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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 12 - December 2, 2006

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the PDF file. This is a 20.6 Mbyte file and will take about 119 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Monument board approves Sanctuary Pointe

Photos by John Heiser

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Below: Douglas Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes, developer of the Sanctuary Pointe project. Behind Stimple are Town Clerk Scott Meszaros and Town Manager Cathy Green. 

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Below: (clockwise) Town Attorney Gary Shupp, Mayor Byron Glenn, Trustees David Mertz, Tommie Plank, Timothy Miller, Gail Drumm, Travis Easton, Steven Samuels. 

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Below: Sanctuary Pointe Sketch Plan approved Nov. 20.

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the sketch plan as a PDF file. This is a 6.1 Mbyte file and will take about 35 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

By John Heiser

The continuation of the hearings on Classic Homes’ Sanctuary Pointe development was held at the regular Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting Nov. 20. About 50 citizens attended the meeting. All members of the board were present.

Details on the proposal and initial portion of the hearing are presented in the article covering the Nov. 6 BOT meeting.

Before the continuation of the Sanctuary Pointe hearings began, Mayor Byron Glenn advised the audience that he would limit comments or expel audience members if there was unruly behavior.

Town’s presentation

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, presented the report by principal planner Karen Griffith, who was on vacation. The report highlighting the changes since the Nov. 6 hearing noted:

  • • The maximum number of dwelling units was reduced from 650 to 600. The overall density was reduced from 1.4 dwelling units per acre to 1.3.

  • • Densities were reduced in areas adjacent to the Kingswood, Fox Pines, and the Ridge at Fox Run and in area L on the eastern side of the property.

  • • Kingswood Drive will have a discontinuous connection to the east-west collector road.

  • • A minimum 50-foot-wide buffer will be included adjacent to Kingswood, Fox Pines, and the Ridge at Fox Run.

  • • Minimum lot sizes of 20,000 square feet are specified for parcels K and M adjacent to the Ridge at Fox Run.

The revised land use summary:

1 DU per 2-3 acres 52 acres 11%

15-24 DU

1-2 DU per acre 146 acres 32% 146-292 DU
1.5-3 DU per acre 74 acres 16% 111-222 DU
2-3 DU per acre  97 acres 21% 291-339 DU
Open space/park  86 acres 19%  
Church  5 acres 1%  
TOTAL 460 acres 100% 600 DU max.

Vicinity Map

Developer’s presentation

As at the Nov. 6 hearing, John Maynard, a land planner for NES, Inc., and Jeff Hodsdon, a traffic engineer with LSC Consultants, gave the developer’s presentation in support of the annexation and sketch plan.

Hodsdon presented the following measurement of existing traffic (in average vehicle trips per day):

  • 2,000 on Higby just west of Fairplay Drive

  • 8,000 on Baptist Road just west of Gleneagle Drive

  • 6,100 on Baptist Road at Kingswood Drive

  • 1,600 on Baptist Road just west of Roller Coaster Road

  • 1,550 on Roller Coaster Road just north of Baptist Road

  • 1,750 on Roller Coaster Road just south of Baptist Road

He then said that based on the prior plan of 640 houses, the project would generate 6,220 additional trips. He said the distribution of those trips would be:

  • 2,270 (36.5 percent) would travel to and from the west on Baptist Road.

  • 2,050 (33 percent) would travel to and from the east on Baptist Road.

  • 1,745 (28 percent) would use Higby Road in traveling to and from the project.

  • 155 (2.5 percent) would use Gleneagle Drive in traveling to and from the project.

Hodsdon concluded:

  • The level of service (LOS - a measure of traffic congestion, ranging from A to F, with A being least congested) in the vicinity of the project will be essentially unchanged.

  • Baptist Road will be able to handle the traffic.

  • Site access intersections will operate acceptably.

  • Three intersections at Fox Run Circle will operate acceptably.

  • Right-of-way is available for future expansion of Baptist Road to four lanes, if needed.

Hodsdon noted that many of the intersections will operate at LOS C or better. Hodsdon added, "LOS C is good." The Colorado Department of Transportation defines LOS C as follows: "Represents a constrained constant flow below speed limits, with additional attention required by drivers to maintain safe operations. Comfort and convenience levels of the driver decline noticeably."

LOS D is defined as follows: "Represents traffic operations approaching unstable flow with high passing demand and passing capacity near zero, characterized by drivers being severely restricted in maneuverability." Hodsdon noted that LOS D is considered acceptable according to town regulations.

In response to criticisms of the volume of traffic he had assumed would go east and use Roller Coaster Road and Highway 83, Hodsdon reported the results of a sensitivity analysis in which half of the eastbound traffic from the project was redirected to go west on Baptist Road. He said that even with that change, the intersections operated at LOS D or better.

In addition to the points made earlier by Kassawara, Maynard noted the following:

  • 12-acre parcel C on the north side of the project adjacent to Higby Estates will have only three to five dwelling units.

  • The buffer adjacent to Higby Estates has been eliminated at the request of the Higby Estates residents to preclude placement of a trail there.

  • In response to Kingswood residents concerns, Maynard said drainage from the project will follow the town’s criteria and will be released at no more than historic rates using the natural drainage path.

Maynard concluded, "We have addressed your concerns."

Public comments

Glenn opened the public hearing with a request that only new issues be brought up.

Ridge at Fox Run resident Jim Finwick gave a presentation urging the BOT to require that:

  • No more than 450 dwelling units be allowed. The average density of nearby developments (Fox Pines, Ridge at Fox Run, Woods at Happy Landing, Higby Estates, and Kingswood) is .64 dwelling unit per acre. Sanctuary Pointe is proposing more than twice that density. With 450 dwelling units, the average density would be .98 dwelling unit per acre.

  • A 50-foot buffer zone be included on all sides of the project.

  • The lots adjacent to Fox Run and Fox Pines be a minimum half-acre (21,780 square feet).

  • The central collector road be built first and constrain construction traffic to use it.

  • Over-lot grading and clear-cutting of trees be prohibited.

Kingswood resident Lewis Farmer expressed appreciation to the developer for his willingness to make the connection to Kingswood Drive discontinuous but noted that it might become a continuous connection, with attendant increased traffic, to satisfy concerns of other entities such as the fire protection district.

Ridge at Fox Run resident Steve Waldmann said Hodsdon did not explain the assumptions that produced the projected traffic counts for the development. Waldmann noted that 85 percent of the existing Baptist Road traffic goes to and from the west and only 15 percent goes to and from the east, yet Hodsdon said 33 percent of the new traffic would go east.

Kingswood resident Mike Wermuth expressed concern that the Triview Metropolitan District, which would supply water, sewer, and road service to the proposed development, is "on the cusp of what it can handle." He added that Triview is $46 million in debt and has consistently underestimated costs and over-estimated revenue. He also noted that the proposed annexation area is not shown as a potential annexation area on the land-use maps in the town’s comprehensive plan.

Ridge at Fox Run resident Kelly Christner said that the second high school and I-25 Baptist Road interchange projects were "late to need" and illustrate that much of the infrastructure is already at capacity.

Developer’s rebuttal

Hodsdon said he is a registered professional engineer with 13 years of experience in traffic engineering. He said that the variables in modeling traffic are "difficult to predict" but that in the sensitivity analysis with only 16 percent of the traffic traveling to and from the east, the intersections were still no worse than LOS D. He added that a more detailed traffic analysis would be done at the site-plan stage.

In response to Trustee Tim Miller’s question regarding the split of northbound vs. southbound traffic, Hodsdon noted that there is employment in Monument and north of Monument such as the Denver Tech Center that would account for traffic in that direction. He said the 28 percent of the new traffic projected to use Higby Road is a "reasonable amount."

Douglas Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes, stated:

  • This is designed as a high-quality, well-maintained project for an aging demographic similar to a recently opened part of the Flying Horse Ranch, another of Classic’s projects. The potential buyers will place fewer burdens on the schools and drive less than younger residents. He added, "We won’t make any money if we put forth a project the community doesn’t support."

  • This project will contribute $650,000 to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority. It will also contribute to local road building and other infrastructure improvements.

  • Citing the anticipated costs for constructing roads and other infrastructure, he said, "We can’t live with 450 units." He added, "We are matching adjacent densities."

  • School District 38 has said it can handle the new students associated with this project.

  • Grading and tree cutting will be done with sensitivity to the natural conditions.

  • "The area will be better off with residents living here and paying taxes."

Board discussion

In response to a question from Miller about Finwick’s figure of .64 dwelling unit per acre average in adjacent developments, Kassawara said the concern was about directly adjacent densities, not overall averages. He said the concern has been addressed. He added that the developer could have proposed clear-cutting and eliminating the open space and achieved the same average density with larger lot sizes.

In response to a question from Trustee David Mertz, Maynard said Classic would equip the parks with playground equipment. Triview would maintain the parks.

Glenn noted that the town is considering increasing park improvement fees.

Responding to a question from Glenn, Maynard said the project will be phased, starting in the east where the collector road intersects Baptist Road.

Miller asked what the likely development of this land would be if it weren’t annexed to the town. Town Manager Cathy Green replied that if it were developed in accordance with the county’s Tri-Lakes comprehensive plan, it would be at lower density and would use individual wells and septic systems or would be served by the Donala Water and Sanitation District. She said that although the town would lose property taxes, it would still receive sales tax from purchases by residents.

Trustee Gail Drumm said, "I hate to put Jackson Creek people more in debt." He added, "I wonder if this is a bridge too far to be going that far east."

Trustee Tommie Plank said, "When the county approved Fox Run, they increased the density considerably."

Trustee Travis Easton said, "Look at the multifamily off Higby. There is no way to know what the county would do with this."

Trustee Steve Samuels said the developer should take care of the main arteries first and phase the construction traffic.

Mertz thanked the citizens for getting involved and the developer for making concessions to the citizens’ concerns.

Glenn thanked the residents for the respect they had shown and thanked Classic for its patience.

Votes

On the separate motions for annexation of each of the three additions, the vote in each case was 5-2, with Drumm and Miller voting no.

The sketch plan was unanimously approved after adding the following conditions:

  • Two lanes of the east-west collector road must be completed before phase 2 of the project can be started.

  • Kingswood Drive is not to be used for construction traffic.

  • A second access is required for more than 25 dwelling units. The second access could be an emergency-only access through Fox Run or Kingswood.

Payments approved

Eight payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  • $97,315 as payment on the 1998 water refunding bonds. This is the 16th of 18 payments. The bonds are scheduled to be retired in 2007.

  • $61,700 to Triview for sales taxes and motor vehicle taxes received.

  • $26,500 to the Colorado Department of Transportation as a 20 percent proportionate share of the work done on Second Street at the I-25 Interchange.

  • $21,000 to Ayres Associates for engineering services associated with a culvert failure at Crystal Creek and Beacon Lite Road.

  • $20,095 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for payment on a loan for 1997 work on the filter plant and other improvements under the Small Community and Rural Loan program. This is the 20th of 40 payments. The loan is scheduled to be retired in 2016.

  • $14,861 to the Lewis-Palmer School District in planning fees collected from developers.

  • $10,500 to Ayres Associates for engineering services for the Jackson Creek Parkway roadside drainage project. Kassawara noted that the problem arose in part because the ponds in the Village Center project are too small. He added that the ditch needs rework and a culvert is needed under Jackson Creek Parkway.

  • $10,000 to Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) as deductible payments for a totaled police vehicle.

Other matters

  • Glenn reported that the right-of-way for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange is being acquired. Bids on the project will be solicited in mid-December, and construction is scheduled to start in February 2007.

  • Monument resident Steve Meyer was unanimously appointed to the Community Advisory Committee of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

  • Former Mayor Betty Konarski was unanimously appointed to serve as the town’s representative to the El Paso County Water Authority.

  • An intergovernmental agreement between the town and Triview for the town to operate and maintain Triview’s water system was unanimously approved.

  • A memorandum of understanding was unanimously approved to support reorganization of the Palmer Divide Water Group as the Pikes Peak Water Authority. Monument’s share of the initial costs will be about $2,500. Monument would be expected to pay annual dues and its share of the cost of future studies.

  • A contract was unanimously approved for the $10,000 budgeted for membership in the Front Range Commuter Rail Group to be applied instead to membership in the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. The authority will be developing a Front Range commuter rail feasibility study.

  • Kassawara reported that one resident in the Trails End development did not want stucco on his entire house as previously decided by the BOT. The board unanimously approved making an exception for that house.

  • An ordinance was unanimously approved to create a cost-recovery mechanism for required infrastructure that benefits developers who do not build on their properties until after the infrastructure is installed. Costs can be recovered from the developers for up to 20 years from the date the improvements are accepted by the town.

  • A decision was postponed on whether to pay $250,000 against the Monument Dam loan or use it to purchase water rights.

  • Moving the finance offices into 652 square feet of temporary space in the Abundant Life Church Office Building was unanimously approved. The rent is $500 per month plus $100 per month for utilities.

  • The draft 2007 budget was distributed to the board. Glenn asked the trustees to provide comments by Nov. 27. The hearing on the 2007 budget will be held at the BOT meeting Dec. 4.

  • Kassawara reported that bids on constructing the new town hall are due by Dec. 6. Glenn noted that construction costs are increasing and Kassawara should give the project high priority. Glenn added, "I would like it to be built in my lifetime."

The meeting adjourned at 10:03 p.m.

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A time for sharing

Below: Ron Lance rings the bell for the 2006 Salvation Army Red Kettle Champaign. The bell ringers at Safeway, King Soopers, and Wal-Mart in the Tri-Lakes area are volunteers from Monument Hill SERTOMA and the Lewis-Palmer SERTEENS. Last year contributions from the Tri-Lakes area Red Kettles was $33,000. 100% of the contributions are used to help people in need in the El Paso County community. Photo and information by Mike Wicklund.

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Monument Board of Trustees, November 6: Outrageous Oasis tax rebate approved; Sanctuary Pointe hearing held

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Below: During the Nov. 6 BOT meeting in the D-38 Learning Center, Kingswood resident Carol Farmer explains that proposed Sanctuary Pointe lots adjacent to her property are much smaller than her lot and asks the Monument Board of Trustees to require Classic Homes to modify their sketch plan. At the Nov. 20 continuation of the hearing, Classic Homes presented a revised sketch plan with reduced densities near Farmer’s home. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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Below: Monument’s Principal Planner Karen Griffith explains Sanctuary Pointe annexation proposal to Monument Board of Trustees on Nov. 6 in the Lewis-Palmer D-38 Learning Center. Seated next to her is Monument's Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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Below: Kingswood Drive as seen from Baptist Road. Photo by John Heiser

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By Jim Kendrick

A large crowd attended the Nov. 6 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) for hearings on annexation, rezoning, and sketch plans for Classic Homes’ Sanctuary Pointe development. The board also approved a resolution giving a 10-year rebate to Team O2 Investments LLC for sales tax, user’s fees, building materials tax, and personal property tax for its proposed development of the Outrageous Oasis water park next to the Air Force Academy, between I-25 and the railroad tracks. All members of the board were present.

Coverage questioned

Mayor Byron Glenn said that Our Community News had published information regarding the agreements reached by the board and Team O2 Investments during and after an executive session at the BOT meeting on Oct. 16 that was not entirely correct. Glenn said the board had accepted the concept of an incentive package but had not officially approved anything. He said the resolution for the incentive package would be considered later in the evening.

(Reporter’s note: Town Manager Cathy Green contacted OCN on Oct. 17 to provide information on the actions taken after the executive session, which began at 8:05 p.m. and concluded at 9:45 p.m. Green’s facts were included in the article on the Oct. 16 BOT executive session and were published at the end of the article, in the Nov. 4 edition of OCN. Green also provided the full text of the draft agreement the board unanimously approved just prior to adjournment at 9:50 p.m. The full text was copied and printed under the title "Draft agreement with Team O2" in the same edition.)

Outrageous Oasis resolution approved

Green reported the following regarding tax collections within Piñon Pines Metropolitan District 3:

"At their regular meeting on October 16, the Board voted 6-0 to approve an agreement between the Town of Monument and the Team O2 Investments LLC. This agreement contains an economic incentive package for the development of a destination family resort. This resolution containing the same basic agreement will provide better record keeping for the Town of Monument. The resolution also provides more detailed information for the use of the incentives. In summary, the incentives include:

  1. Ten-year rebate of the Town’s share of sales tax.

  2. Rebate must be used on site improvements and not on the building itself or on inside furnishings.

  3. Ten-year rebate of Town’s share of personal property tax.

  4. Rebate of user’s tax fee (one time).

  5. Property tax will be collected and used for increased law enforcement to be reviewed annually.

Financial Impact: The Town is rebating sales tax for ten years; however, it is sales tax that is not currently being collected and will not be collected unless and until development takes place on this site."

The resolution states, "The Town will not rebate the town’s portion of property tax, and will instead apply these funds to the Monument Department of Law Enforcement for the purpose of public safety. If calls originating from the Resort District exceed three-hundred fifty-seven calls per year, an amount of funds equaling the cost of additional calls will be withheld from the sales tax rebate. The calls will be monitored on an annual basis."

The resolution also states, "The ten year time frame will begin the day the Outrageous Oasis Water Park Resort opens for business."

Green said the rebated tax revenue would be used for construction of curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and road improvements.

Glenn opened a public hearing for citizen comments on Green’s proposed resolution due to recent newspaper articles on the issue. There were no citizen comments, however.

Trustee Tommie Plank pointed out that this was a rebate for the purpose of improvements, not a tax waiver. Developers are normally required to install trails, landscaping, and curbs and gutters during the site plan approval under design guidelines recommended by the town staff and imposed by the BOT.

Trustee Gail Drumm said the resort would provide jobs to local youths.

Trustee Steve Samuels said that the region has no comparable family-oriented resort.

Glenn said the proposed rebate was not favoritism for Team O2. He also said he had written a letter to area residents that was published by OCN (Nov. 4 edition, page 35) that emphasized that this proposed rebate had nothing to do with the BRRTA sales tax ballot question. His letter said, in part, "The portion of the sales tax that is rebated (2 percent) must be used on the ‘public face’ of the project: landscaping, road enhancements, street lighting, decorative fountains, etc."

The tax rebate incentive resolution was unanimously approved.

Sanctuary Pointe hearings held, but no votes taken

Before the Sanctuary Pointe hearings began, Glenn advised the audience that he would control comments to prevent the unruly behavior exhibited at the Sept. 13 Planning Commission hearings on this land use issue. He said that if similar unruly behavior occurred again, individuals, or if necessary, the entire audience, would be removed by Monument police.

The land owner is Pulpit Rock Investments of Colorado Springs. The developer is Classic Homes of Colorado Springs.

Serial annexation procedure proposed: The Sanctuary Pointe parcel is long (east-to-west) and narrow (north-to-south). The narrow western boundary of the 460-acre parcel is contiguous with the town. The other boundaries are not.

To meet the state’s one-sixth contiguity requirement, the western 12.7-acre portion of the Sanctuary Pointe property, called Addition 1, would have to be annexed first. The western boundary of Addition 1 is contiguous with the northeast corner of the recently annexed Promontory Pointe parcel, as well as the southeast corner of the recently annexed Home Place Ranch parcel.

The middle 240.1-acre portion of Sanctuary Pointe, Addition 2, which has at least one-sixth contiguity with Addition 1, would become eligible for annexation after the western portion becomes part of Monument.

After the middle addition is annexed and is also a part of the town, the eastern 206.6-acre portion of the parcel, Addition 3, could be annexed in the same fashion due to its contiguity with the new town boundary on the east side of Addition 2.

This method is called serial annexation, from the first to the last addition in a specific series so as to meet contiguity restrictions in state statutes.

The entire project is bordered on the north by the Higby Estates development (county RR2), on the east by Fox Run Regional Park (county), on the south by the Ridge at Fox Run, Fox Pines, and Kingswood Estates (county RR3), and on the west by Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch (Monument PD).

Hearing process defined: Green gave an overview of the staff’s proposed hearing process.

