Big Splash April 16
Below: Palmer Lake Volunteer Firefighters help fill
Palmer Lake while providing motivational assistance to a huge flock of rubber
water fowl on Palmer Lake, during their "race" at the Big Splash fund
raiser April 16. Hundreds of residents cheered throughout the rubber duck race
after each helped fill Palmer Lake with water they brought with them. The Awake
the Lake Committee has raised over $21,000 in just a few months and on May 2 the
Board of County Commissioners approved a donation of an additional $20,000
toward the purchase of well water from the town water department. The committee
will purchase 30 acre-feet (9.8 million gallons) of water initially, then
continue fund raising until they can reach the lake’s capacity of about 90
acre-feet (29 million gallons). Coverage of Palmer Lake meetings starts on page
Protect Our Wells Annual Meeting, April 24:Hydrogeologist warns of declining aquifer water levels
By John Heiser
An estimated 75 people attended the Protect Our Wells (POW) annual meeting at the Black Forest Community Center April 24. The featured speaker was Dr. John Moore, a hydrogeologist who retired after 29 years with the U.S. Geologic Survey. Moore has served as a technical advisor to the EPA and U.S. House of Representatives and is the author of 80 technical papers and four books.
Moore presented data showing that water levels in the widely used Arapahoe aquifer are suffering significant declines, on the order of 30-40 feet per year, or an inch a day.
Many of the points Moore made during his presentation echoed those made March 14, 2004, by Dr. Bob Raynolds, a geologist with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and a faculty member of the Colorado School of Mines. (See "Geologist predicts deep aquifer water shortages within decade," OCN, April 3, 2004 on the web at http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n4.htm#pow).
The Denver Basin is a system of bedrock aquifers that extend from north of Denver to south of Colorado Springs. Unlike the common misperception of an underground lake, the water is held in the microscopic pore spaces within the porous rocks. Moore noted that the Denver Basin has supplied water since 1883.
Portions of the Denver Basin lie beneath the northern part of El Paso County east of the Front Range. The four Denver Basin bedrock aquifers—the Dawson, the Denver, the Arapahoe, and the Laramie-Fox Hills—supply most of the water for the Tri-Lakes area, all of the water for Black Forest, and much of the water for the Falcon and northeastern El Paso County areas. The city of Colorado Springs is considering increasing its use of Denver Basin water, especially during droughts. Water providers and private well owners in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Jefferson, Morgan, and Weld counties also draw water from the Denver Basin aquifers.
Moore’s presentation, like Raynold’s presentation in 2004, included little information about the status and prospects for the shallower Denver and Dawson aquifers that are the source of water for many private wells.
At that meeting, Raynolds noted, "I can’t find any physical boundary between the Dawson and Denver aquifers." He characterized it as an administrative boundary. He added that the Dawson/Denver aquifer is generally considered to be tributary, meaning it is recharged by surface water, although that recharge may take decades or longer. Raynolds noted that from his research, the Dawson/Denver aquifer is apparently not connected in any significant way to the lower aquifers.
Moore noted that in 1985 there were about 12,000 wells drawing water from the Denver Basin aquifers. By 2001, that number had nearly tripled to about 33,700.
Declining water levels
Many Front Range water providers, including Tri-Lakes area water districts and municipalities, tap into the Arapahoe aquifer within the Denver Basin. Moore cited well data showing that, depending on the area where the measurement is taken, the Arapahoe aquifer is dropping 30-40 feet per year. According to a diagram Moore presented, the drop in the Monument area has totaled about 250 feet.
Moore noted that there is "essentially no recharge of the Arapahoe aquifer. It is 10,000-year-old water." If the rate of decline continues or worsens, as is widely expected, many of the 1,000- to 2,000-foot-deep high-volume commercial wells used by Front Range water providers could fail within the next few decades.
Moore said declining water levels typically result in drying up of springs and streams, decreased well yields, increased pumping costs, degradation of water quality due to increased dissolved solids, and land subsidence.
Moore noted that the effect of declining water levels is particularly acute for the Town of Parker, which lies near the eastern boundary of the Denver Basin. He noted that one 1,749-foot well in the Parker area, drilled at a cost of $450,000, is producing 450 gallons per minute. The water level started at 1,188 feet but has been dropping 70 feet per year. He said the well is projected to fail within five years.
What to do
Moore said some water providers are considering artificial recharge in which during wet years water is pumped into the aquifer. He said, "Highlands Ranch south of Denver is currently buying water from Denver and pumping it into the ground." Colorado Springs Utilities has conducted experiments with artificial recharge. (See "County Water Authority looks to conjure up some water," OCN, November 6, 2004, on the web at http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n11.htm#epcwa).
Moore noted that other techniques to address the issue of declining aquifer water levels include increased use of reuse water from wastewater treatment plants, restrictions in landscape irrigation, replacement or repair of leaking water pipes, and growth control measures.
The topic of poorly planned growth struck a chord with some audience members. Oscar Weible said, "We have not had a good county commissioner to represent our interests in District 1 since the late Jim Campbell." District 1, which includes the Tri-Lakes area, is currently represented by Wayne Williams, whose term expires in 2006.
POW member and District 2 County Commissioner Doug Bruce, who was in the audience, said, "I am the only commissioner who voted against a new subdivision [Claremont Ranch] where there was no proven adequate water supply."
During his 2004 presentation, Raynolds said that an obstacle to confronting the problem of the declining water levels in the deep aquifers is that Front Range water providers are scattered and small. To help address that issue, local water providers have formed several organizations. One of those, the El Paso County Water Authority, was founded in 1998. It is composed of about 20 water system operators in El Paso County, including the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake, the Donala Water and Sanitation District that serves Gleneagle, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District intended to serve the Forest Lakes area west of I-25 near Baptist Road, the Triview Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.
The County Water Authority commissioned a water report intended to help members meet water demands through 2020. The report was issued in fall 2002 and is available on the county’s Web site at http://adm.elpasoco.com/planning/water_report.asp.
The host for the April 24 meeting, Protect Our Wells, also known as the Denver Basin Aquifers Private Well Owners Association, is a nonprofit, citizen-based group formed to advocate the interests of private well owners. The group was formed about two and one-half years ago in response to concerns that the County Water Authority’s 2002 report failed to adequately address the prospects for private wells. In addition to advocating for well owners at the local and state levels, POW’s goals are to gather information about the status of Denver Basin groundwater supplies and advocate their conservative use, and educate private well owners about Denver Basin groundwater.
POW President Larry Stanley said the group would be focusing on increased membership, more frequent public meetings, more frequent newsletters, increased political activity, more education of the public, and more visibility with the Board of County Commissioners and the State Engineer’s Office that grants well permits.
For more information on Protect Our Wells, contact Stanley at 495-7825 or visit www.protectourwells.org. POW membership costs $25 per year. Mail checks to Protect Our Wells, P.O. Box 88241, Colorado Springs, CO 80908-8241.
Raynolds’ presentation is available online at www.protectourwells.org. Under "Resources," click on "presentations" and then "Bedrock aquifers in the Denver Basin: A finite resource."
The report prepared by the El Paso County Water Authority is available online at http://adm.elpasoco.com/planning/water_report.asp.
Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop April 7 and Meeting April 14: Developer’s request muddies water for the Inn
By Tim Hibbs
A request for a commercial water line for The Inn at Palmer Divide project generated serious discussions between Palmer Lake trustees and developer Al Fritz at the Town Council workshop on Apr. 7 and the formal meeting on Apr. 14.
Fritz stated that an original PUD request that provided for a commercial water line was approved by the council in 1999. Modifications made to that request required a change to the water source for the development. Rather than receiving water through a commercial water line, Fritz made arrangements with Mission Training International (MTI) to purchase water from their well. The MTI well has the capacity to produce up to 200 acre feet of water annually, although the organization currently uses only about 3 acre feet per year for its operations.
Funding issues have plagued the Inn at Palmer Divide project since the original development request was approved. Fritz maintained that these issues have been resolved, and he cited the placement of 1,300 cubic yards of concrete foundation for the development several years ago as evidence of new financial stability. He said that the size of the project had increased from 25 units to 39 units, and that this expansion prompted his renewed request for a commercial water tap. He said that the total annual projected water usage for the project was 10 acre-feet per year or over 3.25 million gallons. Fritz made his initial request at the council workshop on Apr. 7, and was asked to return for the formal council meeting on Apr. 14 for further discussion.
Fritz noted that MTI has a commercial water line with a capped extension. He suggested that, if the council were willing to consider granting his request, his company would incur the expense to extend that commercial line from the extension to his development.
Mayor Nikki McDonald stated that, as part of its water restriction plans, the town enacted an ordinance stating that no new commercial main lines can be constructed. Fritz argued that extending the MTI commercial line was technically not a new main line but a continuation of an existing one. Trustee Chuck Cornell questioned what of significance had changed since Fritz’ original request for a commercial water line was denied by the council. The subsequent discussion on this question hinged on interpretations of which changes were "significant." No clear resolution was identified.
Trustee Gary Coleman stated that Fritz’ request appeared to be a significant change from the original plan and suggested that the request should be presented to the Palmer Lake Planning Commission for further review and consideration. He and Trustee Trish Flake noted that the council had only received the project plan the week prior to the council meeting, which did not provide enough time or background on which to make a sound decision.
Town Attorney Larry Gaddis suggested that the council extend Fritz’ PUD permit for another year to provide him time for additional presentations and planning. Coleman then moved to extend the permit and to direct Fritz back to the Planning Commission for further review of the proposal. Trustee Max Parker seconded the motion. With only Cornell opposed, the motion passed.
The council approved five business permits:
Community and Economic Development–Buildings: Coleman said a document had been circulated to council members regarding a proposal known as "Front Range Commuter Rail." The document outlined a 12-year project to bring commuter rail service to communities on the Front Range, including Monument and Palmer Lake. He noted that although Palmer Lake is well situated to benefit from such a proposal, any efforts that the town expends to advance the goals of the project should be coordinated with the Town of Monument.
Water: Cornell reported that Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt was still working on the D2 well. Pump deterioration and other problems were discovered after the work had begun, and as of the Apr. 14 council meeting date the well was still inoperable. Cornell stated that the well should be back in operation within two weeks. He said that the well would not be operating in time for the Big Splash at Palmer Lake event, hosted by the town’s Awake the Lake committee and scheduled for Apr. 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Roads: Parker said that the committee had met with planning commission member Gary Atkins about his concerns over dust mitigation measures on Circle Road. Parker also complimented Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich for his diligent work during the recent snowstorm. Radosevich added that construction by a property owner near the top of Trinidad Lane might require vacating part of Laughing Water Road in exchange for a portion of the owner’s property.
Police: The chairmanship of the Police Committee remains unfilled in the wake of Trustee George Reese’s death. McDonald reported that 116 calls were received by the Palmer Lake Police Department for the month of April.
Fire: Trustee Brent Sumner said the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department handled 15 calls for the month of April. Of those, 9 were medical, 3 were fire calls, 2 were wild land calls, and 1 was for public assistance. There were 2 mutual aid calls for the month. He noted that the department is participating in a multiple agency grant application to upgrade radios to 800 MHz.
Parks and Recreation: Flake reminded everyone that the Blue Columbine Festival is scheduled for June 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Booths for the event are available for $45 each, and the deadline for booth registration is May 15. Pilates and yoga classes are on schedule to begin May 18. She also said that June is Bike Month in Colorado, and encouraged people to ride their bicycles to work on June 22.
Dates for the Pikes Peak Library’s film series titled War And Propaganda In Modern Society were restated: Apr. 23, starting at 1 p.m.; May 4, 13, 20, and 25, starting at 4 p.m.; and June 1 and July 3, for which no starting times had yet been set.
Mayor’s report: McDonald remarked that the Tri-Lakes Chapel had donated chairs to the town for use in the Town Hall and other town facilities, and wanted to thank members of the chapel for their generosity. She also reminded everyone of the vacancy on the town council as a result of Reese’s death and asked for volunteers willing to fill the vacancy. McDonald has a maximum of 60 days from the time a vacancy starts to appoint a replacement.
Fountain Creek Watershed: Palmer Lake’s representative to the Fountain Creek Watershed project, Bob Miner, stated that the watershed’s hydrology study was ending. He noted that district flow information was forthcoming from Orcutt to complete the town’s obligation. Miner said that a project to widen portions of Highway 105 would be initiated this summer, and some erosion control measures would be incorporated into the project.
Awake the Lake: Committee Chairman Jeff Hulsmann stated that the Awake the Lake (ATL) committee had raised $13,796 so far, 99 percent of which was from individual donations. He said that the county’s Park Advisory Committee was very supportive of the ATL’s work, and was recommending that the county commissioners allocate $15,000 to help fund the effort to fill Palmer Lake.
He reminded the council of the Big Splash at Palmer Lake event scheduled for Apr. 16. Noting that it appeared the D2 well would not be operational by the day of the event, an alternative and "symbolic" source of water would be needed to fulfill the plans for the event. Water pumped from the fire department’s pump truck was chosen as the most viable alternative.
Amendment 37 Affirmed
Sumner noted that the wording of Amendment 37 in the most recent statewide election contained language that allowed organizations and municipalities to opt out of participation in the alternative energy measure. He stated that IREA, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, had requested permission from the town to opt out. In an expression of support for what he termed "the will of the people", Sumner offered a motion that Palmer Lake affirm its support of Amendment 37. The motion was seconded by Parker, and was passed unanimously by the council.
Start Lighting Policy Questioned
Resident Jeannie Manzanares read a prepared statement questioning the town’s policy on lighting the star on Sundance Mountain. Citing town Resolution 6-2000, Manzanares contended that the policy is too ambiguous and arbitrary in its application to the deaths of prominent town citizens. Her statements were echoed by several members of the audience.
Cornell noted that resolutions do not have the force of law and that they are simply expressions of the will of the council at the time they are enacted. McDonald stated that the most recent lighting was in honor of Reese’s death and was in line with the resolution’s intent. She did, however, commit that the council would revisit the resolution in an effort to find ways to broaden its applicability and address the concerns expressed by Manzanares. The task of addressing these concerns was assigned to the Community and Economic Development–Buildings committee, led by Coleman.
Pikes Peak Film Series Ignites Objections
Several members of the audience offered strong opinions against the town’s sponsorship of the War And Propaganda In Modern Society film series created by the Pikes Peak Library District. Charles Pocock contended that the series is backed by "extreme left wing protestors," local liberal activists, and organizations with ties to the Communist party. He asked why the town felt it was "their job to support these organizations." He maintained that his statements were supported by research he conducted on the Internet. He suggested that the council demand a return of their sponsorship funds and rescind access to the town hall building.
John Russell agreed with much of what Pocock said, stating that he feels the council is aligning itself with the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado. He also expressed his disappointment that the council voted to require IREA to divert resources based on radical environmentalism. Rogers Davis said that he felt the town’s sponsorship of the film series aligns it with the "Axis of Evil."
McDonald stated that she was not aware that the film series had a position it was espousing. Sumner offered that the films provided opportunities for moderated discussion and dialog after each showing, and was a demonstration of the principle of freedom of speech. Flake, whose Parks and Recreation committee organized the event, said that the town’s sponsorship provided opportunities for intelligent dialog in the community. She emphasized that the film series is not designed to support one perspective over another.
Monument Board of Trustees, April 4:Town Manager resigns
By Jim Kendrick
At the regular Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting on April 4, Mayor Byron Glenn announced that Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg had resigned that afternoon. New Town Planner Cathy Green, who began work on March 9, will be acting town manager indefinitely. During the preceding special meeting, the board interviewed three candidates for an interim treasurer position that would last 90 days.
It was noted that no replacement for the town manager or town clerk positions would be sought in the near future. The board discussed the candidates for interim treasurer during an executive session at the end of the regular meeting.
On April 7, the town issued a press release announcing that Pamela Smith will begin April 25 as the new interim town treasurer. The press release also announced that Tom Kassawara will fill the newly created position of town engineer.
Interim town treasurer selected after special meeting interviews
The board interviewed three candidates for the 90-day interim treasurer position during a half-hour special meeting. The top-rated candidate from the initial screening, Steve Hilfers, withdrew from consideration, and the fourth-rated candidate was invited to the special meeting to interview in his place.
The candidates were Pamela Smith, Isabella Mathews, and Cody Leach. All three were interviewed separately by the board, and each had experience in accounting, management, and finance. The board moved into executive session at the end of the regular meeting and selected Smith.
At the start of the regular meeting, Glenn announced Sonnenburg’s resignation and then noted that Green would assume the additional duties of interim town manager indefinitely. Glenn said she is very capable of taking on this extra workload, having been assistant city manager in Pueblo. He added she had a good personality for additional tasking and there is a need for a new strategic plan for the organization of the town staff.
Glenn announced the hiring of Tom Kassawara to fill the newly created town engineer position and said his planning experience would allow the board to delay a decision on whether to advertise for a new town manager.
Background: Treasurer and Town Clerk Judy Skrzypek resigned after the BOT meeting on March 21. Former Town Planner Mike Davenport, Police Chief Joe Kissell, and Planning Assistant Jennifer Rieger also resigned recently. Town Clerk Anne Holliday resigned in 2003. The vacant planning assistant position has not been filled.
The only remaining full-time staff members in Town Hall are Deputy Clerk/Administrative Assistant Irene Walters, Finance Assistant/Deputy Treasurer Mary Russelavage, and Assistant Planner Natalie Ebaugh.
Sonnenburg will receive a six-month pay and benefits settlement. Skrzypek did not receive a similar settlement, nor did Davenport, Rieger, or Kissell. No public announcement was ever made about Holliday’s pay and benefits settlement, though the town’s insurer, CIRSA, noted in a town meeting a year ago that it paid about $22,000 for a sexual harassment settlement at that time.
Town manager position on hold: Trustee Tommie Plank said the board owed Green a debt of gratitude for her willingness to take over the increased workload as interim town manager. Trustee George Brown suggested the town should advertise for a new town manager now and asked Green if she would want the position. Green said she was so new to the staff that it was too soon for her to decide.
Town Attorney Gary Shupp suggested the board hold off on a decision to advertise and said, "It gives you the opportunity to assess the need for a town manager" and would preclude any unrealistic expectations from those candidates who might submit resumes and not get a prompt decision. He also suggested the board interview all the remaining town hall employees at an "all-staff meeting" on April 6, to determine how the town is working currently, before making decisions on whether to further modify the organizational structure, including a decision on a human resources position. Trustee Dave Mertz said the board could review the staff’s comments from April 6 at the next regular board meeting.
The board unanimously accepted Sonnenburg’s resignation and approved Green’s appointment to be interim Town Manager. The board also unanimously approved a motion to make the "all-staff meeting" a special board meeting as well so any trustee could attend without concern about inadvertently creating a BOT quorum as defined by state sunshine laws.
The board unanimously approved the rest of the agenda. The board unanimously approved the minutes for the March 21 and March 28 BOT meeting minutes, with some typographical corrections.
Economic/CommunityDevelopment Grant unanimously approved
Art gallery owner and Parks and Landscape Committee Member Linda Pankratz presented the Historic Monument Merchants Association’s request for a town Economic/Community Development Grant of $1,510.15 for 25 lamp banners (48 inches tall) to be mounted on decorative downtown street lamp posts and a single 20-foot-wide banner to span Second Street by Highway 105 on flag poles that will be erected soon near the new town entry sign.
