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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 10 - October 7, 2006

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Plans for second high school presented

Click here or on the graphics to zoom in and view additional drawings and photos

Click here  to zoom in and view additional drawings and photos

Above: Preliminary site plan for the second high school.

Below: Assistant Superintendent Ray Blanch responds to questions at the Lewis Palmer District Accountability Advisory Committee meeting September 28. Photo by John Heiser

Click here  to zoom in and view additional drawings and photos

By John Heiser

At the Sept. 28 meeting sponsored by the Lewis-Palmer District 38 District Accountability Committee, School Board President Jes Raintree, Assistant Superintendent Ray Blanch, Chad Novak and Kent Freed from H+L Architecture, Chris Sheffer from the district’s traffic engineering firm Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, and district bond advisor Terry Casey presented the status of planning for building a high school on the Hunter Run Property. The site consists of 69 acres bordered by Woodmoor Drive on the southeast, Monument Hill Road on the west, and Misty Acres Boulevard on the northwest. The audience, estimated at about 100 residents, was asked to submit their questions in writing. Blanch sorted and summarized the questions. Some in the audience complained that their questions were revised or ignored.

The presentation is posted at www.lewispalmer.org/media/EDocs/LPSD_News_Release_Second_High_School_Information_Agenda.pdf

Some highlights of the presentation and responses to questions:

  • Raintree reported that the Lewis-Palmer High School infrastructure was originally designed for 1,400 students and then expanded in 1996-97 to 1,700 students. By adding portable units since then, the capacity has been further expanded to 1,920 students. Enrollment has grown from 1,406 in 2001 to 1,920 in August 2006. Raintree added that there are presently 1,925 students attending the high school. She noted that some of the hallways remain sized for 1,400, which has created a problem for students moving between classes.

  • Raintree reported that the district has closed on two of the properties, with the closing on a third property scheduled for next week. In a Sept. 27 press release, the district announced that the 40-acre agricultural property formerly owned by Sami and Nadia Rizkallah was purchased for $2.001 million and two properties zoned for office complex development of 10 acres and 11.9 acres were purchased for a total of $3.13 million from Monument Gateway Investments. Casey said that in the event ballot measure 3D does not pass, the high school cannot be constructed but the land would still be an asset owned by the district. In response to a suggestion that the district might use the money from the ballot measure to build a high school on the Wissler property, Raintree cited the wording of the District 38 board’s resolution that put the measures on the ballot, the $5 million purchase of the land, and the amount of effort being invested in planning for construction on the site.

  • Raintree presented the ballot measures. The first ballot initiative, Question 3D, a mill levy override, would impose a permanent property tax increase of about $2 million per year. That tax, if approved, would begin in 2008 and could only be used to pay for operation and maintenance costs for the second high school.

  • The second ballot initiative, Question 3E, would authorize $57 million in new bond debt. The maximum net effective interest rate the district can pay to purchasers of these bonds is 6.5 percent. The maximum amount that can be paid by the district toward principal and interest is $112.4 million. The maximum annual tax revenue that can be collected is $5.005 million. If the ballot measure is approved, the district may increase the mill levy "in any year, without limitation of rate and in an amount sufficient to pay the principal of, premium if any, and interest on such debt or any refunding debt (or to create a reserve for such payment)," where the premium cannot exceed 3 percent. The proceeds of these bonds can be used "for the purpose of (1) acquiring, constructing or purchasing buildings and grounds, (2) enlarging, improving, remodeling, repairing, and making additions to school buildings, (3) constructing or erecting school buildings; and (4) equipping or furnishing school buildings, including but not limited to the following: Building a second high school in the district and making improvements to Lewis-Palmer High School."

  • Casey said that if ballot measures 3C and 3D pass, the additional annual property tax bill on a hypothetical house valued at $315,000, the average market value of houses in the district, in 2007 compared to 2006 would be $26 and in 2008 compared to 2006 would be $35. In response to questions, he estimated that if the ballot measures do not pass, the annual property tax on that hypothetical house would decline about $100 due to retirement of district debt and other factors. He added that the $57 million in bonds specified in 3D is the current remaining bonding capacity of the district. Casey noted that depending on the future growth rate of the district, the bonds might have to be issued incrementally. He noted that other local school districts including Academy District 20 are in a similar situation.

  • Blanch said that of the $57 million in 3D, $5 million is intended for use in improvements to Lewis-Palmer High School and $52 million is currently designated for construction of the second high school. He noted that the district is currently soliciting bids from general contractors for the project and they may encounter construction problems that would increase costs so the allocation of the funds is subject to change.

  • Novak and Freed reviewed the architectural design. They prefaced their remarks by saying that they have been working on the design "about six or seven weeks" and that their plans are "a long way from completion." The main school buildings would consist of three connected structures arranged down the sloped, irregularly shaped northern 29 acres. Novak said a goal is to capitalize on the beauty of the site and to fit the buildings into the terrain. Visitor and staff parking would also be on the northern part of the site. Student parking and sports fields would be on the southern rectangular 40-acre portion. Freed said much of the southern property would have to be leveled for use as parking lots and sports fields. He said the trees on that portion might be moved. Blanch said the new stadium would be state-of-the-art but would not be equipped with lights. He noted that the stadium at Lewis-Palmer High School would be upgraded for use as a district-wide facility for night games. In response to questions about fumes and noise from I-25 affecting the school site, Blanch said there are applicable state and federal regulations.

  • Freed said access to student parking would be from Monument Hill Road. Bus, faculty, staff, and service access would be from Misty Acres Boulevard, which is to be constructed by the Misty Acres developer. The only currently planned connection from the site to Woodmoor Drive would be a restricted access for emergency vehicles to transport injured athletes from the sports fields. He added that a third access point to the site is being sought. Blanch noted that Lewis-Palmer High School really has just one access with a second one planned for Jackson Creek Parkway in conjunction with construction of the YMCA.

  • Sheffer presented current and projected traffic counts and said he is scheduled to complete the traffic study including a list of recommended road improvements in two to three weeks. He noted that El Paso County has a project to improve County Line Road from I-25 to Furrow Road and the Misty Acres developer will rework the north end of Monument Hill Road to connect to Misty Acres Boulevard instead of its current connection to County Line Road. He also said he may recommend lowering the speed limit on Monument Hill Road, adding a guard rail between Monument Hill Road and I-25, and installing a signal light at Monument Hill Road and Woodmoor Drive. He said he had not yet identified any improvements needed at Woodmoor Drive and Highway 105.

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The Lewis-Palmer District Accountability Committee normally meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m. October 10. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board, September 21: Blanch named assistant superintendent, heads second high school project

Below: (L to R): Sue Huismann, Kathy Wilcox, Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) Principal Julie Jadomski, Codi Inloes Williams, Quinn Tirpak, and Jes Raintree. At the far right are board members Gail Wilson and Dee Dee Eaton. Williams and Tirpak expressed appreciation for the work Huismann and Wilcox did over the summer improving the playground at PLES. Photo by John Heiser

Click here or on the photo to zoom in, view an additional photo and read Tirpak's statement.

Click here to zoom in, view an additional photo and read Tirpak's statement.

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting Sept. 21, the board unanimously voted to promote Ray Blanch to be assistant superintendent. This was in response to Superintendent Michael Pomarico’s recommendation as part of his Phase III restructuring of the central administration office. The board also unanimously approved the closing documents for purchase of the 69-acre Hunter Run Farm second high school site between Woodmoor Drive and Monument Hill Road. Blanch is heading the project to build a high school on that site.

Blanch presented the first of his monthly reports on the status of the second high school project. He explained that although the ballot questions must pass Nov. 7 in order to construct the second high school, design work on the 235,000-square-foot facility is being done now to meet the fall 2008 target for opening the school. He reported that H+L has been selected as the architectural firm, and requests for proposals have been issued to select a general contractor.

Blanch said the project is on track with anticipated closing on all 69 acres by Oct. 15. He noted that construction costs are increasing 1 to 1.5 percent per month so the district is working to complete the project as soon as possible.

Several district residents spoke in favor of ballot question 3C. It would authorize a temporary one-mill tax increase for 10 years for "the capital construction needs of Monument Academy, a charter school within the district, including but not limited to land acquisition, building design and construction, incidental and appurtenant facilities, equipment and other costs necessary for the occupancy by pupils to be enrolled in Monument Academy." The revenue raised in the first year would be a maximum of $362,000.

In voicing her support for 3C, Sonja Cantlebary noted that the Monument Academy is tuition-free and serves more than 12 percent of the students in the Lewis-Palmer school district. Michelle Bell urged approval of 3C and expressed disappointment that the District 38 board does not currently provide more funding to the Monument Academy.

Board President Jes Raintree responded that state laws affect how the District 38 board and the Monument Academy board work together.

Board members encouraged everyone to become educated about the second high school project and the ballot questions and to vote.

The board addressed a number of other topics including:

  • Commendations – Palmer Lake Elementary School students Quinn Tirpak and Codi Inloes Williams read statements thanking Sue Huismann and Kathy Wilcox for their work during the summer improving the school’s playground.

  • Five Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) students on Colorado Springs Mayor’s 100 Teens list – Each spring, the community nominates students in grades nine through 11 who have demonstrated a commitment to serving others, who have overcome adversity or unique obstacles in their lives, who have achieved something significant, and who set good examples and are positive role models but who are not teens who routinely receive recognition. This year, LPHS students Kyla Maletsky, Kelsey McIntosh, Kalyn Peterson, Anika Pyle, and Micah Wollenberg were among those on the list. Raintree read the list of accomplishments of each of these teens. Complete information on their individual achievements is available online at www.springsgov.com/Page.asp?NavID=5287.

  • New Central Office Directors – The Board approved the employment of Deb Chittenden as director of professional development and Dr. Susan Adams as director of program implementation and evaluation. These new positions in the Learning Services department are under the direction of Dr. Keith Jacobus. Chittenden and Adams will join Dr. Marie Revak, who was previously named the new director of assessment in the Learning Services department.

  • Annual School District Budget adjusted – The board approved budget adjustments presented by Cheryl Wangeman, chief financial officer. At the meeting, Wangeman was designated assistant treasurer of the district, a title traditionally given to the head administrator of finance in order for that person to assist the Board with certain financial responsibilities.

  • District-wide Communication Plan approved – The Board approved a District Communication Plan presented by Public Information Officer Donna Wood. The plan is intended to improve communications with the community.

  • Charge to Facilities and Enrollment Committee amended – The Board approved amending the charge for the Facilities and Enrollment Committee (FEC) to add responsibility for oversight of expenditures of bond and mill levy proceeds. This is intended to provide an additional level of accountability regarding the utilization of these funds. The Board directed the superintendent to work with the FEC and the finance department to establish procedures to implement this change.

  • LPHS Student Council – Student Body President Rob Shearer reported that Monday would be the beginning of Homecoming Week. He added that the student council is also working on the annual Harvest of Love food drive and the Drive Smart program.

  • District Accountability Advisory Committee – Becky Yoder reported on the first DAAC meeting of the year and noted it was well attended. The committee heard a presentation on the election questions and Betty Hutchinson presented the roles of Building Accountability Advisory Committee and the DAAC. The committee also reviewed the Board’s Charge to the DAAC for 2006-07.

  • Lewis-Palmer Education Foundation – Raintree explained the makeup of the Foundation and reported that its purpose is to support education and District 38 students. She said the trustees plan to meet two or three times per year, rather than annually as in the past, and to focus on being more active in the district. She said they want to hold a fund-raising event and do more to support students.

  • Ad Hoc Land Committee – Raintree reported that this committee is working on its objective to collect all information regarding district land holdings, acquisition, fees in-lieu-of land, etc., in a central location and to create a system to report to the FEC and the Board. She said a final report will be made to the board in November.

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The District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 19. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. Meeting highlights from the Web site were used in preparing this article.

Wording of ballot question 3C is posted on the Monument Academy Web site: www.monumentacademy.net.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Special Meeting and Workshop, September 7: Council considers using capped well to fill lake

By Jim Kendrick

Mayor Max Parker announced a November ballot question for a new mill levy to use water from the town’s currently capped D-3 well to fill and maintain the level of Palmer Lake.

The board reviewed two requests for vacation and replat of residential lots and a request to build a house in the Pinecrest subdivision.

Representatives of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 presented information on the district’s November ballot issues for a mill levy override for increased operations and maintenance funding and a bond issue for construction of a second high school.

Trustee Allen was absent.

Alternative proposal for filling Palmer Lake

Because the final language of the ballot initiative had to be submitted by Sept. 8, the council was required to take a formal vote in a special meeting prior to the workshop session rather than wait until the regular council meeting on Sept. 14. Parker noted that the issue will continue to be discussed at council meetings to field citizen questions until the Nov. 7 election.

Parker noted that the town’s D-3 well, which cost about $288,000, had never been used by the town’s water system after it was drilled. When completed and tested, the maximum production was 60 gallons per minute. Parker said that engineering estimates for installing two water lines for alternative uses of the well would cost roughly $400,000. The main line would be used to fill and maintain the level of Palmer Lake with untreated groundwater "as a mid-term solution." The town’s Awake the Lake Committee had proposed drilling a new agricultural well near or in Palmer Lake for this purpose. The secondary line would be used to provide augmentation water in Monument Creek to replace any surface water redirected upstream to other town uses, such as filling the lake.

The maximum debt authorized by the ballot initiative is $450,000 to conservatively provide for estimated installation costs and unforeseen contingencies. The maximum repayment authorized to cover principal and interest in the first year is $611,496 based on a maximum allowable net effective interest rate of 6.25 percent per annum for a maximum of 10 years. The maximum tax revenue to be raised in the first year is $61,149, based on the current assessment of the town’s real property subject to the proposed mill levy of 2.477 mills for the proposed bond issue. The mill levy for the town’s general fund is currently 9.689 mills. The mill levy for the town’s other bond debt, which expires in 2016, is currently 6.481 mills. If the initiative passes, the total mill levy would be 18.647 mills.

Parker said that a 1988 town bond issue will be paid off at the end of 2006. For a house in Palmer Lake with an assessed market value of $100,000, the total for 2005 would have been $151.80. The proposed new debt for the lake would result in a tax of $148.43 in 2006, $3.37 less, if this ballot initiative is approved. The comparable tax figures for $100,000 of commercial property are $553.03 for 2005 and $540.76 for 2006, which is $12.27 less.

Without artificially adding water to the lake in the past 15 months, the current level is about the same as it was in the spring of 2005—before it was partially filled with dechlorinated drinking water from the town’s D-2 well. The D-2 well is the primary source of town drinking water when flows in upper Monument Creek dry up and the surface water stored in the town’s reservoirs is depleted. The drinking water used to temporarily fill the lake in 2005 had to be dechlorinated to avoid killing plants, fish, and other aquatic life.

Pumping was terminated in 2005 when the D-2 well ran dry before the temporary permit for filling the lake expired. Expensive repairs of the D-2 pump were required as well as cleaning of the pump’s screens that were clogged by sand infiltration. A lengthy suspension of D-2 operations was also required to allow the well to recharge. Due to relatively high precipitation and limited lawn watering since then, the town has been able to meet the drinking water demand with its surface water supply from Monument Creek.

Parker said that another method for filling the lake was needed. "That was a very short-term fix kind of fix and because of the issues with the D-2 well, we’re not willing to continue doing that. There are long-term issues with regard to water and storage rights in the lake which I think bear serious consideration, so this is really intended to be more of a mid-term solution to getting water into the lake and bringing it back to viability."

Parker said that filling the lake is essential to restoring the town’s namesake to attract more business and tourism, to providing income for owners and residents, to providing sales tax revenue for the town. Parker noted that some operational costs, such as electricity for intermittent pump operations, still needed to be estimated.

Parker also said that a consultant engineering report indicated that this proposal to use untreated D-3 water was preferable to the Awake the Lake Committee’s proposal to drill a new agricultural well next to or in the lake to restore and maintain the level due to the potential adverse impact on the town’s existing nearby drinking water wells.

He read a letter from Trustee Richard Allen to the council. Allen wrote that he considered filling the lake to be one of the top two or three issues facing the council and if he could have been present, he would have voted for this ballot initiative for "bringing the lake back from the edge of disaster." Allen urged support for the referendum from the trustees and the town’s citizens.

Economic Development Trustee Susan Miner asked Water Trustee Jim Girlando to determine how much cheaper it would be to use untreated ground water rather than pay for treating and dechlorinating municipal drinking water, as was done in the summer of 2005.

Trustee Trudy Finan emphasized that the purpose of the ballot initiative is to re-fill the lake, then sustain that level in a cost effective manner to continuously offset evaporation as well as natural seepage losses.

Public comment: Resident Judy Harrington said she was in favor of the ballot initiative, but expressed concerns about rumors that the lake can no longer hold water after being dredged and increasing seepage out of the lake into the ground. She asked if the size of the proposed bond issue should be increased to cover installation of a liner to seal the lake bottom.

Parker noted that the proceeds of the bond could also be used for "other such improvements as are necessary." Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said that there would not be enough money for a lake bottom liner at the $450,000 cap, but that the slightly higher cap "provides some wiggle room" for other unexpected costs. He added that this cap was chosen to ensure that taxes didn’t increase by creating new debt at the same time some of the town’s current debt is paid off.

Parker also said that the town would not spend all of the $450,000 if possible because there was a slight chance that projected revenues might not turn out to be as high as predicted.

Awake the Lake Committee spokesman Jeff Hulsmann said he was "very comfortable with the engineer’s report" on the D-3 well proposal. In response to Harrington, he said studies have shown that water seeps out of the lake during droughts and into the lake during wet periods. Also, there is more seepage at the higher levels along the shoreline due to a different soil composition than in the lower levels of the lake bed. He said holding water in the lake is not an issue in the long term; the problem is to find a reliable way to replace water that evaporates naturally or seeps out.

After further lengthy discussion about the history of the Awake the Lake Committee and filling the lake in 2005, Miner and Parker noted that it would be unlikely for the town to win state and county grants for economic and park development if the lake could not be filled and sustained. Parker added that additional information would be provided to citizens as soon as studies and estimates are completed, prior to Nov. 7.

Gaddis suggested modifying the "other purposes" clause to "other lake revitalization improvements as necessary" so that no bond proceeds could be used for any other unrelated purposes, to increase voter confidence about how the money would be used. He also noted that $450,000 was the maximum bond issue that could be supported without having a higher total mill levy in 2007. The ballot initiative, with Gaddis’ proposed amendment, was unanimously approved.

Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department sales tax initiative

The council unanimously approved a Nov. 7 ballot initiative for a temporary 10-year half-cent sales tax to raise revenue for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. The revenue raised, approximately $75,000 per year, would be used solely to repay department debt and hire department personnel. This proposal was defeated in April by only six votes (164-170), though an identical temporary 10-year half-cent sales tax for the town’s Police Department was approved by only six votes (170-164.)

Workshop

Representatives from Lewis-Palmer School District 38 gave a 20-minute presentation on their Nov. 7 ballot issues, a bond issue for construction of a second high school and related improvements, and a related permanent mill levy override for operational costs for the new high school. (The article on page 1 includes the information that was given at several regional board meetings this month.)

New business license: The council unanimously approved a new business license for Dahlia Lopez to perform manicures and pedicures at the Imagine Salon, 755 Highway 105, Suite O. The new license was approved as a consent item for the regular council meeting on Sept. 14.

Parsons’ vacation and replat request: The council unanimously approved a replat of George Parsons’ two adjacent lots at 164 Shady Lane (lot 23) and 172 Shady Lane (lot 24.) The lot line separating these two properties was moved east so that it no longer goes through the house on Lot 23.

Parsons owns both lots and each has a house on it. He resides in the home and garage on Lot 23 which is 5,500 square feet. This home spans the common lot line and extends onto Lot 24 to the east, which is 10,935 square feet. The other house Parsons owns is on the east side of Lot 24, well away from the common boundary between these lots. Parsons’ request moves the lot line to about halfway between the two buildings. The proposed lot at 164 Shady Lane increases to 11,000 square feet and the other lot decreases to 5,435 square feet. All setback requirements would be met for both houses by this proposal.

Parsons also had previous approval for vacation of half of an unused 20-foot town right-of-way that Lot 24 overlapped to the east. The replat now accurately depicts the previously modified boundary of unused town right-of-way along the east side of Lot 24 and the incorrect appearance of encroachment onto this 10-foot-wide strip. Town Clerk Della Gray noted that Parsons’ final recorded replat drawing needed to be further amended to show when the strip of overlapped town right-of-way was vacated.

Request for change in Pinecrest Planned Unit Development: Thomas Patrick, with the support of the Pinecrest Homeowner’s Association, requested permission to build a single-family home and garage on vacant Lot 8 at the west end of Pinecrest Way. This 33,904-square-foot flag lot has an area suitable for building a home and garage, though a portion of the lot is steeply sloped. There are no issues regarding compliance with the town’s current or expected future hillside ordinance.

Patrick said that the county had asked him to raise the level of his basement and garage or move the house further away from the recently revised boundary of the floodplain through his lot. Patrick noted that Pikes Peak Regional Building’s floodplain coordinator Kevin Stillson told him that flood insurance might increase as much as 300 percent as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Trustee Gary Coleman, who is Patrick’s surveyor for this proposal, noted that the location of the floodplain had just recently been remapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and that Patrick had changed the design and location of the house to accommodate that FEMA revision. Patrick said Stillson had not yet gotten final FEMA approval of Patrick’s new proposed design and location with regard to the revised floodplain depictions and Stillson expected no problems getting that approval. The proposal was continued to the regular council meeting on Sept. 14.

O’Banion vacation and replat request: Susan O’Banion requested a vacation and replat of her property at 455 Clio Ave. Her proposal would divide the existing two lots into three lots. The existing single-family home to the west, at Clio and Virginia Avenue, would be on the new Lot 1. The existing garage in the center of O’Banion’s property would be on the new Lot 2, and the vacant land to the east would become Lot 3. O’Banion reported that "At some point I plan to purchase [water and sewer] taps and seek approval to convert the barn/garage into a home."

At the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 16, Vice Chairman Trombley reminded O’Banion of the commission’s notice to her at the Aug. 9 workshop meeting that she would have to get Board of Adjustment approval of variances for the current house and garage that were in violation of the zoned setbacks when she bought the property, if she ever wanted to sell either of them. He also noted that making the new vacant Lot 3 so small would also make it hard to meet current setback requirements if she or a buyer tried to construct a building and that she would be creating her own hardship.