First to be discussed would be three annexation resolutions, one for each of the three Sanctuary Pointe additions, which would declare that the developer’s serial annexation requests were in compliance with legal requirements of state statutes and eligible for subsequent hearings by the board.

If the board were to find each of the three additions to be eligible, Classic Homes would then ask the board to annex and assign town planned development (PD) zoning to each addition by a separate ordinance in turn.

If the board were to pass these three annexation and zoning ordinances, it would next be asked by Classic to determine whether or not to accept the proposed PD sketch plan for the entire parcel.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the first three resolutions required a public hearing under state statutes, unlike most resolutions presented to the board. He also noted that comment letters submitted to the town staff by some citizens had questioned the legality of serial annexations, as proposed by the Sanctuary Pointe developer. Shupp stated that serial annexations are an accepted practice and comply with Colorado statutes.

Glenn said all citizens wishing to make comments on any aspect of this process were to be sworn in by a court reporter hired specifically to document the Sanctuary Pointe hearings. Numerous citizens then stood and were sworn in.

Annexation eligibility hearing: Shupp asked Monument’s Principal Planner Karen Griffith a series of questions regarding the legality of the developer’s annexation requests. Griffith affirmed that:

  • At least one-sixth of the perimeter of the area proposed to be annexed was contiguous with the annexing municipality.

  • A community of interest exists between the area proposed to be annexed and the annexing municipality.

  • The area is urban or will be urbanized in the near future.

  • The area is integrated or capable of being integrated with the annexing municipality.

  • Notice of the annexation hearings had been posted on the property and advertised four times in the Tri-Lakes Tribune in consecutive issues from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25, in compliance with state statutes.

Griffith also stated that the Sanctuary Pointe project clearly meets all town annexation policies and that the Planning Commission had unanimously approved the proposed annexation and PD zoning.

John Maynard, a land planner for NES, Inc., gave the developer’s presentation in support of the resolution. He noted that the land is contiguous to the town, is within the three-mile planning area specified in the Monument Comprehensive Plan, the cost/benefit analysis is positive for the town, and utility and municipal services are all available to the site. He added that the developer’s request for PD zoning meets town requirements as well.

Glenn opened the public hearing, but there were no comments on eligibility for annexation. The board unanimously approved each of the three resolutions on the eligibility of the three annexation requests.

Annexation and PD zoning requests discussed: Griffith said each of the three serial annexations and PD zoning requests complied with the Monument Comprehensive Plan:

  • The western portion of the property is in the Priority Area 1 portion of the Urban Growth Area of the town’s comprehensive plan, "land that can most easily be served by existing infrastructure and special districts."

  • The eastern portion of the property is in the Priority Area 2 portion of the Urban Growth Area, the Monument Three-Mile Planning Area.

  • The Fiscal Impact Report is positive, providing improved financial stability for the town.

  • The project, as proposed, will provide a variety of housing styles.

  • The annexation of the entire parcel is a logical extension of the Town boundaries.

  • Large forested open space areas, parkland, and an extensive trail network will be provided.

  • Triview Metropolitan District will provide water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage, and road services; and will maintain the parks, trails, and open space that will be dedicated to the town.

  • Annexation will enable the town to control the rate, location, type, and character of the growth of the subject property (based on the impact on the local tax base and value to residents of the community).

There were no comments from referral agencies on the proposed annexation and PD zoning. The Planning Commission had unanimously recommended approval on Sept. 13, with conditions requiring Classic Homes to resurface Kingswood Drive to meet town and county approval requirements, that all internal parks and trails will be open to public use, and actual densities will take into consideration topography, natural vegetation, and infrastructure.

Griffith summarized comments in letters from homeowners associations:

  • Only properties within the urban growth area are slated for annexation within the next 10 years.

  • The vast majority of the Baptist Camp was not intended for annexation per the town’s comprehensive plan.

  • The property fails to meet the contiguity requirement and promotes "leap frog" development.

  • The town’s comprehensive plan indicates that there are many zoned, undeveloped areas within Monument that should be developed first instead of promoting development through annexation.

Other statements in the letters were:

  • This dense proposal will destroy the key characteristics of Black Forest.

  • The highest densities are next to Fox Run Regional Park.

  • The Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan calls for this parcel to be 2.5-acre lots at a minimum.

  • The proposed density will require that the land is clear-cut and recontoured, severely degrading existing nearby property values.

  • Overlot grading of Black Forest should be strictly prohibited.

  • Proposed densities are significantly higher than those of abutting developments.

  • The densities proposed will simply create urban rooftops.

  • No information regarding the protection of natural features, wildlife corridors, steep slopes, and significant vegetation were offered.

  • Impacts on public facilities were not included in the proposal.

  • The traffic studies were based on a maximum of 650 units though the PD sketch plan shows a maximum of 899 units.

In addition to her previous statements on some of these issues, Griffith reported that Sanctuary Pointe development would generate over $10.6 million in one-time and use tax fees as well as about $800,000 per year of property and other tax revenues. Development would also provide additional financial stability and excess groundwater to Triview.

Sanctuary Pointe will contribute traffic impact fees to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) for widening Baptist Road east of I-25, and to a newly formed Triview Metro District special road improvement district for construction on Higby Road and Old Post Road.

Zoning map amendment: Griffith 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%  
TOTAL 460 acres 100% 650 DU max.

Although this table would imply a range of 570-895 dwelling units, the proposed actual maximum of 650 houses on about 460 acres yields a gross density of about 1.42 dwelling units per acre. Griffith said the proposed rezoning to planned development concurs with the town’s comprehensive plan. There were no referral comments from other agencies. Formal comments from neighboring homeowners’ associations and the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), a coalition of HOAs, expressed concern over density, deforestation, overlot grading, traffic generated by the site, and water availability.

Griffith recommended approval of annexation and PD zoning ordinances for each of the three additions, with the following conditions:

  • An annexation agreement acceptable to the town and the applicants must be finalized and signed by all parties prior to the annexations being recorded.

  • The annexation of Addition 2 could not be recorded before the annexation of Addition 1 had been recorded.

  • The annexation of Addition 3 could not be recorded before the annexation of Addition 2 had been recorded.

Glenn opened the public hearing on Classic’s serial annexation and PD zoning requests. There were no public comments on the three separate annexation and PD zoning ordinances for each of the three additions.

Glenn then asked the board to continue the decisions on these two issues for each of the three additions until the Nov. 20 BOT meeting so the board would know the results of the BRRTA sales tax ballot question to improve the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. He noted that the outcome of this mail ballot election would directly affect future Baptist Road traffic and board decisions on development requests. Glenn also asked the board to concur that only new information would be heard from the public on Nov. 20.

The board unanimously continued the decision on annexation and zoning to the Nov. 20 meeting.

(See article on Nov. 20 meeting for the vote on these continued proposals.)

Sketch plan proposal presented: Maynard also presented the developer’s Sanctuary Pointe sketch plan. Maynard acknowledged that some citizen comments would note that he had said there would be 450 homes in the development in a presentation to the Ridge at Fox Run Homeowner’s Association at the Baptist Camp center on Oct. 20, 2005. He said however, that Classic had always intended to propose a maximum of 650 homes, which would result in a gross average density of 1.42 dwelling units per acre on the 460-acre property. (Reporter’s note: Maynard actually said there would be a maximum of 460 homes at the Oct. 20 meeting.)

Maynard said the project would be built over several years in phases from the east end of the property to the west end. The highest densities are proposed on the east end of the parcel, and perimeter densities next to built-out developments would be similar.

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.

Griffith reported that the sketch plan met the land use principles and policies of the Comprehensive Plan:

  • A wider array of land use types are provided to meet changing needs and to help ensure the fiscal sustainability of the community.

  • It protects the natural environmental features and natural character of the parcel.

  • It provides transitions from lower density surrounding land uses and open space buffers.

  • It provides an orderly progression of land use, and densities are based on topography and surrounding land uses.

  • It promotes efficient use of the land and creative flexibility of design.

  • It provides for key recreational facilities.

  • It will generate fees for improvements to Baptist Road, Higby Road, and Old Post Road.

Referral comments were:

  • CDOT asked that Classic contribute to improvements to the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

  • El Paso County Parks asked for and received a 25-foot trail easement.

  • The town’s traffic consultant, SEH Inc., reported that the developer’s traffic study would have to be revised and updated with finalized plans for each portion of the development.

  • El Paso County Development Services stated that the developer would have to mitigate traffic impacts due to its development on county roads to include Baptist and Higby roads.

  • Triview engineering consultant Ayres Associates needed to provide additional infrastructure information to the metropolitan district.

Traffic consultant Jeff Hodsdon, of LSC Transportation Consultants, briefly discussed his initial traffic study for the year 2030 and noted that all major intersections on Baptist Road and other regional collectors would remain minimally acceptable at completion.

Triview consultant engineer Chuck Ritter of Ayres Associates reported that the amount of water to be dedicated to Triview by the landowner is more than double that required to meet average Triview service requirements projected at build-out (997 acre-feet per year available vice 442 acre per year delivered at the town’s 100-year requirement).

The many citizen comments included:

  • Several individuals thanked Classic Homes for adjusting the sketch plan at the perimeter to more closely match abutting development and for eliminating or minimizing potential access roads between Sanctuary Pointe and Higby Estates, Fox Run, and Kingswood.

  • Several individuals restated the points made in the letters submitted by area HOAs.

  • Baptist Road east of Tari Drive will remain unimproved and unable to handle future traffic.

  • Classic, the town, and Lewis-Palmer School District 38 had not addressed the high probability of school overcrowding with the rapid annexation and development of Sanctuary Pointe, Home Place Ranch, and Promontory Pointe.

  • Lot sizes should be no smaller than half an acre in Sanctuary Pointe.

  • Kingswood residents need assurance that the town will not allow Kingswood Drive to be a significant access to Sanctuary Pointe, regardless of improvements Classic will be required to make to this substantially deteriorated residential road.

  • General distrust of water analyses by the state and regional water districts.

  • The county’s demand to build a 25-foot-wide trail along the northern border of Fox Pines effectively eliminates the back yards of the houses along this perimeter due to all their homebuilders having violated rear setback requirements.

  • The traffic study performed for the developer by LSC and endorsed by SEH for the town is a "fiction," and the consultants must believe the board is "too stupid to understand" what are transparently erroneous traffic count projections.

  • No one from the county was in attendance to speak for county residents or county comprehensive plan compliance.

Kingswood property owner Carol Farmer stated that the sketch plan called for the highest density of development next to her 5-acre lot.

Maynard’s rebuttal remarks included:

  • Any accesses to Higby Estates and Kingswood will be sufficiently discontinuous and inconvenient to discourage routine traffic.

  • He would re-assess the densities adjacent to Farmer’s Kingswood lot.

Glenn asked Classic to dedicate the portion of the parcel on the south side of Baptist Road to Fox Run Regional Park to prevent possible claims by the county Department of Transportation that it would no longer maintain this approximately 200-foot-long portion of the county road within the town boundaries.

Trustee Travis Easton expressed concern about Baptist Road traffic but preferred the cluster concept of housing to that used in the design of the Ridge at Fox Run.

Trustee Dave Mertz expressed his long-standing concern that pocket parks are inadequate to the needs of town residents on the east side of I-25 and often remain inadequately furnished by developers.

The board unanimously continued their decision on the sketch plan until Nov. 20.

Skate park reopening planned

Director of Public Works Rich Landreth, when asked if there was a timeline for reopening the town’s skateboard park on Beacon Lite Road, said the target date would be spring or summer of 2007. He said he had not yet met with any of the youths or parents who had attended a previous BOT meeting and offered to form a committee for planning future renovation and maintenance activities to help prevent recurrence of loitering and vandalism that led to the park’s closure. Police Chief Jake Shirk said his officers planned to meet with these kids and a youth pastor who was interested in the park’s renovation.

Knollwood signal delayed

Landreth and Shirk also noted that plans for the new traffic light at Knollwood Drive and state Highway 105 remain stalled due to issues between the Colorado Department of Transportation and Mountain View Electric Association. The light should be installed and operational within 90 days after these two entities resolve their differences.

Jackson Creek Market Village development creates problems

Glenn asked Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara if the developer of the shopping center just east of the King Soopers center had submitted any grading plans and if the town could apply his surety bond to reseed the vast open areas of dirt that were creating areas of standing water, eroding the property, and creating sedimentation problems. Kassawara said he would again try to get a response from the developer.

Regional economic study shows mutual benefit

Betty Konarski, the town’s representative to the El Paso County Water Authority and Palmer Divide Water Group, discussed near-term plans for both groups and possible town involvement. She also described an economic study prepared by consultant David Bamberger & Associates that evaluated the relative economic contributions that the city of Colorado Springs and its surrounding suburbs make to each other. She said Colorado Springs has asserted for some time that adjacent communities drain revenue and resources from the city, and Colorado Springs Utilities should not deliver water from the proposed Southern Delivery System to other nearby communities.

Konarski stated that the Bamberger study results showed that there is a net $16.8 million benefit to Colorado Springs. While the city spends about $4.4 million per year for services for nonresidents from El Paso County, it gains $21.2 million in sales tax revenue from El Paso County residents who shop in Colorado Springs. The study also concluded that the city and the surrounding communities have and always will "thrive or struggle" together and that regional solutions for water supply problems are more efficient, particularly if they are addressed jointly before the problems occur. Konarski added that a copy of the study had been delivered to the Colorado Springs City Council, which also serves as the board of directors for Colorado Springs Utilities.

Monument resident Lowell Morgan stated that in the past, the Board of Trustees had created a lot of problems and controversy by its "chicanery" of going into executive session, then approving actions after the public and press had left Town Hall. He said he was concerned about the precedent set with Team O2 by renewing a long-abandoned controversial technique. He also said that local residents have opposed incentives in the past and said the board should think very hard about the precedent that would be set by the draft agreement with Team O2 Investments. Green replied that tax incentives had been provided to Synthes.

(Reporter’s note: OCN reported in the June 1, 2002 edition that the BOT "granted a fifty-percent personal property tax credit for the Synthes Corporation" for plant expansion during the May 6, 2002 board meeting. The article also noted that the D-38 school board had "already agreed to the tax credit for Synthes, provided the town also agrees to provide Synthes with a tax credit." The rebates proposed for Team O2 were considerably larger than those awarded to Synthes, however.)

Police presentation curtailed

Police Chief Jake Shirk discussed a few of the slides in a comprehensive formal presentation on recent accomplishments and future plans for the Monument Police Department. His presentation was curtailed due to the length of the agenda and the number of people who were present only for the Sanctuary Pointe hearings. Shirk’s presentation was part of the newly instituted series of department head overviews leading up to the board’s discussion and final approval of the town’s 2007 budget prior to Dec. 15. 

Chief Shirk's presentation as a PDF file. This is a 6 Mbyte file and will take about 35 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

Hikari Japanese Restaurant liquor license renewed

The board unanimously approved the annual renewal for this restaurant at 271 Highway 105. Monument Police Detective Mark Owens reported that no violations had occurred within the past 12 months.

Payments and financial report approved

Seven payments over $5,000 were approved unanimously:

  • $13,584 to the United States Geological Service (USGS) for annual payment for collection of streamflow data for Monument Creek below Monument Lake

  • $6,140 to the USGS for annual payment for collection of streamflow data for Monument Creek at Palmer Lake

  • $12,741 to One Stop Cop Shop for outfitting two new police vehicles with specialized equipment (lights, radios, etc.)

  • $116,273 to Bosco Constructors, Inc for work on the Well 3 and Well 9 water treatment plant

  • $123,272 to Bosco for work on the Well 3 and Well 9 water treatment plant

  • $24,794 to Wells Fargo Bank for semi-annual lease-purchase payments for a police vehicle, street sweeper, and tractor

  • $7,765 to AmWest Inc. for repairs to Well 4

Treasurer Pamela Smith received unanimous approval of the 32-page third quarter financial summary covering all town transactions through Sept. 30. She noted that sales tax revenues are about $40,000 under straight-line projections for the year but should increase in the final quarter to meet projected total revenue for the year.

Cost recovery plan in the works

Green reported that the staff would propose a new ordinance on cost recovery for required infrastructure that benefits developers who do not build on their properties until after roads, traffic signals, and the like are already installed. .

The meeting adjourned at 10:55 p.m.

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Monument Planning Commission, November 8: RV parking ordinance and Marketplace plats approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 8, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved a town ordinance to regulate RV parking, as well as preliminary/final plats for Monument Marketplace Filings 11 and 13. Alternate Commissioner Lowell Morgan replaced the absent Tom Martin.

Off-street parking lot ordinance amendment approved

Principal Planner Karen Griffith reported that the staff had been asked by the Board of Trustees to amend the town code to address safety and visual quality issues by prohibiting overnight off-street camping in commercial parking lots. The town requires that off-street parking be provided for customers and clients of nonresidential establishments, as well as residents and guests of multifamily residential developments. Griffith noted that the code adequately addresses RV and commercial parking in residential areas.

Vision Development, developer of the Marketplace, had previously expressed concerns at Planning Commission and Board of Trustees hearings about having to enforce a policy for the town directed at Wal-Mart but not its other large stores such as Home Depot. Town Attorney Gary Shupp had previously advised the Board of Trustees to have the amendment apply to all commercial parking lots rather than singling out Wal-Mart’s national corporate policy that encourages RV owners to spend the night at its supercenters.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that the town would remain lenient about visiting relatives parking their RVs temporarily in residential neighborhoods as long as they do not pose a traffic hazard. He said enforcing a system of temporary permits for these RVs would be difficult.

Morgan noted that there are national publications and Web sites that list Wal-Mart stores that allow and encourage overnight RV parking. Morgan said the word would get out quickly to the RV community that the Monument store was "off-limits." Kassawara concurred that the proposed code amendment would ensure that the Marketplace Wal-Mart was not listed as a place to camp.

Commissioners Carl Armijo and John Kortgardner noted that they own RVs and see nothing wrong with Wal-Mart’s national policy. They expressed concern about lost town revenues due to RV owners choosing to patronize the Academy Boulevard or Castle Rock Wal-Marts. Kortgardner also asked why the Conoco and Diamond Shamrock truck stops would be exempt from the amendment. Kassawara and Griffith replied that sleeping in a truck for a few hours is not camping, noting that an RV is defined in the code as a vehicle used for recreational purposes.

The commission recommended approval of the ordinance, 5-2, with Armijo and Kortgardner opposed.

Marketplace restaurant plats approved

The commission unanimously recommended approval of a preliminary/final plat for Filing 11 of the Monument Marketplace. This 0.9-acre lot, just south of the existing Wells Fargo Bank, will be occupied by a Carl’s Jr. restaurant.

The commission unanimously recommended approval of a preliminary/final plat for Filing 13 of the Monument Marketplace. This 2.7-acre lot on the west side of the shopping center by I-25 will be occupied by a Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

Commissioner Kortgardner resigns

Kortgardner formally submitted his resignation as a member of the Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment, effective after the December meetings because he plans to move out of the area. He noted that it has been a pleasure to serve this community, that the town will "endure many growing pains in the years to come," and hopes that the "once sleepy little town" avoids becoming an "asphalt jungle" or "sea of houses." He added, "The allure of revenue is great, but the legacy of this town’s future should be greater."

More developments on the way

Kassawara reported that the commission would soon consider proposals for:

  • A site plan for Copper Heights, a Jackson Creek development of 53 single-family homes

  • A preliminary site plan for the Monument Ridge commercial development on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway

  • A preliminary/final plat for Filing 14 in Monument Marketplace

Commissioner Patricia Mettler asked if the town was approving too many developments with too many speculative homes already built or under construction that could lead to problems for builders if not sold promptly. Kassawara replied that construction of these "spec" homes has nearly stopped in the area as the housing market has slowed over the past few months.

County referral comments approved

Kassawara sought approval for three staff responses to referrals from El Paso County, all of which were unanimously approved by the commissioners.

  • A proposal to develop 79 residential lots in the Forest Lakes Filing 3 at the west end of Baptist Road by Hay Creek Road. Griffith’s letter to the county’s Development Services Department asked the county what park and recreational facilities are planned to serve this subdivision in the northeast portion of Forest Lakes, since none are shown on the urban density final plat for this filing. Griffith wrote that local public parks and trails should be provided elsewhere within the Forest Lakes development.

