Community and Economic Development – Buildings

Trustee Gary Coleman reported that the interior of the town hall had been repainted. All of the work was done by town employees, and he thanked them for their time and effort.

Water

Trustee Chuck Coleman stated that plans were proceeding to upgrade the pump on the D2 well.

Parks and Recreation

Trustee Trish Flake said that Deahna Brown, a local yoga and Pilates instructor, wants to set up classes in the town hall. Some discussion ensued about suitable class times, and McDonald noted that early morning classes would not conflict with other uses for the building.

Flake stated that she’s looking forward to working with the Awake The Lake committee on fund raising.

Roads

Trustee Max Parker extended his thanks to Bob Radosevich, Roads Supervisor, for keeping the town’s roads clear of ice and snow. Parker also noted that several contingencies for developer Randy Jones’ road construction permit had been satisfied.

The town received a letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stating that no additional study of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat is required on Jones’ property. Parker further stated that the Army Corps of Engineers had approved the road and that the Regional Building department had formally approved the project. Since all contingencies had been met, the construction permit was issued.

Police

Trustee George Reese reported that town police issued 101 traffic citations, made 4 arrests, opened 23 cases, and issued 18 other citations in December. Twenty-four dog warnings were issued along with 1 dog citation.

Fire

Fire Chief Julie Lokken reported for Trustee Brent Sumner. Lokken stated that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) responded to 1 fire call, 8 medical calls, 1 wildland call, 1 public assist call, and 11 mutual aid calls in December.

She also presented statistics for the department for all of 2004, showing the number of hours spent by volunteer firefighters on various activities during the year. Notable statistics include:

  • Total time volunteers spent responding to calls – 648 hours

  • Total hours volunteers attended training – 1,559 hours

  • Total hours volunteers spent at public contacts – 218 hours

  • Time spent on administrative duties and meetings – 6,258 hours

  • Total hours of volunteer time donated to PLVFD – 8,683.5 hours

The department is investigating the possibility of staffing the firehouse in shifts and is planning to purchase several Murphy beds to facilitate this. Lokken also said that PLVFD was the subject of a three-page article in the December 2004 issue of Fire Chief magazine.

Finally, she reiterated the need for homeowners to provide address numbers that are visible from the street, to help the department respond to calls more efficiently.

Mayor’s report

McDonald noted that on Christmas Day, Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt worked all day repairing six major breaks in the water system. She expressed her personal thanks and the appreciation of the entire council for his dedication to his work.

Town staff

Police Chief Dale Smith stated that he is preparing a grant application to secure fire sirens for the town. Smith noted that the town currently has two inoperable sirens, one in central Palmer Lake and the other near the west-end trailer court. The total cost of the new sirens is approximately $55,000. The grant is designed to provide all the funding for the sirens without the need for matching funds.

Awake The Lake

Committee chairperson Jeff Hulsmann stated that the committee has secured some legal and engineering assistance to review the report produced by CTL Thompson and funded by the town. He noted that newly elected El Paso County Commissioner Douglas Bruce had reviewed the water bill surcharge passed by the council at its December 2004 meeting, and is considering legal action against the town on the premise that the surcharge is an illegal tax.

Hulsmann asked if the town was willing to spend the money to fight this potential lawsuit. He restated the committee’s primary intention of refilling Palmer Lake with up to 80 acre-feet of water, and noted that the reason a surcharge was used as a funding mechanism was to obtain funds sooner than would otherwise be possible.

Noting that a lawsuit would likely be a poor use of limited town resources, Hulsmann asked the council to consider lifting the surcharge. He further asked that the town send out a letter to all residents, requesting a donation of $25 to fund the committee’s work to refill the lake.

He said that the committee is reviewing the tasks needed to revive the Lake Restoration Project (LRP) corporation, to take advantage of its tax-exempt status. Hulsmann said he expects the details to be ready by the February town council meeting.

Janine Engle, a member of the committee, presented an idea developed by the group to sell paper "Awake The Lake fish" for $1 each as a fund-raiser. She said that the committee would be selling these at various locations throughout the town and would also be working with groups such as parent-teacher organizations for additional sales.

Hulsmann said that the committee has divided into several working groups focused on fundraising, legal, governmental, and engineering considerations. He asked the council for $1,000 in seed money, primarily for mailings. A motion to provide that money to the committee passed unanimously.

Town Clerk Della Gray noted that the committee would be responsible for accounting for the use of the seed money. Hulsmann stated that the accounting would be set up to mirror the methods used by the fireworks committee.

CTL Thompson preliminary report on Palmer Lake Water Study

Bill Hoffman, the branch manager for CTL Thompson (CTLT) and a senior principal engineer for the firm, presented the company’s preliminary findings on the issues affecting the water level in Palmer Lake. Hoffman stated that the investigation was somewhat hampered by the early winter temperatures.

He stated that the east and west sides of the lake are composed of a red/tan layer of sand and gravel to a depth of up to 5 feet. The bottom of the lake is primarily a black clay and silt layer, which is less porous.

Noting "all lakes leak one way or the other," Hoffman said that the sand and gravel layers lose and gain water at a rate of from 100 to 1,000 acre-feet per year. The less porous clay and silt layer drains at a rate of from 1 to 10 acre-feet per year. He also said that the lake loses about 1 acre-foot of water due to evaporation during the summer, and almost none during the winter, although the extended drought probably increased the evaporation rate somewhat.

One of the remediation efforts his firm is considering involves a permeable seal on the east bank’s sand and gravel layer to restrict outflows. However, since water is not only lost but also recharged back into the lake on the east (and the west) bank, this seal would impact inflows back to the lake.

Richard Allen, one of the founding members of the LRP, questioned Hoffman on several issues. In response to Allen’s question regarding damage to the lake bottom due to LRP’s dredging operations, Hoffman said that he didn’t see any evidence of significant damage or impact on the water level because of the dredging. He noted that his firm has seen a reduction in groundwater levels of 5 feet or more as a direct result of the drought, and he felt this had an impact on the lake.

Hoffman said that a draft copy of the CTLT report would be sent to the town the week of Jan. 20.

Beckman appointed fire chief

The council unanimously approved a motion to appoint Phillip Beckman as fire chief of the town of Palmer Lake. Beckman will replace outgoing chief Julie Lokken. McDonald read a letter from the council to Lokken citing her dedication to the town as chief as well as her 14 years as a member of the fire department.

The council presented her with a Michael Garman statue in appreciation of her work. Vinnie Burns of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District also lauded Lokken’s leadership as chief and expressed his organization’s appreciation for her work and cooperation.

The Palmer Lake Fire Department now includes: Beckman, Assistant Fire Chief Rob Lee, Fire Captain Nora Birt, Fire Lieutenant Dan Reynolds, Medical Captain and Secretary Vicky Baker, Treasurer Della Gray, and 12 volunteer firefighters.

Business licenses approved

Jan Fraley requested a business license for Details Image Studio, a hair salon. The business will operate in the Escape Day Spa at 755 Highway 105, Suite O.

Jacque Erickson requested a business license for Jacque, a hair salon also operating in the Escape Day Spa. In response to a question from Reese, Erickson stated that her salon will sell hair care products and that she already possesses a sales tax license.

A motion to approve both licenses passed unanimously.

National Incident Management System (NIMS) testing approved

Parker read the text of Resolution 1-2005, a commitment to bring all town employees into compliance with NIMS. Lokken noted that the resolution applies to all aspects of emergency management and is necessary to ensure continued funding from NIMS. Employees will be required to complete NIMS testing by the end of March 2005.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Water surcharge rescinded

In response to comments received from town residents and a request from the Awake The Lake committee, town attorney Larry Gaddis composed Resolution 2-2005 for consideration by the council. It states that the water surcharge passed at the December council meeting be held in abeyance from Dec. 9, 2004.

Gaddis noted that one consequence of passage of the state law commonly known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, is that towns "can be sued for any little thing and they can’t recover attorney fees for defending from lawsuits."

Parker stated that council intended to do what was in the best interests of the town when it agreed to pass the surcharge, and Gaddis said that the council passed the ordinance appropriately. However, several members of the council felt that defending their actions in court was not worth the potential expense and effort.

The resolution was approved unanimously by the council. No other business was presented, and McDonald adjourned the meeting at 8:51 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Planning Commission, Jan. 19

Two requests for road right of way changes approved

By Tim Hibbs

The Palmer Lake Planning Commission convened at 7 p.m. for a brief meeting to consider two vacation requests. Commissioners John Cressman, Gary Atkins, Vic Brown, David Cooper, Ken Trombley, and Denise Cornell were present.

Residents George Parsons and David Bolko asked the commissioners to vacate rights of way in the Pine Crest Tri-District Assembly Grounds. Those rights of way are known as Loveland Slope and Epworth Highway, encompassing a total of 7,150 square feet.

Parsons and Bolko own properties adjacent to the rights of way. In exchange for the vacated property, both agreed to swap a portion of their properties bordering Shady Lane. The motion to accept the request passed unanimously.

Tom Day submitted a request to vacate a portion of Clio Avenue extending to Buena Vista Avenue and bordered by existing lots. The total area for the request is approximately 4,480 square feet. Day proposed that he compensate the town $698 for the property, which equals a fee of $250 plus 10 cents per square foot. He noted that he owns the properties on either side of the area to be vacated, and that no other landowners would be affected by the transaction.

In response to a question from Atkins regarding utilities, Day stated that an overhead power line runs through the area. Atkins said that Day might need at some time to grant an easement to allow access to the lines, to which Day agreed.

The motion to accept the request passed, with Cornell being the lone dissenting vote. In explaining her vote, she expressed concern that the town was underpricing its property.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes FPD Board, Jan. 26

Two fire engines donated to community college

By John Heiser

At its regular meeting Jan. 26, the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors agreed to give two fire engines (numbers 10 and 11) to the Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC). Both engines need expensive repairs. The college intends to use them in their firefighter-training program.

The board also discussed the 2004 year-end financial report and further work needed at the new Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road near Highway 105.

Director Rick Barnes was absent.

PPCC donation

Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes district, said the pump on fire engine 11 no longer works and would cost about $30,000 to repair. He added that in its present condition, the fire engine could be sold for about $2,000. He said PPCC has a similar fire engine but its motor and transmission are in need of replacement.

He said the college could build a serviceable fire engine for training by moving the pump from their fire engine to engine 11, which has a good motor and transmission. He proposed conditions on the donation require PPCC to:

  • Maintain fire engine 11 in a serviceable condition so it could be returned to operational use in the event of a large fire in the area,

  • Retain the Tri-Lakes paint and emblems so the district could borrow it for parades, and

  • Give the district first right of refusal if the college decides to dispose of it.

Director Keith Duncan said, "Engine 10 is 10 years older than engine 11. I can’t find anyone that wants it. It has a good engine and could be used for driver training."

The board unanimously approved offering engines 10 and 11 to PPCC.

Duncan said, "It is win-win for the district and the college."

Station 2 progress

At the Dec. 9 board meeting, Station 2 neighbors Mark and Elizabeth Woish and Andy Reid raised concerns about Station 2 and its operations. Pocock reported the district’s progress on each of their concerns:

  • The lights in the apparatus bay shine into the neighbors’ properties. Pocock said the problem is the total ambient light in the apparatus bay, and shielding the fixtures closest to the windows would not make much difference. He said the district is looking into fixed vertical louvers that would allow sunlight in but reduce light spillage onto the neighbors’ property at night. Duncan suggested lowering the fixtures below window level.

  • What additional equipment is planned for the antenna pole on the roof? Duncan reported that the neighbors are satisfied with the plans for the antenna pole.

  • The heating and cooling equipment on the roof is shiny metal that is unsightly when viewed from the neighbors’ properties. Pocock said painting the equipment on the roof is an item for the builder to complete.

  • Sirens are being used sometimes after 10 p.m. despite operational guidelines calling for lights-only after 10 p.m. Pocock said the guidelines are being observed, but when a left turn across Highway 105 from Roller Coaster is required, "You’ve got to go with lights and siren. It is a blind intersection."

  • The construction crew left deep ruts in the right-of-way in front of properties adjacent to the station. Pocock said this is an item for the landscaper to fix.

Pocock also noted that the bell on the telephone cannot be heard in the apparatus bay. Duncan and Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson were tasked with working on the phone system.

Thompson added that the radios at Station 2 are not hooked up. The board unanimously approved a motion to appoint Chip Fleming to fix the radios.

Financial Report

John Hildebrandt, district treasurer, reported 2004 ambulance revenues totaled about $225,000. He projected ambulance revenues for 2005 of about $300,000. He noted that electronic billing for ambulance services has reduced payment delays by as much as three months.

Hildebrandt noted that total revenues for the year exceeded the original 2004 budget by about $191,000, while the expenses exceeded the 2004 budget by about $134,000, resulting in a net surplus of $58,525 for the year.

Pocock added that the surplus will be carried forward to cover 2005 expenses. He noted that the current account balance of about $191,000 is more than sufficient to cover expenses until the first tax payments are received in mid-March.

Hildebrandt noted that combining the insurance coverage for the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District has resulted in significantly improved coverage for all firefighters and their spouses at a total cost increase of about $1,400 per year.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m., immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting at Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

Return to the top of the page

Woodmoor/Monument FPD Board, Jan. 26

Liaison between department and board discussed

By Susan Hindman

The idea of having a liaison between firefighters and the board was proposed at the Jan. 26 Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District. Battalion Chief Larry Garner requested the board appoint a board member to function in that role, as a point of contact, and the idea was discussed at length by board members and Chief Robert Denboske, who was seated in the audience.

All the board members were present at the meeting, which began at 6:30 p.m.

Liaison

Concern over chain of command protocol prevented an official decision on the matter. Denboske said he thought the idea was good, "but we’d need to limit the number of times guys come to you." He said there would have to be an understanding that the firefighter first talk to the shift captain, the battalion chief, etc., before going to the board liaison.

Garner expressed concern that there would be too many steps that would need to be followed. Board member Bill Ingram suggested they "keep it simple." Denboske said they could meet and determine the correct steps to follow. Bob Hansen, district treasurer, said several times that he would be happy to be the liaison.

After further discussion on how to best implement this, the board decided not to take a vote on the matter. Denboske said he would work out the particulars at a meeting later that week.

Update on Eastburn

Garner said Fire Marshal Tom Eastburn, who was seriously injured in an accident in December, will be evaluated in February to determine if he can return to work.

Treasurer’s Report

Hansen said the year-end balance is $718,615 in checking and savings, more than the projected year-end balance of $613,825. There was $624,738 in the Colo Trust account and $109,380 in the People’s Bank money market account. There was a negative balance in the checking account, which he said he would look in to. (He later learned there was actually $2,724 in the checking account and said it was off on the balance sheet because input hadn’t been done.) There will be an audit next month.

Hansen has been looking into the possibility of transferring the account with Colo Trust (a Denver-based financial institution) to People’s. Currently, money has to be transferred from Colo Trust to People’s in order to pay employees. "We need an easier way to do this," he said.

Paramedic training approved

The public meeting adjourned at 7 p.m. and went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

After the session, it was announced that board members unanimously approved a contract for Kristian Naslund to get subsidized paramedic training. Details were left for resolution after the meeting.

**********

The next meeting will be held Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18660 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority Board, Jan. 26

Unified personnel manual and shift schedule adopted

Below: Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority Board: (L to R): John Hildebrandt, Rod Wilson, Si Sibell, Keith Duncan, Bob Hansen, Charlie Pocock, Bill Ingram, John Hartling, and Jeremy Diggins. Rick Barnes was absent.

Zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

Zoom in

By John Heiser

On Jan. 26, following the separate meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection Districts, the two boards met in joint session as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board. This was the first board meeting since the fire authority started operation Jan. 1.

Director Rick Barnes was absent.

Chief’s report

Chief Robert Denboske reported that the inventory of equipment is 50 percent complete. The inventory is needed to make sure the proper equipment is returned to each district in the event the fire authority is dissolved.

Denboske presented a statistical report of emergency responses by the Tri-Lakes district from 1998 through 2004. During that time, the total annual run volume increased from 548 to 1,237. He said the average yearly increase was 15 percent.

Denboske noted Tri-Lakes district data has been reported using nine zones. He said that starting with 2005, the data will be divided into three zones: all areas west of I-25, the area between I-25 and Furrow Road with the alignment extended south to Baptist Road, and east of Furrow Road.