The banners are for the first annual six-month "Art Hop," which will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month beginning in May. The banners will be produced by Vital Signs and Graphics, Inc.
Pankratz said downtown art galleries and businesses will sponsor various artists–painters, poets, sculptors, jewelry, chefs, gardeners, winemakers, and photographers–and related activities to involve the whole community in addition to summer evening concerts. A total of 19 merchants will be open those evenings.
New Police Department building update
Building parameters defined for preliminary proposals: Police Chief Jake Shirk and Sergeant Rick Tudor provided building cost estimates requested by the board in March. Tudor said he contacted four architectural firms to refine his estimate for a 13,000-square-foot facility, with connected police and courtroom buildings, to be built in several stages over a number of years. The town can currently seek bonds for a maximum of about $2 million.
Tudor noted that the figures he obtained were widely divergent due to the ambiguity of the potential lot location, building configuration, soil situation, and piece-by-piece construction schedule options. The various bids did not include all the same list of costs, making the range and average costs imprecise. Lease-purchase options must also be considered, since actual construction costs, even on a lot already owned by the town would likely exceed the town’s current or near-term future bonding capacity.
For the estimates, Tudor said he assumed the new building would be constructed in stages on the lot donated to the town by the developer of the recently annexed Wahlborg parcel, southeast of Highway 105 and Knollwood. This lot has a 20 percent gradient and would allow a basement walkout entrance as well as an upper story entrance for the two-story police portion. Each level would be about 5,000 square feet.
The upstairs would contain offices, interview rooms, small evidence and records rooms, and a chief’s office. The lower level would eventually be built to contain a larger evidence room, sally ports (secure entrances–with garage doors–where prisoners are loaded/unloaded into/from vehicles), holding cells, an armory, and a larger records storage area. Cost estimates ranged from $1.6 million to $3.2 million. Average cost for the four submissions was about $2.2 million for a 10,000-square-foot building with an unfinished basement. These estimates excluded the costs for finishing the basement and for furnishings and equipment.
The base proposal also calls for a separate single-story 3,000-square-foot courtroom and public meeting facility on a concrete slab. There would be no built-in court facilities and furniture such as benches or a jury box for the monthly sessions, so that the large room could be fully multi-purpose year-round. Initially the basement of the police building would be unfinished and the court building could be built later. No cost estimates were presented for building or furnishing the separate court building.
Other lots are also being considered, but the four estimates were only for the town-owned lot in the Wahlborg/Villages at Woodmoor development.
Shirk said the first upper 5,000 square feet of finished space would be large enough for at least the department’s first seven years of occupancy, and "would be a luxury" compared to the current 1,100-square-foot modular building space. The department will not be charged a traffic impact fee.
As an alternative, bids were also obtained for a single two-story building with 8,000 square feet on each floor. Only 5,000 square feet upstairs would be finished initially. Cost estimates ranged from $2.3 million to $4.2 million. Average rough cost for the four submissions for this alternative was about $2.8 million.
Selection of architectural consultant postponed: Local architect Rick Barnes distributed some preliminary drawings and sketch plans for the facility. Glenn said the board was more interested in options on how to finance the building through bonding, lease, or lease-purchase arrangements than looking at floor plans at this time.
Brown told Barnes the drawings he had provided would be very useful once the town’s ability to pay for the building and perhaps a different lot had been fully analyzed. Barnes said he would need some firm figures on future town revenue before his financing partners would be able to determine available bond amounts and rates or a maximum lease payment amount. He said he could then design a police building to these various costs for a lease or lease-purchase arrangement.
Shupp noted that lease and lease-purchase procedures are markedly different than the normal construction bidding process. After further discussion by the board, no action was taken regarding selection of an architect.
Barnes noted that his financial consultant for leasing had done previous legal work on the current Monument Police Department building. Shirk said he had been in contact with a financial consultant and he had recommended a bank loan if the amount financed did not exceed $1 million. Shirk said the consultant had suggested that use of certificates of participation might be considered as an alternative for a higher cost building.
Glenn said the town’s maximum bonding capability via an election was about 2 mills and that amount, when coupled with about $600,000 available from the water fund, would limit a police building purchase to about $2 million. He did not explain how reserves in the town’s water enterprise fund could be used by the police department. Glenn said the preferred option might be to lease the building until the Town’s bonding capacity and revenues increase enough to finance purchase.
Shupp suggested Wells Fargo Bank had made a proposal for financing Town Hall in the past and might provide additional free advice on the police building. Glenn said he would contact them.
Shirk said it was too early to hire a legal consultant until all the financing alternatives have been evaluated. Orten requested that Shirk find out what information the board would have to provide to an attorney before receiving legal advice.
Ordinance changes approved, zoning regulation change review postponed
Substantial hikes in some planning fees: The board unanimously approved Emergency Ordinance 04-2005 that formally enacted the new planning fee schedule for review and approval as authorized by the board’s March 28 resolution for fee increases. Planning fees for large-scale developments increased substantially, from an average of about $3,000 to about $8,000, to reflect the actual staff workload they require, but the fees for small projects remained essentially unchanged.
Though more than doubled, the fees for large developments are still less than those charged developers elsewhere in El Paso and surrounding counties. The emergency ordinance updates specific cost figures in Chapters 16.08 and 17.08 of the town’s municipal code.
Traffic impact fee exemption codified: The board also unanimously approved an amendment to chapter 3.24 of the town’s municipal code on traffic impact fees. Ordinance 05-2005 formalizes the changes in the board’s March 21 resolution that exempts the first 500 square feet of new construction or an addition to an existing structure.
Zoning/Subdivision Regulation Update adoption deferred for another three months: Green said she hopes to complete the comprehensive update of the town’s zoning and subdivision regulations for review by the board by the end of June.
Since the 2004 town election, the new board has required the town planner to submit complete documentation and justification of every wording and format change recommended by the town’s Planning Commission for the current 250 pages of regulations. The planning staff could not complete this immense documentation requirement and simultaneously keep up with its greatly increased new development and annexation review plus its increased administrative approval workload.
Since this task was announced, Davenport and Rieger have resigned. Green can no longer devote her full attention to planning tasks since she is now also performing the duties of acting town manager. No plans have been announced regarding the hiring of an interim or replacement planning assistant.
The new town engineer may be able to perform some additional planning duties, based on his previous experience. However, the growing workload for reviewing development proposals with a drastically reduced full-time staff may make it difficult for Green to meet her proposed regulation revision schedule regardless of any assistance from Kassawara.
Countywide revision to Humane Society procedures adopted: Leslie Yoder, Director of Operations for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, requested that the town join the rest of the county in adopting the new 18-page amendment to the county regulation on animal control that was passed by the Board of County Commissioners on Dec. 20, 2004. Town Ordinance 06-2005 was unanimously approved.
Some of the changes are:
While an owner can still transfer an unexpired license from a pet no longer owned to another pet, the license for a specific pet still cannot be transferred from one owner to another.
In response to several questions from Drumm, Yoder said a Humane Society employee is available during the day for noisy dog or dangerous animal complaints. The Humane Society has a pager system for nighttime dangerous dog complaints and other higher-level emergency calls, but does not respond to nighttime barking dog complaints. She said the definition of a noisy, barking dog now includes a minimum time of three consecutive hours of barking.
Shupp confirmed that this definition would apply within Monument. He also noted that judges can exercise some discretion depending on the time of day if there are several witnesses or even a tape recording as collaborating evidence.
2005 fee schedule approved: Brown expressed disagreement with $5 tape duplication fee versus the $0.25 per page copy charge. Plank said the board should vote on the resolution rather than tabling it because they could amend it later with another resolution if there proves to be a problem. The board passed resolution 07-2005 (6-1) with Brown opposed.
Board unanimously approves contract actions
Water control system upgrade complete: A final payment of $20,879.90 will be made to Applied Control Equipment, LLC for automatic Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems Upgrades for more efficient and responsive operation of the town’s water system. Several cost increases and decreases resulted in a single net change order for an increase of $298.10. The final total cost for the SCADA upgrade was $112,376.42.
Violent criminal pact signed: The board approved the Police Department’s request to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to participate in the statewide Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. CBI has already disseminated the applicable software and has provided training to the town’s staff, all free of charge. Though there is no fee for participation, the department must promptly provide data to the state on town homicides (open and closed cases), missing persons where foul play is suspected, and unidentified dead bodies.
Entry sign contract awarded: Low bidder MW Golden was awarded a contract for $67,290 for construction of a town entry sign on the southwest corner of Second Street and Highway 105. Total contract cost is projected to be $73,216.50 due to electrical charges of $2,440 from Mountain View Electric Association and a 5 percent contingency fee of $3,486.50.
The 2005 budget only appropriates $60,000 for the project: $40,000 from the Planning Department and $20,000 from the Community Development Fund. The board approved Sonnenburg’s suggestion that the other $13,216.50 be allocated from the Parks Capital Outlay budget of $159,000 for 2005. The project includes an illuminated sandstone sign and flagpoles, irrigated planter box and substantial landscaping, and banner poles on both sides of Second Street.
The landscaping portion of this project has not yet been awarded. In October, after several months of consultant delay, the cost for the construction of the landscaping portion (plantings and irrigation system) of the downtown entry sign soared beyond the amount budgeted in 2004 due to the risks of freezing weather.
The three bids submitted ranged from $72,348 to $81,750, while the "warm weather" budgeted amount was only $27,414. Bidders balked at the contract requirement to start construction within five days and complete it within 30 days of contract award–not later than Thanksgiving–without a substantially higher price to offset the substantial risk. At the Nov. 1 meeting, the board unanimously continued the proposal for a re-bid in warmer weather.
Railroad land purchase reduced: The town renegotiated the land purchase with Union Pacific for Limbach Park expansion so that only the offered land and roadway parcels east of the tracks will be purchased for $51,049.60. The portion paid by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) will be about $35,735, and the town’s portion will be $15,315. The total approved GOCO grant for the park was for $148,000, with $93,800 from GOCO and $54,200 from the town.
There are environmental, survey, and title work expenditures that have been or will be paid out of the budgeted $148,000 total. The town will ask for permission to reallocate the rest of the approved GOCO funds to playground and picnic area equipment improvements.
Street sweeper warranties tabled: Due to the absence of Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall, the board took no action on the additional information he provided on extended warranty options from vendor Faris Machinery Company for the new Elgin Whirlwind MV Dual street sweeper. If all three types of warranty options were purchased for the maximum available length of time, they would cost a total of $9,565, in addition to the $150,313 cost of the sweeper. The budget for the sweeper lease/purchase is $160,000, which would cover this total cost of $159,878.
Other planning matters: The board unanimously approved developer Dan Holly’s request for concurrent review of preliminary and final plats for his proposed Beacon Lite office condominium, which would be behind the Air Academy Federal Credit Union.
The board also unanimously approved developer Miles Grant’s request for continuation until April 18 for the final plat hearing for Jackson Creek Market Village, which would be built between Baptist Road and Lyons Tail Road, adjacent to the King Soopers center.
Interim town manager’s report:
Board members were provided copies of the Mountain States Employment Council’s offer to provide consultant human relations services.
Green reported that the Colorado Department of Transportation has started construction of a traffic light on Highway 105 at the entrance to MacDonald’s.
Plank reported that she was assisted by Green and Shirk in stopping a tree-cutting service contracted by Mountain View Electric Association from cutting down all five mature trees between the Chapala Building and the rear of the addition that Tri-Lakes Cares is building on Jefferson. Two trees were saved by Plank’s intervention.
The builder of the addition will move the new driveway that would have required the removal of those two trees. Green said Mountain View told her they have the right to cut down trees in their right-of-way for the overhead lines at the rear to the new Tri-Lakes Care building, but agreed to only trim the remaining two trees for now.
Former trustee Glenda Smith asked Shirk if he could ticket cars parked just north of where the Santa Fe Trail crosses Beacon Lite Road. Shirk said it is county land, which precludes town ticketing, but would direct placement of stickers that encourages parking at trailhead parking lots on the front windshield in the center of the driver’s field of view so they would be hard to ignore.
The board went into executive session at 7:45 p.m. to discuss personnel selection and negotiation issues, then adjourned at 9 p.m. without making any announcements.
On April 7, the town issued a press release announcing the hiring of two town officials who began work on April 25:
Tom Kassawara will fill the newly created position of town engineer. Kassawara is from Sunrise, Fla., where he served as director of planning and city engineer. He has 30 years of experience in engineering. He will supervise Town Civil Engineer Tony Hurst.
Pamela Smith was named the new interim town treasurer. Pamela has 30 years of experience in finance and management, primarily in the medical field. She will fill the position until the Board of Trustees selects a permanent town treasurer, a process that is expected to take about three months. Finance Assistant and Deputy Treasurer Mary Russelavage performed these duties in the interim. Smith will receive some assistance on an as-needed basis from Skrzypek.
Monument Board of Trustees, April 18:Jackson Creek Market Village shopping center/townhome development approved
By Jim Kendrick
The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved the Jackson Creek Market Village project at the April 18 meeting. The development will consist of a shopping center with seven stores on Baptist Road as well as 40 townhomes on the adjacent Lyons Tail Road. Trustee Tommie Plank was absent.
Staff turnover continues
Mayor Byron Glenn’s request to add an agenda item on Town Hall organization was unanimously approved. Glenn announced that former Treasurer and Town Clerk Judy Skrzypek had begun to work as an interim consultant on April 15. The board approved the consultant contract with Skrzypek in a 5-1 vote, with Trustee Frank Orten opposed.
Glenn also noted that two new staff members, interim Town Treasurer Pamela Smith and Town Engineer Tom Kassawara, would start work on April 20. Smith has 30 years’ experience in finance and management. Smith will compete for the permanent treasurer position that will be available in another 90 days. Kassawara has 30 years’ experience as a professional city engineer and director of planning. The town engineer position is new.
Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall announced that he would be retiring. He has put his house on the market and plans to retire about 30 days after closing the sale. Wall’s impending retirement completes the turnover in every town staff supervisory position since Nov. 5. Wall said he will move to northwest Missouri to be near family in that area.
Jackson Creek Market Village
Although it placed an unusually high number of conditions on developer and owner Miles Grant, the BOT gave unanimous approval for his 10.18-acre townhome and shopping center development between Baptist and Lyons Tail Roads, adjacent to the King Soopers center. The rezoning and site plan proposal were first approved by the Planning Commission in January 2004.
However, Grant has requested many continuations since the BOT only approved the zoning change from PRD-10 to commercial for the 5.8-acre shopping center subdivision in April 2004. There were 39 pages of correspondence, an unusually high number—regarding engineering changes and incomplete notation on submitted plans for this development—between Triview Metropolitan District and its engineering consultant Nolte Associates along with replies from Grant’s consultant Paragon Engineering.
The 4.3-acre townhome area will be on the ridge to the north, well above the two adjacent shopping centers. Grant’s new strip center will have five stores, and there will be two other single building pads at the east and west ends of the parking lot next to Baptist Road. While the architecture will be slightly upgraded for the new center, it will be very similar to the adjacent King Soopers center in layout and appearance.
Grant’s presentation to the BOT was similar to the one given to the Planning Commission in March. Grant noted that the county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force had recently determined there would be no traffic light at the new Jackson Creek Crossing intersection with Baptist Road, unless the town annexes the road and takes over the cost of its maintenance. Eastbound and westbound dedicated left-turn lanes will be added at the current right-in/right-out access to the King Soopers center, when Baptist is regraded and widened.
No one spoke for or against the development during the public hearing.
Some of the numerous conditions of approval were:
The board unanimously approved Grant’s request for administrative review of the two single stores and Ordinance 07-2005, which approved the preliminary plat, final plat, and final PD site plan for all aspects of the development, with the conditions listed above.
Amendment to business license ordinance
The board unanimously approved a change that would allow all business licenses to be renewed on the 12-month anniversary of the date of original issue, rather than all licenses having a renewal date of Jan. 1. Additionally, licenses issued anytime in 2005 before this ordinance goes into effect will retroactively expire in 12 months rather than on Dec. 31 as they currently state. There are about 300 business licenses, and having them all due for renewal at the same time creates unnecessary burdens on the staff.
Sidewalk grant request resubmitted
The board unanimously approved Resolution 08-2005 for the re-submission of an enhancement grant application to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the Downtown Pedestrian Improvements Project. The grant for $699,779 would provide for sidewalks on downtown Second and Third Streets. CDOT would provide $559,821 and the town $139,955 if the request is approved this time. The two-year grant would require $70,000 from the town in 2005 and $69,955 in 2006.
New street sweeper warranties extended
The board unanimously approved three factory warranty extension contracts for different components of the town’s new vacuum-equipped street sweeper. The sweeper will cost $150,313 and the three-warranty extensions $9,655, for a total of $159,878.
The board also unanimously approved:
Police Department: Chief Jake Shirk reported that 14 applicants took the new police officer written test on March 12, with eight passing. Shirk interviewed the top four candidates on April 12. He noted the top candidate will receive a "conditional job offer," requiring a background check, drug screening test, psychological exam, and a medical screening.
Shirk also noted that he is completing his policy review and changed some policies on "Use of Force," "Officer Involved Shooting," and "Vehicle Pursuits." He said the department will initiate random drug testing for police officers. New security protections for the department’s computer systems are being installed by the town’s new computer consultant.
There were 61 new cases and 20 summons issued in March.
Public Works: The bid package for the additional water treatment facilities required for raw water from well 9 has been published. The design for the new Monument Creek weir/flume that will measure creek flows downstream of the Monument Lake dam has been completed by GMS. The department’s overtime budget for 2005 has already been exhausted due to snow removal.
The town’s water operators have had to spend an unusual amount of time watching Richmond Homes’ new Trails End development to correct numerous errors in their water distribution systems. [Note: This has been true for Monument Sanitation District as well.] A change in policy now has town staff performing these inspections instead of GMS personnel.
Planning Department: The El Paso County Department of Transportation (EPCDOT) has acknowledged the town’s request for a flashing warning signal light for the Santa Fe Trail crossing on Baptist Road. Director Rick McCarty said if the initial county review shows a need, EPCDOT will initiate a warrant study for the requested signal.
Town staff are currently reviewing plans for the Monument Marketplace Wal-Mart, Filings 2-4 for the Village at Woodmoor (Wahlborg parcel), and preliminary plans and plat for the Timbers on Jackson Creek Parkway just south of Home Depot—as well as eight new business license applications.
Town Planner and acting Town Manager Cathy Green said that Parks and Landscape Committee member Monika Marky had resigned in frustration over the failure of the town to complete any substantial improvements. Green said that the committee will change its focus to rewriting the current landscaping ordinances to provide more detail and direction to applicants, since they have no budget of their own to effect improvements.
Glenn noted that if the state initiative to withhold refunds of excess tax revenues for five years passes in November, widening of I-25 from downtown to the weigh station on Monument Hill may be accelerated. This would also speed up improvements to the Baptist Road interchange.
Jackson Creek residents Matt and Renee Langer asked the town for assistance in resolving drainage issues from an uphill neighboring property that is under construction. Glenn said he would visit their home the next morning and consult with Rick Blevins, construction manager for Vision Development, to achieve a resolution in compliance with town codes.
The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
Monument Board of Trustees Meeting, May 2:Board wrestles with funding options for police building
By Jim Kendrick
On May 2, Police Chief Jake Shirk gave a status report to the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) on lease and purchase options for a new police station. Former treasurer Judy Skrzypek, who is now a consultant for the transition of interim Treasurer Pamela Smith, discussed financing options and constraints that may apply to developing a November ballot question to provide funding for a new police facility.
