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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 3 - March 4, 2006

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Monument Board of Trustees, February 6: Promontory Pointe annexation approved, sketch plan withdrawn

Photos by JoAnn McNabb

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Below: (L to R) Trustee Dave Mertz, Mayor Byron Glenn, and Trustee Frank Orten ponder the issues involved in the Promontory Pointe project. 

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Below: About 150 attended the February 6 Monument Board of Trustees hearing on the Promontory Pointe project. Attorney Tim Schutz is standing at the left edge of the frame. 

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Below: The Promontory Pointe property as seen from Baptist Road. 

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Below: Town Manager Cathy Green refers to land use maps from the Town’s comprehensive plan.

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By Jim Kendrick

It was standing room only for 150 attendees in D-38’s Big Red, with a court stenographer to record the legal arguments and two police officers on hand for crowd control, at the biggest Monument development hearing since the Baptist Road Wal-Mart proposal was rejected.

During a meeting that lasted five hours, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved the annexation of the northern two-thirds of Promontory Pointe, the 117-acre vacant parcel north of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive. However, the board again rejected the latest version of the proposed development, due to its density and the proposed design of Gleneagle Drive. Landco, the developer, withdrew the sketch plan before a vote was taken.

The Promontory Pointe hearings were moved to the last agenda item before an executive session for real estate negotiations. All trustees and staff department heads were present.

George Kruse honored

Trustee Gail Drumm reported that the Kruse family was very pleased with the celebration of "George Kruse Day." Kruse, who passed away at age 94 in December, had been an advocate for senior services in Monument.

Home Place Ranch applied for annexation

Town Manager Cathy Green reported developer HPR, LLC had submitted a petition for annexation of the 431 acre Home Place Ranch Development on the south side of Higby Road, adjacent to Jackson Creek. The board unanimously passed a motion to refer the petition to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation, as required by state statutes.

Financial issues

The board unanimously approved Town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s request for six disbursements over $5,000:

  • $34,458.91 for sales and motor vehicle tax revenue to Triview Metropolitan District

  • $5,017.50 to town traffic consultant SEH, Inc. for a refund of retainer accounts

  • $11,462.50 to town drainage consultant Ayres Associates for work on the Stormwater Master Plan

  • $16,900.62 to Lewis-Palmer School District 38 for 2005 annual school district fees for planning

  • $20,000 to Palmer Divide Water Group for 2006 annual membership dues

  • $29,960 to Ellen Equipment for skidsteer and snowplow blade for Public Works

Town Manager’s report

Green scheduled a dinner meeting for the trustees with the Triview Metropolitan District board on Feb. 13 "to discuss issues in common." The board will also schedule a joint dinner meeting with the Planning Commission by an e-mail poll of available dates.

Green reported that Administrative Assistant Irene Walters had moved from Town Hall to the Police Department due to a substantial increase in municipal court work. Green recommended upgrading a part-time employee position to full-time to replace Walters, which the board approved by consensus. Green said she would e-mail the summary of the staff’s retreat on management issues to the trustees rather than discuss them at this meeting.

Green recommended that the board postpone the ballot issue asking the voters to permit the town to retain excess revenue for another four years from April to November so that the question could list some intended uses for the revenue retained. The board agreed by consensus.

Resolutions

Triview street sweeping contract renewed: Public Works Director Rich Landreth proposed a resolution to renew the street sweeping contract between Public Works and Triview. There was no public comment. Landreth noted that three employees have completed training for operation of the new street sweeper. The resolution was unanimously approved.

Triview water operations contract extended: Green and Landreth noted that Triview is preparing to take over operations of their water treatment plant. The plant is currently operated by Public Works staff under a service contract with the town. Landreth proposed extending the 2005 contract on a month-to-month basis until Triview was ready to take operations. Triview District Manager Ron Simpson said his board would review the status of the takeover at their Feb. 22 board meeting and he would update Landreth on their recommendation. The resolution to extend the contract passed unanimously.

New police records management software purchased: Police Chief Jake Shirk recommended an upgrade to software that is compliant with the National Incident Based Reporting System. The board unanimously approved a resolution to convert to the new system. The 2006 contract for $34,341.55 covers the cost of new software and hardware, onsite installation and training, as well as the annual costs of licensing and support ($2,750.55 per year).

New police car lease approved: The board unanimously approved a resolution for the Police Department to enter a three-year lease-purchase agreement with Wells Fargo Bank for three new Impala patrol cars at a total lease cost of $79,705, divided equally for each year, plus $1 to buy the cars at the end of the lease.

Budget process policy adopted: The board unanimously approved a resolution establishing a new policy recommended by Smith that provides for greater input by department heads. The policy parallels that used by El Paso County.

Promontory Pointe hearing

Mayor Byron Glenn announced that the board wanted respectful hearings and that citizens who did not maintain decorum would be escorted out of the building by Monument police officers. All those wishing to speak during the hearing were sworn in simultaneously by the court reporter hired for this meeting.

Glenn said that he had been coordinating the private financing of the Baptist Road interchange and the public improvement fee with the Colorado Department of Transportation and El Paso County and several developers seeking annexation. Green noted that there would be votes for a resolution on substantial compliance with state statutes, an ordinance for annexation and rezoning, and an ordinance for a development sketch plan.

There was lengthy testimony by development and legal representatives for the applicant, citizens for and against, and by attorney Tim Schutz representing several Kingswood residents. After all had spoken, there were several rounds of rebuttals and additional comments until everyone had an opportunity to express all their views before the votes. The hearing lasted well over four hours, with two recesses.

Annexation comments

Green reported that the staff had found that Landco’s annexation application was in substantial compliance with state statutes, that 100 percent of the landowners had signed the application, that the annexation was in the best interest of the community, and the proposed parcel had at least one-sixth contiguity with the town boundary, and had been properly advertised and noticed by posting and by certified mail to adjacent landholders. She noted that the densities in adjacent developments range from 7 dwelling units per acre in Gleneagle to 5-acre lots in Kingswood.

The developer’s traffic impact study calls for converting the existing westbound acceleration lane on Baptist Road at Gleneagle Drive into an eastbound left-turn lane for northbound Gleneagle into Promontory Pointe.

The Planning Commission voted (4-1) in favor of the annexation, but (3-2) against the sketch plan. A condition of annexation requires Landco to petition for a Planned Development zone district within 90 days of annexation approval.

Annexation testimony

Landco attorney Duncan Bremer gave a short presentation on the history of the proposal.

Terry Schooler, of the land planning firm William Guman and Associates, described the background to the annexation request and noted that the parcel is in the urban growth portion of the future land use map from the Town’s comprehensive plan. Triview drilled a well and built a water tank on 2.5 acres in the northeast corner of the parcel, in the county, after the bottom third of the parcel, 39 acres, was annexed by the town in 1989. Triview formally agreed to provide services to the remainder of the property in 2003, including water, sewer, street and street lighting maintenance, and snow removal.

Landco will provide formal engineering proposals, landscaping and park development plans, and drainage studies later in the development process, after annexation and the density proposed in the sketch plan are approved.

Bill Guman gave a brief summary of project design and changes made to the proposal after each preliminary presentation to the Planning Commission and the board. He described the changes made to the proposal after meetings with homeowners in Jackson Creek and Kingswood to address their concerns about perimeter lot size and lot line alignment for each adjacent Jackson Creek lot, rear setbacks and separation for all adjacent homes in Promontory Pointe, and cross-traffic elimination on Walters Creek Drive. Lots next to Kingswood have been enlarged with greater separation distances, with height restriction and large rear setbacks to protect their views.

Guman also noted that the number of lots had decreased from 328 to 294 lots, with an overall density of about 2.7 dwelling units per acre. It complies with the town’s comprehensive plan with parks, trails, and open space that exceed minimum requirements. He said the proposed alignment for the northward extension of Gleneagle Drive is curvilinear, to conform to the natural contours of the land. He said the project will have the appearance of a "unique destination point," with amenities that increase the value of surrounding properties.

Six citizens from Jackson Creek and Higby Estates spoke in favor of the proposal, noting that the developer had made significant, positive changes that they had requested during several community meetings, particularly in matching adjacent lot sizes. Positive comments were also made on the cul-de-sac street plan. People felt that the size and price range of the planned homes would increase adjacent property values and that the curvilinear design of Gleneagle Drive would enhance safety.

Schutz spoke first in opposition of annexation, representing owners of 30 properties from Kingswood and Jackson Creek with lots adjacent to Promontory Pointe. Other citizens spoke after him to discuss their differing concerns. Some of the legal points Schutz made were:

  • The developer’s primary reasons for seeking annexation are to serve the developer’s interest, rather than the town’s, to be able to have a higher density than the county will allow, and to avoid having to meet county requirements for Gleneagle Drive to be a major collector.

  • The town should apply all the applicable town ordinances and various town, Tri-Lakes, and county comprehensive and transportation plans to the developer’s request.

  • The town staff has not complied with the town’s comprehensive plan’s annexation policies or guidelines, no evaluation of impact on local tax base and value to the residents of the community, no cost-benefit analysis performed, no list of benefits and liabilities has been prepared, no master plan or subdivision improvement agreement has been submitted.

  • Ron Simpson wrote in a May 5, 2005, letter to the town’s Technical Review Committee: "This project needs to be annexed in order to obtain the type of project envisioned because I do not think the County would approve the densities involved." When the 40 acres were annexed to the county, the Land Use Department’s Walters Annexation Impact Report of Dec. 12, 1988, noted that the county commissioners said, "A transition to low density residential along the east side should be incorporated." That is, the county would require lower density on the east side of Promontory Pointe than the developers want the town to approve.

  • The Walters annexation sketch plan from 1988 called for estate residential (large lots) and reservoir/open space rather than high density residential next to Kingswood. A staff note says "The consultant has noted the balance of the property is to be large-lot residential" referring to the northern 78 acres, which are zoned RR-3, 5 acre lots.

  • Ron Simpson wrote in a May 5, 2005 letter the town’s Technical Review Committee that "The entire property will have to be re-zoned PRD-4 to obtain the 2.5 units per acre planned as there is no PRD-3 on the books."

  • The developer must prove to the town why it should grant 15 times the density that the county will allow.

  • The town code says assigning a PD zone to any property "shall be considered a privilege, not a right" and "Residential and non-residential densities shall be based on … compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood."

  • The Major Thoroughfare Task Force in 1988 said that the extension of Gleneagle Drive through the Walters annexation should maintain the implied design of the county’s long-range plans for a major collector through the property.

  • The Walters annexation plan grants a straight line 80-foot right-of-way for Gleneagle Drive versus Triview’s plan for a 50-foot curvilinear right-of-way to increase housing density. The narrower road proposed will not meet the transportation needs of the county or the town’s comprehensive plan, which calls for an efficient, connected transportation system in cooperation with El Paso County.

  • There are no residential accesses on Gleneagle Drive south of Baptist Road, but there will be 45 in Promontory Pointe. Commissioner Wayne Williams and the county planning and transportation departments have complained about the failure of the developer’s design for Gleneagle to meet collector standards as required by the Major Transportation Corridors Plan in several recent e-mails and letters to the town.

  • County Long Range Planning Manager Carl Schueler e-mailed Green on Sept. 8, 2005 to say that Gleneagle Drive as shown on the "sketch plan depicts a through connection, but not one that meets the standards for a regional connection as shown on County plans."

  • County Engineering Division Manager Paul Danley emailed Glenn and Green on Oct. 3, 2005 to say "Our concern is that the proposed land use action would not allow a collector level road built between Baptist Road and Higby, as the extension of Gleneagle Drive."

  • The Tri-Lakes comprehensive plan says, "Overall the weakest link in the roadway system are the north-south roadways, or lack thereof."

  • County Commissioner Wayne Williams asked at a previous town hearing that the extension of Gleneagle Drive north of Baptist Road comply with the county’s recently adopted Major Corridors Plan for an ultimate connection to Furrow Road.

  • Ron Simpson wrote in a Jan. 26, 2006 letter to Kassawara that there are "criteria for a Minor Collector Street would not be appropriate and would have to be granted variances" for bike lanes, speed limit, and capacity. Simpson added that the Triview Board had directed him "to develop criteria for a new category to be called ‘Local Street Type III" which will fall between the two categories that now exist [minor collector street and Local Street Type II]. Additionally the Type III criteria will allow for driveway curb cuts." The proposed Gleneagle drive does not conform to the criteria for a collector.

  • The board should give equal weight to the views of county and town residents.

  • There were 40 written comments in the staff report, including those from Woodmoor and Kingswood homeowner associations—none in favor.

  • Kingswood residents have invested their life savings to live on 5-acre lots in a rural setting, which the proposed density of Promontory Point "will destroy."

  • The county zoning of Landco’s parcel is Rural, to reflect the long-term goal of large-lot developments, so the town should honor that by denying the request for rezoning.

  • The board already voted on substantial compliance on Jan. 3.

  • There should be a separate vote on rezoning the property if annexed.

Several others spoke in opposition, noting that the design of Gleneagle Drive through the parcel was inadequate; that many houses were going to be built in floodplains; that the density would accelerate depletion of groundwater in the area; that the developer’s traffic impact analysis was incomplete; that Triview cannot provide adequate water pressure to most of Jackson Creek, and the problem will only get worse; that Triview’s debt is so high, and getting worse; and that adding more infrastructure responsibilities does not make sense.

Bremer and Schooler rebutted most of these arguments, saying the surrounding area had changed since the first annexation and that Landco’s plan was sound urban planning that matched the town’s plan for annexation of areas it expected to be developed in that manner.

Green said that Kingswood was an isolated enclave in an urban setting. She also reported that the town’s comprehensive plan identifies this parcel as being located in the Monument Urban Growth Area, most easily served by existing infrastructure and special districts. It does not present problems which are associated with sprawl. The Tri-Lakes comprehensive plan notes that the county identifies this land as "low density" development, however the plan also acknowledges, "Monument’s expanding planning sphere of influence means that development happening in and around the Town will develop to more contemporary, suburban standards, rather than the rural standards promoted by the county."

County Long Range Planning Manager Carl Schueler wrote in a letter dated Jan. 11, 2006 to Kingswood resident Debra Wermuth that "the assumption has always been that this 78-acre parcel would be developed as urban density, regardless of jurisdiction. The Kingswood development is more or less bordered on three sides by higher density."

There were two more rounds of rebuttals that largely reiterated all these points.

Annexation petition and request approved

The board unanimously approved a motion to adopt all exhibits submitted by the witnesses. The petition for annexation was approved (6-1), with Trustee Tim Miller opposed. The annexation request was approved (5-2) with Miller and Plank opposed.

Sketch plan withdrawn

All the board members said the latest sketch plan was a substantial improvement in terms of density and mitigation with neighboring properties in Jackson Creek and Kingswood. However, the density in the center of the plan and adjacent to Kingswood was still too high. There were concerns about the sketch not accurately reflecting the amount of land lost to Baptist Road right-of-way and drainage.

There was no consensus on whether the proposed design of Gleneagle Drive with all its curves, sight line visibility limitations, and curb cuts would meet local or county transportation needs. When it became apparent that the sketch plan had no probability of passing—and several trustees said, "You need to do better" on their expressed concerns—it was formally withdrawn at 11:40 p.m.

During the recess to allow citizens to leave the room, there was consensus among the trustees to postpone the planned executive session until Feb. 21.

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Mayor Glenn’s remarks Feb. 6

Prior to opening the board’s February 6 discussion on the Promontory Pointe sketch plan, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn made the following statement:

"I need to say a few things. One is bartering with Colorado Springs isn’t going to happen. Trying to get water in Monument Lake took an act of Congress...almost. The town of Monument pretty much has to stand on its own and be a viable community on its own. We can’t depend on Colorado Springs.

"For instance, I was threatened in the City Council by the Mayor of Colorado Springs that if we interfere with SDS, they’re going to come drill wells and dry us up. So I think that was showing of the city of Colorado Springs and how they feel toward the Town of Monument. They’re ticked because we now have a Home Depot and a Wal-Mart and we don’t spend money down there. So any, any inclination of Colorado Springs helping us with any type of issues, [is] very very doubtful.

"As far as opposition by Woodmoor, I got the letter from the President of WIA. His main concern is the traffic issues on Higby. He has been discussing with the county and the county hasn’t done anything about traffic on Fairplay. The same situation will happen on Promontory Pointe with Gleneagle Drive being a major arterial which isn’t bounded. But again the county has not stepped up to the plate to help us with anything. They approved a multifamily development next to a high school next to an R-4 zone, which doesn’t show buffer to me, so that tells me that the county would rezone this property as well. They rezoned Gleneagle to a high density right next to Kingswood Drive or Kingswood as well. So the county helping us out is pretty illogical, too.

"For instance PPRTA, Pikes Peak RTA, is spending a ton of money, $10 million plus, on Hodgen Road extension, when there is no traffic on Hodgen, but there sure is on Higby Road. And we as a town with the help of Triview and the developers need to come up with a plan to build Higby Road.

"So I’m looking at this as the standpoint that, you know, like it or not, we’re on our own out here, and there are residents here that we need to take care of. I was the first, one of the first homeowners in Jackson Creek, and might have opposed any of you other people of Jackson Creek from coming in.

"The town is growing and we need a good growth pattern. We can’t let it get out of control, and we have to have planned growth.

"The roadways, Baptist Road, the interchange—it’s working. We’re getting a lot of people [who] know the town of Monument. I’ve talked with senators. I’ve talked with representatives. I’m pushing Wayne Williams to sit down with the governor and tell him to give us some cash.

"So bear with us in this time because there’s two sides. There’s the Kingswood people with 5-acre lots that are in pretty much of an enclave and the county who you know will rezone property. The Springs won’t help us at all. You know we need to come up with a plan that’s viable. How we do that is what we’re here for.

"As far as the plan, I congratulate the developer for trying to reduce the density. I understand that the water has already been given to Triview, so 2½-acre lots is not fully conducive at this time. And I’m sure the county would want to serve 2½ units to the acre."

"Mr. Schutz, your presentation was greatly presented. It left a lot of questions in my mind. I think the annexation is in the best interest of the town. But right now, for this land plan, it’s hard for me to really tell. We need the rooftops to support our commercial, and we need the commercial to build revenue in the town to build roads, to build parks, to hire police officers, to extend our infrastructure."

See page 8 for Glenn’s clarification of these remarks.

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Monument Board of Trustees, February 21: Timbers commercial center approved

Click here or on the photo to zoom in a read the essay

Click on the photo to zoom in a read the essay

By Jim Kendrick

View or download the proposed Timbers Development plans

With none of the drama and tension of the Feb. 6 Board of Trustees (BOT) Promontory Pointe hearing, the preliminary plat and preliminary PD site plan for Hammers Construction’s Timbers at Monument commercial and retail center were approved unanimously.

The board also approved a new liquor license for the Chili’s restaurant being built in the Monument Marketplace. Scott Meszaros swore in new Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Whitney. Trustee Tim Miller was absent.

Burkhart reads first place Freedom essay

Skylar Burkhart, who was born in Romania, read her essay, "The Wings of Freedom," which reminded everyone how much we take for granted living in the Tri-Lakes area. Burkhart is an eighth-grader at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Her paper won first prize at her school in Sertoma’s annual Freedom Essay Program. (See the OCN Web site for her essay.)