Director Keith Duncan said, "There has been a geometric progression in what the chief is doing. [Chief,] you are doing a great job. We have moved at a huge speed."

EMS report

Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson reported that the new 4x4 ambulance should arrive toward the end of February. He said that combining the ambulance on the same purchase order with two ambulances for Castle Rock has added some delay.

Thompson said the fire authority will apply for a 50 percent grant for a Life Pack defibrillator for the Woodmoor/Monument engine and other equipment, including a computer.

Thompson said 20 people recently participated in emergency rescue and homeland security training and announced the Palmer Divide Safety Group will be conducting a homeland security exercise at Lewis-Palmer High School on Feb. 5. The exercise will involve more than 100 people from the FBI, sheriff’s office, Monument police department, local fire districts, AMR, and the Pikes Peak ham radio group. He noted that the fire authority will be the primary fire and rescue organization during the exercise.

Executive Session

The board unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters. When the session ended, the board took three actions:

  • The revised unified personnel manual was approved.

  • The revised shift schedule was approved. Denboske said later that there would now be a paramedic on every shift at all three stations.

  • The authority supports paramedic training for Kristian Naslund. Naslund, who is currently an EMT-I, is expected to complete the additional training to be a paramedic in about 18 months.

**********

The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board holds regular meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

Return to the top of the page

Hasbrouck recognized for home fire rescue

Below: Monument Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg presents Merit Award to Richard Hasbrouck, Jan. 19 Photo by Jim Kendrick

Zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

Zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

Assistant Town Clerk and Receptionist Irene Walters made sure Monument recognized one of its selfless citizens, Richard Hasbrouck. Hasbrouck rescued his next-door neighbor from a burning mobile home. Hearing calls for help from the neighbor’s husband, Hasbrouck went outside and saw their trailer burning. He entered their home and pulled the woman to safety.

Walters nominated him for the Spirit of Monument Award several times, and even though he did not win, she felt he deserved to be honored by the town. She created a merit award certificate and plaque for him, and obtained the endorsements of Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority Chief Rob Denboske and Battalion Chief Larry Garner. Unfortunately, they could not attend the presentation ceremony Jan. 19 at Town Hall because they were providing assistance at the scene of a fatal traffic accident that afternoon near County Line Road and I-25. Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg presented the certificate and plaque to Hasbrouck and the town staff shared in the cake and punch.

Hasbrouck is a cook at the Broiler Room and part-time student at Pikes Peak Community College. When asked if he would pull someone from a burning building again, he said "Absolutely!"

Return to the top of the page

Donald Wescott FPD Board, Jan. 26

Construction begins on Gleneagle Drive station expansion

By Jim Kendrick

At its first board meeting of the year on Jan. 19, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board noted the groundbreaking ceremony on. Jan. 11 for the Station 3 expansion and discussed the policies established at the first two construction progress meetings.

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns described the debrief by the North Group firefighters who responded to the Bardsley Place structure fire in King’s Deer as "less than useful."

Chief Bill Sheldon was excused due to an out-of-state family emergency.

Four days after this meeting, Wescott led a rescue and recovery effort for two teenagers who fell through the mostly melted ice on a 15-foot-deep golf course pond in Gleneagle. (See article on page 1).

Treasurer’s report

The board reviewed the updated draft of the final 2004 budget that will be submitted to the auditor for review. There are still some items that were not finalized due to delays in revenue and invoice receipt for December. Once these items are added to the document, the auditor will review the board’s finances and report them to the state.

Specific ownership tax revenue was about $11,000 over budget due to a state check received on Jan. 10. Delinquent tax revenue was about $15,000 and when it is eventually received this year, it will be recorded as miscellaneous other revenue for 2005.

Construction meeting report

Chairman Brian Ritz reported on the first two construction meetings with contractor CMS of Colorado Springs, Inc. Due to some minor changes in the final construction drawings approved on Jan. 3, Regional Building must again review the documents "as if they were brand new." This second review has delayed CMS from receiving a building permit.

It’s unclear how long this second review will take or when construction will start. Construction should take between five and six months after the permit is issued.

Ritz said there will occasionally be visitors’ cars parked on Jessie Drive, which will cause a conflict with parents dropping off or picking up children at Antelope Trails Elementary School during the week. Wescott is doubling its Station 3 parking lot capacity to minimize overflow parking on Jessie once the project is completed. Construction vehicles will need to park on the Gleneagle Drive shoulder when utilities are added and the front driveway is upgraded and widened.

The board unanimously approved payment for a change order for $6,958 to increase the construction bond to cover changes in the building plans. CMS noted that they had not added any handling fee to the change order.

Director Kevin Gould, a professional architect, noted that a change order for testing by a Wescott agency needed to be added to the basic contract. This soil-concrete-and-mortar testing will cost about $4,000 to $5,000. He also advised the board to have the heating and ventilation ducts changed from a square to a rectangular configuration so that the ceilings could be raised within the office space and conference room portion of the addition.

Station 3 will be redesignated Station 1 after construction is completed to give the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers time to make the significant changes to the software that supports the 9-1-1 emergency system.

Run report

Burns noted that the total number of calls Wescott responded to in 2004 were significantly reduced from the previous year, down 11 percent overall, from 1,619 to 1,444. He advised that one reason for a decrease in the alarms was that the Air Force Academy now has its own dedicated AMR ambulance. Wescott’s AMR ambulance no longer handles Academy calls unless that ambulance is already busy.

There were 642 calls within the district, an increase of 11 percent. The number of automatic and mutual aid calls was 802, a reduction of 23 percent; AMR accounted for 740 of these. In December, there were 67 district runs and 94 automatic and mutual aid calls to other districts. AMR performed 87 of the latter.

Chief’s Report

Burns reported that the new record-keeping and reporting software package the district had been testing was working satisfactorily and the board unanimously approved the final payment for its purchase at the end of January, when the testing period is completed.

Burns described the retirement ceremony for Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Julie Lokken, which was held during the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting. He noted the council had presented her with a copy of the just-published national Fire Chief magazine article, written by Wescott firefighter Jim Rackl

(http://firechief.com/mag/firefighting_hat_trick/index.html).

Burns said the article described in detail her success in winning training and equipment grants and in achieving extraordinarily high certification levels for an all-volunteer rural fire department during the five years she served as training officer and chief. Burns told the council about her countless unreported hours of work. He also presented a Michael Garman firefighter statue from the Wescott district to Lokken.

Bardsley Place fire critique disappointing

Burns said the Bardsley Place structure fire critique on Jan. 18 "wasn’t a very good learning experience, because it wasn’t the kind of review I’d like to see of the accidents and mistakes" that help everyone improve in the future. He said that Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority personnel turned it into a foul language shouting match, presided over by Woodmoor/Monument Firefighter Joe Yordt, who was an "acting captain" on the day of the fire since the shift captain had the day off.

Burns noted that Chief Rob Denboske never spoke or controlled Yordt’s language. "There was a very adversarial conversation about the newspaper articles covering the incident," Burns said. He said Lokken left after 15 minutes, repelled by the "language and lack of professionalism" at the critique.

Burns said he stayed for the rest of the discussion—which he described as mainly finger-pointing by Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument—out of "morbid curiosity" even though there was no discussion of tactics and strategy or analysis of injury avoidance, fire ground management, or safety issues. He noted that Tri-Lakes would not address the issue of why the fire got worse or why the house was destroyed after they applied all the water they brought to the scene—more than enough "to knock it down."

Ritz said that Sheldon should take this information to the next meeting of the North Group chiefs. He added that the North Group needs to take appropriate action since Denboske refused to answer the chiefs’ letter asking him for specific action within two weeks.

Burns noted that he had told Denboske that he needed to call Sheldon to talk about the North Group letter listing Bardsley operational concerns that Denboske had not responded to.

Ritz responded by saying the board will get involved with additional North Group sanctions against Tri-Lakes "if the chief wants it" and thanked Burns for performing a "difficult and distasteful duty" by attending the full critique.

The board briefly discussed providing a supplemental benefit to help its employees pay for income and medical protection to cover injuries sustained while not on the job. All except one employee have signed up for this supplemental insurance. Ritz proposed a fixed dollar amount for each employee, and then asked for the discussion to be continued so that more options could be explored.

The board also asked that they get copies of new job descriptions and evaluation forms for discussion at the February board meeting. They asked that Sheldon also distribute them to all the employees before this meeting, if Sheldon returns soon enough.

Director Dennis Feltz proposed an equipment and apparatus review to determine actual future needs of the department once the Gleneagle station is expanded and new North Group automatic aid relationships for the future are defined. The list should note what new apparatus might be needed in the long term and which of the oldest engines can be retired or donated to other organizations for training.

Feltz noted the changing membership of North Group and equipment (particularly water tenders) that the Larkspur, Franktown, Black Forest, and Falcon districts can now provide to a North Group fire. The Elbert Fire Protection District is also being considered for North Group membership.

Wescott is also performing a great deal of automatic aid to the south with Colorado Springs Fire Department Engine Company 19, which may develop into a North Group automatic aid relationship. This would further strengthen Wescott’s expanding relationships to the east with Falcon, as well as to the north with Franktown and Elbert.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 at Station 2, 15000 Sun Hills Drive.

**********

After the meeting adjourned, Burns noted that the Woodmoor/Monument pumper has been moved out of the Woodmoor Drive station to the Tri-Lakes Roller Coaster station. He added that Woodmoor/Monument typically has only three paid firefighters on duty now, instead of four, and he wondered why taxpayers aren’t complaining about a reduced level of service. Woodmoor’s Captain Mike Dooley had noted this new personnel policy at their board meeting in December.

Burns also said that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Protection Department cannot obtain an ambulance contract with Larkspur, in lieu of the Tri-Lakes district, because Larkspur is not certified for automatic aid in El Paso County. Also, Palmer Lake does not generate enough medical calls to justify a contract with AMR for a dedicated ambulance.

Return to the top of the page

Donala Water and Sanitation District, Jan. 7

District pursues treatment facility expansion

By Sue Wielgopolan

During its first meeting of 2005, the Donala Water and Sanitation Board of Directors approved the draft investment policy and chose an investment portfolio management firm, Kirkpatrick-Pettis. The board authorized the firm to invest up to $5 million.

Financial Report

In other business, members reviewed updated financial figures and released previously certified mill levy numbers for 2005. The mill levy for Area A, which includes customers receiving water and sewer service, is 16.296 mills. Area B’s mill levy is half that amount. They will be taxed 8.148 mills, as they receive only water from the district.

Because this month’s meeting was held during the first week of January, financial numbers had not been compiled for the month of December and the year 2004. Typically, it takes about two weeks for all the December bills to be received and paid, and the previous year closed out. An executive summary will be provided at February’s meeting.

Dana Duthie, general manager for Donala, anticipated making only two minor changes: Auditor charges have amounted to a few hundred dollars more than was originally anticipated; and the debt fund budget will be adjusted to reflect the actual count of lots to be built, rather than the estimate.

Since board Vice President Ed Houle and secretary Don Pearson must sign the budget before Jan. 31, and the board will not meet again until Feb. 16, members unanimously approved a resolution to appropriate funds and adopt the budget based on the figures presented by Duthie at the meeting. Should any changes other than the final balance and those discussed at the meeting be necessary, Duthie will request a special meeting of the board.

In addition to releasing budget numbers finalized at the previous meeting, Duthie distributed a budget message stating the mission of the district and listing plans for 2005. This year, Donala will invest in new vehicles, purchasing two pickup trucks and a backhoe.

General goals include pursuing additional sources of water and constructing new sewer lines to service new commercial buildings and residential homes, as well as more efficiently serving present customers. The expansion of the wastewater plant that is jointly owned by Donala and the Triview and Forest Lakes Metro Districts, will begin in earnest in 2006, with significant engineering and design work in 2005.

El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) report

Duthie announced the Water Authority’s officers for 2005, who were elected at the Jan. 5 meeting: Larry Bishop of Widefield, president; Betty Konarski of Monument, vice-president; Stu Loosely of Cherokee, secretary; Duthie, treasurer; and members-at-large Ann Nichols of Forest Lakes and Roy Heald of Stratmoor. Duthie also announced that participating agencies had been invoiced for their shares of cost of the Transit Loss Model study.

Pat Ratliff, EPCWA’s lobbyist, forecasted a lean year for Front Range water interests. Many key committee positions are now held by Western Slope legislators. Relationships between Eastern and Western slope water groups have in recent years become strained as Front Range cities have attempted to secure additional sources of surface water originating on the western side of the Continental Divide.

In light of recent changes in the Colorado Legislature, Ratliff has modified the short-term goals of the authority. Bills favorable to Eastern Slope water providers are unlikely to be passed in the current political climate; instead, she hopes to be influential in "killing" unfavorable bills in committee.

Duthie reported that the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) has identified current and projected supply, and will now move into finding solutions for the anticipated long-term shortfall. The state hopes to encourage cooperation between Eastern and Western slope providers by organizing a series of meetings to coordinate projects.

One idea discussed at the meeting was the possibility of building a reservoir at the Colorado-Utah border, then pumping back Colorado River water to the Continental Divide. Water providers will continue to search for creative solutions to Colorado’s growing water needs.

Wastewater plant expansion

Work on the Waste Water Treatment Facility expansion remains on schedule. On Jan. 12, the site application for the expansion will be presented to the Upper Monument Water Quality Association, which is the first of several committees in the local area that must approve it. Other groups reviewing the site application include the Town of Monument and subcommittees from the Council of Governments, as well as the El Paso County Planning Commission, El Paso County Commissioners, and the Colorado State Board of Health.

After running the site application through the various governmental entities, Donala will start to prequalify contractors. It hopes to begin that process late this spring, with the goal of collecting bids and selecting a contractor by summer of 2005. Since the new structures must be built around the current plant (which will remain in operation), it is essential that the contractor chosen for the expansion be in on the planning process. Anticipated start of construction is early 2006.

One key feature of the plant expansion is the installation of an equalization basin, where incoming raw sewage can be stored during peak flow hours. The basin, which will consist of a large covered concrete tank, will reduce stress to the system by allowing plant operators to more evenly distribute the volume of sewage being processed throughout the day.

The current capacity of the plant is 875,000 gallons per day, or .875 million gallons per day (mgd) of raw sewage. The plant averages 580,000 gallons/day, which is well below upper limits. Unusually high flows of 780,000 gallons/day on several occasions during December exposed weaknesses in the system. During that time, the process required close supervision and adjustments by technicians in order to keep the plant functioning properly.

In order to prevent problems as additional homes are brought on line, the equalization basin and accompanying influent pump and fine screen will be among the first components completed in the plant expansion.

Railroad crossing construction held up: Construction of the new railroad crossing continues to be hampered by the absence of approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The crossing, which impinges slightly on Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, is essential to allow the passage of heavy construction equipment into the area.

After reviewing the application for a habitat plan, the FWS requested that Forest Lakes and the Triview Metro Districts submit a new "low-impact" permit. Construction cannot begin until the permit application has been entered into the federal register and the subsequent 60-day public comment period has been satisfied. Triview and Forest Lakes anticipated submitting the paperwork around Jan. 11.

At the December board meeting, Duthie noted that the close proximity of the WWTF’s locked security gate to the planned new railroad crossing presented a safety hazard to long vehicles. Nolte Engineering is working on the redesign of the plant entry to ensure that large tractor-trailers will not extend across the railroad tracks while waiting for the security gate to open.

As plans for expansion proceed, the three districts involved (Donala, Forest Lakes Estates, and the Triview Metro District) are working to secure funds for the project. Joe Drew, Donala’s financial advisor, is coordinating efforts with engineer Roger Sams of GMS (the firm designing the expansion) and Triview to obtain financing through the Colorado Water and Power Authority. The authority offers lower rate loans and bonds and limited grants to qualifying entities, including small water districts. By submitting a coordinated plan to the authority, Donala and Triview hope to increase their chances of being approved for financing.

Well updates

Well 8A, near the Brown Ranch, is now up and running. It is currently being pumped at a rate of 450 gallons per minute, but is capable of up to 600 gallons per minute.

The redrilling of Well 1A is complete. A 72-hour test run in August by hydrologist John Ford indicated that the water level had dropped 200 feet. Though the fact that the well had been under heavy use all summer might account for the unexpected drop, other factors could be at work. An overall drawdown of the south aquifers, from which 1A pulls, is one possibility.

Duthie said he thought this unlikely, as the nearest well drawing from the same aquifer is several miles away. The district will continue to monitor the well for any drastic changes.