Mayor Byron Glenn announced interim changes in organization of the town staff for the next six months. There was a reception for Smith and new Town Engineer Tom Kassawara before the meeting began. All board and town staff members were present.
Monument YMCA plans moving forward
Merv Bennett, president and CEO of the Pikes Peak Regional YMCA, discussed plans for the new Tri-Lakes facility, to be constructed between Jackson Creek Parkway and I-25 on Jackson Creek Parkway, next to the Lewis-Palmer High School athletic fields and football stadium. The initial building will be about 45,000 square feet on 12 acres donated by Jackson Creek Land Company, in Woodmoor Placer Tract A.
This first phase will cost about $9 million and will include a turf field, child care center, multi-purpose group exercise rooms, pool, gymnasium, "wellness center" (weight room), and locker facilities. Construction will take about 12 months, with expected completion in late 2007. Fund raising will begin in June.
The second and third planned phases will be completed when demand and additional fund raising permit. Bennett said that the YMCA wants to be a good neighbor and is coordinating with the high school and Woodmoor Improvement Association as well as Town Hall to be sure they serve community needs.
Trustee Frank Orten asked if there would be an ice rink. Bennett drew much laughter when he said that the third phase of construction could include a rink if a donor could be found and asked Orten if he had $2 million to fund it. He added that market studies show that a rink is a lower priority for local residents than the turf field and other facilities to be included in the first and second phases of construction.
New police station and courthouse plans may be confounded
Overview of Shirk’s options: Chief Shirk began his presentation on proposals from the Police Building Subcommittee by listing their reasons for building a new department facility:
The subcommittee has narrowed down the number of potential site locations. The south end of Limbach Park, recently purchased from the railroad, is too small. There are no suitable sites available for lease in Jackson Creek. The proposed site behind the Safeway center has been taken off the market. Shirk said two property options remain.
Location option 1: The developers of the Wahlborg addition donated a 2.9-acre lot on the northeast corner of the 140-acre development, across from the LDS chapel on Highway 105. While the town already owns this lot and it has easy access to the highway, it is a fairly remote location on the farthest northeast corner of the town. Also, the Wahlborg developer will not have installed utilities in that far corner when construction on the police station would likely begin. The town has no cash reserves to pay these up-front utility costs, even though they would eventually be reimbursed for them when construction of other buildings begins within that filing.
The tentative building cost estimates submitted by several contractors were $2.4 million to $4.4 million just for the building. There would also be financing costs.
Location option 2: Tecton Corporation has offered a lease-purchase of its 3.5-acre parcel on the east side of Adams Street, between First Street and Lincoln Avenue, next to Grace Best Elementary School. This parcel is currently platted as a single historic 16-lot city block in the downtown area.
Tecton’s proposal to build a new "comprehensive government services project" includes a police building coupled to an adjacent courthouse/community center building in the southeast corner. Tecton would also build a professional office building on the northeast corner of the parcel. The town could take over this building as a new Town Hall sometime in the future when new sales tax revenue from all the planned commercial growth is sufficient. There is also sufficient space between the two connected "justice center" buildings and the school for future construction of a public works office building.
Shirk said the Adams Street location is more desirable for a completely new municipal complex because of its closer identity with the center of historic downtown, availability of utilities, and the cost of financing. Additionally, construction for the police and community center buildings are lower ($2.4 million including financing). On the other hand, it is further from Jackson Creek, which will become the population center of Monument, he added.
Four financing options:
Shirk recommended hiring municipal financing consultant Jim Manire on an hourly basis to advise the town on Skrzypek’s four options.
Water fund revenue constraints
Water tax creation: Town Ordinance 23-89 states that in a special election on Nov. 7, 1989, "the electorate of Monument approved a one percent increase in the town’s sales tax at Special Election." The BOT then unanimously passed the enacting ordinance, titled "An emergency ordinance adopting an additional one percent sales tax" on Nov. 15. The ordinance states the "sales tax is for the purpose of assisting in the payment of water system improvements." The ordinance also states "that an emergency exists to promote the public peace, health, safety and welfare."
Only one-third of this 15-year-old emergency sales tax actually goes to the water fund, but that one-third cannot be used for any other purposes. The other two-thirds of this tax go to the general fund. Skrzypek noted, however, that all remaining town debt is exclusively water system improvement debt, except for a few small vehicle and equipment leases. Water debt is paid from the general fund and the water fund now.
Enterprise fund creation: On July 17, 2000, the BOT unanimously passed Resolution 30-2000 making the water fund an enterprise fund. Skrzypek said that generally accepted accounting practices require the town’s water system to be independently "operated in a manner similar to private business enterprises" primarily "through user charges." This designation exempts the water fund from some TABOR restrictions. However, TABOR also limits the amount of grant revenue the water enterprise fund can expend, up to 10 percent of the town’s dedicated enterprise fund user fee revenue. She added, "Legal interpretations have concluded that sales tax revenue is grant revenue" and equally limited by TABOR, as confirmed by Clay Brown of the state Department of Local Affairs and bond counsel firm Kutach Rock, the town’s legal counsel.
About the same time, the town also created its Debt Service Fund, which is used to pay any kind of general long-term debt principal, interest, and related costs. Water fund money can be reallocated to this separate debt service fund, as long as it is only used to pay for water system debt, under TABOR.
Over the past five years, the one-third of the 1989 emergency sales tax revenue that is allocated to pay for the continuing water system emergency has exceeded this 10 percent TABOR limit on enterprise fund revenue. The excess emergency water sales tax revenue can neither be used to pay for water system debt, as originally intended 15 years ago, nor transferred to the general fund for other uses, such as the police building.
The accumulated excess emergency water tax revenue was $424,217 at the end of 2004. This excess $424,217 is currently listed in the 2005 budget as untouchable money reserved for water system improvements in the general fund for accounting purposes.
Total revenues from water sales, tap fees, late payment penalties, and enterprise fund investment income for 2005 are budgeted to be $1,011,400. The allowable 10 percent of the emergency sales tax revenues would increase the total water department budget to about $1.1 million for 2005. However, the town’s policy has been to conservatively budget for only 9 percent of projected user fee revenue to ensure that supplementary emergency tax revenue will never exceed the 10 percent maximum if water sales or tap fees were to decline unexpectedly.
The 2005 budget therefore allocates only $91,026 (9 percent) instead of the theoretically permitted $101,140 (10 percent). There is resistance to raising water rates or tap fees to be able to use more of the excess emergency sales tax revenue. The problem will be worse at buildout when there are no tap fees, lowering overall user fee revenue and the amount of usable sales tax revenue.
et town revenue is $1,804,567, after giving Triview Metropolitan District its $400,000 share of the total revenue of $2,204,567. The general fund budget for the town is $1,201,842. Skrzypek said that $253,298 of water fund money is currently budgeted to pay water system debt through the general fund debt option in 2005, in addition to the $91,026 of supplementary debt payments from emergency sales tax noted above. This leaves an unusable $258,402 from the total available revenue of $1,804,567 in 2005; all this unusable revenue comes from the "excess" emergency sales tax revenue.
The accumulated unusable balance in the water enterprise fund is projected to be $682,619 by the end of this year; Skrzypek projected that the unusable excess accumulated emergency sales tax revenue will total over $2.2 million at the end of 2009.
The board agreed that Skrzypek should seek alternative legal counsel on how to find a creative way to use the excess sales tax. This money cannot currently be used to directly buy surface water rights or pay for the police building. Nor can any portion of it be moved into the debt service fund without incurring more bond debt for water system improvements or raising water rates or tap fees.
Town Attorney Gary Shupp agreed and added that an expert bond counsel could provide advice in guessing what might be a legal way of creatively using sales tax revenue that would also meet accounting standards. "They’ve been pretty good at doing that," he said.
Shirk then asked the board for guidance on how to proceed on the subcommittee’s recommendations. Brown said that $5,000 was not enough for an initial design, but one architect was willing to accept only $5,000 if he was assured of getting the contract later. Glenn said the town should get three bids to qualify the architects’ knowledge of the unique requirements for a police building. Shirk said he had enough proposals already without a formal bid. The board unanimously approved Shirk’s pursuit of a preliminary design by an architect.
Former Trustee Glenda Smith commented on the use of water user fee revenue for some portion of most employee salaries and on charging a 10 percent excise "tax" on the town’s water fund in the same manner as the town charges Mountain View Electric, Qwest, Aquila, and Adelphia. She also expressed her concerns about ensuring there is enough money left in the water fund’s cash reserves for a second water storage tank and future repairs and replacement of expensive water distribution system equipment. Skrzypek said there would be about $950,000 remaining in the water fund cash reserve at the end of 2005 for water system repair and replacement needs.
Town organization update
Glenn announced that Green will be changed from interim to acting town manager and "long-range planner," while Kassawara will take over short-term development planning services for subdivision and use review. Staff Engineer Tony Hurst will move from Public Works to Town Hall to join Assistant Planner Natalie Ebaugh in reviewing developer’s proposals. Retiring Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall will work with Kassawara to hire a replacement superintendent. Green said the planning staff will emphasize strong plan review and grant writing in the next six months.
There are no current plans to re-create the long-vacant town clerk position or create a specific human relations (HR) position. The latter duties will fall to Smith for 90 days based on her prior HR supervisory experience.
The board unanimously approved Resolution 09-2005 that encompassed:
The meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m. The next meeting will be held May 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Monument Planning Commission, April 13:Green holds get-acquainted workshop
By Jim Kendrick
New Town Planner and acting Town Manager Cathy Green took advantage of a momentary lull in development proposals to hold a work session with the members of the Planning Commission. No official town business was conducted at this open informal "get to know each other" workshop.
Planning Commission Chair Ed Delaney arrived a few minutes late, due to traffic, and Commissioner Tim Davis was absent again. Davis, a former alternate commissioner appointed last August, has never attended a commission meeting since his election by secret ballot by the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) during its meeting on Jan. 18.
In addition to Green leading introductions that included describing their professional backgrounds and personal experiences as commissioners, they exchanged ideas on goals, policy, and the current development proposal review process, over a green chili dinner that Green had prepared. Green also passed out copies of a pamphlet on how to be a knowledgeable and effective planning commissioner and noted other training materials and workshops that are available to the commissioners.
She concluded by reviewing the current status of the town staff in light of the recent resignations. She noted that the subdivision and zoning regulation review is still under way and gave an overview of upcoming project proposals that the commission will review.
The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 11 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month.
Monument Parks and Landscape Committee, April 12:Committee redefines its role
By Sue Wielgopolan
During an informal work session April 12, members of the Parks and Landscape (P&L) Committee discussed the committee’s future. The group had planned to meet at 5:30 p.m. to walk through several Monument parks, but heavy snow accumulation made the outing impractical. Instead, they used the additional hour as an opportunity to get acquainted with Cathy Green, the new town planner and acting town manager, and to voice their concerns.
Earlier in the day, Monika Marky, committee member and small business owner, submitted her resignation to Green. Marky cited the town’s inability to complete projects as her main reason.
Marky’s resignation was preceded by the recent resignations of several officials, including former town planner and assistant manager Mike Davenport in December, and former town manager Rick Sonnenburg in April. Green, who was hired in March to fill Davenport’s position, has assumed the overall leadership role with the departure of Sonnenburg, even though she had barely begun to acquaint herself with her new position of town planner.
Other P&L members expressed frustration as well. Toni Martin, who has served on town committees for 24 years, indicated she too is considering resigning. Some agreed that without follow-through on any of their beautification projects, the meetings had become "a waste of time."
Committee to revise landscaping standards
Green said she did not want to see the group disband, and encouraged members to allow time for town government to regroup. She suggested the committee redirect its efforts into helping shape policy and setting specific landscaping guidelines rather than simply critiquing landscaping plans.
According to Green, her office evaluates landscaping plans on the basis of whether or not they follow the town’s guidelines. While Green assured members she did not want to "take power away" from the committee, she felt it was her office’s job, not theirs, to "go through the checklist," to ensure that the plans are in compliance. Instead, Green wants them to help rewrite the landscape regulations.
Green said the town’s landscaping guidelines were too vague. For example, the current standard says that a developer must include one tree for every nine parking spaces. She suggested the committee consider a more specific standard that might also require that a curbed island be placed between each row of nine spaces, with a tree and whatever other landscaping plants and mulch materials the committee felt were desirable to visually break the monotony of asphalt.
Members agreed to review and revise the landscape plan by tackling a section at each meeting, with the goal of finishing by this fall.
Green would also like the committee to help draft a water conservation ordinance proposed by Mayor Byron Glenn that would limit the maximum square footage of sod a business or homeowner could plant.
Green had other ideas she felt would improve the appearance of the town. She suggested the committee formulate more stringent requirements for screening dumpsters. And in discussing ways to create a more inviting and pedestrian-friendly downtown, she asked whether converting one or two of the town’s existing off-street parking areas to small open plazas might be feasible.
At Green’s request, members aired their grievances prior to the official start of the meeting. Linda Pankratz, committee member and small business owner, discussed the lack of enforcement of the existing standards, and the committee discussed how the situation might be improved.
Martin asked whether cash that developers in the past donated to Monument "in lieu of" land, which at one time was required when building within town limits, might be available for parks improvements. She felt that the town had failed to provide even the most rudimentary facilities, particularly bathrooms, to make parks attractive and accessible to residents and visitors alike. Green agreed to investigate.
The meeting was officially convened about 6:35 p.m. Visitor Mark Scott, owner of The Highland Fling, Inc., presented his business card to the committee. He informed them that he owns the largest tree farm in three counties and would like to supply trees to the town.
Limbach Park improvements
Natalie Ebaugh, assistant town planner, reported that Great Outdoors Colorado had approved and funded their share of a grant to build restrooms and other improvements in Limbach Park. She intends to present the site plan at a future meeting and expects work to begin soon.
Martin, who manages upkeep of the Monument town cemetery, asked what funds were available for the purchase of plants to decorate the cemetery for Memorial Day, and for repairs and maintenance such as planting seasonal flowers, re-sinking headstones that had fallen or been knocked over, and repairing fencing. Green replied that the budget for 2005 included about $5,000 for cemetery spending. Martin will make arrangements for Memorial Day flowers.
Monument entrance sign moving ahead
Members inquired about the status of plans for the new landscaped Monument sign, to be located on Second Street, just southwest of the Highway 105 intersection. Green told the committee the contract had been awarded and work was expected to begin soon. M.W. Golden submitted the winning bid for $67,290. The Colorado Department of Transportation has already installed the banner poles.
"Art Hop" banners to adorn downtown
Linda Pankratz presented the design for the "Art Hop" banners, which will be displayed during the summer to publicize the event. About 20 of the colorful 2-by-4-foot banners will be needed to decorate downtown lampposts.
Pankratz obtained an estimate of $44 per banner from Vital Signs of Jackson Creek, but told the committee she expects them to be slightly more expensive, as the final design uses more color than originally planned. Cash will come from the Community Development Fund, which consists of fees collected from area merchants by the town.
Green brought copies of the landscaping plans for the Village at Woodmoor for the committee to review. The board asked to table the plans so that they could have the opportunity to take the drawings with them and examine them when they had more time. Green consented to postpone review until a later date.
Before adjourning, the committee decided to permanently change the meeting time to 6 p.m. The next meeting of the Monument Parks and Landscape Committee will be Tuesday, May 10 at 6 p.m. in the Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St.
Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 27:Bridge may increase cost of wastewater treatment plant expansion
By Sue Wielgopolan
An old bridge across Jackson Creek leading to the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility may need to be reinforced or rebuilt in the near future. Donala General Manager Dana Duthie broke the news to the board of directors at the April 27 meeting, stating that an engineer hired by Transit Mix had provided the district with his estimates of the bridge capacity. The weight limit appears to be significantly lower than the weight of the large sludge trucks and construction equipment that will be using the access road.
Duthie also informed members of a natural gas drilling proposal that could affect the quality of the water in and around Monument Creek.
The board reviewed and unanimously accepted meeting minutes and financials for the month of March.
Employee of the quarter award
Board president Charlie Coble presented the employee of the quarter award to technician Terri Ladouceur in recognition of her work ethic, versatility, and the high quality of her work. Ladouceur performs diverse functions for Donala, from rebuilding pumps to landscaping the office grounds. She received a gift certificate to the Cactus Rose restaurant and two Rockies baseball tickets as thanks for work well done.
Customer disputes late penalty fee
Gleneagle resident and Donala customer Paul Zdeb appeared before the board to complain about late charges and Duthie’s handling of written correspondence. Donala’s 5 percent late fee, billed to the account five days after the due date, is well within the $15 monthly maximum allowed by the state.
Duthie told Zdeb that Donala has a history of working with customers who have problems paying their bills or who leave their homes vacant for extended periods.
Member Ed Houle explained that the board approves of the policy and uses the small penalty ($2.50 on a $40 water bill) as incentive to encourage customers to pay their bills in a timely fashion. Donala, in turn, can count on having sufficient cash flow to pay its bills promptly, avoiding costly penalties and unnecessary waste of district money.
Duthie updated members of the board on the status of Donala’s water meter replacement program. He said that the district had finished installing new meters and backflow preventers on all Sunrise townhomes, is presently working on Gleneagle Townhomes, and would be starting on Club Villa townhomes next. After that, technicians will replace meters on older single-family homes on Westchester and Gleneagle Drives.
Unlike the townhomes, the single-family homes will only receive new meters. The district will recommend that individual homeowners install backflow preventers (required by the EPA since 1994) at their own expense. Duthie told members that individual homes use larger meters, and due to size and variation in the location of each meter, a standard yoke incorporating a backflow preventer like the ones used in the townhomes could not be used. Each yoke would have to be custom made, which would be cost prohibitive for the district.
Duthie also noted that many older houses do not have a pressure regulator, which prevents a buildup of water pressure inside the home. Technicians will also recommend that homeowners have a regulator installed in those houses that lack them. The district is not responsible for water damage resulting from pipe ruptures inside the building. Without a regulator to control pressure, most meters will eventually fail. Although the district will replace the meter after the first rupture, the homeowner will then be expected to install a pressure regulator.
Water Authority–Legislative update
Duthie, Donala’s representative to the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) and authority treasurer, reported on the group’s recent activities
He stated that the Authority’s lobbyist, Pat Ratliff, was absent from the meeting as she was in Denver opposing HB05-1296. The bill would require mitigation for the effects of any diversion on the basin of origin. Ratliff and authority members believe that the mitigation requirements could place insurmountable obstacles in the way of inter-basin diversions, thus making it nearly impossible for Front Range water providers to acquire a renewable water supply from other areas in the state, particularly the Western Slope.
Duthie reported that State Sen. Tom Wiens is working on a bill to establish a new water conservation district. The proposed district excludes El Paso County and Colorado Springs, and will consist entirely of elected officials, who are not required to have technical knowledge of water issues. Because the conservation district will have the power to affect water rights and make major decisions involving the construction of pipelines, reservoirs, and storage tanks, authority members deem it essential to include water providers, who have expertise in the field. A board composed entirely of elected officials could base decisions on anti-growth or pro-development agendas.
Transit Loss Study
Duthie reported that groups participating in the Transit Loss Study and Model are trying to determine how to equitably divide the costs for operation and maintenance of the working model. This includes monitoring measuring equipment, collecting and entering data, and updating the computer model.