Correction: The first sentence of a "letter of intent" dated Sept. 7 that Susan O’Banion submitted to the council states, "This letter is intended to clarify and elaborate on my intent for the property at 455 Clio Ave. as well as to amend incorrect information printed in the Our Community News paper."

Her letter of intent also states "After the Planning Commission meeting, Our Community News reported that I ‘had no plans to sell any of the three proposed properties and had no plans to build on the proposed vacant lot 3.’" O’Banion’s letter states that the words regarding lot 3 should have stated that she "had no plans to build on or sell that lot at this time." (OCN regrets the error.)

Her letter to the council also states that at the Aug. 16 Planning Commission meeting "I was not asked what my plans were for the house on proposed Lot 1 – only for proposed Lot 3." Her letter added this new clarification, "It is my intention, however, to sell the house on proposed Lot 1 to finance the conversion of the garage/loft into a home for myself." Regarding Lot 3, the letter added that she wanted to "create the option to build a small home for myself or a family member in the future—an idea that may or may not occur — I already love the property as it is."

O’Banion first stated that she intended to sell the house on Lot 1 to finance conversion of the barn/garage loft into a home and was platting Lot 3 though she had no intent at this time to do anything with that lot. Parker said that her future plans had no bearing on the board’s consideration of or decision on her vacation and replat request.

The drawing for the replat shows that the western façade of the house on Lot 1 and the southern corner of the barn/garage on Lot 2 are too close to the adjacent lot lines to meet town setback requirements.

Trustee Coleman noted that O’Banion would need a third variance in the future from the town’s Board of Adjustments to be able to build a house on Lot 3, because of the small buildable area. There would be no "grandfathered" variance for the new vacant lot. O’Banion said she thought there would be room for a modest home such as an A-frame or cottage "and that wouldn’t happen for several years." She added that she didn’t plan to put a 6,000-square-foot house "on a postage stamp sized lot."

Gray said that O’Banion’s existing house and barn/garage would be "grandfathered" and granted automatic setback variances. Parker said that the council could suggest a waiver of the $200 Board of Adjustment fee. Gray said the waiver of the fee was the board’s decision, not the council’s.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, September 14: Tri-Lakes fire district cancels ambulance service

Web site exclusive - Below: Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phillip Beckman discusses proposal for improved ambulance services and cross-training of department EMT’s to be provided by Larkspur Fire Protection District now that Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District has cancelled their contract with the town. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council (PLTC) meeting was heavily attended by the town’s concerned volunteer firefighters who came to see how the council would respond to termination of the town’s ambulance contract by the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD.) Three representatives of the Larkspur Fire Protection District (LFPD) were also present to offer ambulance service, as well as training for members of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD). The board approved two requests for vacation and replat of residential lots and a request to build a house in the Pinecrest subdivision. All trustees were present.

Consent items: Dahlia Lopez’s request for a new business license for manicures and pedicures at Imagine Salon, 755 Highway 105, Suite O, was unanimously approved.

Road repairs scheduled: Roads Trustee Richard Allen reported that the town had positioned about 600 tons of Class 6 gravel to rebuild crowns and repair damage to High Street, Milton Street, and Larkspur Lane. Consultant RTW engineering has recommended replacing the drainage systems along High Street then Dixie Street, which Allen said have been problems for years.

Two bids were received for repaving Middle Glenway Ave. and Upper Glenway Ave. Phase 1 paving on Middle Glenway from Highway 105 to High Street with three-inch Class C asphalt could start before the end of October. Total project cost will be $53,200. Upper Glenway paving will begin in the spring.

Ambulance service controversy dominates meeting

A lengthy discussion about Tri-Lakes’ cancellation of its long-standing ambulance contract began when Allen read a prepared statement claiming he was badly treated while attending the PLVFD meeting on Sept. 6. The issue was not discussed at the Sept. 7 PTLC workshop meeting; Allen was absent.

Background: At the Aug. 10 regular council meeting, Allen announced that the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority (TLMFA) had proposed changes to the ambulance service agreement between TLFPD and PLVFD. The authority, formed in 2005, combines day-to-day operations of TLFPD and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District. However, these two districts are still separate entities for all other purposes.

Allen is a Forest View Estates resident and a neighbor of Charlie Pocock, the president of the TLFPD board and a former Palmer Lake trustee. After the town annexed Forest View Estates, the development remained a part of the Tri-Lakes fire district and is taxed by the town and the Tri-Lakes district for fire department services.

The PLVFD firefighters attended the Aug. 10 PLTC meeting to see the new emergency services agreement for the first time and to show their concern about the extensive changes. Allen said he had been given the emergency services agreement and had put it in Mayor Max Parker’s inbox. Parker was out of town at that time. The agreement Allen delivered was signed by the authority’s president, Tim Miller. There was a blank signature line for Parker, but none for either fire chief.

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman said PLVFD Chief Phillip Beckman and TLFPD Chief Robert Denboske should have met first to discuss any proposed changes by Tri-Lakes, in accordance with the existing ambulance service agreement.

Trustee Susan Miner said that Tri-Lakes had tried to go around the Palmer Lake fire chief and fire trustee in past negotiations that she had participated in, as they had just done by having Allen go directly to Parker with the new agreement. She added that Allen and the new trustees needed to learn the complicated history of the town’s negotiations with TLFPD. Allen said he had merely delivered the document to the town administration building as a courtesy to Tri-Lakes Battalion Chief Bryan Jack. Miner said Jack knew that he should have personally given the new agreement to Beckman.

The PLVFD firefighters at that meeting said they were adamantly opposed to the TLMFA emergency services contract because:

  • The Palmer Lake mayor and president of the TLMFA board are responsible for representing Tri-Lakes and PLVFD in discussions of day-to-day operational matters rather than the respective fire chiefs.

  • On-scene incident command is given to TLMFA rather than PLVFD at any Palmer Lake emergency scene.

  • A new policy states that "TLMFA will retain incident command until the incident commander deems it appropriate to transfer command to PLVFD," reversing the long-standing policy that "PLVFD will retain scene control and turn patient control over to TLFPD for transport or Advanced Life Support Procedures." (OCN’s article on the Aug. 10 PLTC meeting is available at: www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n9.htm#pltc )

The Sept. 6 PLVFD Association meeting Allen attended was the first scheduled monthly meeting where the town’s volunteer firefighters could formally discuss the emergency services agreement. However, a TLMFA letter, dated Aug. 30, signed by Pocock, and delivered to the town offices on Sept. 5 stated that "our proposed agreement is hereby rescinded, withdrawn and is no longer valid."

Allen reads complaint: During Allen’s lengthy statement, he said that when he attended the Sept. 6 PLVFD meeting, with Parker, Miner, and Coleman, he was "greeted with rude, obnoxious, and aggressive behavior on the part of many volunteers." Allen said he was asking questions about problems that he thought were pertinent, but the firefighters did not want to hear about any problems. He said he was a friend to the department, asking questions for his own information, "and for a friend to be treated that way, I’m astonished."

Coleman gave a terse PLVFD activity report (there were 11 calls in August) before responding to Allen’s statement. Coleman said, "I think they responded in a respectful manner. The only time they responded in an aggressive manner was when they were approached the same way. Richard brought to this town an agreement from Tri-Lakes that had nothing to do with our past agreements." He said "it threatens the quality of our fire department altogether. It just about eliminates it and turns everything over to Tri-Lakes." Coleman added, "I was proud of the way they stood up and stated what they knew."

Chief Beckman said that the PLVFD Association was paying to have the recording of the Sept. 6 meeting professionally transcribed. (The transcript was not yet available at OCN’s deadline.)

Parker noted that the existing ambulance service agreement was with the Tri-Lakes district. It had been automatically renewed without council review or discussion since 2003, before Parker joined the council. He said, "Trustee Allen and the Tri-Lakes Fire Authority provided us with a draft of a proposed emergency services agreement."

Allen interrupted Parker and denied bringing the new emergency services agreement to the town office building, contradicting his own statement on Aug. 10. Allen said it was mailed to Town Clerk Della Gray. Gray said, "It did not get mailed." Tri-Lakes Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, who is a Palmer Lake resident and was in the audience, made no statement about having given the authority agreement to Allen.

Parker said "regardless of how we got it," the authority’s emergency services agreement was unsatisfactory. "Of course there are some that will contend that that was not a legitimate move on their part because the original agreement that we had signed was with the fire protection district and not the fire authority."

Coleman read a statement from the cancelled annual contract with the Tri-Lakes District that states that the contract will be automatically renewed on Sept. 1 unless either party gives written notice of its intent to cancel by July 15. Pocock’s cancellation letter, on a Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority letterhead, was dated Aug. 30.

There is another paragraph in the defunct ambulance contract that states "For emergency purposes and conditions arising which are beyond either Agencies (sic) control, this agreement may be terminated by either Agency for convenience upon thirty (30) days notice" by certified mail.

Larkspur ambulance services proposal: In the first phase of the proposed agreement, Larkspur will provide 24-hour ambulance service from one of its two 24-hour advanced life support four-wheel-drive ambulances. Both duty ambulances are staffed with a paramedic and an EMT. Larkspur also has two volunteer paramedics. All three Larkspur ambulances are four-wheel-drive and fully equipped for advanced life support. Palmer Lake EMTs and first responders will be cross-trained by Larkspur to be eligible to staff a Larkspur ambulance.

In the second phase, after the new ambulance service contract is signed, Larkspur’s third ambulance will be stationed at the PLVFD station for a minimum eight hours per day during the morning and afternoon, while most of PLVFD volunteers are at work. If neither of Larkspur’s ambulances is available during the other 16 hours of the day, due to having already been dispatched on other calls, Larkspur would request mutual aid from another North Group member through the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatcher.

In the final phase of the proposed agreement, Larkspur will provide an ambulance at the PLVFD station 24 hours per day. If a third paramedic is not available for duty in Palmer Lake, Larkspur will reposition one of its other two paramedics and ambulances at an appropriate station closer to Palmer Lake. Phase 3 requires that PLVFD be able to provide ambulance qualified paramedic support to Larkspur’s ambulance operations in the future.

The Larkspur and PLVFD chiefs will be responsible for administering day-to-day operation of the agreement.

Larkspur Emergency Medical Services Chief Stuart Mills said that Larkspur is receiving another new ambulance in October. He noted there is now a possibility that Larkspur will keep the oldest ambulance rather than selling it as had been planned before Tri-Lakes cancelled the contract with Palmer Lake.

Mills said that the ambulance response time from the main station on Spruce Mountain Road would be seven minutes or less to any part of Palmer Lake, less than the national standard of eight minutes for rural fire departments. Mills said the response time from Larkspur’s Furrow Road station is less than six minutes. "We timed that last week." Allen said, "That’s almost faster than Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District can respond." Parker noted that the repaving of Spruce Mountain Road would improve Larkspur’s service.

Trustee Trish Flake asked if there was any plan to talk to Tri-Lakes about continuing negotiations. Parker said that he had intended to meet with Tri-Lakes Authority Chief Denboske, before Pocock’s letter made it clear that the town had to look elsewhere. Miner reminded Flake that Beckman had met with Jack regarding his concerns in the proposed agreement.

Beckman confirmed that he and PLVFD Assistant Chief Robert Lee met with Jack on Aug. 13 to tell him that the town wanted to renew the ambulance service contract, rather than sign a new agreement that would give Tri-Lakes control over every aspect of Palmer Lake emergency services. "They are two different things." Beckman said the Tri-Lakes demand to have complete control over PLVFD equipment and personnel at any incident in Palmer Lake was "unheard of by any other fire department in someone else’s district." He said he decided a few days later there was nothing else to discuss with Jack about the authority’s emergency services agreement.

Beckman described to the trustees the standard procedure for transfer of incident command at emergency scenes. Beckman said that PLVFD would not accept a contract that would allow Tri-Lakes to order his department to stand down during a Palmer Lake emergency. "It is unheard of, and that is not the way to do business. If there are problems, the town would be liable for all their decisions" and unable to countermand them. Beckman said that Tri-Lakes was trying to slip the agreement "behind every one’s back" by trying to have Parker sign it without his volunteer firefighters "having anything to say about it."

Beckman also noted that Larkspur’s proposal was virtually identical to the cancelled Tri-Lakes’ district contract, and offered several improvements as well. Coleman urged the council to accept the contract with Larkspur, based on his direct observations of their operations as a four-year member of Fire Rehab. Miner, Allen, and Beckman endorsed Coleman’s recommendation.

Parker noted that the Larkspur board was also seeing the proposed ambulance contract for the first time that same evening. He proposed continuing discussion of the Larkspur contract proposal until October so that Beckman and Larkspur Chief Jimmy Bumgarner and the attorneys could finalize the wording. Beckman and Coleman will present the final draft at the workshop on Oct. 5.

Beckman said that Larkspur would begin full-time mutual aid ambulance service for Palmer Lake on Oct. 1 and that the Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatchers would begin dispatching Larkspur, rather than Tri-Lakes.

Allen’s complaint about Forest View Estates hydrant testing resolved

At the Aug. 10 PLTC meeting, Allen said that the town had not supported hydrant testing in Forest View Estates on July 10 during a periodic Insurance Services Organization (ISO) inspection of Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District. Allen expressed concern that Mayor Parker’s decision not to allow town hydrants to be tested by ISO for maximum flow would cause insurance rates to go up in Forest View Estates.

Contrary to Allen’s statement at that meeting, the ISO testing had been requested by TLFPD, and was not part of a formal 15-year inspection cycle initiated by ISO. Standard periodic inspection notices were not issued by ISO, which explained why Town Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt was unaware of ISO’s plans until 4:30 p.m. the day before the proposed hydrant testing.

Orcutt had recommended to Parker against allowing the testing on that specific day because Orcutt was scheduled to be out of town. Parker said Orcutt had advised him that hydrant operation by personnel other than town staff might impose too high a risk on aging downtown residential water mains. Orcutt was also concerned that all 12 Forest View Estates hydrants might be opened to maximum flow at the same time, creating another expensive muddy water problem similar to the 2005 incident when dechlorinated drinking water was being used to fill Palmer Lake and caused the town water system’s primary groundwater pump to fail.

Parker read a Sept. 14 e-mail from ISO Community Mitigations Services Manager John Coleman to Beckman. The ISO field representative had "discovered some hydrants in the Forest View Road area being supplied by the Palmer Lake water system." He "had not pre-arranged an appointment with Palmer Lake to obtain flow test data for these hydrants. He attempted to contact someone in Palmer Lake late in the day" before the hydrant tests "but at that late hour he wasn’t successful." "Subsequent to his field survey in Tri-Lakes our field rep contacted our Chicago office to obtain the Palmer Lake grading file." Recent flow tests for Forest View Estates showed that the "Palmer Lake water supply to the Forest View area will fulfill Needed Fire Flow requirements in the neighborhood."

Beckman said he had spoken with John Coleman and, contrary to Allen’s conjecture, had confirmed there was no negative impact on the voluntary TFLPD evaluation or Allen’s fire insurance rates.

Allen said, "I was the one who caused this problem" but he had only been concerned about "the town’s ability to fight a fire as best as we possibly can," not his insurance rates. He said he was satisfied with Beckman’s statement. "You, sir, are the expert."

Reports

Police: Police Trustee Trudy Finan reported on department training for methamphetamine detection and interdiction. She said that a grant proposal submitted by interim Police Chief Mike Brennan had netted $4,700 for rural law enforcement which was used to purchase kits for breathalyzer tests, latent fingerprints, and drug tests. The department also received a homeland security grant for protective suits. She said there were 142 total calls for service in August, compared to 139 a year earlier.

Buildings: Flake reported that roof repairs on the fire station would begin on Sept. 15.

Water: Water Trustee Jim Girlando reported that three new fire hydrants had been installed as part of the just-completed two-year South Valley project. All the affected residents are now within 500 feet. Girlando reported that the town had saved "hundreds of thousands of dollars" by completing the project slowly with staff rather than letting a more expensive contract for the work.

Awake the Lake Committee: Spokesman Jeff Hulsmann said the committee would present a chart of eight alternatives for lake development at the Oct. 5 council workshop. Applications for $75 memorial pavers can be obtained at O’Malley’s Pub.

Villa liquor license transferred: Gray reported that Nicky’s at the Villa had gone out of business. She said Ted Sexton has proposed taking over Hulsmann’s Villa building to start up an Italian restaurant. Gray asked the council how it wanted to handle the liquor license transfer.

Allen said Sexton’s business partner was a former chef at the Villa. Sexton has another restaurant and liquor license in Old Colorado City.

Gaddis said the liquor license could be transferred to Sexton without a formal Liquor Licensing Authority hearing, because the state has "already determined that he is a fit and proper person to have a license." The council unanimously approved a motion to waive the liquor license hearing and approve Sexton’s request for the transfer.

Senior Forum findings: Maureen Poirier and Chuck Roberts presented a summary of senior services in the community and the findings of the April 29 Tri-Lakes Senior Forum.

Poirier discussed the community-based goals and services provided by the nonprofit Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership. Roberts said that over 200 people attended the Tri-Lakes Senior Forum to learn of existing available senior services in the region and to identify gaps, summarized in the "Senior Forum Report." The forum has published the "Tri-Lakes Senior Information and Assistance Resource Directory" (also called the "Silver Book"). Electronic copies are available to area residents by e-mail. Electronic copies of the directory are available from: c.roberts@adelphia.net

Some of the most urgent recommendations in the "Senior Forum Report" are:

  • A senior center

  • Local medical and mental care facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid

  • Affordable housing

  • More transportation services

  • Improved communication within the senior community and with the community at large

  • Help with finances

  • Improvement of senior safety

As a result of the forum, Roberts reported creation of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance to see that the forum’s recommendations are carried out in an effective and timely manner.

Council opposes Amendment 38

After a very lengthy technical discussion, the board unanimously approved a resolution stating that the council opposes the proposed November ballot initiative titled "Petitions – Amendment 38."

Land use requests approved

The council unanimously approved:

  • George Parson’s request for a vacation and replat of 164 Shady Lane. (Coleman recused)

  • Thomas Patrick’s request for a change in the PUD for a single family residence on Pinecrest Subdivision Lot 8 (Coleman recused)

  • Susan O’Banion’s request for a vacation and replat at 455 Clio Ave., with a condition that separate drawings show the original and replatted lot lines and setback boundaries; O’Banion said she would go before the Board of Adjustments to get all the required variances for existing setback violations. (See PLTC workshop article on page 6 for details of these three requests.)

The council unanimously approved acceptance of Richard White’s petition for annexation of Lots 1 and 4 of the Pioneer Lookout Subdivision. These lots are on Highway 105 between Davidson Street and McShane Drive. Zoning is proposed to be changed from El Paso County C-1 to Palmer Lake C-2. The two lots will be re-platted into a single lot. White’s petition was referred to the town’s Planning Commission for a public annexation hearing.

Water main moratorium reconsidered

Developer Tim Enders asked the council to rescind the town’s current moratorium on new water mains for new developments so that he could propose building 18-21 single family homes on Wilma French’s dog kennel property, next to the Willow Creek townhome development on Highway 105. The emergency Stage II water restriction on new water mains was passed in 2000, along with a total outside watering ban, to protect the town water system’s viability during the severe drought.

There was a lengthy discussion in which the trustees expressed a variety of conflicting opinions. Girlando proposed that he convene a citizen’s water committee meeting to review Enders’ proposal to help determine if it is now appropriate to cancel the water main, meter, and tap restriction. The outdoor watering ban was cancelled earlier this year. Staff had not had time to respond to the late-breaking request with a formal recommendation or studies of long-term water use throughout the town.

Gaddis reminded the council that if it did not provide taps to the parcel, Enders could drill his own well and set up a water district. Gaddis added that the council’s consideration of the moratorium should be separate and independent of Enders’ request. Gray noted that even if the water restriction is lifted, Enders’ proposal would not be approved as proposed because there is currently only a single access to the French property, from Vale Street. A secondary access is required for emergency vehicles.

Public input on items not on the agenda

Developer Tim Shanks asked for clarification on his previously controversial three-lot development south of Shady Lane. There were significant problems with mud slides and erosion on the first two of the steeply sloped lots during heavy summer thunderstorms. Separately, another developer recently proposed construction of a house on stilts on another hillside lot. These occurrences led to the council’s declaration of a building permit moratorium through the end of 2006 so that the town could review and amend its hillside ordinance.

Shanks said that his proposed construction of all three lots was formally approved before the moratorium and that all three lots met all the restrictions of the existing and proposed hillside ordinances. He said he planned to begin construction on the third lot soon and wanted clarification before signing any building contracts.

Gaddis said "I don’t know at this time" without reviewing the drawings and applications. Gaddis said his intuition was that revisions in regulations and ordinances were typically only grandfathered if a building permit had already been issued.

Gaddis said that Shanks would have to wait for the town to make a formal decision on the ordinance revision.

The council went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 10:35 p.m. No decisions were made after coming out of executive session.

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Monument Board of Trustees, September 5: Promontory Pointe Plat and preliminary site plan approved

By Jim Kendrick

The preliminary/final plat and preliminary planned development (PD) site plan for Promontory Pointe, a 117-acre parcel north of the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive, was approved by the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT).

Trustees Dave Mertz and Tim Miller were absent.

Board agrees to collect new fire district impact fee

Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) President Charlie Pocock requested that the town of Monument act as Tri-Lakes’ agent for collecting all payments under its newly enacted impact fee for new construction within TLFPD. The town will receive 2 percent of the amount collected as a service charge. The fee began on Oct. 1.

The town currently has a similar kind of intergovernmental collection agreement with Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority for collecting the authority’s traffic impact fee revenue prior to new construction. The town has enacted traffic and drainage impact fees of its own in recent years that were initially controversial.

The rate for the new fee will be $350 per 1,000 square feet. For example, new construction of 2,000 square feet or an addition to an existing building of 2,000 square feet would result in an impact fee of $700. The rate is the same for new commercial or residential construction. There will be no impact fee for construction of a building addition of less than 500 square feet that does not add a dwelling unit.

Mayor Byron Glenn prefaced the evening’s land use hearings with a statement: "Before we start I want to make it publicly known that we as a board have mandated that (Director of Development Services) Tom (Kassawara) and (Principal Planner) Karen (Griffith) to make sure that their architectural and landscape standards are above what they have been in the past. I just wanted to make that known that Tom is not just doing that on his own, that it’s coming from us." Kassawara said, "I’m glad you said that."