Developer updates

While a tentative verbal agreement has been reached between Donala and James Barash for easement of a sewer line across his property, lawyers for both sides continue to hash out the details of the arrangement. At the time of the board meeting, no written agreement had been signed.

The sewer line will service Gary Erickson’s planned office complex on the west side of Struthers, across from People’s National Bank, and future commercial developments north. In addition to buying Donala’s share of the lift station (at a cost of approximately $42,000), Erickson will also have to put in the sewer pipeline.

The tap fee has not yet been determined, as it will vary according to the type of businesses to be served. As other commercial buildings tie in to the new sewer line, Erickson will be reimbursed for shares of the cost.

Duthie updated members of the board on plans to supply remaining undeveloped portions of Struthers filings II and III with water. Eventually a 12-inch water main will be installed under the planned Struthers extension. El Paso County has required the developer, Struthers Ranch LLC, to install several culverts under the new portion of the road to channel groundwater and satisfy mouse mitigation requirements. The water supply pipeline will not be placed until the culverts are completed.

Donala’s maintenance facility, located north of the Falcon’s Nest III subdivision, is experiencing problems associated with nearby construction. Because several homesites sit higher than the facility, runoff from the lots into the surrounding maintenance yard can cause flooding. Donala is working with Richmond to create a drainage system around the buildings and yard.

The contractor who was considering building a Laundromat in the Gleneagle shopping center has decided not to pursue the project. In December, the building owner turned off the heat in the leased space. During the cold spell, below-freezing temperatures caused some pipes to rupture, resulting in the loss of metered water and flood damage to the premises.

Several other ruptures in vacant homes and business spaces within Donala’s service area also caused considerable water damage once the weather warmed and the ice thawed.

(Donala staff wishes to remind homeowners and real estate agents representing absent sellers to turn off water mains or keep thermostats in vacant homes and commercial buildings set at a minimum of 55 degrees to prevent freezing.)

Though the meeting began at 1:30 p.m., approximately the first 70 minutes were spent in executive session. At around 2:45, executive session was interrupted in order to accommodate the public session of the meeting. At 3:30 p.m. the public portion was concluded, and the board resumed executive session.

The board will meet again on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Dr.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Sanitation District, Jan. 18

Dissolution issues made for a spirited meeting

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 18, the Monument Sanitation District Board worked mainly on closing out a number of legal and administrative issues that remained after the failed attempt by Ernie Biggs and John Dominowski to dissolve the district.

They also discussed cleanup items from the 2004 budget year. Board member Jeremy Diggins was excused.

Just after the meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Chairman Lowell Morgan noted that there were no citizens in attendance to make comments to the board and called for a recess. The purpose of the recess was to allow three of the board members to go next door to Town Hall and be present for the first agenda item of the Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, which also started at 6:30 (and had been moved from its usual meeting day due to the MLK holiday).

Prior to the recess, Morgan said that his two-year term on the Monument Planning Commission had expired and he had volunteered to be reappointed. He added that Secretary Glenda Smith, who had just concluded two four-year terms as a town trustee, had also volunteered to be appointed to the Planning Commission. District Treasurer Ed Delaney also serves on the Planning Commission, although his two-year appointment has not expired. All three had been subject to recall from the BOT in 2001, though only Morgan was voted out of office. Mayor Byron Glenn was elected as a trustee at the same time.

Morgan said that even though other candidates had been invited to speak to the BOT about their interest in being on the Planning Commission, he and Smith had not. Morgan said he found their lack of an invitation to be "curious." Both had additional copies of their candidacy letters to pass out to the BOT, since they were concerned that their letters may not have been included in the trustees’ pre-meeting packets.

Board member Chuck Robinove is not a town resident and did not go to Town Hall, remaining behind with District Manager Mike Wicklund and administrative assistant Marna Kennedy to receive any late-arriving sanitation district taxpayers; however, none arrived.

When the three board members returned to the district office at 7:10 p.m., they reported that Morgan had been reappointed as an alternate commissioner after numerous votes and that Smith had not been appointed. They said both of the new appointees, Tim Davis and Travis Easton, had only been residents for one year, the minimum amount of time required to qualify, and that both worked in local real estate development.

Morgan and Smith remarked that the commissioner who was reappointed, John Kortgardner, had spent several minutes during his presentation assuring Glenn that he would do everything he could to "support the pro-growth policies of the mayor and the board." They concluded that the whole appointment process was "obviously cronyism." Board member Chuck Robinove added that the process had not been advertised in a standard manner through the newspaper.

Treasurer’s report

Wicklund said that the end-of-year general fund balance was actually $1,376,687, while the budgeted balance for the end of 2004 was only $738,028. The surplus is due mainly to the delay in construction of the new administrative support building at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and of the proposed sewer network within the Zonta parcel and Wakonda Hills. Total assets and liabilities at the end of 2004 are $4,392,215.18.

There have been some delays in finalizing agreement in the actual capital expenses for the WWTF with Monument’s equal-share owning partners, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District. The treatment facility is run by a separate entity called the Joint Use Committee (JUC), with its own three-person board composed of one primary and one alternate board representative from each of the three districts.

The other WWTF delays were caused by unknown costs relating to the facility’s new five-year permit, which was undergoing negotiation with state and federal regulatory agencies through late December. The agreed-upon standards for metals and ammonia allowed for deferral of expensive additional blowers for several years, substantially reducing costs to all three partners in late 2004 and 2005.

Development of the Zonta parcel has been delayed by Rawhide Realty because of continuing negotiations with the town regarding annexation of the northern two-thirds that lie just outside the town’s northern boundary. The southern portion of the parcel is inside this boundary. Rawhide and the district have agreed on the sewer system design for the parcel, and the district’s plans for Wakonda Hills have been finalized for some time. But sewer system construction cannot begin in the Zonta parcel until annexation and platting decisions have been finalized.

Wicklund also reviewed the reasons for the other, much smaller variations in actual and planned revenue and expenses for 2004. He added that after depreciation of fixed assets is taken into account, the balance reported to the state will be less, due to a difference in the two accounting methods.

He noted that significant expenses for 2005 also included the addition of a third WWTF employee in early 2005 and about $65,000 worth of relining repairs.

JUC items

The board unanimously reappointed Morgan as the primary JUC representative and Delaney as his alternate for 2005. Morgan reported that the lowest bid for the new WWTF building was about $343,000, within all three districts’ projected construction budgets. A special JUC meeting was scheduled for Jan. 26 to review and finalize the selection from the three bidders.

Fees set for 2005

Basic tap fees for residential and commercial new construction will be $4,000 and $8,000. Monthly basic service rates remain at $20 and $25 per month. There are additional fees for both if the maximum number of fixtures for a basic connection are exceeded or if there are unusual amounts or kinds of flow into the district’s sanitary sewer system.

The board unanimously approved the 2005 fee schedule and a $60 credit for each account based on high specific ownership tax receipts and other savings in 2004. The $60 credit will be applied to each account as of Jan. 1. The average residential account will be free for the first three months of 2005.

Wicklund reported that in reviewing all the legal contingencies that might apply to a dissolution, the district had discovered that the length of interest-free connection loans is restricted by the state to a maximum of 180 months. The district had offered 200-month loans to Wakonda Hills residents who voluntarily abandoned their septic systems in order to be included within the sanitation district.

Each 200-month loan will have to be recomputed so that the remaining balances are paid off in equal-sized amounts within 180 months. The size of the loan does not change since there is no interest, but monthly payments will increase by a little less than $2. Wakonda Hills residents who ask to be included in the district from now on will be offered 180-month loans on their tap fees.

Wicklund reiterated that no Wakonda Hills resident will be compelled by the district to be included, even though every home will be within 400 feet of the district’s sewer mains. However, if any lot’s septic system fails, the county will require the residence to be connected to the sewer system.

If there are a significant number of septic system failures within Wakonda Hills in the future, the county health department can compel every subdivision property owner to connect to the district’s sewer lines, even if their individual septic system still performs satisfactorily. Eventually, every residence will be connected, but the district will not force a connection to be paid for or installed.

The board unanimously approved a meeting schedule that calls for monthly board meetings for 2005, except the one in December, to take place on the third Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the district office at 130 Second St. Occasionally meeting dates must be changed to assure a quorum, and date changes would be posted in the district office, at Town Hall, and at the Monument Post Office on Third Street.

Dissolution wrapup items

The board unanimously reaffirmed its Dec. 14 decision to reject Biggs’ initial request for a refund of his $300 cash bond. Biggs had requested it again in a letter dated Dec. 24. Wicklund reported that Jeremy Diggins had called him earlier in the afternoon to say he too would vote against the refund if he could have attended the meeting. Wicklund noted that Biggs’ latest letter said that he and Dominowski were withdrawing their petition, even though this point was moot since the signature-gathering period had expired 10 days earlier.

Robinove read state statute C.R.S. Part 7 32-1-701 (6), that specifically says "Any application filed with the board to dissolve a special district under … this section shall be accompanied by cash bond in the amount of three hundred dollars to cover the expenses connected with the proceedings if the dissolution is not effected." Wicklund said that legal fees incurred in researching the extremely unusual and almost unprecedented request to dissolve the district had exceeded $5,000 and there will be a few more legal fees that have not yet been invoiced in early 2005.

Morgan then discussed the other events regarding the dissolution issue that had occurred since the last board meeting. He passed out a packet with copies of various letters and news articles.

Tribune letter of Dec. 29: Morgan said that Biggs and Dominowski had written a letter to the Tribune, published on Dec. 29, that continued to make the false claim that they were trying to "eliminate a wasteful, redundant self-serving bureaucracy." "In my opinion," Morgan said, "the two were trying to get the town to take over the district in order to get the favorable treatment for their future commercial developments like Biggs has received from the BOT in recent and past administrations."

Morgan noted that their claim that they "haven’t any interest in spending taxpayer money for a legal battle" did not ring true and was really meant to deflect attention from their inability to collect signatures. He added that the letter said the annexation would be forced when the duo knew that it wasn’t.

Regarding the portion of their letter that said at the next election, they would "see if we can get honest people on the board that are more interested in the taxpayers and less interested in themselves and empire building," all the board members said there had been little honesty in any of the communications these two had made throughout the progress of the dissolution process.

Morgan noted that no board member present believes the town could come close to the same level of operating efficiency, given the track record of their public works department. Morgan also said that Dominowski and Biggs were hoping for help from the town for their respective business property upgrades, which fueled their efforts.

Morgan noted that the district’s legal expenses for the dissolution action were incurred to research and comply with the statutes in good faith, nothing more. He added that the expense, over $5,000, was entirely avoidable, given the failure of Biggs and Dominowski to submit a single signature on a dissolution application.

Morgan then referred to Glenn’s "derogatory" remarks about special districts in an interview published in the Tribune on Jan 5. Glenn said that "special districts, such as the sanitation district, school district, and fire districts, need to look at what’s best for residents of the town and Tri-Lakes region, as opposed to their own individual special interests," and that they "have the duty and obligation to serve the community not themselves."

Board members each expressed their dismay at how Glenn could possibly believe that they had some special interest in being on the board, when in fact they are all volunteers and—unlike Biggs, Dominowski, Glenn, and several other trustees—are actual residents and customers of the sanitation district.

The board agreed with Wicklund’s comments that in all of Glenn’s published statements, he constantly excludes the special water and sewer district for which his wife is a board member, the Triview Metro district. Triview is entirely within the town’s boundaries, unlike any other special district in the region except the newly created Wahlborg special district.

Wicklund said the town has never proposed taking over Triview, however. He added that Dominowski never objected to the board’s approval of the creation of the Wahlborg special district even though Dominowski attended each of those annexation, rezoning, and development hearings.

Wicklund added that Triview is the only special district in Colorado that is collecting sales tax revenue in addition to a 25 mill levy, yet it is still unable to pay all the interest on its bond debt. He added, "There is over $60,000 of Triview debt for each household in Jackson Creek," and "it is not clear when the district will be able to pay the interest on all its debt, much less the principle." He said "that by definition they may be in technical default, and that I don’t know why Mayor Glenn isn’t concerned about that."

The board unanimously affirmed Wicklund’s statement that their sworn first duty is to "serve the best interests of their constituents." They also agreed they would not comply with what Morgan called the town’s desire to "squander the district’s hard-won cash reserves and turn the revenue base into a cash cow to pay for unrelated town expenses" as he said the town does now by "taxing its own water revenue, with a franchise fee, for other purposes."

The board then unanimously approved asking the Special District Association of Colorado for help in researching the statutes for a clause that defines a specific time interval that must pass before another dissolution application can be filed with the district. If there is no such clause, the district will ask the SDA to try to pass legislation that would specify a period that must pass between dissolution applications.

Smith called the dissolution "simply abuse" of the statutes because the $300 bond is negligible for Biggs, who is a multimillionaire, yet the $5,000-plus legal bill is significant for the 900 district customers who will be footing the bill. Robinove suggested that the SDA seek an 8-month moratorium on re-filing failed dissolution applications, which was unanimously endorsed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m. The next board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the district office, 130 Second St.

**********

After the board meeting, Morgan and Glenn were interviewed for an article in the Jan. 26 Tribune. Morgan expressed the same views he had at this meeting. Glenn disagreed with Morgan’s characterizations of the appointment process. He said Morgan had "done a great job on the planning commission" but that appointments are made in a "democratic process, and I think we should look and see who wants to serve, rather than just keep the same people in there just because they’re there."

Glenn added that it wasn’t personal. "I do think there needs to be some work done on the approval process. I’ve said that before many times. I’ve never said it was the fault of the planning commission or any of its members." He also said he "resented the implication that he was involved in a clandestine plan to seek the changes in the commission."

Both were also interviewed for a subsequent Gazette article, published on Jan. 28, which noted that Morgan was initially appointed to the town Planning Commission within weeks of being recalled in 2001 as a trustee and adds the recall was initiated due to the firing of Police Chief Al Sharon.

Morgan said "the board was doing its job, firing Sharon, because he did not consistently enforce the law." Glenn said, "My own opinion was that was a slap in the face to the voters. The same people who served on the board that was recalled are continuing to serve in government and they’re very opinionated."

Glenn is then quoted as saying that "Skip’s done a great job. We weren’t singling anybody out. The board chose to nominate new people." Glenn said "Past boards were not friendly to developers" and "Monument can’t afford an anti-growth attitude; it needs the tax revenue and services those new businesses can help provide."

Return to the top of the page

Triview Metropolitan District, Jan. 26

Incomplete Baptist Road plans vex board

By Jim Kendrick

Baptist Road planning differences with the county highlighted the Triview Metropolitan District board’s first meeting of the year on Jan. 26. All members of the board were present.

District Manager Ron Simpson noted that he had participated in the interview of one of the town’s six candidates for the town planner position earlier in the day.

Construction matters

Simpson said that the district had received unexpected bills for installing two pressure relief valves in the water distribution system, costing about $40,000, in the Homestead subdivision. Apparently Colorado Structures had not billed the district at the time they performed the installation.

Bondholder matters

The district met with its principal bondholders, the Phelan brothers and Sam Sharp, on Jan. 6. Although Simpson did not say what the purpose of the meeting was, it appeared to be related to retiring or perhaps refinancing bonds that were issued in the 1980s. Another meeting was scheduled for Feb. 2 with the Phelans. Rick Blevins, who has represented the Phelans at Triview board meetings for many years, did not attend.

District Engineer’s report

Chuck Ritter said he had represented the district at a meeting with several state regulatory agencies, sponsored by the Colorado Water and Power Authority and the Colorado Health Department. Triview is seeking a low-interest revolving loan for the district’s share of the upgrade of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.

An advantage of the loan is the 20 percent discount offered, which reduced the interest rate from 4.0 percent to 3.2 percent. Ritter said there was also a surprising drawback in the process in that it will require an assessment of not only Triview, but also Donala Water and Sanitation District and Forest Lake Water and Sanitation District.

Another potential difficulty is that the proposed loan would be subordinated to many of the other series of bonds that are financing the $35 million in Triview debt, and would require approval of the Phelans since their bonds would be further subordinated below these.

Preparation of the entire loan package, including the extensive assessment of all three districts is due by Nov. 1. Ritter said "they appreciated their early application" and that their request for so much financial information about the districts was "extraordinary." Simpson said the loans would be in place in time for construction, but didn’t know whether it would be advantageous to make a joint loan application with Donala.