The Transit Loss Study will lay the groundwork for creation of the computer model that will more accurately predict the amount of water lost from Monument Creek before it reaches the Arkansas. Entities paying for the study are confident the model will show a lower loss than the state assumes, which will result in each sanitation district having to return less water to Monument Creek. The districts will consequently have more effluent water available for sale or trade. Funding for the study has already been established. The U.S. Geological Survey, which is performing the study, expects it to take two to three years.
The Transit Loss Model will use measurements at numerous gauging stations to measure flow on a daily basis. Until now, Colorado Springs has paid about 95 percent of the costs associated with operating the gauging stations. Colorado Springs Utilities would like other participants to pick up a greater share because they receive no additional benefit from measurements taken north of the city.
The proposed formula takes into account the number of gauges through which each entity’s effluent passes, as well as the volume of water each produces. However, it shifts over half of the cost away from Colorado Springs, whose flow comprises 98 percent of the total. The cost to northern areas would be higher per unit volume, as their effluent passes through all the gauges.
Using the formula, members estimated that the cost per entity for operation and maintenance of the model would run between $8,000 and $12,000 yearly.
Once the study is completed and costs for operating and maintaining the model can be more accurately predicted, Donala will be able to determine whether the district can sell enough effluent to recoup its investment. At that point the district will decide whether to continue participation in the model.
State Health Department–Source Water Assessment reports
The Colorado Department of Health conducted a Source Water Assessment, which is meant to identify any potential threats to public wells, including contamination and terrorist vulnerability. The state mailed maps detailing well sites and questionnaires to water providers, asking them to review and verify or correct the information it had compiled. The report was commissioned and funded at the federal level by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Richard Parachini, representing the Colorado Department of Health, gave a presentation to the authority and answered questions. Health Department officials sent Parachini to the authority’s meeting to respond to concerns expressed by Larry Bishop of Widefield, president of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA).
The assessment report had been assembled from the state engineers records, and Duthie told the board the records were obsolete and often erroneous. In Donala’s district, for example, one well site for which a permit was granted but never equipped was listed as "at risk." In another instance, the state mistook Widefield’s sanitation office building for a waste treatment plant and listed a well close by as threatened.
Duthie noted to the Donala board that a significant oversight in the health department’s report was the conspicuous omission of Schlage Lock as a threat to well water in the Security area. (The hazardous solvent perchloroethylene, PCE, formerly used by Schlage to clean locks after manufacture, was identified in the Widefield aquifer prior to 1990.)
When questioned about the results of the questionnaire, Parachini conceded that the assessment report contained numerous inaccuracies, but informed EPCWA members that it would not be corrected soon. The state had apparently spent its EPA grant, and without a budget of its own did not have sufficient funds left to incorporate the changes.
The next meeting of the EPCWA will be on June 1 at 9 a.m. in the third floor meeting room of the County Building, 27 E. Vermijo.
Palmer Divide Water Group–Transit Loss Model
Members of the Palmer Divide Water Group (DWG), several of whom also belong to the EPCWA, again discussed costs associated with operating and maintaining the Transit Loss Model once it is complete. After working through the cost-dividing formula proposed at the water authority meeting, Duthie arrived at a figure of approximately $5,000 per year for Donala. No explanation was offered to account for the difference in price.
Group takes "wait and see" stance on Brush Hollow
The Colorado Springs City Council recently decided to reconsider the expansion of Brush Hollow reservoir as one alternative to the proposed Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline, which would carry water from the Pueblo Reservoir north to Colorado Springs. The move was a surprise to water providers outside the city. The SDS proposal had until now been the only option seriously investigated to provide additional water for Colorado Springs’ growing population.
Under the current SDS proposal, unincorporated regions of the county would be left out of the system, making it an undesirable alternative for areas outside of Colorado Springs. Ideas to expand the Penrose-area reservoir had been dismissed previously by the council as prohibitively expensive, logistically difficult, and geographically impractical. Recent resistance to the idea of the SDS, including opposition to the project by influential community leaders in Pueblo, has made the pipeline project less attractive.
Because possibilities still exist for the inclusion of northern El Paso County communities as water partners in the Brush Hollow expansion proposal, the PDWG and the EPCWA had considered introducing the Brush Hollow alternative into the environmental impact study. The two groups are hopeful that the option will open negotiations for a cooperative water venture between Colorado Springs and surrounding communities.
Petroleum company wants to drill for natural gas
Plans by an undisclosed petroleum company to drill for natural gas in two locations near Monument have the Palmer Divide water group worried. Frequently, drilling produces methane-saturated water as a by-product. The potential sites, one in the Red Rocks Ranch area and the other off Mount Herman Road, are close enough to Monument Creek to threaten water quality should any drilling water runoff flow into the stream.
The three districts sharing the Upper Monument Creek Treatment Facility (which includes the Donala Water and Sanitation district, the Triview Metropolitan District, and Forest Lakes Estates) could be particularly affected. The level of methane in effluent leaving the plant must fall within state limits, regardless of the source.
Though methane occurs naturally in well water, the levels are low. If drilling water contaminates the stream and raises the level of methane gas above state limits, the facility will have to remove the excess gas, an operation it is not currently set up to handle. The process could require installation of additional equipment, at a price that is not currently known.
The PDWG wants assurances that any water produced in the drilling process will be properly contained and treated.
Wastewater plant expansion
The site application for the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility expansion has been submitted to the state. The El Paso County Planning Commission forwarded the plans to the local fire department for comment.
Ted Eastburn, fire marshal for the Tri-Lakes Fire Authority, recently visited the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Facility to look for potential problems. He stated that the current access to the plant, which passes under a railroad trestle bridge, is unacceptable. A ladder truck would be unable to fit beneath the bridge.
When informed of plans for a new entrance that crosses over the tracks at a different location, Eastburn said that in the event of a train blocking the tracks, firefighters would probably try to use the old entrance, which could result in the fire truck getting stuck. He wanted to require closure of the old road after completion of the new entrance.
In order for fire crews to be able to quickly locate buildings whose locations may be unfamiliar, the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority requests that all roads over 500 feet in length have their own name, and that each separate building have a unique number. Presently, the facility’s entrance road is unnamed and the buildings share a Baptist Road address.
Roger Sams, chief engineer for the expansion project, contacted Eastburn to resolve the fire safety issues. He proposed that a sign showing the image of a fire truck inside a circle with a slash through it be posted over the road on the bridge to prevent drivers from attempting to squeeze through with ladder trucks. After discussing lettering size and colors, Eastburn agreed to the compromise. Other requests will be fulfilled as specified.
Recent information indicates that the capacity of the bridge crossing Jackson Creek on the Old Denver Highway south of Baptist Road may be insufficient to handle large sludge truck loads and the heavy equipment that will be used in the Upper Monument Creek facility expansion.
Transit Mix is considering a plant site off the Old Denver Highway south of the treatment facility, and recently hired an engineer to check the load capacity of the bridge. Using bridge measurements, the engineer came up with a safe maximum capacity well below the necessary 40-ton minimum Transit Mix requires.
Unfortunately, the estimated capacity is probably also inadequate to safely support large sludge trucks used to transport solid waste from the treatment plant, as well as the heavy construction equipment that will be used during the plant expansion.
Duthie discussed options with the board. He felt the first step is to verify the actual load capacity of the bridge using a deflection test. Sams indicated that bridge reinforcement might be adequate to bring the capacity up to a level that was safe for the anticipated loads, and would probably be the cheapest option if the current capacity were found to be inadequate. He estimated that it could be done "for six figures."
If complete replacement of the bridge is necessary, the cost could run over $1 million. According to the contract, the cost of improvements relating to plant expansion would be split three ways among Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes. However, Duthie stated Donala and Triview are not interested in funding a new or refurbished bridge that will eventually be used for Forest Lakes Estates development without reimbursement
Because the bridge crosses Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, repair of the old bridge or construction of a new one would be bound by further constraints.
Duthie will continue to investigate the issue and possibly commission a deflection test before considering further courses of action.
The Baptist Road pipeline, which is being designed by engineering firm GMS, is on hold. Though the project was budgeted for last year and carried over, the district wants to wait to determine whether a larger diameter pipe than originally planned will be needed to carry additional water acquired from an eastern source.
Layne Western was awarded the bid to drill Well 9A at a cost of $195,845. However, due to delays in the state permitting process, Layne is not expected to drill the well until July.
Global Excavation has begun construction of the pipeline from Well 13 on Latrobe to the upper lake of the golf course. The new pipeline will enable Donala to capture water that was previously wasted each time the well was flushed.
Donala was finally able to install the portion of a new sewer pipeline that crosses James Barash’s property. The pipeline will serve Gary Erickson’s two-story office and retail building, which will be located across Struthers from People’s National Bank, as well as development north. Construction of the pipeline was delayed for several weeks while Donala negotiated an easement agreement with Barash.
The building in the Gleneagle Square that houses Barracuda Bob’s and the now-defunct Chopstix is up for sale. Duthie is concerned, because the owner, Kevin Skare (who also goes by the name Kevin Dang) has a history of letting his water bills lapse, sometimes approaching 90 days overdue. In the past, Duthie has contacted the tenants to let them know they are about to lose their water supply, at which point Skare usually pays the bill.
Skare still owes $10,200 in tap fees, and Duthie wants to make sure the debt has been paid before the building is sold. The board discussed how best to handle the issue. Office Manager Jackie Sipes has already informed the realtor from Sierra, the company offering the building for sale, about the outstanding debt. Members discussed putting a lien on the building. The board decided instead to keep a copy of the tap fee payment agreement on hand and watch the property for signs of a pending sale.
Sun Hills property annexation inquiry
Nonresident owners of two lots in Sun Hills that share a border with Gleneagle contacted Duthie to ask about annexation into the Donala district. The 5-acre lot, which is the larger of the two, has a well, but the smaller one-and-a-half acre lot does not.
Duthie informed the owners that covenants in Sun Hills apparently forbid annexation into the Donala district. In addition, water rights were retained by the Sun Hills Homeowners Association; the owners of the vacant lots have no water rights to offer Donala as incentive to annex, even if covenants allowed it.
Air Force Academy unlikely to accept influent
Despite statements made by Larry Reisinger, an Air Force Academy (AFA) representative, at a Council of Governments site application review in early March, it appears unlikely that the Academy will seek influent from off-site locations to utilize excess Academy treatment plant capacity and supply effluent to water the grounds. His comments indicated that the AFA might wish to import at least part of the wastewater destined for the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Duthie told the board that he and Sams had written to the Air Force Academy expressing interest and requesting a meeting. Only Sams received a reply, and the answer was less than encouraging.
The Academy will soon release a request for proposals, with the intent of privatizing its wastewater treatment plant. Until a contractor is chosen, the AFA won’t consider any plan to accept wastewater originating off-site. Duthie told the board the process could take years, and he has not received information from officers in charge that indicates they have any serious interest in pursuing the idea.
The board went into executive session to discuss negotiations and consider personnel matters at approximately 3:05 p.m. The next meeting of the Donala Board of Directors will be on May 25 (the fourth Wednesday instead of the usual third Wednesday) at 1:30 p.m. at the district office, 15850 Holbein Dr.
Forest View Acres Water District, April 13:District fills board vacancy; works to assess impact of embezzlement
By John Heiser
About 20 people attended the regular monthly meeting April 13 of the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors. Brian Cross was appointed to fill the vacancy on the five-member board. The other directors are Tom Guenther, Kevin Lonergan, John Anderson, and Barbara Reed-Polatty.
Lonergan, vice president of the district, presided. Lonergan reported that Guenther, the president of the district, was out of town.
The late Hugh Nevins established the FVAWD in 1957. From the initial provision of water to 27 homes, FVAWD currently serves 280 residences in the Red Rocks Ranch, Clovenhoof, Villas, Sundance Estates, and Shiloh Pines neighborhoods in unincorporated El Paso County. A five-member board of directors governs the FVAWD. The district has a contract water operations manager, Dan LaFontaine, who is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and managing all aspects of water delivery.
In February, a warrant was issued for the arrest of former contract office manager Patricia Unger on charges of embezzling more than $212,000 in district funds. Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16 and was released on bail, awaiting a preliminary hearing April 18.
Lonergan said that Timothy Simmons, the judge initially assigned to the Unger case, has recused himself because at one time he did some legal work for the district. Lonergan said that on April 18 the Unger case would probably be continued until another judge can be assigned.
(The preliminary hearing on the Unger case is now set for May 19 before District Judge Shakes. The loss to the district is now estimated at $315,000.)
District resident Scott Miller thanked the board members for their service to the community and asked, "Has the board considered other alternatives for providing water service?" In particular, he mentioned the possible use of a management company and asked what the difference in cost would be.
Lonergan replied that the recently formed Finance Committee headed by Guenther is considering use of a management company, as well as determining the severity of the district’s financial crisis and investigating ways to address it. He said the committee is hoping to have some answers in the next several months.
Lonergan added that the board hired Anne Bevis as a part-time contract bookkeeper. He said the district purchased a $20,000 bond covering contract bookkeeping work and also purchased bonds covering the board member positions.
Resident Jase Campbell offered to notify Red Rocks Ranch homeowners by e-mail of any information the board wishes to release.
Campell asked about data showing that the district is losing as much as one-third of its water through leaking pipes.
LaFontaine confirmed that about 30 percent of the water is being lost. He said he did not think it is a meter calibration problem. He said, "The 20 to 30 percent loss here is similar to other 30-year-old systems. Some neighborhoods need to have the pipe replaced. In other neighborhoods, the leaks may be at accessible spots."
Lonergan said that the billing report for March submitted by Guenther shows the district billed 280 accounts for a total of 1.192 million gallons of water. A total of $16,042 was billed for an average of $57.29 per account. Of that amount, $7,280 was for debt service and the remaining $8,762 was for administrative and water usage fees. The debt service funds go to pay off an $880,000 bond issued in 1995 and a $45,000 loan obtained in 2004.
Operations manager report
LaFontaine reported that during March:
Lonergan reported that the operating account balance stands at $11,751, the debt service account stands at $22,000, and the contingency account stands at $1,500.
The board approved checks totaling $10,655 for a variety of bills including $4,245 for LaFontaine’s services, $3,000 toward the $5,613 owed to AmWest for work done on the telemetry system in September and October 2004, $1,452 for insurance, and $832 for electricity.
Brian Cross appointed to the board
Lonergan announced that two candidates had volunteered for the vacancy on the board: Ernie Biggs and Brian Cross.
Biggs, who owns the Lake of the Rockies campground, noted that he has served as receiver for several businesses, managed townhome associations, and succeeded in catching someone who was embezzling funds from the former owner of the Lake of the Rockies campground. He said, "We need to see if we can’t work out something more responsive to the members of the district." In response to a question from Lonergan, Biggs said, "We should have a company manage the district."
Cross noted that he is an Air Force Academy graduate who returned to the area in 1997. He said he works for a firm that buys and sells businesses and is familiar with analyzing financial statements. He said, "We need to clean up the mess first and then look into using a management company."
Following a secret ballot of the three board members present, Lonergan announced that Cross was appointed to fill the vacancy and will serve until the next regular district election in May 2006. Lonergan administered the oath of office to Cross, who was then seated at the front table with the other board members.
Special district association questionnaire
Reed-Polatty reported that if the district completes a Special District Association water district questionnaire, it will then have access to the results obtained from other districts. She said this would help the district assess the reasonableness of the administrative costs, water losses, and a variety of other factors. LaFontaine agreed to fill in the sections pertaining to the district’s water infrastructure, production, and usage.
Auditor granted power of attorney to obtain tax forms
The board unanimously approved giving power of attorney to the district’s forensic auditor to request tax forms submitted to the IRS by the district. Reed-Polatty said the forms would probably help the auditor reconstruct historical financial data for the district.
Letter approved for delinquent accounts
The board unanimously approved a letter to be sent to district members who are in arrears in payments. In response to a question from Cross as to what has been done previously to collect late payments, LaFontaine said he contacted the property owners.
The board unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss confidential matters regarding individual billing issues.
The Forest View Acres Water District normally meets the second Wednesday each month at 7 p.m. at 18852 Rockbrook Road, Palmer Lake. The next regular board meeting is May 11. For information, call 488-2110.
Monument Sanitation District, April 19:Board tightens legal correspondence policy
By Jim Kendrick
The Monument Sanitation District (MSD) Board of Directors voted unanimously on April 19 to again deny Ernie Biggs’ third request for a refund of the $300 cash bond required for the review of his failed attempt to dissolve the district. Biggs does not reside in the district, nor is his Lake of the Rockies trailer park part of the district. While the cost of the legal review of this latest request was unknown, the district has already spent over $5,000 responding to Biggs’ ongoing legal action.
Treasurer Ed Delaney was absent. District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that Colorado statutes say that a board member of a special district forfeits the seat after three consecutive unexcused absences, but the board voted unanimously to excuse Jeremy Diggins’ numerous previous absences and Delaney’s unexplained absence. The secretary’s report and minutes were also accepted unanimously.
Accounting matters discussed
The new district accountant Ray Russell answered questions that were raised at the March 21 board meeting regarding startup issues encountered following his takeover of the district’s financial reporting. There was a lengthy discussion of how to report end-of-year property tax income and invoiced expenses for 2004 that were received and paid for in early 2005.
Russell also discussed the few corrections he had made in the records by moving entries from one accounting category to another as he reviewed them. He said each of the issues would be resolved before his draft audit summary is submitted for review by the district’s auditor. Russell also said he would combine all the separate income, expense, and budget analysis reports done in the past into a single report, which would eliminate some errors in copying data. The board agreed to his proposal
Total cash assets for the district were $1,403,616, and total tap fees year-to-date in 2005 were $64,880.
Biggs’ latest requestunanimously rejected
The board rejected Biggs’ new assertion, in his e-mail dated April 3, that he had paid the $300 dissolution request fee too soon in the process. The district’s attorney Larry Gaddis and his consultant legal specialists on dissolution, Collins and Cockrell, said the boards’ position was "defensible" and "hardly worth a lawsuit" by Biggs. Wicklund noted that the district’s constituents had already paid over $5,000 for legal reviews of Biggs’ numerous complaints and assertions, not counting the April legal reviews.
During another lengthy discussion, the board members agreed that the district should not set a statewide precedent that was contrary to the plain and clear wording in the statutes by refunding the $300 fee that is required when an application for dissolution is first submitted to a special district. Smith and Robinove said they were "tired of the harassment by Biggs." Smith asked, "When will the harassment stop?" Robinove said there was "nothing the district could do to stop Biggs" legally from continuing to write to the board.
There was unanimous agreement by the board and staff that the district should continue to pay any price for legal advice or any lawsuits because the board "wouldn’t knuckle under to his requests" by paying back his cash bond. President Lowell Morgan said the board will continue to conduct its business with openness: "We have played by the rules all along, and there is no reason to change our position."
Each of the board members also expressed concern over the ease with which e-mails could be fraudulently submitted by someone other than Biggs, and that e-mails are an unacceptable method for carrying out legal transactions. The board unanimously adopted a policy, recommended by Diggins, that it would no longer accept any e-mail correspondence from Biggs (or anyone else) as official correspondence regarding any issue that would require action by the board. They also adopted Diggins’ suggestion that the board not respond to any further requests from anyone, including Biggs, unless they came in a letter, with an original signature, by U.S. mail or hand-delivered. Wicklund notified Biggs and John Dominowski of the new policy the next day, by U.S. mail.