  • A proposal to develop a lot with a new house and attached secondary dwelling by Stevan and Maria Zarkovacki at 17220 Fairplay Drive in Woodmoor Summit. Griffith’s letter to the county’s Planning Department said the staff had no issues with this plan.

  • A proposal to develop two unincorporated county lots on a 21-acre parcel in Knollwood Village Filing 1, on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. A tract is also proposed for future development and open space. The property is zoned Planned Business Park and Rural Residential 3 by the county. Griffith’s letter to the county’s Development Services Department asked the county to move the major access road through this parcel, Village Ridge Point, as far north of Highway 105 as possible, to minimize problems of headlight glare on westbound 105. Griffith also noted that "frontage access roads are typically unsightly, and future development on the lot would have a more attractive appearance if the access road is located away from State Highway 105."

The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Board of Adjustment, November 16: Rocky Mountain Oil Change variances approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Adjustment reapproved John Savage’s October 2005 requests for variances for front setbacks and exterior signs as well as a landscaping variance for the long-planned renovation and addition of a 95-foot-long drive-through car wash to the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center on the northwest corner of Highway 105 and Second Street. The original hearing on Oct. 26 was postponed due to a blizzard. All members of the board were present. Prior to the hearings, Don Smith was unanimously appointed chair of the board.

Savage’s requests for setback and sign location variances had been previously approved by the board. However, Savage had not applied for a building permit within six months. A secondary code requirement is that the renovation and expansion be completed within a year after obtaining the building permit.

The requested setback variance had been unanimously approved by the Board of Adjustment on Sept. 28, 2005. Both sign variances had been approved by the board on Oct. 29, 2004. Until recently, neither Savage nor town staff was aware that these two approved variances had expired.

The average setback for the commercial buildings on the west side of Highway 105 between Second and Third streets is 38 feet. The northeast corner of the existing center is only 33 feet from the highway. The rest of the front of the existing building angles away from the highway. Other façades on this block are much less than 33 feet from the highway.

The new front sign will also be a bit closer to the highway than the standard 10-foot setback requirement. The replacement sign location will ensure a clear line-of-sight visibility and avoid a traffic hazard.

An additional exterior sign will be installed on the southwest side of the car wash addition to direct people to enter the center from the recently repaved alley behind the existing center. Direct access from Highway 105 will not be available. The primary access to the rear alley behind the center will be from Second Street west of the traffic signal at the Highway 105 intersection.

Savage also requested a variance to install and maintain new landscaping within the town’s right-of-way on the corner of Second Street and Highway 105. The proposed landscaping will be similar to that recently installed around the town’s new entry sign on the southwest corner of this intersection, and will help create a gateway into downtown. Savage, the last chair of the town’s former Parks and Landscape Committee, had participated in the review and approval process for the design of this new entry sign and had planned his building renovation to match this design.

The board concurred with the staff findings that all three variance requests met town criteria for approval and unanimously approved them.

The meeting adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, November 2: Annexation of commercial center on 105 discussed

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council reviewed a proposed annexation and rezoning request from Richard White as well as a sign request for Paravicini’s Italian Bistro at its workshop session on Nov. 2.

The council also agreed to make the request for the sign for the new Paravicini’s a consent item for the Nov. 9 regular council meeting. Paravicini’s is located in the Palmer Lake landmark Villa Inn and opened Oct. 25. The sign is identical in design to the sign at the other location in Old Colorado City.

The council briefly discussed the annexation and zoning of a vacant commercial lot on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and McShane Drive. The 1.35-acre parcel, opposite the bowling alley, will have a single access from McShane Drive on the northwest side of the lot. There will be no direct access from Highway 105. The current obsolete county zoning for lots 1 and 4 of Block 5 of the Pioneer Lookout Subdivision Filing No. 1 is commercial "C." White requested Palmer Lake C-2 zoning—general business and commercial—upon annexation.

The developer noted he had made presentations to the Pioneer Lookout water district and homeowners association and received positive comments.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the Palmer Lake Planning Commission on Oct. 18.

The owners of the parcel want the town to benefit from any property tax and sales tax revenue generated by the 15,000-square-foot facility they plan to build.

A draft sketch plan for the parcel shows a 15,000-square-foot building that will offer commercial, office, and storage space, as well as 91 parking places. The proposed building will have about 10,000 square feet of retail space and 5,000 square feet for storage or warehouse space.

Mayor Max Parker asked the trustees to review the portions of the draft 2007 budget they are responsible for. Town Clerk Della Gray noted that the town’s revenue has been stable for several years. She said that April passage of the half-cent sales tax for the Police Department and possible passage of a half-cent sales tax for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department on Nov. 7 would provide new revenue. She asked the council for guidance on how to budget the new revenue, if the trustees wanted to provide policy decisions from the police and fire trustees as well as the council. Both these half-cent taxes are temporary, lasting 10 years.

During discussion, Gray explained that an annual budget should plan for contingencies as well as recurring routine expenses for each department. The number and types of line items can vary from year to year, but the council must provide policy guidance on how to plan for contingencies within different departments.

Gray noted that unexpended authorized and appropriated funds can be moved from one department to another to pay for emergencies. However, the town must appropriate and authorize a sufficient amount of contingency funds to cover emergencies regardless of which accounts they are initially assigned to. If few emergencies arise, the funds set aside for contingencies do not have to be spent and can be rolled over to the next year as reserves.

The 2007 budget must be finalized by Dec. 15 to certify town tax statements that are submitted to the state. There were no Planning Commission items scheduled for November, which will allow more time for budget discussions at the Dec. 7 workshop.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, November 9: Annexation of commercial center approved

Below: At the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting Nov. 9, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phillip Beckman explains plans to have a Larkspur Fire Protection District ambulance stationed around the clock at the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department station during two planned repairs to Spruce Mountain Road over the next six months. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved annexation and C-2 zoning of a vacant commercial lot on the southwest side of Highway 105, between McShane Drive and Davidson Street, at its regular meeting on Nov. 9. The 1.35-acre parcel, opposite the bowling alley, will have a single access from McShane Drive on the northwest side of the lot.

The council also unanimously approved an updated unified sales and use tax ordinance that incorporates the new, temporary 10-year half-cent sales tax that will raise about $75,000 in the first year for Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department expenses. The sales tax was approved on Nov. 7. In April, Palmer Lake voters approved a temporary 10-year half-cent sales tax that will raise about $75,000 in the first year for Police Department expenses.

The council approved a new sign for Paravicini’s Italian Bistro as a consent item from the Nov. 2 workshop.

All members of the council were present.

Reports

PPACG report ‘not positive’: Mayor Max Parker reported that at the most recent Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments meeting, a report from the Colorado Department of Transportation for road-building projects through 2035 was not good. "The outlook is not very positive for sustaining the new projects needed to support growth in the state and to maintain existing infrastructure to an acceptable level," he said. Parker also discussed shortfalls for light rail and airport infrastructure projects as well as development of advocacy groups for alternative funding to supplement federal and state authorizations.

Parker also reported that he and Town Clerk Della Gray had attended the most recent Palmer Divide Water Group meeting.

Roads: Trustee Richard Allen reported that the town’s snow removal plans and equipment had been tested by the first blizzard of the season and had "worked very well." Road base had been applied to Lover’s Lane and Epworth Highway. The subsequent warm weather after the blizzard had allowed final paving completion of Middle Glenway after unseasonably cold weather had delayed it for several weeks.

Fire: Trustee Gary Coleman reported passage of the temporary 10-year half-cent sales tax for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) on Nov. 7, "a very necessary and worthwhile" outcome. The Palmer Lake department had 30 calls, including six mutual-aid calls, in October.

Coleman announced that West End Center owner Kurt Erhardt will host a model train open house display of Coleman’s trains in one of the center’s offices throughout the month of December. Contributions from those attending Coleman’s frequently changing displays will be donated to the fire department. The West End Center is on Highway 105 at the southeast corner of Palmer Lake.

Coleman reported that Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich had cleared the private road to the Woodmoor Mountain development on Highway 105 west of Palmer Lake, to provide access during the blizzard for a Larkspur Fire Protection District four-wheel-drive ambulance during a medical emergency. Coleman noted that this road is "a tough drive" even in good conditions and that the town’s new ambulance service agreement with the Larkspur district was already paying dividends.

Coleman reported that about 70 preschoolers and first-graders from Palmer Lake Elementary School attended Fire Prevention Week presentations in the town’s fire house.

The volunteer firefighters will support the annual Chili Supper on Nov. 25 to raise funds for maintenance of the town’s star. Beckman noted that the town star was operational by manual control again after being struck by lightning. Further repairs may be needed for the somewhat unique control device that turns on the star at dusk and off after a set number of hours. Replacement of the control system would be very expensive and should be avoided if possible.

Allen said the town should be prepared to pay this cost immediately if necessary due to the star’s importance and value to the town as a long-standing tradition. Gray noted that the town’s consultant engineer voluntarily spent 10 hours repairing the controller’s programming on Thanksgiving Day 2005.

Coleman asked residents to post their house numbers in a manner that is easily recognizable to medical emergency volunteers. Gray noted that a town ordinance requires property owners to legibly display house numbers within 30 days of moving into a house. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis noted offenders could be cited and tried in court. Parker noted that repeated requests had "fallen on deaf ears," and the town needed to actively seek posting of numbers for citizens’ safety.

Special response plan during road construction: Trustee Richard Allen asked about potential effects on ambulance response times during two planned periods of road construction on Spruce Mountain Road between Palmer Lake and the Larkspur’s Station 1. Parker replied that there would be a short closure while Douglas County replaces a drainage culvert under Spruce Mountain about halfway between the two fire stations. A longer closure, "probably seven months," will be required to replace the Spruce Mountain Road bridge just south of the Fox Farm Road intersection and the railroad trestle bridge.

PLVFD Chief Phillip Beckman replied that Larkspur would place one of its ambulances at the Palmer Lake station around the clock throughout the periods that Spruce Mountain Road is closed between Fox Farm Road and County Line. In addition, a new canopy has been constructed between the fire station and town hall to provide winter weather protection. Also, a "fifth-wheel" recreational vehicle—donated by a PLVFD member—has been installed behind Town Hall, with utility connections, to provide sleeping quarters for the emergency medical technicians and paramedics staffing the Larkspur ambulance.

Beckman added that plans will be developed to expand the Palmer Lake fire station to provide permanent living quarters, using revenue from the sales tax, as well as a temporary building for living quarters in the interim.

Beckman said volunteers from PLVFD will also provide mutual aid assistance to these two Larkspur medical personnel for overnight medical calls. Allen and Trustee Trish Flake noted that these actions will improve Larkspur’s response time.

Automatic and mutual aid relationships explained: At Allen’s request, Beckman described automatic aid and mutual aid relationships within the North Group, which is composed of the fire districts in the north end of El Paso County including Palmer Lake, USAFA, Woodmen Valley, Tri-Lakes, Woodmoor/Monument, Donald Wescott, Black Forest, and Falcon, as well as Larkspur in Douglas County.

Automatic aid: For structure fires, apparatus from several fire districts is "automatically" dispatched by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office simultaneously under North Group’s automatic aid agreement. In addition to the apparatus that would be driven from several districts to a structure fire, additional apparatus would temporarily "move up" from some districts to another district’s station to provide balanced "automatic aid" coverage for secondary calls until the structure fire work is completed. The member districts of North Group have created a matrix of apparatus and personnel assignments that is used by the Sheriff’s Office for structure fire deployments. The type of apparatus that is automatically dispatched is individually tailored to support the specific needs of each member district.

Mutual aid: If a district cannot respond with an ambulance or engine with an EMT or paramedic for life-threatening emergencies, the district asks the Sheriff’s Office dispatcher to reassign the call to a neighboring district for "mutual aid."

If PLVFD and Larkspur were already responding to a call, and a second medical emergency in Palmer Lake occurred, they would ask the Sheriff’s Office to dispatch Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority or Donald Wescott Fire Protection District to the second location as "mutual aid." Likewise, Larkspur and PLVFD might provide mutual aid for a medical call in the Tri-Lakes district if both Tri-Lakes ambulances were not available.

Police: Trustee Trudy Finan reported 105 police calls in October, of which 38 assisted other agencies. During October, department officers attended training for:

  • Becoming Rape Attack Defense instructors

  • FBI tactical defense

  • Public information officer training for supervisors

  • Colorado state investigations

  • "Refuse to be a victim" to help residents avoid thefts of all types

  • Roadside maneuvers with police vehicles

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) testing

Finan noted that a new stop sign had been installed at the intersection of South Valley and Spring streets, but the Police Department would issue warnings only if the sign were ignored during the first 30 days.

Buildings and Recreation: The town will collaborate with Great Starts to provide athletic training for area children using public facilities. Early evening gymnastics and dance classes will be the first two offerings at the Palmer Lake Elementary School in January. Information on these classes will be available at 481-2953 in mid-December. Father-son and mother-daughter dodge ball will also be offered in the elementary school gym. Plans include volleyball and basketball training as well.

Holiday ice skating at Palmer Lake may begin Dec. 17 if appropriate permits and vendor support can be arranged.

Water: Trustee Jim Girlando reported that water production was 5,383,000 gallons for October. Water fund revenues were up about $46,000 compared to the same period in 2005. Expenses are up about $12,000 this year compared to the same period last year. The water capital improvement fund is up about $18,000 for 2006 to date.

Parker said the council should hold a working session regarding capital improvement funds because this rate of increase is not enough to cover long-term annual repair and replacement of town water lines. "We need to beef that up a little bit" based on recent experience, he said. The 2006 budget calls for a $75,000 increase in the capital fund. "We’re falling well short of that goal." Parker also noted that further amendments to the town’s water rate structure would be "a very touchy subject."

Downtown vision presented: Trustee Susan Miner discussed a sketch of a draft streetscape design developed by her streetscape committee since the last council meeting that she said would help:

  • Unify the community

  • Make the downtown area attractive, comfortable, and safe

  • Encourage tourism

  • Enhance traffic

  • Standardize placement of trees and alignment of sidewalk

  • Add a small plaza in front of the Speed Trap café building

Miner said the committee had reviewed parking and line-of-sight issues caused by the current mix of parallel, angled, and head-in parking required by the state. Specific streetscape proposals were presented by the owners of the B&E and Bella Panini restaurants to address parking and tree placement in front of their businesses. They also provided information for installation of solar-powered small-scale streetlights that might minimize utility costs and right-of-way issues in this narrow space. The improvement of the town parking lot between Highway 105 and the railroad tracks will ease parking problems and allow for more trees along the highway.

Parker added that PPACG Director Rob McDonald had offered to have the PPACG transportation planner work with the CDOT planner on plans for downtown.

Miner said that the town should investigate different types of special districts that could be formed to financially contribute to development of the streetscape.

Watershed committee: Bob Miner reported that the November Fountain Creek Watershed committee meeting had been cancelled. Funding has been curtailed in recent months, and the supporting agencies are awaiting changes that may occur following the November elections. Parker asked him for an update after the December meeting so Parker could consult with the Board of County Commissioners on future actions. Miner said other regional water projects outside the Fountain Creek watershed currently have a higher funding priority.

Awake the Lake Committee: Judy Harrington said the committee had not met since the ballot question for $450,000 in bonds failed to pass Nov. 7. It would have paid to pump water from a currently capped town well into the lake. Harrington and Jeannine Engel encouraged the council to continue working on alternative solutions to restore and maintain the water level of the town’s namesake. Allen said that the committee and council will continue to work together to find a solution that is economical, workable, and timely. Parker said council members would attend committee meetings to help develop an alternative ballot question for the next election.

Sales tax ordinance approved: The revised tax ordinance authorizes the direct allocation of additional revenues raised by the recently passed sales taxes to the police and fire departments. The revenues raised by the existing 2-cent sales tax had been evenly divided between the town’s road and general funds, and that will not change.

Budget preparation discussed: Parker and Gray asked trustees to meet with Gray to discuss any questions they had regarding her draft 2007 budget prior to the council’s workshop meeting on Dec. 7. That will be the last opportunity for the council as a whole to discuss the 2007 budget prior to approving the final budget as required by the state, at the regular meeting on Dec. 14.

The board went into executive session at 8:15 p.m. to discuss real estate matters.

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Palmer Divide Water Group, November 16: Group seeks water authority status; unveils goal of bringing renewable water to the Tri-Lakes

By Sue Wielgopolan

On Nov. 16, the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) met to discuss the future of water in northern El Paso County. The message: The time has come to act in bringing surface water to the region.

The dinner meeting was attended by elected officials from most of the water suppliers in northern El Paso County, including the mayors, trustees, town council members, and managers from Palmer Lake and Monument; and the directors and managers from Donala, Woodmoor, and Academy Water and Sanitation districts, and Triview Metro District.

Betty Konarski, chairman of the PDWG, gave a brief introductory speech welcoming all guests and introducing Gary Barber, manager of the Palmer Divide Water Group.

Barber presented a PowerPoint program listing the group’s accomplishments to date and emphasizing the necessity of creating a single governmental entity whose focus is creating and funding projects to meet present and future water needs of the area.

PDWG requests inclusion in pipeline project

Several years ago, local water providers realized that they needed to take action to supplement and replace dwindling aquifer supplies. In 2003 they formed the Palmer Divide Water Group, reasoning that they would have greater power and more resources to draw from if they acted collectively rather than individually.

Initially, the PDWG had approached Colorado Springs, hoping to be a part of the city’s planned Southern Delivery System (SDS). The main feature of the project is a 46-mile pipeline extending from Pueblo Reservoir north to Colorado Springs. But several obstacles stood in the way of northern El Paso County’s inclusion.

The project, initiated in 1996, was already well along in the planning stage, and did not include an option for extension of the pipeline north of city limits. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) argued that changes would be too costly and had the potential to delay progress.

Because the Colorado Springs City Council has long viewed population growth in communities outside the city limits as an economic drain, it was unresponsive to requests for cooperation from water providers in northern El Paso County.

Moreover, political and legal constraints limit the use and sale of water owned by the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District and delivered through the federal Frying Pan-Arkansas project, which includes Pueblo Reservoir. Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security, and others lie within Southeast Conservancy district boundaries; Monument, Palmer Lake, and the surrounding communities do not.

In 2005, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released a preliminary analysis of the alternatives being considered for an environmental impact statement for the SDS. None included a pipeline that could deliver renewable water to northern El Paso communities. In September of the same year, the PDWG submitted input to the bureau during the public comment phase, arguing that the project satisfied the needs of Colorado Springs but did not address regional solutions, which was a stated objective of the bureau.

Colorado Springs responded to PDWG criticism of the alternatives by reiterating its prior contention that growth in the suburbs represents economic loss to the city, because those communities take advantage of the infrastructure provided by Colorado Springs without contributing to the property tax base.

It also stated that any dialogue regarding future cooperative efforts to help provide transport for a renewable water supply must be preceded by a good faith effort on the part of northern communities to actively participate in stormwater control.

The PDWG responded by commissioning a study by economic consulting firm Bamberger Associates to quantify the value of Palmer Divide communities to the city of Colorado Springs. The Bamberger study revealed that residents of Tri-Lakes area communities represented a net gain of approximately $16 million per year to the city. Many people living north of city limits work and shop in Colorado Springs, spending there and providing a labor pool.

The study concluded "the economic well-being of the city and the suburbs are directly linked." Furthermore, the study found that not only was the economic "pie" larger as a result of population growth north of town, but Colorado Springs’ proportion of that "pie" has also increased.

Barber participated in the Colorado Springs and El Paso County Stormwater Task Forces. In August 2006, the PDWG presented to the City Council a summary of ongoing projects addressing stormwater control and involving several governmental entities, including the towns of Palmer Lake and Monument, Triview Metropolitan District and El Paso County. The group also submitted a report detailing a collaborative, regional strategy for dealing with stormwater issues.