Ritter said that plans for the new location of the railroad crossing, which replaces the current narrow access under a trestle bridge, will take about two months to complete due to relocation of the power lines. Ritter said the delay should not affect the mouse permit approval cycle.

District Manager’s Report

Preble’s mouse program

Simpson said that the installation of the Monument Creek sewer interceptor would require preparation of a full habitat conservation plan and environmental assessment. However, the state solicitor general had just advised the district that it may avoid part or all of this work, and report that the affected area was "low impact." This would require only a 30-day review instead of 90 days.

Simpson said that Blevins was obtaining the mouse permit for all the construction on Baptist Road and the county was responsible for mouse permits for the new Struthers Road to be built south of the Triview district boundary. He added that Triview has completed all its financial and construction obligations related to Jackson Creek Parkway’s impact on Baptist Road. The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) will perform all future mouse-related road upgrades.

Parks, Trails, and Open Spaces

Simpson said it is too soon to have any results from Great Outdoors Colorado regarding pending district grant applications worth $34,000.

Development status

Simpson noted that Dale Turner had taken a purchase option on the approximately 400-acre Sally Beck property that is bounded by Triview on the south and west and Higby Road to the north. Simpson noted that Turner had asked that the town and Triview to annex the parcel. Simpson expressed concern at the cost of providing major water and sewer lines to the edge of the parcel, about 1,000 feet. Turner has also started discussions with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, though they would not be interested if the average density were less than two homes per acre.

Simpson added that Turner said he would form his own metropolitan district as a last option, similar to the special district created for the Wahlborg annexation. Simpson noted that the neighboring Walters property had already been included by Triview.

Attorney Pete Susemihl said he had performed the legal work for the creation of the Wahlborg special district, which he said will be run by the homeowner’s association. He advised that there was no advantage to Triview to including Turner’s 1,200-home development. Simpson agreed saying it would not be a profit center.

Susemihl questioned the ability to add more bond debt and what priority the new bonds would have for Triview’s multi-tiered debt payment hierarchy. He added that the town has little, if any, ability to absorb the cost of maintaining any more infrastructure, which is why the Wahlborg developer also had to arrange for all public services, except police, on its own. Wahlborg receives its water and sewer service from Woodmoor.

Simpson noted that the next Jackson Creek Parkway commercial property to be developed, Wal-Mart or the Timbers, would have to pay for the next new Triview well or wait until another development pays for it.

Operations and Maintenance

The board unanimously approved the budgeted expenditure for low-voltage surge protection for all unprotected district pumps.

Street striping authorized

Simpson said that two or three painting contractors had indicated they would submit bids for restriping Jackson Creek Parkway. He added that it will be at least another 14 weeks before the town gets its new larger street sweeper with a vacuum for picking up sand and gravel after a snowstorm.

He said the district’s snowplowing contractor, Timberline, is still putting down too much sand, and leaving dangerous accumulations at stop signs and steep slopes after the snow melts. Several board members agreed, citing traffic scares they had experienced on district roads.

Simpson noted that the unspent 2004 striping funds were also available and asked for board approval to have the painting contractor sweep and clean Jackson Creek Parkway for striping as soon as the weather permits. The town street sweeper’s performance remains unsatisfactory because it has no ability to vacuum up sand that has not been swept into the collection hopper.

Markers for the Parkway

The board unanimously selected the more expensive fiberglass highway markers that meet all state standards to mark the shoulders of the single lane of Jackson Creek Parkway between the Marketplace and Higby Road. They can be moved and reinstalled when the second lane is built. At $10 each, the cost approved was $1,200.

Jackson Creek Market Village proposal incomplete

Simpson noted that the plans submitted for this Lyons Tail Road townhouse subdivision, on the ridge above and east of the King Soopers shopping center, were substantially incomplete and not sufficient for approval by the district or the Town of Monument. He said that district consultant Nolte and Associates listed four full pages of concerns regarding drainage, traffic, and construction issues.

Simpson added that even if these issues are resolved, there were considerable concerns over the adjacent shopping center that would be built next to the subdivision.

Unresolved BRRTA planning issues reviewed

Simpson then reviewed all the issues discussed at the Jan. 9 BRRTA meeting concerning this new shopping center’s access to Jackson Creek Parkway. He noted the unresolved differences the county has with Triview and Monument on whether Baptist Road will meet the standards for a major arterial defined by the Major Thoroughfares Task Force or provide customer-friendly access for the developers’ shopping centers within the district.

He said that additional delays of up to 80 seconds—caused by a traffic light and full motion intersection that would replace the current right-in/right-out access at King Soopers—were worth it to avoid further traffic delays at the Jackson Creek Parkway entrance to King Soopers. He added that the connection of the new Struthers Road to Jackson Creek Parkway at the Baptist Road intersection would be paid for with Pikes Peak RTA funds.

Mayor Byron Glenn arrived at this point, from a 3 p.m. BRRTA meeting with area developers at Town Hall. He said that a traffic light would be needed at the Children’s World access on Jackson Creek Parkway very soon if the right-in/right-out access to the King Soopers center were not converted to a full-motion intersection, with a traffic light and left-turn lanes for all four directions.

He and Simpson also disagree with the county’s objection to this new intersection and traffic light. He added he wants this upgrade to be approved quickly by BRRTA and the county and said he was "working on Wayne Williams" to get him to change his position on upgrading the intersection.

Glenn said that the shopping center developers could be required to help pay for the light if installed right away; otherwise, all funding would have to come from the county and might not be available promptly. He said the new developer of the 45-acre Baptist Road site that Wal-Mart had previously wanted to develop would not move forward unless this access were upgraded to a full-motion intersection with a traffic light.

Glenn also expressed his disagreement with the county’s position that the King Soopers center developer had made their own problems by not following the county’s pre-construction recommendation in 1998 to make the stores and parking lot high enough to have other accesses on Lyons Tail. He and Simpson said there was never a practical way to have shopping center access on Lyons Tail, and the board members agreed.

Glenn concluded by saying that Williams and county Department of Transportation staff needed to actually watch the traffic in this commercial area at 5 p.m. to fully understand why another new light is needed immediately on Baptist Road and may be needed at the Jackson Creek Parkway entry to King Soopers as well.

Meter and transponder supplier changed

The board unanimously approved $35,000 for a new computer and an additional $9,700 to pay for a switch transition to a longer-lived water meter and different meter reading transponder. The additional money will also pay for training on the new equipment. Existing meters will be changed to the new type at the end of their service life.

The board unanimously approved:

  • A payment of up to $21,000 for future water system design work related to new commercial and residential construction on Jackson Creek Parkway and Lyons Tail.

  • A payment of up to $68,000 to complete surveying and data entry for the computerized mapping and database system for all the district’s assets.

  • Payments totaling about $26,000 for electric and snowplowing bills.

  • Renewal of the annual contracts with the district’s accountant and auditor.

The board went into executive session at 6 p.m. to conduct a work session on water issues. No announcements were made after the session.

The next board meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the district offices, 174 N. Washington St.

Return to the top of the page

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Jan. 26

District receives award for design excellence

By Sue Wielgopolan

Whitelaw appointed

During the Jan. 11 meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors announced they had selected James Whitelaw to succeed Dick Durham, who moved to Gleneagle and is no longer eligible to serve on the board. Members voted unanimously to accept Whitelaw as interim board member until Durham’s term expires in May 2006, at which time open elections will be held. (Jim Wyss, who joined the meeting later, was not present for the vote.) Erin Smith, the district’s attorney, administered the oath of office.

Ron Turner volunteered to replace Durham as board secretary. Members unanimously elected Turner to the post.

RTW, district receive award

The district and the engineering firm RTW received a 2005 merit award for engineering excellence from the America Council of Engineering Companies. The award for design excellence was presented to the firm and the district for their work on the innovative Monument Creek exchange system.

The system is composed of pumps and nonpotable pipelines, which pulls water from Monument Creek and pumps it to Lake Woodmoor for storage. Another component transfers stored water from the lake over to the southern water treatment plant.

Steininger read the presentation letter to the board of directors during the meeting. The council also gave each group a plaque commemorating the honor.

District over budget on revenue and expenses

Woodmoor continues to refine its numbers for 2004 as bills from late December are paid and payments are received. Jim Wyss, board treasurer, reported that overall the district was 129 percent over budget in income for 2004. He attributed the additional income to excess water sales and a larger than expected number of tap fees.

However, the district is also 130 percent over budget on all expenditures. For repair and maintenance alone, the budget was 131 percent higher than allocated, mainly due to repairs to Well 8. Revenue overexpenditures for the year totaled $466,000. No Woodmoor customers were present for the meeting, so public discussion was waived, and the financial report was unanimously accepted by the board.

Hope Winkler, district staff secretary, will offer a bookkeeping class to interested board members, so they can better understand the categories cited in the budget.

Joint Use Committee update

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s Joint Use Committee (JUC) delegate, reported on the committee’s Dec. 10 meeting. The JUC is composed of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, the Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and the Monument Sanitation District, which jointly own and operate the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The committee discussed three main issues: the resumé of Dr. William Lewis, the temporary easing of copper limits approved by the state, and the construction schedule for the new laboratory.

Lewis, who is also a professor at CU-Boulder, has been hired to study the effect of ammonia on aquatic life for the JUC. His experience, listed in a lengthy resumé, includes multiple studies involving water quality issues for the state of Colorado.

The Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on the temporary copper limits for the Tri-Lakes WWTF, as recommended by the state of Colorado. The JUC received an undated EPA letter confirming the new limits at 36.4 parts per billion (ppb) acute, and 28.4 ppb chronic, which is roughly twice the current allowable limit. The interim standards are effective until Dec. 31, 2007, to give the district time to perform studies to more accurately determine at what levels copper becomes toxic to aquatic life.

Three contractors have been prequalified to submit bids to build the new WWTF lab. The deadline for bid proposals is Jan. 17, with a tentative construction start date set for mid-March.

Legal council for the committee, Michael Cucullu, has reviewed the documents and suggested some changes to the building contracts. The participating bidders have been briefed separately on all aspects of the contract, including recent addenda. Still at issue is whether footers will be adequate or caissons will be required for the foundation. The committee is waiting on soil test results to make that determination.

The committee has received the copper electroplating feasibility report. Engineer Mike Rothberg of RTW will interpret the findings for the committee, probably at the February meeting. Tightening of state limits for copper levels in waste treatment plant effluent has prompted the JUC to look into innovative methods to reduce the amount of copper in the water it releases into Monument Creek.

The discharge monitoring report (DMR) was not available for December, as the laboratory that performs the tests was closed for the holidays.

Manager’s report

General manager Phil Steininger reported on the activities of the Palmer Divide Water Group, which at present is focusing on the Transit Loss Model. They are currently deciding on the location of the nodes along Monument Creek to be used for analysis.

In conferring with Woodmoor, Charlie Stanzione, hydrogeologist with the water consulting firm Bishop-Brogden Associates, recommended they consider installing a metering vault on Dirty Woman Creek where it meets Monument Creek. The vault accurately measures water flow. A similar measuring device already exists on Monument Creek. The Woodmoor district has water rights on Dirty Woman Creek. Being able to accurately measure and predict flows is important in effectively managing the district’s water resources.

Video monitoring of clay sewer pipe shown

Randy Gillette, operations superintendent, showed a video demonstrating remote inspection and repair being used by the district on their older clay sewer pipes.

Gillette listed several advantages of lining old pipes rather than replacing them. Life expectancy of lined clay pipe is at least 30 years, but the district anticipates that under existing conditions the pipe and liners will last significantly longer, perhaps exceeding 50 years. Because the liners are relatively thin, very little flow capacity is lost. Liners are cheaper and easier to install than digging up and replacing clay pipes with new PVC ones. Also, liner insertion takes much less time than complete replacement, so it reduces the time homeowners are without service.

Plans for bulk water station move forward

Steininger presented a proposal for a bulk water station. In the past, builders purchased a construction tap or used hydrants, which affected residents’ water quality.

After discussion at its December meeting, the board decided to investigate the feasibility of constructing a water station, as a convenience to contractors and as an additional source of revenue for the district.

The station would primarily provide water for contractors, but will also make it available to individual users, such as businesses using a large volume of water and RV campers.

As part of Wahlborg’s inclusion agreement, the district will receive a choice of three options: a payment of $25,000, an easement for trunk sewer lines, or a half-acre of land to use as the district chooses. Steininger recommended the board choose the land option and work with Wahlborg to build a bulk water station for the district, accepting the station in lieu of a portion of the district’s fees. He then passed out a sheet outlining financial details to board members.

In selecting a location, the staff wanted to minimize impact to surrounding residential neighborhoods while still making the station convenient and accessible to contractors. They chose a site west of Knollwood Drive across from the Lutheran church.

Tentative plans include an asphalted, paved, and curbed circle drive, with a turnaround large enough to accommodate at least two semi-tractor-trailers. Woodmoor will design the building and enclosure with input from Wahlborg, probably in keeping with the "mining town" theme of the nearby commercial center.

Board members will have input in choosing between a "hot box" design or a concrete masonry unit (CMU, otherwise known as cinderblock). If a hot box is used, Woodmoor plans to provide a screen. The building will be heated to prevent pipes from freezing. Landscaping around the outer rim will provide further visual screening. The area would also be lit to enhance safety and security.

Woodmoor would initially install a potable water line to the station. Eventually, the district plans to tap a nonpotable line and bring it into the station as well, allowing contractors to choose between the two. After the development is completed, the service tap may be used to irrigate common areas.

Board members asked numerous questions about the impact to nearby neighborhoods, including the concern that trucks would line up to wait for their turn at the station, slowing or blocking traffic. Steininger replied that he would explore options to handle any possible problems.

The district might approach the Lutheran church about using their parking area as overflow during hours when the church is not in use and/or move the tentative site further south on the lot to maximize space in the loop and get as many vehicles as possible off Knollwood. Smith and Steininger then discussed the necessity of including a statement that the acceptance of the property option was contingent on site approval.

Steininger stated he would like to see a temporary water station installed as soon as possible, to curtail current use of a hydrant, which is against district policy. His goal for completion of the permanent water station is Dec. 31. The board then passed a motion giving Steininger permission to put together a written agreement from the plans outlined at the meeting.

Credit card payment option discussed

Steininger broached the subject of offering Woodmoor customers the option of paying their water and sanitation bill by credit card. Since a 2 percent service fee is involved, the question arose as to whether to increase customers’ bills to cover the cost or to spread the expense among all customers by incorporating the charge as part of the district’s budget. The district currently offers an automatic bill pay option.

Smith reminded the board that while accepting credit card payments in person or by mail is a relatively simple process, accepting credit cards online presents unique problems. Credit card security issues could expose the district to legal action. In addition, the state of Colorado has requirements for valid virtual transactions that usually involve an intermediary. No decision was made on the issue.

Banking services reviewed

Although district board members are pleased with the services they have received from People’s Bank, Steininger would like to interview other local banks to research services and rates of return for investments. He feels it is in the district’s best interest to periodically explore opportunities available through other financial institutions. Members of the board gave Steininger their approval to research local offers.

Well testing proposed

District engineer Jessie Shaffer informed the board that the civil engineering firm of Camp, Dresser, and McKee (CDM) has approached the district about testing its wells as part of a program commissioned by the Colorado Water Quality Control Division to audit Front Range (Denver Basin) water levels. The Denver Basin consists of the entire area along the Front Range and is composed of four main aquifers: the Arapaho aquifer, the Denver aquifer (not to be confused with the basin of the same name), the Fox-Laramie aquifer, and the Dawson aquifer. CDM wishes to collect more data to use in the state’s model and the Transit Loss Model being developed by the U.S Geological Service.

If Woodmoor wells qualify, CDM would like to do a multi-well test and pump for 7 to 10 days within Woodmoor constraints. The firm would pump one well while closely monitoring a nearby well to gauge the effects. CDM would also reimburse the district for electric and water expenses. Stanzione would work closely with Shaffer on the project.

Shaffer wanted the board’s approval to continue working with CDM; once the firm receives confirmation that Woodmoor is interested, the involved parties could discuss Woodmoor’s operational constraints and whether the testing is feasible.

Jim Taylor, board president, inquired what benefits the district would receive. Shaffer replied that they would gain information that could them help determine the extent of well drawdown, if the district needed new wells, and when to begin looking for other water sources. The district would also benefit by gaining more accurate data for Stanzione to work with and better understand regional and local aquifer interaction.