Monument Hill Sertoma Club President Ted Bauman said his organization offers about $1,000 in prizes to the writers of the top three essays from each of the area’s middle schools. A total of 538 students participated in this year’s program. The board unanimously approved a proclamation declaring Feb. 19-25 as Freedom Week.

The board also unanimously approved a proclamation declaring March 1 as Read Across America Day; the event is sponsored by the National Education Association.

Board of Trustees comments

Mayor Byron Glenn gave an update on recent Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) actions. (See article on page 30 for details of the Feb. 10 BRRTA meeting.)

Glenn noted that BRRTA had approved issuing private bonds for financing early construction of the interchange and administering a public improvement fee by retail stores within BRRTA on Feb. 10. He said that the draft intergovernmental agreement for construction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was being reviewed at the Attorney General’s office and BRRTA would sign the agreement as soon as it was approved.

Glenn said the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) will have an agenda item at the March 8 meeting to add the Baptist Road I-25 interchange upgrade to its short-term six-year 2002-2007 Traffic Improvement Plan (TIP), but with no funding. The addition to the TIP is required before CDOT will assign the interchange to its 2007-2012 capital upgrade plan.

Glenn said that members of the BRRTA board will meet on March 16 with CDOT commissioners "to tell them that BRRTA will anticipate CDOT making full payback of the interchange cost at some later date."

Glenn discussed comments he had made at the Feb. 6 BOT meeting regarding water discussions with the Colorado Springs City Council (see page 6). He said he "wanted to put it on the record that at the City Council meeting when I asked Colorado Springs for water [from the Southern Delivery System], Mayor Rivera did not formally say don’t interfere with us or we’ll dry you up." He added, "Though I say things as far as we have to stand on our own, I believe we do … we need to work with the county, we need to work with the city and Palmer Lake." He concluded, "I want to make that clear–no way am I saying that we can’t work with them. We have to work with them."

Tri-Lakes Senior Issues Forum April 29

Chuck Roberts of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership announced that his organization and the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging would host the Tri-Lakes Senior Forum on April 29 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Lewis-Palmer Middle School. The main purposes of the forum are for senior citizens in the area to identify issues that are and are not being addressed and for area senior services providers to discuss what they can offer to seniors as well as to seek better coordination of their efforts. A summary report for the forum will be prepared and distributed by the sponsors to local government and community leaders. Roberts invited the trustees and staff to endorse the forum and to attend as well. He also asked that flyers and posters be displayed at Town Hall.

Economic review urged

Kingswood resident Mike Wermuth, an economist, said he studies "the economic and financial consequences of government decisions." He asked the trustees to study the financial impacts of annexations, such as Promontory Pointe.

Wermuth offered copies of audits and credit reports to the board, noting, "This is important information you don’t have." Referring to the Triview board, he said, "I don’t think they really understand all the information that’s in these reports or they wouldn’t be in the situation that they are today. The Promontory Pointe annexation will have serious long-term financial impacts on the Town of Monument."

Wermuth concluded by praising Glenn and Trustee Dave Mertz "for all their hard work on the Baptist Road interchange, which will have a very positive impact on the area."

Glenn responded by saying that the financial impact of every aspect of the Promontory Pointe development within the Jackson Creek area would be available in a spreadsheet from the developer in April. He said that Triview has open records and has received unqualified audits.

Background: The Triview problem that Wermuth was referring to is that the district has amassed approximately $40 million in debt and has been unable to pay all the associated bond interest for several years. The Triview board has approved a ballot initiative for the May 2 election that would eliminate the district’s current TABOR restrictions on property tax mill levies.

Stormwater Master Plan update

Chris Doherty of Ayres Associates made a presentation on the interim status of the downtown Stormwater Master Plan that he is developing for the town. He has inventoried about half of the town’s drainage system assets. He noted that there are two main natural drainages in downtown: Dirty Woman Creek, where it meets with Monument Creek below the Monument Lake dam; and Crystal Creek, which runs from the truck weighing station on I-25 then under the railroad tracks into Monument Lake.

He said the most urgent problem detected so far is erosion along the length of the railroad channel that has exposed manholes and collection lines that are supposed to remain buried. He showed photos of examples of both, as well as erosions of bedrock sandstone.

Doherty is using town maps, FEMA drainage studies for areas to the north, and information from special districts, CDOT, and El Paso County. This data will be used to analyze five- and 100-year peak storm drainage flows.

Doherty’s goals are to increase convergence and flow volume of existing drainages, divert problem areas to different outfalls, and increase detention storage to limit erosion. He displayed a map with preliminary plans for adding and expanding stormwater detention in the downtown area west of the shopping centers on Highway 105, Lavallet Park, Front and Third Streets, and along the railroad tracks between Second Street and Lincoln Avenue. He will develop cost estimates and possible funding sources such as federal and state grants.

Trustee Travis Easton asked about the inventory status. Doherty said the system is in decent shape overall, but some portions don’t meet current engineering standards.

Glenn said he would like Doherty to give a presentation at a town hall session. Glenn asked Doherty to prepare slides that would show citizens how his master plan would also help Colorado Springs to improve stormwater management. Pueblo has demanded these improvements as a condition for cooperation in the Southern Delivery System (SDS), which will pump water from the Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs Utilities. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that addition of detention areas would improve discharged water quality and could be the basis of a plan to submit to Colorado Springs.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that the state’s Department of Local Affairs might give a community block grant for proposed detention areas along Third Street. Kassawara said that water quality would improve with the new detention ponds, which would help with negotiations with Colorado Springs for SDS.

Nonprofit digital signs approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance that creates an exception to allow off-site signs for nonprofit organizations only. The ordinance also permits digital displays that promote special events and community activities as well as public service announcements, time, and temperature. These signs will only be allowed in nonresidential districts and must meet all town design standards and requirements. There was no public comment.

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce has proposed such a sign on Highway 105, but does not have room on its property for it. The Chamber’s sign will list the names of sponsors supporting the Chamber’s public service announcements on this sign until the fees they pay cover the cost of building the sign. The listings of sponsors will not include any advertisements for them. Permits for such signs will be revocable if they are not properly operated or maintained.

Preliminary Plat for Timbers approved

Trustee Easton, a civil engineer, recused himself from the Timbers hearings because he is the consultant for Hammers Construction, the developer.

The Timbers at Monument is a 73.5-acre commercial and retail development between the Monument Marketplace and Baptist Road, on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway. Between 90,000 and 120,000 square feet of multi-use space will be constructed.

Kassawara reported that Hammers was seeking approval for a boundary plat, which only includes internal roadway configurations, dimensions, and data to define the four-lot master-planned site. The plat also shows where Preble’s mouse habitat, trails, and dedicated right-of-way are located. There will be a separate review and approval process for each of the four separate plats by the Planning Commission and BOT when the lots are sold or leased.

The plat was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission on Jan. 11 with two conditions.

  1. The final drawing of the preliminary plat must also show the location of the access road agreed upon by Hammers and the owners of Higby Estates Lots 2 and 3, northeast of the Foxworth-Galbraith building currently on Higby Estates Lot 1. This would make a total of two access roads to Higby Estates from the Timbers parcel. Both are required because Struthers Road north of Baptist will be closed when the Baptist Road interchange is improved. Baptist will be widened from two lanes to seven lanes. The current Struthers-Baptist intersection will be eliminated to make room for the lanes for the widened bridge over the interstate as well as the new two-lane off- and on-ramps for exiting and entering northbound I-25. Struthers Road south of Baptist will be rerouted to the east and connect with Jackson Creek Parkway at the existing intersection on Baptist Road.

  2. The proposed access for Timbers Drive onto Jackson Creek Parkway, at the northeast corner of the Timbers parcel, must be a public right-of-way. This access will be shared by the Monument Marketplace at the location of the existing Rowdao Drive intersection. Widening and grading of this access, where Timbers and Rowdao will merge, will require land dedications from both developments to Triview. The existing segment of Rowdao has not yet been recorded on the Marketplace plat. Making this shared access a public right-of-way will ensure that maintenance and plowing are performed by a public entity, Triview, rather than becoming a shared private responsibility between the two developers. Triview has agreed to take over the costs and administration of this access.

Negotiations between Hammers and the Marketplace since the Planning Commission approval resulted in further changes to the proposed configuration of the Timbers-Rowdao access to eliminate the need for any additional turn signals.

Kassawara proposed as another condition that Hammers must obtain written approval for vacation of the existing Higby Subdivision water easement in Timbers Lot 4, south of the Home Depot, from the owners of the three lots in Higby Subdivision. Although the Higby Subdivision, on the northeast corner of I-25 and Baptist Road, was annexed into the town more than three years ago, the property still uses well water. The water easement for the well cannot be vacated until the Higby Subdivision is connected to Triview Metropolitan District for water and sewer services.

Glenn added that in the past, most commercial developments have been owned and operated by a single entity via leased space. The four Timbers lots will be sold, however, to other developers.

Project manager Dave Hammers said the unfiltered low-velocity well currently used by Higby Subdivision would be capped, as it has little value for irrigation.

There was no public comment. The plat was unanimously approved with the three conditions.

Preliminary PD Site Plan for Timbers also approved

Easton also recused himself from this hearing.

Kassawara noted that he had listed nine conditions, but said that this was simply a means to protect the town by ensuring each would be done, even though the development is under Triview’s jurisdiction. He praised Hammers and Timbers Development Group for the thoroughness of their coordination and assistance in arranging private financing for the Baptist Road interchange. He pointed out that Timbers landowners had donated substantial right-of-way to CDOT to allow access from Baptist Road at the south end of Timbers Boulevard for Higby Estates Lot 1. This access is roughly 200 feet east of Foxworth-Galbraith’s eastern fence line.

Kassawara stated that there would be no interchange improvements until this site plan and the plat were recorded. He said that BRRTA’s contractor, PBS&J, would also perform the interchange design and project management, to facilitate coordination between the Baptist Road and interchange contractors. Doing both improvements simultaneously will "minimize the impact and duration of the construction activity" and traffic problems. Final approval of the Baptist Road configuration including the Timbers access was given by the county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force on Jan. 20.

Kassawara said the accelerated pace of approval to accomplish this has probably resulted in a number of overlooked technical issues. He praised Hammers for agreeing to allow town staff to make further changes and add new constraints to the preliminary PD site plan and engineering plans as these "missed issues" are discovered, prior to final approval.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the Preliminary PD Site Plan on Jan. 11 and recommended a single condition limiting the number of drive-through fast-food restaurants to three. Any other restaurants should require a use-by-special-review process, which includes a Planning Commission and BOT hearing.

CDOT requested that the Traffic Impact Analysis not be approved until the updated report has been reviewed and accepted by the county and CDOT.

Kassawara’s recommended conditions were:

  1. The applicant will modify engineering plans and the PD site plans via a minor amendment as necessary, to address issues raised by town staff prior to final approval.

  2. The rezoning request must satisfy any conditions related to an amendment to the Regency Park Zoning Map, if required.

  3. The first certificate of occupancy will not be issued until all required off-site improvements are completed and accepted by Triview and the Town of Monument.

  4. The Timbers/Rowdao Drive access must be completed and open to traffic before the first certificate of occupancy will be issued. This will include the installation of a fully functioning traffic light at the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection.

  5. The final traffic impact study must be approved by the town’s consultant, town staff, El Paso County, and CDOT.

  6. Town staff must approve the Subdivision Improvement Agreement between Timbers and Triview and all its conditions.

  7. Additional landscape buffering adjacent to project property lines and/or roadways will be required to be shown on the site plan for each individual lot of the Timbers parcel.

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

  9. Limit the number of drive-through restaurants to three, with any above three to be approvable only by special review.

There was no public comment.

The board had a lengthy technical discussion about the locations and conditions for drainage and other issues. Easton noted that there would be a new technology for improving the quality of stormwater detained and slowly released into Jackson Creek. The Vortechs system will eliminate sediment, debris, and floating hydrocarbons such as oil and grease. The filtered waste material will be removed periodically by a vacuum truck at substantially lower cost than for maintaining a standard detention pond ($250 per cleaning, twice per year). Glenn asked Easton to ensure that all drainage facilities are well outside the Baptist Road right-of-way.

There was some discussion after Trustee Gail Drumm expressed concerns about whether the proposed clock tower in the single lane roundabout would be a traffic visibility problem. These concerns were allayed by Dave Hammers when he described how open the spacing was between the beams that support the clock mechanism. The design has been used in similar circumstances elsewhere in the country without safety issues. Restricting the roundabout to a single lane for safety was suggested as another condition for approval of the design.

Trustee Tommie Plank requested that the Rowdao access be renamed. The road currently named Rowdao, (pronounced roh-DAY-oh) was originally listed as "Road A" on preliminary drawings. However, since land is being donated by the Marketplace and Timbers, the final name for the unplatted public right-of-way has to be negotiated by the two owners and then accepted by Triview. Plank asked that it be named Timbers Boulevard.

The preliminary PD site plan was unanimously approved with the 10 conditions.

$5,000 donated to Palmer Lake Fireworks Fund

The board unanimously approved a resolution to make a contribution from the trustees’ discretionary fund to the Palmer Lake Fourth of July fireworks fund. The amount recommended was $3,000; however the trustees increased that amount to $5,000.

$10,000 donated to Front Range Commuter Rail

The board also unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a contribution of $10,000 to the nonprofit Front Range Commuter Rail organization to represent the town’s interests. The proposed rail station would be located northwest of Front and Third Streets. Current plans call for commuter trains to run between Casper, Wyo., and Albuquerque, N.M., once the freight trains are rerouted to a new rail system to be built somewhere to the east in about 10 years.

Chili’s liquor license approved

With no opposition, the new liquor license for Brinker Restaurant Corp., doing business as Chili’s Grill & Bar, was unanimously approved. The new restaurant will employ about 130 people, seat about 200 people, and open on April 20.

Financials

The board unanimously approved three payments over $5,000: $37,575.50 to Triview for December 2005 sales tax, $3,956.22 to Triview for motor vehicle specific ownership tax, and a $6,000 donation to the Lucretia Vaile Museum in Palmer Lake.

The board unanimously approved the December financial review. The final 2005 figures will be forwarded to the auditor for review. Smith said the draft audit should be available by the end of May for board review and should be approved by the end of June.

Reports

Public works: Director Rich Landreth reported that Well 2 needed significant repairs that would likely use at least half of the $100,000 water contingency fund budgeted for 2006. The final cost estimate has not been determined. The pump has been removed to repair a leaking check valve, and repairs are also needed in the well. There have been no repairs required for this well since 1997. He also noted that electrical service would be installed in the new shop building once it has been inspected by the Regional Building Department.

Police Department: Police Chief Jake Shirk reported that Irene Walters had moved from Town Hall to perform police and court administrative duties at the police station. Mariah Hudson is the department’s new full-time analyst and information technology employee. She will implement the new Records Management System just purchased by the town, beginning on Feb. 21.

Sgt. Rick Tudor reported that the three new Impala patrol cars would be painted black and white.

Mary Ellen Burk is administering the new Alive at 25 Program, a driving course developed by the National Safety Council to address the growing problem of fatalities among young drivers.

Officer Michael Wolfe reported an "overwhelming response" to the first offering of the 12-hour Rape Aggression Defense Systems self-defense course for women. For more information on the next class, contact Wolfe at 481-3253. Class size will be limited to 20 participants.

Shirk announced a program to respond to citizen complaints about the police department "to maintain public trust and confidence." Shirk can be contacted at 481-3253 by any citizen.

Shirk held an open forum on Feb. 22 at Town Hall to meet with the citizens of Monument and discuss their needs and the department’s capabilities.

Town manager: Green reported that the town had received a plaque for Hurricane Katrina donations to the Red Cross. She said she would propose that the town contribute $20,000 toward payment of BRRTA’s legal expenses for coordinating private financing of the Baptist Road interchange. The town is not part of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, which is paying the county’s construction costs for widening Baptist Road.

Trustees seeking reelection must submit their nominations with signatures by March 3.

Town attorney: Gary Shupp reported that the Rockwell concrete batch plant case has been forwarded to the county’s Court of Appeals to establish a trial date. There has been no change in the status of the Transit Mix concrete batch plant case, which has been scheduled for trial in November.

The board went into executive session at 8:45 p.m. to discuss real estate negotiations. No actions were announced prior to adjournment.

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The next BOT meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. March 5 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the first and third Wednesdays of the month.

View or download the proposed Timbers Development plans

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Home Place Ranch community meetings, February 21 and 22: Monument Planning Commission to consider Home Place Ranch Sketch Plan March 8

By John Heiser and Jim Kendrick

View or download the proposed Home Place Ranch Sketch plan

The sketch plan for the Home Place Ranch development was presented at community meetings Feb. 21 and 22 at the Bethesda Development building on Gleneagle Drive. A total of about 30 local residents attended the two meetings. Joshua Rowland Land Architects and Linda Sweetman-King of TerraVisions made the presentation, with assistance by Colorado Commercial Builders CEO Dale Beggs, President Dale Turner, Branton Turner, and Joshua Beggs.

The project will be presented to the Monument Planning Commission at its meeting March 8, 6:30 p.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. There will be a hearing on annexation and rezoning and a separate hearing on the sketch plan. Once the planning commission makes its recommendations, hearings will be scheduled for the Monument Board of Trustees.

Community Plan

The property is currently in unincorporated El Paso County. Rowland said the developer has applied for annexation into the Town of Monument, which, he said, "will give homebuyers more of a sense of place and involvement with the town." He added that property taxes from the project would support the town, including the Monument Police Department, which would provide law enforcement services to the subdivision.

The sketch plan submitted to Monument calls for a clustered development with a maximum of 1,019 single-family houses on approximately 431 acres south of Higby Road and east of the Homestead at Jackson Creek development. During the meetings, the total number of houses in the project was revised to not more than 990.

The residential portion would cover about 262 acres. The overall average density for 990 homes on 431 acres is 2.3. These densities were said to be about the same as the county would allow if the parcel were not annexed.

The plan calls for 145 acres (34 percent of the total area) as open space, including a regional park, drainage areas, and ponds. An extensive trail system, 4.31 miles, is proposed throughout the open space.

The future elementary school site has been moved to the center of the project at the request of Lewis-Palmer School District 38. The district asked for a land dedication rather than cash-in-lieu.

Trapping studies have not found any Preble’s meadow jumping mice on the property. Dale Turner said the nearest a mouse has been found was 1.5 miles from the project.

The small-scale retail component shown in early versions of the plan has been removed.

Rowland said the project plans to obtain services for water, sewer, and maintenance of roads, trails, and open space from the Triview Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek. All water rights will be dedicated to Triview.

Dale Turner noted that the project has proposed contributing $1.2 million toward the $4 million cost of constructing a storage tank and related equipment to be located in the Baptist Camp development. The tank will provide improved water pressure for the adjacent area. One resident in the northeast corner of the Homestead subdivision said his water pressure is currently only 26 pounds per square inch, well below the minimum standard of 40-50 PSI.

Roads

There Home Place Ranch sketch plan includes 14.37 acres of right-of-way.