The PDWG has not yet received feedback on the economic study or its efforts at stormwater cooperation. CSU spokesmen are still urging patience and support of the SDS in its current form, promising to revisit the issue of future cooperation on providing renewable water to Palmer Divide area communities after the EIS has been accepted, but making no commitments.

The group decided it could not afford to wait for a commitment of cooperation from Colorado Springs, which may or may not materialize, and must explore other options.

Barber outlined three categories that need to be addressed in solving the area’s water problems:

Sustainable aquifer use

Barber told the group it could prolong the effective life span of the aquifers through proper management. The PDWG has already begun researching the possibility of installing remote well fields near the Palmer Divide.

Wells in the area have begun to show interference effects. When placed too closely together, the radius around each well from which water flows into the cavity, called the cone of influence, overlaps. Subsequently, the yield for each well drops. By "mining the aquifer" from a location far away from development, interference between wells is minimized.

In addition, coordination of future well placement among districts will maximize the efficiency of each well individually.

Barber also said that by coordinating pumping, water providers could sustain their yields over a longer period.

Efficient Use

Ideally, local water providers would like to be able to use their well water "to extinction," meaning that all water pumped stays in the region, sending none down Monument Creek. Though in practical terms that is not possible, the PDWG hopes to institute several measures that would use a greater proportion of existing supplies.

Most districts within the group participated in the Transit Loss study, funded jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey, the El Paso County Water Authority, and Colorado Springs. Now that the computer model created through the study is essentially complete, participating entities will be able to accurately monitor flows down Monument and Fountain Creeks on a daily basis. Previously, the state made conservative estimates of flow based on monthly readings from fewer gauging stations.

The working Transit Loss model will enable the districts to receive full credit for effluent, using the water for augmentation or selling those credits downstream. It will also enable surface water users like Monument and Woodmoor to pull more water from Monument Creek, because they will receive a greater number of effluent credits for trade.

The group also intends to connect all potable systems in the region. This will not only provide backup between districts in case of emergencies such as a large forest fire, but will also enable the providers to consolidate and share infrastructure such as storage facilities.

The group is investigating the cost of conducting a scoping study to identify projects in the Palmer Divide area which warrant further exploration. Palmer Divide area providers would like to eventually consolidate their resources to avoid duplication, and find the most efficient way to maximize use of storage and treatment facilities, effluent credits and reuse water.

Future infrastructure will be designed and sized to eventually transfer renewable water among Palmer Divide area providers.

Water providers will be maximizing the utilization of reuse water, particularly for irrigation.

Lastly, the PDWG will jointly develop and institute a coordinated, region-wide conservation plan to ease the pressure on area aquifers.

Renewable Water

Most critical to the region, and the main reason for formation of a new authority, is the acquisition, storage and transport of a surface water supply. Barber has been actively researching opportunities to buy renewable water and acquire storage space for it.

Before acquiring water, northern providers need storage space. Group members met with developer Mark Morley this year to discuss using Brush Hollow reservoir for storage of water. Morley would like to use the reservoir not only to store water for providers but to generate hydroelectric power. Water speculation is prohibited in Colorado, so as a private owner, Morley needs a customer to proceed with water development.

The reservoir has a capacity of 58,000 acre-feet. A smaller off-channel reservoir with a capacity of 8,000 acre-feet, called Stonewall quarry, is also available.

Acting as executive agent for the group, Barber and attorney Rick Fendel of the law firm Petrock and Fendel put together a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the yet-to-be-formed Pikes Peak Water Authority and Mark Morley’s Stonewall Springs, LLC and H2O Providers, LLC. Through the MOU, Morley and the authority agree to define regional purpose and the partners involved, identify the costs of importing water to the reservoirs, and seek funding.

Water providers also need a site in the Palmer Divide area for terminal water storage. The Colorado Water Conservation board recently approved a $40,000 grant to study the feasibility of using the Black Squirrel Groundwater Basin as a recharge aquifer. (Recharging is an alternative storage method. Instead of excavating a reservoir and filling it, water is injected underground into the aquifer to be pumped out later when needed.)

The PDWG had also made an offer to buy acreage on Forest Lakes Estates for use as a reservoir site, but the offer was rejected.

Barber has investigated several possibilities for purchase or lease of surface water. The most promising prospects are in the lower Arkansas Valley, where there are 400,000 acres of irrigated agriculture. Many of the farmers in the area are impoverished; money from water leases could enable the farming community to sustain itself and prevent the loss of agriculture and the towns associated with it.

Barber said there would be water quality issues with imported water. One slide in his program stated that "water quality deteriorates downstream where agricultural return flows carry dissolved solids to the river." According to Barber, the river is so saline near Fort Lyons that treatment would be necessary prior to transport. An upstream pipeline is preferable, although stormwater drainage below the confluence with Fountain Creek could also affect quality.

The case for a water authority

In conclusion, Barber stated that "cooperation between water agencies is essential for success." Formation of a project-oriented water authority will enable members to join together with a common goal of bringing renewable water to areas outside Colorado Springs, but will also concentrate on "stretching" the current water resources and maximizing efficient use.

The new authority will be able to enter into contracts such as the MOU with Morley for storage capacity in a reservoir or water leases with lower Arkansas Valley farmers. The authority will also be able to pursue outside funding and grant money through such agencies as the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which prefers to work with a single entity. Barber also stated that funding may also be available through the Arkansas River Basin roundtable.

Not all members will participate in every authority project. For example, individual projects to link Tri-Lakes region systems will only involve the Palmer Divide area providers directly benefited.

Barber warned attendees that importing water is a major undertaking. It will be expensive, and the design and permitting process alone could take several years. He emphasized that costs can only be mitigated through regional cooperation and pooling of resources.

To move forward with its water management plans, the Palmer Divide Water Group is seeking the support of member districts and municipalities in the creation of the new Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. The decision to accept or reject the IGA establishing the authority and the MOU with Morley now rests with the respective boards.

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Forest View Acres Water District, November 2: Community Solutions picked to operate system

By Jim Kendrick

The Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) Board meeting scheduled for the evening of Oct. 26 was postponed for one week due to a snowstorm. After conducting all other business, the board continued the meeting held on Nov. 2 at Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Station 1 until 9 a.m. to Nov. 10 at the Monument library to deal with 2007 budget issues. The FVAWD Board often continues its monthly meetings. However, continuation sessions of the month have been typically convened at the Lakewood offices of Special District Management Services Inc. (SDMS), the district management consultant.

President Barbara Reed-Polatty, Treasurer Eckehart Zimmerman, and Director Rich Crocker formed a quorum. Director Ketch Nowacki was absent. Lisa Johnson, SDMS district manager, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting.

At its August meeting, the board approved a November ballot question that would, if approved by district voters, impose a property tax mill levy of up to an estimated 37 mills on all properties in the district to cover operational costs and capital improvements. The cost of the required upgrades to bring the FVAWD up to industry standards is about $6.2 million according to a study by engineering consultant ASCG, Inc. The total cost of the bond issue would be about $8 million.

Board vacancy discussed

The board determined that it would recruit candidates to submit letters of intent to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of director Jeff Walker. Walker resigned at the end of the last board meeting on Sept. 19 due to what he said were pressures on his family from the heated debate regarding the district’s ballot questions. The board decided they will interview candidates who submit letters of intent, then nominate a replacement and vote.

Financial matters

Reed-Polatty noted that the amount in the monthly claims list seemed higher than normal because it included expenses for nearly two months, the period since the last report in mid-September. Expenses included repairs of four water line breaks.

Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, who had served as the district’s contract water operations manager for about seven years, resigned effective Sept. 15. Mike Bacon of Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) had been serving as the interim contracted operations manager. Debbie McCoy, President of SDMS, is also a part owner of CSI.

New billing software has been implemented by SDMS. Crocker noted format differences between SDMS expense reports and those Bacon had submitted. Bacon said he might consider purchasing and using the same software as SDMS if FVAWD hired CSI on a permanent basis. Claims totaling $70,784 were unanimously approved.

The board accepted a financial report for the first three quarters of 2006. Johnson said a 2006 budget amendment would be required for the enterprise fund to cover contingencies due to delinquent accounts. No changes are required for the capital and general funds at this time.

Johnson reported that the auditor is waiting for a water rights valuation from the district’s water attorney prior to final submission of the 2005 audit. The board should be able to vote on the final 2005 audit at the December board meeting.

Johnson listed a number of 2007 budget issues that need to be discussed and resolved by the board. After a lengthy discussion, the board elected to postpone decisions on these issues and continue this meeting until Nov. 10. (See article on the Nov. 10 meeting for a report on this session that was conducted at the Monument library.)

The formal public hearing for the final 2007 budget was tentatively scheduled for the next regular board meeting on Nov. 30.

Johnson reported that an audit of billing addresses for FVAWD customers was underway.

CSI Contract approved

SDMS attorney Paul Rufien reviewed the details of revisions made to the proposed one-year operations and maintenance contract with CSI. Board members asked several questions about contract details. During this discussion, it was noted that significant questions remain about how to control pumping operations for widely varying flow demands to extend the service life of the pumps for the district’s wells. After further discussion, the board unanimously approved the proposed contract.

Termination of Schmidt inclusion discussed

The board discussed steps necessary to terminate the proposed Schmidt inclusion. The applicant will pay for legal and administrative costs to reverse all actions initiated to convey associated water rights to FVAWD.

The scheduled discussion on revising some district rules and regulations was deferred to a later meeting to allow Director Ketch Nowacki to participate.

Ballot Question controversy

Johnson reported that 625 mail ballots were sent out on Oct. 16. The associated TABOR notice was mailed on Oct. 20. However, the "con" portion inadvertently exceeded 500 words, but could not be withdrawn, reworded, and remailed in time for the Nov. 7 election.

Over 200 ballots had already been returned to SDMS because the addresses provided by the county registrar were not the PO boxes used by the property owners in lieu of a physical mailbox on the properties. Johnson, the designated election official, said she was obligated to use the county’s listing for ballot addresses.

There was a discussion of who is eligible to vote. Colorado law states that a person who owns several lots in the district can only vote once.

Stuart Currier, a FVAWD resident who was scheduled to be one of the election judges, asked if he could re-distribute and then personally collect mail ballots that were returned to SDMS by the post office. Johnson expressed concerns about administering the oath to one judge prior to Nov. 7, noting she had not brought the forms required to this meeting. All four judges had received the required training from SDMS. Currier said he had copies of the required documents for swearing him in. Reed-Polatty tabled Currier’s request until the end of the meeting.

FVAWD resident Fred Malmstrom volunteered to be a member of the Canvass Board for the election.

Operations report

Bacon’s written report on actions to upgrade and repair the system since taking over operations on Sept. 15 included these items:

  • Investigation of booster station and Arapahoe well plant conducted by contractor AM West. Adjusted the pressure valve that shuts off the booster pump. "Motor Minder" control system that runs the Arapahoe well booster pump required replacement and the part is on order.

  • Submitted report for first three quarters to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that was due at the end of the first quarter, avoiding a violation.

  • Completed and submitted a grant request that was approved, then later denied by the state because the project had already been completed and did not fall within the "health and safety" constraints of the grant.

  • Initiated use for both water plants of liquid chlorine, which is safer to work with, is less harmful to electrical equipment, and does not plug injectors.

  • Posted plant start up, shut down, and backwash procedures at both water plants.

  • Installed turbidity monitoring equipment and new chlorine analyzer – however the existing chart recorder for the analyzer is not compatible with the new equipment so a new recorder is required at a cost of less than $2,000 for purchase, installation and calibration.

  • Pressure gauge connection cracked at the Arapahoe plant and was replaced prior to start up.

  • Solicited bids for repairs on the Dawson well from Layne Western and AM West.

  • Repaired transmission line break behind the Arapahoe Plant (under $1,700).

  • Water line break at Pike View and El Rancho Drive repaired by AAA Ditching (under $3,900) in less than two hours.

  • Phone lines and water tank telemetry installed at the Arapahoe plant for remote reporting.

  • New mercury switch alarm installed at the Arapahoe plant to detect shut downs caused by air in the line, power outage, line break, or insufficient water to the booster pump.

  • Installed a new pressure relief valve for the chemical pump at the Arapahoe plant.

  • Repaired the propane heater at the surface water plant. Determined that plugged pilot valve, corroded thermostat, and failing thermocouple need replacement (about $480 for these parts).

  • Repaired Arapahoe booster station electrical lines cut by gas line installers who did not locate these lines. Electrician from Foster Electric also found that the power box for these lines was unsafe and requires replacement of box handle – the quote for the replacement was not yet available.

  • Cleaned the intake at the surface water plant of debris and small rocks after noting low flow rate.

Bacon discussed several of these start-up items. He passed around a broken PVC pipe for a pressure gauge, noting that he had replaced the item with a more substantial galvanized metal pipe. Jeff Walker said that this was the third time that particular piece of pipe had been replaced with PVC pipe and galvanized pipe should have been specified sooner. Bacon noted that similar replacements should be made throughout the system soon for all other high pressure PVC pipe. He noted that air bubbles in the pipe had led to the failure, and that his other recommended PVC replacements would minimize a recurrence of this particular problem.

Johnson listed the emergency repairs she had authorized Bacon to make after he took over operations.

Other repairs that are needed to prevent premature pump failures were also discussed. After a lengthy discussion there was consensus on making the repairs he had suggested should be done immediately, including those for missing pressure relief valves not listed in Bacon’s written report. These additional recommended repairs totaling $4,400 were unanimously approved.

Public comments

Resident Susan Gates expressed concerns about pH levels in the water in her home. Bacon said there was air in the lines due to pump pressures being too high.

Currier asked again about re-distributing, gathering, and turning in ballots from residents who did not want to drive to Lakewood. Johnson said that if a judge did so, then changed his mind about serving on election day, all the ballots he had collected would be invalidated. Johnson swore in Currier as a judge of election but told him not to collect ballots until she had researched possible contingencies with the SDMS election attorney. The meeting was continued at 8:30 p.m. until 9 a.m. on Nov. 10 in the Monument library.

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The next regular meeting was to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Station 1 on Highway 105.

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Forest View Acres Water District, November 10: Board refines 2007 budget in light of election results

By John Heiser

On Nov. 10, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors met to refine the draft 2007 budget. The formal budget hearing was Nov. 30.

Background

The board consists of Rich Crocker, Ketch Nowacki, Eckehart Zimmermann, and President Barbara Reed-Polatty. Jeff Walker, the fifth board member, resigned at the end of the Sept. 19 meeting. 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.

Mike Bacon of Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) is the district’s contract operations manager. Deborah McCoy, president of SDMS, 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.)

Election results

With 328 votes cast out of 625 eligible ballots, the official results of the Forest View Acres Water District ballot questions are:

  • Question 5A: Property tax mill levy for administrative expenses – For 194, Against 134.

  • Question 5B: Authorization to issue bonded indebtedness to pay for capital improvements – For 127, Against 201.

  • Question 5C: De-TABORing the district – For 145, Against 183.

  • Question 5D: Elimination of term limits for board members – For 145, Against 183.

Since 5A passed, the district is authorized to impose a mill levy of up to 5 mills for operational expenses.

Budget workshop

  • Crocker said that, in order to be self-sustaining, the district must avoid deferrals such as reduced tap fees for some property owners, must impose administrative and capital improvement costs equally on all lots, and must adjust water rates so the water use fees pay the cost of producing and delivering the water. He said the items on the bills should reflect the various categories of expenses.

  • Johnson noted that the draft 2007 budget assumes that the board will certify a 5-mill property tax for administrative expenses. The tax will appear on property tax bills issued in January. She projected that the property tax revenue to the district for 2007 would be $46,766. The county will withhold $701 to cover administrative expenses involved in collecting the tax. Johnson estimated that the district would receive 98 percent of the property tax revenue by the end of July. Johnson also estimated that the district would receive $2,750 in specific ownership taxes during 2007.

  • Reed-Polatty said that, based on some board member statements made prior to the election, the $25 per month additional administrative fee approved at the December 2005 board meeting should be reduced in accordance with the projected property tax revenues.

  • Johnson reported that Paul Rufien, the district’s attorney, said the availability of service fees, currently $20 per month, charged property owners whose lots in the district are not currently connected to the water system must be set at no more than 50 percent of the basic fees and charges related to delivery of service to properties that are connected to the system.

  • Johnson noted that the budget is divided into four funds: the General Fund covers district administrative and legal expenses; the Debt Service Fund covers repayment of the district’s bond indebtedness; the Enterprise Fund covers operation and repair of the water utility; and the Capital Improvement Fund covers defined projects to improve the infrastructure.

  • Nowacki noted that some major repairs may extend the life of the infrastructure and so may blur the line between repairs and capital improvements. He also suggested major repairs should be segregated into "above ground" and "below ground" categories.

  • Crocker said the district should develop a detailed capital improvement plan to present to the voters in 2008. Based on the results of the November election, Reed-Polatty said, "The district residents want to pay as we go. They don’t want general obligation bonds." Johnson said that her interpretation of the election results was that the voters felt the amount of bonded indebtedness for capital improvements was too great.

  • Johnson said interest income from the district’s cash balances can be assigned to whichever funds the board prefers.

  • Zimmermann noted that payments to SDMS for management of the district during 2006 are averaging more than $10,000 per month. He said a big factor in that expense is the number and type of board meetings. The draft budget shows a total of $80,000 ($6,667 per month) split between the General Fund and the Enterprise Fund. Nowacki added that the goal, when the district is running smoothly, is about $4,600 per month (40 hours at $115 per hour).

  • Based on experience with the water system, the board estimated $40,000 per year in additional costs for the contract operations manager to deal with an average of one emergency breakdown per month.

  • Crocker suggested that improvements to the system be split into three categories: the Core Production System including the well in the Arapahoe aquifer, the treatment plant, the booster station, and the tank; the Secondary Production System including the surface water plant and the well in the Dawson aquifer; and the Delivery System including the mains and hydrants.

  • Crocker proposed three capital improvement projects totaling $70,000 for the Core Production System: $10,000 for inspection of the tank, which was built in 1974 and has not been inspected in the past eight years; $50,000 for improvements to the booster station and connection to the Red Rock Reserve (formerly Raspberry Ridge) project; and $10,000 for improvements to the Arapahoe well.

  • Crocker proposed three capital improvement projects totaling $50,000 for the Secondary Production System: $10,000 to investigate what can be done to restore the lower intake for the surface water plant; $20,000 to design the improvements needed to the surface water treatment plant; and $20,000 for analysis and design of the Dawson well, assuming satisfactory results of the recent production test project.

  • Crocker proposed that improvements to the Delivery System be postponed. Zimmermann noted that 5 percent to 12 percent leakage is typical in a large water system. The district is currently losing two to three times that amount. The board approved adding $20,000 to the draft budget for an analysis of the distribution system to determine what valves are needed to aid in isolating and repairing leaks. Crocker estimated that the cost of the water lost to leaks averages about $14,000 per year.

  • Crocker noted that the district averages water use fee revenue of $3.85 per 1,000 gallons of water produced, however the cost of producing and distributing the water averages about $8 per 1,000 gallons. He added that rates have not been increased in the past 10 years. He suggested that a flat rate structure of $8 per 1,000 gallons be adopted. In response to comments from other board members, he revised that proposal to encourage conservation by imposing $8 per 1,000 gallons up to 10,000 gallons per month and $10 per 1,000 gallons for use that exceeds 10,000 gallons per month.

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The next regular board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30, at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105.

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Monument Sanitation District, November 16: District saves $35,000 on Wakonda project

By Jim Kendrick

At the Monument Sanitation District Board meeting on Nov. 16, District Manager Mike Wicklund reported significant savings now that the first phase of the Wakonda Hills collection system expansion has been completed. The final costs submitted by J&J Construction were $35,000 under contract bid.

The savings more than offset increases in renovation costs to move and enlarge the district’s office. The budgeted cost of the renovation was $130,000, including $10,000 for contingencies. During construction of the district’s new offices, the contractor, Access Construction, discovered a need to repair a portion of the roof, and the board elected to replace the entire roof. The total cost of the work performed by Access was $138,000.