Promontory Pointe hearings

NOTE: Since the Sept. 5 hearing, builder John Laing Homes has purchased the parcel and has advised the town that the entire plat and site plan need to be extensively revised. The builder’s product line does not fit very well on the lots as approved. Those hearing details that are no longer applicable have been deleted from this article. The builder will be required to go through a new cycle of hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees.

Preliminary/final plat: Kassawara noted that there was "very close conformance with the Promontory Pointe sketch plan," previously approved by the board on Jan. 3, with regard to the general layout, adjacencies, densities, lot sizes, and street configurations. The main entrance to the project will be the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive.

Two tracts of land along the southern boundary have also been dedicated to El Paso County for right-of-way for widening Baptist Road.

Kassawara said that Triview Metro District had negotiated to purchase the privately owned 50-foot-wide strip of land that separates Promontory Pointe from Jackson Creek between Baptist Road and the existing east-west utility access road easement. This dirt utility road provides Triview’s access from Saber Creek Drive to the district’s existing water tank on the northeast corner of the Promontory Pointe parcel.

Triview had also negotiated with Homestead HOA President Robert Fisher and Mount Vernon Estates Land Holding LLC owner Ray Marshall to move the previously platted location of the 30-foot trail and utility easement through all the backyards of Promontory Pointe lots along this western boundary to this 50-foot strip. All Triview utilities will also be moved out of these southwestern backyards and into the 50-foot strip.

However, there is no corresponding strip of land between Jackson Creek and Promontory Pointe north of the Triview water tank access road.

The 30-foot trail and utility easement will still go through the rear of all the back yards along the western boundary of Promontory Pointe, from the water tank access road north to the northwest corner of the parcel. This trail and utility easement will remain a part of these lots and the property owners will have to pay taxes on this land, even though the easement will be isolated and unavailable for the owners’ private use. The developer will construct a split-rail fence on both sides of the trail easement and install the trail and landscaping as well as buried utilities under the trail, before any building permits are issued. Triview will perform and pay for all future trail and fence repairs and maintenance in the southern and northern areas. This information will be documented on the plat, site plan, and in the parcel covenants.

Kassawara also noted that the name of the northward extension of Gleneagle Drive is now Old Post Road and had not yet been approved by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s enumerations office. He added that the plat does not currently show the easements for the 17 common driveways for lots on Old Post Road. These common driveways are similar to those that parallel Gleneagle Drive, so that cars do not back out of driveways directly onto the county collector.

Kassawara proposed five conditions for the plat:

  1. Right-of-way for Baptist Road shall be dedicated to El Paso County by warranty deed.

  2. The name of the main north-south street that connects with Gleneagle Drive shall be approved by the town and the El Paso County enumerations office .

  3. All referral comments from other agencies shall be addressed to the satisfaction of the town staff.

  4. Technical corrections shall be made to the satisfaction of the town staff.

  5. All the easements for the common driveways to be installed along Old Post Road must be added to the plat.

The board elected to hear Kassawara’s presentation on the preliminary PD site plan before opening the hearing for public comment on the plat and site plan.

Preliminary PD site plan: Kassawara noted that the earlier proposed site plans had been modified to create roughly equal lot sizes next to Kingswood lots to the east and Jackson Creek lots to the west.

Builders who submit final PD site plans for individual phases will be required to present, at a minimum, exterior building designs and neighborhood identification signage to the Monument Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for approval. However, plans for the "entrance feature and signage" at the main entrance to the parcel are being designed and constructed by the developer and are part of the preliminary site plan. These entrance plans had not yet been submitted to town staff for review and approval.

Kassawara said that the developer had not yet addressed all referral agency comments, particularly significant concerns expressed by the El Paso County Department of Transportation regarding drainage along the county’s Baptist Road widening project. The county must approve the final drainage plans because of their impact on the Baptist Road widening project.

He proposed four conditions of approval for the preliminary PD site plan:

  1. Detailed architectural, specialty pavement, and accent landscaping details for the main entrance of the project must be approved by staff in conjunction with construction plans. Any improvements in the town’s rights-of-way must be approved by the town through a licensing agreement.

  2. All referral agency comments shall be addressed to the satisfaction of staff.

  3. Approval is subject to final approval of engineering plans by staff.

  4. Approval is subject to technical corrections to the satisfaction of staff.

The developer’s planning consultant, Terry Schooler, said that coping with drainage on the parcel had been a challenge and that Triview’s acquisition of the 50-foot strip would allow for better drainage solutions. The deeds for dedicated Baptist Road rights-of-way had already been submitted to town staff. He said the general plans for the entrance feature were shown on the plans and that the specific architect’s plans would be submitted when completed.

Open hearing comments: Robert Fisher, president of the Homestead HOA, spoke in favor of the plat and site plan, thanking Schooler for having numerous meetings with his board and the Triview board regarding discussions on the trail easements.

Mike Wermuth of Kingswood said he was not opposed to the project but was concerned about the application of Triview’s own street standards to the northward extension of Gleneagle Drive. He noted that he had been a streets supervisor in Colorado for 15 years, and noted that Triview’s road standards specify that Old Post Road should "look like Leather Chaps Drive" with the backs of houses next to the collector and no driveways. "The Leather Chaps design provides minimum long-term costs at maximum traffic flow and safety for children."

The developer of Home Place Ranch has always planned for its portion of the northward extension of Gleneagle Drive to be a major collector with an 80-foot right-of-way that meets all county requirements. This category of roadway has not been opposed by the Triview board or Simpson.

Traffic estimates drive major collector request: Wermuth noted that the Home Place Ranch developer’s traffic study, which was reviewed and endorsed by the town’s traffic consultant, projected traffic on Old Post Road to grow to 9,925 trips per day by 2030. Wermuth said the traffic would probably exceed 8,000 trips per day as soon as it extends all the way from Baptist Road to Higby Road. He also said, "The traffic count on Leather Chaps was grossly underestimated and already exceeds 8,000 vehicles per day."

Triview roadway design standards define a major collector’s "characteristics" as:

  • More than "7,000 trips per day when the property which the collector serves is fully developed"

  • A "relatively unimpeded traffic movement"

  • Four moving lanes

  • A posted speed limit of 35 mph

  • "Continuous for two miles or more"

  • "Traffic signals will normally be located only at intersections with streets of higher classification"

  • "designed to handle traffic volumes loading from and onto local, other collector, and arterial roadways"

Old Post Road will connect major county arterial Baptist Road, major county collector Gleneagle Drive, and minor county collector Higby Road. The county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan and the county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force call for Old Post Road to be a major collector.

Wermuth said the design of Old Post Road with islands and common driveways are a needless expense and will become a financial burden and maintenance problem for Triview within 20 years. He added that in heavy snow, the Old Post residents would be trapped for a long period by impassable snow blocking these accesses. He noted Triview’s very high debt load and said that the district should not be burdened with the additional costs given its difficult financial situation.

Common driveways are part of the existing design of major collector Gleneagle Drive. They are single-lane "frontage roads" that are parallel to the collector road. They provide paved space where cars can back out of a garage driveway without entering a through traffic lane; cars can then pull into traffic moving forward. There were 17 common driveways, with 34 accesses, on Old Post Road in this latest version of the site plan.

Schooler said that the curvilinear design of Old Post Road was developed after months of discussion with town staff and the design does not "encourage cut-through traffic." He added that the planned widening of Higby Road by the developer of Home Place Ranch and Baptist Road by the county should limit the growth of north-south traffic through the development.

Kassawara said that the Tri-Lakes transportation plan calls for the Gleneagle extension to be a minor collector. The curvilinear design encourages drivers to use other roads.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that the town is "re-doing our road standards" to unify them with Triview’s because the staff and consultants know more now than they did when both standards were written. She asked Wermuth to give her his ideas after the meeting.

Trustee Gail Drumm said that the board did not want driveways on Old Post Road, but he had just counted over 30 common driveway accesses. He called them "a terrible traffic hazard." He said he was also concerned about the costs of snowplowing and irrigating the landscaping of the islands in the center of the residential cul-de-sacs that are now being required by town staff. Drumm asked for Simpson’s opinion.

Simpson said the president of the Triview board had asked him to speak for him at this hearing. Simpson resigned from Triview on Aug. 31 and has accepted a position working for the Promontory Pointe landowner, Ray Marshall.

Simpson said the common driveways would be maintained and plowed under standard Triview contracts. He said he had initially been concerned with maintaining the landscaping and plowing around the islands in the cul-de-sacs, then said, "We’ll deal with them" with a variety of plowing equipment. Triview will maintain the planters between Old Post Road and the 17 common driveways. Simpson also asked that Triview be allowed to participate with the town and the developer in the design of the entry feature because the district would have to maintain it.

Glenn said that cars speed on Leather Chaps because it is wide and straight. Their speed is limited by the curvilinear nature of Gleneagle Drive. He said he was not sure of the need for planters by the common driveways, given the costs of maintenance and irrigation. He asked Kassawara to ensure that:

  • The slopes of the intersections be limited to less than 4 percent to minimize accidents during icy conditions.

  • The grading and landscaping of the detention ponds be made less steep and more attractive than the current design.

  • Irrigation of seeding on graded areas and silt control standards be aggressively enforced by town staff during droughts.

  • Curb and gutter bumpouts be added where the trails cross Old Post Road for more effective passive traffic calming.

  • Snow-plowing contracts require the contractor to pay for all broken curb repairs.

Trustee Tommie Plank asked why the name Old Post Road was chosen rather than Gleneagle Drive. She said the name change would be an annoyance to drivers. Kassawara said that none of the developers were interested in using the Gleneagle name. Simpson said that the county wanted the name to be different within the town to help screen calls to the county asking for service in Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch.

The plat and site plans were approved. Drumm voted against the site plan. An additional condition was added to the plat and site plan to allow staff to approve moving the southwestern trail and utility easements into the 50-foot strip between Promontory Pointe and Jackson Creek, without amending the lot lines, as minor amendments that would not require a vote by the board. Another additional condition was also added to the site plan at Glenn’s request to require narrowed curbs for passive traffic calming at the trail crossings on Old Post Road.

Trails End amendment controversial

Kassawara noted that town ordinances require the Planning Commission and BOT to review and approve major amendments to a development’s approved PD design guidelines. No specific designs for models to be built in the development had ever been approved, yet many houses had already been built or were under construction.

Richmond Homes had proposed eight models and additional color choices for exterior stucco, stone, and cement lapboard siding to the PD site plan for its Trails End subdivision. Trails End is located on the west side of Old Denver Highway, just south of the Villages at Monument.

Kassawara noted that an option for two of the models contained a combination of stucco and siding and said this is not a common practice in the region. He said that this style should be given separate consideration from the others in the application due to the unique combination of materials. Three others with this combination were under construction. Kassawara proposed no conditions to modify or eliminate the two seemingly controversial options. "It’s up to the board to subjectively determine if these completed houses are compatible."

Drumm said that the combination of stucco and stone on the front elevation with siding on the other elevations "just looks cheap" and that "there are three different textures, which is an artistic no-no." He demanded that all four houses be modified. Glenn suggested that Richmond add stucco over the siding on the four affected houses. He compared the combination to the purple house next door to his home. Plank said she did not like the idea of three different materials because the houses "are real close together and it would look like a mish-mash."

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that making Richmond tear down the siding on the four houses could lead to a challenge in court. Glenn said, "I say let them challenge it" and that the town needed to set a precedent.

The major amendment was unanimously approved with two conditions: any designs with a combination of stucco facades and lapboard siding were eliminated and Richmond had to modify the exteriors of the four houses with this combination.

Outdoor lighting ordinance approved

The board unanimously approved an amendment to the town’s outdoor lighting ordinance that requires shielding on all exterior lights to prevent light pollution of the night sky and minimize glare onto neighboring lots. The new seven-page ordinance replaces the existing three-line ordinance and is based on national standards of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. There are exemptions for holiday, security, emergency, and special event lighting.

Monument Marketplace traffic impact fee belatedly approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution that will allow the town to give the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) the town’s $555,875 traffic impact fee from the Monument Marketplace developer, Monument Town Center, LLC. This impact fee had been intended for temporary improvements on Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the I-25 interchange. The improvements were supposed to have been made by Monument Town Center, LLC and completed before the Home Depot opened. However, there were a number of problems in coordinating environmental impact and mouse habitat permit approvals with county, state, and federal agencies, and the developer never initiated the temporary improvements.

Passage of the resolution was required because the town had never formally approved the agreement reached on Dec. 20, 2004, by the town and the developer on the specific amount of the impact fee. This agreement also called for the fee to be remitted as a surety bond that could expire by Jan. 30, 2006. The Marketplace developer had never paid the impact fee. The original agreement states that the impact fee will be applied to permanent improvements if none of the planned temporary improvements were built. The board unanimously approved the resolution on the 2004 agreement.

The board also unanimously approved a related technical resolution requested by Monument Town Center, LLC to formally amend the Marketplace site plan by adding Site Note No. 10 that states that payment of the $555,875 impact fee is "payment in full" to the town for permanent improvements as required by the 2004 agreement. The resolution calls for the developer to make a cash payment rather than providing the surety bond on the previously intended temporary road improvements. The town will transfer this cash payment to BRRTA to help pay for the improvements that El Paso County will be making to this segment of Baptist Road.

A significant condition within the second resolution is that if the cash payment had not been made by Oct. 1, 2006, the town would not approve any subsequent applications for construction on the numerous remaining vacant store locations.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved the formal transfer of the 3.2 percent liquor license of the 7-Eleven at the intersection of Third Street and Highway 105. The license is being transferred from sole ownership of 7-Eleven, Inc. to joint ownership of the corporation and new franchise owner Chugh Enterprises, Inc. The board had previously approved a temporary transfer of the license.

Town Attorney Shupp reported that Kalima Masse had filed a motion to dismiss her lawsuit against the town regarding denial of reinstatement of her defunct business license for the long-inactive concrete batch plant at Highway 105 and Washington Avenue. He noted that the town had amended the town code regarding businesses based on lessons learned from the multi-year litigation.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported that all liquor stores in the town had been checked for ID card inspection compliance. Four stores failed to check IDs and sold alcohol to minors.

There was a lengthy discussion of ongoing vandalism at the town’s skate board park on Beacon Lite Road. Most recently, park signs had been set on fire on top of the park’s picnic table. The board approved Green’s and Public Works Director Rich Landreth’s suggestion to close the park for awhile before spending any more money on repairs or redesign. Staff will develop a plan to have local residents and park users take greater responsibility/ownership for protecting the park.

The meeting adjourned after further discussion at 8:52 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, September 18: Board opposes Amendment 38

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 18, the Monument Board of Trustees approved resolutions opposing the ballot issue for the proposed Amendment 38 to the Colorado Constitution and supporting the ballot issue for a temporary 1-cent sales tax within the boundaries of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority.

Trustee Gail Drumm was absent.

Public art project funded: Former Mayor Betty Konarski asked the board to approve $1,000 in cash and $2,000 of in-kind work from the Public Works Department to match over $20,000 in contributions her town committee has received to date. The $3,000 would come from the town’s business license fund, which had a remaining balance for 2006 of $10,000. The town’s liability insurer would cover Public Works employees while working on the public art project. The board unanimously approved her request.

D-38 ballot issue briefing: Representatives of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 gave a 20-minute report on plans for funding construction and operation of a second high school. (The article on page 1 includes the information presented to several community board’s this month.)

Amendment 38 resolution: The reasons that the board approved a resolution opposing the ballot initiative for Amendment 38 are the same as those listed in the Donala article on page 24.

BRRTA ballot issue resolution: Mayor Byron Glenn discussed the same reasons for the temporary 1-cent sales tax as those listed by Commissioner Wayne Williams during the Sept. 8 BRRTA meeting that are reported in the article on page 22.

Development Services Department Presentation: Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara gave a presentation on the first draft of their 2007 budget for his planning and engineering department. This was the first of a series of presentations by each department. The discussion was focused on philosophy, goals, and objectives with rough estimates for categories of funding rather than a heavily detailed review of every line item. This is the first time that most of the department heads have had a full year of budget cycle experience at Town Hall to help them prepare the next year’s budget. The organization of the staff has also changed significantly as has the relationship between Town Hall and the Triview Metropolitan District.

Before Kassawara was hired, all the engineering reviews that are his primary duty were performed by consultants. He has also initiated inspections by staff of all town projects and development projects, on the west side of I-25 and in Triview.

The board unanimously approved two payments over $5,000:

  • $56,403.50 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of July sales tax and August special ownership taxes within Triview.

  • $257,612.58 to Bosco Constructors for work performed on the town’s new water treatment plant for wells 3 and 9.

Debt prepayment discussion:Treasurer Pamela Smith presented her recommendations on prepayment of some of the town’s long-term bond debt based on revenue above that forecast in the 2006 budget. This money became available for expenditures after the board approved the 2006 budget restatement. After some discussion, the board asked for additional information prior to making a decision. (See the article on the Oct. 2 board meeting on page 18 for the board’s final decision on Smith’s recommendations.)

Smith also distributed preliminary information on her proposed 2007 budget including:

  • 2007 budget timeline for the next eight board meetings

  • 2007 budget message – a summary of services and important features of the budget’s goals

  • Summary budget proposal for 2007 – a list of beginning and ending fund balances, total revenue and total expenditures for the town’s seven major funds

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that Kalime Masse’s attorney had filed a motion to withdraw her lawsuits against the town, then had withdrawn from the cases. The new attorney filed for an extension but gave no indication that he would not also file for dismissal. Town Manager Cathy Green said Masse said she now wants to put an office building on the abandoned concrete batch plant site on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street.

Kassawara reported that his staff is beginning the process of revising the town’s subdivision and zoning regulations, "a significant undertaking." Revisions for each section of a chapter of regulations will be separately presented to the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees. The last comprehensive revision took over two years. He reported a list of 22 update priorities.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported completion of construction of restrooms at Dirty Woman Park. He also reported plans to close the town’s skateboard park on Beacon Lite Road due to vandalism, littering, and other activity being "completely out of control." Signs and picnic tables were set on fire recently. The Monument Police Department has published a notice on the reasons for the impending closure.

Mayor Glenn noted that the Emergency Preparedness Fair at Lewis-Palmer High School on Sept. 16 was a success.

Green reported that upgrading of the town’s web site should be completed in October.

Two candidates for office introduced themselves and asked if there were issues the town had that they should be aware of. The candidates were Jan Hejtmanek, candidate for state representative, District 20, and Bruce Berner, candidate for county commissioner District 1.

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, October 2: Nov. 6 set for Sanctuary Pointe annexation hearings

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees accepted three separate petitions for annexation of segments of Classic Homes’ Sanctuary Pointe development. Hearings will be held Nov. 6. The board also heard from 10 local boys who asked the board to re-open the skateboard park on Beacon Lite Road as soon as possible. Trustee Steve Samuels was absent.

Trustee comments: Trustee Travis Easton asked where Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) residents could get information on the BRRTA ballot question. Mayor Byron Glenn said there was a citizen organization called "Let’s Get Moving" that was being organized to publish information on the question. The town cannot advocate passage of a ballot question. (See article on page 22 for more information on the BRRTA initiative.)

Glenn said he had been contacted by Amy Stephens asking why the town doesn’t allow campaign signs in town rights-of-way. Glenn said the board might wish to consider charging a sign fee for using the rights-of-way for campaign signs as well as a separate daily penalty fee for each sign not removed within seven days after the election. During a lengthy discussion, Town Manager Cathy Green suggested "taking up the issue again after the election." The board concurred.

Glenn asked the staff to come up with a policy on overlot grading for construction sites to better control blowing dust. He asked for a specific provision for a surety bond to pay for seeding on areas that are not developed promptly after all the vegetation is removed. The town could then have the neglected areas reseeded with funds from the developer’s surety bond.

Youths concerned about skate park closing

Several area youths spoke about their concerns that the town’s skateboard park on Beacon Lite Road was being closed due to vandalism. The board chose to close the park temporarily after a new sign that asked park users not to vandalize the park was torn down and burned on top of a town picnic table.

All of the boys and the parents who spoke said they all had worked hard to keep the park clean while using it. The speakers also collectively noted that a few bad apples were ruining it for them. They said the problems were being generated mostly by other kids who were not skateboarders but hang out in the park’s parking lot. The speakers also acknowledged that some skateboarders had littered the park as well. The speakers had tried to stop that by pointing out that they were harming their own access and that no one wanted to fall off their boards onto broken glass. Some said that closing the skateboard park would only shift the vandalism, drug, and littering problems to the other town parks or business parking lots.

Monument Police Sgt. Steve Burk said he was happy when the skateboard park opened because he did not have to chase children off shopping center and school lots any more. Burk said that aggressive behavior by some kids, including menacing, harassment, and assaults, were a significant problem for police officers and parents.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth told the boys that most of the features in the park were worn out beyond repair and would all be removed within the week. Landreth said the equipment was a safety hazard and his attempts to have them repaired by staff were unsuccessful. He said he was researching equipment to replace the structures. Landreth and the trustees explained that they didn’t want to re-open the park without a plan to reduce vandalism and safety problems and allow the users take ownership of the facility.

After a half-hour exchange of questions and answers from both sides, the trustees asked the boys to form a committee to make proposals on safety, clean-up, and design of the new features for a renovated park. The skateboarders and their parents agreed that they had to take more responsibility and would help form a committee for the park. Burk asked them to step outside to work on building a committee roster.

Senior housing partnership formed

The board unanimously approved a resolution to create a Senior Housing Partnership between the town and Tigre, Inc. The town will donate several acres of land dedicated to it within Filing 3, the northeast portion, of the Village Center @ Monument development at Highway 105 and Knollwood. In return for the donation, Tigre will set aside 10 of the 58-60 planned units in perpetuity for seniors who qualify as low income based on a threshold of less than 70 percent of the county’s median income.

This resolution allows Tigre to move forward with planning, design, and financing. The town will pass an ordinance finalizing the donation after the development plans are approved.

Sanctuary Pointe annexation petition approved

The board unanimously approved three petitions for annexation of Classic Homes’ Sanctuary Pointe development, the former Baptist Camp. The board only certified that the property was eligible for annexation and directed the town clerk to publish notices for hearings on the annexation petitions in the newspaper and to Lewis-Palmer School District 38 and the Board of County Commissioners. The three hearings will be held on Nov. 6.