Zonta annexation proposed
Wicklund said that Zonta developer and owner Doug Barber had renewed discussions for annexation of the remainder of the Zonta parcel north of Monument, which is bounded by the Santa Fe Trail, Wakonda Hills, and Beacon Lite Road. Barber will also offer a preliminary plan for town approval that defines where the lots, streets, and utilities (including sewer lines) will be located.
Early inclusion by the district and installation of the Zonta sewer lines for the proposed 1-acre single-family lot portion of the parcel would allow for cheaper sewer connections of the western Wakonda Hills residential lots. About half the Wakonda Hills lots have been included so far with connections to the district’s Beacon Lite Road collector line. Using the proposed Zonta collector lines would allow the construction of one less lift station by the district at buildout.
Raspberry Point update
Surveys of the lot lines and building locations are complete. Consultant engineering firm GMS is negotiating for a contractor to provide precise locations of the private sewer collection lines the district has agreed to take over. HOA President Betty Konarski has notified the property owners that the district will be seeking signatures for an easement.
Beacon Lite office condominium policy set
The board discussed at length the L-shaped office building that will be built on the vacant lot behind the Air Academy Federal Credit Union. Each office will be separately owned, with a "homeowner’s association" responsible for exterior and grounds maintenance. After considerable discussion about the legal implications of various alternatives, the board agreed to set the precedent that each office condominium unit would require a separate sewer tap, rather than having one large tap for the whole building.
What’s for Dinner? Sewer tap alternatives
The board discussed whether to require a 40-pound interior grease trap or a much more expensive, larger capacity, external, in-ground grease interceptor for the new What’s For Dinner? store under construction. This store will provide raw fresh food for people who want to prepare their own "TV dinners" in bulk. The main issue is whether the store would eventually want to provide for cooking, rather than simply washing and packing, foods. The board was asked to decide whether to allow the store to begin operations with only a grease trap.
The concern was based on the discovery that the previous occupant, Monument Pizza Company, in the Monument Plaza shopping center, appeared to have never cleaned the grease trap, a serious health hazard. There were several unanswered questions about how raw meat, eggs, and mayonnaise would be processed and provided to customers. Shopping center owner Steve Marks is already being required to install new grease interceptors and traps for restaurants in the rest of the center. There was unanimous consensus that a grease trap would be allowed temporarily.
Vitamin Cottage to take over Rite-Aid building
The new Vitamin Cottage store, across from Safeway, will sell bulk produce and bulk peanut butter but will not prepare, cook, bake, or process food. The store will have a three-sink sanitizer and a two-sink kitchen unit that, Diggins noted, are required of all restaurants. He cautioned that the "presence of the three-sink unit" should require the installation of at least a grease trap, if not a grease interceptor, to avoid future problems if restaurant operations begin at a later date, with or without notification of a change of use to the district.
The board agreed after much discussion to set this precedent of requiring at least a grease trap based on their installation of a three-sink sanitizer, even though Vitamin Cottage has said it will never need one. Wicklund will consult with the health department and Colorado Springs officials on what has occurred at other regional Vitamin Cottage facilities. Diggins suggested that Wicklund also ask if a stove hood and ventilation system should be required in addition to a grease trap, based on the requirements just levied on the Herb Bistro Garden restaurant. Safeway has a grease interceptor, but sells a variety of cooked and processed food.
Williams responds to Biggs’ complaint about MSD
Ernie Biggs complained to County Commissioner Wayne Williams that the board may not have submitted an annual one-page report to the county on current members of the board and bond and mill levy status. Biggs asked Williams to help him dissolve MSD because of this. Williams directed Planning Division Director and County Special Districts Coordinator Carl Schueler to call Wicklund to inquire about the report.
Schueler told Wicklund when he phoned on April 15 that he had not sent out forms for special districts to fill out this year, and that the information was not used by the county, only filed for possible future reference.
Wicklund said he sent Schueler a copy of the form submitted last year with the changes annotated in ink, as well as copies of all the reports submitted to the county and state back to 2000. Schueler had not sent the district a blank form as of this meeting.
Wicklund invited Williams to visit the district or attend this board meeting to discuss the issue. Williams never acknowledged the written invitation. Wicklund noted that Williams has the option to seek withholding of all mill levy revenue from the district if he chooses to single it out for noncompliance. Districts are obligated by a 1990 statute to provide the county this information by Jan. 15 of each year, but the county has not consistently sent blank forms to the district for the past 15 years, according to Schueler.
The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on May 17 at the district office, 130 Second St.
Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, April 12:Board questions cost effectiveness of model
By Sue Wielgopolan
Board members listened to updates on Colorado State water legislation and considered the economic feasibility of participation in the transit loss study and model at the April 12 meeting. The board also discussed construction of a new warehouse for the district and the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility laboratory building.
Treasurer Jim Wyss reported on income and expenditures for the first quarter of 2005. Actual income for water and sewer were on budget. Although income from sewer usage was down slightly, overall income averaged 24.9 percent, very close to the projected 25 percent.
However, expenditures were greater than expected, totaling 27 percent of anticipated expenses for the year. Two areas accounted for the excess spending. Office costs were higher than budgeted, which Office Manager Hope Winkler attributed to the purchase of new furniture. Wyss questioned a $40,000 land purchase expense. Only $5,000 had been budgeted for land purchases in the first quarter. District Manager Phil Steininger agreed to look into the figure and report back to the board.
Vice President Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s delegate to the Joint Use Committee (JUC), reported that the group’s April meeting had been canceled. The JUC consists of one representative each from the Monument Sanitation District, the Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, which equally share ownership of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. (The JUC meeting was later rescheduled for April 25.)
Steininger reported that work on the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment facility lab is moving ahead. The contractor, Access Construction, is assembling plans from the architect and subcontractors, and will submit the plans to the Regional Building Department within the next two weeks.
Transit Loss Model could become cost prohibitive for small districts
Participants in the transit loss model study, which includes water and sanitation districts from northern El Paso County south to Pueblo, where Monument Creek empties into the Arkansas River, met at the Fountain Town Hall on April 8. During the meeting, participants discussed the most equitable way of dividing costs for development and maintenance of the measuring equipment and computer model as well as long-term continuous data collection, entry, and reporting between agencies.
Steininger estimated that the cost of a new gauging station, to be built by the U.S. Geological Survey on Monument Creek just upstream of its confluence with Dirty Woman Creek, will be approximately $15,000. The new gauge will enable Woodmoor to monitor flows down Monument Creek each day, including PLSD’s proportion of WWTF effluent and the volume of water being diverted into Woodmoor Lake.
Participating agencies also discussed how to determine each group’s share of costs for maintaining and operating the model once it has been established. These costs include monitoring and upkeep of the numerous gauging stations, and data input into the model.
Until now, the city of Colorado Springs has been paying approximately 94 percent of the study costs. The city initiated the study to update the transit loss model the state currently uses to determine water loss, which probably overestimates the amount of water being lost before being delivered to the Arkansas River. The addition of measuring stations upstream of the city’s northernmost plant (Pikeview) does not benefit Colorado Springs. Consequently, the city does not wish to pay for the added expense of maintaining the model outside of city boundaries.
In trying to split maintenance and operating costs between the entities involved, the participants came up with a formula to determine by percentage the amount that each participating agency should pay. According to this formula, Colorado Springs would pay a significantly lower percentage for maintenance costs, even though they supply about 94 percent of the effluent passing through the model. Yearly maintenance costs for the entire model could total $170,000. Anticipated annual operational costs for the Woodmoor district would be substantial, primarily due to the high number (12) of gauging stations through which their water passes.
The figures concerned Steininger, who said the revised fees would be cost prohibitive, especially to smaller sanitation districts. These districts might then choose to withdraw, shifting more fiscal responsibility onto the remaining entities.
Steininger stated that Woodmoor needs to reconsider participation in the model and look at whether the value derived will be worth the expense. Though the district is probably not receiving adequate credit from the state for the amount of water it delivers downstream, the cost of transit loss model participation could be significantly higher than the worth of the recovered credits.
Consultant hydrogeologist Charlie Stanzione, of Bishop-Brogden Associates, will help Woodmoor determine whether it is in the district’s best interest to continue its financial commitment to the transit loss model, short and long term.
Steininger briefed the board on the status of Colorado bills affecting the Woodmoor district.
Well 8, which has been out of operation for about 18 months, is pumping again. Debris and nontoxic iron bacteria had been clogging the pump and screens. After treating the well with an acid to remove the bacteria, Woodmoor staff determined that an oversized drop pipe had contributed to the problem.
Because the volume of water being pumped was insufficient to keep debris within the pipe elevated, scaling from the pipe interior would settle back down and foul the check valves each time the pump was turned off. The district installed a smaller diameter drop pipe. The resulting increase in water velocity pushes loosened scale and internal debris out of the drop pipe and into the filters, eliminating the problem of debris settling back into the pipe when the pump is not operating.
AmWest’s maintenance work on Well 17 has been slowed by inclement weather. The well is currently inoperable. The drilling contractor has recently resumed work which is expected to be completed by late April or early May.
Woodmoor Improvement Association proposes land trade with district
Kurt Ormond of the Lakehouse Homeowner’s Association approached the district with a proposal to acquire a piece of property across from Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Woodmoor Drive, which is currently owned by the Woodmoor district. The association wishes to sell about half an acre to a corporation that would like to build a small medical facility there. Ormond attended the meeting to inquire whether the district might be interested in a trade before having the land surveyed at the association’s expense.
Acquired by the district as part of an inclusion agreement, the land was initially retained as a possible site for a floating pump for the Woodmoor Lakehouses, then later as a possible location for a pumping station to serve Lewis-Palmer Middle School or a new well site. The land is currently vacant.
The association would like to trade five lots, which are currently under water at the edge of Lake Woodmoor, for the site. In listing advantages to the district for the trade, Ormond stated that in addition to clarifying ownership of the lake, district ownership of the five lots would ensure that the flooded portions would not be filled in and sold by a developer as home sites, which he claimed has been done in California.
Steininger asked whether the peninsula on the west side of the lake, which is presently a common area also owned by the Lakehouse Homeowners Association, could be included as part of the trade. He also expressed a desire to obtain new, individual, high-water easement agreements from homeowners whose properties border the lake, which would in essence update a 1972 block easement.
President Jim Taylor gave the board’s approval for the homeowners association to proceed in investigating ownership of the five lots and value of the properties, with the understanding that all costs associated with any trade would be at the association’s expense.
Bowstring contractor breaks water main
Brown Construction, the contractor chosen for the Bowstring improvement project, severed a water main during excavation to install a larger sewer main on April 9. Several homes were without water for two hours. After service was restored, the water was brown for several hours.
Central Water Treatment Plant expansion planned
Woodmoor is in the preliminary stages of plans to expand the Central Water Treatment Plant, located west of Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Woodmoor Drive. The original plant design included expansion capabilities; the Woodmoor district needs to increase capacity to keep pace with new development.
Backwash Reclaim Study
Periodically, the district backwashes the filters used to treat its well water. Backwashing removes the captured sediments from the filters. This uses approximately 5 percent of the total amount of water Woodmoor treats yearly. The district would like to research ways to recover and recycle that water. Though there are no funds available for such a study in this year’s budget, Steininger would like to set aside an allowance next year to determine whether such a project would be economically feasible.
New warehouse building site selected
After evaluating two possible locations for the new garage/warehouse, Woodmoor staff decided to attach the building to the west side of its office.
The building will be approximately 95 feet long by 45 feet wide, and will be used to house vehicles and equipment and to store parts. Steininger would like to contract the construction of the facility on a design and build basis, and wants to qualify contractors before accepting bids. Preliminary plans call for a basic heated structure with steel or block construction, on slab, whichever is most economical.
Steininger discussed design suggestions and exterior appearance with board members. He said that even if the district is not required to conform to any local association standards in order to obtain a building permit, he wants the building to blend in with neighboring structures and intends to seek the input of the Woodmoor Improvement Association before finalizing project plans.
Steininger reported to the board on the results of the questionnaire he sent to Integrity Bank, People’s National Bank, and First National Bank of Monument on rates and available services.
After reviewing the questionnaire, Steininger recommended to the board that Woodmoor retain its checking and savings accounts and continue working with People’s for its general banking needs. He said that the district has had a good relationship with People’s Bank for several years and has been satisfied with the service. An added advantage is the bank’s proximity to the Woodmoor office, which makes it convenient for staff.
Steininger recommended using Integrity bank for district investments. He then asked the board for consensus; all members agreed.
Woodmoor staff is revising the district’s incentive program. One and a half percent of the district’s annual budget is allocated for structured incentives; an additional 0.5 percent is set aside for merit awards.
The intent of the incentive program is to encourage new ideas that will result in better service and greater efficiency and/or cost savings, and to make employees feel they are a valued part of the district team.
Staff is changing the award criteria in an effort to make the process more straightforward and objective. The new questionnaire will be filled out by each team supervisor and reviewed by other supervisors, Steininger, and the board. Monetary awards will be based on whether the idea has merit and will be of benefit to the district, and allocated individually according to each person’s relative contribution.
Merit awards, by contrast, will be based on service considered "above and beyond the call of duty." This portion of the budget may not be spent each year.
Xeriscape Demonstration Gardens
Steininger informed the board of the arrangements he made for seasonal maintenance of the district’s Xeriscape gardens at the South Water Treatment Plant, located off Leggins, northeast of Lewis-Palmer High School. Employees already working for the district will handle mowing and irrigation. Connie Munson, who has performed similar services for the district in the past, will weed, trim, and generally care for the trees and flowers on a part-time basis.
Steininger told the board he would like to see the district assume a more active role in promoting water conservation through education. He proposed hosting Xeriscape seminars in the gardens several times during the summer and asked board members for their input. His idea is to bring in speakers about three times during the growing season to talk about topics such as drought-tolerant landscape plants and water-wise turf irrigation equipment. If the community expresses sufficient interest and support, the program could be continued.
Board Member Ron Turner suggested inviting local businesses to participate as co-sponsors. Taylor would like to offer a program on installing a timed drip system.
Steininger requested and received the members’ permission to proceed.
Steininger announced that Woodmoor had selected ADP to administer the payroll accounts and asked the board’s permission to outsource the work. Taylor, concerned about recent reports of embezzlement in small local governmental bodies—including the Forest View Acres Water District and the Elizabeth School District—asked whether ADP was bonded. Erin Smith, attorney for the Woodmoor district, wanted to know what penalties were in place to discourage illegal activities. Steininger promised to look into legal safeguards provided by the company and report back to the board.
Meter Replacement Program
Board members asked whether any decisions had been made regarding partial or total replacement of Woodmoor’s current metering system. Steininger replied that Jessie Shaffer, district engineer, was currently building a decision matrix to help compare and contrast costs and advantages between the options. Steininger also said that because the Walters Commons project had been delayed, staff and members had a little more time to consider the alternatives.
Revised rules and regulations
Members continued to review the revised rules and regulations under Smith’s guidance. Smith presented several sections for their scrutiny at the April meeting. Some entries have been reallocated to new sections in an effort to make them more user-friendly for administrators and developers. Others have been revised to bring the district’s requirements in line with state regulations.
Since the board had not received the revisions prior to the meeting, Taylor requested that members be given time to look over the documents and organize questions before the next meeting, rather than hastily approve the sections. Smith agreed to postpone approval until a later date.
The board closed the public session of the meeting and went into executive session at 2:40 p.m. to discuss matters pertaining to the acquisition of land and water rights. No announcements were made after the executive session.
The next meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board of directors will take place on Tuesday, May 10 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.
Several statements in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, March 8 article were incorrect. John Ottino, President of the Woodmoor Improvement Association, contacted OCN to correct the errors. His letter to the editor lists those corrections. OCN regrets the errors and thanks Mr. Ottino for his understanding and patience.
Joint Use Committee, April 25:Schedule for construction of new lab building adjusted
By Jim Kendrick
Construction plans for the new lab building at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) have been finalized for submission to the Regional Building Department. The month long review and building permit approval process may cause a slight delay in completion of construction, but the representatives from all three special districts that own the WWTF agreed that any delay will be insignificant. All members of the Joint Use Committee (JUC) were present.
The minutes from the previous JUC meeting and the March financial report were unanimously accepted. Palmer Lake Sanitation District Director and JUC Treasurer Todd Bell asked that more details of vehicle expenses billed by vendors be included in future financial reports.
Discharge Monitoring Report shows no problem areas
Plant Manager Bill Burks noted that one March sample for influent and effluent total suspended solids analysis had been lost and that this loss had been reported to the state health department. All measurements in the multi-page report were far below the maximum standards.
Burks noted that the new mercury concentration standard of 3 parts per trillion, down from 20 parts per trillion, was so miniscule that if test technicians have any dental fillings, they can contaminate effluent water samples by breathing on them. Mercury testing is now performed by consultant ACZ in Steamboat Springs, due to the new standard. The consensus of the board was that this new mercury standard is unrealistically low, like several other new metals standards, and a level of water purity that does not ordinarily occur in nature.
Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Vice President Benny Nasser inquired about increases in WWTF flow caused by infiltration of snow runoff. The consensus was that groundwater entering the sanitary sewer lines through leaks can be as much as 30 percent of the flow in the WWTF during peak runoff periods.
Burks noted that he had found a minor computation error in the revised cost-sharing spreadsheet, which has been corrected, of about $1,500 that would result in credits for Monument and an increased billing for Palmer Lake and Woodmoor for the first three months of 2005.
The JUC unanimously authorized two checks for expenses that will occur before the May meeting. They were a check for $15,200 for the new WWTF pick-up truck and $125 for a galvanized pump plate. The draft audit report for 2004 was distributed for review by the three districts; the final report to the state is due in July.
Phil Steininger, the JUC executive service agent and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District manager, displayed the final construction plans for the new lab facility and said it would take about a month to get a building permit approved by Regional Building Department.
The committee asked him to determine the cost of changing the cooling system for the lab from the proposed swamp cooler to air conditioning. The rest of the building will be on a different heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in either case. The lab requires its own separate temperature and humidity control system. After Steininger listed a few minor change orders, the JUC unanimously approved the plans, with the changes noted.
District Manager Mike Wicklund reported on Ernie Biggs’ unsuccessful attempts to have County Commissioner Wayne Williams cut off mill levy revenue to the Monument Sanitation District. He also noted that Biggs had shown no interest in the embezzlement issues in the water district he lives in, Forest View Acres Water District. Biggs does not live within the Monument Sanitation District. His Lake of the Rockies property is not included in the sewer district and is not connected to the town’s water system.
The meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m. The next JUC meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on May 9 at the Monument Sanitation District office, 130 Second St. The meetings are normally held the second Monday of the month; the location rotates among the three member districts each quarter.
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, April 20:District sells another old fire engine
By Jim Kendrick
At the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board meeting April 20, it was reported that the district has sold a third old fire engine. The district may soon revise its charter with the county to allow for more than 50 personnel. Expansion of the Gleneagle station continues on schedule. Director Joe Potter was absent. Chief Bill Sheldon was on vacation out of state.
The board directed Assistant Chief Vinny Burns to reduce the number of companies the district leases cell phones from. Four different companies currently supply phones based on unique capabilities and needs.
The treasurer’s report and March minutes were unanimously accepted.
A separate electrical heater for the second floor storage area in the Gleneagle station addition currently under construction will be replaced with a third gas heating unit to reduce long-term utility costs, at an additional construction cost of about $3,000. The upstairs storage area doors and windows have been moved to improve ventilation.