Nasser and the other board members made it clear they would not participate if it meant wasting district water. Steininger and Shaffer replied that pumping test water into Lake Woodmoor, or releasing it into Dirty Woman Creek and reclaiming it downstream were two possible options. They felt the tests could be successfully performed without wasting any water at all. Gillette expressed the opinion that the district could make the tests work operationally.

After a brief discussion on which wells would be suitable candidates for testing, members of the board asked Shaffer to obtain a written proposal from CDM.

(Note: At the time the paper was printed, the tests had already been performed. As specified by the Woodmoor board, no water was wasted during testing.)

Nonpotable water option

Currently, the district provides nonpotable irrigation water from Lake Woodmoor to the Woodmoor Country Club at a 15 percent discount. Steininger wanted the board to consider whether the district should also provide nonpotable water for irrigation to other large users, such as Lewis-Palmer High School and Lewis-Palmer Middle School.

He pointed out that providing nonpotable water to any additional users won’t be an option until Lake Woodmoor is filled. Although using nonpotable water to irrigate open fields would save the district the expense of treatment, the additional lines necessary might make the cost savings negligible.

The board also considered the feasibility of providing nonpotable water to individual users in new subdivisions. Though some cost savings would be associated with the use of untreated water, considerable expense would be incurred in constructing a nonpotable system for residential users. It would include a pressurized underground storage tank and a dual pipe system to carry potable and nonpotable water.

Whitelaw pointed out that the district would also need to install backflow devices to prevent the two water types from mixing, and that they would have to be tested twice a year. In addition, because homeowners sometimes do their own plumbing, there is no way to ensure that individuals would not cross-connect the potable and nonpotable lines, resulting in contamination.

After a brief discussion, the board decided to consider giving large users of irrigation water the option of using untreated lake water in the future. However, the expense and effort required to provide it to individual users at a reduced rate was not cost-effective at this time, and the board will not further pursue the idea.

Around the district

Developers of The Village at Woodmoor have begun grading. All of phase I is sold out. Richmond homes expects to have started construction on 50 houses by year’s end. The homes were not included in this year’s budget, and tap fees and associated costs will need to be added.

Shaffer updated the board on the Greenland Preserve lift station. The developer, Masterbilt Homes, should receive approval from Shaffer to begin construction on the lift station and sewer mains within the next two weeks.

The Bowstring sewer replacement plan is about 80 percent complete and will be out to bid soon. The larger sewer mains are necessary to handle the additional capacity from the new townhouses, which will be constructed by Pulte Homes. The new development will be located east of Lewis-Palmer High School and north of Higby. Pulte will begin building its first unit in April.

Well 8 is still out of service due to ongoing problems, including operations to remove the rust bacteria. No tentative date has been set to return the well to service.

Attorney’s report

Smith informed the board that the district is required by law to set the meeting time and place, and the posting location for the upcoming year. Members agreed to continue meeting on the second Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m. in the conference room of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District offices, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Meeting times, including any changes, will be posted at the district office, People’s Bank in Woodmoor, and the Woodmoor Improvement Association office.

The meeting went into executive session at 3 p.m. to conduct negotiations on the purchase, sale, or lease of property. The next meeting will take place on Feb. 8, at 1 p.m. at the district office.

Return to the top of the page

Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Jan. 14

Increased urgency to approve Baptist Road upgrade plans

By Jim Kendrick

Traffic light locations along Baptist Road dominated the Jan. 14 meeting of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA). While complicated and contentious, the issue needs to be quickly resolved, because of the timeframe created by the recently approved one-cent sales tax for El Paso County’s Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).

While the tax has created the needed resources to improve Baptist Road near I-25, it has added pressure to BRRTA to wrap up initial planning for those improvements. Unless the long-delayed plans for widening the road move forward swiftly, the construction money from PPRTA will be lost at the end of 2005. The current proposed schedule calls for awarding construction contracts no later than early November.

Additional meetings were scheduled for February and March to resolve mouse issues, acquire rights-of-way, obtain warrants for traffic lights, and put construction contracts out for bid.

County Commissioner Jim Bensberg and newly appointed Commissioner Dennis Hisey (who replaced former commissioner Chuck Brown) were absent from the meeting. The minutes for the Dec. 10 meeting were approved unanimously without correction.

Elections for 2005

Presidency of BRRTA alternates between the county and the town of Monument each year in January. Membership in BRRTA often changes at this time as well, as newly elected county commissioners take office.

The results of elections at this meeting were: Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, president; County Commissioner Wayne Williams, vice-president; Monument Trustee Dave Mertz, secretary-treasurer; and Bensberg and Hisey, assistant secretary-treasurers.

Payments approved

The board unanimously approved three claims totaling $5,990.15 for legal, administrative, and public notice advertising for the fourth quarter of 2004. Also unanimously approved were payments of $52,765.90 and $71,522.87 for Phase II engineering work performed by consultant PBS&J during the third and fourth quarters of 2004 respectively. These costs were then used to amend the draft end-of-year balance sheet.

2004 Draft Financial Statement

Total BRRTA assets at year end were $449,961 in cash. Accounts payable was $11,960. Completed engineering design assets increased by $368,486 during the year to total $806,487. Impact fee revenue was budgeted at $295,000 but only $127,767 was collected due to continuing delays in projected housing and commercial construction within the BRRTA borders, primarily in Jackson Creek.

Expenditures for 2004 were $391,986 less than budgeted. Only $209,238 of a budgeted $475,000 for engineering expenses was actually spent, and none of the $130,000 for right-of-way acquisition and contingencies was spent, due to the ongoing delay in Baptist Road construction between Jackson Creek Parkway and Struthers Road.

Widening of this segment was supposed to have been completed before Monument allowed Home Depot to open on June 30, but the town waived this "hard requirement" in order to get the hardware store’s revenue as soon as possible. There were numerous problems with the installation of utilities that delayed traffic west of the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife delayed the widening project indefinitely over mouse concerns. Plans were adjusted yet again after county commissioners unanimously rejected the Baptist Road Wal-Mart proposal in July.

Planning Reports

Carl Schueler of the county’s Development Services Department noted that BRRTA should begin collecting additional road use fees from the Struthers Ranch development south of Chaparral Hills following county approval of the second and third filings. BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker asked for and received confirmation that the Struthers Ranch subdivision and the landscaping materials business to be built on the Delacroce property on the south side of Baptist Road (along Carver Road opposite the Santa Fe Trailhead) would be paying road use fees.

Glenn asked Triview Metropolitan District General Manager Ron Simpson to discuss road construction east of I-25, but he declined to do so. Glenn then noted that Wal-Mart was in the midst of a 90-day due diligence period, having signed a contract for the big-box pad of Monument Marketplace with Vision Development.

Williams reported that progress was being made on connecting Struthers Road from Northgate Road to Jackson Creek Parkway. He noted that a preliminary meeting had been held with five Chaparral Hills property owners who will have to sell portions of their land (along the east side of the Struthers Road) to the county for right-of-way purposes.

El Paso County Department of Transportation (EPCDOT) Director John McCarty said that Struthers Road immediately south of Baptist Road will have to shift east about 20 feet because the Colorado Department of Transportation will not let the second southbound lane intrude into the parcel they own along the east side of I-25, due to mouse issues. This recent change will require the purchase of additional property from the commercial parcel at the northeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway and notification of the five Chaparral Hills property owners.

Hunsaker asked for approval to prepare a document called a "resolution of necessity" in order to begin the eminent domain condemnation along all boundaries of planned BRRTA construction. Rights-of-way to 37 lots will need to be purchased for the construction; the resolution would only be needed if negotiations with the landowners fail. Hunsaker recommended scheduling an executive session to set maximum amounts that BRRTA would be willing to pay before initiating condemnation. An executive session special meeting was set for March 4 at 2:30 p.m. in Town Hall to finalize the negotiating positions on these purchases.

Legal descriptions of each of the affected portions of the 37 lots will need to be completed by Feb. 15 to meet this schedule. He added that parcels valued at under $5,000 would not need the appraisal required for more expensive right-of-way strips, and suggested a single market study that would include all 37 lots.

Williams suggested that a town meeting be scheduled promptly to allow all affected residents to comment on BRRTA’s plans and proposals. He said this would ensure that the landowners’ first notification was not a legal notice from BRRTA’s attorney. He added that this technique, though not required by law, was effective in the Struthers Ranch development approval process.

Engineering reports on another traffic light for King Soopers center

Although not yet approved, a second Baptist Road community commercial shopping center is expected to be proposed just to the east of the King Soopers center in the near future. The new center will be at about the same grade as the existing center, and well below the current and future grade of Baptist Road.

King Soopers shoppers who want to drive east on Baptist Road typically exit by turning left onto Jackson Creek Parkway, then left onto eastbound Baptist Road. Shoppers at the new center will also have to drive past all the stores in the King Soopers center in order to go east on Baptist. Backups of cars turning left into and out of this access will become longer as Jackson Creek Parkway traffic increases from the new stores being added to the Monument Marketplace and the Timbers.

The current right-in/right-out access from Baptist Road to the east end of the King Soopers center has been named Jackson Creek Crossing Road. BRRTA requested on Dec. 10 that consultant PBS&J engineer Steve Sandvik present plans for an option to convert this access to a full-motion intersection with left-turn lanes in all four directions and a traffic light. BRRTA also requested that PBS&J present a traffic impact analysis for this option. Adding this full-motion intersection would help reduce the amount of traffic exiting the King Soopers center in front of Children’s World and provide an alternative to the busier Jackson Creek Parkway.

McCarty said the El Paso County Major Thoroughfare Task Force has designated Baptist Road a major county arterial. He noted the standard for minimum spacing of traffic lights on a major county arterial is no closer than one-half mile, 2,640 feet. Minimum traffic light spacing for a minor arterial is one-quarter mile, 1,320 feet.

Jackson Creek Crossing Road is only 920 feet east of the existing traffic light at Jackson Creek Parkway, well below the county standard for a major or minor arterial. Jackson Creek Crossing is also less than a half-mile from the future light at Leather Chaps. This additional light will slow traffic below standards for either classification of arterial and create other potentially dangerous driving situations as well.

The proposed full-motion intersection of Jackson Creek Crossing and Baptist Road would include left turn lanes in all four directions. Baptist Road west of this location is very steep, with nearly a 10 percent grade. Without this full-motion intersection and traffic light, the grading of Baptist Road would be shallower and fairly continuous, just a bit under the maximum grade for a major arterial, which is 5 percent. If the light is added, the new intersection would have to be flatter and would require a slightly steeper grading of Baptist Road on either side of the new traffic light intersection. The change in grade would make it difficult to provide access to the Lutheran Church and the neighboring houses from Baptist Road.

There are currently no plans to raise or lower the intersection of Leather Chaps and Baptist Road. However, the required drainage and right-of-way designs on Baptist Road between Leather Chaps and Jackson Creek Parkway are substantially different for the full-motion intersection option. A decision on the additional lighted intersection must be made before BRRTA’s planning can be completed and any construction can begin.

Unresolved adjacent land use issues complicate the decision

The town has not yet made any decisions regarding land use east and northeast of the King Soopers center, which further complicates BRRTA’s deliberations. The town must also decide what type of residential housing will be allowed on the Lyons Tail ridgeline above the new shopping center.

No firm plans have been announced for the 45-acre Barber parcel on Baptist Road that Wal-Mart originally tried to develop. No decisions have been made by the county regarding land use or rezoning of this parcel. There have been discussions about developing a small community commercial center, along with patio homes and apartment buildings, the type of development envisioned for about 30 years by the original county comprehensive plans.

The potential developer of the Barber parcel supports having a full-motion intersection at Jackson Creek Crossing and Baptist Road, with left-turn lanes into and out of the property, and is not likely to proceed with final planning until the county makes a decision about the extra traffic light. The new intersection would permit access into this parcel.

Existing driveways on Baptist Road will be eliminated

BRRTA has already decided to eliminate all the existing access from the south side of Baptist Road between Leather Chaps and Jackson Creek Parkway. That includes the driveways for the Family of Christ Lutheran church and the two neighboring homes. A frontage road will connect the church and houses with the dirt road portion of Leather Chaps.

This frontage road would start at the existing church parking lot and run east, parallel to Baptist Road, through the front yards of the two houses, then diagonally across the undeveloped 5-acre parcel on the southwest corner of Leather Chaps and Baptist Road. The corral in front of one of the houses would be paved over. Purchase of this frontage road right-of-way and paving are expected to be costly.

This new frontage road intersection with Leather Chaps will be far enough south of Baptist Road to prevent unacceptable stacking of northbound traffic at the intersection of Leather Chaps and Baptist before and after the new full motion traffic light is installed. Peak periods of traffic at the church occur several times each weekday and on Sunday.

Existing Struthers Road access to be changed

The northbound Struthers frontage road will eventually be completely eliminated to make room for the wider northbound on-ramps to I-25. When that happens, the only access to Foxworth-Galbraith will be a temporary right-in/right-out access on Baptist Road at the eastern boundary of the hardware store. A new access road extending west from Jackson Creek Parkway will be built to provide entry from the east.

Williams asked why the county was investing so much money on a major arterial that traffic studies show will provide at best a service level of "F," the worst level of service, between I-25 and Leather Chaps through 2025. Preliminary studies show that the level of service at the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway would improve to the next lower level of service, "D," with the addition of a full-motion intersection at Jackson Creek Crossing. However, once Jackson Creek Parkway traffic peaks at the completion of the Timbers and Monument Marketplace shopping centers, it may be very difficult to turn south onto the Parkway from Children’s World at any time of day.

PBS&J traffic analyst Scott Barnhart showed a computer simulation of the Baptist Road traffic flows between I-25 and Gleneagle with and without the new full-motion intersection. The simulation clearly showed that the addition of the intersection slightly reduced traffic stacking for left turns from southbound Jackson Creek Parkway onto eastbound Baptist Road, but substantially slowed flow in both directions on Baptist Road by an average of 48 seconds.

Barnhart presented another option that simulated a three-quarter motion intersection with no traffic light. This intersection design allowed left turns from eastbound Baptist Road onto northbound Jackson Creek Crossing, but eliminated the possibility of making a left turn onto eastbound Baptist from southbound Jackson Creek Crossing.

Neither of these simulations accounted for traffic to and from the Timbers shopping center on Baptist Road or Jackson Creek Parkway or to and from the Barber parcel at Jackson Creek Crossing or the new Struthers Road.

Williams asked Sandvik and Barnhart if the proposed intersection and light could be moved east to increase the separation from Jackson Creek Parkway. They said that drainage and road grading requirements would not allow a relocation.

Simpson noted that the grade of the road within the intersection would be no more than 3 percent and the dangerous slope of the deceleration lane of the current right-in/right-out access would be reduced. He said that there might still be a time in the future when the King Soopers center driveway on Jackson Creek Parkway will also require a traffic light even if the full-motion intersection is created.

McCarty said that the town wanted to sacrifice the service level of the entire Baptist Road corridor just to help the developers of the commercial properties. He reminded the board that Baptist Road access will be limited in the same manner as Powers Boulevard.

McCarty noted that the church, the homeowners, and the owners of the commercial parcels all knew that their access to Baptist Road would be eliminated or sharply limited before they began construction. He added that the county Major Thoroughfares Task Force had repeatedly confirmed in recent years that Baptist Road would be a major arterial with very limited access as well. He said EPCDOT opposed either option for the addition of the new intersection.

Glenn sharply disagreed, saying that the proposed intersection was a safety issue, particularly in front of Children’s World, not just a helping hand to the commercial developers. Simpson agreed and said he was speaking for the Triview district, which is responsible for Jackson Creek Parkway maintenance, not the developers or the town. They added that a traffic light would be required for people making left turns at this intersection once all the Monument Marketplace and Timbers stores were built.

McCarty tersely replied that he had told developer Regency Corp. before construction began in 1998 to raise the elevation of the King Soopers center stores and parking lot above the existing level. He added that he told Regency that they should also provide another entrance on Lyons Tail to mitigate the traffic issue at the Jackson Creek Parkway entrance. He also reiterated that he was not sympathetic to helping the commercial developers create more intersections on Baptist Road.

Williams said he agreed with McCarty and asked for a more complete traffic impact analysis and another simulation before the scheduled special meeting on March 4. McCarty questioned the delay and said it might endanger Pikes Peak RTA funding since there could be no further useful progress until the intersection issue is resolved and road grading design can be completed. He asked for a special meeting on Jan. 26 to review the new traffic study. Glenn quickly countered Williams statement, repeating that he wasn’t only watching out for the developers.