The three portions of the parcel must be annexed sequentially so that each successive portion satisfies the one-sixth contiguity requirement. Town Manager Cathy Green said this process is legal and customary for parcels with only a small common boundary with the annexing municipality. If the western-most portion is annexed and becomes part of the town, then the middle portion is eligible for annexation because it would have just become contiguous to the town. The same process would apply for the eastern portion, if the center portion is annexed.

The board unanimously approved an annual renewal of the 3.2 percent liquor license for the Baptist Road King Soopers store.

2007 budget discussions continue

Green and Treasurer Pam Smith gave a lengthy presentation on the first draft of their 2007 budget for administrative services, one of a series of presentations by each department to the board. The hour-long discussion was focused on philosophy, goals, and objectives with rough estimates for categories of funding rather than a heavily detailed review of every line item. This is the first time that most of the department heads have had a full year of budget cycle experience at Town Hall to help them prepare the next year’s budget. The organization of the staff has also changed significantly as has the relationship between Town Hall and the Triview Metropolitan District.

The board unanimously approved six payments over $5,000:

  • $24,878.51 to Robinson Construction, LLC for construction of Dirty Woman Park Bathrooms

  • $85,465.84 to Triview Metropolitan District for property tax collected by the state

  • $17,474.41 to Monument Sanitation District for emergency drainage repairs at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105

  • $75,118.75 for the October payment on the town’s 1997 general obligation bond

  • $19,663.50 for the third quarter payment of the town’s property and casualty insurance

  • $10,739.00 for the third quarter payment of the town’s workmen’s compensation insurance

Smith reported that the General Fund through August is up 25 percent from the previous year, while expenditures for the same period are 9 percent higher than budgeted. Water enterprise fund revenue for this period is 4 percent higher than the amount budgeted for 2006, while expenditures are 43 percent less than budgeted.

The board approved two prepayments of long-term bond debt to save on future interest payments to take advantage of additional funds available following the 2006 budget restatement. Of the $485,649 available in the water enterprise fund through the end of 2006, $235,649 will be used toward a 2003 Colorado Water Control Board loan. This payment will reduce the length of loan payments by three years and save $87,840 at 5.5 percent interest. All of the $43,000 available in the debt service fund through the end of 2006 plus an additional $28,396 will be used toward a 1995 Water Control Board loan. This payment of $71,396 will reduce the length of loan payments by 19 years and save $29,000 at 4.0 percent interest.

During public comment, Planning Commissioner Lowell Morgan said he appreciated the length of time the board had spent talking to the skateboarders about their park. He noted that the conversation was far more productive than such discussions had been six to eight years ago when he was a trustee.

The board went into executive session at 9 p.m. to discuss real estate negotiations. The board adjourned at 10:20 p.m. The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Information: 481-2954.

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Monument Planning Commission, September 13: Fox Run residents review Sanctuary Pointe sketch plan

Web site exclusive - below: Classic Homes’ consultant land planner John Maynard discusses the developer’s plans in front of a standing room crowd during the Monument Planning Commission hearing for Sanctuary Pointe. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission on Sept. 13 unanimously approved, without discussion, preliminary/final plats for two commercial filings within the Monument Marketplace and the town’s own water treatment plant at Beacon Lite Road and Second Street.

After a heated hearing that lasted over three hours, the commission unanimously approved annexation, rezoning to planned development (PD), and a PD sketch plan for the Sanctuary Pointe development.

President Ed Delaney and Commissioner Patricia Mettler were absent. Commissioner Kathy Spence chaired the meeting.

County residents restless at Sanctuary Pointe hearing

The commission elected to hear the staff’s and Sanctuary Pointe developer’s presentations for annexation, map amendment (zoning), and sketch PD plan at one time, then open the hearing for public comments on all three prior to voting on them separately.

Annexation: Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara presented the staff’s overview of the annexation request. He noted that the 460-acre parcel would have to be annexed in three parts from west to east to satisfy the one-sixth contiguity requirement.

The western portion of the parcel is identified in the town’s comprehensive plan as being in Priority Area 1, "land that can be most easily served by existing infrastructure and special districts." The eastern portion is in Priority Area 2. Developer Classic Homes had requested inclusion by Triview Metropolitan District, which will provide all town services except police and town staff administrative functions, as well as maintain parks, trails, and open spaces dedicated to the town.

Kassawara reported that the annexations would occur in a directed and fiscally sound manner and enable the town to control the rate, location, type, and character of the growth, as well as the impact on the local tax base and value to residents of the community. Planned development zoning also gives the town greater control, and it is the town’s policy, as stated in the comprehensive plan, to encourage growth within the growth-area boundaries that can be served by public utilities.

Kassawara also reported that the Growth Area Boundary Map in the comprehensive plan was not intended to delineate an ultimate urban growth boundary. There were no unresolved referral comments from other agencies. He recommended sequential annexation of the three portions of the development without other conditions.

The developer’s sketch plan analysis indicates that the planned density of 650 houses on 460 acres is low enough to satisfy the county’s 300-year groundwater requirement. The proposed distribution of various types and densities of houses is dictated by the varying terrain, from flat to steeply sloped. Most houses will be detached single-family dwelling units. Attached houses will be at the eastern end of the property next to the access road from Baptist Road to the Donala water tank.

Map amendment (zoning): Kassawara reported Classic’s choices for land use:

1 DU per 2-3 acres 43 acres 9% 12-21 DU
1-2 DU per acre 152 acres 33% 152-304 DU
1.5-3 DU per acre 77 acres 17% 115-231 DU
3-3.5 DU per acre  97 acres 21% 291-339 DU
Open space/park  86 acres 19%
Church  5 acres 1%

However, the gross density for the proposed actual maximum of 650 houses on 460 acres is about 1.42 dwelling units per acre. The proposed rezoning to planned development meets the town’s comprehensive plan. There were no referral comments from other agencies. Formal comments from neighboring homeowner associations and Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), a coalition of homeowners’ associations, expressed concern over density, deforestation, overlot grading, traffic generated by the site, and water availability.

Kassawara recommended approval of the map amendment and rezoning from county RR-3 to Monument planned development.

PD sketch plan: Kassawara reported that the proposed low gross density of 1.42 dwelling units per acre and the array of housing offerings meet the land use principles of the town’s comprehensive plan and planned development regulations.

The county Department of Transportation noted that each dwelling unit must pay a traffic impact fee to Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority. The county Parks Department requested a 25-foot trail easement for connecting Santa Fe Trail to Fox Run Regional Park. The town’s traffic consultant, SEH, Inc., requested modification and re-submission of the developer’s initial traffic study. County Development Services said Classic Homes would have to pay for auxiliary lanes on Higby Road and Baptist Road after they are approved by the county. Other agencies chose to delay commenting until the preliminary and/or final site plan approval hearings. Neighboring HOAs and NEPCO provided the same comments as for the rezoning.

Kassawara recommended approval with two conditions:

  1. Note 7 of the PD sketch plan shall be revised to state that "Kingswood Drive will be resurfaced and road improvement plans shall be approved by the Town of Monument and El Paso County."

  2. Note 8 of the PD sketch plan shall be revised to state that "All parks and trails will be open to public use."

Land planner John Maynard of NES, Inc. presented the developer’s briefing. After describing the parcel and neighboring developments, he said that he had held meetings with all the neighboring HOAs to hear their input and concerns. The PD sketch plan had been modified extensively to address their views.

Lots next to Kingswood will be drawn to match their size and setbacks. Kingswood Drive will not become a primary access to the development due to the design and arrangement of connecting residential streets in the adjacent portion of Sanctuary Pointe. Currently, Kingswood Drive is currently the only access to the parcel as it was with the previous Baptist Camp use. This will change once construction begins, from east to west across the parcel.

The proposed location of the county’s 25-foot regional trail through the parcel has been moved south of the border with Higby Estates because those residents didn’t want a trail along the backs of their lots. A proposed connection to Red Fox Lane in the Ridge at Fox Run was eliminated.

Maynard noted that Classic intends to match its other treed upscale developments like Stratton Forest, University Park, and High Forest Ranch.

Comments were presented by 23 citizens. Most comments were similar to those expressed by letters to the town from the HOAs and NEPCO. Concerns were also expressed about:

  • Traffic problems that will be severe if BRRTA’s temporary sales tax initiative does not pass and the Baptist Road bridge over I-25 is not raised and widened from two to eight lanes.

  • The need for four-wheel-drive on Baptist Road east of Gleneagle Drive during snow and ice.

  • Availability of schools.

  • "No one is speaking for the animals."

  • None of the annexations made by the town include playing fields; use of D-38 fields is prohibited.

  • Monument and Triview have yet to implement an effective drainage plan as evidenced by collapse of paving and erosion of drainage next to Jackson Creek Parkway as well as Baptist Road.

  • Proposed townhouse area will degrade home values in the area.

  • No analysis of traffic is available.

  • The builders of the homes along the northern boundary of Fox Pines, the common boundary with Sanctuary Pointe, violated rear setback limitations, and construction of the county’s trail behind their homes will leave these houses with no useful backyards.

During his response, Maynard said:

  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38, not Classic, Triview, or the town, determines where and when it will build schools.

  • The school district asked for cash-in-lieu rather than a land dedication because D-38 did not want to build a school on this parcel.

  • The state water engineer has certified that there is enough water leading to Triview’s inclusion of the parcel.

  • The Ridge at Fox Run is "old-school planning" with only 2.3 acres of open space (less than 2 percent), compared to 20 percent open space in Sanctuary Pointe. This open space reduces net density for the home lots but the gross density is comparable.

Kassawara reminded the commissioners that their role was to "judge the proposal on the facts you’ve heard tonight." He said the staff’s determination is that in fact the proposal meets the goals of the comprehensive plans. He noted that the town had no direct control over the BRRTA ballot initiative and that Baptist Road is a county road.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the commissioners would first determine whether to recommend annexation. If annexed, they would then determine if the proposed PD zoning is appropriate. If rezoned to PD, they would determine if the general layout and proposed maximum gross density are appropriate.

Commissioner comments: Spence noted that Classic Homes, not the town, had initiated the annexation petition, and that the commissioners were nearby homeowners as well. She said that Triview water and sewer service were preferable to well and septic tanks next to the town boundary.

After a lengthy discussion, often interrupted by a restless audience even though the public comment period had concluded, the annexation, rezoning, and sketch plan were unanimously approved.\

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, September 8: BRRTA finalizes the ballot question

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 8, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held a special meeting to finalize all aspects of the November ballot question for a temporary 1-cent sales tax to finance early construction of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has no funding available to widen the ramps and bridge over the interstate in concert with the widening of Baptist Road east of I-25 that is under way.

BRRTA is seeking to finance the construction ahead of CDOT funding by issuing revenue bonds based on the proposed temporary 1-cent sales tax within the authority’s boundaries that surround Jackson Creek.

County Commissioners Jim Bensberg and Dennis Hisey were absent.

Coordinated TABOR notice approved: The board had previously approved a mail-in ballot election at an Aug. 28 special meeting. BRRTA Attorney James Hunsaker reported that the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder offered to coordinate all the BBRTA TABOR requirements within the county’s TABOR notice book. The cost is $400 and relieves Monument Town Clerk Scott Meszaros, the BRRTA election official, from having to do most of this work. The board unanimously approved a letter of agreement and $50 down payment to the Clerk and Recorder to ratify the coordinated effort.

New bond counsel ratified: The board unanimously approved a new bond counsel, the firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, and Farber, by phone poll after the Aug. 28 meeting. The previous bond counsel was considered "too conservative" on the wording of the ballot question with regard to ratifying the previous debt limitation that was part of the ballot question that created BRRTA in 1997. Mike McGinnis and Marybeth Jones are the new attorneys handling the ballot process. The new bond counsel’s appointment was unanimously ratified.

Ballot question discussed at length: The board again spent over an hour reviewing and modifying the wording of the new, considerably shorter draft question. Hunsaker noted that the key difference in the wording question now states that BRRTA was authorized to incur $25 million in debt on Nov. 4, 1997, rather than asking the voters to again ratify that BRRTA can take on debt. The other basics of the ballot question remain the same.

The form of the TABOR language requires the question to be a single sentence and must begin with "Shall BRRTA taxes be increased $1.5 million in the first full fiscal year" (the actual revenue in the first year is expected to be no more than about $1.3 million) "and by whatever amount of revenue is generated annually in every year of the tax thereafter."

The 1-cent sales tax is temporary, will not start until the debt is incurred in 2007, and will end after 20 years unless the construction bonds are paid off sooner than that by a CDOT payback of $15 million when state transportation funds for the project become available. In the unlikely event that CDOT is unable to pay back the $15 million in the future, despite its current intent, projected BRRTA sales tax revenue is expected to have paid off the revenue bonds well before 20 years. However, the 20-year maximum term reduces risk to the bondholders, lowers the interest rate of the bonds, and shortens the actual life of the temporary tax if commercial growth in Jackson Creek matches current expectations. CDOT recently gave the project the second-highest priority in the region in August, second only to security improvements for Fort Carson, further reducing the likelihood that CDOT will not give BRRTA the $15 million payback.

The sales tax will cease even if there were to be no CDOT payback and the sales tax revenue was insufficient to pay off the revenue bondholders. The bondholders assume all the risk.

BRRTA cannot authorize a mill levy. The only other source of revenue for BRRTA is traffic impact fees that are paid when building permits are issued.

The purchases that would be exempt from the BRRTA temporary 1-cent sales tax are identical to those of the state, county, and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) taxes—food, prescription medications, utility bills, etc.

The revenue can only be used for Baptist Road interchange improvements or other Baptist Road improvements, should the CDOT repayment be more than the amount needed to retire the bonds in the future.

The 1997 debt authorization is reduced from $25 million to $21.5 million in principal and re-authorized at that new amount. This $21.5 million figure is the maximum that the construction bid and related other expenses for expanding the interchange are expected to cost in a period of rapidly escalating construction costs. The estimate by CDOT to do the same work in the same timeframe is $15 million. The additional expenses are overhead for the bond issue. However, the direct costs to CDOT would be considerably higher six years from now, the earliest that CDOT might have funding for the project.

The total authorized repayment cost of the debt is reduced from $125 million to $50 million. The authority has far more potential revenue than it did in 1997 when it was an unimproved "dirt district" and can now get a lower interest rate and shorter term for the same size loan nine years later.

The board unanimously approved a motion to reconsider the final wording of the question. Jones accepted the final four revisions in the wording her law firm had prepared for this meeting.

Hunsaker noted that with final certification of the ballot question, board members would only be able to answer questions or provide factual summaries regarding this ballot question and must avoid the appearance of advocacy. Also, the Board of Trustees would be able to pass a resolution favoring passage.

State Transportation Commission member Terry Schooler asked if writing ballot questions was always this difficult. Commissioner Wayne Williams, the board president, said that the PPRTA ballot question took several months to write to make sure it was clear enough, despite TABOR restrictions and requirements, for the average voter to read and easily understand.

The board approved having the El Paso County Department of Transportation begin preparing a formal request for proposal (RFP) and bid package prior to the election to minimize the start-up time to award a contract and start construction if the question is passed. The documents will say "contingent on voter approval" to be sure that once passed, the county would also handle the bidding process. The county will administer the construction contract in accordance with CDOT requirements for right-of-way and permitting.

Most construction near mouse habitat around Jackson Creek is limited to the period Nov. 1 to April 1, so a rapid start-up is imperative. Currently, costs of roadwork typically increase every three weeks.

After a lengthy, very technical discussion, the board unanimously approved having the county Department of Transportation begin the work required with program manager PBS&J to meet a schedule with the following dates: Oct. 15 for issuing the request for proposal, Nov. 15 for receiving the bids (after the election), and contract award as soon as possible after that. Engineering consultant PBS&J is the project manager for BRRTA’s construction on Baptist Road and PPRTA’s construction of new Struthers Road.

The board unanimously approved a special meeting on Sept. 25 at Creekside Middle School to review the progress for these preparations and approve the RFP with an information meeting after that to provide a summary of the ballot issue and answer citizen questions.

The county’s Baptist Road project manager, Andre Brackin, gave a lengthy review of progress on widening of Baptist Road. He said that Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) was not moving utilities very rapidly, necessitating lots of "work-around" restructuring. "They can’t mobilize. They can’t move as quickly as our contractor can. We have multiple projects going on that hit them all at the same time and their one contractor can’t keep up."

Movement of electric and phone utilities near the steep slope west of the Family of Christ Church have also been difficult. Finalizing the Monument Ridge site plan, easements, and design of the retaining wall below the church have been difficult.

Monument agreed to transfer the cash value of temporary widening of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway to BRRTA that was never performed by the developer of the Monument Marketplace. This cash equivalent, about $555,000, will be used to help pay current PBS&J design and project management costs. Brackin said that BRRTA needed the money for over $380,000 in PBS&J invoices.

The board approved payments totaling $6,592 for legal, accounting, election, and district management expenses.

The meeting adjourned at 4:10 p.m.

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Baptist Road being extended to connect to Hodgen Road

Below: County project extending Baptist Road at Roller Coaster Road to connect to Hodgen Road. Photo by John Heiser

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Web site exclusive- below: Unexpected underground flows have hampered installation of high capacity stormwater box culverts to replace undersized culverts at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, September 25: BRRTA proceeds with interchange project planning in advance of sales tax the election

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held a two-part special meeting on Sept. 25. First there was a business meeting to discuss issues from the board’s attorney, then an information meeting regarding BRRTA’s ballot question on a temporary 1-cent sales tax. County Commissioner Wayne Williams, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, and Trustee Dave Mertz attended the meeting. Commissioner Jim Bensberg and Dennis Hisey were absent.

Items not on the agenda: Executive Director Dan Cleveland of the Trails and Open Space Coalition asked if the 20-year-old Santa Fe Trail would be adversely affected by BRRTA construction projects. He expressed concern that portions of the trail might be moved closer to I-25. "It’s a great trail the way it is today."

Williams said that the development that Cleveland was concerned about was taking place within Monument. However, all the developers have had to meet with the county’s Parks Department to coordinate the connection of the Santa Fe Trail through their developments to the county’s Fox Run Regional Park at Baptist Road and Roller Coaster Road. Williams also noted that Parks Department Director Tim Wolken had already met with Cleveland and the Parks Advisory Board to hear Cleveland’s concerns. Williams also said that the interchange did not impact the Santa Fe Trail.

Cleveland said he realized that some access across the trail from Old Denver Highway to the industrial land north of Baptist Road, between the Santa Fe Trail and I-25, was inevitable. Williams advised Cleveland to discuss his concerns with Classic’s land planner, John Maynard of NES, and members of the Monument Board of Trustees. Cleveland noted that he was a member of the Colorado Springs Planning Commission and would meet with the board members after adjournment.

Reimbursement resolution approved: Bond attorney Marybeth Jones recommended that the board approve a resolution that would allow BRRTA to reimburse itself for interchange improvement expenses that the board would have to incur to prepare request for proposal and bid packages that have to be published before the Nov. 7 election so that bidders could meet the Nov. 15 submission deadline. This type of resolution is required by tax regulations.

If the temporary sales tax question passes, BRRTA would be able to pay itself back with bond proceeds in 2007 for the money BRRTA will have spent on interchange expenses incurred before the election and before the bonds are issued. The specific costs covered by the resolution are limited to costs of improvements, land acquisition, construction, and equipping the improved interchange.

If the ballot question fails, there would be no possibility of reimbursement, a risk the BRRTA board has chosen to take to ensure that all interchange construction next to Jackson Creek, on both sides of Baptist Road, can be completed between Nov. 1 and April 1. Major construction activities by any Preble’s mouse habitat are prohibited the rest of the year, forcing a very tight constraint on the project’s schedule to avoid the cost of work-arounds that would be incurred if the construction was not finished on time and could not be resumed again until November 2007.

The board unanimously approved creation of a subcommittee, composed of Williams and Glenn, to review the draft request for proposal and construction bid packages prior to publication. This allows fewer than three board members to meet and approve the documents without triggering the requirement for a formal special meeting. The board unanimously approved issuance of the request for proposal subject to the approval of the sub-committee. Issuance will occur in mid-October.

Assistant Vice President Mike Lund of Piper Jaffrey said the minimum time from initiating sale of the revenue bonds to providing the proceeds to BRRTA is 2½ months. The board unanimously approved having Lund write draft bond issue documents for the board to consider at the next regular meeting on Nov. 10. Sale of the bonds was tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29 through Dec. 14, the earliest date possible, so that contractors would be more comfortable submitting bids in a period when construction material costs are escalating so rapidly that bids have to be revised every three weeks to cover cost increases. The temporary sales tax cannot begin until 2007.

The board unanimously approved the reimbursement resolution and spending of up to $30,000 prior to the Nov. 7 election preparing the request for proposal, advertising it in Colorado Springs and Denver, and other related administrative costs incurred before the election.

Information meeting: Williams conducted the information meeting, noting that the board could not advocate passage of the temporary sales tax. He gave a 20-minute overview of the history of Baptist Road improvements and the specifics of the ballot question and then answered questions from the audience of about 10 citizens. (See article on page 22 for details on the ballot question.)

Williams said that the board chose a mail-in ballot so voters could take more time to read the ballot question, which is very specific about each aspect of financing construction, and make their decision than they might at the polling place due to the near record number of questions that are on the ballot. Williams also said that BRRTA hopes that as many people as possible vote on the issue.

The next regular BRRTA meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the County Commissioners’ third floor hearing room, 27 E. Vermijo St. in Colorado Springs.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, September 20: Classic considers building 2,600 houses off Highway 83

By Sue Wielgopolan

Classic Homes might build as many as 2,600 homes on what was known previously as the Shamrock Ranch, Donala general manager Dana Duthie told board members at their Sept. 20 meeting. Duthie said that Classic recently held a meeting with district staff and requested a cost estimate for possible water and sewer service.

The Shamrock Ranch is located east of Highway 83 between Abert and High Forest Estates. Duthie said the property encompasses about 2,600 acres.

Duthie distributed a sheet listing the improvements Classic would have to pay for in order for Donala to serve the development. The list included all associated infrastructure, two new wells and a treatment building.

According to Duthie, the future development is attractive because of the water rights that would be deeded over to the district as part of any contract, the potential for a storage reservoir site, and an estimated $40 million in tap fees. Wells drilled on the site would also be far enough from existing Donala wells to avoid interference effects.

Duthie also announced that the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) plans to become a water authority. As an authority, it will be able to fund water projects. Each agency will be able to determine its own method of financing.