The plan calls for the project to be bisected by the northern extension of Gleneagle Drive as a two-lane divided local collector road with an 80-foot right-of-way, landscaped median, on-street bike lanes, and detached sidewalks. Steep terrain and the location of drainage areas have resulted in an "S" shaped route for the road.

Citizens expressed concern that the Gleneagle right-of-way in Promontory Pointe has been proposed to be only 50 feet wide and won’t meet county collector standards due to curb cuts for driveways along most of that roadway. Dale Beggs said the town and Triview would make the final determination on Promontory Pointe now that it has been annexed.

Dale Turner said Triview is expected to create a Road Improvement District to fund and coordinate construction of Gleneagle Drive

The plan shows a secondary access called Ashley Road that connects from Gleneagle Drive to Higby Road. The northern part of Ashley Road has been moved west from earlier plans, in response to concerns expressed by residents of the adjacent Higby Estates development east of the project. Higby Estates residents in attendance at both meetings thanked Beggs for moving the road to the west.

Fairplay Drive is shown extending south across Higby Road to provide a secondary access into the northwest corner of the project. One citizen asked that the roads not meet as proposed. Dale Turner said that the town and Triview have required this alignment. The county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force has required the alignment of Gleneagle to connect to Furrow Road in the future.

The plan shows no road connections into the existing Jackson Creek and Higby Estates developments, although possible connections are shown to future developments west of the project.

The developers of Home Place Ranch, Promontory Pointe, and Baptist Camp have verbally agreed to contribute to the widening of Higby Road to a 100-foot right-of-way from Jackson Creek Parkway to Gleneagle Drive. Colorado Commercial will also pay for the improvements between Gleneagle and Ashley Drives. Proposed improvements to Higby Road show two 12-foot travel lanes separated by a 12-foot left turn lane. Additional right turn lanes would be added at intersections.

Densities

The project is divided into three areas with differing densities. The easternmost portion, which consists of 80 acres adjacent to the Higby Estates development, would average about two houses per acre.

The areas totaling 140 acres next to the Homestead at Jackson Creek and South Woodmoor developments would average about four houses per acre.

A 26-acre portion along Gleneagle Drive in the center of the project would average about eight houses per acre. Rowland said that part is likely to be comprised of patio homes.

Dale Turner said a 15-acre tract on the southeast corner of the plan is to be developed as part of Classic Homes’ Baptist Camp project and its access to Gleneagle Drive. That portion is shown as contributing up to 91 lots for an average density of about six houses per acre.

Lot widths along the southern boundary of the project will be designed to align generally with the corresponding lots in the Homestead at Jackson Creek subdivision.

The Homestead residents at the Feb. 21 meeting expressed interest in an east-west trail along the drainage easement between the two projects. Dale Turner said Triview currently opposes such a trail. He encouraged the residents to address the matter with the Triview board of directors.

Along the eastern side of the project adjacent to the Higby Estates development, the minimum lot size will be one acre. Higby Estates has a minimum lot size of 2.5 acres due to their use of septic systems. In prior community meetings, Higby Estates residents had expressed concern about the density transition from the Home Place Ranch subdivision to their subdivision. Higby Estates residents thanked the developer for the change to one acre lots at the Feb. 22 meeting. Dale Turner also noted that the existing Beck home and barns will remain unchanged.

Phasing

Rowland said the project would be developed from west to east, with the areas adjacent to Higby Road being developed first, followed by the area adjacent to the Homestead at Jackson Creek, and ending with the higher density portion in the center.

Dale Turner said they expect to obtain the necessary approvals over the next year and start construction in the spring of 2007. He said there would be three to four homebuilding companies involved in each section. He added that completion of the project would likely take about five years.

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Joshua Rowland can be reached at Land Architects, (303) 734-1777, 9137 S. Ridgeline Blvd., Suite 130, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129.

Linda Sweetman-King can be reached at TerraVisions, (303) 468-6700, 1745 Shea Center Drive, Suite 310, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129.

The developer on the project is Dale Turner, Vice President, Colorado Commercial Builders, 264-6955, 5410 Powers Center Point, Suite 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

View or download the proposed Home Place Ranch Sketch plan

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, February 2: Council considers water rate change and ballot issues

By Sue Wielgopolan

In working through a lengthy agenda at their Feb. 2 workshop, Town Council members discussed new water rates for the town of Palmer Lake. The council also considered several ballot issues, including a request for an additional 1 percent sales tax to fund fire and police protection. If approved by voters, the sales tax would reach the maximum 3 percent cap a municipality is allowed by state law to impose.

Nicky’s at the Villa receives liquor license

The council first convened as the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority. Nicky Serbanescu appeared before members to request a transfer of the liquor license from The Villa (doing business as Guadala Jarra’s) to his new restaurant, Nicky’s at the Villa. He assured board members that he had "taken steps to educate the serving staff" on the legalities of handling liquor. No members of the public asked to comment on the request, and the licensing authority unanimously voted to transfer the license.

After adjourning the liquor authority meeting, the Palmer Lake Town Council convened their scheduled workshop session at 7:06 p.m.

The Colorado Tennis Association had been scheduled to make an award presentation to the town for $2,500—to help offset the cost of resurfacing town tennis courts—but the presentation was postponed due to scheduling conflicts. Town Clerk Della Gray said the association had not yet committed to a new date for the presentation.

Two new businesses receive sign approval, license

Clara Smith, owner of Clara Jean’s, a carryout breakfast and lunch counter located in the Palmer Lake Country Store and Deli along Highway 105, requested approval for her business sign. The painted sign is displayed on the front of the building. She apologized to the council for posting the sign after it had been accepted by the Planning Commission, but not formally approved by Town Council,. After looking at several photographs of the sign and verifying with Gray that it conformed to existing ordinances, the council unanimously approved the sign.

Members reviewed the business license application submitted by Pacharee and Stephen Ellison for Villa Décor, which will be located in the mall opposite the South End Center on Highway 105. The store will offer home decorating items, specializing in Polish pottery. The Ellisons brought samples of their colorful ethnic clay cookware to show to the council. The council approved the business license.

Formal approval of the sign and business license must take place during an official Town Council meeting. Both will be listed as consent items on the Feb. 9 agenda.

Wred Wrock business license request continued

Marguerite Pond, owner of Wred Wrock Enterprises, requested a license for her landscaping business. Pond had previously been listed as co-owner with Glen Price of another landscaping operation known as MGP Enterprises. There was some question as to whether Pond had been operating without a license. Pond stated that because she would only be selling services and not materials, she believed she did not need a business license.

The application was taken under advisement by the council, which needed time to review the associated paperwork. Pond was asked to reappear Feb. 9. Council members will render their decision at that time.

Request for new cell tower permit off County Line Road

Frank Laird, representing The Liberty Connections, Inc., answered questions regarding the conditional use application to place a communications tower on private property owned by Nick and Darlah Kapusta, at 579 County Line Road. Liberty is acting as an agent for New Cingular Wireless and General Dynamics. The property where the cell phone tower will be placed, and all surrounding tracts, are zoned M-1 (manufacturing). Though the use appears compatible with cell phone tower placement, town ordinances require that each structure must be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Spotty local cell phone coverage had prompted Cingular to search for a favorable cell tower location. Laird said that engineers had performed an analysis of the area and chose that specific site because it was optimal for radio frequency reception and transmission. He also said that the tower would improve coverage for other providers that contract with Cingular.

Council members looked at photographs of the site with the tower superimposed. The structure will be located behind a manufacturing building on the property. Members noted that the actual height of the tower including the base was estimated to be 33 feet, not 30 feet as required by town code. Liberty agreed to lower the height to meet requirements. The structure met all other criteria for approval.

Council member Trish Flake mentioned that income from cell tower contracts could be beneficial to the town. She said she hoped Cingular would consider nearby town property should the company wish to place another tower.

Liberty will reappear at the council meeting on Feb. 9 to request formal acceptance.

Living Word Chapel seeks approval for development plan change

Brian Bucher of Bucher Design Studio, Inc., submitted an application to amend the PUD master plan for the Living Word Chapel complex, formerly the Salvation Army Camp Elephant Rock, located at 290 West Highway 105. The original plan was approved in 1986. The facility presently consists of a chapel, dormitory rooms and cabins, a dining hall, swimming pool, and other buildings associated with a camp.

Living Word would like to alter the PUD master plan to expand the chapel and sanctuary, provide additional office space, remodel and add to the dining room and kitchen facilities, and expand and possibly pave the parking area. The religious organization also proposes to build smaller "hospitality units," which will contain several individual sleeping quarters with a desk and private bathroom, in lieu of dormitories shown on the original plans.

Bucher informed the council that all of the proposed uses are in conformance with current use specifications and those previously outlined in the old master plan. The changes constitute a reallocation, not an increase, of the approved square footage. The expansion consists of five phases, which Bucher estimates will take place within the next 15 years.

After briefly reviewing the plans, council members informed Bucher that should the PUD amendment be approved, detailed plans for each phase will still be required to meet the approval of the Palmer Lake Planning Commission and the Town Council.

The council will review the amendment request and vote on it at its Feb. 9 meeting.

Lakeview Heights replat sparks controversy

A developer’s request to convert seven previously platted lots into three larger lots ran into opposition when neighbors objected to the proposal. Carrie Johnson, representing RFP Investments, LLC, submitted the request to vacate and replat Lots 19 through 25 in Unit 2 of the Lakeview Heights development, which is located east of Palmer Lake.

According to the replat request, Lots 19, 20, and 21 would become Lot 21A; Lots 22 and 23 would become 23A; and Lots 24 and 25 would become 25A. The new lots would access the southeast side of Star View Circle. The owner of Lot 1, a roughly triangular strip that lies between several of the old lot lines and Star View, agreed to grant an easement across the land as a driveway access for the replatted lots.

The lots were originally platted to access the planned Cathedral Drive. Complications preventing a second access to the area have postponed indefinitely the construction of Cathedral. Reconfiguration of the lots would allow immediate construction of homes on the sites.

Resident Pattie Brooks, in speaking for several homeowners, contends the replat would create numerous problems for current homeowners.

Brooks stated that she had purchased her home based on the drawings showing the seven homesites in question that front onto Cathedral Drive; houses would have been built below the sightline of existing homes on Star View Circle. She also pointed out that steep topography along the proposed access to Star View presents a serious safety hazard during icy or snowy conditions. Homeowners of the new lots would be unable to drive their vehicles up the steep incline to get out of their driveways and would instead park on the street, creating obstacles for residents exiting their driveways on the opposite side of Star View.

Brooks told the council that it was her understanding that the fire department had recommended no more homes be built in Unit 2 of Lakeview Heights until an additional road had been constructed. She and her neighbors are concerned that the single road access provided by Star View Circle would be inadequate in the event of a large fire.

Brooks also questioned whether the amount of land disturbed during utility installation and construction would exceed limits specified by the town’s Hillside ordinance. The ordinance is intended to reduce erosion by limiting the percentage of land that may be disrupted during construction on steeper topography, classified as a slope of 16 percent or greater.

Though the Planning Commission had already given its approval to the plan in a 3-2 vote, the council asked that the replat request be returned to the commission to be reexamined. Several members also agreed to meet and view the site as a group, to better understand the plans of the property owner and the concerns expressed by current residents of the area.

Council discusses water rate change

As part of their workshop packets, council members received three water rate options created by Integrated Utilities Group (IUG), a consulting firm that specializes in helping municipalities set utility rates. The town had hired IUG to help them establish rates that would enable the town to cover operating expenses using the base service charge and to set aside money needed for repairs and improvements with the per gallon rate.

The Water Committee—which consists of several council members, Mayor Nikki McDonald, Gray, and volunteers from the community—previously reviewed the options presented by IUG and recommended the council adopt rates presented in Option 1, which also followed the company’s recommendation.

Option 1 proposes a base service charge of $28 per month for a water line up to ¾ inches, to be paid by all homeowners whether they use water that month or not. Each consumer would also pay a charge of $2.86 per thousand gallons of water used. The base charge for a service line increases with diameter, up to $933.33 per month for a 6-inch water line.

The vote to accept the new rates put forth in Option 1 was 3-2, with Chuck Cornell and Gary Coleman dissenting. Cornell stated that according to his calculations, monthly service and volume charges would be needed just to cover operating expenses, with little left over for repairs or improvements. To calculate income, he had used 2004 figures for the number of taps and total volume of water pumped and then compared that figure to Palmer Lake’s 2004 water expenses.

He added that Options 2 and 3 also did not add a significant amount to total income. In Cornell’s view, all options shifted the brunt of costs to lower-end users, while providing a 40 percent reduction to those entities, primarily businesses, consuming over 20,000 gallons per month.

Cornell pointed out to other board members that infrastructure within the town is aging. One recent water main break repair cost the town close to $300,000, depleting reserves set aside for future expenditures. He said though the enterprise fund was solvent, the town would soon need to spend money to upgrade the old filter plant. He felt that Palmer Lake should have at least $300,000 to $400,000 in reserve.

The council agreed that the Water Committee should get together to compare expected income figures and expenses once more before Feb. 9. A meeting was set for Feb 6.

Proposed parking space increase will necessitate removal of trees

Flake told fellow council members that expansion of parking space next to Centennial Park on the east side of Highway 105 was part of the citizen-driven cityscape plan adopted in 2002 as an attachment to the town’s comprehensive plan. As discussed in prior meetings, this will necessitate the removal of several trees along the road. Tree removal is the first step in clearing, filling, and grading the area, which will eventually provide additional parking spaces for businesses located along Highway 105, as well as supplemental event parking.

Susan Miner, former Economic Development trustee, spoke to alleviate concerns previously expressed by citizens that plans for tree removal and parking lot expansion were made without adequate public comment. She assured the council that the expanded parking area was integral to the publicly approved cityscape project, which also included features to attract residents and visitors to the downtown area, including crosswalks and lampposts with flower baskets. Miner emphasized that the town wants to save as many trees as is practical, and replace those that will be lost, through programs sponsored by groups such as the Arbor Day Foundation.

The removal has been posted in the area where the trees will be cut. So far, no public objections have been filed with the town.

Ballot to ask for 1 percent sales tax increase, retention of excess revenues

Several issues are slated for the May 2006 ballot. Among those is a request for a 1 percent sales tax increase; the additional monies raised would help fund police and fire protection. Gray asked the council to confer with Police Chief Dale Smith and Fire Chief Phillip Beckman to determine how the revenue should be split between the two departments. In accordance with TABOR, municipalities must receive consent from voters to retain any funds exceeding the previous year’s expenditures, plus a limited increase based on factors such as cost-of-living increases and population growth. The town generally collects $20,000 to $30,000 over that amount. Palmer Lake voters will be asked in May whether the town may retain funds in excess of TABOR limits for the years 2006, 2007, and 2008 through 2011.

Gray asked that council members give careful thought to where the excess revenues should be spent, as voters are more likely to approve the measure if officials earmark the money for specific uses.

Gray told council members that the deadline for state submission of the pros and cons for ballot questions is Feb. 17. Specific wording of ballot issues may be determined later. Gray said that in order to give local citizens time to submit comments listing advantages and disadvantages for the state mandated information pamphlet, members must decide what issues will be included on the ballot by the Feb. 9 meeting.

Although not listed on the official meeting agenda, Gray also asked council members to consider whether they would like to ask Palmer Lake voters to rescind, extend, or otherwise change term limits for town officials. She pointed out that several Town Council members, as well as McDonald, were ineligible to run again. Gray expressed concern that there weren’t enough interested citizens to fill the open positions.

Jeff Hulsmann elicited laughter from the audience when he quipped that "anyone who would want to run past their term is obviously insane." Member Max Parker stated that he felt people would "step up to the plate" to fill open positions.

Council members will revisit ballot issues at their Feb. 9 meeting.

The public portion of the meeting was adjourned at 9:38 p.m., and members went into executive session to consider personnel issues. The Town Council will meet again in an official capacity on Feb. 9, 7 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 32 Crescent.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, February 9: New water rates approved

Click here or on the photo to zoom in and read the essay

Click on the photo to zoom in and read the essay

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council formally approved new rates on Feb. 9 to help provide needed revenue for future capital repairs to the town’s water system. Tap fees have been the traditional source of funding for capital expansions and repairs, but the town is nearing buildout and needs an alternative source of funding for the future. The council also approved all the ballot issues considered at the Feb. 2 workshop. Although a variety of requests were approved, the council formally sent a vacation and replat request for some lots in Lakeview Heights Unit 2 back to the Planning Commission for further study.

Bell reads Freedom essay

The highlight of the evening was Steven Bell’s warmly applauded reading of his essay "What Freedom Means to Me." Bell is an 8th grader from Lewis-Palmer Middle School. His paper was one of the top submissions in Sertoma’s annual Freedom Essay Program. Monument Hill Sertoma Club President Ted Baumann said his organization offers about $1,000 in prizes to the writers of the top three essays from each of the area’s middle schools. A total of 538 students participated in this year’s contest. The council unanimously approved a proclamation declaring Feb. 19-25 as Freedom Week.

Committee Reports

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) made a total of 33 runs in January comprised of 13 medical, 10 structure fire, 3 wildland fire, 2 traffic accident, 2 public contact, and 3 public assistance of which 13 were mutual aid. He also noted that in 2005 there were a total of 258 calls comprised of 185 in Palmer Lake and 73 for mutual aid, with averages of 4 volunteers per call, 15 Palmer Lake calls per month, and 6 mutual aid calls per month. Total logged volunteer time for 2005 was 4,635 hours. He said, "We’re real proud of them."

Coleman again asked town residents to post their addresses at their driveways so that firefighters can find their homes more easily during an emergency, adding he was glad the room was filled with citizens to hear the request. About 40 people were in attendance.

Water Trustee Chuck Cornell reported that the town produced 3,017,384 gallons of tributary water in January. Because no well water was produced, there were no wastewater credits. The end-of-year balances were $68,101 in the water enterprise fund and $331,584 in the water capital improvement fund. No new taps were sold in December, so the total number remained at 913.

Police Trustee Trudy Finan reported police statistics for January as 102 call for service, 2 custody arrests, 15 cases, 35 traffic citations, 20 traffic/dog warnings, and 2 dog citations. One officer remains on medical leave for injuries sustained during a chase leading to an arrest.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake reported that yoga and exercise classes were offered in Town Hall at 9:15 a.m on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; each costs $7. She said an off-leash area for dog-walking was being established in the Greenland Open Space along with signs pointing out how to get to the Santa Fe Trail trailhead in Palmer Lake from the Greenland parking area.

Community and Economic Development Trustee Jim Girlando reported that Nicky’s at the Villa would be organizing a fundraiser for the PLVFD fire truck payments. There will be several Saturday fund-raising events for the Fourth of July through July 1. Flake added that the town’s annual fishing derby would also be part of the effort.

Roads Trustee Max Parker reported that Palmer Lake Elementary School received a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for upgrading playground equipment. The town will match the grant with $3,000 of in-kind services for prepping, leveling, and grading the play area.

Mayor Nikki McDonald recommended that Town Clerk Della Gray be appointed the town’s election official; Gray was unanimously approved. McDonald noted that Gary Coleman is the only council member not up for election. Nomination forms are due by March 6.