An unexpected additional capital cost for 2006 occurred when the district’s final $30,000 payment to Access Construction for the new Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility laboratory and administration building was delayed. The budgeted funds were not spent last year and were rolled over into the 2006 budget after it was approved. Wicklund noted that the board might have to approve an amendment to the 2006 budget and appropriate the expense in December, should there be other unanticipated expenses.

If required, the district will hold a public hearing for an amendment to the 2006 budget and appropriation at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 12. The board will also hold a public hearing on the final 2007 budget at that same meeting. Budgets and mill levy certifications must be approved and submitted to the county prior to Dec. 15. The final district payment on the 1994 General Obligation Bond will be paid in 2007, the last year the district will collect a property tax mill levy for the debt.

The board approved a $60 credit for each connected user account in 2007.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the district office, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.

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Triview Metropolitan District, November 15: Board considers car wash issues

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met Nov. 15; board member Julie Glenn was excused.

District manager Larry Bishop announced that the budget would be ready for public review at the Dec. 13 board meeting and noted that it would be advertised as a public hearing and held a week earlier than normal due to the holidays. At that meeting, the board will consider certifying the mill levy, amending the 2006 budget, approving the 2007 budget, and allocating funds.

District administrator Dale Hill presented the October financial summary. She reported that the electric bill was higher than anticipated but that overall, the district was financially sound and operating within budget. She noted that the downturn in the housing market had lowered the district’s expected revenues obtained from permits and fees and that money in the enterprise fund used for operation and maintenance of the water and wastewater systems was tight due to falling revenues. She reported that the district was not in financial trouble but that she was keeping a careful accounting of all expenses so as not to exceed the available funds.

Hill said that the district had received three bids for street sweeping, landscaping and snow removal and recommended that the board award the contract to VBH because it had previously worked for the district with no complaints and that its bid was $19,000 less than the contract for 2005. The board awarded the contract to VBH and approved payments for the November bills.

Bishop reported that he was getting closer to solving the discrepancy in the pumping statistics and that October’s statistics were 79 percent accountable. He said there would always be some discrepancy due to leaks in the system and errors in reporting but that he would not be satisfied until the statistics were 85 percent to 90 percent accountable.

He noted that the district currently bills for water consumption after it is produced and that he plans to begin metering the production and consumption on the same day, which would provide a more accurate accounting of the district’s pumping. Bishop added that once the meters are replaced, the district would be able to more accurately measure consumption, and that the actual losses within the system could be more easily identified.

Bishop reported that Monument Ridge was about to be annexed into the district and that it would be all commercial and include a Walgreen’s as well as other retail businesses. Board President Steven Stephenson noted that he remembered a residential component to the subdivision and suggested Bishop check the plans. He also asked about the status of the Foxworth Galbrath site, to which Bishop responded that it had been annexed into the town but not into the district.

Rick Blevins, the developer’s representative for the Monument Marketplace, reported that they were moving ahead and under contract with Staples, Nick and Willy’s Pizza, Blockbuster, Texas Road House, Carl’s Junior, B&G Liquors, Checker Auto Center, and Grease Monkey.

Blevins asked the board to consider a fifth amendment to the Regency Park plan. Currently, the plan allows for a car wash and some commercial uses across from the high school. Blevins said the amendment would move the commercial land uses to the Marketplace and replace them with about 40 quad-style homes at the corner of Higby and Struthers.

The board discussed the realignment of Higby Road and its concern for traffic safety near the high school. Attorney Pete Susemihl noted that the plans for Higby were at least nine years away, so they had more time to study the safety issues and realignment.

Stephenson noted his concern for increased density with no additional parks and recommended that pocket parks be considered. The board reviewed the history of this site and how it was changed due to the protected status of the indigenous Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. Blevins reminded the board that the large parcel of open space that had been dedicated for parks near Creekside Middle School was exchanged for the 20 acres of land the developer donated to the YMCA.

Bishop reported that Doug Smith had requested installation of a Big Wave car wash but that he could not recommend it because of the anticipated 24-26 acre feet of water per year that the developer requested to operate it. The board questioned if the number of acre-feet would be reduced if reclaimed water was used, to which Bishop replied that there might be a 25 percent savings but that this water could be used only on the undercarriage of vehicles because it would damage the finish.

Blevins addressed the board, noting that it was not his intent to justify a car wash, but suggesting it would be prudent for the district to draft a policy for car washes that included all necessary requirements for approval. This would let an applicant decide if it would be economically feasible to build and operate one. Blevins also recommended that if the board determined not to allow a car wash, the zoning should be changed.

Stephenson noted that a car wash would use approximately the same amount of water required to service 84 homes and that the district would need to generate at least $750,000 a year on the car wash to break even. Blevins added that there would be no sales tax generated by a car wash. The board agreed to continue studying the impacts of a car wash on the district’s water supply and finances.

Bishop reported that Promontory Point, Sanctuary Pointe, and Home Place Ranch were submitting revised plans in December and that the respective developments were all responsible for drilling wells. Stephenson asked about the timing for the wells. Bishop replied the Sanctuary Pointe well would be constructed right away and serve that development.

Stephenson asked if the 6 homes in the Homestead development that are currently being served by individual pressure boosters would be served by higher pressure water for this Sanctuary Pointe well in the future, noting that the district was obligated to address the pressure problem. Consultant engineer Chuck Ritter of Nolte Engineering responded that they would.

On the status of Baptist Road, Ritter noted that he had twice reviewed El Paso County’s plans and was satisfied with the road design. He said the capacity of the line between Leather Chaps and Kingswood was limited due to the depth and size of the stormwater drainage culvert the line would cross beside Baptist Road . Stephenson asked if the sight lines at Baptist and Leather Chaps had been addressed, to which Ritter replied that they would be improved with the change in road elevation at that intersection.

Ritter reported the upgrades for the equalization basins on the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant had been completed and were operational, noting that the contractor had saved the district about $50,000 by redesigning the holding tanks, thereby reducing the amount of concrete needed. He informed the board that the cost for phase two was estimated at $600,000 and suggested the board consider an add-on to the contract for $4,300 to replace a concrete structure that was built in 1988.

Ritter reported that the bid for the Monument Creek interceptor would be released in mid-December and that he anticipated a January startup. He noted that a 14 percent increase in construction costs was expected for 2007 and recommended carefully monitoring expenses.

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, November 9: Slight rate increases planned for Spring 2007

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Woodmoor board held an open hearing to discuss constituent concerns and questions regarding the district’s 2007 budget at its Nov. 9 meeting. Woodmoor general manager Phil Steininger summarized proposed rate changes, which will not take effect until around April of next year. He said the rate increases are needed for capital improvements, as well as water replacement and renewal.

Board members will also vote on adoption of the new supplemental water policy at their Dec. 14 meeting. The old policy was suspended during the summer. Impending price increases prompted several contractors to activate their outstanding contracts for supplemental water.

Budget, increases reviewed

If approved by the board, residential and business customers will see an average overall increase in their water bills of about 3.5 percent. The monthly service charge will increase 45 cents. (The 2006 base charge was $5.55 in 2006; in 2007, it will be $6). The board simplified the rates this year by consolidating volume increments. But as in past years, customers using a smaller volume of water will see a smaller percentage increase than those using larger quantities.

Sewer rates for residential customers will increase 25 cents, from $20.97 to $21.22. Commercial rates will not change but will remain higher than residential charges. And unlike residential lines, commercial wastewater lines are metered. Those commercial customers generating more than 6,000 gallons of wastewater will pay an additional $2.85 for every 1,000 gallons over the 6,000 gallon allowance.

Members then looked at the portion of the budget allocated for wastewater plant expenses. The directors authorized Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s JUC delegate, to vote to approve the proposed budget at the Nov. 14 JUC meeting, barring any major changes. Steininger will incorporate the final numbers into Woodmoor’s 2007 budget, which the board anticipates it will approve at the Dec. 14 meeting.

Steininger concluded his budget message by stating that the district was in good financial position overall. He stressed that the almost $10 million the district has in reserve will be needed to secure supplemental and renewable water sources as well as the infrastructure necessary to transport and store it.

Steininger emphasized that while the district would not immediately realize returns on its investment in surface water rights and the accompanying infrastructure, an assured future water supply was essential to maintain the value of Woodmoor homes. He told board members that some of those projects would be mentioned at the upcoming November meeting being hosted by the Palmer Divide Water Group.

Developers accept opportunity to activate supplemental water

Steininger told the board that several developers informed the district they had decided to activate their supplemental water agreements, with more expected before the December deadline. Each developer pays a $1,000 nonrefundable charge for processing.

In light of dwindling well water supplies and the much higher replacement cost of anticipated surface water, the directors voted in early summer to suspend the supplemental water policy, eventually deciding to increase the supplemental water charges from $14,000 to $20,000 per acre-foot. They also decided to change the policy so that reservations would only set aside the volume requested; price would reflect the rate in effect at the time of actual purchase.

Because several developers had made reservations and signed agreements prior to water policy changes, the board offered those developers the option to exercise all previous reservations with the conditions agreed upon at the date of their contract, with the stipulation that they hook up within one year. All reservations not acted upon will revert to the new policy.

Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility holds annual meeting

During the year, representatives from Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District meet monthly as part of the Joint Use Committee (JUC) to address matters pertaining to operations, maintenance, and improvements to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Each October, all the directors from the three owning entities are invited to attend an annual meeting to receive an update, express concerns and ideas, and ask questions related to the plant.

This year, directors attending the meeting discussed the main items of the facility’s 2007 budget. They also reviewed the Joint Use Agreement to determine how conversion to a self-managing plant might necessitate changes to the document, which outlines each entity’s cooperative rights and responsibilities. summarized the proceedings.

Mike Cucullu, attorney for the JUC, will look at the amended agreement to ensure legality. Because Woodmoor has until recently been executive manager of the facility, Erin Smith, Woodmoor’s attorney, will also review all document changes. Attorney Tim Schutz, acting as Palmer Lake’s legal representative, raised questions regarding insurance coverage and whether that would be affected by the management transition.

The management transition will not affect the way that costs are divided among the three districts. Capital improvements to the plant will continue to be evenly split three ways, while most operational costs will be determined by each entity’s proportional contribution to effluent volume and "biological oxygen demand" (a water quality indicator).

As part of the budget overview, Tri-Lakes facility manager Bill Burks mentioned several future projects. He hopes to complete two next year. In addition to hauling away the waste plant sludge, which is done in alternating years, Burks wants to stabilize the bank of Monument Creek north of the plant’s effluent station to prevent damage in case of a flood. The rip-rap was placed in 1965. Since then, significant portions have washed away.

Four projects are slated for 2008. Burks wants to build a separate storage shed to house the mower and other landscaping equipment, construct a sludge storage tank, sandblast and recoat the clarifiers, and remove and replace the road base between the operations and ultraviolet treatment buildings.

The JUC hopes to approve the 2007 budget at its November meeting after each board has had the opportunity to discuss the total package and its share individually.

Palmer Divide Water Group seeks water authority status

The Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) hopes to convince board members and trustees from area districts and municipalities of the need to establish a centralized governmental entity capable of acting in the interest of regional water providers at its Nov. 16 meeting.

After consideration of various options, PDWG members decided that the creation of a new water authority would best enable them to pool their resources, and formulate and execute a plan to provide renewable water to communities not included in the city of Colorado Springs’ water distribution system.

In addition to most Tri-Lakes area providers, other communities including the town of Widefield and Cherokee Metropolitan District have expressed interest in joining.

Steininger distributed copies of the proposed intergovernmental agreement for the establishment of the new authority, tentatively named the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. He said the main purpose of the meeting was informational, and to get the "team" together in one room. Although the attending boards would later be asked to declare membership and ratify the agreement, the proposal would probably not be voted upon at the meeting.

As part of the authority’s efforts, Charlie Stanzione of the hydrologic consulting firm Bishop Brogden Associates will act as project manager for a study evaluating the feasibility of possible Palmer Divide area cooperative projects intended to consolidate infrastructure and increase the efficiency of water use.

State water accounting requirements tighten

The completion of the Transit Loss study will signal a change in water accounting requirements, Steininger told the board. Withdrawals from Monument Creek and effluent flow from the waste plant will have to be reported on a daily rather than monthly basis in order to receive credits.

If Woodmoor operated solely on well water and did not wish to use effluent for augmentation, sale, or trade downstream, the district would not have to participate in the Transit Loss Model. However, Woodmoor diverts some surface water from Monument Creek into Lake Woodmoor and is permitted by the state to put an equivalent amount of effluent back into the stream below the waste plant as replacement. In addition, new projects among Palmer Divide area water providers may offer an opportunity to make use of a greater proportion of effluent.

Steininger said that Stanzione would meet with Rich Snyder, state engineer from District 10, to discuss how to best meet the new monitoring requirements. Operations manager Randy Gillette is researching how to alter the district’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) program to interface with the U.S. Geological Survey’s system, which tracks the flow of water through gauging stations.

District studies feasibility of backwash recapture

Gillette updated the board on the South Filter Plant reclamation study. Each year, the district uses approximately 5 percent of the total amount of water it pumps to backwash the filters. That amounts to about one-half acre-foot of water per day. Should it be economically feasible for Woodmoor to be able to reclaim for use a significant proportion of that amount, it could result in substantial savings. Not only would the district make better use of its water, it would also reduce the amount of wastewater sent to the plant, which would lower the cost of processing.

Unfortunately, filter backwash water cannot be mixed directly with aquifer water to be filtered and treated. It contains, among other sediments, much higher concentrations of iron and manganese. The water must be held to allow the particulates to settle out. The district is also considering using a coagulant to remove a greater amount of the metals, which do not precipitate entirely over time.

Gillette said reclamation at the South Filter plant can be easily managed as the plant was constructed to accommodate reclamation, but the Central Plant would require modifications. The setups of the two other (older) plants, which service Wells 8 and 11 exclusively, are less conducive to a reclamation program, as there is no space to install a backwash holding tank. In addition, the volume of water treated at each of the facilities is much smaller, making a reclamation operation economically unfeasible.

Repairs and line flushing

Gillette told the board that Well 2 has been repaired, and the pump equipment returned to the well cavity. Staff has been trying to schedule an appointment with AmWest to test the equipment; once that part of the job is complete, the well will be operational, probably before the end of the month. All other wells are up and running.

Woodmoor experienced three breaks this month. One involved a broken valve on a line running along Rim of the World Drive. The other was a residential service connection failure. Both have been repaired. The third break was not described.

District technicians have completed water line flushing in the north section of Woodmoor known as Zone 1. Gillette said they used the unidirectional method, which allows the water to flow much faster, and more effectively scours the pipe interior. He reported there was very little sedimentation (usually indicated by brown or rusty water).

Development update

District engineer Jessie Shaffer briefly listed the status of ongoing development in Woodmoor:

  • Sam Schoeninger, the developer of Misty Acres, is working to complete the water and sewer infrastructure, and may pave the roads before the end of the year. Shaffer told members there were presently four foundations and 10 more excavated holes already on the property.

  • Woodmoor has issued conditional acceptance of the water and sewer infrastructure on Walters Commons Filing 2. Homebuilder Pulte is still working on the storm drains.

  • The Crossroads at Monument is nearly complete.

  • The YMCA is working on preliminary plans; the district expects them to be submitted before year’s end.

New Arapaho Well 20 to be drilled soon

Shaffer said Woodmoor had closed on the property for the new well site, located near the intersection of Fairplay and Higby. Per the district’s agreement with the sellers, several trees have been transplanted.

Woodmoor opened the bid for drilling the well and received two proposals; one from Henkel Drilling and the other from Layne Western. Bishop-Brogden Associates and Woodmoor staff recommended that Henkel’s bid, which was lower, be accepted. The board awarded the contract to Henkel, issued a notice to proceed, and signed the documents.

Meter exchange program nears completion

Shaffer reported that the meter exchange program is on track to finish on schedule, possibly as early as the end of November. Woodmoor technicians have changed out 2,470 residential meters, or 90 percent of the total. Only 221 remain. He said office staff would step up their efforts by using more aggressive phone attempts to reach those residents who had so far not contacted the office to schedule an appointment.

He also said it appeared that the district would finish the project approximately $30,000 under budget. Originally, the project plans did not include replacement of commercial meters. Shaffer told the board he would like to use the savings, which resulted from money set aside for contingencies, to rebuild the meters. He pointed out that as the project nears completion, technicians are installing only six to 10 meters per day instead of the average 14. The downtime could be used to work on commercial meters, he said.

The board agreed, and authorized Shaffer to proceed.

The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 2:28 p.m., and 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.

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The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor board will take place at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Steininger noted that the meeting would start half an hour later than usual to allow more time for a holiday luncheon for board members. Meetings are normally held the second Thursday of each month.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, November 15: Board finalizes some budget issues

By Jim Kendrick

The board of directors of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District held two separate meetings on Nov. 15. The first session was the semi-annual Pension Board meeting at 7 p.m. The Pension Board monitors the actuarial status and budgets for the pensions paid to volunteer firefighters. The second meeting was the regular monthly board meeting for the district. All members of both boards were present.

Pension fund remains sound

The Pension Board reported that the actuarial status of the fund remains fiscally sound for sustaining near-term payments to the small number of volunteers who have become eligible to receive monthly retirement checks over the past few years. A recommendation was made to ask the district board to consider an increase in Wescott’s contribution from $55,000 per year to $75,000 in the district’s 2007 budget to offset drops in contributions from other sources. The amount of available matching funds from grants—a 90 percent match of district contributions in the past two years—may not remain as high a percentage of annual contributions as it has been.

Calls decline 25 percent

At the regular board meeting, no problems were noted in meeting the 2006 budget as the year draws to a close, and the treasurer’s report was unanimously accepted.

Chief Jeff Edwards reported that there were 75 calls in the district and 33 mutual-aid calls in October for a total of 108 calls. The year-to-date total is 938 calls, which is a 25 percent decrease from last year. The reduction in calls remains due primarily to a change in AMR’s dispatching policy for 2006 for the ambulance assigned to Wescott, a win-win situation for AMR and the district.

There were three structure fire calls in October. All were extinguished before Wescott crews arrived on scene. Edwards noted that there was a slight delay in Wescott receiving one of the structure fire calls from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher. The cause of this situation is being investigated. Property losses ranged from approximately $5,000 to $17,000.

Department staff attended an annual leadership conference in Breckenridge in late November. Staff members are also scheduled to attend a wildland fire school in Sterling in January.

The district’s new engine is tentatively scheduled for delivery in late March.

Some of the district’s radios were updated late in November. The rest of the radios will be updated to meet new APCO 25 standards in the near future.

2007 budget

Edwards answered questions about some line items in the proposed 2007 budget. An expense category for firefighter safety has been added to the budget, for items like an eye-wash station. Parts of the proposed $52,000 in the capital budget for fire station improvements are to be used for:

  • Updating bathrooms, carpeting, and paint in Station 2 on Sun Hills Drive

  • Building a public gazebo on the side of Station 1 on Gleneagle Drive

  • Replacement of the two front bay doors at Station 1

The department will also apply for a grant for an evacuation system for the engine bays.

The district board discussed the pension board’s request to increase the district’s contribution to the Pension Fund by $20,000 in 2007. Currently available matching funds from the state may end in 2009. The board decided to leave the district’s budgeted contribution at $55,000 and consider an increase later, during 2007, if enough discretionary funds are available.

A special board meeting was unanimously approved for Dec. 6 to approve the final budget so the district can certify the district’s mill levy prior to the state’s Dec. 15 deadline.

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters at 8:32 p.m. The executive session ended at 9:36 p.m.

The board unanimously approved a motion to give a 5 percent raise in 2007 to all sworn personnel. The board unanimously approved a second motion to give Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz a 5 percent raise in 2007. Board President Brian Ritz abstained from the discussion and vote on the second motion.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:41 p.m.

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The special budget meeting will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. The next regular board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 20, at Station 1. Regular board meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, November 15: Expenses over budget; Impact fees imposed

By Lee Colburn

President Charlie Pocock opened the Nov. 15 Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board meeting with member John Hartling absent. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack was also in attendance at this brief gathering.