The PDWG has scheduled a joint meeting of all member boards and councils to discuss future cooperative efforts among water providers in northern El Paso County. Attendees will also talk about the urgency of the area’s looming water shortage and projects the group is working on to ensure future surface water sources. The public is invited to attend. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16 at The Place in Gleneagle. Confirmation of the date, details, and a meeting time will be announced and published through local newspapers.

The board of directors unanimously passed a strongly worded resolution opposing Amendment 38, which Colorado residents will vote to accept or reject in November. Other area special districts have also voiced opposition to the measure, including the El Paso County Water Authority. According to the board, the amendment could potentially negatively impact the district by delaying legislative decisions, enable small but active special interests to decide policy through petitions, and divert funds from essential operations to cover legal expenses and ballot costs.

Chaparral Hills property owners request district inclusion

The Donala board approved the inclusion of a 2½-acre subdivided lot in Chaparral Hills belonging to Michael and Catherine Bullock at the meeting. Catherine Bullock attended to answer questions and address any problems. The agreement includes water service only. Because the lot is downhill from Donala’s sewer line and a connection would also require a pump, El Paso County commissioners granted a waiver allowing future owners of the undeveloped property to install a septic system.

Board approves anticipated inclusion of Mining Museum

Donala is still waiting for papers from lawyer Sandy MacDougall requesting inclusion into the district for the Western Museum of Mining and Industry off Northgate Road. In anticipation of the promised paperwork and to start the clock on the notification period, Duthie published the required public notice in September. The directors voted to authorize President Ed Houle to sign the agreement when it is complete, providing there are no changes that would require further review by all directors.

The Mining Museum originally contacted the district through developer Gary Erickson, who indicated water and sewer services were needed. Erickson is installing the necessary infrastructure, and has already completed the section of the pipelines crossing beneath Northgate. No officials from the museum have talked directly to Donala staff.

Part-time residents ask for sewer fee break

Sal and Rosemary Fiorillo attended to ask that the Donala board consider reducing or eliminating sewer fees for part-time district residents when their homes are vacant. They felt that since they and other "snowbirds" are not using the wastewater system for several months out of each year, they should not have to pay full price during that period.

Duthie explained that the chemical treatment and charge for handling the wastewater flow volume constitutes a small percentage of the district’s costs, and those costs are the only ones affected by part-time use. Donala must pay its share to operate and maintain the plant and infrastructure, as well as cover employee salaries, engineering fees, and many other expenses associated with running the district. Those costs are incurred all year.

Duthie told the Fiorillos that district residents voted 10 years ago to pay for most of the original plant and operations through sewer fees rather than through taxes. He pointed out that sewer charges have increased by only $1 in 10 years.

In an effort to give part-time and low-use residents a price break (and encourage conservation), the district recently changed the water rate structure from a starting rate that included service and the first 6,000 gallons of water to a base service fee plus a per-1,000-gallon charge. So "snowbirds" are charged the service fee only during the months they are gone, and rewarded for keeping their use low the rest of the year.

Though members declined to reduce or eliminate sewer charges during periods of non-use, Board President Houle thanked the Fiorillos for their input and attendance, and invited them to stay for the rest of the meeting.

Most water and sewer rates will not change in 2007

Duthie submitted tentative rate changes for next year. In his written summary to the board, he stated that the increases would mainly affect new construction. An increase of $500 each for sewer tap, water tap, and new construction fees is intended to help pay for renewable water. Total tap and installation fees for a new home in Donala will cost $16,500 in 2007 if the rates are approved.

Commercial tap fees for three-fourths-inch and 1-inch lines will increase to $6,000.

Duthie proposed that incremental base rates remain the same for water use up to 30,000 gallons. To encourage conservation, he suggested an increase in volume rates for the highest-use blocks. Consumers would pay $4.50 per 1,000 gallons for use between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons under the new rate structure, an increase of 25 cents per 1,000 gallons. And for use exceeding 40,000 gallons, customers would pay $6 for every 1,000 gallons, an increase of $1 for every 1,000 gallons over last year’s high volume rate.

Board members will vote on a resolution to adopt the new structure at the October meeting.

El Paso County Water Authority wrestles with transit loss model funding

After attending the El Paso County Water Authority’s (EPCWA) September meeting, Duthie said that agencies within the authority would contract individually with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) since the group failed to reach consensus over the administration of costs for maintenance of the transit loss model. The USGS, which conducted the transit loss study, will also operate and maintain the model.

Duthie expressed concerns over the cost to the district of its share of operations and maintenance. He said the ability to accurately account for daily effluent flows benefits Donala only if the district can sell effluent credits downstream or trade them for water it can use. Presently, Donala sells unused credits to a farmers’ cooperative for $10 per acre-foot.

Donala would have to pay about $12,000 to $13,000 yearly to use the model. The price is calculated using a base price equally divided among the sponsoring entities, and a per gallon price based upon each agency’s contribution to flow. Duthie said Donala might consider contributing only the base price of about $3,400 for maintenance until the district is able to sell credits downstream or use the flows for exchange through a system connecting Palmer Divide water providers.

Duthie said membership in the EPCWA has also become more expensive. Donala’s dues increased from $3,000 to $3,300 per year.

Ballot measure could hurt special districts

Board members discussed wording of their resolution opposing Amendment 38. The directors agreed with an article published by the Special District Association, which stated that the amendment would severely limit the ability of special districts to operate in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Some of the main points of that conversation and the resolution are:

  • The amendment would delay implementation of all legislative decisions for a minimum of 91 days to give affected parties an opportunity to collect the required signatures and file a petition opposing the action. Should such a petition be filed, the action would be scheduled for a vote in the next regularly scheduled district election; the wait could be as long as 15 months.

  • Few residents have the time, technical knowledge, or desire to follow the day-to-day workings of special districts. They elect individuals with the time and interest to make informed decisions in their behalf. Amendment 38 would circumvent this process and allow any special interest group with resources and/or influence to delay or halt decisions unfavorable to that group through the petition process. Since low voter turnout is typical in special district elections, a small minority of highly motivated individuals could decide the outcome, which would not necessarily reflect the best interests of the majority. In the Donala district, as few as eight signatures could force a ballot election.

  • Special district board members are prohibited from advocating or opposing any petition in an official capacity. The potential $3,000 fine for violation of this restriction could discourage potential director candidates from running for board positions.

  • The greatest share of petition printing costs and mailings to constituents would be borne by the district, as well as the cost of ballots and published election notification. Those costs would certainly be passed on to the consumer.

  • The amendment gives an unfair advantage to the petitioning group. Statements opposing any petitions are severely restricted. They may not be longer than those in support, and must be written by a citizen who is neither a board member nor an employee of the special district.

The full text of the resolution will be printed in Donala’s regular newsletter. Copies of the resolution are available through the district office on Holbein.

Palmer Divide Water Group discusses sharing facilities

Duthie reported that at the most recent Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) meeting, Tri-Lakes area water providers agreed to investigate the best way to pool their assets. Participants envision sharing facilities such as storage tanks, reservoirs, pump stations, and treatment plants to maximize efficient use of the current aquifer supply.

PDWG members, which include the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake as well as Donala, Woodmoor, and Triview and Forest Lakes Metro districts, would like to maximize effluent credits and reuse possibilities, and take full advantage of existing and potential storage facilities, including Monument and Woodmoor Lakes. Such an endeavor would require large pipelines linking the participating communities.

In the future, the infrastructure would enable northern El Paso county communities to treat and distribute supplemental surface water.

Charlie Stanzione, hydrogeologist for consulting firm Bishop and Brogden, will coordinate with group consultants to inventory resources and identify which options are most viable and will be examined further. Consultants from the districts and towns that are members of the PDWG will then determine the best course of action to follow in linking and consolidating resources among Tri-Lakes area providers.

Area water providers will institute conservation programs

Reducing demand on the aquifers is one way of extending the life of northern El Paso County’s finite well water supply. During the summer months, irrigation is responsible for more than 50 percent of area water use. Because conservation is an important tool in decreasing consumption, districts that are members of the PDWG plan to institute a mandatory watering program, possibly as soon as next summer.

The schedule will most likely be modeled after the voluntary demand management program that Woodmoor tried this past season, possibly with a slight adjustment in time. If the proposed measures are adopted, most residents of northern county districts will be allowed to water every third day during off-peak hours.

Group members reasoned that all area users must participate in order for the program to be effective as well as fair and equitable.

The state of Colorado takes into consideration whether an area has done enough to reduce waste and efficiently use existing supplies before approving projects to import water, which provides further incentive for suppliers to develop a regional program.

PDWG steps up efforts to bring surface water to Tri-Lakes area

For several years, Gary Barber, the PDWG’s manager, has talked with potential providers to secure surface water supplies. Barber said that southeastern Arkansas River water was the most promising source, and holds ongoing discussions with four major groups with water to sell, including Pure Cycle Corp., the Lower Arkansas Conservancy District, the High Line Ditch Co., and farmers with holdings in the Bessemer ditch.

Purchasing water is only one facet of the solution to northern El Paso County’s future water shortage; the ability to store the water until it is needed is essential.

Recently, Barber and PDWG representatives met with developer Mark Morley, co-owner of Brush Hollow reservoir, to discuss potential water storage options. Board member Dale Schendzielos and technician Robert Hull attended for Donala. Schendzielos distributed a summary of the meeting and subsequent discussions to the other directors.

PDWG will unite Tri-Lakes region entities in water authority

Duthie elaborated on the reasons the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) is seeking water authority status. The action would convert the group from an advisory capacity to a state-sanctioned governmental body, with the ability to legally enter into binding contracts. As an authority it would be able to fund water projects, which includes the ability to purchase surface water rights and reservoir storage capacity, and finance the infrastructure needed to transport the water. County commissioners must approve the establishing document.

Duthie said establishment of the authority is the first step toward setting up a comprehensive regional project for supplying northern El Paso County with surface water.

Waste plant loan may not cover equalization basin construction

While construction of the equalization basin is well under way, financing for that phase of the waste plant expansion through a Colorado Water and Power Authority (CWPA) loan has hit a snag. Duthie informed the Donala directors that because the partners in the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility failed to hold a public meeting for the project before the start of construction, direct costs incurred prior to the meeting date are not eligible for reimbursement under the terms of the loan.

Last fall, Donala and waste plant partner Triview Metropolitan District were approved for loans up to $5 million each to cover the approximately $10 million needed to expand the wastewater plant. Because a portion of the loans consists of federal grants, a public meeting was required as part of the environmental assessment for the facility. The administrator of the loan mistakenly believed that equalization basin costs were not to be included in the loan and expedited approval, with the condition that the public meeting would be held before later phases of the project were started.

Unfortunately, Donala and Triview were unaware of the federal restrictions and omission of the basin from loan coverage until payment of the contractor’s bills was refused.

While the CWPA loan administrator has been somewhat sympathetic and is working to rectify the situation, the partners have been forced to look at paying the contractor directly. Donala has the reserves to cover the unexpected expense; Triview might not. The non-reimbursable costs could run from $800,000 to $1 million.

Board members were concerned that any delay resulting from payment disputes might compromise the expansion timeline, which could result in state fines should the plant exceed capacity. Duthie said Donala will pay the contractor and seek reimbursement later.

Duthie stated Donala is considering the options should Triview be unable to pay its share of equalization basin costs up-front. One option is for Triview to tack the costs onto the end of the loan; another is for Donala to cover Triview’s share and charge interest. No decisions regarding the situation will be made until the two districts are informed of how much, if any, of the outstanding bills will be reimbursed.

Equalization basin nearly complete

In spite of the uncertain financing for the equalization basin, Duthie expects it to be operational by Thanksgiving. The concrete has been poured; Weaver Construction will soon fill the basin with water to check for leaks. Mixers for the equalization basin are being shipped.

Plans for the screen room and influent station are currently in review.

Duthie stated that Triview has scaled back its projections for the number of homes it will serve, alleviating concerns that capacity of the expanded plant might be insufficient to handle all of Triview’s wastewater at buildout.

The meeting went into executive session at 3:43 p.m. to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease or transfer of water, and personnel matters.

The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on Oct. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

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Monument Sanitation District nears completion of Wakonda Hills improvements

Below: Phase One of the Monument Sanitation District sanitary sewer improvements in Wakonda Hills is coming to a close. Many home owners have already been connected to the system. Asphalt pavement crews are putting finishing touches to the roads. Photo by Mike Wicklund

Click here or on the photo to zoom in and view and additional picture

Click on the photo to zoom in and view and additional picture

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Forest View Acres Water District, September 19: Walker resigns amid ballot measure controversy

Below: FVAWD President Barbara expresses appreciation to Dan LaFontaine for his seven years service to the district as the operations manager. In the foreground to the left is Mike Bacon, Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) interim operations manager and to the right Debbie McCoy, President of SDMS and partner in CSI. Photo by John Heiser

By John Heiser

On Sept. 19, at the end of the regular monthly meeting of the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors, Jeff Walker resigned from the board, effective immediately. Referring to the heated debate regarding the district’s ballot measures, he said, "It’s affecting my family."

At its August meeting, the board approved placing a measure on the November ballot that would, if approved by district voters, impose a property tax mill levy of an estimated 37 mills on all properties in the district to cover operational costs and the cost to issue up to $8 million in bonds.

Background

The board consists of Rich Crocker, Ketch Nowacki, Walker, Eckehart Zimmermann, and President Barbara Reed-Polatty. Crocker and Nowacki were absent. Reed-Polatty presided.

The district has retained Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) as its administrative manager. Lisa Johnson, SDMS district manager, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. Deborah McCoy, president of SDMS, was also present.

Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services resigned effective Sept. 15 as the district’s contract water operations manager. The district is seeking an operations manager to succeed LaFontaine. Mike Bacon of Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) is serving as the interim operations manager until a permanent replacement is selected. McCoy is a part-owner of CSI.

The district water supply consists of a surface water plant and two wells, one in the Arapahoe aquifer and one in the Dawson aquifer.

The water is treated with chlorine, pumped through 750 feet of 6-inch water line, and stored in a 250,000-gallon steel storage tank. The water is then distributed through 36,000 feet of distribution lines that vary from 1 inch to 8 inches in diameter.

ASCG, Inc., the district’s engineers, have determined that the water treatment facilities are in good condition, the water tank is in fair condition, and the distribution system is in fair to poor condition. ASCG has prepared a list of proposed improvements. (For the detailed cost breakdown, see OCN June 3, 2006, "Forest View Acres Water District, May 25: Board ponders financing $6.2 million for improvements" posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n6.htm#fvawd).

The highest-priority items focus on bringing the system into compliance with state Health Department standards for chlorine contact time, installing a looped pipe system to circulate water through the tank, additional water storage to meet daily flow and fire flow requirements, and replacing small and failing pipelines. Future improvements include work on the Dawson well, improvements to the surface plant and water treatment facilities, and upgrading or replacing the booster pump station.

ASCG estimated the total cost for all of the work at $6.2 million.

LaFontaine recognized for service to the district

LaFontaine served as operations manager for the district for the past seven years.

Walker said he learned a lot from LaFontaine about the system and its problems. Walker added, "Things break and don’t always work the way they’re supposed to." He expressed appreciation for LaFontaine’s efforts saying, "Dan spent a lot of time looking out for this district and its residents."

Reed-Polatty presented LaFontaine with a certificate of appreciation from the district.

Financial matters

Johnson presented a list of claims paid through Sept. 19 totaling $20,907 that included $11,307 for SDMS, $5,194 for road repairs including $1,600 for two street cut permits from El Paso County, and $1,698 for LaFontaine’s services.

As of Aug. 31, the district had $41,282 in its checking account and $385,386 in a ColoTrust account.

The financial reports showed that for the eight months ending Aug. 31, legal expenses totaled $23,580 and payments to SDMS totaled $79,404. McCoy noted that some of those charges accrued in 2005.

Red Rock Reserve

Zimmermann complained that the pipe length for the Red Rock Reserve inclusion had been reduced by 10 percent without approval by the board.

LaFontaine said ASCG approved the change. He added, "The board may have given ASCG the power to do that."

Zimmermann replied, "The board needs to be notified."

Property owner Doug Higgins asked about the pipes being installed. Reed-Polatty said he should discuss that with Red Rock Reserve developer Bill Herebic.

Election status

Johnson reported that the certified ballot measures are moving through the county’s election process. She noted that statements in favor and opposed to the district’s ballot measure are due to SDMS by Sept. 22.

SDMS asked for volunteers to serve as election judges to count the ballots and certify the election results.

In response to a question as to why the district chose a mail-in election as opposed to participating in the November coordinated election, the district’s attorney, Paul Rufien, said participating in the coordinated election would probably have been more expensive.

Operations report

The operations report for August showed that the district’s surface plant produced 364,400 gallons, averaging 20 gallons per minute over 12 days. The district’s well in the Arapahoe aquifer produced 2.08 million gallons, averaging 105 gallons per minute over 13.8 days. The net monthly production was 2.39 million gallons.

Water sales for August totaled 1.75 million gallons.

The calculated net loss from the system during August was 613,536 gallons or 26.7 percent of total system use.

LaFontaine reported that two leaks were repaired during August. Repairing one of the leaks required excavating the roadway and repaving.

Walker noted that the surface plant could have been used more except storm water runoff often pushed the pH outside the allowed range. He added that on several occasions LaFontaine requested funds for a pH adjusting system that would have fixed the problem, reduced the use of the Arapahoe well, and reduced the cost for electricity to operate that well. Walker said that in each instance the project was deferred.

LaFontaine said a fully automated pH adjusting system would cost about $4,000.

Reed-Polatty noted that the savings in electricity within two months would have paid for the equipment.

Zimmermann asked Bacon to obtain bids to install a pH adjusting system.

The board unanimously approved the following expenditures:

  • Up to $19,500 for equipping the well in the Dawson aquifer contingent on a review by Rufien. The funds are to come from the district’s Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant.

  • Up to $4,000 for installation of an alarm system and chart recording equipment. Bacon said the equipment will use the existing phone line to notify operators of problems.

  • Up to $3,500 for installation of a chlorine analyzer. Bacon noted that equipment will be a good monitoring tool and helpful during state inspections.

  • Up to $700 for a fireproof cabinet for storing corrosive materials.

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The next regular board meeting will be held Oct. 26, 5:30 p.m. at Tri-Lakes district station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). Due to conflicts with the holidays, November and December meetings will be held Nov. 30 and Dec. 28. Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Those wishing to attend should check the date, time, and location by calling the SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.

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Palmer Lake Sanitation District, September 12: Board plans hearing on Lake of the Rockies inclusion

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Sanitation District board on Sept. 12 approved scheduling of a hearing for inclusion of the Lake of the Rockies parcel in the town of Monument. President Kathleen Williams was excused.

D-38 presentation: Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Director Steve Plank gave a presentation regarding the D-38 tax questions on the November ballot. (The article on page 1 includes the details of this presentation.)

Tap approved: The board unanimously approved a second sewer tap for Claire Brenneman, 32 Pineview. Brenneman’s property straddles the El Paso County and Douglas County Line. The new tap will extend into the Douglas County portion of the property, which is outside of the district, through an easement Brenneman has created in the El Paso County portion of the property. It cannot be included into the district. A condition of the approval of the tap is an agreement that Brenneman or future landowners will voluntarily pay an amount equal to any future Palmer Lake Sanitation District mill levy if one is ever approved.

Draft budget discussed: The board discussed the first draft of the 2007 budget Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility presented to the districts at the Joint Use Committee (JUC) meeting Sept. 12. The facility is jointly owned by Palmer Lake, Monument Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The JUC includes a voting member from each of the three districts and serves as the board of the directors for the facility.

Other matters: Director Dale Platt was appointed as an alternate JUC representative.

District Manager Duane Hanson and Accountant Nolan Gookin led a lengthy discussion of the first draft of the district’s 2007 budget. The directors will review Tri-Lakes and district budgets, prepare questions, and make recommendations to Hanson. Gookin noted that 2006 tap fees collected to date total $154,000.

The board unanimously approved a motion to advertise public hearings on a petition for inclusion for Lot 11, Block 38, of Brown’s filing in Palmer Lake. The fee was $1,500 for this petition. The board also unanimously approved a motion to advertise public hearings on a petition of Jerry Biggs, BK-LOR LLC, for inclusion into the district, with a condition that the developer’s engineering review is submitted before the hearing and is satisfactory to the district. The fee was $5,000. The advertised hearing date for both inclusions will be Oct. 10.

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at the district office, 120 Middle Glenway. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month. Info: 481-2732.

The annual JUC meeting attended by all directors and district managers will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. in Monument. Information: 488-2525 or 481-4053.

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Triview Metropolitan District, September 27: All of Triview’s high interest debt refinanced

By Jim Kendrick

Over $31 million of Triview Metropolitan District’s bond debt has been refinanced at dramatically lower interest rates. The board also discussed some difficulties with state loans to help pay for expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. All the members of the board were present.

During the Triview board meeting on Aug. 23, the board approved a resolution to issue general obligation bonds with principal not to exceed $37.9 million with final maturity not later than Dec. 31, 2036. The actual principal issued by closeout on Sept. 26 was $32.61 million. The new bonds all mature in 2023.

The bonds were issued by Compass Bank at 3.7 percent. Compass Bank had also financed a $15 million bond issue at 3 percent interest for the district in November 2003. All of Triview’s debt is now with Compass Bank.

The bonds that were retired, about $26.6 million in principal, had been issued from 1987 through 2003 at 9-12 percent interest. Total bond debt for Triview is now $47.6 million. After paying the closing costs for the bond issue, the district has about $3.2 million left from the bond sale in new money for district capital projects.

The board unanimously approved a resolution for the defense and indemnification of the directors and employees of the district against liability for acts and omissions which may occur within the scope of their employment that are not otherwise covered by Colorado law. The resolution also states that the district agrees to pay the costs of defense and settlements against its directors and employees, including reasonable attorney fees. Coverage does not apply if a director or employee knowingly commits an unlawful act.

The board unanimously appointed new district manager Larry Bishop as the district’s representative to the El Paso County Water Authority. Bishop noted the need to be the district’s representative since he is the current president of the authority, to much laughter. Bishop joined the district just over a month ago.

Bishop presented his first draft of the 2007 budget for the directors to review. He asked for their comments and questions prior to the next board meeting.

The board unanimously approved a motion of support for the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority ballot issue for a temporary 1-cent sales tax to finance early construction of improvements to the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

Bishop reported that the Palmer Divide Water Group is considering converting into a water authority. He discussed the status of various water initiatives within El Paso County. (See Donala article on page 24 for more details on this proposal.)