Bob Miner reported on Fountain Creek Watershed Study progress. He noted that regaining some portions of the substantial reduction in federal funding for the Army Corps of Engineers was a priority for Representative Hefley and Senators Allard and Salazar. The study will now take longer to complete but has not been canceled. Miner pointed out that state funding remains available despite the current federal cuts.

The Awake the Lake committee will be announcing its spring and summer fund-raising activities soon.

Several requests approved

The board approved several requests discussed at the Feb. 2 workshop. (See Workshop article on page 15 for details.) Included were a new business license for Villa Décor and a sign request for Clara Jean’s.

After a short discussion, the council unanimously approved a new business license for Wred Wrock Enterprises.

The trustees approved a conditional use in an M-1 zone for a cell phone communications tower for General Dynamics and New Cingular.

Also approved was an amendment to the PUD (Planned Unit Development) plat and site plan for Living Word Chapel, with the condition that the final building plans must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and the Town Council before any construction work can begin.

After a presentation by Town Attorney Larry Gaddis on the ambiguous complexities regarding private and town ownership of portions of the affected property, the council unanimously approved a vacation of a portion of Clifton Hill Road.

Colorado Tennis Association Grant issues unresolved

The Town of Palmer Lake received a grant from the association of $2,500 for resurfacing the town’s public tennis court in December. The town’s matching requirement is about $5,600.

The grant application was prepared by resident Kim Makower, manager of the Palmer Lake Tennis Center, who conducts U.S. Tennis Association (USTA)-approved lessons at the public courts. The grant request was endorsed by Trustee Flake, former Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Steve Spry, and Tim Wolken of the El Paso County Parks Department. Makower had initiated a previous successful resurfacing grant request from the association in 2001. The courts are surrounded by trees; snow and ice are slow to melt, causing problems for the playing surface.

A condition of the grant is a public presentation of the grant check at a regular council meeting, which had been initially scheduled for Jan. 12. However, that meeting was combined with the workshop meeting of Jan. 5 so that the temporary liquor license requested by the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts for an event on Jan. 29 could be received in time. The $2,500 check goes to the town and the resurfacing contract will be administered by the town. Makower may elect to be a volunteer consultant to Flake on contract administration.

Makower complained on Jan. 5 that he and the Colorado Tennis Association had not been given adequate notice of the two January meetings being combined on Jan. 5. He said Colorado Tennis Association Community Development Director Kristy Harris could not attend the Jan. 5 meeting on such short notice. The town offered to hold a press conference to present the check on Jan. 12 and OCN volunteered to cover the event. However, several trustees said they could not attend the press conference. Makower said the check should be presented at a regular Town Council meeting rather than a workshop or press conference.

On Jan. 9, Gray sent an e-mail to local press and the Colorado Tennis Association that said:

"Since a number of you indicated you would not be at the presentation on January 12 and that you would like for the Association and Kim Makower to have the recognition deserved, I was asked to contact Kristy Harris, Colorado Tennis Association about resetting the date for the presentation.

She would rather wait to be at the February 2nd or 9th meeting in order for more trustees to be there. Kristy will contact me as to which date will work the best for them. If it is on the 2nd, Trish will report through updated committee reports what took place at the workshop so an accounting will be reflected in the actual minutes. This will also allow the names of the two other individuals who will be with her to be listed on the agenda.

I apologize for the confusion, but as you are all aware I had no knowledge of the possibility of the check being presented at the January meeting."

Makower intervened by sending a letter, on a Palmer Lake Tennis Center Association letterhead dated Jan. 12, 2006, to Carolyn Peters of the Colorado Tennis Association’s Community Development Committee saying, the Palmer Lake Tennis Association "is requesting that the committee postpone the awarding of the grant. We would like to investigate and verify the true level of interest that the Board of Trustees has in promoting tennis in the community. We will present the findings of this investigation to you and/or your committee no later than April 17, 2006."

Makower announced at the Jan. 5 Town Council combined meeting that he is running for mayor. The town election is on April 3.

The presentation was listed on the Feb. 2 workshop agenda with participation by Harris, Peters, and Executive Director Fritz Ganger, but they did not attend. Harris has not rescheduled the presentation.

On Feb. 9 Makower said he wanted to "put a contract together" with the town regarding grant requirements and "slow things down so we can communicate better." Flake said there had been problems administering the 2001 grant, before she became a trustee. McDonald said Flake could handle the grant responsibilities and that Makower needed to communicate through her.

Parker said the trustees were not familiar with the grant requirement for advertising and USTA-approved services at the Jan. 5 meeting. He said that Makower was not an agent of the town and had no authority to act for the town or as an intermediary in telling the association to "wave this off" until mid-April. Makower said he was acting as the manager of the tennis center for giving the USTA-approved lessons, as required by the grant and had not been included in the addressee list of the Jan. 9 e-mail from Gray.

After further discussion of the need for communication, McDonald invited public comment. Cindy Henson asked if the town’s $5,600 share of resurfacing costs was to benefit Makower or the public. She also asked if Makower had to reserve the courts or pay the reservation fee. Gray said the fee for residents is $2 per hour and $10 for nonresidents. Maggie Amato also asked if Makower was not paying the fee, shouldn’t his tennis center share in the $5,600 matching cost.

Makower said he does not pay a reservation fee and offered to show anyone his books to see how his center operates, and said he "can’t make a profit teaching tennis in Palmer Lake." "Making a profit would be a wonderful thing," he said, and added that he donates his time for many town activities including tennis.

Parker also expressed concerns about town liabilities in being required to offer USTA-approved lessons as a condition of the grant. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said the town incurred no liability for the lessons Makower offers. No action was taken at the end of the discussion.

Lakeview Heights Unit 2 replat sent back to the Planning Commission

Terry Thompson has asked the town to replat eight lots south of Star View Circle into three larger lots. Thompson also requested that the frontages for the new lots be on the existing Star View Circle instead of on the as-yet unbuilt Cathedral Drive. (See Workshop article on page 15 for details.)

McDonald said the trustees had not been able to gain enough information during a walk-around of the site to make a decision. She noted that the amount of disturbed area they had observed appeared to exceed that allowed by the town’s hillside development ordinance. Coleman, a professional surveyor, said that they could only find a single stake in the area and that a survey needed to be provided to the town before any decisions could be made by the Planning Commission. The matter was unanimously referred back to the Planning Commission.

Flake asked that the commissioners specifically address the feasibility of emergency access for any portion of the proposed development, which has been a continuing concern. Gaddis asked the council to formally authorize formation of an investigating committee for all the matters raised at both February council meetings. They did so unanimously.

Water rate change ordinance approved

After a short recess, the council unanimously approved an ordinance to raise water rates. There is now a fixed monthly service fee depending on the size of the tap, ranging from $28 for a 3/4-inch connection (the vast majority of residential taps) to $933.33 for a 6-inch tap. Usage fees are $2.86 per thousand gallons for residential and commercial, with the exception that the residential rate increases to $4.67 per thousand gallons for usages in excess of 15,000 gallons in a month. The policy is meant to discourage what is considered excessive residential use for watering large lawns.

By a 5-3 majority, the Water Committee chose not to recommend a variable rate for the small number of commercial users, since they typically don’t water large areas of grass. The 15,000-gallon threshold was set as a compromise, reflecting the fact that some very large families may have much higher in-house water demands than the town residential average.

There was a lengthy discussion similar to that in the workshop. Most of the public comments were that businesses didn’t get penalized for high use and that the base rate of $28 was too high. Jeff Hulsmann of the Water Committee pointed out that every gallon of water used would now be billed and that commercial users had not been shown to be wasting water in the manner that was meant to be penalized by the step in residential usage above a certain amount. He also noted that the rates could be changed at any time if they proved to be unfair or inappropriate.

The council agreed that an annual review might be advisable before unanimously approving the new rates. After the approval, Cornell said he thought the rates would be shown to be insufficient to cover operating costs, much less to provide a growing capital fund reserve.

The council also unanimously approved all six proposed ballot issues for the April 4 election: three separate questions to allow the town to keep excess revenues above the TABOR limits for 2006, 2007, and 2008-2011; two separate questions for ½-cent sales tax increases for the Police Department and PLVFD; and one question that would waive term limits for town trustees.

The meeting adjourned at 10:15 p.m. The next workshop meeting will be held on March 2, prior to publication. Council workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. The next regular council meeting will be held on March 9, 7 p.m., in Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Regular council meetings are normally held on the second Thursday.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, February 6: Donala will ask voters for mill levy extension

By Sue Wielgopolan

This May, Donala Water and Sanitation will ask voters to approve a ballot issue extending the 16.296 mills residents currently pay in property taxes to the district. If approved, the mill levy will be used to fund Donala’s $5 million share of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) expansion.

Plant expansion is not optional. State operating permits mandate that wastewater treatment facilities must have expansion construction in progress by the time the plant reaches 90 to 95 percent of capacity. The three owners of the WWTF expect to reach that milestone in mid-2006. Facility costs are split according to the proportion of capacity each district uses. Forest Lakes Metro District, the smallest of the co-owners, has already funded most of its share of anticipated future capacity. Triview Metro District and Donala will each contribute $5 million towards the estimated $10 million expansion cost.

Donala receives income from two primary sources: county property taxes and customer fees. The district presently receives a tax levy of 16.296 mills. Of that total, 3.486 mills represent a permanent mill levy earmarked for operating expenses. The remaining 12.810 mills is temporary. Voters re-approved that portion of the mill levy in 1993 with the stated purpose of refunding a small amount of debt from prior bond issuance, and purchasing and upgrading the WWTF to its present level. Sufficient funds expect to be collected to repay the debt, which may not be retired until 2009.

Donala will ask voters to extend the 12.810 mill levy to finance the low-interest loan that will be used for expansion of the waste treatment plant, as well as for future expenses related to improvement of the plant, wells, water acquisition, water storage facilities, and other costs associated with the delivery of water and wastewater services.

Because Donala is asking voters to extend an existing mill levy, the tax rate currently paid by residents will not increase if the election question is passed. Board members expect some confusion from residents, as the mill levy extension is considered a tax increase under TABOR rules.

Should the ballot issue fail, the 12.810 mill levy will expire, and the district’s levy will drop to 3.486 mills. Donala will then have to rely primarily on income from water and sewer rates to fund the expansion and future expenses; those rates will increase proportionately. The advantage to the mill levy is that homeowners can claim it as a deduction on their taxes.

Residents will also be asked to lift TABOR restrictions on the smaller 3.486 mill levy, which will enable the district to spend all funds collected.

In addition to deciding the ballot issue, voters will elect directors to fill three of the five seats on the Donala board. Tim Murphy and Richard Durham attended the Feb. 6 meeting to indicate their intentions to run for the positions. Durham is a former member of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board. He resigned when he moved to Gleneagle in 2005.

President Charlie Coble and member Secretary-Treasurer Don Pearson, both term limited, will vacate their seats. Dennis Daugherty is eligible to run again and has said he will seek reelection. No other candidates have expressed interest.

After discussion, the board passed resolutions approving the ballot issue and authorizing Jackie Sipes to act as designated election official.

El Paso County Water Authority takes positions on four state bills

Donala General Manager Dana Duthie reported on the Feb. 1 meeting of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA). (Duthie also serves as treasurer for the authority.) The Colorado legislative session is in full swing, and lobbyist Pat Ratliff outlined the bills of interest to the EPCWA and its positions on them.

HB06-1096 would revise the eminent domain rights of special districts. The authority opposes the bill.

HB06-1124 would allow farmers to fallow portions of their land and sell the water to municipalities without jeopardizing their water rights. The EPCWA strongly supports this bill; it is viewed as a win-win arrangement by the authority. Farmers will be able to realize additional income from their water while retaining and working their land. The bill will help rural communities remain viable by preserving the agricultural industry that supports them and at the same time supply badly needed supplemental surface water to growing Front Range communities.

Passage of this bill and similar legislation could prove important to the Tri–Lakes region. Areas north of Colorado Springs city limits are not part of the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District, and are therefore not funding members of the Fry-Ark project. They have no rights to water presently supplied through that system, which includes Pueblo Reservoir, and must obtain surface water from other sources. Water providers in northern El Paso County expect that in the future, a significant amount of surface water will be supplied through these rotating/fallowing arrangements.

HB06-1253 addresses the role of Colorado counties in maintaining water quality, and would give them the power to manage stormwater using regulations and ordinances. The EPCWA supports the bill. It will benefit northern El Paso County residents by enabling commissioners to actively participate in cooperating with Colorado Springs to manage stormwater outside city boundaries. The city requires help from Tri-Lakes communities in solving their stormwater issues before it will consider including the region in the Southern Delivery System (SDS) or otherwise assist in finding solutions to anticipated regional water supply shortages.

SB06-0037 limits the amount of water that entities can claim for recreational in-channel diversions such as kayak courses. The EPCWA supports the bill in theory, unless the compromises that are being worked out in committee prove detrimental to consumptive water rights.

Duthie reported that Wayne Vanderschuere, Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) water supply manager, was appointed by Governor Bill Owens to the Interbasin Compact Committee. The committee—which is composed of two members from each of the nine river basin roundtables, six gubernatorial appointees, the Senate and House Agricultural Committee chairmen, and Department of Natural Resource Director Russell George—will make recommendations to the legislature on solving state water conflicts.

Vanderschuere was appointed to represent El Paso County and Colorado Springs. Duthie said he is skeptical that Vanderschuere, who has previously discouraged northern El Paso County’s efforts to be included in the SDS, can speak objectively for Tri-Lakes area water interests. Duthie recommended that Vanderschuere debrief the EPCWA after each Interbasin Committee meeting.

The authority also discussed its by-laws and quorum voting requirements, as well as a proposal to accept stormwater entities as members.

Colorado Springs Utilities speaks to Palmer Divide Water Group

Duthie distributed a summary of the presentation to the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) by CSU. Vanderschuere, Gary Bostrom, regional project manager, and Courtney Brand, senior project engineer and geologist, gave an overview of the Southern Delivery System (SDS) project. They also discussed the Palmer Divide Water Group’s repeated requests that the utility include unincorporated northern El Paso County in the SDS project.

The three emphasized that directives from the city prohibit the utility from engaging in cooperative agreements that could delay, jeopardize, or complicate the project or impact the general fund. In the city’s view, attempting to incorporate the Tri-Lakes area at this point in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process could do just that. (None of the alternatives currently proposed by the Bureau of Reclamation in the Southern Delivery System’s EIS include northern El Paso County communities.)

The utility is optimistic that the project will receive approval. Though they made no promises, Vanderschuere, Bostrom, and Brand indicated that if the PDWG has its own water rights and sufficient funds to finance an equitable share, some level of inclusion in the project might be possible after approval .

The CSU representatives conveyed the message that the following concerns would need to be addressed in order to move forward:

  • City Council feels explosive population growth in northern communities draws tax revenues away from the city and exacerbates the stormwater problem. The city is concerned that its cooperation in providing surface water would encourage growth that has already outstripped the area’s future well water supply.

  • Southern SDS partners such as Pueblo believe that the PDWG’s association with water entities outside the Arkansas Basin could result in the transfer of water to other basins, an action which they oppose. Colorado Springs does not want to jeopardize potential agreements with those entities.

The city has also stated it will not negotiate with the PDWG to assist in supplying surface water to the Tri-Lakes area until northern communities actively participate in stormwater control in cooperation with Colorado Springs.

Members of the water group told Vanderschuere, Bostrom, and Brand that they want to cooperate with efforts to control stormwater where possible. However, water and wastewater special districts, which include Woodmoor and Donala, do not have the authority to deal with stormwater. Only municipalities, metropolitan districts, and the county may enact and enforce stormwater requirements and regulations.

The PDWG also informed CSU that although Parker Water and Sanitation District is a member of the group, any agreements for water conveyance would be made with individual entities and not the PDWG as a whole. And because the PDWG has no firm commitment from Colorado Springs that would ensure a future surface water supply, members did not wish to limit their options by excluding Parker, as the district may be able to offer supplemental surface water partnerships through alternative sources.

Duthie said he believed the meeting was beneficial in that it initiated dialogue with Colorado Springs and provided an opportunity for the PDWG to clear up some of the city’s misconceptions.

After CSU’s presentation, the PDWG conducted its regular meeting, during which members approved the 2006 budget. Donala’s share will be $20,000. The budget includes an allowance to fund a study documenting the Tri-Lakes area’s contribution to Colorado Springs’ economy.

Duthie added that since the PDWG meeting, CSU director Jerry Forte had met with PDWG manager and EPCWA executive agent Gary Barber and PDWG chairperson Betty Konarski. Though Barber and Konarski have not yet briefed the water group membership, Duthie told directors that the pair had remarked they were "pleased with the meeting."

WWTF access road work almost finished

Duthie informed board members that work on the access road to the treatment plant is nearing completion. Glacier Construction poured the pylons for reinforcement of the small bridge over Jackson Creek the previous week, and the concrete is about 90 percent cured. Glacier expects to place the beam on Feb. 21. All bridge work should be finished before the end of February.

Work on the railroad crossing is proceeding more slowly than anticipated. Glacier laid the crossing pad and installed the slide gate, which is not yet wired for power. The contractor also moved the card reader pedestal to the east side of the Santa Fe Trail so that trucks waiting for the gate to open do not block trail right-of-way.

Glacier will cut back part of the hill east of the railroad tracks and south of the access road so that vehicle drivers are able to get a full view of the train tracks in both directions before crossing. Union Pacific informed the contractor that they must use a flagman employed by the railroad to direct traffic during earth-moving operations. Arrangements for the flagman have not yet been made.

The railroad crossing warning signs that were ordered by the Operations Coordination Committee, which consists of engineers and managers from the three owners of the WWTF and plant superintendent Mike Poeckes, were also unacceptable to Union Pacific. The railroad stated that warning signs posted at the crossing must belong to Union Pacific, but it has not yet supplied substitutes.

WWTF expansion construction to begin soon

Duthie informed board members that excavation for the equalization basin was scheduled to begin in March. Though the new railroad crossing will not be complete, Duthie does not expect the delay to affect construction. If all goes as scheduled, the basin will be operational by the end of August. Expansion operations, including construction of the sequencing batch reactor (SBR), should be complete in May 2007.

Duthie then briefed the board on several design changes suggested by Weaver General Construction, the contractor selected to build the facility. The changes will require the addition of a building and the subsequent rerouting of the incoming sewer interceptor and a road within the complex. The Operations Committee is pleased with Weaver’s work and cost-saving suggestions, which Duthie said has been very helpful during the final phases of the design process.

Ultraviolet disinfection process selected

After comparing price and features between the Trojan open-channel system and Aquionics closed-channel system, the Operations Coordination Committee selected the open-channel ultraviolet (UV) disinfection process by Trojan, to be installed as part of the expansion. While more expensive, UV disinfection of effluent doesn’t require the handling of chlorine gas, and the water doesn’t have to go through an additional dechlorination step before release into Monument Creek.

The chlorine system will be retained as backup.