Expenses over budget

Expenses are at 91 percent of the annual budget, which is 8 percent greater than the expected amount at this point in the year. The last property lease payment was made and the department also paid for the new ambulance. The district is sitting well with sufficient funds and a credit line of $150,000 to carry over until revenues start coming in during the new year.

New fees enacted

Pocock opened a brief discussion on impact fees that will be imposed on new construction. Two months ago, the board decided to delay assessing newly authorized impact fees until after the elections. He said it was now time to start charging. Builders will be charged $700 per new dwelling, or $700 per 2,000 square feet in a commercial project.

Rick Barnes moved that the department start charging fees Dec. 1. The motion passed unanimously. Pocock said he would notify the Monument Board of Trustees.

Pocock recommended the board increase ambulance fees by 5 percent. Jack said this was in line with the approximate 4 percent average increase in the area. Pocock also recommended the district add an 18 percent research and rebilling fee. This fee covers the administrative cost and time to send out second and third notices to ambulance customers.

The board unanimously passed the motion to establish the ambulance fee increase and additional rebilling/research fee, effective Jan. 1.

Praise for accomplishments

Pocock thanked the firefighters union for its support during the recent election. He also highlighted department firsts that have been accomplished, including winning a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, which Black Forest and Falcon Fire districts used as a model for their own applications.

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

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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. Dec. 13, 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 Robert Denbroske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, November 15: Financial discrepancies resolved; conflict over discussion of personnel issues continues

By John Heiser

At the Nov. 15 meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District board, Treasurer Bob Hansen announced that he is satisfied with bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer’s explanation of the discrepancies regarding 2005 end-of-year expenses. Ousnamer said the differences arose because some expenses booked in 2004 were paid in 2005.

Remaining unresolved was the question of whether the Woodmoor-Monument board is permitted to address personnel issues.

Chief Robert Denboske has argued that the district does not have any employees since under the agreement forming the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority, all the employees were transferred to the authority.

Hansen quoted from OCN coverage of the Oct. 25 Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board meeting, where it was reported that Tri-Lakes district board members discussed hiring a part-time business manager and filling the vacant assistant chief position. He asked, "Why is it OK for the Tri-Lakes district to discuss personnel issues at their meeting and yet the Woodmoor-Monument board can’t discuss personnel at ours?"

Hansen added, "We pay a lot of money toward salaries, therefore, we have employees."

Denboske reported that based on direction given at the Oct. 25 meeting, he contacted the Special District Association for an opinion on the matter but has not received a reply.

Director Tim Miller, who is also president of the authority board, suggested that an opinion be sought from the authority’s attorney.

After Denboske gave the financial report noting that the district is 7.44 percent under budget, Hansen asked that the monthly report include the account balances.

The board directed Denboske to see if an interest-earning account could be used for the district checking account, given that as a result of forming the authority there are only a few transactions in and out of that account each month.

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The Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District board usually meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. In order to approve the 2007 budget and deliver it to state government prior to the Dec. 15 deadline, the next meeting will be held Dec. 13 at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, November 15: Firefighters call for inclusion of WMFPD into TLFPD

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority Board of Directors (L to R) TLFPD directors Rick Barnes, John Hildebrandt, Charlie Pocock, Keith Duncan; WMFPD directors Si Sibell, Tim Miller, Rod Wilson, Bob Hansen, and Bill Ingram. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

Following the Nov. 15 meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, the boards met jointly starting at 7:25 p.m. as the board of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority. During the public comment portion of the meeting, Jody Thorpe, speaking on behalf of the Monument Firefighters IAFF union local 4319, and Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, speaking on behalf of the operational staff, urged the inclusion of the Woodmoor-Monument district into the Tri-Lakes district to form a single district.

Election results

Ballot question 5E, raising the mill levy limit in the Tri-Lakes district to 8.5 mills, passed with 3,986 "yes" votes (68.7 percent) to 1,819 "no" votes (31.3 percent).

Si Sibell, president of the Woodmoor-Monument district, expressed appreciation to Thorpe for the union’s efforts in getting the ballot measure passed. saying, "You did a heck of a job."

Thorpe and Jack noted when addressing the board that the passage of the mill levy increase was a crucial step in accomplishing the inclusion of the Woodmoor-Monument district into the Tri-Lakes district. The Tri-Lakes district’s mill levy was previously 7 mills. The mill levy in the Woodmoor district is 9.92 mills.

Toward forming a single district

Jack said the 8.5 mill rate "will now support the formation of a single service district."

He said inclusion of the Woodmoor-Monument district into the Tri-Lakes district would require a motion by the Woodmoor-Monument board to seek dissolution of the district, a motion by the Tri-Lakes board to accept inclusion of the Woodmoor-Monument district, and an affirmative vote by the residents in the Woodmoor-Monument district.

Sibell and Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes District, noted that such board actions would be subject to negotiation of a pre-inclusion agreement between the two boards.

Woodmoor-Monument director Rod Wilson noted by way of showing the level of local support for unification of the districts that some Monument citizens told him they were disappointed they could not vote on the mill levy ballot issue. He added, "It’s a good plan. We have come so far in the past two years. We need to carry forward."

Financial report

Authority Treasurer John Hildebrandt said the authority has received 99.3 percent of expected property tax revenue anticipated for the year.

Ambulance revenues were $356,259 as of Oct. 31, exceeding the $350,000 projected for the year.

Specific ownership taxes, which include taxes paid as part of vehicle registration, totaled $259,483, only 75.7 percent of the budgeted amount for the year. Hildebrandt said, "It looks like I over-budgeted the revenue."

As of Oct. 31, total revenue stood at $3.07 million or 94.8 percent of the anticipated total for the year.

Overall expenses were $2.76 million, 85.5 percent of the budgeted total for the year, 2.2 percent greater than the anticipated amount at the end of October.

Costs for insurance, communication, Station 2, and building repair and maintenance items were some of the problem areas. Hildebrandt noted that so far this year, expenses for the Tri-Lakes district are running approximately 8 percent over budget and the expenses for the Woodmoor-Monument district are running approximately 8 percent under budget. He added that the districts have adequate reserves or an adequate line of credit to cover expenses through the early part of 2007 until the districts begin to receive property tax revenues in February and March.

New auditing company hired

The board unanimously approved acceptance of the letter of engagement of auditing firm Bondi and Co. Authority president Tim Miller said the fees would not exceed $14,000 without a prior agreement by the board.

Miller noted that Gordon Hughes and Banks, the prior auditing company, is requesting payment of an additional $11,000. The consensus of the board was that the firm should be informed that the $16,500 paid to date is all that will be paid.

2007 budget

Chief Robert Denboske presented the revised draft of the 2007 budget. He said the budget has been adjusted based on passage of the mill levy increase for the Tri-Lakes district. He added that the salary schedule would be addressed at the executive session.

Bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer reminded the board that the prior auditor said the authority needed to get written permission from the state to submit one budget instead of three budgets. Ousnamer was asked to coordinate that issue with the state agency.

The formal hearing on the budget is to be held Dec. 13.

Personnel discussions

Woodmoor-Monument Treasurer Bob Hansen repeated the question he had asked at the meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument board meeting: "Why is it OK for the Tri-Lakes district to discuss personnel issues at their meeting and yet the Woodmoor-Monument board can’t discuss personnel at ours?"

Tri-Lakes district Director Rick Barnes said it was a sidebar discussion and the information in OCN was taken out of context. He added, "We probably shouldn’t have talked about it." (Editor’s note: OCN stands by its coverage of the discussion at the Oct. 25 Tri-Lakes board meeting.)

Hansen agreed, saying, personnel issues should be discussed only at authority meetings and not at the individual district meetings.

Pocock reported that several other local fire districts, including Black Forest, Larkspur, and Falcon, have received U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to increase their paid staff.

The authority board went into executive session at 8:05 p.m. to discuss the salary schedule.

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The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month following the meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District. In order to approve the 2007 budget and deliver it to state government prior to the Dec. 15 deadline, the next meeting will be held Dec. 13 at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38, November 16: Second high school bond issue passes; project proceeds

Below: School board members LouAnn Dekleva (L) and Jes Raintree (R) congratulate Amy O’Dair who received a Colorado Association of Partners in Education award for her volunteer work with D-38 students Photo by John Heiser

By John Heiser

The ballot question to fund construction of the second high school passed in the Nov. 7 election. At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting Nov. 16, the board unanimously approved contracts with H+L Architects to complete the design and with Saunders Construction to serve as the construction manager general contractor for the project.

The second high school is to be built on 69 acres composed of the Hunter Run Farm and adjacent properties between Woodmoor Drive and Monument Hill Road. A separate contract with H+L covering the improvements at Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) was also approved. The contracts with H+L and Saunders represent about 75 percent of the total costs for the second high school project.

Election results

The following information is from www.elpasoelections.com/2006-general/results.html:

  • Ballot question 3C: Monument Academy mill levy override, 4,533 "yes" votes (37.71 percent), 7,489 "no" votes (62.29 percent).

  • Ballot question 3D: Mill levy override to fund operation of the second high school, 5,916 "yes" votes (49.05 percent), 6,144 "no" votes (50.95 percent).

  • Ballot question 3E: Up to $57 million in bonds to fund construction of the second high school and improvements to LPHS, 6,113 "yes" votes (50.72 percent), 5,940 "no" votes (49.28 percent).

Although the bond issue to construct the second high school and make improvements to LPHS passed, since ballot question 3D failed the district does not have authorization to raise tax money to operate the second high school. During citizens’ comments, Kristin Boyd, president of the Lewis-Palmer Education Association (LPEA) said the LPEA is thrilled with the success of the bond issue. She announced that the LPEA is committed to help achieve passage of the mill levy override for operation of the second high school when that question is again placed before the voters.

Board members thanked the community for supporting the bond issue.

Second high school construction project update

Jeffrey Chamberlin of RLH Engineering presented the following status report for the second high school project:

  • Team meetings have been held to assign responsibilities and set timelines.

  • A master file system and master budget have been created.

  • A work session with the school board is needed in mid-December to review the scope of the work and costs involved.

  • Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 2007, with building occupancy projected for August 2008.

  • The formal master schedule should be ready by the next regular board meeting Dec. 21.

  • Meetings have been held with state and county transportation officials.

  • Requests for cost quotes will be issued for a commissioning engineer to shadow the engineering team and ensure the efficiency and sustainability of the building design.

  • RLH will meet with the YMCA to coordinate the Y’s plans and the plans for the new LPHS access from Jackson Creek Parkway.

Assistant Superintendent Ray Blanch reported that the Core Planning Team, which includes 12 educators from LPHS, has been formed and will work to define the learning environment at the new second high school and develop operational plans for the building.

President responds to article

Board President Jes Raintree responded to statements in the OCN article on the Oct. 19 board meeting. She said that since board members are volunteers, they are permitted to speak in favor of ballot questions even at board meetings. (Reporter’s note: Attorneys for other governmental entities have advised their board members to avoid ballot question advocacy during board meetings because board meetings are conducted at taxpayers’ expense.)

Raintree also stated that the executive sessions at the Oct. 19 board meeting followed state requirements with the exception that she failed to open the public meeting prior to holding the first executive session.

Other matters

The board addressed a number of other topics, including:

  • Student highlights—The Lewis-Palmer Elementary School (LPES) preschool class presented the Pledge of Allegiance, a rhyme, and two songs, verbally and in sign language. Four fourth-grade students presented a play about travelers and a headless haunt. The play is part of the Readers’ Theatre program at LPES.

  • Commendations—Lisa Mitchell and Julie Keim of the Colorado Preschool Program board received commendation certificates for their years of leadership in benefiting students through CPP. Amy O’Dair received a commendation certificate for being named the Individual Recipient of the Colorado Association of Partners in Education (CAPE) award from the 5th Congressional District in recognition of her volunteer work with District 38 students.

  • Energy Star Award—Patty Crow, the EPA’s Energy Star representative for Colorado, presented an Energy Star Award to Jim Carter in recognition of the outstanding energy efficiency of the District Administration Building. Crow noted that energy costs for school districts exceed the combined costs for textbooks and computers. Crow said that of 26,000 buildings surveyed, only 3,100 have earned the Energy Star rating. In Colorado, only 82 other school buildings have received this distinction. The superior energy performance of the district’s buildings, made possible with the assistance of Siemens, has saved the district more than $220,000 annually.

  • LPHS Student Council—Rob Shearer, student body president, announced that the most recent LPHS play, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, was a great success, aided by the use of new wireless microphones. LPHS beat Pine Creek High School in the Harvest of Love Food Drive (12,200 items vs. 3,000 items). He said this is the first time LPHS has beaten Pine Creek in the past seven years. Shearer said the LPHS segment of The Biggest Loser TV program will be shown on Dec. 6. LPHS received $15,000 worth of exercise equipment for its participation in the show.

  • District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) Report—Becky Yoder reported on the November DAAC meeting. A subcommittee of about a dozen people has been formed to work on attendance boundaries. Their first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Learning Center. The regular monthly DAAC meeting will not be held in December. In January, school reps will give short oral reports on parent involvement in their schools.

  • Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report for No Child Left Behind— Blanch reported the district made 84 of 86 targets. The only areas missed were in special needs. Blanch said he is working with the Colorado Department of Education and will submit an improvement plan. He said there is a strong movement to look at a more flexible and realistic approach, as the current rules make it very difficult for districts to satisfy AYP.

  • Monument Academy Report— Elementary Principal Jane Lundeen and secondary administrator Jon Hutchinson presented the written report they submitted to the board Nov. 1. Lundeen noted that the Monument Academy received full accreditation by the American Academy of Liberal Education. She said it is one of only two charter schools in Colorado to have received this recognition. This is the first year the Monument Academy has been a K-12 school, with 478 students in elementary grades K-6 and 176 students in secondary grades 7-12. Monument Academy will have its first graduating class of 26 seniors in spring 2007. Lundeen reported that Monument Academy is hiring teachers with licenses in order to comply with district requirements and No Child Left Behind mandates.

  • Telephone and voice-mail system upgrade on again—Steve Endicott reported that the School and Library Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) reversed its prior decision and will now allow Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems to apply for the 40 percent E-Rate discount. Endicott said the district is now proceeding with the original plan to upgrade the telephone system and Wide Area Network. They have released a Request for Proposals and within 24 hours received seven responses. USAC is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that administers the federal Universal Service Fund for the Federal Communications Commission.

  • Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) audit—Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman reviewed the results of a recent PERA audit. She said the district has complied with the five areas of deficiencies or concerns that were found.

  • Annual financial audit report—The board received a copy of the audit report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2006, and heard an overview from auditor Tim Mayberry. Mayberry announced that the district is "in a strong financial position." The General Fund grew 7 percent over the past year. Mayberry recommended establishing more rigid and uniform financial controls across all the individual buildings. He also noted that 85 percent of the district’s budget goes to salaries and benefits and that funding the retirement plan is a significant long-term liability.

  • Strategic plan—The board received a presentation from Superintendent Michael Pomarico comparing four organizations that could assist the district in creating a strategic plan. Each firm offers a different conceptual model and process. The board agreed to have more discussion with administrators and the DAAC prior to making a decision regarding the strategic plan.

  • Ad Hoc Land Use Committee—The board received the final report of the land committee. Wangeman said information has been collected regarding school district land, land use requests, and fees in-lieu-of land from developers. The Facilities and Enrollment Committee will have this database to use in its work. Wangeman also reported that the tax assessor’s records now show District 38 is the owner of the 69 acres for the second high school. Board member Gail Wilson noted that the fees in-lieu-of land schedule of about $170 per rooftop is nowhere near the actual costs of land and construction.

  • Stakeholders report—The board approved the draft of the annual Stakeholders’ Report that will be mailed to all district households in December.

  • Military personnel voting—Wilson was asked to take the lead on encouraging state legislators to pass a bill allowing military personnel residing in Colorado to vote on ballot issues even though their legal residence is elsewhere. She said this is allowed in some other states.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer School 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. Dec. 21.

The district’s Web site is www.lewispalmer.org. Meeting highlights from the district’s Web site were used in preparing this article.

The Monument Academy Web site is www.monumentacademy.net.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority Special Meeting, November 13: Final planning for interchange work

By Jim Kendrick

At its first meeting since the 1-cent sales tax won voter approval, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board met with representatives of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the El Paso County Department of Transportation to begin final planning for construction bids to expand the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. While all participants were eager to begin construction to improve Exit 158, a number of administrative steps must be taken before awarding a contract, which was determined to be unlikely before the end of this year.

The board also unanimously approved BRRTA’s budget for 2007. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, Trustee Dave Mertz, and County Commissioner Dennis Hisey conducted the meeting. County Commissioners Wayne Williams and Jim Bensberg were absent.

The sales tax is temporary; it will most likely start in July 2007 and will end after 20 years, unless the construction bonds are paid off sooner. CDOT could make a payback of $15 million when state funds for the project become available under the current Colorado Senate Bill 1 mechanism for financing state highway construction.

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

In the unlikely event that CDOT, despite its stated intent, is unable to pay back the $15 million, projected BRRTA sales tax revenue is expected to pay 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 increasing the likelihood of the payback.

The sales tax will cease even if there is no CDOT payback and the sales tax revenue is insufficient to pay off the revenue bondholders. The bondholders assume all the risk. Purchases that will be exempt from the tax are food, prescription medications, and utility bills.

Although the state owns the interchange, BRRTA’s revenue bond proceeds will pay for construction. As with BRRTA’s ongoing construction contract to widen Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway, the interchange expansion contract will be drafted and administered by county Transportation Department staff and managed by contractor PBS&J. The interchange construction contract will be monitored by CDOT staff to ensure that it meets all CDOT standards.

County Transportation Department staff and PBS&J are also administering and managing construction that will extend Struthers Road northward from the Struthers Ranch development to the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road using the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s tax funds.

Board agrees on preliminary timetable

BRRTA District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells, LLC, reported that the specifications and planning necessary to initiate the construction bid process for the interchange improvements had been completed. BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker, of Grimshaw and Harring, reported that some right-of-way needed for expansion of the interchange had not yet been donated by adjacent landowners.

After a very lengthy technical discussion by board members, Denslow, and Hunsaker with CDOT consultant construction manager Steve Sandvik of PBS&J and county Transportation Department representatives, there was consensus regarding the timing of several steps that precede construction.

The deeds for every portion of required additional right-of-way for expansion of the Baptist Road interchange are typically signed over to CDOT before a construction contract is awarded. CDOT probably cannot complete these land donation transactions before the end of the year. Also, CDOT will require the landowners to formally acknowledge that they are entitled to payment for their donated land; if potential donors change their mind, appraisals and negotiations for finalizing purchase prices (including possible condemnation procedures) could take several months.

Advertisement and review of construction bids could not be most effectively completed before the end of the year. Wording and format of the construction contract documentation forms must meet federal requirements even though construction is privately financed through state procedures, in case future repayments by CDOT were to include some federal funds that may become available.

The advertisements for and sale of up to $21.5 million in BRRTA sales tax revenue bonds could not be effectively completed until January. The BRRTA sales tax cannot be put into effect until after the bonds are sold. Sales taxes can be initiated only on Jan. 1 or July 1, so the sales tax cannot begin until July 1, 2007, at the earliest. The bonds must be sold before a construction contract can be awarded as well. However, advertisement for the bids and submissions of bids by competing contractors can take place before the revenue bonds are sold. Currently, costs of roadwork typically increase every three weeks.

County Transportation Department project manager Andre Brackin noted that the county may not be able to complete the administrative actions to obtain substitute habitat for the protected Preble’s mouse habitat on both sides of Jackson Creek south of Baptist Road, between Struthers Road and the northbound off-ramp for Exit 158, before the end of the year. He added that the county owns plenty of substitute land for wetlands mitigation.

Most construction near the Preble’s mouse habitat between Struthers Road and the northbound off-ramp for Exit 158 is permitted only between Nov. 1 and April 30. However, if there are delays in awarding the construction contract for the interchange expansion, some work on the southbound ramps could begin after April 30. It was unclear at the meeting what effect Preble’s mouse habitat would have on interchange or BRRTA construction on the west side of I-25.