Bishop reported that the district is only billing about 70 percent of the water Triview is producing. He said that this figure needs to be improved to at least 85 percent and proposed some options he may consider to reduce lost revenue on the 30 percent of treated water that isn’t being accounted for.

After noting that he could not find a previous policy letter, Bishop distributed copies of a draft policy letter concerning sewer and drain backups that states to customers of the district that "If there is no proven negligence on the part of the district, claims arising from sewer and drain backups will be denied." The letter also recommends that property owners specifically request "offsite sewer and drain backup coverage" from the carriers of their homeowner policies.

This policy is roughly identical to those of other sanitation districts in the Tri-Lakes region and is based on Colorado statutes for special and metro districts.

Vision Development project manager Rick Blevins noted that several restaurants will be added to the Monument Marketplace: Carl’s Jr., Texas Roadhouse and Culver’s hamburgers. Blevins noted that the previous bondholders had all received their checks following refinancing of the debt on Sept. 26.

Bishop, board President Steve Stephenson, and consultant engineer Chuck Ritter discussed their concerns about delays in final approval of the state loans being used to finance the upgrading of the wastewater facility. There were misunderstandings about whether the ongoing construction for the equalization basin was covered by the loan and the need to have a public hearing regarding the facility’s environmental impact assessment. Bishop noted that using the design-build philosophy of construction may be contributing to delays in approval.

The meeting went into executive session to discuss strategies for negotiations at 5:50 p.m.

The next meeting will be at 4 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the district office, 174 N. Washington St. in downtown Monument. Meetings are normally held the fourth Wednesday of the month.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, September 14: Mott commended for service; D-38 and YMCA present plans

By Sue Wielgopolan

The board announced at its Sept. 14 meeting that maintenance operator Jeff Mott, who recently left the district due to illness, was presented with a certificate of recognition at a special ceremony and luncheon. The Woodmoor district expressed its gratitude for 18 years of unblemished service.

D-38 provides information on ballot measures

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 President Jess Raintree and D-38 Tech and Research department head Ray Blanch presented a PowerPoint program to board members explaining the need for a new high school and outlining their plans. (The article on page 1 includes the information presented.)

Raintree said the additional high school was essential to handle growth, and both ballot issues 3-D and 3-E must pass for the school to move forward. The district has already purchased the land. Ballot question 3-D is a mill levy override; the money raised may be spent only for operations, salaries, and programs. Ballot question 3-E is a bond issue and can only be used for facilities; part of the money raised will be used for construction of the new high school building as well as improvements to the present high school.

If both ballot issues pass, D-38 plans to move quickly through the construction phase and open the new high school in the fall of 2008 with capacity for 1,200 students. Only ninth- and tenth-grade classes will attend the first year.

The L-P district has allowed for expansion; at buildout, the new high school will be able to handle an additional 500 students for a total capacity of 1,700. Though growth projections for the school district predict a need to educate about 2,400 high school students per year, D-38 allowed for about 1,700 students at both high schools for a total capacity of 3,400 students.

Raintree said the district was working to address concerns expressed at public meetings. Woodmoor residents in particular were worried about the traffic impact on Monument Hill Road and Woodmoor Drive, and "light pollution" issues associated with possible nighttime sporting events at the new high school.

YMCA seeking community support for new center

Jay Lowden, vice president of financial development, together with local volunteers Lynn Spear, who is chairing the campaign for funds for the Tri-Lakes YMCA, Merv Bennett, and Ted Rinebarger, spoke to the board about plans for a new facility. Lowden distributed informational folders that contained among other materials a conceptual sketch, handouts outlining the association’s mission and purpose, and fundraising results to date.

Spear began the presentation by informing members that the YMCA has been serving the Pikes Peak region for 128 years. Unprecedented growth in northern El Paso County coupled with a lack of family activity and fitness facilities make the area an attractive location of a new YMCA branch.

According to Lowden, 58 percent of households in the region have children under the age of 18. YMCA facilities provide a safe environment for after-school activities, and promote family participation in physical exercise. The association also feels that the growing retiree and senior population is under-served, and that the Y could help fill that niche.

Bennett said that while the stated mission is to "promote Christian principles through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body," he emphasized that the YMCA is not an evangelical organization. All religions are welcomed and encouraged to participate.

Originally, the YMCA had planned to build a 45,000-square-foot building. Current plans show a facility of over 100,000 square feet that will initially include a warm water pool, wellness/fitness center, group exercise studio, multi-purpose gymnasium, rehabilitation center, "child watch" center, and a community meeting room. The outdoor sports complex features a synthetic turf playing field.

The YMCA hopes to break ground in March of 2007 and open the facility no later than March 2008.

The first phase will not include a competitive/lap pool. If the initial phase is completed on time and is successful, YMCA representatives expect to enlarge the gymnasium area and fitness center, and add a second playing field, lap pool and racquetball courts within two to three years.

Lowden told the board that cost estimates for the project had ballooned from a starting point of approximately $9 million to $15.8 million for the first phase alone. The site, which is located just west of Lewis-Palmer High School, was donated several years ago by the Jackson Creek Land Co. and is worth about $2.4 million.

Construction costs have gone up dramatically, partially due to increases in the price of materials. Unanticipated expenses have also driven up the project price, such as the addition of a deceleration lane off Jackson Creek as required by the county. Though Woodmoor staff had discussed water arrangements at a meeting held months ago, the cost of supplemental water had also not been added into the original total.

Usually, the YMCA starts its fundraising campaign with grants from foundations such as El Pomar. The foundations want to gauge community support for the project in this case, so Y representatives will meet with Colorado Springs and Denver area contributors, such as the Coors, Boettcher, and Gates Foundations as well as El Pomar, later this fall.

So far, the fundraising effort has raised just under $6 million, which includes the land contribution. Other large donors include Scott and Sherry Skinner, Classic Homes, and GE Johnson Construction ($250,000 each) and People’s Bank ($60,000).

Bennett asked the Woodmoor board to help "spread the word" and again reiterated his strong belief that the YMCA represents a positive community influence that deserves support. Bennett invited any members so inclined to join with the present group of volunteers in ensuring the success of the fundraising drive.

Bennett also asked that the board consider reducing water rates, and stated the YMCA was open to any suggestions that might save them money on fees or charges. Woodmoor board President Jim Taylor recommended that the YMCA reserve water for both phases of the project so that it would be available when needed.

Joint Use Committee schedules annual meeting

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s delegate to the Joint Use Committee (JUC), reported that Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility continues to make progress toward becoming a self-managing entity. The JUC consists of representatives from the three sanitation districts that own the facility (Woodmoor, Monument, and Palmer Lake), plant manager Bill Burks, and executive manager Phil Steininger.

The committee had previously discussed the need for a bookkeeper for the wastewater plant. The three managers of the owning districts tentatively selected accountant Nolan Gookin to work on a part-time basis, offering a salary of about $1,000 per month for his services. The parties have yet to work out a few details before signing a contract.

Once a year, managers of the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts and Woodmoor hold a joint meeting with all members of their respective boards to plan direction and discuss concerns involving the treatment plant. This year’s annual meeting is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 25 at 6:30 p.m.. in the new office building at the Tri-Lakes Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave.

Steininger said that he and Burks were putting together the agenda, and asked the board what issues they would like to hear discussed. Steininger intends to cover the status of the transition for the other two boards and their responsibilities relating to the operation of the plant now that Woodmoor will no longer be acting manager.

Plant operators will report on the ongoing copper issue.

Woodmoor attorney Erin Smith suggested the boards establish operational guidelines, since Steininger would no longer be supervisor once the transition to a self-managing facility was complete. In particular, the boards need to decide who will give work directions to Burks for the JUC, and whether those instructions can be handled via e-mail or phone instead of waiting for the JUC’s monthly meeting.

Smith will review the intergovernmental agreement for the Tri-Lakes facility before the meeting to see if Woodmoor’s position as executive manager is spelled out in the wording. If specifically mentioned, the three partnering districts will have to amend the agreement or draft a new one, so that issue will need to be added to the agenda.

Steininger concluded discussion of JUC activities by asking board members to submit any additional topics they would like to address during the meeting.

Operations update

Operations manager Randy Gillette briefly covered the status of operations for the board. Main points of his summary are:

  • District wells easily kept up with demand last month, pumping approximately 38 million gallons.

  • The contractor performing the cleaning of the sewer lines located on undeveloped easements will wrap up work in the second half of the month. Root infiltration caused problems in some areas.

  • The district repaired one broken water main in August and another in September.

Plans for new well on schedule

Engineer Jessie Shaffer told the board that the hearing on the property re-subdivision involving the lot for Well 20 is on the El Paso County Commissioners’ Sept. 19 agenda.

The owners of the lot had previously combined two smaller lots into one parcel; the lot had to be redivided by the county in order for Woodmoor to purchase it for the new well site. The county Planning Commission has already recommended approval; Shaffer expects the commissioners to agree. The district has contracted with the Johnson family to buy the lot for $66,000.

Bishop and Brogden have completed the plans and specifications for drilling. Ads soliciting bids were scheduled to run on Sept. 20 and 27. A pre-bid meeting was scheduled for Sept. 29, with bids opening on Oct. 6. To meet the contract deadline for awarding bids, Woodmoor must select a contractor within 60 days.

Car wash owner granted additional water

Steininger announced that the supplemental water agreement for Kerry Hicks, which involves Monument Car Wash and a new one planned off Knollwood Boulevard, has been finalized after nine months of talks.

Meter replacement program passes halfway point

Shaffer said that the meter replacement program was roughly 65 percent complete. The district has put in 1,850 of the 2,890 meters it intends to replace.

Many of the meters in the older sections of Woodmoor had become inaccurate with age, and the district was under-billing as a result. Board members decided to install new transponder (remote electronic meter reader) and metering units. The batteries in the new transponder have a longer life.

Shaffer said Woodmoor issued 10 water shutoff notices. Residents were sent three requests to schedule an appointment for replacement of their meter units; customers who failed to respond were warned of impending termination of service.

Subdivision status

The district approved the infrastructure plans for Lot 27 in Misty Acres, which is east of Monument Hill Road. Water and sewer for Misty Acres Filing 1 have been installed and granted conditional acceptance by Woodmoor staff.

Maguire property granted inclusion

Steininger said that one of the last undeveloped parcels within the Woodmoor district’s boundaries had been included in the district. The paperwork for inclusion of the three vacant parcels on the north side of Highway 105 across from the Village Center at Woodmoor belonging to Jim and Donna Maguire has been signed.

The owners have already paid for the tap, and will now be subject to all mill levies associated with the district. Water rights attached to the site will be turned over to Woodmoor. The district waived other fees until the owners develop the property. The Maguires decided to include their property now to ensure future water and sewer service.

Board considers supplemental water agreement policy changes

Water within the Woodmoor district is allocated based on the size of the tract; property owners may use up to one-half acre-foot of water each year for every acre of property they own. Commercial and other non-residential water users, such as schools and recreational facilities, frequently need more.

Until this summer, Woodmoor staff could grant requests for additional water up to roughly 1 acre-foot per acre without asking the board’s permission. Requests for amounts exceeding that figure were heard by the directors and granted on a case-by-case basis. This spring, members decided that all requests for additional water will be subject to board approval.

Steininger asked the Woodmoor board to draft a new policy that takes into account hydrologic information about aquifer reserves. He told the board it is its responsibility to apportion water in a fair manner so that additional water is available to later developers.

Water over the basic allocation was formerly called "excess" water. Woodmoor board members and staff felt the name was misleading and implied that the district has a surplus. The term "supplemental water" will be used in the new policy.

Steininger also recommended the board adopt a new supplemental water charge structure that encourages conservation without unduly burdening developers with cost-prohibitive fees.

The board decided to institute a base rate of $20,000 for each acre-foot of supplemental water requested (over the original one-half acre-foot per acre), not to exceed 1.11 acre-feet of supplemental water for every acre of land owned. (The former rate was $14,000 per acre-foot.) Should the landowner want to buy more than 1.11 acre-foot of supplemental water for each acre they own, the charge would be 150 percent of the base rate. (In other words, at the current base rate, the owner would pay $30,000 per acre-foot.)

Director Nasser asked that the policy also specify that the board be allowed to reconsider prices for supplemental water on an as-needed basis, rather than on a yearly or twice-yearly basis.

Smith will begin work on a new draft supplemental water policy using the charges and suggestions put forth by the board.

Budget and water rate schedules to be discussed at October meeting

Steininger will present a rough draft of the 2007 budget at the Oct. 12 meeting. The board will have a chance to go over the numbers in detail at a budget workshop scheduled for Oct. 17 at 8:30 a.m. at the Woodmoor office.

Public utilities consultant Roger Hartman is working on a new water rate schedule in preparation for next year’s budget. In particular, he is reviewing the current multiple block schedule, which the board would like to see simplified. Members suggested that the number of blocks, which are broken down by volume, be consolidated.

The board went into executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, or sale of water rights; to consult with their attorney on specific legal questions related to negotiating positions; and to discuss personnel matters. The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor board will take place on Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held the second Thursday of the month.

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Donald Wescott FPD collects more than $11,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Association with "Fill the Boot" campaign

Below: Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s inaugural participation in the Muscular Dystrophy Association "Fill The Boot" fund raising campaign was a great success with over $11,000 in donations collected in four days. In addition to accepting contributions from motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to participate at the front driveway of Station 1 on Gleneagle Drive near Baptist Road, volunteer firefighters Byron Hayes (L) and Bryan Ackerman (R) collected donations at King Soopers. Photos provided by the DWFPD.

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, September 27: Ambulance agreement ends; impact fee plan tabled

By Lee Colburn

With directors John Hartling, John Hildebrandt, and Rick Barnes present, President Charlie Pocock called the meeting to order. Keith Duncan was absent due to a travel schedule. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack and Fire Chief Robert Denbroske were in attendance at the September Tri-Lakes (TLFPD) meeting.

Jack told the board that as of Oct. 1, the existing Emergency Service Contract between Tri-Lakes and the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) would be terminated. Palmer Lake Assistant Fire Chief Rob Lee and Fire Lt. Dan Reynolds presented the Palmer Lake perspective to the Tri-Lakes board in this "very unfortunate" development.

Pocock said the contract needed to be updated because of a change in Palmer Lake’s town leadership. A new agreement was delivered in July and, according to Pocock, didn’t receive any official response from them. When the board didn’t hear back, Tri-Lakes sent PLVFD an ambulance agreement termination letter Sept. 1, per the old agreement’s provisions. "We assumed they wanted to terminate and therefore were withdrawing the agreement submitted," Pocock said.

Lee stated that his department received an informal copy of the new proposal from Palmer Lake Town Administrator Della Gray in late July through a non-registered mail process that PLVFD couldn’t officially track. Immediately after the new Emergency Service Contract proposal was brought to the Palmer Lake Town Council, there was one working group meeting between Lee and Jack.

Lee expressed great concern over a paragraph allowing Tri-Lakes to establish and maintain command over incidents until Tri-Lakes deemed it appropriate to transfer command to PLVFD. Lee said it was not in the best interests of Palmer Lake to agree to the proposed emergency services agreement. He also said that the proposed agreement would appear to break down the fabric of the PLVFD command authority.

Lee said the proposal was not formalized and appeared to not have been fully coordinated with the Tri-Lakes board. Jack was drafting a rewrite agreement, but PLVFD canceled the second discussion meeting and turned the matter over to the Palmer Lake Town Council. From the Palmer Lake perspective, the next official action was a termination letter.

Then PLVFD Fire Chief Phillip Beckman exercised his authority to issue a "standing request" with the Larkspur Fire Protection District for ambulance services under a Mutual Aid Agreement.

Pocock said Tri-Lakes was never contacted by the Palmer Lake Town Council about redoing the agreement, and the Tri-Lakes board had expected some official communication from them. In the board’s view, the agreement with Larkspur would involve a longer response time than an agreement brokered with Tri-Lakes. Pocock suggested that the board might be willing to work with PLVFD to address their Emergency Service Contract concerns if negotiations were deemed beneficial by Palmer Lake.

Billing services: The board discussed Lana Oswalt’s proposal to contract for billing consultant services to the department’s billing section. The motion was passed and the $300 per month contract will be processed in accordance with TLFD regulations.

Fire Station 2 update

The water situation continues to be the main topic of concern in environmental management issues. With the wet summer, Station 2’s groundwater presents the district with a challenge to the surrounding area. The station has been redirecting ground runoff to culverts and handling what appears to be an artesian well that increases groundwater to the area. A station well inspection certified that the TLFPD well is not leaking, and a septic company is continuing to pump Station 2’s septic system every three weeks to guard against groundwater contamination.

Impact fee plan tabled

Preparations for a district impact fee computation have been made and a possible three-month test can be initiated in October. An initial projection figure of 7,500 permits could be processed in the district in the next five years, and the district Planning Department is ready to proceed if given the authorization. Board members and some members of the public in attendance expressed varying opinions on whether or not this general election season is the time to implement the impact fees.

A motion was passed to table designation of an impact fee implementation date.

Financial report

The financial report’s good news was a minor note after the Palmer Lake-Tri-Lakes emergency services agreement discussion. September came to within .33 percent of the projections, which all board members praised. The directors were very proud of the district’s budget performance and applauded the district’s continued efforts.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 25, immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting at Tri-Lakes District Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). For more information, call Chief Denbroske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, September 27: Discrepancies lead treasurer to insist on a change

By Susan Hindman

Woodmoor-Monument Treasurer Bob Hansen raised concerns about conflicting expense numbers, and the district’s paramedics got approval for new medical equipment in separate actions during a lengthy board of directors meeting. All five directors were present.

Prior to giving his monthly financial report, Hansen read a statement to the board that detailed his efforts to get to the bottom of discrepancies between expense numbers in bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer’s individual Excel spreadsheets and QuickBooks database and the audit numbers prepared by Gordon, Hughes & Banks. He noted his frustrations at being unable to clear up the problem after four weeks, despite many hours of work on the matter, and said "This has been a tough month for me."

He discovered the discrepancies Aug. 31 when he began work on the 2006 budget. To create a budget for the year, he uses the numbers from the previous year to determine how much to increase it for the following year, he said. He pulled up the expense numbers from the 2005 audit and the bookkeeper’s numbers, which should have all matched.

However, for the year ending 2005, the audit showed expenses of $1,138,574, while the Excel spreadsheet showed $1,209,398 and QuickBooks showed $1,144,188. Later in September, another Excel spreadsheet showed the 2005 expenses to have dropped to $1,155,628. Over the course of the month, the difference between the auditor’s and the treasurer’s numbers eventually dropped to $17,052, the most recent number.

"Which one do I believe?" he asked. "How can I go forward in preparing the budget for the next year when I don’t know what happened last year?"

In addition, Hansen said had he known of the discrepancies, he would not have supported the district’s purchase of a new fire truck or the renovations at Station 3.

He said he relies on Chief Robert Denboske to provide him with the financial information for preparing his reports to the board and the public. "In the past," Hansen noted, "the (former Woodmoor) chief did the financials, and he presented it to the board." Hansen concluded that rather than continuing to do this, he wants to turn the job back over to the chief – or else Hansen said he would have to resign as treasurer.

"If I’m going to stand behind a report on how the district’s finances are doing, I need reliable information," he said. "I’m not getting it."

Board President Tim Miller said he believed that the standard for an elected board would be that the employee would be the one doing the financial report, not the board treasurer.

After much discussion, it was decided that Denboske, who was attending the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District meeting down the hall at the time, would be put on notice that the task of being responsible for the financial reporting would now fall to him. Hansen’s job, then, would return to transferring money from the accounts as needed and being the "watchdog" over the finances.

As for the monthly treasurer’s report, Hansen said that per the bookkeeper’s information, for the first eight months of the year, the district is operating under budget by an average of $8,168 per month. The district has received a total of $1,162,881 in revenue, and the accounts at Peoples National Bank and Colotrust total $1,029,484.

New medical equipment will raise the district’s standard of care: Paramedic Eric Brown brought along a LifePak 12, the "Cadillac" of heart monitors, to show to board members in hopes that he could persuade them to purchase two of them. Currently, the LifePak 10 and 11 are carried on Woodmoor fire trucks for emergency medical use.

The LifePak 12 can: measure carbon dioxide expiration and oxygen saturation levels in patients; take blood pressure; read and transmit 12-leads, sending the information directly to the hospital; do a basic EKG; and is capable of working as an automatic and manual external defibrillator.

The two machines would total around $32,000. He said the company selling the machines would be willing to carry the district for 90 to 120 days with no interest, so the expense could be part of next year’s budget. Brown said he is pursuing a $5,000 public service grant from Mountain View Electric, which would be put toward the purchase.

Hansen expressed some concern over the timing of the request, considering the issues he had brought up earlier in the meeting. But in the end, he made a motion to approve the purchase, and the directors unanimously approved it.

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The Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District board meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. The next meeting is Oct. 25 at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority, September 27: Auditor’s charges raise ire of directors

By Susan Hindman

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority is looking for a new auditor after the current firm charged the district more than twice the agreed-upon amount.

All 10 board members were present at the Sept. 27 meeting.

Gordon, Hughes & Banks (GHB) had been hired at the end of last year to perform the 2005 audits of the Fire Authority and its two member fire protection districts, Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument. "We were under the impression we were paying them $14,500, and they thought it was $16,500," said board President Tim Miller.

The district was told it would save $2,000 by giving GHB the template used by the previous auditor. While GHB did receive the template, it wound up not using it because the firm changed the database format, merging the three separate databases into one. While the letter says the firm was asked to do this, Miller said the authority was not aware the firm had combined the databases until July.

Of greater concern, however, is the actual total of $35,315, which GHB recently informed the Fire Authority that it is charging for the three audits. The authority learned of the overage in an e-mail from the firm just before last month’s meeting. No bill detailing the overage was received until a few hours prior to the start of this month’s meeting, and that information was incomplete, officials said.

According to GHB’s letter dated Sept. 26 (and sent to Miller on the 27th), the firm had indicated in January that it would charge $5,500 for each audit—the Fire Authority, the Tri-Lakes district, and the Woodmoor-Monument district—totaling $16,500. Instead, the letter noted a charge of $14,700 for the audit, along with unspecified "audit fees" of $6,195, boosting the total to $20,895—which is $4,395 more than the original $16,500. In addition, there are $2,865 in consulting fees—which Miller said was accounted for—raising the total to $23,760.