Sandvik noted that he and Barnhart would be out of town on Jan. 26. The next BRRTA special meeting to review the revised traffic analysis was then scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Town Hall, followed that evening at 7 p.m. by a public "town hall meeting" at Creekside Middle School to present the proposal and hear citizen comments.

Sandvik said that the design of Baptist Road east of Leather Chaps would continue on schedule since it is unaffected by the intersection at Jackson Creek Crossing. He also reviewed a map that showed the effect of changes in mouse habitat boundaries on right-of-way purchases. The goal is to finalize all this information so only one mouse permit covering the entire corridor is required. He said that U.S. Fish and Wildlife would likely need a minimum of six months to process this single permit, adding to the concerns of having contracts in place before the end of 2005, so as not to lose PPRTA funding.

A meeting was scheduled on Jan. 26 at Town Hall so Glenn and Williams could provide the latest update of information on Baptist Road construction plans to the affected developers and obtain information on their projects.

The meeting adjourned at 3:56 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority Open House, Feb. 2

Residents express concern about noise and safety

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held an open house at Creekside Middle School on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. to collect comments and answer questions from local residents and commercial property owners regarding planned improvements from I-25 to Tari Drive.

The biggest concern expressed by some of the 40 people in attendance was noise, followed by some concerns with safety. Others were there to find out how much land they might have to give up to allow for widening and curbs.

The board held a short special meeting before the open house to resolve the issue of the Jackson Creek Crossing intersection so that consultant engineers could finalize their plans. A contract will be awarded in October, and construction is to begin in November.

Commissioner Jim Bensberg was absent.

BRRTA special meeting

Traffic analyst Scott Barnhart of BRRTA’s engineering consultant, PBS&J, presented refined figures for rush-hour delays that would be caused by adding a traffic light at the Baptist Road right-in/right-out access to the King Soopers shopping center. His analysis applied to the traffic in 2025, assuming a full build-out of all undeveloped commercial and residential land in the area. This analysis included an extension of Jackson Creek Crossing Road (the new name of the King Soopers access road) across Baptist into the 45-acre Barber parcel, where Wal-Mart had previously proposed a big-box store, and an access to the new Struthers Road at the southwest corner of the parcel. Two options were considered.

The full-motion option includes a single dedicated left-turn lane and left-turn light for all four directions at this intersection. This would include left turns from Baptist into King Soopers and the Barber parcel, and left turns from each parcel onto Baptist Road.

The "double three-quarter motion option" would eliminate left turns from either parcel onto Baptist Road and delete the proposed traffic light, while retaining the single left turn lanes on Baptist Road only. In the second option, there would be two through lanes in each direction of Baptist Road. Acceleration and deceleration lanes for the Barber parcel would be built across Baptist. However the acceleration lane for eastbound Baptist (uphill) will be short, due to the retaining wall that will have to be built in front of the Family of Christ Lutheran Church.

Barnhart said that for morning westbound rush-hour traffic, the full-motion intersection would lessen the delay at the Jackson Creek Parkway light by an average of 4.6 seconds, but add an average delay of 36 seconds at the new Jackson Creek Crossing light, for a net increased delay of about 31 seconds.

For eastbound evening rush hour traffic, the delay at Jackson Creek Parkway would be reduced by 16 seconds, but add an average delay of 98 seconds at the new light, for an average increased delay of 82 seconds. Barnhart said that the other option (left turns from Baptist only, with yield signs instead of a light) would not add any significant delays than if there were no access from the Barber parcel on Baptist Road at all.

Commissioner Wayne Williams asked why there was a difference. Barnhart said there are no shoppers in the morning, while there is much more "background commercial traffic" in the evening.

Mayor Byron Glenn asked about the difference in traffic by the Children’s World access to King Soopers on Jackson Creek Parkway. Barnhart said that regardless of what kind of intersection there was at Jackson Creek Crossing, there would be little, if any, opportunity to make a left turn onto southbound Jackson Creek Parkway at full build-out in 2025. He added that there were no safety issues at Children’s World due to the median that separates their parking lot from the center driveway to the Parkway.

Glenn and Triview Metropolitan District Manager Ron Simpson said they felt that the county’s concerns about the light were not reasonable given the several other traffic lights to be added in this commercial area in a short time. They cited three lights that will be less than 1,000 feet from Jackson Creek Parkway, to the north and south. They also noted the light that will be added for the Diamond Shamrock gas station and adjacent commercial land on both sides of Baptist Road between I-25 and Old Denver Highway. Trustee Dave Mertz said he agreed.

Williams and El Paso County Department of Transportation Director John McCarty disagreed saying the Jackson Creek Parkway and the new Struthers Road are only frontage roads, minor arterials, while Baptist Road is a major arterial that will eventually extend about 20 miles to Highway 24. Newly elected Commissioner Dennis Hisey said he also wanted to minimize lights on Baptist for the future.

After further discussion, Glenn called for a motion. The board voted 3-1, with Trustee Dave Mertz voting no, on a motion to build the no-light option. Williams and McCarty expressed approval at keeping the flow open on this portion of Baptist. Glenn noted that while he was very disappointed in the outcome, that the project needed to move forward and that the design could be converted to a full-motion intersection in the future, even though the commercial developers that are about to build in the area could not be asked to pay for the light later.

Glenn also added that if the town cannot resolve a disagreement with the county on the need for a light at this intersection later on, it could annex the road and pay for the light itself.

Tension was eased in the room when one attendee asked if Glenn always revealed his future negotiating strategies ahead of time. "Can we play poker with you after this open house is over?" the unidentified man asked, to much laughter in the room, especially from Glenn. The board then went into a short executive session to discuss negotiations on right-of-way purchases.

After the executive session, the board changed the next special meeting date from March 4 to March 11, at Town Hall at 2:30 p.m., to ensure having a quorum for their planned executive session on right-of-way purchases. The board directed its staff to send notification letters to all property owners adjacent to the planned Baptist Road construction that final planning is under way, leading to the start of construction on Nov. 7.

Return to the top of the page

Sunken "treasure"found by local geologist

An outboard motor found last month in the evaporated lakebed of Palmer Lake may have belonged to the late local legend Bob Romack. As the story goes, Romack, as a boy, was boating on Palmer Lake in the 1940s when tragedy struck. His "ship" went down. Local friends have been looking for the motor ever since.

A local geologist found the motor while mapping the lakebed for an independent geological investigation of the disappearing lake. It was found partially buried and intact, resting on the lakebed. Plans are to restore the motor and donate it to the Palmer Lake Historical Society and Museum.

Return to the top of the page

Lewis-Palmer Board of Education, Jan. 19

District to consider early release times for elementary schools

By Tommie Plank

The Administrative Council is considering a modification to next year’s school calendar to allow elementary educators blocks of time to work together as part of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) program.

Ted Belteau, Executive Director of Administration and Community Services, reported that all District 38 students currently exceed the state mandated teacher-student contact hours. Implementing a two-hour early dismissal at the elementary level on as many as 15 days during the year would give elementary educators time to work collaboratively in their PLCs.

Several issues need to be addressed, such as how the District will handle afternoon kindergarten and students from families who would require afternoon day-care or other considerations. The details will be worked out and a proposal presented for board approval in February.

Terry Miller and Barb Masciarelli, principals of Lewis-Palmer Middle School (LPMS) and Creekside Middle School (CMS), introduced five eighth-grade students whose essays, "What Freedom Means to Me," were selected as winners in the annual Sertoma National Heritage Freedom Essay contest. CMS students Blake Chambers, Kelly Vicars, and Kaitlyn Brown and LPMS students Jackie Cromer and Cassie Yelle read their essays to the Board.

The students will compete against other Pikes Peak area middle school students in the Sertoma regional contest. Those winners, who will be announced in March, will then compete on the national level.

The Lewis-Palmer Elementary School (LPES) Fifth Grade Team reported on their Professional Learning Communities progress. Rusty Reed, Pam Kern, Jennifer Weber, and Monica Kaler discussed their collaboration in analyzing data to determine how to improve student learning. Jennifer McClung and Sperry Koterwas reported on the success of their "Sunrise Eagles" intervention program at LPES.

Karen D’Amour, chairman of District Accountability and Advisory Committee (DAAC), reported on the January accreditation site visit to LPHS and noted that DAAC will conduct a site visit to Monument Academy for their next meeting on Feb. 8. DAAC is also ready to support the Board on a districtwide survey.

Merv Bennett, president and CEO of the Pikes Peak YMCA, discussed plans to provide a full-service YMCA on 12 acres of land west of LPHS. They are finishing up a community survey to find out what amenities residents would like to see in a local Y. They are planning to start a fund-raising drive soon and hope to open the new facility in 2007. It is their intent to work with the school district throughout the planning phase in order to make their new facility and the high school—including driveways, parking, and fields—accessible to each other.

Members of the school board discussed their desire to develop a unified vision with town and county entities regarding growth projections within District 38. Denny Hill of Strategic Resources West, long-range planner for District 38, was in attendance and indicated he has facilitated similar projects for several communities in the past.

The Board directed Superintendent Dave Dilley to invite other local governmental agencies to participate, including the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake, Triview Metro District, and the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners.

Parents Patrick and Carolyn Laband received a commendation certificate for the many ways in which they have supported the high school over the past several years.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be Feb.17 at 7 p.m. in the Learning Center of the administration building.

Return to the top of the page

Woodmoor Improvement Association Annual Meeting, Jan. 31 and Board Meeting, Feb. 2

Continuing themes: Safety and the health of the forest

By Chris Pollard

Annual Meeting, Jan. 31

The WIA Annual General Meeting was called to order by John Ottino, President of the WIA, in the Woodmoor Barn. The original venue, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, was closed due to weather conditions. The number of residents present was lower than in previous years, at around 60 to 70. Fortunately enough written proxy votes (286) had been submitted prior to the meeting so the required quorum of more than 10 percent of the residents was reached to officially hold the meeting.

After recognition of a number of past members of the board, Ottino made special note of the two members who were leaving prior to the election - Tom McCabe, who had been the board secretary and Gina Haglof, who had been filling in as treasurer.

He also recognized a number of organizations for helping with the preservation of Woodmoor as part of the "Adopt a neighborhood" program. Cub Scout Troop 117 under Bob Kass had adopted the upper part of Woodmoor Drive, St. Mathias Episcopal Church under Bill Clewe was maintaining Furrow Road, and Lower Lake Road and Regatta Lane were being kept up by Michelle Thompson and Dawn Lervik.

Ottino then went on to the official business of the meeting by introducing the three candidates for the open board positions: Liz Miller has been filling in since September last year as Director of the Architectural Control Committee and has lived in Woodmoor since 1994; Hans Post, who had taken over the position of Director of Public Safety during the past year; and also Gordon Reichal, who was not currently serving on the board. Given that there were only three candidates for three open positions, all three were elected by general acclamation.

After the election, Ottino introduced a new vision statement that he had created for Woodmoor – "A quality community for all ages with room to live, nature to enjoy, and covenants to protect". He said Woodmoor was changing in character as it reached build-out and that this would continue as residents’ needs changed over time. He said he wanted to make sure there was good two-way communication with the residents.

During the past year, he noted that he had been working with the El Paso County Department of Transportation (EPCDOT) to improve traffic control, snowplowing priorities, and to try to repair the worst parts of Woodmoor’s roads. He said he worked with the board and the executive director, Camilla Mottl, to get a better web site up and running and this now had two-way capability. He said he hoped this will inform more people more quickly. He noted that a slash wood-chipping program during the year worked well while it was running but suffered from insufficient manpower. He said he is looking to improve this for the future. One other success was that over 100 residents had signed up for the new partnership with the Woodmoor Pines Golf and Country Club.

Ottino said that his challenges for the future included further work with EPCDOT and CDOT regarding traffic and safety issues on the major roads through Woodmoor. He noted that Mountain pine beetle remains a major problem that is currently out of control.

Speaking with regard to real estate development within the community, he said he was still unsure whether the conservation easement in South Woodmoor associated with the Walters’ multi-family development, newly renamed as Woodmoor Park, would come to fruition. He said he spoke with the Walters’ family on a monthly basis but the possibility of it being developed for housing, in his personal opinion, was still real.

He said he still had concerns with plans by developers to name the development on the Wahlborg property adjacent to Highway 105 "The Village at Woodmoor" given that it was not in or part of Woodmoor but rather in the Town of Monument.

A resident had requested that the WIA be responsible for controlling "nuisance critters" such as pocket gophers. Residents were polled on this issue twice, and all responses were adamantly opposed to the WIA becoming involved with this. Most felt that there was inadequate definition of what was a nuisance given that most of the "nuisances" were animals or birds that made the area more attractive.

Ottino reminded residents, given the recent snows and cold weather, about staying off the ice on local ponds and ensuring that their children only use Toboggan Hill for sledding.

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, gave a short presentation on the continuing problem of wildfire hazards and mountain pine beetle. He has a team of twenty volunteers, tree monitors, who can help with advice on how to achieve defensible space around homes. Woodman reminded residents that there was an ongoing grants program whereby residents could obtain matching funds up to $500 for fuels reduction.

Woodman added that he wants to provide better chipper-shredder resources to help residents in their disposal of trees and slash. He said that pine trees with more than five red pitch tubes, indicating that pine beetles had successfully attacked, would need to be removed by the first of June to stop the beetles’ spread. There are no WIA rules regarding this tree removal but he said he hoped for resident cooperation. He also noted that the County had its own rules in this regard, not allowing live Mountain Pine beetles after July 15.

Hans Post, as Director of Public Safety, noted that some new stop signs and crosswalks had been put in but there was still a need for other traffic slowing. He said EPCDOT had presented only a limited range of options in this respect but he was continuing to pursue this issue. Woodmoor Public Safety had a successful year of maintaining a very low crime rate and had performed over 17,000 vacation checks and responded to more than 1,500 calls for service.

Post said Woodmoor Public Safety plans include purchasing a speed trailer in the next year to help keep speed down and to provide statistics. He also wanted to work with Lewis-Palmer High School to address safety issues with student and parent driving in the Woodmoor area.

Ottino then gave Laurie Healy’s presentation as Director of Covenants. The concerns were that Woodmoor was now in a transition period where, as the houses become older, they need more maintenance. She wanted to make sure that as houses are upgraded with new materials they would still blend in and maintain the image of Woodmoor. There was some attention being given to changing the rules for clotheslines and, given the need for more vehicle parking and onsite storage, more allowance on ancillary buildings was being considered.

Alan McMullen, Director of Open Space, noted that as open land is reduced by construction there needed to be a careful balance between preservation, conservation, and use. There needed to be changes in the timing and frequency of open space mowing to reflect how the vegetation and wetlands were affected by the ongoing drought. The drought also caused concerns for controlling Canadian Thistle as ground moisture levels changed. There are many large patches of this noxious weed in the community and he wanted to work with residents to help control it. He said he still wants to organize a flea market for residents as a community event in May and is looking for volunteers. There had been some improvement in pond water levels in the past year so some ponds had been stocked with a selection of mosquito-eating minnows, grass eating fish, and a few game fish for catch and release.

Ottino then made a proposal to the residents to adopt the Community Associations Institute "Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities." This had been previously distributed to all residents but some audience members said there was need for more discussion because the document would add more opportunities for individual interpretation. One sentence in particular, referring to homeowners’ responsibilities, "Maintain their property according to established standards," was referred to. In the end the proposal was modified so as to add the document to the vision statement and the subsequent motion was passed by the majority.

Board Meeting, Feb. 2

In John Ottino’s absence, Susan Shields, WIA Vice President, chaired the meeting. As part of a follow-up to the election, Gordon Reichal, the newest board member, was elected to be board secretary replacing Tom McCabe, who had finished his term. All other board members retained their positions.

Liz Miller, Director of the ACC, announced that there was a new candidate to serve on the ACC committee, Thomas E. Lux, who has a background in civil engineering and surveying. The board voted to approve his nomination.

Miller also announced that residents now have a further choice in asphalt roofing and most colors of Certainteed Landmark TL have been approved for general use without special permission.

Laurie Healy proposed changing the rules for sheds and ancillary buildings where the accompanying houses are finished in stucco. Rather than only allowing stucco on such buildings, because of structural and other problems with applying stucco to such buildings, she suggested allowing alternative siding that matches the stucco color.