Also unclear was how long it would take to coordinate final mouse habitat and wetland permit approvals from the state’s Department of Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers on these issues. Delays in negotiating these permits have already delayed construction on Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the I-25 interchange for several years.

As with the current widening of Baptist Road and construction of Struthers Road south of Jackson Creek Parkway, significant expense and construction delays are expected in finding and moving Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) power lines from the utility’s existing right-of-way to new underground locations. Sandvik reported that costs for moving the power lines were expected to be $1.2 million for the interchange. "We’ve done all we can do … now it’s up to BRRTA and CDOT."

Minor road widening delays continue

At the Sept. 8 BRRTA meeting, Brackin had reported that 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," he said. "We have multiple projects going on that hit them all at the same time and their one contractor can’t keep up."

Compounding this problem according to Brackin, the developers of the Monument Ridge commercial site on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway have also been slow in finalizing their construction plans; none had been submitted to staff prior to this BRRTA meeting.

Brackin said no work will be done by MVEA to move its underground power lines within the Baptist Road right-of-way along the frontages of the Monument Ridge site until the developer finalizes the project’s site plan. No estimate was given for resolution of this delay. However, the completion date of the $10.2 million widening project has not slipped yet.

Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that the sketch plan that the Board of Trustees had approved for Promontory Pointe would have to be revised after purchase of the property by John Laing Homes. The single-family houses the homebuilder plans for the site do not fit on the lots as currently drawn in the preliminary plat. These changes should not affect donations of drainage right-of-way to BRRTA on the south side of the project.

Kassawara also reported that the town would hold another hearing on the annexation of Sanctuary Pointe later in November. The board’s decision was delayed on Nov. 6 to learn the outcome of the ballot question for the BRRTA sales tax.

Kassawara said the developer of Home Place Ranch was considering proposals for home construction from four builders. Delays for installing underground Sanctuary Pointe infrastructure on the north side of Baptist Road along the frontages of the Kingswood and Promontory Pointe developments should be resolved soon, however.

Kassawara added that sales of single-family homes and issuing of new construction permits are down sharply, which will significantly limit short-term BRRTA traffic impact fee revenues.

Audit submitted for review

Denslow distributed a draft copy of a "clean" audit for 2005 that was conducted by CPA Dawn Schilling. She asked board members to review the draft and submit any questions for Schilling to her prior to a final approval vote, scheduled for the Dec. 8 meeting.

Denslow noted that a "rooftop audit"—verifying the amount charged and collected for each new building since BRRTA was created in 1997—was proceeding slowly. The town of Monument collects the BRRTA impact fee at the time the building permit is issued.

Budget for 2007 approved

Denslow noted two line items added to the 2007 budget due to BRRTA construction: a debt service fund and a capital projects fund. The budget was unanimously approved as proposed.

Currently, BRRTA is covering the costs for engineering management of its construction projects with the other funds being provided by PPRTA.

Estimated revenues in the general fund increase from $1,005,049 in 2006 to $1,462,084 in 2007. Estimated expenditures increase from $360,965 to $682,450.

Total bond revenue for the capital fund is estimated to be $17,169,267. Bond issue costs are $165,000, and the underwriter’s discount is $430,000. Construction management costs are $36,364 for 2006, $436,368 for 2007, $327,268 for 2008. Interchange construction costs are $9,254,553 for 2007 and $4,558,212 for 2008. Right-of-way costs are $1,285,925 for 2007, assuming donations of right-of-way by adjacent landowners to the interchange.

The debt reserve line in the debt service fund budget for 2007 is $2,150,000 and capitalized interest payments are $2,180,733. Sales tax revenue is expected to be $1,000,000, and bond interest will be $1,500,000, the difference being paid from initial bond principal. Paying agent fees are $2,500.

Payments approved

Claims of $124,881 were unanimously approved, including:

  • $3,200 to Dawn Schilling for 2005 audit

  • $200 to Denver Business Journal for engineering expenses

  • $5,641 to Grimshaw & Harring for legal expenses

  • $106,157 to PBS&J for engineering management expenses

  • $1,324 to RS Wells for district management

  • $2,074 to RS Wells for budget preparation

  • $1,644 to RS Wells for election management

  • $4,630 to Wal-Mart for reimbursement of overpayment for impact fee

**********

The next BRRTA meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 in the third-floor County Commissioners hearing room, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs. Info: 884-8017.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, November 21: Preliminary plan approved for development on County Line Road

By Steve Sery

The El Paso County Planning Commission approved the preliminary plan for the MGP subdivision at the Nov. 21 meeting.

The MGP parcel is about 30 acres south of County Line Road, east of Monument Hill Road and west of Doewood Drive. It consists of 17 single- family lots adjacent to Doewood and nine commercial lots adjacent to Misty Acres Boulevard, a new road coming from the Misty Acres development on the south and intersecting with County Line Road east of the existing intersection of Monument Hill Road and County Line Road. Included in the MGP plan is a realignment of Monument Hill Road, turning east to intersect with Misty Acres Boulevard. This would eliminate the double curve at the north end of Monument Hill Road.

A resident living on Doewood Drive asked about drainage. The developer and county engineers explained how it would be handled. There is also an issue of the detention pond on the north side of County Line and who will be responsible for maintenance. This is yet to be determined and will be addressed before final plat.

The preliminary plan was approved unanimously.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, November 15: Wildfire protection plan approved

By Chris Pollard

With WIA Board President Hans Post absent, the meeting was chaired by Vice President Bill Walter.

Jim Woodman, director of forestry, reported on the Wildfire Protection Plan and progress toward meeting its goals. Recent remedial work had included finishing thinning, mostly of scrub oak, across the road from Toboggan Hill and toward Hidden Pond. Woodman added that the area now looked a lot better and people are able to picnic there and stop to look around. There was negative side effect of the extra popularity; more parking is needed at Toboggan Hill.

Woodman had submitted the last version of the Forest Stewardship and Community Wildfire Protection Plan to the WIA, noting that the two parts were authored by different groups.

An entire new part was added to the Wildfire Section, talking about the capabilities and strategies for fighting fires in Woodmoor. He had met with the battalion chief and reviewed what the fire department would do if there is a fire in Woodmoor. The current plan involved eight departments that would automatically respond with as many as 40 personnel in the first response. When the fire chief arrived at the fire, a decision would be made as to whether more personnel should be called to the scene. The other departments on the list of first responders include Larkspur, the Air Force Academy, Palmer Lake and others.

To address resident concerns about suggestions for opening the Doewood gate, Woodman was writing a memorandum of understanding. This would give Woodmoor Public Safety the authority to have a key to the Doewood gate and in the event of an evacuation in that area, WPS would be authorized to immediately open the gate.

George McFadden, director of covenants, asked whether the plan was to remove all the Gambel oak in the Fairplay Drive median. Woodman said this was in one of the most severe fire danger areas. The fire department recommended that because it is so dangerous, there needed to be a fuel break. The suggestion was to remove most of the scrub oak in the median, but Woodman said he would look to see where the tall scrub oak is continuous with oak on the outer part of the road. It may be possible for some scrub oak to be left in clumps where there are gaps in the oak on the outside of the road.

Woodman said that he expected to have a grant to cut the oak next year and then apply an herbicide to the stumps to prevent regrowth. This will be done next summer; they will be able to see if the herbicide works the next year. If the scrub oak is killed, there will be a chance to look at putting other shrubs or plants into the median.

Walter asked what sort of financial and work commitments the WIA would be committing to. Woodman said there is no obligation at the moment. Betty Hutchinson, treasurer, asked if it would be possible to submit a three-year financial plan concerning this work. She was also concerned that the budget for the program would depend on the grants that were being applied for. Woodman said that the grant money was mostly for homeowners, so it would support thinning on private property. Hutchinson then proposed a motion to accept the plan, and the board voted to approve.

Woodman said he wanted to form a team of volunteers under the forestry director. This would be designated as a Firewise Committee and would be needed as a precursor to Woodmoor becoming a Firewise Community. If the WIA joined the Firewise national program, a lot of resources, including educational material, would be available. Membership is renewable every year but requires an inspection before joining. Membership is based on the community residents making a commitment of spending at least $2 per person on Firewise-related activities. Members approved a motion to form such a committee.

Toboggan Hill parking

Alan McMullen, director of open space, said it was time to enlarge the parking lot at Toboggan Hill. He had been talking to a local excavation company to get some idea of the costs involved. He still needed to get approval from El Paso County but wanted to double the capacity from eight to 16 spaces. He also wanted to ask the county about putting in a crosswalk in this area because a lot of people now use this as a crossing.

Kevin Nielsen, chief of Woodmoor Public Safety, thought that probably 25 spaces would cover most use. One further problem is that it is not currently plowed when it snows. Alan was asked to add this area to the plowing schedule.

The next WIA board meeting will be held Dec. 13.

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November Weather Wrap

Below: Pikes Peak as seen November 13 from near Higby Road and Roller Coaster Road. Photo by John Heiser

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bill Kappel

Mild and dry weather returned for most of November and, for most residents, this was welcome relief after several months of wet and cool weather. In fact, the average temperature for the month was warmer than October’s! Of course, the end of the month brought a sharp reminder that winter is here and to not get too used to sunshine and mild temperatures.

After plenty of exciting weather during October, the first week of November was pretty uneventful. Temperatures started off on the cold side, as we continued to scour out some arctic air that had settled in during the end of October. Highs on the 1st hit only the mid- 30s. However, as skies remained mostly clear for the rest of the week and through the weekend, temperatures responded nicely, warming through the 40s and 50s. This also helped to melt more of the leftover snow from our October blizzard.

The second week of November was quiet for the most part, as the storm track slammed directly into the Pacific Northwest. This type of pattern often brings fast-moving weather systems that race into our high country but only bring wind to the Front Range. The down-sloping winds, know as "chinook" (snow eater) in the wintertime, often produce warm temperatures and spectacular mountain wave clouds for us along the Front Range.

The warming winds helped to bring record-high temperatures to the Front Range on the 8th. In fact, highs reached well into the 70s on that afternoon, not only breaking the record high for the date but for the entire month of November! However, most of the moisture with these types of storms is left in the mountains unless a cold front moves through in conjunction with one of these storms.

This is what happened on Friday the 10th and Sunday the 12th, when quick shots of snow followed the passing of the cold front on both mornings. Friday accumulated only a little more than a trace, but Sunday morning we managed to pick up 1-2 inches.

Seasonal temperatures under partly cloudy skies greeted us for the start of the third week of November. A second quickly moving storm system moved through during the afternoon and evening of the 14th. This storm started off with some graupel showers (snow pellets), and then light snow developed during the afternoon and continued through the evening, ending just after midnight on the 15th. Skies cleared quickly that morning, and with the cold airmass in place, temperatures tumbled to the low single digits, making for our coldest morning of the season so far.

After this storm moved out, quiet and dry weather settled in. Temperatures jumped into the low 60s on the afternoon of the 16th, before cooling to normal from the 17th through the 19th under mostly sunny skies.

Mild and dry weather continued to rule the region for the week of Thanksgiving. Temperatures remained 10-20 degrees above average from the 20th through the 23rd. This, of course, was very welcome for most residents as the weather didn’t cause travel problems around the Palmer Divide or across much of the western United States. Highs reached as high as 66 on the afternoon of the 20th, nearing record-high territory.

Low 60s for highs continued for the next few days before a quickly moving cold front dropped temperatures back to average and slightly below on Friday the 24th, holding in the upper 30s. Thanksgiving weekend was also quiet, with seasonal conditions as highs reached back into the low 50s. Again, this was good news for travelers heading home.

After a quiet start to the last week of the month, temperatures tumbled to the coldest levels of the season so far on Wednesday the 29th and Thursday the 30th. This arctic surge of air was accompanied by some much-needed snowfall as well, giving the region a nice Christmas feel to end the month.

A look ahead

The month of December can be a cold one around the Tri-Lakes region, with highs often staying below freezing. The month is generally dry however, with several light, fluffy snowfalls common. Gusty winds are also common during the month. In December 2004, we had a well-timed snowfall just before Christmas that left behind clear skies and a beautiful snow-covered landscape for Christmas Day, while December 2005 started off cold and snowy, and then ended mild and dry.

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

November 2006 Weather Statistics

Average High 47.9°
Average Low 21.3°
Highest Temperature 73° on the 8th
Lowest Temperature -10° on the 30th
Monthly Precipitation 0.36"
Monthly Snowfall 8.5"
Season to Date Snow 49.5" (the snow season is July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 16.35" (the precipitation season July 1 to June 30)

(The above figures were as of the morning of Nov. 30.)

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, 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

Park that water park

In the last issue, Mayor Glenn wrote an editorial defending tax break incentives for development of a water park on Baptist Road. I would like to respond to Mayor Glenn’s justification for development of the park.

Recently, the town of Monument approved fines for those who do not adhere to water conservancy when watering lawns. I would agree with this particular decision by the town council, albeit about three years late. The point being, the town has made a decision that water conservation is in our best interest for the community as a whole. If this is the case, why would we want to now have a water park in our boundaries that will use millions of gallons of water that its citizens are being asked to conserve.

The city of Colorado Springs figured this out by not providing any incentive for development of a water park in its boundaries. Do we as a community really want this type of development just for development’s sake?

Let’s not be blinded by the images of dollar signs via tax revenues. We need to understand what development’s impact will be 10 to 20 years down the road. Water has been a hot topic in the past, i.e., the Transit Mix batch plant and its water use. A water park is potentially this exact same type of red herring for our future water needs in the Tri-Lakes community.

Chad Randis

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Weathering misconceptions

In the November issue of OCN, there were a lot of unsubstantiated comments and generalizations about weather and climate that people mentioned in "Letters to Our Community" in their arguments about issues 3D and 3E. I thought I’d throw in my "expert" opinion on a few things:

  1. We are not in a meteorological drought and have not been in a drought since 2003. In fact, the summer of 2004 was one of the wettest in the last 100 years, and so far this water season (since July 1) the Monument-Palmer Divide area is on pace to set a record for the wettest 12-month period in the last 100 years. Unfortunately, no matter how much rain we receive, it will not be enough to recharge underground reservoir levels in our lifetimes.

  2. The weather patterns at or near the proposed location of the second high school are no different or worse than most locations in D-38. In fact, because the location is on the south-facing slope of the Palmer Divide and protected by trees, the conditions there are actually less windy and less severe than the previously proposed Wissler Ranch or the site at Highways 83 and 105. Those two locations are on the north side of the Palmer Divide crest and exposed to winds.

  3. The prevailing winds around the proposed site are not westerly, but instead show high variability throughout the year, with a slight majority out of the southeast. Therefore, there is no reason to think a HazMat spill on the interstate or at the weigh station would be more likely to affect the school site.

  4. Monument Hill does not have the worst driving conditions in D-38 as related to weather. Several other major roads in the area, including Highways 105 and 83, experience more extreme weather and hence more dangerous driving conditions. This occurs for several reasons: exposure to northerly winds and blowing/drifting snow; slope of the roadway is steeper on Highway 105; and snow is removed more efficiently (and melts quicker) on I-25, with help from the greater overall traffic volume.

Bill Kappel
Meteorologist/GIS Specialist

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Thanks for Harvest Festival help

Monument Community Presbyterian Church wishes to extend a huge thank-you to all who helped with a successful 2006 Community Harvest Festival. They include: The downtown Monument stores, 2-Watts Creative, Colorado National Bank, Christ The King Anglican Church, St. Peter Church, High Country Home and Garden, King Soopers, and Safeway.

We couldn’t have done it without you! We look forward to working with you again next year!

Kathy Decker

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Making your list? Check it twice!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

The holiday rush is here! Party invitations and celebrations fill the calendar. A great way to relax and unwind during this busy season is to curl up in a quiet corner with a good book.

Many new titles vie for our attention. Below are a few worth considering as a special gift for you or someone on your list:

Discovering the Solar System
By David W. Hughes and Carole Stott, $29.99

This two-book set presents modern science at its most fascinating. An interactive journey of discovery for the whole family, it includes a solar system mobile and an interactive wall chart.

I Will Hold You ‘til You Sleep
By Linda Zuckerman, $16.99

Magical illustrations illuminate this loving wish for every child: to love and be loved all your life. From multiple award-wining author and illustrator of Zen Shorts, Jon J. Muth.

Santa Claus
By Rod Green, $19.95

Jam-packed with top-secret information about Santa Claus, this delightful, interactive holiday book will charm the little children on your list!

One Winter’s Day
By M. Christina Butler, $16

During a fierce storm, Little Hedgehog gives away his fuzzy mittens, hat, and scarf to his shivering friends. This is a delightful, fun-to-touch story about sharing with others.

My Very First Christmas:
Christmas Stories for the Very Young

By Lois Rock, $14.99

Brilliant paper-cut illustrations bring this wonderful mix of traditional and folk stories to life. Includes "Good King Wenceslas," "Baboushka," and "The Fourth Wise Man."

Pick Me Up: Stuff You Need to Know
By David Roberts and Jeremy Leslie, $29.99

Was Beethoven a punk? What kind of number is emirp? This edgy, vivid "un-encyclopedia" for the Internet generation makes looking up information even easier than finding it online!

Black? White! Day? Night!: A Book of Opposites
By Laura Seeger, $16.95

Discover an extravaganza of opposites in these ingenious pages from the award-winning author of The Hidden Alphabet.

The Trap
By John Smelcer, $15.95

A gripping wilderness adventure and survival story, this book poignantly addresses the hardships of life in the Alaskan wilderness for Johnny Least-Weasel and his grandfather. "An unforgettable story" — Ray Bradbury

Endymion Spring
By Matthew Skelton, $17.95

In an Oxford library, a boy touches a strange book and feels something pierce his finger. The book is wordless, yet seems to quiver as if alive. So unfolds a timeless secret in this spellbinding blend of mystery and adventure.

The Great Tree of Avalon Book III: The Eternal Flame
By T.A. Barron, $19.99

In the gripping final volume of this best-selling trilogy, three unlikely young heroes must travel the secret pathway to the stars and defeat a terrible sorcerer to decide the fate of all humankind.

Medal of Honor:
Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, $45

Foreword by President George W. Bush; essays by Sen. John McCain, Victor Davis Hanson, and Tom Brokaw; photographs by Nick del Calzo; text by Peter Collier. This volume comes with a 90-minute DVD.

The Drowning Man
By Margaret Coel, $23.95

This regional Western author gives us her latest Wind River Reservation mystery, as Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley find themselves immersed in another riveting case.

The Shape Shifter
By Tony Hillerman, $26.95

This Southwest mystery writer brings us another fine mystery. Joe Leaphorn may be retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, but he is enticed back into the game to reopen an unsolved mystery involving the disappearance of a priceless Navajo rug.

Why Buffalo Dance: Animal and Wilderness Meditations through the Seasons
By Susan Chernak McElroy, $16

The best-selling author of Animals as Teachers & Healers offers a series of short meditations and teaching tales based on the natural world.

Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West
By Hampton Sides, $26.95

Sides chronicles the shame and the glory of Manifest Destiny as it was carried out by Kit Carson, General Kearny, and other icons of American history.

Getting to Know Denver: Five Fabulous Walking Tours — Experiencing Denver’s History through Architecture
By Francis J. Pierson, $19.95

Fascinating photos and breezy, informative text outline the city’s founding, architectural development and 21st-century growth.

Paula Deen Celebrates: Best Dishes and Best Wishes for the Best Times of Your Life
By Paula Deen with Martha Nesbit, $26

A cookbook may not be a novel, but recipes are fun to browse and to try! With Paula Deen’s new cookbook, one will be experimenting often as she has prepared a guide for creating spectacular down-home meals for all of life’s celebrations.

Meandering through this list of exciting and varied titles, it’s easy to see there are books for every age and interest to add spice and respite to the holiday season. Until next year, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: December Gardening Tips

By Woody Woodworth

If you have been keeping up with your gardening, you should be able to take it pretty easy this month (at least in the garden). There are a few things to keep an eye on, and a few optional things you can do in the garden. Your biggest concern will probably be tending to your inside houseplants.