The letter goes on to say that the firm has incurred a total of $35,315, but does not specify where the extra $11,555 came from.

Miller, a financial manager, said he is "flabbergasted" by the fees. "Since the year 2000, I’ve been involved in 15 different audits of Colorado public entities, each of which has $5 million in terms of revenue (the Fire Authority has an annual budget of $3.2 million), and none cost more than $8,000," he said.

He added, "I asked why we learned of this after the fact, and she (the firm’s representative) apologized for not communicating in advance."

But the directors were clearly unhappy about the unexpected fees and said for numerous reasons they had lost faith in the firm.

"They did a terrible injustice to Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority and to our taxpayers," said an angry director, Rick Barnes.

After much discussion, the board decided upon two courses of action. One is that an attorney will be contacted as soon as possible to review all the documents and determine exactly how much money, if any, the Fire Authority still owes the firm. So far, the authority has paid the firm $17,565 (the $14,700 in audit fees plus $2,865 in consulting fees).

The other action taken was that the board voted unanimously to terminate the relationship with GHB and look for a new auditing firm. Bondi & Co., one of the firms that gave a presentation in November 2005 when the board was interviewing auditors, will be contacted about submitting a bid.

As for the monthly treasurer’s report, Treasurer John Hildebrandt said the district is less than 1 percent over budget for the year.

Palmer Lake ambulance service dispute

Director Charlie Pocock updated the Woodmoor-Monument board about the ambulance service agreement that was not renewed with the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department after disagreement over who would maintain incident command during a call (see the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District report page 34 for details).

"How bad does that hurt us?" asked Pocock. "Not very badly. Our collection rate (from Palmer Lake) is down around 40 percent, and we don’t have that many calls." He pointed to six ambulance calls received recently and out of those, only one was likely to produce any income.

Hildebrandt wanted to clarify any misperceptions about what had happened. "They (Palmer Lake officials) had made several assumptions that were not generated from us or from anything that was said by us or in the letter or the contract that was given to them," he said. However, "they felt that them not having us come and take care of residents of Palmer Lake was in the best interests of—first they said the volunteer fire department and then they said the residents of Palmer Lake."

Hildebrandt said he hopes a new agreement will be forged: "We want to confirm that we were willing to rewrite the contract. The ball was in their court to make any changes or suggestions. We still stand as wanting to provide service for them, and we will make an attempt next week to contact them" about providing service.

Ambulance service provided by Tri-Lakes is scheduled to end on Oct. 1.

The board went into executive session at 9:55 p.m. to discuss personnel matters.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority board meets the fourth Wednesday of the month, following the meetings of the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection Districts, at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be Oct. 25. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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September Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Wet and cold were the story for this September, as most of the Tri-Lakes region received 3 to 4 inches of moisture and several mornings woke up to below freezing temperatures. Most of us also received our first flakes of the season, with snow from the morning of the 22nd to just after midnight on the 23rd. This didn’t accumulate much, but is a sign of the changing seasons. The wet conditions in September continued the trend we have seen all summer, with over 15 inches of precipitation since the first day of summer back in June. This is definitely good news as we head into winter, especially since we were so dry for the first half of the year. Almost as unusual is the fact that much of the Front Range from Denver northward was much drier than normal over the same period.

As you would expect, the month started off wet, with over a half inch of rain falling on the first as strong thunderstorms developed along a cold front that moved into the region during the afternoon. These storms dropped damaging hail and blew down several trees on the northeast side of the Black Forest and points east toward Peyton. Behind this front, temperatures tumbled into the 40s and fog brought gray skies and drizzle through the evening and most of the next day. Seasonal conditions returned for the next few days, before more wet weather returned on the 6th.

The second week of September started off on the stormy side with thunderstorms and rain on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. Then another round of strong to severe thunderstorms rolled through the region during the afternoon and evenings of the 9th and 10th. The storms produced hail and brief heavy rain. A chilly morning followed the next day as skies cleared overnight and lows dipped into the upper 30s. Mostly clear and quiet conditions returned for the next two days, although skies were hazy at times as northwesterly winds brought in smoke from fires in Montana and Idaho. Temperatures stayed near normal with highs in the upper 60s to upper 70s on the 12th and 13th. A weak round of thunderstorms developed on the next afternoon, dropping some rain, but clear skies quickly returned for the next few days.

However, the winds picked up Thursday and Friday as our first fall-like system of the season moved through the region. This storm moved too far north for us to receive any moisture, but it did send in a cold air mass and, with the longer September nights, we experienced our first widespread freeze of the season Sunday night into Monday morning Sept. 18th, right about normal for us.

Soon after our first freeze, winter made its first appearance as two strong storm systems blasted through the region. The third week of September started off quiet enough with clear skies from Monday the 18th through Wednesday the 20th. Then things began to change on Wednesday. By late that evening, winds had picked up and clouds had thickened. Rain began to fall just before midnight and continued to fall heavily overnight. Many areas in the region picked up over 1 inch of rain, but that wasn’t the worst of it. Winds really howled with this storm, gusting over 50 mph during the early morning hours on Thursday. Also, temperatures hovered in the low 40s, making for a miserably cold, wet, and windy morning. This storm also brought the first widespread snow to the Colorado high country.

The next storm followed on the heels of this one, and this time it had more cold air to work with. Skies were cloudy by Friday morning Sept. 22nd and temperatures were cold. Around mid-morning, the first flakes began to fly, mixed with rain at times, above 7,000 feet. Rain and snow continued off and on through the day on Friday, and then became all snow during the evening hours. This light snow continued until just after midnight on Saturday morning. No large accumulations ever resulted as temperatures stayed in the low to mid-30s and the ground was still pretty warm, but a dusting to a half inch did accumulate around many of the higher areas of the region. Our first taste of what will hopefully be an abundantly white winter.

As we head into the last few months of the year, we can expect temperatures to begin to take a substantial dip and chances for snow will be in the forecast through at least next April, so enjoy the last days of mild, quiet weather we often see in October.

A look ahead

October can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region, with winter conditions often experienced. In fact, for three of the past four years, weather around Halloween has been cold and snowy. Remember the 6-15 inches of snow that fell during 2004 from Halloween night through Nov. 1st and just last year over 20 inches of snow fell Oct. 9-10th! Of course, the weather can also be very dry and mild, so enjoy those days while you can.

The official monthly forecast for October 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and better than normal chances of above-normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

September 2006 Weather Statistics

Average High 63.7°
Average Low 35.7°
Highest Temperature 78° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature 24° on the 18th
Monthly Precipitation 3.91"
Monthly Snowfall 0.5"
Season to Date Snow 0.5" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 12.30" (the precip. season is from July 1 to June 30)

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/Weather.htm.

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Don’t close the skate park

With the imminent closure of Monument’s skate park, the town seems to me to be going backward.

There are many outdoor activities around this town. To take away one of them does not alleviate the problems that fuel the decision to do this. Closing the park will only take away an outdoor activity and make the people who abuse the place look for other places and other ways to direct their misguided efforts.

Seems to me there ought to be more possibilities in trying to create other diverse outdoor recreational activities rather than take them away. I reiterate, taking this park away isn’t going to make the underlying problem go away. I believe there must be a better alternative.

I was recently down in Salida, and their park, though slightly different, was a place for a pretty diverse bunch of kids. I think Monument could do at least as well as that. Yes, there are big parks in Colorado Springs and more coming along, but those are in Colorado Springs, not here. Please reconsider the plan to take this park away.

Tim Watkins

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Vote yes for Monument Academy

I would like to encourage your readers to vote yes on 3C, the ballot initiative that would help Monument Academy build a new school and continue educating over 12 percent of District 38 kids. MA is a tuition-free, public K-12 charter school that is in its 11th year of educating D-38 kids. It is one of nine schools in D-38, one of two accredited charter schools statewide, a John Irwin School of Excellence recipient for four consecutive years, and is ranked in the top 8 percent of Colorado schools. In fact, last year our third grade readers were No. 1 in CSAP scores.

While there are three initiatives on the ballot, it is important to keep in mind all D-38 kids have value and it is to our benefit as a community to continue to have a strong school district in which all kids matter. MA has put 3C on the ballot because they receive no mill levy or bond monies from D-38 and operates solely on per pupil revenues given to the district by the state legislature. While the majority of other school districts statewide and nationally have embraced charter schools, D-38 fails to recognize the value that MA brings to the district.

That lack of support and funding from D-38 has forced MA to continue to be in temporary facilities that span over four locations including a dentist’s office, an office building and portables. It sits off the frontage road next to the interstate weigh station and will have to contend with the proposed new high school’s increased traffic on the frontage road that has already claimed the life of a community youth.

A yes vote on 3C means we are committed to educating all children in our district.

Michelle Bell

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Monument Academy offers quality education

This fall, Monument Academy (MA), a District 38 tuition-free public school of choice, is asking the voters of the district for support in their efforts to construct a new facility.

Monument Academy is currently located on Woodmoor Drive. Classes are housed in multiple locations including modular classrooms, the Tri-Lakes Recreation Center Building and in nearby office buildings.

In spite of this, MA continues to be one of the highest-ranked academic programs in the state. CSAP scores not only outperformed district and county scores, but some CSAP scores were among the highest in the state.

Some school districts (including Academy District 20 and Douglas County School District) share bond money and mill levy override money with their charter schools; District 38 does not. Consequently, rent and lease monies come from operating revenues and not from the bond money or mill levy override money that traditional schools receive.

In spite of this funding disparity, parents are continuing to choose to send their children to a charter school. Last year, over 12 percent of the students attending Lewis-Palmer schools were enrolled at MA. A major reason for this is the unique curriculums offered. Many parents recognize that this collection of programs offers their children an opportunity for a tuition-free quality education.

The Lewis-Palmer Board of Education voted unanimously to allow MA to ask the district’s voters to help solve this facility’s inequity. With the support of the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education, Monument Academy is seeking a 1 mill levy override to assist in the construction of a new facility. It will cost the average homeowner with a house valued at $315,000 approximately $25 per year, or slightly more than $2 month.

I would ask that you join the members of the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education and support the passage of Ballot Question 3C. Vote yes on 3C!

Bob Hughes

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Support the Monument Academy mill-levy override

This November, the voters of Lewis-Palmer School District are being asked to help a very successful charter school, Monument Academy, with the construction of a building for their school. Charter schools bring a much needed choice to the public schools in the state of Colorado. Facilities for schools are typically financed by bonds in the state of Colorado.

However, Monument Academy does not share in any of the bond or mill levy overrides of the Lewis Palmer School District. Hence the school must pay for its facility out of the money that would normally go for teachers, textbooks and utilities.

Allowing Monument Academy to pay for its building through property taxes will allow it to spend the money it receives from the state on the education of the students and not on a facility. There are several reasons why this mill levy should be supported.

  1. Many students of the district are educated at the school. If this was a normal school of the district, the facility would have been financed through a bond or mill levy override.

  2. By having Monument Academy in your district, you will not have to build a school for these students as they will attend the charter school.

  3. The plan to build this school is less than what most schools would cost. The total mill levy is for $3,620,000, and the charter school is being very conservative on going into debt.

  4. The mill levy will be paid off in 10 years. This is a very short payoff and one that will save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars compared with a 30-year payoff.

  5. Property values of a school district are enhanced when good schools are offered to the students of the district.

  6. Student achievement and parental satisfaction are high at Monument Academy. You will be supporting your neighbor in helping their student get a great education.

I urge you to support this mill levy override for the students, your community and the state of Colorado.

State Rep. Keith King

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Two ayes and a no

There are three D-38 ballot questions this upcoming election: the 3C mill levy override for Monument Academy (MA)—and the school board-sponsored 3D mill levy override & 3E bond issue. Questions 3D & 3E are to relieve LPHS overcrowding by the construction and operation of a second high school. With a core infrastructure capacity of 1,400, LPHS is over capacity; 1,920 students for school year 2006-07 and projected population of 2,047 for school year 2007-08. The district estimates the combined tax increase for both second high school questions, 3D, the mill levy override, & 3E, the bond issue, will be approximately $35 per year for a $315,000 home.

The less well-known, MA 3C question asks for a 10-year 1 mill levy increase. Unlike 3D which limits the tax revenue to $2 million per year, 3C does not cap the yearly tax revenue so as property values increase so will the taxes collected for MA. Assuming MA enrollment remains flat (it declined 9 percent this year), next year the $25 in taxes for 3C will benefit only 627 students. 3D and 3E for the second high school will benefit more than 2,000 students for only $35. MA is asking for 228 percent more money per student than the second high school. I welcome the education choice that MA offers parents for their children, but MA needs to improve their track record (high administrator turnover and a discontinued IB program,) and have better accountability to voters.

I urge a "yes" vote on 3D & 3E and a "no" vote on 3C and ask that MA put forth a future tax question that is less expensive on a per student basis and clearly defines how MA plans to use the revenue before we approve a tax increase.

David Fish

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Don’t rush into new school site

All of my professional career, I have looked at and constructed maps. When I heard about School District 38’s ambitions for a second high school, I looked at the map of the district’s boundaries. The map I had was crude, but the measurements were approximately 17 miles east to west and 6½ miles north to south, which is an area of about 110 square miles. Then I began plotting locations of the current Woodmoor-Monument schools. The distance from Lewis-Palmer High School in the south to the proposed second high school to the north is about 2.5 miles. The west-to-east distance from Grace Elementary in Monument to the Lewis-Palmer Elementary in Woodmoor is about 1.5 miles.

A rectangular box enclosing this area is about 3.75 square miles. I was appalled to see how small this box is. There would be six schools compressed into this small area, when there are 110 square miles to work with. I realize not all the land in District 38 is available, but we need to explore other sites. Monument Hill can be extremely treacherous in winter months. Everyone is aware how suddenly weather conditions can deteriorate, affecting travel to and from this location. I have recently learned that the 69.8 acres at the junction of Highways 105 and 83, which the district already owns, could have adequate sewer and water facilities available, and would certainly be more centrally located in District 38.

Why cram another school into an already congested area? Let’s have more discussion with the school board on alternate sites instead of rushing through a vote on Nov. 7.

Hub Higgins

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Trust your School Board to do the right thing

This community has trust issues that must be abolished or the children in School District 38 will pay a very high price. The community at large made it clear that eminent domain, invoked on an unwilling seller, is not an acceptable course of action, so the School Board did a good thing when they identified and purchased property from "willing" sellers. This election should be a slam-dunk. It has to be for our children’s sake. Yet historical events, concerns over vague wording in the ballot questions, and debates over location continue to fuel the fire of distrust and skepticism.

Evidence of this is in the increasing number of people I hear from who are concerned that after the bond issue passes, the School Board may, by default or design, find something wrong with the Hunter Run location and in a final hour, switch to their official second choice, Wissler Ranch, saying they have no option. These concerns exist because the ballot question only identifies the second high school site as "building a second high school within the district." The concerns cannot be validated with concrete evidence. Additionally, I received personal assurance from Superintendent Pomarico that the second high school will be built on the Hunter Run site and that the Wissler Ranch is not in jeopardy of eminent domain. While the School Board does in fact hold the power to activate such a scenario, Pomarico assured Save Wissler Ranch volunteers and me that the School Board would never do something like that and if they did pull, as he called it, "a bait and switch," they and he should all be thrown out.

It is also evident that many people don’t believe the Hunter Run location is the best choice for a second high school. I am one of them. However, it is land being sold by willing sellers who have the right to sell and the location our elected officials have settled on, so I will trust their judgment on this issue. They appear to stand on solid ethical ground merely surrounded by opposing opinions.

We have been assured Wissler Ranch is safe, land is being purchased from willing sellers, the district is demonstrating due diligence in an effort to minimize the impact on the neighborhood, and they are taking action to ensure safety. I am choosing to put my trust in the Board of Education and support this issue. Everyone agrees we need a second high school. Personally, I believe we need to fund the Charter School as well. I hope the community will be generous with "yes" votes at the polls.

It is time to trust.

Chris Mikulas

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Cost of new high school will be worth it

I’ve lived in Colorado Springs most of my life. When I returned after a 14year absence, I had two young daughters. They had been in private school where we lived because the public schools were so bad. I looked forward to enrolling them in a quality public school system.

Because I was familiar with the area, I knew which districts were the best. I told our realtor we would consider homes in Districts 12, 20 or 38 and no others. We ended up in District 38 and the educational system did not disappoint.

Someday I will sell my home and move from the district. When that happens I hope that the value of my home will continue to be supported by the educational reputation of the school district.

That’s why we need to vote yes on issues 3D and 3E. It will send a message to everyone that the people in this community care about the educational facilities for the students of the district and are committed to being the best.

To do otherwise would suggest we don’t care about our educational system. People may decide they don’t want to move to our area because of a lack of commitment to education. If that happens, the demand for homes in the district declines along with the property values.

Building the second high school will show that commitment. The district now owns the land in the Hunter Run Farm area before the election. We need to authorize its use.

The cost to the average homeowner will be $35 per year. That’s less than 10 cents a day. For that tiny investment, we can provide our high school students the best possible learning environment at both LPHS and the new high facility.

For all of us in the community, but especially the students, please vote yes on issues 3D and 3E.

Tim Rector

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Expand Lewis-Palmer High School

A large number of us are opposed to building the new high school on Monument Hill for several safety and traffic reasons. I personally favor a single large high school based on my sons’ outstanding experience at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax County, Va., with 4,000 students in grades 7-12.

The school board is opposed to enlarging the current high school for at least two reasons: the superintendent’s negative experience with a large school, and insufficient property on the existing campus to enlarge the school. Additionally, doubling the school’s size would compound traffic problems at the current site. I believe these issues can be addressed successfully.

First, I encourage the board to visit Robinson (and other large schools in that area) and structure the administration similarly.

Second, I suggest the board approach the YMCA with a quid pro quo. In exchange for allowing the school district to build the student parking lot on the southeast corner of the YMCA property—with a pedestrian tunnel under Jackson Creek Parkway—the district would build the YMCA parking lot and allow YMCA parking in the student lot in the evenings and weekends. That would allow perhaps 75 percent of the asphalt on the existing campus to be torn up, providing space for additional classrooms.

Finally, Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway can be widened just enough to provide multiple entrances to the student parking lot: a double right turn into the northern end of the lot off southbound Jackson Creek; a single left turn off eastbound Higby into the western end of the lot; and side-by-side, two-lane entrances (four lanes) at the corner of Higby and Jackson Creek. Westbound Higby would have two "half-right" lanes into the lot, and, simultaneously, northbound Jackson Creek would have two "half-left" turns into the lot.

Buses would go to the current entrance and parents dropping off students could go either to the current entrance or drive into the lot and let their students use the tunnel. After school, exiting would reverse these courses.

We would also have to address traffic issues beyond the immediate campus area, keeping both student and commuter traffic on the main roads.

William D. Sieg

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Vote NO on BRRTA sales tax

The Board of Directors of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) is trying to sneak through a sales tax increase of up to $50 million. Anyone who supports honesty in government should oppose their efforts.

The 1,800 registered voters who live within the boundaries of BRRTA (Jackson Creek, Fox Pines, and the northern part of The Ridge at Fox Run) are going to be asked to vote on a 1 percent sales tax increase to pay for improvements to the Baptist Road I-25 Interchange. Instead of having that issue decided at the polling booths, like all of the other issues that we will vote on on Nov. 7, 2006, the Board of Directors has chosen to have the sales tax decided by a mail-in vote.

Why have they done that? The answer is that they know that if they allowed the tax to be voted on with all of the other issues it would be defeated, just as it was about eight years ago.

The Board is asking for authority to raise taxes by up to $50 million. That figure includes the cost of construction, plus the cost of the interest that will be incurred as a result of issuing bonds to pay for the construction. The cost of construction is somewhere in the neighborhood of $21 million. The cost of the interest on the bonds is the remainder of the $50 million.

The Board is alleging that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will reimburse BRRTA for the tax. However, CDOT will only reimburse the cost of construction and will not reimburse any interest paid on the bonds. Therefore, if this tax passes, it is possible that the residents of our community will have to pay nearly $30 million to improve our interchange, while everyone else in the State of Colorado gets the State of Colorado to pay for the cost of their major road improvements. Is that fair?

We have a chance to protect the character of our community and to oppose dishonesty in Government. Please vote NO on the sales tax increase.

Steve Waldmann

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Regional and local writers shine

By the Staff at Covered Treasures

We just returned from our annual trek to Denver for the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers’ Regional Trade Show. It is always an exciting (and exhausting) time. We come back with new ideas and are excited to know what the publishers will be offering for the holiday season. Here is a short list of reviews of some of our favorite titles, including new offerings from local authors Robert Spiller and Robert Liparulo, who will be signing books at our October Art Hop.

Witch of Agnesi
By Robert Spiller, $9.99

Lewis-Palmer Middle School has a published author on staff! Spiller has written a young adult murder mystery that has adults as well as students excited. The story takes place in a middle school on the eastern plains. Math teacher Bonnie Pinkwater is looking for a missing genius; students begin turning up dead. As the plot thickens, Bonnie comes to fear for her life.

Germ
By Robert Liparulo, $22.99

A new weapon—a virus that moves from host to host until it locks onto the targeted victim’s DNA—is in the hands of a man who has spent years collecting DNA from the American populace. He holds the heart of the world’s only superpower in his hands, and it’s time to start squeezing. The Deadeye knows how to find you—pray the assassins get you first!

Those who read Robert’s first book, Comes a Horseman, will be eager to check out his latest heart-stopping thriller.

The Vote
By Sybil Downing, $19.95

The year is 1918 and women are fighting for the right to vote; a violent and yet dynamic time for women. Kate Brennan goes to the aid of a group of women rallying in front of the White House and ends up spending 14 days in jail. She becomes a passionate supporter of the National Woman’s Party and travels to Colorado, where her life is threatened as she continues on her quest for women’s rights.

Little Kick in the Butt Series—30 Days to get back in Shape & 30 Days to Better Health
By Michelle Theall, $9.95 each

Michelle is the founder of the magazine Women’s Adventure and has written a condensed series of 30-day challenges to becoming a healthier person. Each day has a page of inspirational talk, and the second page states the challenge and then tells why it works. A small, compact size, these books can be tucked in pocket or purse.

Among Wild Horses: A Portrait of the Pryor Mountain Mustangs
By Lynne Pomeranz, $16.95

For horse lovers of all ages, this photographic essay book features majestic mustangs in their natural surroundings. Pryor Mountain, which is on the Montana-Wyoming border, consists of high desert, rocky ridges and semi-alpine slopes where these mustangs have found a home. Lynne’s striking photos tell a story of the horses’ courage, resilience, and freedom.