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, presented a proposal for the WIA become a certified "firewise" community. There are a small number of these in Colorado and becoming one allows the community to potentially take advantage of the federal grant system. Woodmoor has many severe problems with overgrown and diseased trees and shrubs that need thinning to improve the health and safety of the forest. Woodman also noted that thinning in most cases improves the appearance of properties, with more light and healthier vegetation.

Woodman showed a video of work done in New Mexico, particularly focusing on the town of Ruidoso. Residents maintained shade but reduced fire hazards in a number of ways. The forest was trimmed to remove the potential for crown and ladder-type fires and now looked greener and healthier.

Woodman proposed a plan to implement some of these ideas. He said some people would need convincing but many who already had implemented these ideas in Woodmoor were pleased with the results.

Return to the top of the page

January Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

The first few days of the month started off quiet and mild, but much colder air was on the way. A strong cold front blasted through the area during the morning of the 4th, and the high was reached at midnight. Temperatures fell throughout the day, along with light snow. A second surge of even colder air moved in the next morning, with temperatures falling below zero during the afternoon.

Quiet conditions again returned for the next week as temperatures moderated to above-normal levels under mostly sunny skies. A quick shot of snow, wind, and cold blew in during the morning of the 12th, dropping 3-6 inches in a few hours, which was then blown around by gusty northerly winds through the rest of the day.

A shallow Arctic airmass flirted with the Tri-Lakes area over the next few days, keeping many parts of the eastern plains socked in with low clouds, fog, and cold temperatures. However, because of our higher elevation, we stayed above the cold air for the majority of the time, and highs reached in the 40s.

This was the last time we saw any semblance of winter for the next two weeks, as dry and mild conditions moved in. Sunshine greeted us each day with progressively milder air working into the region. Temperatures climbed to record levels, as highs reached the low 60s on the 20th and 23rd, the first time we have seen widespread 60-degree highs in January in over three years. Even more surprising was the fact that these warm temperatures were not associated with gusty winds, making this mild and sunny period even more enjoyable.

However, Mother Nature gave us a sharp reminder that winter has a long way to go, as a good shot of snow and cold moved in during the last weekend of the month. Light snow began to fall Friday evening and continued off and on through Sunday afternoon, accumulating to 4-6 inches. The area saw a brief break in the action through late Sunday evening, but a second surge of snow and cold, this time accompanied by gusty north winds, moved in overnight Sunday into Monday morning. This dropped another 4-8 inches and made for treacherous travel conditions on the last day of the month.

For the month overall, temperatures averaged above normal, but with the abundant snowfall that final weekend, precipitation ended up above average. January is on average the driest month across the Tri-Lakes region, so make sure those snow shovel and snow blowers are ready to go, as most of us know the snowiest months of the year are still ahead.

A Look Ahead

February usually starts to move away from the dry weather of December and January and offers more frequent bouts of snow. February 2003 and 2004 were right around normal temperature wise, but saw above average snowfall. Let’s hope we can continue that trend this year. The official monthly forecast for February 2005, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and better-than-average chances of above-normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

January 2005 Weather Statistics
Average High    42.4°
Average Low    19.6°
Highest Temperature 61° on the 20th
Lowest Temperature -2° on the 5th
Monthly Precipitation 119"
Monthly Snowfall 19.5"
Season to Date Snow 67.3"
Season to Date Precip. 13.48"

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us in the Tri-Lakes region. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at our_community_news@hotmail.com.

Bill Kappel is the KKTV 11 News morning meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.

Return to the top of the page

Letters to Our Community

Wal-Mart will ruin the Marketplace

We were really disappointed to hear on the news that Wal-Mart was going in the big box pad in the Marketplace. After all they put this town through trying to keep them out, they end up here anyway. I just can’t understand that. They’ve shown their lack of concern for the community many times by turning a deaf ear whenever viable data was thrown at them as to why the Baptist Road location was a bad idea.

Have the powers-that-be also forgotten how uncooperative Wal-Mart was when asked to make area improvements to support the traffic and environmental issues? And yet they have welcomed Wal-Mart back with open arms. Whoever is making these decisions needs to consider the feelings and concerns of the community, which I think was made perfectly clear during the County Commissioners vote on the Wal-Mart Baptist Road issue. From my previous experience from a similar event that happened in our old neighborhood, a Wal-Mart will ruin the Marketplace.

We would have preferred not to see a big box pad in the Marketplace at all. A similar setup to the Shops At Briargate would have been much more inviting. But since there is a large pad there, we would have much rather seen one of the other choices (Target or Kohl’s) in that spot—anything but a Wal-Mart. The nearest Wal-Mart is only 10 minutes away. Target is much further, with the closest store at Academy and Union. A Target store would have made more sense, and it doesn’t draw the traffic that Wal-Mart does.

With 70 percent of Wal-Mart’s inventory coming from China now, we will continue to travel to Academy and Union for our household goods. I’d rather make that longer drive than support a store that is sending our manufacturing jobs to China. And folks, that is what’s happening. This is not an opinion but a documented fact.

I know this, we will never step foot in that store. And if the traffic is as congested as we think it will get, we will probably avoid the Marketplace altogether, which is a shame since it’s just a mile away.

Norman and Linda Baker

Return to the top of the page

Thank you

We would like to thank all of the residents of the Tri-Lakes area that made this Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Drive a huge success. It is good to see that this area has not forgotten how to care about people less fortunate than themselves. You, the men, women and children of the Tri Lakes area opened your hearts and pocket books to an amazing amount, over $33,300. This was over $2,700 more than last year.

 We would also like to thank the manager of Safeway (Brenda Stone) and King Soopers (Ken Howell). They made all this possible by allowing Monument Hill Sertoma to ring bells at their locations. Also to the members of the Monument Hill Sertoma, Lewis-Palmer High School Serteens, local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and the four local area volunteers. They contributed 563 hours of bell ringing.

We would also like to thank Sam DeFelice and Mike Wicklund, who each day picked up the contributions, counted the money and deposited it in the bank. Your help was deeply appreciated.

Again thank you all!!

Eddie L. Kinney
Monument Hill Sertoma

Return to the top of the page

Eastburn making good progress

Since the beginning of my accident, I have received cards, presents and well wishes from all of you. I am recuperating at my home with family and making good progress. I thank you all for your support and good thoughts and deeds. Be safe and enjoy the day.

Thomas W. Eastburn
Fire Marshal, Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Authority

Return to the top of the page

Monument Mayor Glenn: State of the Town

By Byron Glenn

The State of the Town is well, and 2004 was a stepping-stone to the town’s financial well-being. The Town again received an unqualified audit, meaning the Town’s financial situation is in good standing.

The new commercial development within Monument Marketplace will provide the town residents with shopping alternatives without the traffic congestion and long drive time to Colorado Springs or Castle Rock. Home Depot opened its doors in July of 2004, Wal-Mart is expected to open in March or April 2006, and Kohls may open in 2005.

With these major anchor tenants, we are hopeful that more restaurants and other retailers will move in 2005 and 2006. This commercial area and other proposed commercial developments within the newly annexed Village Center at Woodmoor, along with the proposed Timbers development, will provide the town with desperately needed revenue to construct major capital improvement projects.

In 2005, the Board of Trustees will decide on the location of a desperately needed police station and the financing mechanism for this facility. The location of the police facility may be in the Old Town area, Jackson Creek, along Old Denver Highway or within the Village Center at Woodmoor site. For the financing of the complex, we are considering the potential of bonding or creating a Building Authority to allow for the construction of the building. We are also considering the potential of leasing a building site.

Another major pursuit of the Board the next few years will be the revitalization of historic downtown with the construction of curb, gutter, decorative sidewalks, storm drains and increased landscaping. The town was able to purchase property it has currently leased from the railroad for Limbach Park. A condition of this purchase was the purchase of two other parcels adjacent to the west side of the railroad. The Town Board felt it was necessary to provide the community with adequate off-street parking around the downtown area, and we believe this will help the merchants’ businesses prosper.

Other proposed projects will include improvements to Limbach and Dirty Woman Park and the new Monument Lake Recreation Area, including restrooms; and roadway improvements to Old Denver Highway, Jackson Creek Parkway, Higby Road, and Mitchell Avenue where needed. The pursuit of renewable water and the purchase of those water rights will be critical within the next decade if Monument is going to continue to be a self-sustaining town.

We have lost some good employees, but this tends to occur with any organization and business. Individuals have plans and dreams for their own lives, and I want to wish the best of luck to both Joe Kissell and Mike Davenport. The potential replacements for the Police Chief and Planner positions are exceptional, and we look forward to the future thoughts and ideas of these new individuals.

We look forward to continually improving our relationship with the Special Districts within the Tri-Lakes area, along with the Town of Palmer Lake, El Paso County Commissioners, and the Colorado Springs City Council. The Board of Trustees understands that in order to achieve the goals of the region, it is essential to work together in the best interest of the residents and businesses.

We also look forward to your thoughts, as they are essential in creating the environment in which we all want to live. Therefore, the Board of Trustees would like to host an "Open House Town Meeting" on March 7, to hear your voice regarding the future of the town, and to provide you with answers to your questions.

Return to the top of the page

Perspective on Our Community

Lessons yet to be learned

By John Heiser

For a variety of historical reasons, our community is served by a multitude of fire protection districts including

  • Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District

  • Donald Wescott Fire Protection District

  • Larkspur Fire Protection District

  • Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department

  • The recently formed Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority, which combines the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District

All of them responded to the Nov. 13 fire on Bardsley Place ("King’s Deer house fire continues to stir controversy," OCN, Jan. 8). The handling of that fire highlighted a number of issues within and between the local districts.

Regardless of whose version of those events you consider, it is evident there were significant lapses in procedure and discipline, some of which led to injuries to emergency workers and increased property loss.

The response to these problems has been disappointing. Rather than focus effort on addressing the issues through more and better training and increased joint training among the local districts, there has been a regrettable amount of denial, finger-pointing, and isolationism. Instead of working on solutions, some have turned to criticizing the press for reporting the problems.

All of us here are thankful there are those among us who are willing to risk their lives to save lives and property. But bravery is no substitute for leadership, training, discipline, integrity, and cooperation.

For the sake of the safety and effectiveness of our local emergency workers and the security of the residents, it is essential all the fire district boards put aside their differences and concentrate on ensuring that all district personnel receive the best leadership and training available, follow procedures, and fully participate in joint training exercises with the other districts. Our emergency workers and residents deserve nothing less.

Return to the top of the page

Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore

Red/Read

By Judith Pettibone

Carnelian, Crimson, Carmine, Fire Engine … all shades of red. It’s no accident, I think, that this universally favorite color—the color of passion, love and even violence—is a homonym of the past tense of read. After all, where do we find the best and the worst of love but in books? From Little Red Riding Hood to The Little Red Hen, we have long read books with red in their titles. So how better to celebrate the holiday of love (and other emotions)—St. Valentine’s Day—than by discovering and reading red books.

The Red Tent
By Anita Diamant, $14.95

If this book didn’t capture your attention when it was first published in 1997, don’t miss it now. If you read it then, it may be time for a reread. Diamant’s first piece of popular fiction was a surprise in the publishing field. Its popularity was fueled by word of mouth and book clubs. If you are intrigued by an author’s ability to craft an entire novel from a brief incident in the Old Testament, then you’ll be fascinated. This book celebrates women and the rituals and practices of ancient times. Diamant is an award-winning journalist and author of five books about contemporary Jewish life. Her second book of fiction is The Good Harbor.

Clifford’s (The Big Red Dog) First Valentine’s Day
By Norman Bridwell, $3.50

America’s biggest, reddest, most-loved dog is a friend to all families and all early readers. Our family has a new 4-year-old German friend who wants to learn English and has "fallen in love" with Clifford. So Clifford’s appeal is universal, with his 25 books, assorted activity books, and even a pop-up book. If your preschooler doesn’t know Clifford, check him out.

Perma Red
By Debra Magpie Earling, $14.00

Although author comparisons are bound to disappoint in one way or another, it is a high compliment to be mentioned with Louise Erdrich. This poignant first novel follows the lives of the residents of the Flathead Reservation in Perma, Montana. Passions run high, and later amok, among the amorous trio who narrate this love story. Filled with love, murder, and the lives of the Native Americans, we hear the tale from three viewpoints: one who wants to leave all her culture behind, one who is bound in a shamanistic way to the old life, and one who is holding all the strands together. Earling is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Red Poppies
By Alai, $14.00

First published in Chinese and winner of China’s major literary award in 2000, Red Poppies is the first in a trilogy. Narrated by the supposed idiot son of a tribal chieftain in the waning days of the pre-Communist Tibet, it is a sweeping and dramatic tale of this beautiful land with its enigmatic and violent history. The idiot, or sage, character is loosely based on a Tibetan wise man. Publisher’s Weekly says it well: "Its sweep and humor make it one of the best of the wave of contemporary Chinese novels translated in recent years."

Where the Red Fern Grows
By Wilson Rawls, $6.50

This 1961 classic children’s novel should be a part of all home libraries. Rawls, with his clear and honest style, crafted the perfect "boy loves dog and learns a lifelong lesson" novel. The setting is during the depression, and Billy works for two years to earn enough money to purchase his long-sought-after pair of ‘coon dogs. The adventures that follow and the subsequent tragedy make for an unforgettable story that touches the heart. Ages 9 to adult.

The Hunt for Red October
By Tom Clancy, $7.99

Although it seems an impossibly long time ago when we knew nothing about Jack Ryan or his creator Tom Clancy, it was only 1985. This novel launched the "Jack Ryan Empire," with all the books and films that followed. This runaway best seller continues to attract new readers (after all, those born in ‘85 are now just 20). They, too, get hooked on following everyone’s favorite hero. Hunt is considered by many to be Clancy’s best.

The Red Badge of Courage
By Stephen Crane, $5.99

This is said to be the first modern war novel because it tells the story through the eyes of an ordinary soldier. Set during the Civil War, the protagonist, Henry Fleming, is eager to fight until the fighting actually begins. Overwhelmed by the battle and witnessing the death of a close friend, Fleming deserts the battlefield but ironically is hit on the head by another deserter—hence, his "red badge of courage." Maybe this is another book on your "I meant to read it" list; perhaps now is the time.

The Red Book
By Barbara Lehman, $12.95

This 2005 Caldecott Honor Book was described by The School Library Journal as "a perfectly eloquent wordless book that tells the complex story of a reader who gets lost, literally, in a little book that has the magic to move her to another place." Doesn’t that sound like a luscious thing to have happen to anyone? And doesn’t it sound like a perfect adventure to share with an elementary-age child? Created in watercolor, gouache, and ink, the illustrations make one want to take a further look, to see into and beyond the pictures. Caldecott winners seldom disappoint.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy red foil-wrapped chocolates, red roses, greeting cards splashed with red, and yes, even books with "red" in the title. Until next month, happy reading.

Return to the top of the page

High Country Highlights

National Bird Feeding Month

By Woody Woodworth

In January 1994, Congress declared February National Bird Feeding Month. The observance was established because it’s one of the most difficult months in much of the country for birds to survive in the wild.

Consider this:

  • A typical backyard bird doesn’t weigh as much as two nickels.

  • Birds spend most of their waking hours searching for food, without the help of "hands" and "fingers."

  • They may use up 15 percent of their body weight overnight just keeping warm enough to survive.

  • Like mail carriers, they’re outside in sleet, snow, wind, and cold.

Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining, educational, and inexpensive pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. Young children are drawn naturally to the activities involved in feeding wild birds. Parents can challenge an inquisitive child’s mind as they explore together ways of trying to encourage visits by their favorite birds. Different species of birds can be identified with a field guide. And the activity can be expanded, depending on the interest.

Chickadees, for example, fly back and forth between a feeder and a nearby tree. On each trip, they take a single seed and fly to a perch. While holding the seed with their feet, they peck it open and eat the kernel. The northern cardinal often will be the first ones at the feeder in the morning and the last to leave at night. Mated for life, the bright red male and his more camouflaged mate can be seen sharing morsels of sunflower and safflower seeds.

Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an easy hobby to start. It can be as simple as mounting a single feeder outside a window and filling it with a good-quality birdseed mix or just straight black oil sunflower seeds. This feeder can be a hopper, platform, or tubular variety. In most parts of Colorado, your first visitor is more likely to have four feet and a bushy tail. If you have not taken squirrels into your feeder-placement planning, be assured they will find your feeders.