Though the selected open channel process is more space-consumptive than a closed-channel system and requires a 40-by-44-foot room, the Trojan system, at $324,000, is almost $50,000 less. The system is self-cleaning, more operator friendly, and easier to expand. In addition, committee members felt the open-channel system presented less of a safety hazard. The UV lamps used in the closed-channel process can blind a technician who fails to use proper eye protection.

Denitrification system to be enlarged

Duthie told the board that during the months of October and November, the plant was pushing the limits of the denitrification process. The building has space for eight conical upflow denitrification filters, but the facility only owns six. The committee agreed to purchase the additional filters at a cost of $94,000 for both. Weaver will install the filters. The expansion contract will be altered to reflect the change.

Duthie said it could take up to a year for the filters to be delivered, but he is hopeful the plant will receive them sooner. The denitrification process will be converted to reuse water filtration when the expansion is complete.

The Regional Building Department informed the owners of the WWTF that it would not issue a building permit for the plant until the access road had a name and each building was numbered. Forest Lakes submitted the name "Jumping Mouse View," which was subsequently accepted.

The facility’s state operating permit comes up for reissue in July. The WWTF asked for an extension from the state, as the process takes approximately six months to complete, and the plant will have to submit an application for the new SBR process after the expansion is finished. Duthie told the board he received four responses from four different offices. He said the state told him to apply for the permit, and it would make the decision whether to grant an extension or provide a new permit.

Well updates

The redrill on Well 2D is complete, but the well has not yet been tested. Duthie informed board members that he had authorized payment for three nights’ lodging for one neighboring homeowner’s family, who had been impacted by the noise of drilling operations. He noted that neighbors across the street, who had not been warned of the operations, had also complained about the noise.

Donala signed a contract with AmWest to rehabilitate Well 3D. The work will involve acid cleaning of the screens. The acid water will be stored in a "frac tank". Should the color of the top layer of water indicate it is safe to use for irrigation, it will be used on the golf course. Otherwise the district may need a stormwater discharge permit in order to release the water into the storm drain.

Duthie announced that installation of the water main on Lariat Lane in Chaparral Hills is complete. The work included $3,000 for road surfacing. Four participating homeowners will split the cost of the pipeline.

Duthie told the board he had received at least four inquiries from other Chaparral Hills residents about hooking into Donala’s system. Duthie would like to eventually loop the system, which can be easily done on the lower section of Chaparral Hills. If interested residents in the southern area agree to annex to the district, surrender their water rights, and pay for their share, the district will eventually provide them with a water line.

Development updates

Duthie reported that Richmond Homes only has one house left to sell before its development is finished. Laing and Keller Homes are still working. At the present time, the only undeveloped residential area left in the district is the Brown Ranch property. Several commercial properties also remain undeveloped.

The public portion of the meeting ended at 3:10 p.m. and the board went into executive session to consider negotiation strategies and personnel matters (Note: The directors approved pay raises for three Donala employees during the session.) The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on March 28 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Dr. The board normally meets on the second Tuesday each month. For information, phone 488-4603.

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Triview Metropolitan District, February 22: Voters will see "de-Brucing" ballot issue in May

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Triview Metro District board of directors held their monthly board meeting on Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. Board members Joe Martin and Chuck Burns were absent. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn was in attendance, as were Mike Wermuth, representing the Kingswood subdivision (adjacent to Promontory Pointe); Ray Marshall, representing Landco, the developer for Promontory Pointe; and Paul Howell, representing a car wash business.

May 2 election

The board noted that because of the rapid growth in the district, more tax revenues are needed to fund the construction of infrastructure. The only way to get these revenues is to override the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, which limits the amount of the money the district can retain — an action called "de-Brucing," after the amendment’s author Douglas Bruce. The board discussed its intention to include such a measure on the May 2 ballot.

District Manager Ron Simpson presented the letter from attorneys Sherman and Howard L.L.C., noting that while their fees could run as high as $8,000, they had prior experience preparing de-Brucing ballot questions and had already performed gratis work for Triview. The board voted to retain the attorneys to prepare the ballot question.

Upon the advice of their counsel, the board voted to place the question on the May 2, 2006, ballot.

Development of a concept plan for parks, trails, and open space

In response to its Feb. 13 meeting with the Town of Monument Board of Trustees regarding future development of parks, trails, and open space, the board will work with the Town to develop a three-tiered concept plan.

The first tier will provide a brief history and describe what had been done since Triview’s start-up in 1985 and will include an inventory of assets. Tier two will include what is planned in the next one to five years, including Triview’s 3-acre site at Creekside and other proposed projects. Tier three will plan for the next five to 10 years and will include a proposed regional park with trail linkages.

The plan will also outline the various responsibilities of Triview and the Town. Board President Steve Stephenson added that they would hold public meetings and include the wishes of the community in the concept plan.

The board also discussed the possibility of using shallow detention ponds for parks and the possibility of working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if areas designated for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse could be worked into their plan.

Major road contribution program

In an ongoing effort to address funding options for road improvements to Higby, Jackson Creek Parkway, and Baptist Road, the board discussed the possibility of establishing a Title 32 special road improvement district. This district would include the Promontory Pointe, the Baptist Church Camp, and Home Place Ranch developments.

A special road construction district would assess tax levies for future homeowners and businesses located in these developments until the improvements are completed and paid for. Once the improvements are funded, the district would cease to exist.

The board agreed that this would be an equitable way to fund road improvements.

Glenn added that since Higby and Baptist are county roads, El Paso County should contribute its fair share to road improvements. He added that since this is an election year, the possibility of obtaining any funding from the county is unlikely. The plan is currently at a concept stage. The board instructed the district’s attorney to continue to investigate the possibility of establishing a special district for road construction and to prepare all necessary documents for its implementation, in cooperation with the town’s attorney and staff.

Car wash to be considered for Market Place

At the December 2005 meeting, the board discussed the difficulty of supporting development of a car wash because of the quantity of water necessary to operate it. Developer Paul Howell presented a new car wash proposal for a 2.5-acre parcel in the Market Place Center. Howell noted that his company had developed many car washes along the Front Range and that he was currently working on one in Stetson Hills. The board referred to a condition of the Town that did not allow for a stand-alone car wash but noted that there was a provision for a car wash as part of an auto-service business.

Simpson questioned the disparity between the water usage figures that Howell had reported and what was currently being used in the car wash at the Shell station in the King Soopers shopping center. He noted that Howell was asking for 10 sfe’s (single family equivalents), while the Shell station was currently using 40 sfe’s, and questioned what the actual usage would be. The board discussed the possibility of granting the requested sfe’s and charging a higher percentage for any water used above the amount granted to the developer.

Stephenson asked Howell if recycled water was used in his car washes. Howell responded that it was, but that recycled water could only be used to clean undercarriages and tires, as the grit in it would damage car finishes. He added that the additional cost to install it was about $60,000 and that if the board wanted the car wash to employ this technology, then special incentives might be given to encourage its use.

Simpson noted that a car wash might work well in the Market Place because peak consumption for a car wash would be in the winter when water demand from lawn irrigation is low. Triview generally has excess water that could be committed to a car wash in the winter.

He summed up the discussion by noting that Triview would support a car wash as part of an auto service center and that the developer would have to agree to the specific amount of water to be used and be charged an excess fee for additional water. Simpson added that it was up to the center’s developer, Rick Blevins, to select a developer for a car wash.

Promontory Pointe

The board evaluated the latest version of the Promontory Pointe Sketch Plan and recommends approval to the Town. Simpson said he was pleased with the sketch plan and noted that it addressed most of the district’s issues and had more detail than what was required at the sketch-planning phase. He noted that overall density might ultimately be reduced because the developer still needed to locate the two detention ponds in the development.

In January, the board created a category for a Type III Local Collector that allowed a curb-cut standard for Ranch Point Road. Simpson noted that this new roadway category would fill the gap in the existing available classifications between minor collector and local street type II. He added that the type III roads would consist of a 60-foot right-of-way and 44 feet of pavement width, which would include two 14-foot traffic lanes with 8-foot bike lanes on each side.

Stephenson added that he was happy with the detail in the sketch plan and that the site split of 68 percent for development and 32 percent for parks, roads, and other site amenities seemed generous to him.

Kingswood resident Mike Wermuth presented a list of concerns for the Promontory Pointe development. His primary concerns were that the densities proposed along the border with Kingswood were high, that a traffic study had not been done, and that Promontory Pointe was not being held to the standards for major collector roadways as established by Triview, the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, and the County’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan.

Simpson responded that traffic studies were not required at the sketch planning phase and that the developer would submit a traffic plan as part of the site plan, which was the next phase of development. Simpson also noted that the type III roadway standards would also work for the Home Place Ranch development.

Monument Ridge

The board passed a resolution of inclusion for Monument Ridge, subject to closing on the sale of the property and transfer of ownership.

The Timbers

The board took action to recommend to the Town that the development and zoning exhibit be amended to reflect the approved plan for the Timbers and the change of zoning to PCD (Planned Commercial Development.)

Access road and bridge repairs

Chuck Ritter of Nolte Associates, the district’s engineering consultant firm, reported that Glacier Construction Company had essentially completed construction of the railroad crossing and bridge repair and that those would be operational by March 1. He reported that the signage had not been installed and noted that railroad and Triview warning signs would be installed by March 15, weather permitting.

Executive Session

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m., and the board went into executive session to consider the limitation on an ongoing condemnation issue. No action was taken.

**********

The next meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District Board will be March 22, 4 p.m., at the district office, 174 N. Washington St., Monument. The board normally meets on the fourth Wednesday each month. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Forest View Acres Water District, February 23: 2.18 million gallons lost in January

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting Feb. 23, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors pondered a mysterious 2.18 million gallon water loss during January; held further discussions on providing water service to the U.S. Forest Service fire crew training facility; learned that Kammy Tinney, Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) district manager had resigned due to personal health issues; and tabled appointment of someone to fill the board vacancy created by the resignation last month of board member John Anderson.

The board consisted of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, Brian Cross, Ketch Nowacki, and Eckehart Zimmermann, who was absent.

Administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting services for the district are provided by Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS). Deborah McCoy, president of SDMS, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. District residents who have operational or management questions or comments are to contact SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110. Attorney Paul Rufien provided legal advice.

The district has a contract water operations manager, Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, who is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.

Background

In December 2004, the board uncovered the apparent theft of funds from the district’s bank accounts. In February, a warrant was issued for the arrest of former contract office manager Patricia Unger on charges of embezzling more than $212,000 in district funds. That amount was later increased to $315,000. Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16, 2005, and was released on $50,000 bond to await a preliminary hearing. Unger rejected a negotiated mediation agreement and waived a preliminary hearing on the charges. The criminal trial is now scheduled to begin April 18, 2006. The felony charges Unger faces carry a potential sentence of 4 to 12 years.

The district has filed a civil suit against Unger and her husband, Dennis, to recover the missing funds and associated costs. The civil trial is scheduled to begin July 18, 2006. The district’s attorneys hired Sheri Betzer, a forensic auditor. According to information released by the board, Betzer estimated the total financial loss to the district at not less than $625,000.

Financial report

McCoy presented a list of claims paid through Feb. 23 totaling $12,963 that included $4,700 as a settlement payment to Henkle Drilling, $4,350 for LaFontaine’s services, $1,000 as partial payment to Betzer, and $982 paid to the Palmer Lake Sanitation District.

The net cash balance for all funds as of Jan. 31 was $18,180.

Water service to the firefighter training camp

District Ranger Brent Botts and Civil Engineer Marc Staley of the U.S. Forest Service answered questions regarding the proposal Botts submitted Feb. 1 to obtain water service for the firefighter training camp in Pike National Forest. Botts and Staley estimated 5 to 15 people reside there year-round, with a peak of about 50 people during the summer. They estimated water usage would be about 15,000 gallons per month during the winter and 35,000 during the summer.

LaFontaine said those figures represent two to five times typical residential usage. He added that they are requesting a 6-inch tap.

In the proposal, it was reported that the camp’s present well is "producing large amounts of sediment and must be replaced or eliminated."

Fire hydrants would be added in the camp, if there were adequate pressure and flow.

Botts said that to secure funding for the project, the Forest Service must have a commitment from the district to supply service and identification of applicable fees, including the tap fee, by March 10, with design requirements to be provided by March 24.

Reed-Polatty noted that the district’s residential tap fee is $12,600. If the 6-inch tap was treated as five or six residential taps, the total tap fee would be considerably more than the $10,000 tap fee estimated in Botts’ proposal.

Staley said a high tap fee would lead the Forest Service to scrap the project.

Rufien noted, "It is OK to treat commercial like residential."

LaFontaine added that there is more inspection and maintenance time required for a 6-inch tap than for a residential tap.

Reed-Polatty suggested the additional inspection and maintenance time could be billed at $75 per hour to cover LaFontaine’s services.

McCoy noted that the monthly debt service fee does not apply since the Forest Service would not be in the district. She added that the district could charge an out-of-district service fee. She suggested the district look at the fees charged by other districts to determine what fees to charge.

She said that providing water service to the camp would be a general benefit to the community.

The Forest Service representatives suggested the district could use meeting facilities at the camp.

Nowacki asked LaFontaine if the district has the water needed to supply the camp.

LaFontaine replied that the district does have sufficient water but has a history of breakdowns.

District resident Richard Crocker noted that if the district approves this proposal, it might have large implications for future infrastructure needs such as additional storage capacity.

The board agreed to determine the applicable fees.

LaFontaine was asked to estimate the cost of inspections.

District suffers "startling" water loss

LaFontaine reported that starting about Jan. 5, the district started to use significantly more water than usual.

During January, the district’s surface plant produced 2.58 million gallons, averaging 58.1 gallons per minute over 30.8 days. The district’s well produced 1.31 million gallons during 8.5 days of operation, averaging 107.8 gallons per minute. The net monthly production was 3.6 million gallons.

Water sales for January totaled 1.34 million gallons.

LaFontaine calculated the net loss from the system during January was a "startling" 2.18 million gallons, or 163 percent of sales. He noted that a leak was found and fixed in Sandstone Drive but that leak would not, by itself, account for the entire water loss. He said additional leaks had not yet been found despite repeated inspection of the locations of the district’s water mains.

LaFontaine’s contract extended

The board unanimously approved LaFontaine continuing to work on a month-to-month basis under the terms and conditions of the current contract until both sides approve the new contract.

Red Rock Reserve status

Reed-Polatty reported that the El Paso County Planning Commission recommended approval of the Red Rock Reserve final plat at its Feb. 14 meeting. Rufien said the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners must hold a hearing on the final plat within 30 days.

Executive session

Rufien requested an executive session to advise the board on legal matters.

May election canceled Feb. 28

OCN has learned that the May election for board members was canceled on Feb. 28 because the district received four applicants for the four open board positions. The new board of directors consists of Crocker, Nowacki, Reed-Polatty, Zimmermann, and Jeff Walker.

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The next meeting will be held March 23, 5:30 p.m., at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Those wishing to attend should check the date, time, and location by calling the SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, February 15: 2006 budget revised downward by $350,000

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 15, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board adjusted its 2006 budget to correct the $350,000 error in projected revenue that had been provided by County Assessor John Bass on Nov. 23. The El Paso County Assessor’s Office overestimated real property values in the district by $50 million in November.

Background: Board Chair Brian Ritz reviewed the reasons for the budget reduction. At the Jan. 18 board meeting, he reported that the assessor’s office had called the district on Jan. 5 to notify Wescott that a $50 million mistake was made on the assessed valuation form signed by Bass and sent to Wescott on Nov. 23. This error, an overestimation of the value of a public utility building within the district, was reported to the assessor’s office by the building’s owner. County staff did not notice the mistake.

Wescott hadn’t noticed the error because of the number of large construction projects in the industrial parks on the east side of I-25, south of Northgate Road, that are part of Wescott’s rapidly growing jurisdiction.

In December, Wescott submitted its mill levy certification form to the county and its 2006 budget and appropriation to the state. (Wescott’s property tax is 7 mills.) Each was based on the county’s valuation. After being notified by telephone of the error, the district had to prepare an amended budget for 2006 and submit it to the state.

Ritz proposed the budget amendment that included two changes: a reduction of $150,000 for capital expenditures during 2006, dropping the initial budget of $250,000 to $100,000; and a reduction of $200,000 in the planned cash reserve for the end of the year, which will now be $276,000. The board unanimously approved his suggestion. These new figures will be incorporated in the first amendment submitted to the state.

Treasurer’s report

Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz reported that a new line had been added to the report that separated firefighter expendable items—gloves and the like—from fuel expenses within the operational equipment and supplies category. Chief Jeff Edwards had requested the separation, to allow him to more closely manage equipment purchases.

The district will still be able to purchase an $85,000 air pack trailer to refill firefighter air bottles at fire scenes due to a grant of $60,000, even though the capital budget had to be reduced. The trailer purchase decision was unanimously approved.

The board reviewed the previous capital purchases of an all-terrain vehicle and carrier for wildland and brush fires, plus new bunker equipment racks, noting they had been completed within the new $100,000 capital budget limit.

The board unanimously approved a letter of intent to renew the existing audit contract for another year.

Chief’s report

Edwards reported that the bunker gear racks are installed and in use. He also noted that training of instructors for ATV operations by the manufacturer and drafting of staff operating procedures for the vehicle are already under way, to meet insurance and liability requirements. The board concurred with Edwards and Ritz’s proposal to require full coverage helmets for wildland fires and open-face helmets for other emergencies, along with gloves and eye protection at all times.

Edwards also reported that nine firefighters had just completed ice rescue training, bringing the total to 11. One additional firefighter has completed hazardous materials training. Captain Mike Whiting had just completed one module of the National Fire Association’s new Chief Officer certification in Durango. The company officers have completed Instructor I training, and more firefighters are scheduled for the course as well.

Edwards reported that the new computer consultant was making substantial progress in updating the district’s Web site.

The district will be offering fire prevention education courses at all five schools within the district.

Volunteer firefighter Mike Forsyth has been appointed Health and Wellness Officer. He has degrees and job experience in sports medicine and management.

Wescott, Black Forest, and Falcon fire districts will jointly adopt the new 2003 International Fire Codes to align themselves with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. All will adopt a standard schedule of inspection fees for new construction to recoup costs, and also will adopt the International Building Code to align themselves with the change by the Regional Building Department.

Captain Whiting gave a PowerPoint presentation on the reporting options available to the board using new data collection software. Whiting has taken extensive training on the new National Fire Incident Reporting System. He showed the board how the database could be used for more in-depth and focused analysis as well as more efficient and effective management of volunteers based on how the amount and type of dispatches vary throughout the week and the seasons of the year.

Whiting also showed that the new AMR ambulance dispatching policy has been very effective in increasing Wescott’s availability within the district, as promised.

Run report

Whiting reported that the district made 101 runs in January, the same as last year. The calls consisted of 47 medical, 3 traffic accident, 8 automatic alarm, 2 hazardous materials, 2 good intent false, 3 public assist, 1 carbon monoxide alarm, 1 rescue, and 30 AMR ambulance calls, plus 4 mutual aid calls (1 structure fire, 1 vehicle fire, 1 brush fire, and 1 good intent false). There were no firefighter injuries.

The board went into executive session at 8:17 p.m. to discuss negotiation matters. There were no announcements at the end of the session before the board adjourned.