The Unexpected One
By Kathleen McGowan, $25.95

Kathleen intended to write a volume on strong women characters in history. In her search for these amazing women, she realized early on that one volume would not be adequate, as each one had a fabulous story to be told. Twenty years of research into Mary Magdalene’s life has produced this controversial novel. The Unexpected One uncovers the secret hidden scrolls telling Mary Magdalene’s version of the events of the New Testament.

Parents are Diamonds; Children are Pearls
By Mark Graham, $10.95

This little gem of a book will hit home with any parent. This slim volume is a collection of Yin and Yang metaphors on the illogical symmetry of parent and child relationships. Some titles of the poems are: Parents are Circus, Children are Clowns; Parents are Redwoods, Children are Aspen; Parents are Mirrors, Children are Reflections. "The most perfect diamond is the one that goes unnoticed. The most bewitching pearl is the one that’s allowed to shape itself."

Whether you are a fiction or nonfiction reader, some of our trade show books should entice you. Fall is the perfect time to refresh the stack of books beside your couch or on the floor next to your bed, and have your stash ready for the wintry days ahead! Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: Fall Garden Tips

By Woody Woodworth

Improve plant health and control the spread of your perennials by dividing them in the fall—unless the plants are fall bloomers. Cut back their stems and dig them up. If the center of the plant is old and woody, cut rooted sections from healthier outer portions of the clump and discard the spent center part of the root ball. If plant roots are badly matted or have bulged toward the soil surface, make sure each division has roots by teasing them apart and cutting down through the plant crown.

There are at least four good reasons to divide perennial plants. One is to maintain their health and vigor, because overcrowding stresses plants. When crowded, their dense foliage doesn’t dry out after morning dew or rainfall. This, in turn, invites fungal disease, which thrives on poor air circulation around the plants. Stressed plants also invite insect infestations, which only add to the problems. As some perennials age, the center of the clump may become woody and unproductive. And the soil around the plant may have been depleted of nutrients from years of inattention.

A second reason to divide plants is to maintain their beauty and peak flower production. Aged and overcrowded plants have small flowers and sparse, small leaves. They’re root-bound so they don’t take up nutrients efficiently from the soil. The result is faded flower and foliage color and often stunted stem growth.

Third, when you divide and replant, you also control excessive spreading. Enthusiastic growers, such as yarrow and artemisia, need dividing every year or two.

Finally, by dividing plants, you make more plants. And most perennials, other than those with taproots, can be divided easily. When you cut off rooted sections from the root balls of existing plants, you automatically have instant new plants, rooted and ready to grow. They’re exact replicas of the originals, sharing their desirable characteristics and growth habits, and they’re free.

Divide iris clumps by digging them up and cutting rhizomes into pieces with three fans of leaves. Discard any rhizomes that show signs of insect damage or rot. Cut the fan-shaped leaves back to 6 inches and clean away any dead leaves. Plant rhizomes 12 to 15 inches apart and just deep enough so that they are covered with soil.

Fertilize roses in late September or early October. Apply rose fertilizer according to label directions or ammonium phosphate at the rate of one-half cup per bush. Scratch the fertilizer into the top surface of the soil and water in. Remove sun-burned leaves, and prune rose canes back a foot or so to stimulate new growth and fall flowering.

Plant winter herbs such as cilantro, chives, parsley, sage, thyme and oregano. Herbs benefit greatly from a rich, organic soil. Containers are ideal for growing herbs as they prefer quality potting soils with good drainage and lots of organic matter. Winter herbs prefer plenty of sunshine and monthly feedings with a complete water soluble plant food.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs and rhizomes, such as narcissus (daffodils), crocus and iris, by early October. Choose a location with plenty of morning and mid-day sun but is shaded in the afternoon.

Prepare a bed for planting by mixing in plenty of desert or garden compost, composted manure or peat moss. At the same time, mix in 2 lbs. of 6-6-6 or similar analysis fertilizer per 100 square feet of bulb bed area. Plant bulbs at the depth and spacing indicated at the time of purchase. After planting, firm the soil around the bulbs and water the planting bed thoroughly.

Repeat waterings just enough to keep the soil moist around the bulbs, but not wet! Cover the bulb bed with a layer of organic mulch such as ground wood mulch, compost or peat moss. This will help hold in moisture and insulate the soil from heat and cold.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: The Raven

Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Randy and I enjoy watching ravens soaring between treetops at the base of Mount Herman. At a distance, it’s not always easy to distinguish a raven from a crow with their iridescent black plumage, but they really are quite different.

At maturity, the raven can reach a height of 25 inches with a 4-foot wingspan, while a crow’s average height is 18 inches. A raven has a fan-shaped tail, feathers that come to a point, a heavy rough patch of feathers around its throat called a mantel, and a heavier bill that curves at the end. It soars at much higher altitudes and can perform aerial acrobatics, which crows never do. The crows’ vocabulary is limited to the stereotypical "caw-caw," while the raven’s vocal range is extensive and generally much louder and deeper.

The raven is found everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, from the cold arctic to the hottest deserts of the Southwest. Its ability to adapt to different climates and terrain is unique and an indication of its high intelligence. It is a member of the corvid family of birds, which include crows, magpies, and jays, that are all well known for their bold, noisy and gregarious behavior.

The raven’s brain-to-body ratio is similar to that of a dolphin and its hyperstriatum (the part of a bird’s brain responsible for intelligence) is particularly well developed. Scientists have tested its nonverbal ability to count and recognize groups of numbers as well as its ability to use tools, and have found that it is highly intelligent and adaptable.

I remember an eccentric elderly gentleman who lived in the small town where I grew up, who had a raven that talked. Often, I would walk a few blocks out of my way to pass by his house on my way to school just to observe the two of them interacting on his front porch. He always waved, and sometimes I would be rewarded for taking the extra time when the raven loudly greeted me in a voice that sounded oddly human. One day as I walked by the man’s house, I noticed that he was sitting alone and it was quiet. When asked where the raven was, he responded that his friend of 27 years had died. Sadly, a few weeks later the man followed his friend into the spirit world.

The raven is an omnivore and finds food even in the harshest conditions. It eats meat and vegetation. As a scavenger, the raven doesn’t discriminate between animals and humans, which may account for its ominous reputation. But the raven knows how and when to take advantage of other animals to find food, or even to help them find food. In Yellowstone, bison that don’t survive the harsh winter attract coyotes, whose sharp teeth rip open the tough, frozen hides, making the meat available to the watchful raven. It also has been seen following wolf packs to a kill, and some accounts tell of a raven flying ahead of the pack, leading them to the prey.

The raven begins courting at an early age but may not actually bond with another bird for two to three years. Breeding pairs must establish and defend a territory before they begin nest-building. Both parents tend the eggs and take turns feeding the chicks. While a juvenile is deeply curious and will readily investigate, a mature raven is suspicious and will scrutinize before approaching. A raven can live 10 to 15 years in the wild but twice that when well cared for in captivity.

Raven lore is found in many cultures. Its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion has provided famous authors such as William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King to employ the raven as a messenger of bad omens. But in many cultures, the raven is revered. In the Bible, the raven is a savior when God commands it to feed the profit Elijah. The Haida, an indigenous people of northwestern Canada, regarded the raven as the trickster god who tempted the first humans out of a clam shell. Many more universal examples exist in written and oral history.

The West Nile virus has taken its toll on the raven. The virus is carried by mosquitoes and affects humans, birds, and horses. It first surfaced in North America late in 1999, arrived in Colorado in 2002, and in 2003 El Paso County reported 116 human cases that included one death in Monument. The raven, along with other birds, is highly susceptible to the virus.

To protect yourself, do not allow standing water anywhere on your property. If you have a pond, stock it with fish that eat the larvae. Trim grass, shrubs, and heavy foliage. My understanding is that birds do not transmit the virus to humans but, if infected with the virus, they will become hosts for uninfected mosquitoes that spread it. For more information, go to www.fightthebitecolorado.com

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available at the gift shop in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. E-mail her with your questions and bird finds at OCN.

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Reflections: The Cliffs Notes version, please

By Judith Pettibone

It was a well-attended meeting. After politely listening to a detailed anatomical description (on speaker phone) as to why one of the members was on complete bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy, the chairman said, "I don’t mean to be rude, but could we have the ‘Cliffs Notes’ version, please?"

Sure would have shut me up—accompanied by crimson cheeks and a painful swallow. Not for that talker. The comments rolled off her back as if they had never been uttered. Until she was completely finished, she finished. It was surprising and awkward for everyone in the room—minus the one holding court.

What amazes me is how our "too chatty" folks repeatedly fail to recognize our clues— eye-crossing, yawn suppressing and absolutely nothing coming out of our mouths—as pretty good indicators of TMI (too much information). Think about how you have girded yourself as you spy a "TMIer" coming toward you at a reunion. Wonder where the brakes are? Or the boundaries?

I know of only one circumstance where the TMI "rule" can be utterly suspended: in training to walk a marathon. Ten years ago, a friend and I undertook this fools’ errand—to the tune of about 700 miles over eight months. We did several 22-mile training walks.

But from the TMI vantage point, there was a freedom in that endless walking. I could say, for instance, "I saw a play over the weekend, do you want to hear about it?" And she said, "Yes, of course."

By mile three, I had completed a rather complete description of costumes and sets. I said, "Am I telling you more than you want to know?" And she said, looking at the horizon, "I don’t think, in this case, that is possible."

The Gazette recently featured a 2005 book by Margaret Shepard, The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself with Style and Grace. She tackled a number of "talking" points: no interrupting (she compares it to shoving), no taboo subjects, no rambling, and germane to this—no boring your audience. "It is uncivilized to bore people because it means you are not paying attention to them," Shepard says. No surprise when she suggests that you stop talking and see if any one encourages you to continue. She asks you to observe if they look "glazed over" or "tuned out." She even suggests a four-minute time limit (a long time if you have ever prepared a topic for a speech class). She completes the thought by saying that good conversation is like a game of Frisbee.

So, except in the instance of TLI (too little information) that might evidence itself at the dinner table when you inquire, "How was school?" or when you find yourself on that 22-mile training walk, it might make for better dialogue between us all, if we Frisbee-chatted. Catch and toss.

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Art Matters: Is Modern Art still new?

By Janet L. Sellers

Whether it feels new or not, modern art is still with us, as are modern artists. After all, we are still in the modern period of human history, according to the books. Shouldn’t we be done with modern? Didn’t we discover more and move on to something newer? Not yet. We are still just plain old modern. It’s an age thing.

Even so, there are many new ways to create art, lots of new mediums, and so many avant-garde venues it is mind-boggling. We have galleries and salons (those terms used to mean hallways filled with stuff to look at on the way to doing something else), museums, electronic media including online art surfing, and a lot more is in the works. If there is a way to get your attention, artists will find it. How interesting and provocative they are!

What have they come up with now? Well, seeing as how our modern age is characterized by the notion that we humans have the power to create our environment, artists are continuing to explore their personal inner thoughts, public opinion, and change. They still are embracing opposites, contradictions, and relevance. We all do this to some degree in many ways via our social culture, science, technology and personal motivations. Artists just do it with aesthetic appeal, sometimes off-color; more often they do it rather well. We’ll treasure and keep for posterity that which has had meaning for us, and what we leave to posterity is kept by future generations if it truly holds ongoing meaning.

All this is bundled into our search for improvement in our lives, which is the basis for modernism. The canons of modernism make claims to issues sometimes at the exclusion of all previous perceptions that came before it, and often within its own perceptions of itself. That is to say, its foundation was about change for the sake of change, relativity for the sake of unrelated perceptions, and a clamor for authenticity, ingenuity and new angles albeit became of the old and familiar once recognized. In a word, it has been about individual success—and about continually finding one’s own place among the crowd.

Speaking of modern, here is the modern way to shop for art. Your success is assured, and you will be in good company as well. You may not be in charge of the art, but you sure have the power to make the artists and the art shows successful by visiting often and making your purchase count.

Here in our community we have the worldwide online galleries of local artists we can Google (yes, that counts as local). Just type in the key words "art Monument Colorado" and see what you can put on your list for local art and artists. It’s impressive. Inspire your friends with our culture scene and invite them for a spin in our community. Most artists have studio openings or private party showings to which they will then invite you, and many are happy to give you a studio tour by appointment. They have art for sale. After all, they are available online for that purpose.

I have also assembled a list below of some top choices for fun up close and personal at our local "brick-and-mortar" art venues for October:

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Annual Members Show—open until Oct. 20, 2006, noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, CO 80133, (719) 481-0475. This is my favorite show yet by the members of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. I have a lot of favorites, and there are many genres represented: photography, mixed media, watercolor, acrylic, oil, sculpture.

Some of my favorites were the black-and-white photo images of local landscapes enveloped in white, the familiar snowy cover that we see so often. Those of us who live here know that, from inside our warm, cozy homes, the serenity and beauty of such a day is captivating. All around the TLCA gallery space many attractive and interesting paintings of countryside by many different artists recall plein-air techniques that are fresh and alive. It is a show with a big variety of styles and media. Don’t miss it.

The Palmer Lake Art Group: PLAG funds scholarships through your purchases Oct. 7-8 at the historic Palmer Lake Town Hall. This is the PLAG’s 33rd Annual Christmas Craft Fair. Jewelry, pottery, basketry, folk art and baked goods will be for sale, with the proceeds going to a scholarship program. I remember going many years ago, and I still enjoy my gorgeous coffee mug that I bought at that show. It is worth the visit for both the art and crafts and the food! For details, call 719-88-8101.

The Creative Crafters Showcase: fine arts and crafts show October 21-22, open all weekend at Lewis-Palmer High School features unique fine art and fine crafts with over 100 artists work to browse and buy. You can get a dollar off the admission charge if you mention you saw this art news in the OCN.

Monument Art Hop: There are maps available all over town for the historic Monument Merchants area of Beacon Lite Road and Second Street west through town to Third Street. Did you know that this represents the biggest group of venues in our area and is offered the third Thursday each month from May until October? Oh, no! Is Oct. 19 the last Art Hop for the year? Can we talk the galleries into keeping it going until the end of the year? It’s time to get art on your walls and get your groove on this month!

Now is the time to take your honey(s?) out for the fun monthly Art Hop evening courtesy of the local art galleries. Let your sweetie choose from the wealth of art here in town over wine, goodies and conviviality—trust me, it doubles the fun of art shopping. Have a great time for free on a night out with no art mistakes because they can choose the art they love and voila—your shopping is done ahead of the holidays. Visit the Historic Monument merchants and galleries for the Art Hop and cast your vote by showing up and enjoying the art in all the shows—and tell them Janet Sellers from the OCN sent you!

And here’s the best for last, kudos to OCN’s very own Elizabeth Hacker, winner of the Best of Show ribbon at the annual member’s show at the Tri Lakes Center for the Arts. Her beautiful wild bluebird in mixed media promises a fun new direction for us to enjoy.

Janet L. Sellers is an artist and speaker in the Tri Lakes area. E-mail her with your questions and event listings at OCN.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, September 21: The Lewis and Jones Gang

By Dee Kirby

People who attended the Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting Sept. 21 in the Town Hall heard Dwight Haverkorn give an enthusiastic talk about the Frank Lewis and Dale Jones gang, which included wives, sisters and sidekicks Roy Sherrill and Kansas City Blackie (Roscoe Lancaster). This bunch of thugs, bank and train robbers blazed a trail of terror through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California.

Haverkorn said that in September of 1918, they rented a house in a high-rent district of Denver. There, they planned their next gangster rampage to steal, shoot and run. But a Pinkerton man by the name of Miller tracked the gang’s movements and, when he was sure of their intentions, he alerted the police as to its whereabouts. When the gang made a move, so did Miller and the police. The battle scene took place at Frank Henderson’s gas station in Colorado Springs. Henderson recognized the bunch from posters circulated by the police. He alerted the police and then proceeded to buy time by slowly checking the water and oil. Meanwhile, as the car of another customer, Mrs. Harmon, was being serviced, the police and the Pinkerton agent surrounded the station, thus trapping Mrs. Harmon in the middle.

The rest of the story was a Keystone Cops shootout, if it had ended funny. It didn’t. Bullets flew. Seriously wounded was detective John Riley and Chief of Detectives John W. Rowan was killed. The gang made its escape when Mrs. Harmon, whose car had been blocking the escape route, managed to flee the scene. Though the police gave chase, the gang escaped.

This gun-toting bunch, who killed without an afterthought, continued its crime spree until 1923, when bullets or prison put an end to them.

Haverkorn said he still has a few more years to document the rest of this gang’s story but, with his qualifications, he’ll get the job done. Haverkorn has 35 years of investigative work under his belt: 15 years as a police officer and 20 years as a civilian investigator for the Colorado Springs Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office.

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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.

Windy Peak Concert at TLCA

Windy Peak will be performing at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), Oct. 7; doors open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show. Gordon Burt’s bluegrass background (fiddle), Deborah Schmit-Lobis’s classical experience (keyboards), and Kathleen Fagre’s folk/Celtic background (hammered dulcimer) create a unique musical experience. Tickets are $10 for TLCA members and $12 for non-members. Tickets are available at The Wine Seller in Monument (488-3019) and at The Speedtrap (488-2007) and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is a nonprofit organization located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.

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The 2006 Empty Bowl Dinner

The 2006 Empty Bowl Dinner, sponsored by Monument Hill Sertoma and LPHS Serteen Club, will be held Oct. 11, 5-7:30 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School Commons Area, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. The cost is $16, which includes a ceramic bowl made by local potters. Proceeds benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. Tickets are available in Monument at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Pankratz Gallery, Tri-Lakes Printing (Woodmoor Center), Tri-Lakes Tribune (47 Third St.), and in Palmer Lake at Rock House Ice Cream & More. For information, phone Chris Otto at 487-8582, or e-mail cjotto@att.net

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Scarecrow-making Class

High Country Home & Garden is offering a class on how to make a scarecrow (for all ages and abilities) Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. The materials list is available at High Country Home & Garden, 243 Washington Street in Historic Downtown Monument, and all class participants are eligible to win the demonstration scarecrow. So gather up your old clothes and plan to spend an afternoon getting in touch with your inner farmer. And while you’re here, pick out a pumpkin and take the kids for a hayride, too. For information, phone 481-3477.

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Wine & Roses: An Event to Attend

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s annual wine tasting benefit will be held Oct. 20, 6-9 p.m., at The Inn at Palmer Divide in Palmer Lake. Celebrity wine servers will be pouring dozens of fine wines to enjoy with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Visit the Web site, www.tlwc.net, or phone 551-1946. Tri-Lakes Women’s Club benefits local nonprofit groups such as District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that provide services to residents within the community.

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Creative Crafters Fall Showcase

This annual fine art and craft show features over 100 vendors offering a wide variety of unique items for home decorating and gift giving. The show is Oct. 21, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Oct. 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. Admission is $4. Clip the ad on page 3 of this issue and save $1. For information, phone Noreen, 488-3046.

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Monument Library book sale

Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library is holding a book sale Oct. 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Get a bag of books for only $4. For information, phone 488-2370.

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LPHS ski, snowboard, and mountain bike swap

Lewis-Palmer High School Ski-Snowboard and Mountain Bike Clubs are hosting their 2nd annual swap at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. Drop off equipment Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The sale will be Oct. 28, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. People can pick up their money or unsold equipment Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Twenty percent from all sales goes towards the clubs. For more information, phone Donna Wood, 785-4223.

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AARP Mature Safe Driving Program

Motorists age 50 and older can take AARP’s refresher course to hone their driving skills and lower their insurance rates. The cost is $10 and registration is required. Bring a lunch. The class is Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Monument Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. For registration and information, phone 488-2370.

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Dotsero Concert at TLCA

Dotsero will be performing smooth jazz at its best at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Oct. 28; doors open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $12 for TLCA members and $15 for non-members. Tickets are available at The Wine Seller in Monument (488-3019), and at The Speedtrap (488-2007) and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is a non-profit organization located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.

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Rocky Mountain Music Alliance 2nd Season Concert Series starts November 4

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance, in it’s second season, presents Jeanie Darnell, soprano with Michael Baron, piano in concert at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road, Colorado Springs, 80921 on Nov. 4, 7 p.m. This is the first of four concerts comprising the 2006-2007 series. Further information and tickets are available by calling Pam Brunson at 484-0192 or see the insert in this edition of Our Community News. Season tickets are available for $60 for adults and $50 for students. Single tickets are available at $22 for adults and $18 for students.

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Tri-Lakes Music Association seeks singers and musicians

The Tri-Lakes Music Association, a non-profit organization, is recruiting musicians–orchestral and vocal–for a Christmas concert that will be performed at Lewis-Palmer High School December 15, 16, and 17. The music selection for this year is Mike Speck’s "The Heart of Christmas." The proceeds from the concerts will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares, a non-profit organization. Anyone with a desire to make music and have fun is welcome to join this group. For more information about the adult choir, children’s choir, and/or orchestra please contact Bob Manning at 481-3883 or rwmanning@adelphia.net.

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All Pikes Peak Reads 2006: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Read the book everyone in the Pikes Peak region will be talking about: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The classic story by Lewis Carroll is the selection for All Pikes Peak Reads (APPR), a community-wide literary program designed to get everyone in El Paso County to read and discuss the same book each year. See the "Local Library Events" in this month’s Community Calendar for special programs in October. For more information, phone 488-2370.

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Volunteer opportunities with El Paso County

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Placement Alternatives Commission for three-year terms. Applications for the open positions are due Oct. 27.

The Placement Alternatives Commission, under the Department of Human Services, reviews the effectiveness of programs within its jurisdiction and evaluates requests to establish new residential children’s programs in the county. The commission currently has the following representative openings:

  • Public Health (must be a current employee of the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment)

  • Probation (must be a current employee of the Juvenile Probation Department)

  • Community Center Board (must be a current employee of the local Community Center Board – Resource Exchange)

  • Consumer (must have utilized the services of the Department of Human Services in the past)

  • Health Care Professional (must work in the healthcare field)

  • Attorney

  • Private Citizen

The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. Send completed applications and any letters of interest or résumés to:

Board of County Commissioners Attn: Fran St. Germain, Executive Assistant to County Administration 27 E. Vermijo Avenue Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208 Applications can also be faxed to: 520-6397 or emailed to: webmaster@elpasoco.com. For further information call 520-6436.

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