For many people, the hobby progresses from there. They discover the relationship between the type and location of feeders, the seed offered in them, and the number and varieties of birds attracted. For example, suet products often are put out in wire baskets to attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. You can make your own suet-like treats from recipes that include peanuts, raisins, and other items found in the pantry. Remember to use organic products that contain no salt.

If you offer water, particularly if it’s dripping or running, you may attract birds that do not visit the feeders. Adding a bird bath warmer to keep the water from freezing during the winter creates an oasis for bird watching. Many interesting and eye-catching species are not seed eaters, preferring insects or berries, but they still need water.

To round out your backyard birding program, add a few birdhouses also known as nesting boxes. They can provide shelter in winter and breeding sanctuaries during spring for cavity-nesting birds. Feeding backyard songbirds is the most popular wildlife-related recreational activity around the home. A stress-free activity, it brings a welcome flash of color, dash of motion, and splash of sound into the backyard throughout year.

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

Return to the top of the page

Art Matters

By Janet Sellers

Here in the Tri-Lakes area, we have a community rich in artists and creativity. All ages and stages of prolific thinkers live and create here—budding youth, the emerging artists as well as experienced golden-aged artists and filmmakers, musicians and songwriters. I would like to share their stories and discoveries with you.

While not every artist exhibits in a sales gallery space or public stage, nearly all artists share their art in some way here. Our town is home to elegant house concerts and studio shows, public arts venues and family events at our libraries. All ages start out in the community of family, friends, and neighbors. My art students as well as my children have built castles in the sand, painted and written stories and traveled and wondered—and they make things and ideas come to life from their imaginations. I want that for each of us here in our community. Every month in Art Matters, I’ll feature stories about the people and the arts, the culture and imaginations at work in our community. I’ll be telling you about events, discoveries, and venues close to home, and I look forward to hearing from you. Keep me posted, so I can report more of what’s going on!

Mark your calendar

Feb. 12, 1-3 p.m. at Monument Library, the Girl Scout Troop 193 and Monument School of Fine Arts will be sponsoring a Valentines for our Troops (and for Vets) card-making time. They will be sending cards to our service people and to the VA hospitals so they know they are appreciated.

Also that day at the Monument branch, blast off with art, science, singing, and crafts to celebrate the East Branch library’s NASA exhibit. Joe Uveges will be the singing astronaut.

Studio Discovery/News

I recently visited the home of artist Carmen Thigpen. We got to talking about her lovely watercolors of Capri and her vacation in Italy, and the beautiful watercolors and dreamy photos from her tours around the world. While I gushed over her watercolors celebrating the Australian Great Barrier Reef and her luminous photographs of the swans in Cornwall from a Christmas trip (the whole family of four goes on the trips), the thought hit me: How can she find the energy to paint such lovely, intimate pieces about so many of her travels, entire family in tow, and come home so refreshed?

She let me in on secrets for her unique art, cultural exchange, and travel. She is a veteran home exchanger, which means she and other international home exchange club families swap homes for mutual vacation times for free. Members contact each other via the club
resources, and make their plans.

You can join Carmen this month for a class in this kind of travel at Tri Lakes Chapel, complete with her art exhibit, before she runs off to New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef again in March for more painting and sunning. There is a fee for this class. At press time, the dates were just being set, so you can contact me at 488-8280 or at the e-mail address below for details.

Arts at work in our community

William Boschelli of Tri Lakes Center for the Arts is a 2005 Americorps Fellowship Recipient in the Colorado Springs Region. The Americorps Program was founded in 1994 and is an effort to create a network of caring adults and safe places in order to provide a healthy start, marketable skills, and an outlet for youth to give back to their community through service. Will is excited about, and in the planning stages of, working with the local community to develop youth arts programs.

Along with the popular visual arts presentations, a charming gift shop is open year-round, with an artist’s market style of sales for everything from paintings and sculptures to cards, journals, and art-inspired jewelry. TLCA, located in Palmer Lake in the sunny yellow Kaiser Fraser building, is home to the arts as a local venue for visual arts shows, performance events, gala events, and artist studios. Classes taught by local artists are often available throughout the year through the center.

Janet Sellers is an internationally known and collected artist and is director of the Monument School of Fine Arts. She can be reached at ArtSpa@mac.com.

Return to the top of the page

Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide

Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

Zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

During the summer of my 18th year, I was privileged to accompany my Aunt Beth on a month-long journey across the western United States. Our route began in the Midwest and meandered across the western states to include as many national parks, monuments, and unique sites as possible, ultimately concluding near San Diego. One of my fond memories was stopping to picnic and being visited by a most unusual looking blue bird with a black crest.

The Steller’s jay has the most extensive range of any North American jay—from Alaska along the coast to central California and through the Rocky Mountains, to high mountain areas of Central America as far south as Nicaragua. They generally range in altitudes from 3,000 feet to 10,000 feet and may vary in color and size depending on their location.

Here on the Palmer Divide, there is no mistaking this resident bird with its distinctive black crest and 11-inch-long blue body. Often small white vertical stripes occur just above the eyes in the center of its black head. Dark bars on its wings and tail accentuate the dark blue body.

Steller’s jays form monogamous, long-term bonds and remain together year-round. They build their nest in the ponderosa pines. The nest is a bulky cup made of twigs and leaves and held together with mud. It is usually lined with rootlets, pine needles, and other fine material.

The female typically incubates 4 to 5 eggs for 16 to 18 days. Both members of the pair feed the young, which fledge the nest at about 16 days. They begin making short flights within a few days of fledging and can make sustained flights in 30 days, which is about when they begin to forage for their own food.

Like other jays, Steller’s jays are omnivores. Their diet consists of two-thirds vegetable matter and one-third animal matter. The vegetable portion of their diet includes seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits. The animal matter may include bird eggs and nestlings, invertebrates, suet, small rodents, reptiles, and carrion. They commonly take the eggs and nestlings of small birds, and they have even been observed attacking and eating adult birds. In turn, they are heavily preyed upon by owls and hawks.

Normally a shy and wary bird that feeds mostly in treetops, the Steller’s jay can easily become accustomed to humans during the nonbreeding season. Since moving here 15 years ago, my husband, Randy, has put peanuts out for the Steller’s jays. Every morning, he whistles so they will know it’s time. I marvel at their ingenuity and how gracefully they maneuver from the trees to our roof. They then peer into our kitchen window before landing on the table to pick up a nut. If they feel safe, they will shake each nut to make sure it’s big enough and then quickly fly to the nearest tree to crack it open.

Because each bird has a different degree of boldness, my husband has given names to our resident flock. But the most remarkable thing is that when we leave for a week and then return, the jays will follow Randy around the yard. And if we don’t get up in a timely manner, they often will peer into our bedroom window to let us know they are ready for their peanuts!

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at editor@ourcommunitynews.org.

Return to the top of the page

The Society Page

The Old-Timers’ Stories

By Leon Tenney

Every year, the Palmer Lake Historical Society hears from its old-timers, those who grew up in the Tri-Lakes area. Every year, Virgil Watkins hosts this event and some people bring potluck dinner.

Before we get to the fun, the Society had to elect new officers for 2005. This year, we elected Paula Whittier for president, Victor Vaile for vice president, Darryl Lundquist for secretary, Char Wahlborg for treasurer, Sandy Russell for book sales, Janet Frazee for refreshments, Rogers Davis for museum director, and Tom Allen and Archie Archuleta for directors at large. They were all elected by acclamation. Tom Allen, Sandy Russell, and Victor Vaile will work on the bylaws this year. Sam DeFelice is the outside events coordinator. Hans Post is the Estemere events chairman.

Paula Whittier and some women gave the first talk about growing up on a farm or ranch just south of Baptist Road in the north area of Gleneagle, as it is known today. They had what they called the "good life" in which they had occasional electricity and running water inside the home.

They remembered three generations living on this farm. Paula’s husband returned from World War II, and they had three children. They all went to school in Big Red. Paula related many tales of the fox farm, the Higbys, and the Struthers. She remembers they had a large garden.

Somewhere in this tale, Paula moved to Palmer Lake. They had wood-burning stoves in every room. Also, each room had an outside entrance, but the size of the rooms were smaller than today. It was the time of unlocked doors to houses, and she seems to remember all the events in which mischief was done, usually to the neighbor’s apple trees. There was actually water in Palmer Lake, and there was no better place to live or grow up.

Next up was Harry Krueger and Sister Sue. They descended from the Daltons. (It was unclear whether they were related to any of the Dalton Gang.) Apparently in those days, one could rent horses from the Clothemeyers. Among the many interesting characters in town were Cat Women, who had many cats, some Nazi spies, and some folks who filled their garage with stuff. This must have been before the days of garage sales. Another unsung town hero was the Matlocks, who gave all the needy children in town new clothes every Christmas.

All in all, the program wound down around 8 p.m., with a good time had by more than 50 attendees. Next month on the third Thursday, we will see the local artisans and crafts. We start at 7 p.m. See you all there.

Return to the top of the page

Fire Marshal’s Safety Tips

Move to the right for sirens and lights

By Thomas Eastburn

The traffic accidents on Jan. 5 involving a Colorado Springs Fire Engine VS and an ambulance emphasize the point of sharing the road and being mindful while driving. The resulting consequences of an accident involving a responding fire apparatus and/or ambulance can be serious—to the crew as well as the driver of the other vehicle.

An accident involving a fire apparatus or ambulance had not happened in our area for a while, but we all must share the road and follow the rules. When an accident does occur, the ramifications are a delayed response to the original emergency as well as possibly injured firefighters, automobile drivers, and/or passengers. Associated costs to the fire district and the taxpayers are primarily medical costs for our injured people, repair or replacement costs for the damaged apparatus, and time.

A typical response to a medical emergency can involve at least one fire engine and one ambulance. A structure fire involves at least five fire apparatus and other predetermined equipment from or to our automatic aid areas.

Driving either apparatus entails great responsibilities not only to the crew but also the general public. The fire districts provide training that meets National Fire Protection Association Standard and state and local requirements. Our drivers are required to maintain 300-500 feet distance between response vehicles, to change the audible warning device close to any intersection, to look for any traffic hazards, and to come to a complete stop to avoid an accident.

We ask the public to look for us and provide us the room to maneuver around you. An advertisement once stated, "Move to right for sirens and lights." Please heed this message.

In researching this matter in more detail, I found Colorado State Statute 42-4-705 Driving Regulations. It states, "The driver shall yield the right of way and where possible shall immediately clear the farthest left hand lane lawfully available to through traffic and shall drive to position parallel to the right hand edge or curb clear to any intersection and shall stop and remain in that position unless directed by an officer. Any person who violates this law commits a Class A traffic infraction."

The goal of the fire service is, and remains, to provide prompt emergency service for our people in need and to return safely for the next call.

Until next time, be safe.

Thomas W. Eastburn is fire marshal for the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority.

Return to the top of the page

Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Palmer Lake Sanitation District board has vacancy

A vacancy exists on the board of the Palmer Lake Sanitation District. To qualify as a director of a special district, a person must be an "elector," defined as a registered voter of Colorado and either a resident of the district for not less than 30 days, or the owner (or spouse of the owner) of taxable real or personal property situated in the district, or a person obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property.

Interested candidates should submit a letter by Feb. 8, and plan to attend the Feb. 9 board meeting at 7 p.m. at the district office at 120 Middle Glenway, Palmer Lake. Submit the letter to Bonnie Hanson, Office Manager, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, P.O. Box 687, Palmer Lake, CO 80133, 481-2732, fax: 481-8924.

Return to the top of the page

Jackson Creek HOA elections

The Homestead, a Jackson Creek Homeowners Association, will have its first annual meeting to elect the board of directors on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at Creekside Middle School. For information, call Sue Pepin at 757-4136 (work) or 488-2161 (evenings).

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Arts Group Fine Arts Show

Works by artists in the Palmer Lake Arts Group will be on display at the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade, in Colorado Springs, through Feb 27. The opening reception is Feb. 10, 5 to 8 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Kids’ Chess Tournament

The Kilmer Elementary School Chess Club is sponsoring a free chess tournament on Feb. 12 for children from kindergarten to 5th grade, including home-schoolers. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the first round starts at 9 a.m. Four rounds will be played, and the tournament should be over by 1 p.m. Parents are invited to remain at the tournament or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Chess sets will be provided, but children should bring their own snacks.

Kilmer Elementary School is at 4285 Walker Road, about five miles east of Monument on Highway 105. For information, contact Steve Waldmann, the Kilmer chess club coach, at 488-9887, or huskercoo (at) joimail.com .

Return to the top of the page

"Brass on the Hill" concert at TLCA…and a photo exhibit, too!

View works from the TLCA's Second Annual Photography Exhibition

Click on the art work to view works from the exhibition

Surprise your Valentine with the sweet sounds of brass! A special musical evening at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) is planned on Feb. 12 with the Monument Hill Brass Quintet’s "Brass on the Hill" Concert. Enjoy great classics and jazz set amidst the TLCA’s Second Annual Photography Exhibition. Complimentary refreshments and Valentine treats will be served, and beverages will be available.

The quintet members are Dave Laubach and Craig Ketels on trumpet, Lisa Smith on the French horn, Mike Mozingo on trombone, and Ted Bauman on the tuba. Make this a Valentine’s weekend to remember by attending this first in The Wine Seller Concert Series for 2005. Tickets are $10 for TLCA members, $12 for nonmembers, and $5 for children or students and are available at The Wine Seller in Monument, Speedtrap in Palmer Lake, or at the TLCA, located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.com.

Return to the top of the page

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. Upon successfully completing the course, graduates may present the completion certificate to their insurance agents for a discount. The course is Feb. 17 and 18, 1-5 p.m. (must attend both days) at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. The cost is $10. Call 488-2370 to pre-register.

Return to the top of the page

Gleneagle Women’s Club Mardi Gras Dinner Dance

The Gleneagle Women’s Club will have a buffet dinner with Cajun music at the Air Force Academy Officer’s Club on Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to this celebration of the Valentine season. Call Carol McNamara at 487-1049 for more information and to make reservations. Reservations must be in by noon on Feb 14. Part of the price of the meal will be given to charity.

Return to the top of the page

Local debut of film in Palmer Lake

On Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m., the Palmer Lake Branch Library will debut The Life & Times of Gen. William Jackson Palmer, a film about the founder of Colorado Springs. The film will be projected on a large screen at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. This one-hour video biography was written, produced, and directed by local filmmaker/historian Jim Sawatzki, who has made 10 other videos on Pikes Peak regional history. Over three years in the making, the film chronicles the life of Palmer in a new interpretation of this early Colorado pioneer. The showing is free and open to the public.

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) is now accepting applications for grants. All qualified organizations that provide services to residents within School District 38 may apply. Qualified organizations are public schools, public safety agencies, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable or educational organization. Grant applications and instructions are available on TLWC’s Web site, www.tlwc.net. Organizations may request an application by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: TLWC - Granting, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. Applications are due by Mar. 15.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsors the annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale and Wine & Roses. Proceeds from fund-raisers benefit local nonprofit groups. Last year, $35,000 was granted to 24 school departments and agencies. In the past 28 years, more than $415,000 has been awarded to schools, fire and police departments, and other nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organizations that provide services to residents within the boundaries of Colorado School District 38.

Return to the top of the page

Free tax assistance

Free income tax filing assistance is offered by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Trained AARP volunteers will be available every Monday and Thursday through April 14 (except Feb. 22, President’s Day) from noon until 3 p.m. to answer questions and to assist in completing federal and state income tax returns. On Mondays, they will be at the Monument Town Hall; on Thursdays, they will be at Tri-Lakes Cares’ new location near the Presbyterian Church in Monument.

Volunteers will assist taxpayers in preparing their Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ, and will assist in claiming any Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, and/or Education Credits to which the taxpayer might be entitled. They will also assist in preparing the following forms: Schedules 1, 2, 3, A, B, C-EZ, EIC, D, R, and SE, as well as forms 2441, 8812, and 8863. Taxpayers with more complicated returns should seek the advice of a paid professional. Filers are asked to bring their W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc., needed to complete their 2004 return, plus a copy of last year’s (2003) tax return. For more information, call Jim Taylor at 488-1317.

Return to the top of the page

Prior Up Next


Home  About  Advertise  Archive  Calendar  Contact  Donate  Help  Links  Maps  Subscribe  Topics  Updates
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, ads@ocn.me, editor@ocn.me, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 27, 2024. Home page: www.ocn.me
Copyright © 2001-2024 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.