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The next meeting will be held on March 15 at Station 1, 15425 Gleneagle Dr. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, February 22: Board pursues sale of trouble-prone ladder truck, gets update on potential Jackson Creek fire station

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors held a meeting Feb. 22 preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board meeting. All five directors—Rick Barnes, Keith Duncan, John Hartling, John Hildebrandt, and President Charlie Pocock—were present.

Financial report

Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that as of the end of January, the district’s expenses were 6.64 percent of the year’s budget, 1.7 percent less than the 8.33 percent expected at the end of January.

Hildebrandt said the district’s auditor, Kimberley Higgins of Gordon Hughes & Banks, suggested the fire authority contract with accounting consultant Paul Glick for creation of a set of financial report templates for the authority and for preparation of a Management Discussion and Analysis section for inclusion in the 2005 audit.

Based on difficulties obtaining a line of credit for the authority, Hildebrandt recommended the district and fire authority transfer their accounts from Peoples National Bank to Wells Fargo Bank.

The consensus of the board was that decisions on using Glick and transferring the accounts be delegated to Hildebrandt and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Treasurer Bob Hansen.

Ladder truck update

Hildebrandt noted that the Tri-Lakes district’s LaFrance ladder truck (#2231) was purchased several years ago for $406,000. He said that was $50,000 to $60,000 below the going price at the time.

Chief Robert Denboske said the body, truck, and ladder were produced by different companies as a demonstration project. He added that getting the various problems fixed "has been a finger-pointing contest."

Denboske presented a comparison of the specifications of the LaFrance ladder truck and the Woodmoor/Monument district’s Pierce ladder truck (#2233). He said the ladder on the Pierce truck has a maximum load of 250 pounds, whereas the ladder on the LaFrance has a maximum load of 500 pounds. The pump on the LaFrance is rated for 1,750 gallons per minute, while the pump on the Pierce is rated for 1,250 gallons per minute.

Despite the greater capability of the LaFrance ladder truck, the consensus of the board was that due to the history of numerous problems with the hydraulic and electrical systems on the truck, the chief should continue to pursue its sale. Denboske said, "Three people are working on trying to sell it."

Jackson Creek fire station update

Barnes, president of Barnes Architects, reported that he held several meetings with Rick Blevins, director of development for Jackson Creek developer Vision Development. Barnes noted that various access agreements and other paperwork issues are being addressed. He added that the parcel, which is near the Monument Marketplace, is not a choice piece of property because it is next to Mountain View Electric’s substation, but it has good access to Jackson Creek Parkway.

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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 March 22, at 7 p.m., 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 Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board, February 22: Scouts learn about the fire district

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Below: Woodmoor/Monument FPD board members Bob Hansen, Tim Miller, and Bill Ingram discussed the fire district with scouts from Troop 8.

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Below: Captain Greg Levato gave the scouts a tour of Station 1 (shown here in the apparatus bay). Photos by John Heiser

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By Susan Hindman

The meeting room was unusually full when the fire district’s board of directors convened on Feb. 22. More than a dozen members of Monument Boy Scout Troop 8, chartered by St. Mathias Episcopal Church, along with leaders and other adults with the group, attended as part of the requirements of a merit badge the boys are working on. They were invited to introduce themselves and lead the Pledge of Allegiance after the meeting was called to order.

Later in the meeting, Treasurer Bob Hansen made a motion that all future district meetings begin with the pledge. The motion passed 3-0. Directors Si Sibell and Rod Wilson were absent.

There was little scheduled on the agenda, but directors took an opportunity to explain to the Scouts how the fire district and the meetings worked. Based on numerous questions, discussion ranged from the reason for signing in if you want to speak at meetings to the history and benefits of the formation of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority.

Before giving his financial report, Hansen explained where the funds come from and what it takes to run the department. This month, he said, there is nothing but expenses to report for now, as no income from tax revenues will be collected until March.

While technically, 8.33 percent of the budget should be spent monthly, in January the district spent 9.6 percent of its budget. The increase was due to two factors: higher administrative expenses, caused by the district paying all of its liability insurance up front; and higher part-time expenses. Hansen said the latter will level off because of the seven new firefighters hired recently. Everything else, he said, is in line.

In the district’s three bank accounts, there is $10,375 in one People’s National Bank account, $17,193 in another, and $522,890 in the Colo Trust account. This money will be used to pay the bills until tax revenues start coming in.

With nothing else on the agenda, the board took questions from the audience.

In response to a question about the possibility of getting more ambulances, Hansen said the goal is to eventually have an ambulance at the Woodmoor station, "but the funding is not there yet." Currently, the district is served by the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District ambulance. Director Bill Ingram said that fire trucks are dispatched with a paramedic onboard who can handle an emergency until the ambulance arrives.

A question was asked about whether there will be a new station in Jackson Creek. Capt. Greg Lovato said that property near Leather Chaps and Jackson Creek Parkway has "possibly" been allocated for a station in the future, but it’s all several years away. "We have to bulk up our personnel" in order to be able to staff it, he said.

The district’s relationship to the Fire Authority—logistically and financially—was discussed. Hansen stressed that after paying its portion to the Fire Authority (which is about one-third of Tri-Lakes’ amount), Woodmoor’s money stays in the district, for upgrades and other things the station needs.

Ingram concluded, "We’re a year and a month into it, and it keeps getting better."

Before the meeting ended and the scouts were given a tour of the station, Blake McKinley, a senior patrol leader, thanked the Woodmoor fire department for allowing the troop to hold its Christmas tree recycle fund-raiser at the station’s lot over the holidays.

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The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., preceding the meeting of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority. The next meeting is scheduled for March 22 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, February 22: Board considers consolidated 2006 audit

By John Heiser

On Feb. 23, following the separate meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the two boards met jointly as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board. All board members were present except Woodmoor/Monument directors Si Sibell and Rod Wilson.

Financial report

Fire authority Treasurer John Hildebrandt distributed copies of a financial report covering the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/Monument district and the resulting financial status of the fire authority through the end of January. He noted that at the end of January, revenue and expenses would be expected to be at one-twelfth (8.33 percent) of the annual budgets. Some highlights:

  • The authority has received $11,094 in specific ownership taxes, 6.1 percent of the anticipated $342,626 for the year.

  • The authority received ambulance revenues totaling $22,238, or 6.4 percent of the anticipated $350,000 for the year.

  • Expenses for January totaled $251,481, or 7.8 percent of the $3.2 million annual budget. Salary expense was the largest portion at $137,313, which is 7.3 percent of the $1.9 million annual salary budget. The seven new employees hired under the SAFER grant started work Feb. 1.

Audit discussion

Hildebrandt noted that the new auditors came out last week. He characterized their work as "thorough."

He added that the district’s auditor, Kimberley Higgins of Gordon Hughes & Banks, suggested the fire authority contract with accounting consultant Paul Glick to create a set of financial report templates for the authority and to prepare a Management Discussion and Analysis section for inclusion in the 2005 audit.

Hildebrandt reported that Higgins contacted the state and confirmed that, for 2006, an audit of the fire authority would be sufficient in lieu of individual audits of the two districts. He noted that, from the standpoint of the consolidated audit, the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument districts would be treated as departments within the fire authority.

Woodmoor/Monument director Tim Miller asked, "Will this be perceived as going too far down the road to merger?"

Woodmoor/Monument treasurer Bob Hansen asked, "Can I account to the taxpayers for my budget?"

Bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer replied that the accounting system could still produce that information and the bank accounts would still be on the district books.

Hansen said, "I’m satisfied."

Run report

Based on the fire authority’s written report covering operations through the end of January:

  • The fire authority responded to 140 calls during January. The 140 calls consisted of 73 medical, 26 fires or fire alarms, 31 traffic accidents, 7 public assists, and 3 calls involving hazardous materials.

  • Vehicle trips totaled 319 in responding to the calls, with an average of 2.28 vehicles responding to each call.

  • During January, 64 people were transported to local hospitals.

  • For January, Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 73 calls, Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 15 calls, and Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 51 calls.

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The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board holds regular monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday following the 7 p.m. meetings of the Tri-Lakes district board and Woodmoor/Monument district board at the Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be March 22.

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, February 10: Private financing of interchange improvements approved

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Below: BRRTA meeting Feb. 10. In the foreground is District Manager Conner Shepherd. This was Shepherd’s last meeting. To his left is attorney Jim Hunsacker, Monument representatives Byron Glenn and David Mertz and County Commissioners Dennis Hisey and Wayne Williams. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 10, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board approved a public improvement fee plan (PIF) as a method to privately finance improvements to the Baptist Road I-25 interchange (Exit 158). BRRTA will sell about $16 million in transportation bonds to provide the capital for improvements rather than wait for the state to have funding available. The PIF will raise revenue to pay the interest on the private BRRTA bonds until the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) can pay off the bond principal when funding becomes available. The exact amount of the PIF has not been determined; it can be up to 1 percent.

Election of officers

Outgoing BRRTA Chair, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, noted that this was the first meeting for 2006 and time for election of new board officers. The chair position traditionally rotates annually between the county commissioner for the BRRTA area and the mayor of Monument.

The following appointments were each unanimously approved: County Commissioner Wayne Williams, chair; Monument Trustee Dave Mertz, vice chair; and Commissioner Dennis Hisey, secretary-treasurer. Glenn and Commissioner Jim Bensberg were unanimously approved as assistant secretary-treasurers.

Financial matters

District Manager Conner Shepherd gave his last report to BRRTA; he has since left R.S. Wells, LLC to take a position with another employer.

The board unanimously approved all four invoices that had been submitted since the last meeting on Dec. 9. There were two end-of-year payments of $1,969.71 to Grimshaw and Harring for legal services and $4,276.90 to R.S. Wells, LLC for district management, a total of $6,246.61. Also approved was the payment of $19,265.77 to Grimshaw and Harring for January. BRRTA Attorney Jim Hunsaker said the amount was higher than normal because it included general representation work by his firm since August that had inadvertently not been billed on a monthly basis. All other legal work for specific right-of-way acquisitions has been itemized and billed monthly. The January payment to R.S. Wells, LLC was $3,037.55, for a January total of $22,303.32.

The total end-of-year BRRTA fund balance was listed as $206,821. Shepherd also reported that the total engineering investment was $523,539 for a total of $730,360 in assets. However, Shepherd said this figure had not been reduced by the two end-of-year payments of $6,246.61 just approved. The adjusted end-of-year fund balance is $200,574.

He also reported that Wal-Mart had just submitted a traffic impact fee check to the Town of Monument for approximately $252,000; the total Monument payment will be $274,000. Total 2005 revenues were $131,114 and total expenditures were $250,223.

Shepherd noted that legal fees were higher than anticipated in 2005. This was partly due to unexpected legal work required for coordinating agreements with the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA). In addition, the board chose to complete all engineering work for improvements from Jackson Creek Parkway east past Desiree before construction, rather than in phases, which increased the engineering expenses for 2005 above budget. The board unanimously approved the pre-audit end-of-year financial report.

Engineering report

Project Managers Andre Brackin of the El Paso County Department of Transportation (EPCDOT) reported that the pre-bid meeting for the construction contract would be held on Feb. 17 with bids due by Feb. 28. The current schedule shows that the construction contract will be approved by a vote of the county commissioners on April 3 and the PPRTA board on April 12. The extension of the PBS&J engineering contract for construction management is also scheduled for final approval on April 12.

Work on Baptist Road should start by the end of April; work on Struthers Road cannot begin until late November due to Preble’s mouse hibernation restrictions. Some Struthers Road work must be concluded by April 30, 2007–the end of the "mouse hibernation" construction window–which increases that portion of the cost. Both portions are covered by the single construction contract, even though BRRTA and PPRTA are responsible for Baptist, while the county and PPRTA are responsible for Struthers. Brackin added that most of the additional costs would be for earth work rather than asphalt and concrete. Steve Sandvik of PBS&J said that curb, gutter, and paving will be done after April 30, 2007, because they won’t disturb the mouse habitat.

John McCarty, Director of EPCDOT, asked for guidance on how BRRTA and PPRTA would pay outstanding PBS&J invoices for various portions of its engineering design contract. BRRTA is primarily responsible for engineering while PPRTA is responsible for construction. However, PPRTA has paid for engineering and right-of-way acquisition costs for several months due to BRRTA cash flow shortfalls. He asked to whom he should submit invoices now that BRRTA appears to have the additional $274,000 from Monument that Shepherd had just reported. McCarty also expressed concerns about cost overruns that may come up before the next BRRTA board meeting.

Shepherd said he learned of the $274,000 payment to BRRTA just an hour before this meeting. He and Glenn suggested that PPRTA continue to pay all bills for engineering for now to avoid further delays in payments to PBS&J and that firm’s subcontractors. PBS&J had not been paid on major portions of its contract for seven months until PPRTA made some of BRRTA’s payments. PBS&J subcontractors have had to take out letters of credit to make payroll payments because BRRTA could not pay. Williams said that the PPRTA payments to date would not cause a PPRTA overrun and BRRTA will promptly reimburse them within a month or two once all the large checks comprising the $274,000 impact fee payment have cleared.

Blain Zenor of Wilson & Co reported that there remain six tracts of right-of-way that have not been settled. Most should be resolved by the next meeting, though one may require eminent domain action. Strategies for this action were later discussed in executive session.

Planning developments

Monument Town Manager Cathy Green reported on commercial development plans along Jackson Creek Parkway. Wal-Mart and Kohl’s should be completed before the end of 2006. Chili’s should open in March along with four other Monument Marketplace retail bays. Culver’s, and Village Inn will be submitting plans by the end of March. Construction has been approved for Remington Hills, Filing 5, and Carriage Point West in Jackson Creek. Promontory Point was annexed on Feb. 6. Home Place Ranch is scheduled for a Planning Commission annexation hearing on March 8. Williams reported that there are no county developments that would affect BRRTA at this time since all developers within BRRTA were "seeking annexation into the town."

The board held a formal vote to re-confirm the votes on 37 inclusions that occurred on Dec. 9. All the votes were 4-0-1 with Bensberg abstaining due to not having listened to the tapes of the Dec. 9 meeting. Hisey confirmed he had listened to the tapes of that meeting and had read all related documents. At least four votes were required by statute for each inclusion resolution.

Glenn reported that developers annexing into Monument had agreed to provide traffic impact fee support for widening Higby Road from Gleneagle Drive to Jackson Creek Parkway. He withdrew his proposal that BRRTA also finance Higby improvements.

BRRTA manager’s report

Bob Banks of R.S. Wells reported that he had selected Denise Denslow to take over as manager. The board unanimously approved a resolution commending Shepherd for all the work he had done as manager since the creation of BRRTA.

Shepherd recommended an internal audit to make sure all road use fees had been properly collected, booked, and transferred to BRRTA due to two entities collecting them. He said there had been no remittances to BRRTA "from the county in quite some time." He added that the cost of the internal audit would be around $4,000. Williams asked that the item be added to the next meeting’s agenda.

Shepherd said that an absorption study for the PIF would remain a high interest item for the commercial businesses that would be asked to charge it on taxable sales. He said a complete buildout study would help assure everyone that the fee had been properly set to pay all the interest and fees required to privately finance the interchange until CDOT paid off the construction bond principal. He suggested that King & Associates perform the absorption study to validate his initial proposal to revise the traffic impact fee upwards to cover all remaining costs. Impact fees have not increased since BRRTA was created in 1997 and are now insufficient. The board unanimously approved $23,000 for the absorption study.

PIF approved

Glenn said that the private financing of the Baptist Road interchange was crucial to the town’s development. Glenn cited the example of the Castle Pines Parkway interchange that was privately financed to be built ahead of the CDOT financing schedule. Donations of all interchange right-of-way has allowed the plan to move forward a year sooner than would otherwise be possible. The cost of the interchange is currently estimated to be about $16.4 million, but other savings may be available if the construction can begin as soon as possible. An example he cited was the avoidance of a supervisory fee of about $3 million to CDOT if the interchange is privately built.

Williams said it wasn’t listed in the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) Six-Year Plan and that BRRTA was authorized by the election that created it to issue construction bonds. The other board members individually expressed their support for the PIF. CDOT has said it is willing to cooperate and add the interchange to its six-year plans due to the expected saving from private immediate construction. PPACG has also said it will add the interchange to its near-term construction plan due to planned savings, if the PIF is approved and all right-of-way is donated.

The PIF will be between 0.5 and 1.0 percent, based on the results of the absorption study. In the unlikely event that CDOT does not pay off the principal, the PIF will pay them off within 20 years. A PIF of 0.5 percent would produce about $12.4 million.

During public comment, Jerry Novak of Classic Homes expressed his support of the PIF plan and the coordination to expedite construction between BRRTA, PPRTA, PPACG, EPCDOT, and CDOT as well as all the developers and business owners within BRRTA. He suggested getting a contract from CDOT that clearly defines required environmental regulatory costs. Williams said that CDOT had already conducted an environmental review. Williams added that the Interquest and Briargate interchanges had also been privately financed.

Kingswood resident Mike Wermuth suggested an economic impact study regarding the bonds. Williams said that this would be part of the bond issue process.

After further discussion, the board unanimously approved a complicated motion assigning responsibilities for financing and construction of the Baptist Road interchange. The motion directs BRRTA staff to commence negotiations with all participants in the Baptist Road interchange financing via construction bonds. The motion also included a statement that BRRTA is responsible for negotiating all contractual agreements and administration for the PIF, but only if the PIF has been shown to be economically feasible. Feasibility includes paying off the bonds in twenty years and being able to raise enough money to build the interchange within the 1 percent upper limit on the PIF rate. Another part of the motion stated that CDOT is responsible for constructing the interchange.

The board also unanimously approved a separate motion directing the BRRTA staff to promptly execute the contracts with Piper-Jaffrey Investments that are required for issuing bonds, with a condition that recognizes that CDOT is subject to variations in its year-to-year appropriations for capital construction. The condition acknowledges that it is not clear what year CDOT will pay off the bond capital. Piper-Jaffrey Managing Director Linda Clark said that the firm’s standard construction bond contract requires no fee from BRRTA unless the bonds are issued. Hunsaker asked that the motion also require that Piper-Jaffrey’s contract specify that BRRTA will pay no fee if the proposal is canceled with or without cause. Clark agreed to the condition as well. She also confirmed that the rate for the PIF would pay off the bonds in twenty years if CDOT did not pay the principal.

Williams noted that this private financing of an interchange was the most complicated of all compared to all others to date, which were typically performed by a single developer that already owned all the affected land.

McCarty asked the board for direction on how to proceed on sound barriers along Baptist Road between Gleneagle Drive and Leather Chaps Drive. Gary Frith of the Gleneagle HOA supported the sound barrier wall as a safety wall. The board approved the sound barrier 4-0-1 with Mertz abstaining.

The board went into executive session at 4:15 p.m. No announcements were made or actions taken before adjournment.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Apr. 14 at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. BRRTA meetings are normally held bi-monthly on the second Friday of even-numbered months. The location alternates between Town Hall and the County Commissioners’ hearing room in downtown Colorado Springs.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, February 16: Bond issue on the horizon?