Ritz recommended that the offices and boardroom have drop-ceiling tiles instead of gypsum sheet rock, which is about half the cost per square foot. Director Kevin Gould, who is an architect, suggested getting an cost savings amount and ceiling height before making a final decision. Any savings would be treated as a credit by the contractor, CMS. The board also unanimously approved $6,500 to replace a crumbling section of the existing two-lane front driveway.
Special ownership revenue received to date for 2005 is $48,500, while the budget only anticipated $35,400. This extra 2005 revenue will more than cover the added construction expenses. The final figure on extra 2004 special ownership tax received is not yet available from the auditor.
The addition is expected to be completed in early July, as scheduled.
Burns reported that the total sales price for the three original engines from the creation of the Wescott district was $9,500. They have been unused for more than five years.
He also reported that Pikes Peak Community College has purchased a new training fire engine for their firefighter curriculum and it will be garaged at DWFPD station 2. Wescott can use it for a backup vehicle when it is not being used for firefighter lab courses or North Group and Colorado Springs Fire Department training. In return for this garage storage, the college will provide 10 free credit hours of classes to Wescott firefighters seeking firefighting degrees. The engine should be delivered in mid-summer.
The district will apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for physical fitness training equipment (firefighter health and safety) and a breathing air compressor on a trailer. Burns noted the national upsurge in firefighter heart attacks after structure fire calls was the reason for the FEMA initiative.
Burns noted that there will be a Gleneagle Boy Scout run/walkathon on May 14 at 8 a.m. The district will provide emergency medical support for the event and also have an open house that day immediately after the event concludes.
The run report listed 123 district and 2 mutual aid runs, with a year-to-date total of 328 runs, compared to 356 at this point in 2004. The district runs included 46 medical, 6 traffic accidents, 4 automatic alarms, 1 structure fire, 1 brush fire, 1 hazardous material, 2 smoke, 1 gas-induced fire, 1 illegal burn, 2 public assist, and 58 AMR ambulance calls. Both mutual aid runs were for brush fires.
Treasurer Dennis Feltz asked Ritz for a report on new personnel evaluation forms, to include job descriptions and individual goals for 2005 from Chief Sheldon at the next board meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on May 18 at Station 2, 15000 Sunhills Drive. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.
Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board, April 27:District accepts Wissler Ranch filing 4
By John Heiser
At its regular meeting April 27, the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors unanimously voted to include the 31 lots in Wissler Ranch filing 4. Board President Charlie Pocock said that a petition for inclusion of Wissler Ranch filing 3 is being circulated. He said that would complete the inclusion of Wissler Ranch into the Tri-Lakes district.
Directors Keith Duncan and Rick Barnes were absent.
There was no further discussion at this meeting of the difficulties with the district’s 2004 audit and financial records that were a major topic at the meeting March 23.
Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that the Tri-Lakes district and the Woomoor-Monument Fire Protection District have received 35 percent of the anticipated revenue for the year. He said expenses stand at 26 percent, one percentage point ahead of what would be expected at the end of March.
One unanticipated expense was the cost to replace the engine in one of the ambulances. Pocock said the engine replacement "was probably due to poor maintenance." Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson added, "That is what the mechanic said." Hildebrandt said that Chief Robert Denboske "is responsible for ensuring that preventative maintenance is done."
Pocock reported that he mailed the lease-purchase agreement for the second Smeal fire engine and that the funds would be available May 3.
Hildebrandt asked about progress on the issues raised by neighbors regarding Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road.
Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said the HVAC equipment has not yet been painted and the issue of light from the high bay spilling onto neighboring properties has also not been resolved. He added that there are now water leaks into the station due to improper drainage of water from melting snow on the west wall of the new station. All of these issues are being addressed with the contractor who built the station.
The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for May 25, 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.
Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board, April 27:No quorum, so no meeting
By Susan Hindman
The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) could not hold its monthly meeting because three of the board members were absent: Si Sibell, Bob Hansen, and Rod Wilson. Director Bill Ingram apologized to those in attendance, saying he did not know until he arrived that they would not have a quorum. He and director Jeremy Diggins said Sibell is out of town, Hansen was at his son’s softball game, and Wilson had to attend to personal matters.
Five residents had shown up, so Ingram opened up the floor for questions. There was discussion about response times, improved service, and staffing, but the major concern voiced was over Woodmoor’s inability to answer questions about its financial reports. Although a report was made available at the March meeting, Hansen, who is treasurer, had not attended and so could not discuss the report. No financial report was available for this meeting, so for the second month, questions over numbers remain unanswered.
Audience members Marian Taylor, Ken Ford, and Tom Conroy asked for more specifics about the dollar amounts given in the March report, but neither Ingram nor Diggins could provide any new information. Ingram repeatedly suggested these questions be posed to the treasurers (either Hansen at a later time or John Hildebrandt of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority). Ingram noted that at this point the numbers will have changed anyway, considering a month has passed.
Because of the level of their concerns, Ingram asked what they would like to see done. Ford said, "I waited all month with questions and now I can’t ask them." He requested that another fire district meeting be scheduled soon. Ingram agreed, and asked for the names and phone numbers of those in attendance and said he would let everyone know about the next meeting—in addition to posting notices at the usual places.
W/MFPD meetings are normally held the last Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Tri-Lakes district station #1, 18650 Highway 105. Following the district meeting, the board joins the fire authority for a meeting at the same location.
Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority Board, April 27:Board lacks quorum, but members receive status reports
By John Heiser
On April 27, following the scheduled meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the two boards were scheduled to meet jointly as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board. Since a quorum of the Woodmoor/Monument district was not present, that meant there was not a quorum of the fire authority board, so a formal meeting could not be held.
Absent were Tri-Lakes district directors Rick Barnes and Keith Duncan and Woodmoor/Monument directors Bob Hansen, Si Sibell, and Rod Wilson.
Chief Robert Denboske was absent due to illness but had prepared a report that was presented by Battalion Chief Bryan Jack. The report stated:
Jack noted that the average response time was 5 minutes 55 seconds for calls between Jan. 1 and March 24 this year.
Audience member and former Woodmoor/Monument district board member Tom Conroy noted that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are not based on averages but specify a response time that must be achieved for 90 percent of calls.
Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson reported as follows:
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). The next meeting will be held May 25.
For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.
Chiefs summarize lessons from Bardsley Place fire
The following is the press release approved by the chiefs of the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District, Larkspur Fire Protection District, and Palmer Lake Fire Department. Chief William Sheldon of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District submitted a separate letter regarding the fire.
Any discord among the Northern El Paso County, and Southern Douglas County fire departments, as reported in The Gazette and Our Community News (OCN), was greatly exaggerated. That was the consensus of the Fire Chiefs who met on January 18, 2005 to review the multi-agency response to a fire in mid-November. The group was unanimous in their feelings that the information should not have been discussed in a public forum and released to the press.
All agencies accepted some degree of criticism regarding their roles and responsibilities and it was not all Tri-Lakes fault as reported in the OCN. The group also agreed that in any event the eventual outcome of the fire would probably have been the same.
The North Group that was in attendance agreed that there were several breakdowns in standard operating procedures of the group which might have caused confusion and hindered an optimal response. Room for improvement included:
Some confusion might be expected whenever seven agencies come together in a mutual aid situation. However, since all rely on the same basic guidelines, differences could be minimized by developing and agreeing on written policies and protocols. Each department needs to develop a clear policy as to who may command and control incidents within their district. All agencies agreed to work on these areas within their organizations and the three areas of concern noted above will be special emphasis items in forthcoming joint training exercises.
Chief Sheldon’s letter regarding the Bardsley Place fire
Chief Robert Denboske,
This is in answer to your e-mail and letter dated 3/20/05 regarding the Bardsley Place fire. I am unable to sign your press release for the following reasons:
As you and I discussed on Monday, March 20th, too much time has gone by to get any real lessons out of further discussions on that incident. However, we did agree on one very important issue. Incident command, the use of the IC system to its fullest, would have prevented many of the issues. It is time to move this incident behind us and look at how we can improve operations in the future.
As we discussed, I will set up some classes using outside instructors and alternating between Tri-Lakes station #1 and Wescott station #1.
I am hopeful that our meeting on Monday is a new and positive beginning.
William A. Sheldon
Chief, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District
Lewis-Palmer Board of Education, April 21:Monument Charter Academy 11th grade approved
By Tommie Plank
The second time around was the charm for the Monument Charter Academy. The School Board found the Academy’s initial application to add eleventh grade to their high school lacking in several aspects and they were asked to rework it. Superintendent Dave Dilley and the administrative staff reviewed the revised curricula for science and social studies, and this time the superintendent recommended approval. The board unanimously approved the addition of eleventh grade for the 2005-06 school year, subject to a mutually agreed upon maximum enrollment number at the charter school.
Health insurance premiums with CEBT for 2005-06 were approved, with a 2.5 percent increase in premiums over the current year. Due to a strong reserve fund balance at CEBT, the district will not be charged for premiums for one month. This savings to the district will be passed on to employees by increasing the amount the district pays toward health premiums. The amount that employees pay will not increase for 2005-06.
Grace Best Elementary School fifth grade students performed Act II, Scene 4 of the Shakespearean play MacBeth, under the direction of fifth grade teacher Martha Phelps and Gifted/Talented teacher Julie Browning , who teamed together to lead the project for the students. Members of the board commented on the talent, poise, and self-assurance of the students, and were impressed that they could perform at such a level of sophistication in front of a group of adults they don’t know.
Wells Fargo Bank representatives Mary Brown and Kelly Sparks presented the school district with a check in the amount of $1,215 that was raised from the bank’s "Team Up for Schools" program. That program raised over $16,000 last year to be divided among the Pikes Peak area school districts.
Judy Puckett, Lewis-Palmer High School Student Body Vice President, reported on recent events and activities at the high school: a Health Fair was held on April 22, one of the high school bands has been invited to participate in the Colorado Band Masters program, the spring play Wind in the Willows was a huge success, the DECCA club is going to DECCA Nationals in California, and the students are continuing to raise funds for tsunami victims and still collecting Beanie Babies for children in Iraq.
Kilmer Elementary School (KES) teachers Victoria Nissen, Joy Quaite, and Phoebe Belteau discussed their presentations at the KES Parents’ Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Night. They focused on "what we want your children to know and be able to do" in literacy and math. It was designed to acquaint parents with the elements of these subjects as taught by KES. Literacy was defined as listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The Colorado State Standards for literacy were reviewed, and the components of reading, writing, and assessments for each were presented. A similar program was presented with examples for the math program at KES. Handouts were available to parents that provided them with helpful ways to assist their students in mastering literacy and math.
Next year they plan to continue their Parents’ PLC Night programs with the topics "How do we know they know?" and "What do we do if they don’t know it?" In appropriate areas of curriculum, District 38 also asks the question, "What do we do if they already know it?"
Karen D’Amour, chairman of District Accountability and Advisory Committee, reported on the brief April meeting. She said that volunteers are still needed for next year’s DAAC officer positions.
Graduation for the senior class of 2005 will be held Wednesday, May 25, at 6 p.m. in the Field House at the Air Force Academy. The school board will meet for their next regular meeting on Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at the administration building.
Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, April 8:Resolution of Necessity for right-of-way approved
By Jim Kendrick
The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held its regular second quarter meeting on April 8 at Monument’s Town Hall. After the routine bill-paying business motions and engineering reports were completed, 12-year Leather Chaps Road resident Linda Silviera expressed concerns that she and her Chaparral Hills neighbors have about the new frontage road proposed to be built parallel to Baptist Road. The purpose of the frontage road is to replace the existing driveways on Baptist Road for access to the Family of Christ Lutheran church and the two adjacent houses.
County Commissioner Dennis Hisey and BRRTA Manager Conner Shepherd were absent.
First quarter financial report
One payment was unanimously approved for $74,728.78 to PBS&J Engineering for design services. Total BRRTA payments to PBS&J thus far are $443,215. First quarter revenues were $17,006, while expenses were $85,234. The cash balance dropped from $319,683 to $251,455, a decrease of $68,228.
Project Manager Steve Sandvik of PBS&J reported continuing progress in defining most of the individual right-of-way parcels that will be needed east of I-25. The approval cycle for right-of-way acquisition calls for BRRTA to complete plans, estimates, and right-of-way negotiations, then forward them to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) for review and approval. Then PPRTA will write the check to the landowner. It is still too soon to provide a total cost estimate for right-of-way purchases.
Sandvik reported that coordination of all required utility relocations are under way. He also said a meeting was scheduled for April 14 to meet with affected residents to answer their questions about road design as well as easement boundaries and access requirements onto their property during construction.
Cost and necessity of church frontage road questioned
Sandvik noted that he planned to meet with Silviera at her home on south Leather Chaps on April 13 to discuss grading, drainage, and the frontage road, issues she and her neighbors previously raised with Monument Mayor and BRRTA Chair Byron Glenn on April 7. The frontage road would run from the location of the existing church driveway through the vacant church lot and the front yards of the two homes to the east, then diagonally (southeast) through the vacant five-acre lot on the southwest corner of Leather Chaps and Baptist.
Sandvik said the current driveway for the church and those for the neighboring houses will be eliminated when this portion of Baptist is improved to a major four-lane arterial with curbs and gutters. One portion of the new Baptist Road median will extend west from Leather Chaps down to a new three-quarter-motion intersection at Jackson Creek Crossing Road. The dedicated left turn lanes from Baptist Road onto northbound and southbound Jackson Creek Crossing will be the only allowed left turns on Baptist between Leather Chaps and Jackson Creek Parkway. No other access points to Baptist will be authorized between these two traffic lights.
The secondary purpose of the frontage road access to Leather Chaps south of Baptist is to eliminate stacking and dangerous U-turns at the Leather Chaps traffic light after the center median is erected.
The day before this meeting, Silviera reportedly asked Glenn to have BRRTA consider an alternative access at the south end of the lots for the church and the two neighboring houses onto a new service road that would extend to the west (downhill) through the vacant 30-acre parcel next to the church and across Baptist from King Soopers. That parcel, owned by Ken Barber and others, was the former proposed Wal-Mart site. The new service road would intersect with the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway/Struthers Road south of Baptist Road. Silviera also requested that the current driveways on Baptist remain open in the interim.
Chaparral Hills resident Steve Sery said this proposed access road had long been a condition for the original rezoning request for the Barber parcel—from agricultural to multifamily residential, with a small amount of community commercial. Sery added that this rear access road condition was dropped when the since-rejected Baptist Road Wal-Mart was first proposed several years ago. He said construction of the road should now be reconsidered as a condition of any approval for the Barber parcel, since the latest development proposal for that parcel is once again for multifamily residential with a small amount of community commercial.
County Commissioner Wayne Williams said the new elevation of a regraded Baptist Road will be significantly lower in front of the church and the houses. He and Glenn said that keeping the driveways in service until a road through the Barber parcel is built would be impractical and prohibitively expensive. Williams also stated that the Tri-Lakes Master Plan called for the church and homes to be eliminated and replaced with commercial that would also need to use the frontage road in the future. He said the current steep grade of the dirt road portion of Leather Chaps just south of Baptist will be much shallower and paved after the frontage road is built.
Glenn asked Sandvik to determine how much of a delay would be required for creation of this alternate access road. Sandvik will discuss the alternative access road with Ken Barber and the developer (ESI) that currently has a one-year option on the Barber parcel. Glenn also asked Sandvik to determine the costs for the alternative so a final decision could be made before negotiating for condemnation for the frontage road. Williams said he thought the previous estimate for this access road was at least $1 million. Sandvik said that if the new rear access road were extended all the way to Leather Chaps, it would be even more expensive because there are drainage and mouse habitat areas to cross on the southwest corner of the vacant five-acre lot. This western access road through the Barber parcel would require an additional intergovernmental agreement that would have to be worked out between BRRTA and the county.
Silviera distributed pictures she had taken of current left-turn stacking onto westbound Baptist from northbound Leather Chaps and the erosion at the west end of her lot caused by the existing Baptist Road drainage culvert. She also distributed copies of a letter to BRRTA from neighbor Tammie Wieland who lives on the northeast corner of Baptist and Leather Chaps and told the board Wieland was out of town due to a family funeral.
Silviera said the alternative access road through the Barber property would eliminate the inevitable stacking problems for drivers leaving the church who would have to turn left from the new church frontage road to northbound Leather Chaps and then turn left again at the new full-motion traffic light to westbound Baptist Road. Sandvik said there was 230 feet between Baptist and the frontage road for stacking left-turning cars on Leather Chaps.
The required change in the grading of Leather Chaps within Chaparral Hills will also require regrading of adjacent residential driveways as well as new drainage contours. Silviera said construction of the alternative access road on the Barber parcel would head off future drainage problems on her lot caused by raising the elevation of Leather Chaps at the intersection with the proposed frontage road. She said the early construction of the alternative access road for the church and adjacent homes would also make it easier for Barber to develop his property.
She recommended that the county make this alternative access road a condition of the inevitable rezoning for the Barber parcel because the county would not have to pay for the road, saving taxpayers’ money.
Williams disagreed and said that no condition could be imposed on the Barber parcel’s land use if they left the land vacant, and that even more property would have to be condemned to build this longer alternate access road. BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker agreed that the right-of-way across the Barber parcel would have to be condemned unless the parcel is rezoned and developed immediately.
Silviera then read Wieland’s letter into the record in which Wieland stated that she:
Williams said the county has changed the rules to increase the required land dedication by developers since Chaparral Hills was created in 1972 to better protect homeowners. He said Wieland would be paid for the diminishment in the value of her home as well as for the value of land taken from her by eminent domain for widening Leather Chaps and Baptist Road. He added that the church had strongly objected to the right-in/right-out driveway Wieland had also recommended in her letter.
Wanda McMahon, owner of a neighboring home on Baptist Road with extensive front yard improvements for her horses and burro, asked that the frontage road not be built through her property. She said the church should pay for an access road connected to the rear of their properties, rather than make the county pay for the "church’s frontage road" that takes away her front yard and driveway onto Baptist Road. She disputed the county’s claim that it would be unacceptably dangerous to permit continued access via right-in/right-out driveways for the three properties because there had never been an accident at any of these driveways.
Glenn said McMahon’s existing driveway would be eliminated in any case because of county restrictions on driveways for major arterial roads.
Items from attorney
The board unanimously approved the agreed-upon condemnation price for a right-of-way parcel of land ($16,650) as well as the expedited purchase of this particular right-of-way–ahead of all the others–as requested by the military landowner who is about to deploy to Iraq.
The board agreed that all commercial properties near Baptist Road west of I-25 should be included into BRRTA. They agreed all retail businesses within the RTA must participate in the plan to create a public improvement fee to pay their fair share of the interest revenue bonds that would pay for early improvement of the I-25 interchange at Baptist Road.
Hunsaker introduced Andrea Dikou of Piper-Jaffrey, who presented information on three private bonding proposals for interest-only payments that could be used to pay for the interchange improvements.
Williams said that if the ballot issue calling for a five-year moratorium on TABOR tax refunds passes in November, there might be earlier Colorado Department of Transportation funding of the Exit 158 interchange in addition to accelerated widening of I-25 to six lanes from Fillmore to Monument Hill.
The board agreed that the public improvement fee proposal would only work if all existing businesses within BRRTA, such as Home Depot, King Soopers, and Foxworth-Galbraith, as well as Wal-Mart agree to it. Otherwise their competition with new businesses would be unfair. It was reported that Wal-Mart is very concerned about competition from the Monument Safeway since Safeway would not charge the public improvement fee.