Fall rains and early snows tend to make you forget about watering your garden. However, plants and shrubs may be bone dry by this time. Lack of water in the cold winter months can be fatal to many of these plants. A quick check will let you know if you need to do a little winter watering.

Fluctuations in temperatures and the lack of rainfall or snowfall can be a direct threat to trees, shrubs, perennial beds, and lawn grasses. If you experience dry conditions, it’s a good idea to pull out the garden hose on a warm day and do some winter watering. Use a heavy-duty screwdriver or garden trowel to dig down and see what the moisture level is like. If the soil is beginning to dry out 3 to 4 inches deep, it’s time to water around the root zone of trees, shrubs, and yes, even your cool-season lawn grasses.

One of the most effective garden tools for winter watering is the frog-eye sprinkler. Set it at the drip line of trees and shrubs, and water each area for 20 minutes or so, then move the sprinkler to another spot. When temperatures are 50 degrees or above and you’re watering midday, the water should soak in and provide needed moisture to plant roots.

If you’re a newcomer to the region, you might be asking about the frequency of winter watering. I generally recommend letting the soil in your landscape be a guide (check as recommended above), but every five to six weeks during dry periods is a general rule of thumb if we have extended dry spells. Make sure the ground is not frozen, and water early in the day so it can soak down to the root zone. The roots will thank you for the supplemental moisture to draw from on warm, windy days.

Take care of your feathered friends! Keep your bird feeder filled, especially when there is snow on the ground. Provide water when you can and your birding experience will be rewarded with a greater variety and larger number of birds.

Don’t let your hose freeze and burst. On a warm Colorado day, stretch it out with both ends open, to allow the water to drain completely. Coil it up and put it away. If you live in an older home that may not have frost-proof hose faucets, make sure your outdoor faucets are turned off or covered to protect them from freezing.

Inside, glossy-leaved houseplants such as philodendrons, rubber plants, and palms should be sponged off periodically, to allow them to breathe. Plants that have fuzzy, textured, or other non-glossy leaves should be set in the sink and sprayed gently with room- temperature water, until the dust is cleaned away. Be sure that the foliage is allowed to dry completely. Provide your houseplants with extra humidity by grouping plants together or by setting the pots on leak-proof trays filled with moistened pebbles.

Be sure to leave plenty of air space around grouped houseplants. Check for spider mites every two or three weeks and use a mild soap solution or check your garden center for natural products to control pests.

Here are a few tips if you received or purchased a poinsettia this season. With the proper care, these Christmas plants will remain beautiful for many weeks.

  • They prefer to be kept on the cool side, 65-70 degrees during the day and 55-60 at night.

  • Keep them in bright, natural light whenever possible.

  • Keep them away from heat sources.

  • Keep them out of drafts.

  • Be sure to water them when they become dry.

  • Never allow them to stand in water for more than an hour.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Giant Canada Geese

Click here or on the painting to zoom in

Below: Watercolor Painting by Pat Yorke

Click on the painting to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

I never tire of the timeless A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens—especially the part in the story where Ebenezer Scrooge wakes up after a ghostly night and takes a goose over to the Cratchits.

At one time, the goose was the holiday bird of choice. Years ago, hunting Canada geese was the way people in many communities bagged their goose for Christmas. Each fall, many boys I went to school with watched as the honkers flew over in their familiar V-shaped formation. They told of how their dogs braved the cold lake water to fetch the geese they had shot. After a weekend of hunting, the hunters cleaned and dressed the big birds, and the oily goose odor hung in the air for days.

Canada geese are found throughout North America, and there are 11 subspecies. It is hard to fathom that in 1965, scientists found a subspecies of the giant Canada goose that was thought to be extinct from over-hunting. Since that time, the giant goose has made a remarkable recovery and today is overpopulated.

The giant Canada goose is a large, graceful waterbird that is highly social, adaptable, and opportunistic. I truly enjoy watching it fly, swim, and raise its young, but most entertaining is when it gets its feathers ruffled and starts threatening and hissing. Its strength, heroic migration, devotion to its mate, and fierce protection of its family make it a good animal role model for humans and thus it appears in folk legends.

Over the years, there has been a sharp decline in migrating flocks, while its numbers in urban areas have skyrocketed. Strict hunting laws and urbanization have allowed this increase. In many areas, the Canada goose has established year-round residence, and whereas it is considered to be a nuisance by some people, others consider it to be a wildlife amenity and feed it.

The goose is a vegetarian that consumes a vast amount of grass. It grabs hold of a blade of grass with its strong bill and jerks its head to pull up the tender root. It eats turf grass down to the nub and is not choosy where it leaves its slimy green droppings. Urban landscapes including parks, cemeteries, and golf courses are prime goose habitats as lush lawns provide an ideal environment with few predators. The giant Canada goose has adapted to the noise and trappings of urban life. It largely ignores us and has no fear of walking onto a busy street. As long as there is an unfrozen water source, the giant will stay put; it prefers one location. Scientists have found that even when it migrates, it returns to the same location where it was hatched.

Overpopulation carries health risks to humans and to the environment. High nutrient loading from fecal droppings feed algae blooms and excessive plant growth that kill other aquatic life and disrupt the natural balance in lakes and ponds. Consider that having 20 resident geese on a lake is the equivalent of dumping a 100-pound bag of fertilizer into it each year. Given that the survival rate for goslings is five per nesting period for each mating pair, it doesn’t take long to build up a population.

The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects all geese whether they migrate or not. It is against the law to kill a bird out of season, destroy its nest, or take its eggs. The safest and most effective way of reducing the permanent population is to change the habitat. Four of the most effective ways include not feeding it, breaking up shorelines with large shrubs and boulders, allowing the body of water to freeze over, and, last and somewhat controversial, introducing a predator such as a muskrat.

A healthy flock of geese is truly a sight to behold. I’ll never forget the day I took my 3-year-old son to work with me on a lake restoration project. While I was meeting with contractors, he was having the time of his life chasing a flock of geese around the park. As he ran up to the flock, it took to the air, circled around, and then landed near the spot where it had taken off. This went on for some time until the dominate goose got tired of the game and hissed at him. It’s a good thing he was still in diapers or he would have had a sore bottom! Fortunately, this experience did not sour my son on birds, but that’s another story.

A big thank-you to Pat Yorke for her beautiful watercolor of two geese featured below. Pat is a former student of mine, and it is gratifying for me to share her talent with you. Watch for work by other former students in future articles. If there are readers interested in learning to paint or draw birds, contact the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts for a class schedule.

As 2006 comes to an end, I feel blessed to have readers tell me they enjoy my articles. It is an honor to be part of a team that volunteers to write for, edit, and publish Our Community News each month.

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, with proceeds benefiting environmental causes. E-mail her with your questions and bird finds at OCN.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society: Countess Murat: The Betsy Ross of Colorado

By Diane Sawatzki

Countess Katrina Murat (portrayed by Debra Faulkner) breezed into town for the Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting on Nov. 16. Dressed in a beguiling blue dress, she regaled local history buffs with tales from Colorado’s territorial days.

Born in Baden-Baden in 1824, the energetic German married Count Henri Murat, nephew of the king of Naples. The adventurous couple used Katrina’s dowry money to journey to the States to seek their fortune in the California gold fields in 1848, but they failed at mining, so they moved to Kansas. When the Colorado gold rush lured them to the banks of Cherry Creek in 1858, the countess became the first white woman to settle in the state.

Determined to thrive in the fledging town, the Murats opened Denver’s first hotel, the El Dorado, which sported a dirt floor and mud-chinked walls. Katrina’s pastries were legendary and her hospitality boundless. Horace Greeley stayed with the Murats, as did other luminaries, visionaries, and ruffians. For Christmas that first year, she invited everyone in town (around 50 people) to a feast with venison, gingerbread, and carols sung in English and German.

She fashioned the territory’s first Stars and Stripes from her petticoat, corset, and camisole, garnering her the moniker "the Betsy Ross of Colorado." After Henri passed away, she moved to Palmer Lake, where she lived for the next 23 years in a gabled cottage overlooking the lake, until her death in 1910. She’s buried next to Henri in Denver’s Riverside Cemetery.

Faulkner, who portrayed Countess Murat, portrays other famous Colorado women. An Anschutz fellow with the Colorado Historical Society, Faulkner earned a master’s in history from the University of Colorado-Denver, is a board member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, and crafted the Palmer Lake museum’s timeline when she lived here in the 1980s. With Tom Noel ("Dr. Colorado") she co-authored Colorado: An Illustrated History of the Highest State. Faulkner also wrote Touching Tomorrow, a biography of Emily Griffith published this year by Palmer Lake’s Filter Press ( www.filterpressbooks.com ).

The Palmer Lake Historical Society presents free programs with refreshments in the town hall the third Thursday of every month except December. The Jan. 18 potluck dinner is free, open to the public, and includes rousing tales from area residents. Membership in the society is $10 for an individual and $15 for families; family membership comes with two mugs (plhist@aol.com; 559-0837).

The society maintains the free Lucretia Vaile Museum in the basement beneath the Palmer Lake library across from the town hall. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and the current exhibit features Howard Miller’s bird carvings.

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Art Matters: Holiday art: Fame and fortune for this pop-art genre

By Janet Sellers

While some scroogy people might remark that holiday decorations are mere trinkets and baubles, the fact remains that they are one of the most sought-after and collected of artifacts, and the popularity keeps growing. It’s traditional. It’s fun. It’s a habit-forming thrill of the hunt in all price ranges.

There is great sentimental value in the memories they represent, and there’s a lot of value in sentiment, not to mention hard cash. Gold and gemstones adorn some of the fancy ones, silvered, hand-blown glass have their tradition, and Victorian paper cuts adorn still other popular collections of the genre. Even the little mass-produced houses of cardboard and glitter imported from Germany and Japan during the ‘30s are worth a lot of cash as collectibles. Tell Grandma and Aunt Edna to save those oldies-but-goodies for you.

These days, when we put up our elaborate, yet temporary, holiday decorations, any and every corner can cheer us up. Displays have been taking on themes for decades, so this is the season to go all out. Did you have an aunt with an Asian-themed tree? A cousin who got soldiers or cars of their own to put on the branches? Even without a "real" tree, the handmade "feather tree" is an old tradition that preceded artificial trees. Remember the space-age aluminum trees of the 1960s with solid blue or red balls all over that had the color wheels and tree turner stands? They didn’t go out with the bouffant hairdos and crew cuts. They are back as vintage Americana to the tune of $400 apiece in original wrapping.

Your holiday tree and table very likely have their own displays of family traditions in an assortment of legendary family doodads and curio artifacts. So where to put new ones? The art gallery style comes to your rescue. After all, the saying "Deck the halls" originated with art and fine craft. Ages ago, when one’s castle was getting full of family heirlooms, the displays of art and showing off spread higher and farther up the walls. Artistic contemporary displays show beribboned adornments hanging in doorways as "kissing balls" and hanging alone or in groups along windows, chandeliers and even headboards. Even our presidential Christmas trees at the White House started off as an artist’s imaginative creation.

In 1889, first lady Caroline Harrison, an artist, helped decorate the first indoor White House Christmas tree and began a beloved holiday tradition of artfully adorned holiday trees there. Each of our 43 presidents have had personal ways to publicly and privately celebrate and decorate the winter holidays, mostly at the White House.

An unbroken custom of interior Christmas trees there has continued since first lady Lou Henry Hoover oversaw the decoration of the first "official" tree in 1929. However, the era of annual holiday themes at the White House began when Jackie Kennedy used a "Nutcracker" theme in 1961. She had to plan for a mansion with 132 rooms, 28 fireplace mantels, 412 doors, and 147 windows.

Nowadays, the current first lady is given a list of suggested themes and chooses one. Artists from each state contribute ornaments for the tree. The planning begins each year in July. The oval Blue Room is the place most often honored as the official center of holiday splendor in the White House.

This month, our local Monument Branch Library offers a special treat. The Theune family will share an exhibit of their White House ornament collection. Each year, the White House Historical Association designs an ornament for the White House tree, and since 1981 they have been made available to the public. All 26 ornaments are a patriotic and breathtaking display in the glass cabinet near the librarian desks.

Here in our community, we have the fun of putting together all manner of indoor and outdoor decorations. Most of us don’t have 132 rooms to dress up, and we have some practical considerations. If floor and table spaces are tight, there are plenty more spaces out of the way to light up your celebrations. Ceilings can dangle mobiles of beribboned garnishes.

Homes and workplaces are getting dressed up for the season. A single superb ornament, well-placed, will arouse as much joy and attention on an intimate level as a grand display may offer in a more vivacious setting. Let’s enjoy the tradition of art collecting with a meaningful new treasure each year here in our Tri-Lakes area. The gallery and store owners right here at home have really good things and are happy to keep your wish list on hand for you: So browse and tell! And remember to tell your sweetie who has your list on hand so they can get just the right gift for you.

Where to find them:

Buffalo Blues, 135 Second St., Historic Monument—Sharon DeWeese has assembled a wide array of wooden angels (finials-cum-wall-hangings) handmade and signed vintage-style glass ornaments, fine art glass, and her handmade art greeting cards. Plan on spending some quality time there when you can—the prices are really good and the artifacts are charming.

Pacific Rim, 366 Second St., Gallery Center in Historic Monument—I saw a charming Nativity arrangement through the window on our walk around town after hours, so I’ll be back to check it out this weekend again. Among my absolute gift favorites to share with you are the jade-like celadon ceramics that owner Marce brings home to us from the Far East. And then, someday, I’d like to own one of those great silk wall hangings.

Prickly Pear, 251 Front Street—It’s time to check out the artful traditions here. Whenever I go in the store, something catches my eye. It’s a store for décor, and I’ve seen collectibles and signed art prints and sculptures to browse and collect.

Winter Gallery, 47 Third St., Historic Monument—Well, maybe a bronze statue is more art than an ornament, but the Winter Gallery has a fine exhibit of them in Western and other genres. This month, Steven Weaver will be showcased for his digital photography. (His work is a favorite of mine, and the prints are so reasonable.) Don’t miss the show opening Dec. 2!

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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.

Historic Monument’s Small Town Christmas

Get into the holiday spirit Dec. 2 in historic downtown Monument, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Crafts for kids starts at 10 a.m. in the Town Hall, 166 Second St. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will visit in the Chapala Building on Second Street at 10 a.m. Hayrides will leave between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. from High Country Store, 243 Washington St., where there will also be cupcake decorating, carolers, and entertainment throughout the day. Galleries and shops will be offering holiday treats and special sales. For more information call 488-8306.

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Jody Adams and the StringDudes in concert at TLCA

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) and the Wine Seller present Jody Adams and the StringDudes, Sat., Dec. 2; doors open at 6:30 p.m., concert begins at 7 p.m. with opening act Woody Woodworth. Adams’ music is a mix of Bluegrass with heart and acoustic that delivers a soulful experience. Jody’s original music has been featured in a number of national broadcasts, films and television specials. The first 50 ticket holders will receive a free autographed CD of Jody Adams, "Tones of Yore," the musical history of the Rock Ledge Ranch at the Garden of the Gods. TLCA is located in the historic Kaiser-Frazer building, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. Tickets: $12 Members, $15 Non-members; available in Monument at The Wine Seller, 488-3019; in Palmer Lake at The Speedtrap, 488-2007 and at TLCA, 481-0475.

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Sierra Club hosts John Fielder

The Pikes Peak Chapter of the Sierra Club presents John Fielder, a nationally renowned photographer, publisher, and preservationist. He will present a slide show on his latest book, Do You See What I See? and have all of his well-known books on hand to buy. This is an annual fundraising event for the Sierra Club and will be held Dec. 5, 7 to 9 p.m., at All Souls Unitarian Church, 730 N. Tejon, Colorado Springs. Fielder is the author of several well-known books, such as Mountain Ranges of Colorado, Colorado: 1870-2000, and John Fielder’s Best of Colorado. A percentage of the proceeds are donated to the Sierra Club. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet a famous photographer, and buy autographed copies of beautiful books to give as gifts for the holiday season. It is a free event and everyone is invited to attend. For more information, please call 481-0085.

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Art contest

Palmer Lake Town Council’s Economic Development Committee is sponsoring an art competition, "Faces of Palmer Lake." Entries may be two-dimensional art of nearly any medium or photography. The entry fee is $10 and submissions are due by Dec. 7. To request the entry application pamphlet, phone Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 481-0475.

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Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert

Enjoy classical music right here in the Tri-Lakes area Dec. 9, 7 p.m., at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Rd., as the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance continues its second season. This is the second of four concerts comprising the 2006-2007 series. The concert features Daniel Lochrie, clarinet, Margaret Miller viola, and Michael Baron, piano. Cost: $22 general admission, $18 students. Info: Pam Brunson at 484-0192.

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Reindeer coming your way at Monument and Palmer Lake Libraries

Meet live reindeer! Bring a camera for pictures, and bring an apple to feed these friendly creatures. Make your own reindeer craft as well. (Note that the reindeer can only stay for one hour before they get restless!). The reindeer will be at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., 488-2370, Dec. 9, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.; and at Palmer Lake Branch Library, 66 Lower Glenway, 481-2587, Dec. 16, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

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Monument Hill Sertoma’s Holiday Craft Show

Shop for unique gifts Dec. 9 and 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, 1425 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Admission is a non-perishable food item for Tri-Lake Cares. For more information, phone Peggy, 650-1397.

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Tri-Lakes Community Christmas Handbell Concert

This annual free event features multiple choirs (handbells and chimes), a brass quintet, organ and piano, violin, percussion, a sing-a-long, and a special rendition of "Phantom of the Opera." The concert is Dec. 9, 7 p.m., at Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St., Monument. For more information, phone Betty Jenik at 488-3853, or e-mail ljenik@adelphia.net.

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74th Annual Palmer Lake Yule Log Hunt

This popular event is one of Palmer Lake’s finest traditions. Join the trek up the mountain in search of the Yule Log Dec. 10. Hunt participants should arrive between 11 a.m. and noon. The winner will ride the Yule Log back to town and get the first cup of wassail. Those not participating in the hunt can stay warm indoors at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, and enjoy a holiday program at 1 p.m. For more information, phone the town office, 481-2953.

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Travis Book and Friends at TLCA

Travis Book and Friends will perform at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Dec. 10. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 5 p.m. The band plays contemporary acoustic music that incorporates a variety of influences, crafting a unique sound. Tickets are $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers. Appetizers, desserts, and cash bar will be available. Tickets are available at TLCA, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake or by calling 481-0475; and The Wine Seller, 488-3019.

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Tri-Lakes Cares Giving Tree Program

The holidays are quickly approaching and Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) needs your help! The Giving Tree Program provides holiday gifts for local children in need. Businesses and organizations can help by displaying ornaments (available at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce) with specific needs printed on them, and collecting the purchased items through the Dec. 11 deadline. If you would like to participate, or if you have questions, please contact Meredith Blase at 481-4697 or Tri-Lakes Cares at 481-4864.

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Monument Skate Park Organizational Meeting

All area residents who are interested in meeting with Monument town staff to discuss the future of the town’s skate park at 470 Beacon Lite Road are invited to attend a meeting with administrators at the Monument Sanitation District office conference room at 6 p.m. on Wed. Dec. 13, at 130 Second Street, just west of Town Hall. The park was closed in September for renovations. The Board of Trustees is seeking an advisory committee of users and parents to help ensure that the park is well maintained and supported by its users when it is re-opened. Info: Public Works Director Rich Landreth, 481-2436.

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Tri-Lakes Music Association Holiday Concert

The Tri-Lakes Music Association, an all-volunteer choir and orchestra with over 100 members, will perform a Christmas cantata, "The Heart of Christmas," at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. The concert includes a children’s choir and the Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir. Admission is free. There will be a free-will offering with all proceeds going to Tri-Lakes Cares of Monument. Last year this event raised $3,508 for Tri-Lakes Cares! For more information, phone Bob Manning at 481-3883 or visit www.trilakesmusic.org.

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