By Tommie Plank

The Board of Education discussed the scope of a second high school and other capital needs within the district, with the goal of writing a bond issue question for the November 2006 election. The district’s debt limit will allow improvements to current facilities, in addition to construction of a second high school. A Capital Improvement Program to review and upgrade district facilities was presented.

The Board passed a resolution stating that the percentage of students in District 38 attending Monument Academy is 12.49 percent, which is above the 8.69 percent required by the state for automatic renewal of exclusive chartering authority. With this information in hand, District 38 will petition the State Board of Education to allow the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education to maintain its status as the exclusive chartering authority of the sole district charter school.

The Board approved new appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund in order to get a "jump start" on remodeling and modifications for a preschool program at Kilmer Elementary School, to expand the existing "pod" classrooms at Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS), and to replace LPHS gymnasium bleachers. The plan is for these projects to be completed in time for school next fall. The unplanned expenditure will be paid back to the fund in next year’s budget.

The five district elementary schools and both district middle schools will accept out-of-district open-enrollment applications for the 2006-07 school year, subject to principal approval. Lewis-Palmer High School will remain closed to out-of-district open enrollment for the 2006-07 school year.

The Board approved the employment of Aileen Dickey as principal of Prairie Winds Elementary School for the 2006-07 school year.

LPHS Student Council President Monica Mueller discussed many projects at the high school, as well as the organization’s budget and constitution. Cameron Barton and Haley Jensen discussed the El Pomar Youth in Community Service (EPYICS) Club. After the club raises $500, El Pomar will grant $7,500. The EPYICS Club is responsible for dispersing the grant money.

Bob Leise, Grand Knight of St. Peter’s Council of the Knights of Columbus, presented a check in the amount of $2,506 to the district’s special education program. Over the past 10 years, the Knights of Columbus has raised almost $20,000 by selling Tootsie Rolls for the special needs of District 38 students with disabilities. In return, Leise was awarded a commendation certificate for the Knights of Columbus in appreciation of the group’s generous support of D-38 students.

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Late Breaking News: Pomarico named Superintendent

March 2: Just as OCN was going to press, the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education announced that it has named Michael G. Pomarico, Ed.D., as the new superintendent for District 38, following the retirement of Mr. Dilley. The Board has extended a three-year contract, effective July 1, 2006, to Dr. Pomarico, and he has accepted.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38, February 22: Options 38 program offers alternatives

The new Options 38 program will be offered next year for students who are not succeeding in the traditional high school program offered at Lewis-Palmer. More than 200 people attended a presentation about the program on Feb. 22.

Options 38 is an alternative program to the traditional education model now offered by District 38 that will allow sophomores, juniors, and seniors to fulfill their graduation requirements within a different format and structure from the traditional setting. The school day will start and end later, students will take the same number of credits but classes will be taught in six-week intervals.

Students can earn credits in a variety of ways. Some of those include real-life learning, job shadowing, on-line learning, independent study, and whole-group learning. Special emphasis is placed on encouraging students to plan for their future.

A number of community organizations and professionals are working with District 38 to develop the Options 38 program and have already committed to serve as mentors to students. While this program is new to District 38, it is modeled after existing schools that have a track record of success. It would allow students a variety of learning options, including taking college classes, vocational training, and outdoor learning.

The staff will work individually with students to establish a plan that is tailored to their distinctive skill levels, interests, and educational needs to ensure a measure of success.

For more information, call Lewis-Palmer Assistant Principal Lori Wagner at 488-4720 or e-mail her at Lwagner@lewispalmer.org.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, February 14, 21, and 28: Revised Land Development Code and two local projects approved

By Steve Sery

There were three meetings this month. Much of the time was devoted to the Land Development Code revision. It is a painstaking, but necessary process to review section by subsection by sub-subsection, etc. After spending about 20 hours of meeting time, the Planning Commission recommended approval to the Board of County Commissioners.

The revision will probably be reviewed by the commissioners in April. However, if the board approves the revision, it cannot be implemented until the associated procedures manual is completed. Development of the manual has not begun. Implementation is not expected until the latter part of the year.

The only public input at the three hearings was presented by the Black Forest Land Use Committee and Protect Our Wells. Commissioners felt the two groups were helpful in working through the process, and there was substantial opportunity for county residents to participate.

Tri-Lakes area projects approved

There were two Tri-Lakes area land use items. Both were on the consent calendar, so there was little discussion. Both items were approved unanimously.

Crossroads at Monument: This is a 3-lot commercial subdivision on 3.7 acres at Highway 105, Woodmoor Drive, and Lake Woodmoor Drive. The only concern was over the placement of a traffic signal at Woodmoor Drive and Lake Woodmoor Drive, less than 300 feet north of the Woodmoor Drive/Highway 105 traffic light. The county’s Department of Transportation has promised to coordinate the timing of these signals to avoid traffic snarls.

Red Rock Reserve Development: The 67-acre property is located west of Highway 105 and Red Rock Ranch Road. It is zoned RR-2 (2½-acre lots) and will include 23 single-family lots. There was no discussion since the proposal fit the existing zoning and water was provided by the Forest View Acres Water District.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, February 1: Hans Post elected president

By Chris Pollard

As requested at the previous regular meeting by Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board member Bill Walters, the board held a brief special meeting to elect members to the various open positions.

Two members—Hans Post, previously director of Public Safety, and George McFadden, previously board secretary—announced their intention to run for president of the board. Jim Woodman, director of Forestry, had prepared a list of questions for the candidates regarding their thoughts on the direction of the WIA.

Post, in his response, said that he wanted to be an impartial president who worked to enable other board members’ jobs. He felt that his major duties were to implement the covenants and the budget. He wanted to be flexible and ensure good communications with residents through town meetings and newsletters. He favored promoting community by encouraging use of the common areas and holding community events but realized that this requires volunteer help.

Post said that he wanted to be proactive on things that affect people’s property values, perhaps including roads and development outside of Woodmoor. He felt that while the WIA may not be able to control this development, it does need to influence the progress and work with neighboring communities. He said that although he had plenty of time available to support the demands of the position, he wanted shorter meetings. In response to concerns over the recent concentration of effort spent on South Woodmoor issues, he said that he felt the time spent on these was necessary.

George McFadden said that he had experience as president of another homeowners association. He felt the president should not set the WIA agenda and that the meetings should never go over two hours. He felt that, at times, directors should give brief reports at the meeting to inform other members of what is going on.

In contrast to Post, McFadden felt that the purpose of the WIA is to take care of Woodmoor issues. The increased focus on South Woodmoor issues was reasonable, but he doesn’t believe that the board should be so involved with outside issues. He said the board should, however, inform residents of what is going on and suggested that there be more humor in the newsletter.

He was interested in the position because he is a "Type A" person and likes being involved. He would like to see board meetings held every other month rather than monthly. He said that he was undecided on whether the Woodmoor Barn should be kept for future use. He stated that all boards give bad impressions at times but felt that the board’s recent work in lowering initial fines and changing the wording on covenant warning notices was a step in the right direction.

Alan McMullen, director of Common Areas, said that he hoped whoever was elected would reach a point of focus on external matters but would concentrate more on things that would benefit Woodmoor residents. He felt the board meetings concentrated too much on "the squeaky wheels" and that more social events would provide a better avenue for communication with residents. He said there needed to be a resource and focus shift with a positive change for the community.

Post was elected president by a majority vote.

Prior to the selection of a vice president, Treasurer Betty Hutchinson said that she felt more needed to be done to promote social occasions, whether quarterly or bimonthly, and that perhaps the vice-president should have that responsibility. Woodman agreed, noting that the board had never really defined the role of vice president but it could include some PR work.

Bill Walters, the sole nominee, was elected vice president by acclamation.

McFadden expressed interest in the director of Covenants position and was subsequently appointed by acclamation.

Post then appointed Brian Osterholt as director of Public Safety. Osterholt is a new board member with experience in working with police departments and insurance claims. Terry Holmes, another new board member, with significant management experience was appointed board secretary.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Annual Meeting, February 15: Woodmoor Water and Sanitation seeks well location

By Chris Pollard

The first major item of business at the February meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board was a presentation from the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Representatives from the district included District Engineer Jessie Shaffer, District Manager Phil Steininger, and board members Benny Nasser and Elizabeth Hacker. Shaffer said that the water district was making a request to purchase a piece of property in South Woodmoor at the east end of Scrub Oak Way. He added that the 60-foot by 150-foot lot was originally owned by the old Woodmoor Corporation and later deeded to the WIA. Woodmoor Sanitation would like to drill a well there into the Arapahoe aquifer. Their geologist recommended this location because the sands are more transmissive in that southeastern area. It was also furthest away from other districts’ wells and at the same time near an area where the most new construction would occur.

Steininger said that the district had surveyed several possible lots but had not been successful in negotiating with any of the owners.

Shaffer then explained what would happen in the construction phase of the well. The plan is to drill 2,500 feet into the third deepest aquifer, the Arapahoe, which normally has the best quality and quantity of water.. The actual drilling process would involve a drilling rig with generators and compressors. This, the noisiest part of the work, would take three to four weeks. Next would be construction of a well house and transmission pipeline to the district’s centralized water treatment plant. Because of the limited size of the lot the district might need to provide for a staging area for pipe in the vicinity. They had looked at an adjacent lot but found it was unsuitable because it was rocky and had steep access grades. After drilling is finished the district would build a small well house approximately 10 feet square.

Alan McMullen, Director of Common Areas, raised the issue of clay and mud from the drilling operation, as he had previously seen containment problems. Shaffer said the mud and clay should be put into a mud pit. George McFadden, Director of Covenants, asked about the extent and noise of the drilling operations. It was explained that the operation would run 24 hours a day to complete it in one continuous run rather than extend it out over time. Steininger said that the district had only received one complaint about pump noise from a well house. When asked about rehabilitation, the response was that all required measures would be taken to control runoff from the site with silt fences. They would try to preserve the larger trees at the front of the lot and restore the disturbed area to a natural state. Steininger added that an extra benefit of putting the well on this particular lot would be that it would prevent the construction of an extension of the cul-de-sac into any potential developments to the east.

Hans Post, President, asked why the well was needed. Steininger responded by saying that the old wells were not yielding as well as they used to and the district needed to add further capacity. Also, the district had previously purchased property from the WIA and was familiar with how the transaction would take place. Post said he was concerned that there might not be enough time to inform and work with neighbors and suggested delaying the decision. Steininger said that things might be okay, but if there were three hot dry months there might be water shortages.

Bill Walters, Vice President, was concerned that the district was somewhat late in bringing the request for the purchase of the lot. Nasser replied that they had thought they had another location all worked out but the geologist had concerns about it being too close to other wells. They had been researching the issue for two years but had only come across the need to change sites in the past month and a half.

Walters and Camilla Mottl, Executive Director, suggested that the district hold an informational meeting for residents so that they could have input to help the WIA board make a decision.

Resolution on ancillary buildings tabled

The board next considered a resolution to allow the construction of one ancillary building on a suitable lot. Mike Oberle, a Woodmoor resident, spoke in opposition, adding to comments he had submitted in a letter to the board. He was opposed to allowing a separate two-car garage and was concerned with the information on the proxy form that had been given to residents. He said that his research led him to the conclusion that average household size in Woodmoor was 5 percent smaller than before, whereas the board had implied that they were growing. He asked for data to support the assertion that there were more people. He felt this was a "gigantic change to the rules" for what he considered to be a small issue. He asked that the board step back and reconsider.

Elizabeth Miller, Director of the Architectural Control Committee, said that in recent times the committee has had many requests for additional parking. Oberle said that residents still had the option of adding to the residence itself to provide more garage space. Post thought that due diligence had been done to pursue approving the issue. Jim Woodman added that he thought there were at least some checks and balances before any plans could be approved with rules for size and appearance.

A motion to approve the proposal failed to achieve a second. The board unanimously tabled the motion for a month.

Dates set for flea market and Great American Cleanup

The board decided to change the Woodmoor cleanup to June 3 and to plan for a new event, a community flea market, on May 13.

Traffic Control Progress

Post said that he wanted to arrange a meeting with the Lewis-Palmer School Board to discuss traffic issues around the high school in South Woodmoor. Post suggested that the team from the WIA should include the Director of Public Safety Brian Osterholt, Walters, and resident Jake Shirk, who is Chief of Monument Police.

On March 13 the El Paso County Commissioners will consider a request from the WIA to add stop signs on Furrow Road; Post asked interested board members to attend to support the application.

In the following week, Post announced that he had been successful in working with the County Sheriff’s Office to persuade them to begin patrols and to start issuing traffic citations in South Woodmoor over the next few months. Previously the Sheriff’s Office had only issued citations in North Woodmoor.

**********

The next meeting of the WIA board will be March 15, 7 p.m., in the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. The board now meets the third Wednesday each month. For more information, phone 488-2694 or visit www.woodmoor.org.

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February Weather Wrap

Below: February 5 - Pikes Peak shrouded in clouds as seen from near the intersection of Higby Road and Rollercoaster Road. Photo by John Heiser

By Bill Kappel

February provided quite a contrast in weather for us in the Tri-Lakes region, with record cold during the middle of the month and record warmth to end the month.

We started on a quiet and mild note, with highs reaching the upper 40s and low 50s on the 1st. However, some seasonal conditions moved in as a series of weak systems slid by in a quick, northwesterly flow. Snow developed during the afternoon of the 2nd, with a trace to an inch accumulating across the area. High temperatures held in the mid to upper 30s for the rest of the week and into Super Bowl weekend, under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. Winds were gusty at times, but once again we were dry for the most part.

The mild, dry conditions continued into the week of the 6th, with highs moving from the upper 30s to the mid 50s. But this was about to change dramatically. An Arctic air mass pushed into the region during the early afternoon of the 9th. Temperatures had reached the low 50s early in the day, but dropped to the 30s during the afternoon as clouds lowered and thickened. Snow began to fall during the mid-evening hours and continued into the next day.

Temperatures continued falling through the 10th, with the high of 15°F reached at midnight. Highs stayed in the low teens the 11th under partly cloudy skies and scattered snow showers. Once skies cleared that evening, temperatures fell quickly. The fresh snow cover, cold air mass, light winds, and long February night led to extreme radiational cooling. This allowed temperatures to drop well below zero in most areas. But this was just a quick taste of more cold air to come.

One of the strongest Arctic air masses to move into the region was about to make a rush on the Tri-Lakes area. This cold air mass came straight from northern Canada and brought some record cold with it.

The first wave of this cold air moved in on Wednesday the 15th with low clouds and fog building during the afternoon and light snow beginning to fall by evening. Highs were stuck in the mid 20s that day, which would end up being warm compared to the next few days as the heart of the cold air moved in.

Light snow and blowing snow continued to fall overnight and into Thursday morning as temperatures struggled to stay in the low teens during the afternoon. Temperatures tumbled below zero that evening before clouds moved back in and more light snow developed. Temperatures Friday were colder, with highs staying in the upper single digits to low teens and blowing snow in the morning causing lots of travel problems. Skies did clear during the afternoon, but it certainly didn’t help warm the area.

The final surge of cold air moved in on Friday afternoon and with clear skies and fresh snow cover, temperatures quickly fell to -15 to -20°F by Saturday morning. Temperatures stayed cold Saturday, not breaking out of the low teens again, but plenty of sunshine did help out. The cold air began to moderate and retreat on Sunday the 19th as highs finally broke above the freezing point during the afternoon.

The last week of the month saw a return to warm and dry conditions, with temperatures peaking well into the 60s on the last day of the month, breaking records around the region.

Remember, late December through early February are normally the driest times of the year, so it’s not unusual to see lots of sunshine this time of the year. It is more important for us to get some nice, wet spring snowstorms like in the past few years. That will really help get the growing season off to a good start.

A Look Ahead

March can be quite an active month around the Tri-Lakes area. The past few years have proved this, with record snow in 2003 and record warmth in 2004. So it will be very interesting to see what we get this year. The official monthly forecast for March 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/) is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and a greater than normal chance of below-normal precipitation.

February 2006 Weather Statistics

Average High 36.3°
Average Low 9.3°
Highest Temperature 68° on the 28th
Lowest Temperature -15° on the 18th
Monthly Precipitation 0.40"
Monthly Snowfall 9.5"
Season to Date Snow 67.1"
Season to Date Precip. 9.58"

For more detailed weather information and climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/Weather.htm.

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

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

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New Bridge on Northgate Road

Below: New six-lane bridge will eliminate S curves and will straighten Northgate Road at Struthers Road. According to Bob Yoo with Executive Consulting Engineering (ECE), the project will be finished sometime between August and October of 2006. Photo and caption by Mike Wicklund

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom  out

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Letters to Our Community

Complaint

I wanted to formally register this complaint regarding the latest hit piece masquerading as a news story covering the Catholic Church’s request for re-zoning from the Town of Monument (OCN Feb. 4, Monument Board of Trustees’ Jan. 17 meeting).

I was surprised to hear from the author, Jim Kendrick, that he had convinced your paper that the article was loosely based on the actual meeting’s content by procuring six highly biased individuals to corroborate his story, denigrating the Church. Conspicuously absent in this group of confirming sources was anyone actually participating in the meeting, or any individual that hasn’t previously attempted to de-rail any and all of the Church’s attempts over the past seven years at improving their own property. I believe the article to be anti-Church and a very poor analysis of that meeting.

In justifying his story, Mr. Kendrick informed me that his false premise that the Church has not been forthright with the Town in its building practices came straight from Commissioner (Kathy) Spence, who was not even a participant in the meeting. His assertion, that she had said specific words to that affect at a previous meeting, is also false.

I personally have tens of thousands of documents clearly showing the Church’s intent and design process of its Education Center. They did not undertake the burdensome task of various studies, reports, analyses, and the Town’s lengthy planning process just to somehow trick the Town.

Beyond the false set-up of Mr. Kendrick’s story, I find it hard to fathom that the content of the meeting could be so misrepresented, and that the actual summation of the meeting is completely inaccurate. According to my records, and those members of the Town in charge of the development process, the Church has two options. It can request a PD zone, and provide an appropriate master plan, or it can re-plat its entire property and then request the same re-zone.

I don’t presume to believe that OCN will attempt to rectify this situation, but I do hope you will not continue to distort the Church’s record, as they are a public resource and neighbor that intends to continue working closely with the Town in the future.

Brian K. Bucher, AIA, NCARB

Editor’s Note: OCN primarily focuses on reporting what is said and done at meetings. Based on extensive research, OCN has concluded that the article in the Feb. 4 issue accurately reflects what was said and done at the Jan. 17 meeting and at prior meetings.

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High Country Highlights: Spring pruning tips

By Woody Woodworth

In early spring, it’s a good idea to assess your garden to see what Mother Nature has done during the winter months and to administer first aid for any damaged plants and shrubs. Essential pruning tools include hand shears, loppers, and pruning shears. There are many types of perennials, but some general tips apply to cutting back and pruning all perennials. After trimming dead branches and leaves from perennials, clean out the debris and remove it from the garden because old leaves and dead branches may contain diseases that can infect the new shoots.