Other problems to be resolved are the actual term length of the revenue bonds since there is no way to know when CDOT funding for the interchange will actually become available. Another concern is getting a firm fixed cost for interchange improvement from CDOT to determine the actual size of the required bond issue and annual interest-only bond payments the public improvement fee would have to fund. The board also agreed that the fee should be a BRRTA ballot initiative.
Glenn said BRRTA should formalize its funding relationships with the county and PPRTA for road construction with an intergovernmental agreement, and asked Hunsaker to brief the board on a proposal at the next BRRTA meeting.
The board adjourned at 4 p.m. The next regular BRRTA meeting will be held July 8 in the third floor County Commissioner’s conference room at 27 E. Vermijo St. in Colorado Springs. The regular meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the first month of each quarter and alternate between Monument Town Hall and the County building.
Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, April 6:YMCA shares plans, invites cooperation
By Chris Pollard
First item on the agenda was a short presentation by Jay Louden, Vice President of Development for the Pikes Peak region YMCA. He pointed out that the YMCA had been actively pursuing a full-service program facility in the Tri-Lakes area for the past three years.
A steering committee of local volunteers, chaired by local contractor Lynn Spear, had been meeting monthly to assess the feasibility of a facility and the fund raising for it. This had taken a major step forward in the past spring with the donation of a 12-acre parcel from the Jackson Creek Land Company. The land is west of Lewis-Palmer High School and east of I-25 and lies within the Town of Monument and a Woodmoor subdivision.
The facility and the programs offered would be designed to address the needs of all ages. Some of the key elements proposed include: a multi-use sports field, multipurpose/group exercise room, child watch center, wellness center, and a family fun pool as well as the more usual elements. The pool will be the same size as the one at the southeast YMCA and is a beach type with some water toys.
Louden said that he wanted to work with the WIA and the Lewis-Palmer School District to make sure the plans are in compliance with any protective covenants and to ensure that they were also in concert with development plans at the high school. As far as scheduling went, he said they are thinking that fund raising would occur over the next 18 months. Groundbreaking might begin before the end of fund raising in about a year, with an expected opening in late 2007.
In response to questions from the WIA board, Louden said the facility would be around 40,000 square feet and that they would try to blend the architecture with the adjacent school. Board members expressed concern about road access to the site and suggested working to gain access off Jackson Creek Parkway.
The board then moved on to current WIA business. It was announced that Gordon Reichal had resigned after a brief period as secretary. The board was looking for a replacement to serve for three years.
Allan McMullen, director of open space, presented the status of the upcoming Woodmoor Great American Clean-up. John Ottino, president, said that he had talked to the current occupants of the Falcon Inn and found out that they were leasing, rather than owning, the property. Nevertheless, the WIA received permission to go onto the property to clean up. McMullen thought that the common areas were being well cleaned up but that areas around Fairplay, Furrow Road, and Woodmoor Drive needed more attention. Ottino added that Toboggan Hill might also need to be looked at, as well as Lake Woodmoor Drive from the gas station to the elementary school.
Ottino asked McMullen to give a report at the upcoming town meeting on ideas for creating a winter ice rink somewhere in Woodmoor as a safer alternative to the use of frozen ponds for skating and ice hockey.
Ottino then gave an update on the Pulte Homes agreement over the townhome development on property previously owned by the Walters family. He had rescinded the recent disapproval of any waivers and variances that had been granted because apparently Pulte had started legal action against the WIA. The suit was subsequently dropped, and the WIA directors have signed an agreement with Pulte to work on preserving the remaining open space still owned by the Walters family.
Ottino added that he wanted to make sure that the setback for multifamily units is bigger than that for single residences, to make sure they are farther away. In this way, multifamily homes would not be right next door to a single-family home.
Hans Post, director of public safety, gave a short report on his meeting with representatives of Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS). Most of the discussion centered on traffic issues but, surprisingly, covered parent and Woodmoor resident behavior as well as that of students. Recent traffic flow changes had raised some significant issues, and LPHS said it was pursuing a new entrance from Jackson Creek.
There has been some talk of realigning Higby Road, so this had to be factored in to any future discussions. Ottino suggested taking statistics on driving behavior using the recently acquired SMART speed trailer and then provide that data to the school. They all agreed that they need to build trust between students, parents, and residents.
Kevin Nielsen, chief of public safety, who was also at the school meeting, reported on recent progress with the SMART trailer in assessing speeds on Woodmoor Drive. The device registered 2,246 vehicles in six hours, with 85 percent of those traveling 41 mph or more, with a high of 56 mph.
Elizabeth Miller, director of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC), has published a design standards manual for multiplex developments. She wanted developers to confirm with a surveyor that the buildings are actually built where they are supposed to be.
Ottino argued for increasing the square foot minimum of such developments from 750 square feet. The standards manual would increase all the setbacks to 40 feet and require berms between multifamily and single-family homes. He thought he might want more than 40 feet from single family. Laurie Healy suggested that maybe the 750 square feet could be restricted to a certain percentage of the units.
Miller also discussed the ancillary buildings proposal. The ACC proposes that an ancillary building was to be considered a major modification, and a full application should be submitted. Glossary definitions need to be changed to define the differences between a shed, a greenhouse, and an ancillary building.
Susan Shields pointed out that any driveway that is added would require a permit in addition to the building permit from El Paso County. The ACC wanted a nonrefundable fee of $250 and a $4 per square foot refundable fee for an ancillary building. Members thought that the $4 was rather high and that it should be reduced to $1, the same as for a house. Play equipment is currently subject to a two-year limit before a permit is required, and sheds have a $250 refundable compliance fee.
Ottino suggested that the board get resident feedback. Healy agreed to do this and would discuss it at the upcoming town meeting.
Ottino announced he is scheduling the WIA Town Meeting for May 19 at 7 p.m. in the Woodmoor Barn. Changes to the Design Standards Manual, ancillary buildings, and multiplexes will be discussed as well as "does or don’ts" on open space and an update on Woodmoor Park. He will also give an update on the status of 130 acres of Walters open space. Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, will give the update on forestry grants and pine beetle control. Hans Post will most likely cover traffic control and Highway 105.
Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, May 4:Board receives update on beetles
By Chris Pollard
The first item of new business was the introduction of two volunteers who appeared before the board of directors to be considered for the position of secretary. Cameron Soelberg, who has lived in Woodmoor for two years, was concerned about longer-term issues in the development, noting in particular that in many areas tree density had become a major problem. In college he had been involved with a number of organizations and wanted to contribute in a similar way to the Woodmoor Improvement Association. He said he felt he is qualified to deal with contentious issues requiring negotiation based on his experience serving as president and in other positions in a 90-member fraternity.
George McFadden, the other candidate, had just moved here from a community of 450 townhomes where he had been president of the homeowners association for three years. Prior to serving in that position he had been the secretary and throughout his terms had been actively involved with their architectural review committee. He had also written and edited their newsletter. There, the biggest issues were with parking and dues, which were set at a much higher $65 per month in part to cover swimming pool costs. He said it was necessary to work directly with members of the community to resolve issues and gave examples of how he had done this in the past. He emphasized the need to encourage dialog and he had found that many problems were due to lack of information.
The decision on the candidate would be made after the meeting in executive session.
Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, gave an update on the status of the mountain pine beetle problem. He commented that his tree monitor volunteers were under some pressure this year because of the number of lots that had infected trees. He reminded residents that if they have high value trees that need protecting, they need to spray between May 1 and June 15 to prevent beetles from entering the tree. Woodpeckers have been quite active this year and this is further indication that there is a problem. Residents should note that trees infested with pine beetle may, later in the year, appear to die in a very short period, even overnight. Beetles will come out of trees from the beginning of July through the middle of August. By June 1, trees that are already infected need to be cut down before the beetles fly.
Live beetles have been found in 59 new lots and the owners of 65 lots still need to be contacted to remove trees. There are still lots that need to be inspected; 17 lots have been treated. The Woodmoor Pines golf course has removed a number of trees but still has more to do, though they had promised to complete this in the next three weeks. Woodman has been working with other homeowner associations adjacent to Woodmoor, such as King’s Deer and Bent Tree, but there were other areas with pine beetle, such as the property adjacent to the northeast corner of Woodmoor, where it has been difficult to figure out how whom to contact to remedy the problem. In response to another board member’s question, he said the area might have slightly less of a problem this year because trees looked to have more moisture and should be better able to resist attack. Residents were reminded that all dead and dying trees need to be removed and disposed of properly.
On the related issue of defensible space to minimize fire hazards, Woodman has trained 54 people, with further classes planned. So far, residents have only used about $4,000, with $40,000 remaining, in grants to help people remove excess vegetation.
John Ottino then turned to addressing the agenda for the town meeting on May 19, where he hoped residents would come to discuss contentious issues in the community such as clothes lines, extra vehicles, ancillary buildings, mail box appearance, and other items.
Camilla Mottl, executive director, announced that there would be an informational meeting on the former Higby/Beck property on May 12 in the lecture hall at Lewis-Palmer High School at 6:30 p.m. Colorado Commercial Builders has purchased the property and wanted to inform local residents of its plans.
April Weather Wrap
By Bill Kappel
April started off with seasonal and quiet weather, but this turned out to be the exception rather than the rule for the month, as once again the Tri-Lakes region received abundant moisture and below-average temperatures.
The first of two blizzards developed during the early morning hours of the 5th as an area of low pressure began to intensify over southeastern Colorado and western Kansas. As often happens this time of year with these types of storms, copious amounts of moisture were pulled into this storm from the Gulf of Mexico. Whiteout conditions were common, with 8-12 inches of snow accumulating and blowing around as winds gusted out of the north over 70 miles per hour in spots. Many travelers became stranded, especially along Highway 83 near High Forest Ranch, and power was lost in many communities.
This system moved out of the region just as quickly as it moved in, however, with clear skies returning for the rest of the week. Highs reached back into the 60s by the end of the week, and most of the snow had melted by the weekend. Scattered showers, ice pellets, and small hail accompanied thunderstorms that popped up during the afternoon on Friday the 8th, as the feeling of springlike weather was in the air.
But around here, spring-like weather means a lot more than thunderstorms, as we would see later that weekend. Saturday saw an increase in clouds, but temperatures were still mild ahead of a strong storm that was developing over the state. Just before midnight, snow began to develop in the region, and by early Sunday morning the second blizzard in a week was raging through the area.
Snow and wind continued all day Sunday and into early Monday, shutting down travel and piling up tremendous amounts of snow. Power was again knocked out to several residents as well. Most areas on the Palmer Divide received 18-30 inches of wind-blown snow and even better, well over 2 inches of liquid equivalent moisture. This turned out to be the season’s biggest snowfall and helped push the region to an above-average seasonal snowfall total.
Quiet and sunny weather returned for the remainder of the week as highs warmed from the 40s on Tuesday to the 60s by the end of the week. Snow began to melt in earnest, with most of it gone by the weekend. The melting of this latest snow has added lots of beneficial moisture to the soil, making for ideal growing conditions.
The third week of the month continued the trend of the previous weekend, with mild temperatures and mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. Highs on Monday the 18th reached into the low 70s, the warmest readings since last fall. The afternoon of the 20th saw our first springlike thunderstorm, with a brief shot of rain and pea-sized hail.
The weather was quiet and mostly sunny to end the third week, with highs in the 50s and 60s, then changes rolled back in for Sunday the 24th. Rain showers began to fall by early Sunday afternoon, then quickly changed to snow above 7,000 feet by mid-afternoon. More beneficial moisture and several inches of snow accumulated by evening Sunday and continued into Monday morning.
More cold weather, with clouds, dense fog, and light snow, moved in to end the month. Many commuters paid the price as visibility was near zero on Thursday the 28th and roads were icy during the morning of the 29th, leading to several accidents in the area.
As spring continues to progress into summer across the region, it is important to pay attention to developing afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Lightning will take over as the main threat in the area, and residents should pay attention to quickly changing conditions.
A Look Ahead
May will see a wide variety of weather in the Tri-Lakes region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms and maybe some snow. The official monthly forecast for May 2005, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for a slight chance of above-normal temperatures and an equal chance of normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.
April 2005 Weather Statistics
Average High 54.6°
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Kappel is the KKTV 11 News morning meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.
Letters to Our Community
Re: Response from the Forest View Acres Water District
I would like to respond to a few points made by Barbara Reed-Polatty in her letter to the OCN published in the April 2, 2005, edition in which she took Susan Gates to task.
It appears to me that Ms. Reed-Polatty is trying to deflect blame from all board members for the mess we’re in and place blame for this mess squarely in the lap of the people in the district; that is, the people other than those who serve or served on the board.
We all know that Patricia Unger was arrested for running off with $212,000 of our money. Somehow, according to Ms. Reed-Polatty, I along with a couple hundred of my neighbors allowed all of this to happen. We chose not to run for the board and some of us chose not to vote, so we must accept personal responsibility for a board (and previous boards) made up of members who were grossly negligent in performing their fiduciary responsibilities. I did not know that I had to actually run for the board and/or vote and/or attend all the meetings in order to ensure that members of the board were doing the job THEY volunteered to do. I was under the impression that one who volunteers for such an important position accepts the responsibility (and associated accountability) that comes with the job.
Volunteering doesn’t mean you can do a lousy job. And when you do a lousy job, blaming your constituents for not participating is a bit off the wall.
I did not know that I had to attend every meeting of the board, or any meeting of the board, to be able to comment on the board’s ability to manage. Having in place systems that independently verify the flow of cash, insurance coverage, bonding of contractors, and annual audits with direct presentation to the board are standard procedure for any kind of operation that provides a product or service, collects and banks cash, creates reserves for maintenance and improvement, and owns any kind of assets.
Ms. Reed-Polatty wonders how informed Ms. Gates is about Colorado laws which govern the creation and operation of special districts because Ms. Gates dared to suggest that this district needs a new system of operation, that it be reorganized to run like a business, and that the board be recalled. Well, I wonder how informed Ms. Reed-Polatty is of these laws. Ms. Gates is well within her rights to call for a new system of operation and to suggest and begin the process of recalling all or some of the board members.
Had Ms. Reed-Polatty read the statutes, she would have found that we citizens (the electors of a district) do have the right and power to recall board members (CRS Title1 Article 12) and even dissolve districts (CRS Title 32 Article 1 Part 7). There are procedures that must be followed and elections would be involved, but the power is clearly in the hands of the people.
Ms. Reed-Polatty sums it all up this way: "Residents can choose to participate and stay educated about the District or to be uninformed. But they shouldn’t look to blame the Board of Directors when their choice leaves them frustrated as a problem is uncovered and confronted." According to Ms. Reed-Polatty I cannot blame the board for failing to do their job even though my choice leaves me frustrated.
Wrong, Ms. Reed-Polatty. I am very frustrated and place blame squarely in the lap of those members of this board who failed to perform their fiduciary responsibilities and failed to protect the assets of this district. I agree with Ms. Gates that a recall is in order. The theft of $212,000 from this district is a crime of opportunity that can only be successful if there is incompetence or gross negligence at the top.
We stand corrected
I would like to make a few corrections to the article titled "Work on Walters Common Halted" by Sue Wielgopolan in April 2, 2005 OCN. I called Sue and discussed these misrepresentations, and Sue was very supportive and apologetic and suggested I write this response to clarify some of these issues. I want to personally thank Sue for her willingness to volunteer as an OCN reporter covering events and meetings in the Tri-Lakes area and her professionalism and positive attitude when I pointed out some discrepancies in her article.
Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District manager Phil Steininger was quoted as saying the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) had approved "a zoning variance on part of the property allowing higher density multi-family housing in exchange for Walter’s promise that the remainder of the property would be preserved as a conservation easement."
The article went on to say "that the WIA had mistakenly assumed that by transferring all the rest of the parcels water rights—one half acre foot per acre of aquifer water—to this high-density multifamily Pulte subdivision, the Walters would in essence be ‘drying out’ the undeveloped and unsold portion of their parcel. He [Steininger] said that WIA believed that the lack of residual underground water rights on the remaining 130 acres [should be 133 acres] would prevent its further development and maintain it as open space indefinitely based on the Walters [this should be Pulte’s, not Walters] letter of intent that was submitted to the county in their preliminary plan package."
The last paragraph of the article says, "The Walters family and WIA reached a private settlement regarding the other  acres in a meeting in Wayne Williams’ office during a recess of the Board." The agreement was reached with Pulte, not the Walters, and the specific details of that agreement can be found on the WIA website. It is not a "private" settlement.
WIA did not approve a zoning variance. Variances to the WIA Design Standard Manual (DSM) were granted, such as allowing the vacating of lot lines, cuts and fills and recreation space. Although these variances to the WIA DSM were granted, they were not granted "in exchange for the Walters promise that the remainder of the property would be preserved as a conservation easement," as stated in the article. To do so would have potentially jeopardized the Walters’ ability to place the property in a conservation easement, as they have repeatedly stated it is their intention to do.
Additionally, WIA has never been under the mistaken assumption that by transferring the water rights off the remaining 133 acres zoned for single-family development, that the Walters were "drying out" the undeveloped and unsold portion of their property. I personally called and discussed that very issue with Phil Steininger during initial discussions with the Walters, LandCo, and Pulte to clarify that issue, and on numerous occasions have informed Woodmoor residents about that misconception.
I would like to interject here that I agree 100 percent with Benny Nasser’s opinion that $12,000 per acre foot for additional water is too cheap a price to pay for transferring water rights from single-family zoned property to multifamily zoned property, to support the higher density. In my opinion, property owners who transfer water from one parcel to another should not be able to buy more water (particularly at such low rates) for the parcel they transferred the water rights from. This is a policy that must be reviewed and given more attention in the future.
Once again, I want to thank the OCN and particularly Sue Wielgopolan for their desire to correct the few misrepresentations in an otherwise very informative article covering the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District meeting held on March 8.
29th Annual Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale
Below: A scene from the show.
Below: (L to R): Theresa Lee (PFAS Cochair), KRDO TV’s Marty Venticinque (Monument resident), Gail Wittman (PFAS Cochair) Photos provided by the Tri-Lakes Women's Club
By Elizabeth Hacker
The 29th Annual Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale took place on April 16 and 17 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Every year the show draws antiques enthusiasts from near and far and this year was no exception.
For the $5 ticket, people were greeted on Saturday morning by KRDO’s morning show’s meteorologist Marty Venticinque, treated to a bit of nostalgia, offered free advice from the vendors on the value of their heirlooms, and given the opportunity to shop the many aisles of rare antiques, curios, jewelry, glass, and almost anything imaginable.
For 29 years, the energetic members of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) have brought this show and sale to our community. Each year the event seems to grow, thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers. This year’s club president, Sharolyn Hoskinson, along with co-chairs Theresa Lee and Gail Wittman and the club’s many volunteers worked hard to carry on what has become a springtime tradition. The women are quick to point out that they receive help setting up the show from members of the Monument Hill Sertoma and Lewis-Palmer High School Serteens and are grateful for the support of those who attend this event.
Over the years, TLWC has raised over $400,000 from the Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale. They estimate they will donate approximately $32,000 back to the community this year from the proceeds of the Pine Forest Antique Show (which also included the sale of baked goods, potted geraniums, and the Country Café) and their Celebration of Wine & Roses, held last November. Grants are given to benefit the entire Tri-Lakes community and include requests from police and fire departments, schools, and nonprofit and public service organizations.
Palmer Lake film series combines movies, discussion
Life, Meaning & Videotape (LM&VT), a movie-based dialogue program, returns to Palmer Lake with another movie in the series on May 13 at 5 p.m. The series is entitled The Mythology of War and the Roots of Violence in the Psyche and, according to program host and facilitator Paul Burke, is intended to "stimulate community dialogue about the origins of war in our psyches, the costs, and the benefits." Movies are selected that highlight this theme. He emphasized that the series is not a referendum on the Iraq War or any particular war; it is about better understanding war as a cultural phenomenon.
Movies are also scheduled for May 20, 25, and June 1. A special military panel dialogue is planned for July 3 to conclude the series. All events are free and held in the Palmer Lake Town Hall, across from the library.
The LM&VT program, now in its third year at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs, debuted in Palmer Lake on April 23 with a showing of the movie Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media.
The local program is produced by five Palmer Lake citizens who decided to create a forum in which Palmer Lake and Monument residents could "safely and sanely talk about the thorny and vital issues that seem to divide us." The series is sponsored by individual, business, and government contributions, including a grant from the Palmer Lake Parks and Recreation Department.
According to Burke, a Vietnam veteran, the program is intended to support personal growth and expansion. "The movie is used as a medium for connecting viewers with their feelings and other parts of themselves and with other people in what seems to be a universal search for meaning in life," he says. The one-to-two-hour dialogue afterward presents an opportunity for the audience to reflect on their experiences.
"It’s not a debate and it’s not about attacking and defending positions," he points out, "but about hearing and being heard, about the thoughtful, respectful sharing of beliefs, experiences, thoughts and aspirations." In fact, he says, it is about raising questions more than it is about getting answers. In hearing each other and being heard, he said, "we may all broaden, expand, and grow."
Information about the program and the movies in the series can be obtained at the Palmer Lake Branch Library (481-2587) or from Dan Fraley (481-3086 or email@example.com).
A new home for Tri-Lakes Cares
After more than three years in very cramped temporary quarters and many thousands of dollars in fundraising, Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) is ready to begin construction of its new building. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place May 7 at 1 p.m. at 235 N. Jefferson St. TLC is a community-based nonprofit agency serving the Tri-Lakes area in northern El Paso County that improves people’s lives by providing food, emergency financial assistance, and other social services.
Numerous organizations, businesses, and individuals helped to raise money for TLC’s new home. Pikes Peak Acura donated a brand new Acura RXS that the Monument Hill Sertoma group raffled, raising $35,885. The Monument 125th Birthday Celebration Committee raised over $20,000. People’s Bank held a gala fundraiser for Tri-Lakes Cares and matched $10,000 in donations. Tri-Lakes Cruisers, with their Father’s Day Classic Car Show, raised $3,500. Home Depot contributed $5,000 as a part of their Grand Opening.
A much of the supplies and labor for the project will be donated, with Barnes Architects doing the design and The Timberstone Group doing the general contracting. The building donations continue with Ferris Engineering, Michael Orsillo, Westwork Engineering, Elephant Rock Survey, the Town of Monument (which will waive impact fees), and The Family of Christ Lutheran Church, which will provide an on-site manager and labor team.
TLC’s building will be a community resource center housing its current food pantry and resuming its "help yourself" clothing program. The new facility will be shared with the Health Advocacy Partnership and a new organization that will become a service arm for TLC and the community. The jobs program will include a "wardrobe to work" program and job mentoring. Education programs for wellness, budgeting, parenting, and other general outreach services will also be available.
For more information contact Ginny Peek at 488-1894.
Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore:Happy New Mother’s Day
By Judith Pettibone
Although it seems a blink ago, I still remember the thrill of "nap cheeks" and the many challenges of having a new baby and parenting young children. The books I used 20 years ago, especially those by Penelope Leach, are still filled with wisdom, but there are also many new ones to share. So if you are a new, or almost new, mother, one or more of these books might be a perfect gift for youself. Or if you are about to become a grandmother, these might make a perfect first Mother’s Day gift for your daughter or daughter-in-law. It can be most comforting to have a wise book sitting on the bedside table.
What to Expect When You Are Expecting
Revised in 2002, this classic is "America’s bestselling pregnancy book" and deservedly so. Each of the nine months is divided into sections such as "What You May Be Feeling" or "What to Expect at This Month’s Check Up," accompanied by excellent illustrations. In this edition, there is a new section on working mothers and an expanded chapter for fathers-to-be. If you depend on this book for your pregnancy, you may feel comforted that you can graduate to What to Expect: The Toddler Years, filled with comforting and wise information for this roller coaster period of childhood development. Beginning during the child’s 13th month and traveling with you until age 3, this book covers physical and emotional development and answers all those universal questions—paramount among them: "Is this normal?"
The Twelve Gifts of Birth
This beautiful keepsake book wins the favorite birth gift "contest" at Covered Treasures. It celebrates all the gifts a child should receive at birth, such as strength, compassion, and wisdom, and how these attributes can be nurtured in each of us. Writing this book for her daughters, Costanzo hopes that by focusing on these inherent gifts, we can encourage them to develop in all children, starting with our own.
This is my personal favorite "welcome to our world" baby gift. The cover is illustrated with two dozen of the dearest infants in all colors and postures. These babies morph into larger editions of themselves in the subsequent pages, causing those "ooohs" that come from seeing an adorable baby. The text is charming and celebrates the wonders of babies and families of all stripes. Here is the first page: "Every day, everywhere babies are born–fat babies, thin babies, small babies, tall babies, winter and spring babies, summer and fall babies and then … Everyday, every where, babies are kissed." It continues joyfully.
The Little Big Book for Moms
This charming series of books, in an appealing square shape of 6-by-6 inches, is a perfect Mother’s Day gift, whether this is a first or a subsequent baby. This volume is filled to the brim with fairy tales, poetry, nursery rhymes, songs, stories, activities, and finger games. The gorgeous illustrations from the early 20th century, by such artists as Jessie Willcox Smith and Maxfield Parrish, make the text come alive in a vibrant way. The contributors are both classic authors such as A.A. Milne and contemporary ones such as Anne Lamott. This book has the potential to become a dog-eared treasure.
Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood
From one-half of the Cline and Fay team who brought us Parenting with Love and Logic and Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, this book hones in on the younger years with the same love and logic concepts of the original series. Wondering how you can raise young children so they will grow into responsible teens? Of course you are. The philosophy is to make it simple, easy to remember, and, above all, practical. The battlegrounds of temper tantrums, bedtime battles, sibling rivalry, and general misbehavior all have good, sound solutions in this book. With the idea that the earlier you begin, the more fun parenting will and can be, this is a good choice for parents in those early years.
The No Cry Sleep Solution
Okay, so we all know that sleep problems are the number-one issue for new mothers. We measure our days by how our nights unfolded. So what better book for those first months than one that promotes healthy sleep patterns in babies? This book will help you analyze your infant’s sleep patterns and offers a variety of helpful solutions, no matter what your parenting style. Who wouldn’t think this sounds positive? From The Infant-Parent Institute: this book "offers a marvelous balance between acknowledging the meaningfulness of infant crying and recognizing the reality of parents’ exhaustion."
How to Survive Your Baby’s First Year
By the group that brought us the wisdom-packed How To Survive Your Freshman Year, this book—casually designed, but packed with great hints—is bound to please. Pick it up for five minutes, read from cover to cover, or use as a reference book; it works all ways. Chapters on diapering, the fourth trimester, sleep, crying, and getting out, to name a few, make this book a great addition to a new mom’s library of "getting through with grace" books.
From wonderful writer Anne Lamott—Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies and her latest Plan B—comes this baby memoir. She is not only a terrific writer, she is also a keen observer of the world and of her own place in it. Lots to observe, one might add, as she was a single mother and sole breadwinner during the time of this memoir. With so much on her plate, one could forgive her for not paying as much attention. But as a testament to her skills, she shares this year with a wit and honesty that will touch you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all new or about-to-be new mothers! And a nod to all the rest of us for whom mothering remains one of our proudest and most challenging undertakings. Until next month, when we will shift our focus to the other half of parenting, happy reading!
High Country Highlights:Springtime in the Tri-Lakes region
By Woody Woodworth
The recent spring snows have helped to create perfect growing conditions for wildflower and grass seed. Planting seed under about a quarter inch of topsoil will greatly improve the chances of germination. Covering seed not only keeps the seed moist during germination, but it also helps reduce consumption by birds and rodents. Try to keep the newly planted seed moist throughout germination.
Ornamental grasses should be cut back now to promote good growth. At our elevation, nighttime temperatures can still be near freezing, so as you see your perennials pop out of the ground, be sure to not uncover them totally. Add a light forest mulch or Soil Pep to hold moisture and heat in the ground. Daytime air temperatures were higher the last couple of weeks, making the soil temperatures a bit warmer, too.
You may notice the lilacs, honeysuckle, and other shrubs budding and many trees too. Be sure to start fertilizing lawns, hardy perennials, shrubs, and trees to promote healthy growth. When plants are growing vigorously, they are more resistant to insects and disease. Use a slow-release nitrogen for the lawn and time-release for the shrubs, trees, and perennials. Use phosphate or bone meal to promote flowers on iris and lilac.
Boring insects will be flying soon, and they will be invading your evergreen trees. Liquid Sevin can be used as a preventive measure. Mix four tablespoons per gallon, and spray to gently wet the tree branches and trunk. Start in early May and repeat this process every two or three weeks through June. Also, now is the time to mix Volk Oil and dormant oil in a spray to help prevent black spot on aspen trees. You can spray until the leaf buds are swelled, but it’s too late if the buds have opened into leaves. If you want to treat later, use a systemic fungicide made for ornamental trees.
Add more composted material to gardens by using a blend of sheep, peat, and compost or cow manure. Be sure to use "weed free" products to ensure you aren’t picking weeds all spring and summer. Dig the compost in and around perennials, shrubs, and trees. Add a couple inches of new topsoil and compost to annual planting beds and till it in four to five inches deep.
Clean out pots with water and a stiff brush. Buy some new potting soil and be sure to use a time-release fertilizer that will last all growing season. Our favorite is the Sunshine’s Proven Winners brand. It work well, is easy to apply, and is inexpensive.
Start your perennials, shrubs, and trees on a regular watering schedule. Observe your local water restrictions and try to water deep and less often. Your plants will develop more drought tolerance as their root system grows deeper into the soil. Set sprinkler zones to the correct timing, to ensure you are not overwatering turf grasses and perennial gardens. If you are unclear on how much you should water, seek advice from your local garden center.
Plant onion sets, potatoes, asparagus root, and rhubarb root now. Pansies, aspens, and most trees and shrubs are available and ready to plant. It’s springtime in the Tri-Lakes region. Have a happy planting season.
Woody Woodworth owns High Country Store and is a member of Garden Centers of Colorado and the Green Industry.
Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide:Western Tanager
Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of a Western Tanager.
Click here or on the drawing to zoom in
By Elizabeth Hacker
The migratory birds of spring continue to arrive on the Palmer Divide despite our spring snowstorms. Robins are rooting in the soil for worms, the jays are building nests, the flickers are pounding away on our chimney flues signaling their availability to a potential mate, and the western tanagers are back for their brief stay. Yes, spring has finally arrived!
In spring and summer, we are fortunate to have a few brilliantly colored songbirds, and the western tanager is one such species. Northernmost of the 242 species of tanagers, the western tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) is a common inhabitant of the mature coniferous forests of Colorado. The western tanager migrates here in the spring and summer months to breed, and their colors are the most vibrant in May and June when they are in search of a mate. The male has a bright red head, pale yellow wing bars on black wings, a dark tail, and a striking greenish-yellow underbelly and rump. As usual in most birds, the female coloring is more subdued than that of the male. They are approximately 7 inches long, about the size of a bluebird.
While western tanagers are common throughout much of the West, they are difficult to spot because they generally feed and nest high in the forest canopy. As a rule, they are elusive and are not attracted to backyard feeders or birdbaths. Birdwatchers are often surprised at how difficult it is to spot this bird despite its colorful plumage.
I still remember the first time I spotted one on the Santa Fe Trail. At first, I caught only a glimpse of it as it moved swiftly from tree to tree, and I thought it was a gold finch. But because its behavior and flight pattern was not typical of a finch, I looked more closely. Bingo, that’s when I saw the red head! Nothing is more amazing to a birdwatcher than to spot a bird for the first time. The striking colors of the western tanager set against the background of Ben Lomond Mountain’s ponderosa forest were truly awe-inspiring. Since that initial sighting, I have observed them in greater numbers on the trails at the Air Force Academy in late June when they are busy foraging to feed their young.
Western tanagers are primarily insectivores but also consume fruits such as elderberry and serviceberry. Their bright coloration is derived from the carotenoid pigments contained in insects and fruits.
The male western tanager attracts a mate by singing a repetitive song similar in sound to a robin. After finding a mate, the pair will build a shallow saucer-shaped nest in the sheltered branches of a pine or fir tree. The nest is compact, made of small twigs and lined with animal fur or fine grasses. The nests are typically found in the upper branches about 40 feet from the ground. The female lays three to five blue eggs with brown specks. The female incubates the eggs for about 13 days. Both sexes cooperate in feeding the nestlings until they fledge at between 13 to 15 days.
It is believed that western tanagers have a single brood but they have been observed here until mid-September, so it is possible that they could have two broods. The families break up after the breeding season and begin their long southern migration to Mexico and Central America.
In the coming months, I will feature a few more of the colorful migratory songbirds found along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. So grab your binoculars to find these relatively common, yet sometimes elusive, beautiful birds!
Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer. Please send your comments and bird finds to firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Matters:Art is the fountain of youth
Below: Local students won top awards for the 2005 Colorado State Competition of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest. The awards ceremony will be held May 7 at Monument Library, and the whole community is welcome to attend. Students are shown holding their winning artworks. Back row, left to right: Maria Finger (her duck image was not on hand at time of photo) Tyler Ciccolella, Nick Campbell, Kelly Hanes, Brent Schwarz; Front row, left to right: Katie Boylen, Liesl Zimmerman, Lindsey Schwarz, Nikki Hamlin, Megan Stevens. Not shown is Tristan Moore. Photo by Janet Sellers.
By Janet Sellers
As parents, we understand the importance and benefits of the arts for our children. Many studies tell us the arts improve learning, memory, problem solving, and special thinking skills. We know art is stimulating, activating, and good for our kids and where we live. When arts programs come into communities, invariably, crime goes down and prosperity goes up. What is it in art that is so good for our kids? And what about the rest of us? Good news: art matters for everybody, and we’re never too old for its benefits, either.
To get you on your personal art path, I’ve gathered some health-giving, affordable, and virtually necessary luxuries in art and events. How about taking in a local art gallery, or join our local Art Hop (nineteen local art venues included). For that matter, joining a leisure learning class is a proven way for all ages to stay at their peak, refresh, and revive the spirit. People come from all over the planet every summer season to enjoy what we have in our community.
Not to be missed
You can meet the world right here–Take in these ongoing creativity events:
Calls for Entries
I look forward to seeing you at the art events, and encourage you to try a class or join an art show. It can make for an enriching experience this summer.
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
Special Events and Notices
By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
NOTE: For arts-related events see the Art Matters column.
The bears have been hibernating for the past few months, but are now out again–and hungry. The Palmer Lake Police Department has received its first bear calls of the year. There are local and state ordinances that fine homeowners for failure to remove bear attractants. Bears are creatures of habit and once successful, they will return time and time again until they are deprived of that food source. Longtime residents are encouraged to inform their newer neighbors about proper trash-handling techniques. Here are some tips:
Developer to present plans for Home Place Ranch
On Thursday, May 12, 6:30 p.m. at the Lewis-Palmer High School Lecture Hall, Colorado Commercial Builders will present its plans to develop the approximately 400 acres Higby/Beck property on the south side of Higby Road near Fairplay. Info: 264-6955.
Monument’s farmers’ market returns
The farmers’ market starts its season on May 14, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Big Red, the D-38 administration building at the corner of Jefferson and 2nd Street. It will be held every Saturday and the first and third Sundays each month, which will include Fathers’ Day. In addition to fruits and vegetables, there will be a bakery, music, a food court, crafts, plants, garden supplies and accessories, and furniture. More than 100 vendors will participate! For information call Diana, 213-3323.
Gleneagle Spirit 5k Fun Run/Walk
A Fun Run/Walk through Gleneagle is planned for May 14, 8 a.m. to noon, with medals awarded for the top three finishers in many age classes. The race will begin at the Gleneagle Golf Club, 345 Mission Hills Way, and end at Antelope Trails Elementary School, 15280 Jessie Dr. A pasta dinner for participants prepared by Whole Foods Market will follow the race. The event offers fun for the whole family, with putting practice, live music by the band Monument Hill, interactive vendor booths including massages, and a display of Donald Wescott Fire Department fire trucks. Proceeds will benefit Boy Scout Troop 194. For preregistration and information, call Mark Rudolph at 492-3974.
Free career counseling
Peggy Swager, author of Conquering Today’s Changing Job Market, will be at Covered Treasures Bookstore, located in downtown Monument at the corner of 2nd and Washington, on May 19 at 5:30 p.m. She will offer free resume critiques and career counseling. For more information, contact Covered Treasures, 481-2665.
Kids Fishing Derby returns to Palmer Lake
The Kids Fishing Derby is a popular annual event at Palmer Lake, drawing huge crowds from all over the region. This year, it’s planned for June 4, from 8 a.m. until noon. As always, there will be fun events and lots of prizes. Advance tickets can be purchased at many local merchants. All children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your own bait if you can; salmon eggs and worms are recommended. For information, call the chamber of commerce, 481-3282.
Fishing Derby needs volunteers
People are needed to help with the following.
For more information, contact Greg Cook, email@example.com, or phone the chamber of commerce, 481-3282.
Xeriscape garden tours
The Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. and Colorado WaterWise Council will sponsor Xeriscape garden tours in Denver June 11 & 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Boulder June 25 & 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and in Colorado Springs July 9 & 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This fifth annual series of tours will demonstrate water conservation principles in the home landscape. The tour for each city includes six successful private gardens with ideas to help your garden and landscape survive Colorado’s dry conditions. Hostesses and expert gardeners will be on hand at each tour stop to answer questions and help guide the guest through Xeriscape principles and ideas. Plants will be labeled, and, in many cases, the homeowner will be on hand to answer questions. Xeriscape resource guides and garden information sheets will be available at each tour garden.
Tickets are $15 per person/per city. This is a tax-deductible contribution to Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable organization. Tickets are available at all Front Range King Soopers as well as onsite the date of the tours. Your ticket gives you access to six private gardens and a featured speaker. More information is available at the federation’s Web site, www.coloradogardenclubs.org.
Antelope Trails team wins first place
The Supersonics team from Antelope Trails Elementary, School District 20, won first place in the regional Destination Imagination competition in the Dizzy Derby category. The team, consisting of third and fourth graders, designed and built a motorized vehicle, which they presented in a multicultural skit. The competition was held on April 9, at Pine Creek High School. Sixteen teams entered the Dizzy Derby competition.
Supersonics team members are Lawson Barney, Daniel Bricker, Hannah Brigger, Chase Hawthorne, Patrick Perry, Prakhar Singal, and Rachel Wertheimer. The team’s efforts were guided by coaches Pam and Billy MacPerry. The team was scheduled to compete in the state Destination Imagination competition in Denver on April 30.
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