Small shrubs are very attractive to rabbits and deer, which like to munch on the branches of landscape shrubs. Wherever snow accumulates through the winter, damage from rodents can be severe. Rabbits walk on top of the snow and feed on the tips of high branches, and voles can burrow under the snow and girdle the bark off young trees. In early spring, prune shrubs only to correct any animal damage; use hand shears to cut down to outward-facing buds to encourage new outward growth. Typically spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs, mock orange, and forsythia should be pruned after they bloom; if you prune beforehand, you’ll lose some of the flowers for that season.

Ornamental grasses not only add color and texture to a garden in the summer but also add interest in the winter with their wispy, dry flower spikes and thin, golden leaves. By springtime, though, they can look worn down. Remove the old, dead foliage by shearing it fairly close to the ground before new leaves start emerging through the dead foliage. Prune them as early in the spring as possible, because if you have a warmer area around your home, such as the south side, the ground thaws and plants begin to grow earlier in the season. Be careful not to cut new leaves as you clean out the old ones.

Roses require special care because of their thorns. Always wear thick, heavy gloves when working on roses to protect your hands. All roses should be checked for winter damage, regardless of whether they’re in a snowy area or not. Use hand shears to cut their canes back to the point where there is live wood and just above an outward-facing bud. Also remove all weak, broken, and willowy stems. Nature’s signal for the appropriate time to prune roses in your area is when forsythia is in bloom.

Drastically cutting back a shrub is called coppicing. But before you do this, make sure you know a shrub’s growth habit. It works best with shrubs that flower on new wood rather than old wood and grow from spring buds, and with shrubs that are grown primarily for their beautiful foliage. Coppicing stimulates rapid growth of new shoots that produce larger, bolder foliage. The variegation in the leaves becomes more intense, and the plants produce more flowers and fruits. It also keeps the plant in bounds.

Coppicing is done in early spring, about a month before new growth emerges. Use loppers or a pruning saw, depending on the size of the stem, and cut the stems back to 5 inches above the ground. This technique can be done for many types of shrubs, including smoke bush, trumpet vine, butterfly bush, and blue mist spirea.

Using some of these pruning basics will help your plants perform at their peak by increasing foliage, stimulating blooms, and helping combat disease and insects.

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

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Dreaming of Gardening

By The Staff at Covered Treasures

It always seems that spring is so long coming to us in this beautiful part of the country. Be that as it may, it isn’t too early to think about making your garden a source of joy all year long. It won’t be long before you see the first buds poking through and the daydreams you have today turn into a beautiful display to keep you company.

Are you interested in keeping your landscaping "natural" looking? Then consider these first two books.

Grow Native–Landscaping with Native and Apt Plants of the Rocky Mountains
By S. Huddleston and M. Hussey, $16.95

This popular book is a great resource for keeping your landscaping efforts native to our region. The authors divide the book into chapters on shrubs, trees, ground covers and grasses and give basic landscape design help and watering instructions for help in identifying Xeriscape plants. Plants are introduced by scientific and common name and follow a common outline: Suggested Uses, Planting Space, Height, Water, Exposure, and Suitable Substitutes. This would be a handy book to carry along with you on that next trip to the nursery.

Rocky Mountain Garden Survival Guide
By Susan J. Tweit, $12.95

This small, pocket-sized book is full of information on gardening in the sometimes-unforgiving Front Range area. The section on weeds is quite comprehensive and easy to follow. The reader learns of some natural ways (including good, old-fashioned digging) to eradicate weeds.

If Xeriscape landscaping is your primary focus, here are some guides that will help you achieve your dreams.

Xeriscape Handbook
By Gayle Weinstein, $24.95

The author’s goal was to find ways of creating a functional, pleasing, yet easily maintained landscape that complements its natural surroundings. The book focuses on five major concepts: Growing and enjoying plants in a semi-arid to arid region; conserving natural resources in the landscape and garden; creating an awareness of the natural environment; developing a compatible alliance among the garden, landscape, and natural world; and applying the seven basic principles of Xeriscape. Both the beginner gardener and the veteran will find useful tips here.

WaterWise Landscaping with Trees, Shrubs, and Vines 
By Jim Knopf, $24.95

This volume is intended to complement The Xeriscape Flower Gardener but works well on its own as it concentrates on woody plants, with additional material on solving water problems. There are many worksheets in the book to help the reader with water usage predictions, landscape designs, and aids to help figure out the climate for your area. Both books suggest grouping possibilities for the best use of water. In our semi-arid area, any and all books on planting with water conservation in mind are useful.

It is the brave gardener who takes on growing vegetables at this altitude, but it can be done!

Vegetables
By Jim and Lois Hole, $7.95

Jim and Lois Hole’s Question and Answer Series are widely read and well received. This volume deals with vegetable gardens. The advice is practical, yet the reader learns the science behind the practicality of each answer. The first chapter deals with the basics: the soil beneath a gardener’s feet. With easy-to-understand questions and answers, this chapter helps the gardener begin with the correct foundation for a wonderful, abundant garden.

If you are looking for color for that Rocky Mountain garden, check out these two books.

Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Guide
By John Cretti, $24.99

John Cretti, a highly respected garden expert, has written two comprehensive books on gardening in the Rocky Mountains. He is a talk-show host of the weekly "Gardening with Altitude" and also has a Saturday morning spot on 630 AM KHOW. Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Guide is recently revised and much more user-friendly. The photos of each plant or flower are on the same page as the description. Besides the usual chapters on annuals, trees, and ground covers, John has chapters on natural remedies for garden pests and problems and even has a section on deer-proofing your beds.

Month-by-Month Gardening in the Rocky Mountains
By John Cretti, $19.99

Month-by-Month Gardening in the Rocky Mountains is divided by types of plants, and within each section is divided by months. Each month has sections on planning, planting, care, watering, fertilizing, and grooming and also lists problems. This easy-to-follow book will help the novice to think of a garden as a year-round project and will aid the experienced in keeping track of their progress.

It won’t be long until you can run your fingers through the dirt and create a source of beauty that will last for many months. Until next month, happy reading and dreaming!

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, February 16: The Fascinating World of Specialty Walking Sticks

Below: Mark Maloney holding the "Cheroot" cane. The cane top is a working canon. Sometimes carried by gamblers on leaving the gambling place with their winnings. A cigar (cheroot) would be used to light the canon fuse is case of an attempted robbery. Photo by Dee Kirby

By Dee Kirby

The walking stick, or cane, has a fascinating history of usefulness, ingenuity, artistic vent, and social status. Mark Maloney gave the Palmer Lake Historical Society a glimpse into the intriguing world of canes in a presentation that included some of his extensive collection.

Basically, the cane has these components: the long piece of wood called the shaft, a ferrule tip on the bottom, a handle on the top, a narrow collar to connect two different pieces of wood, and perhaps an eyelet to attach a leather strap. The cane of old is quite unlike today’s cane that we’ve come to associate with hiking, walking, or an assist for injuries.

Once the cane evolved beyond its primary use as a weapon or tool used by early man, it often symbolized prestige and power. The young King Tut had a "cane of pure gold as a badge of office." Ivan the Terrible, the first Czar of Russia used his stick with an iron spike to "literally nail a subject’s foot to the spot."

In the 16th century, canes became fashionable when King Henry VIII adopted the habit of carrying one. Maloney said that a pouncet box, containing a bit of a sponge soaked in an aromatic vinegar, topped most of Henry’s canes. The fragrance helped neutralize the foul odors of the larger cities. The ultimate in cane vanity is associated with the prime minister of Saxony, Count Bruhl, who had 300 canes to match each of his suits. Each cane had a snuff box containing a powdered tobacco.

Such double duty for canes peaked in the 19th century, which Maloney said was the "Golden Age" for canes. Canes were necessary to fashion, so sporting "gadget" canes became all the rage. Artful finesse and design concealed the true purpose of such a cane. During that era, inventors submitted some 1,500 patents for "gadget" canes’ inner workings.

After 20 years of collecting, and with 80 types of canes altogether, Maloney’s gadget canes astound. There are the obvious gadget canes with a pool cue inside, a sword, a pistol with a mechanism designed to give off one shot, even a fishing rod—but the fun is in the unexpected. Doctors, biologists, astronomers, piano tuners, railroad men, butter buyers, and land navigators kept their tools of trade in their canes. There were canes that hid a candle with matches, a hand warmer, a cup, opera glasses, a razor and shaving cream brush, an ear trumpet, an unusual tape measure that measured the size of a horse in hands, and even a musical cane with a harmonica in its shaft.

Today, canes lack social status, but Maloney hopes canes "remain an appreciated part of Americana." A special thanks to Mark Maloney, who graciously shared his written notes with me.

On March 15 at 7 p.m., with spring in the air, Jerry Dalferro will discuss "Hummingbirds, our Mischievous Neighbors: Up close and personal!"

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Peregrine Falcon

Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

March is the month some birds begin establishing territories and initiating mating behaviors. Last week we noticed our resident flicker was back establishing his territory by hammering on our chimney flue. Unfortunately for that flicker, early this morning it was taken by a raptor. The screaming of the multitudes of birds that flew to our rooftop en masse could not be ignored. Within a few days, another flicker will claim this territory. I also observed a pair of hawks putting on an aerial display recently near Spruce Mountain. So spring is in the air, at least for some birds.

Today’s column is about a remarkable bird and its recovery from the brink of extinction. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is considered the fastest bird in the sky and has fascinated humans for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were the first to record using peregrines for hunting, but there is evidence that primitive hunters prior to the Egyptians also used it. The peregrine’s docile nature and exceptional speed and power make it the favorite bird of falconers. The female peregrine is generally preferred because she is larger and more powerful than the male.

The peregrine is the ultimate hunting machine, subsisting primarily on waterfowl, songbirds, pigeons, jays, and starlings. With its large eyes, it can spot its prey from great distances. It flies above its prey, and when it is ready to strike, it cups its wings and falls into a dive called a "stoop" in which it may reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. It uses its speed and large talons to knock its prey unconscious in midair and then it circles back around so fast that it picks up its prey before it falls to the ground. It carries its prey to a nearby cliff or tree, and with its strong, curved, sharp beak, it rapidly strips off the feathers and tears chunks of flesh.

The peregrine is a beautiful, streamlined bird capable of soaring to heights of 1,500 feet. Its dark helmet-like moustache, long pointed wings, and narrow tail distinguish it from other falcons. The plumage varies from pale to very dark, depending on the bird’s location. In the west, the peregrine’s upper body is a lighter shade of gray with a lighter underside. Its breast is almost always white. Juveniles are brown in color. The peregrine’s body size is about the size of a crow; however, its wingspan averages 40 inches, which is more than 10 inches longer than a crow’s. It is more streamlined than other raptors.

The peregrine is more commonly found along rivers and in coastal communities, but it resides in the west in lesser numbers. It occasionally can be seen along mountain ranges on cliffs above open meadows. In the breeding season, a pair will nest on a cliff ledge. The female lays between two to five elliptical-shaped eggs in the "scrape," or nesting site, which is usually a shallow depression. The female incubates eggs for approximately 32 days, while the male hunts for food. Chicks fledge the nest between 35 and 40 days after hatching but remain dependent on the adults for several weeks. Peregrines rarely breed before three years of age. The average life span is four to five years, but individuals in captivity have been known to live much longer.

In the early 1900s, the peregrine numbers began to dwindle due to falconers taking chicks, egg collectors taking eggs from nests, and hunters shooting peregrine for sport. After World War II, the use of the new insecticide DDT was widespread. At the same time, populations of peregrines, eagles, and other raptors continued to decrease at alarming rates.

It was determined that the raptors feeding on birds and rodents contaminated with DDT were in turn poisoned by a progressive buildup of the pesticide in their bodies. Because it caused eggshell thinning, DDT was especially harmful to raptors. Even though the adult birds survived, they could not produce offspring. By 1964, nesting peregrine falcons were extinct in the eastern United States. Peregrines in the western United States were added to the endangered species list in 1970, two years before DDT was finally banned.

Banning the use of DDT in the United States was a critical first step toward protecting peregrines, but reestablishment of a bird species had never been tried. In 1979, the Peregrine Recovery Plan attempted to restore a new, self-sustaining population of breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in the eastern United States through a captive propagation and release program. Some pairs of peregrines were even established in New York City in an effort to curb the growing pigeon population. Nests were set up on tall buildings, and the pairs bred successfully. The public was supportive and enjoyed watching the daily progress of the chicks via a Webcam.

Thanks to this program, the peregrine has made an impressive comeback in the East and was de-listed in 1998. The numbers in the West have not rebounded to the same extent. It is possible to occasionally spot a peregrine on the Palmer Divide but it is uncommon. Establishing nesting pairs of peregrines in some of our urban parks would be interesting and would help to curb the starling and pigeon populations.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer who lives in the Tri-Lakes area. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

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Art Matters:  Threads

By Janet Sellers

The genre of quilt making is rapidly growing from its tradition as a useful craft to the fine arts. No longer made just for the bed, quilts as wall art range from miniature cloth gems to enormous wall hangings.

Fiber arts are traditionally well known for their practical uses. And they still require expert craftsmanship to create, whether hand tools or machines are used. Even with the materials and fabric ready-made for the artist’s creative construction, the planning, design and workmanship require a huge amount of time and effort. The new era of quilt and fiber constructive arts reflects the artists’ search for meaning in their work above and beyond the craft’s demanding technical requirements.

I asked my artist friend Liz Kettle, who works in this new genre, what the artists call the genre. She said that the answers range from "fiber art," or "quilt collage," to "mixed media." Many of these artists proclaim they are emerging from a craft background to a personal voice in their medium, and still use the old name of the craft to identify it. For them, a personal voice brings forth the fine art vitality and moves away from the perfectionism of "craft."

Often, goals of a fiber arts exhibit will include introducing and educating the public to the medium. The rich, visual vocabulary of the works is new to many collectors, galleries, and exhibit viewers. Enthusiasts report that prices are expected to climb with the new interest in this art form, much as the prices of photography and original artists’ drawings did in the past century. While a name for this art trend currently eludes many of us, upon personally visiting the venues and collecting works of these fine arts, we shall surely see that their spirited, multidimensional sensibility has a strong link—namely, threads.

March art quilt exhibit

The March 2006 Monument Library Quilt Show will feature the quilt work of the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers Guild. The library will be filled with quilts and projects, including various sizes of wall hangings, bed quilts, table toppers, and wearable art. Various techniques for design, construction, and embellishment can be seen in the works displayed. Mystery Quilts created by the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers members will also be exhibited. This show will include some quilts made by children. Please take time to visit the library during the month of March to view the beautiful display of quilts.

The Palmer Divide Quiltmakers will have refreshments as well as special children’s activities on March 19 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Come and join the fun while learning more about the art of quilting.

The Palmer Divide Quiltmakers Guild meets the first Thursday of each month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Road in Monument.

Palmer Lake Art Group Show

The Palmer Lake Art Group will hold its Winter Fine Art Show starting March 3rd, with an Opening Reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and running through March 29th, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cottonwood Gallery, 25 Cimino Drive, Colorado Springs, CO. Info: Jan McGrath 488-3453.

Call for high school artists

New! The Colorado 5th Congressional District Arts Competition is for students in grades 9 through 12 and open to all high schools—including home school, religious schools, and public schools—in the 5th Congressional District. Students may submit up to five works of two-dimensional art—paintings, drawings, or prints—created during the 2005-2006 school year.

This year’s theme is "The Artists Choice." The artwork must be no larger than 30-by-30 inches, unframed, or 32-by-32 inches, framed. Art will be exhibited in the East Library art gallery April 3-28. A reception will be held April 22 at East Library to recognize winners. Student entry forms will be accepted through March 15. Artwork must be delivered between March 13 and 28, to 104 S. Cascade, Colorado Springs. For more information call 520-0055, 495-2840, or e-mail ellen.cesarone@mail.house.gov.

Library district calls for local artists

Would you like to exhibit your hanging artwork at the Pikes Peak Library District? Then get ready this month so you can drop off five pieces of matted and framed art representative of your style and medium to the Carnegie Reading Room at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., on April 4 from 10 a.m. to noon. Pick up your pieces on the same day from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Library Art Evaluation Committee will review the works and schedule the approved artists for shows throughout the district. Contact Cathy Genato, Information Services Specialist at 531-6333, x2338, or e-mail cgenato@ppld.org for more information.

2006 Federal Duck Stamp Programs

Wildlife conservation through the arts is a project for junior artists as well as adult artists. Protecting the wetlands habitat is made possible through the purchases of the Federal Duck Stamp and the Junior Duck Stamp each year. For every dollar people spend on Federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Colorado children grades K-12 are invited to learn about the importance of Colorado Wetlands ecology while studying the waterfowl and their habitat conservation through the arts via the annual Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest. Postmark deadline is March 15. Details are at www.fws.gov/duckstamps/federal/federal.htm.

The U.S. Federal Duck Stamp design contest for adults is also an annual design contest. Now is the time to prepare artwork and entry forms for ages 18 and up; enter the contest June 1-Aug. 15. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for details at www.fws.gov/duckstamps/federal/federal.htm.

Janet Sellers, an artist and educator, promotes community enrichment in the arts through classes, events, and a free monthly newsletter. For information on various ongoing art classes, contact Janet at artsalons@mac.com

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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.

Tax information at Pikes Peak Library District

Pikes Peak Library District is offering tax information and reproducible tax forms to help people prepare for the busy tax season. Available information includes:

  • Tax Info IRS link on the ppld.org main Web page. This link includes information about office locations, telephone numbers, local and national revenue offices, and Web sites.

  • Reproducible federal and Colorado state individual income tax forms (available for photocopies only). Copies are 10 cents per page.

  • A telephone information line (531-6333, x1040) will be updated with information on forms, library resources, and volunteer income tax assistance sites.

Due to privacy issues and time limitations, PPLD does not recommend electronic filing from public library computers. It is not possible to bring Turbo-Tax CDs or other tax software for saving and printing forms from library computers.

Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Classical Piano Concert

This concert held Saturday March 4, 7 p.m. at the Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road will feature a solo piano recital by Dr. Michael Baron, who teaches and presents master classes for pianists and recitals across the U.S. and Europe. For information, contact Pam Brunson at 484-0192 or e-mail rmma@adelphia.net.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club accepting grant applications

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will be accepting applications for grants until March 15. This year the TLWC will consider grant requests up to $10,000. All qualified organizations that provide services to residents within the geographic boundaries of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Qualified organizations are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service agencies/organizations, and public schools. Grant applications and instructions are available on the TLWC Web site, www.tlwc.net, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: TLWC - Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

Tri-Lakes YMCA Spring Volleyball

Spring volleyball registration continues through March 17 for ages 3 years to 6th grade. For information, visit Tri-Lakes YMCA, 1832 Woodmoor Dr. Suite 201, Monument, or phone 481-8728

30th Pine Forest Antique Show April 22

Mark your calendars for this popular annual event coming to Monument April 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School (I-25, Exit 161 or 158). The show will feature antiques from more than 60 select dealers, as well as a delicious Country Café, homemade bake sale, and door prizes.

Scheduled events Saturday: Miss Colorado, Jessica Urban, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; "Antique" Art Form by Lynn Lybolt, 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday: Authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Jan McKinney’s English Antiquing Seminar, 1 p.m.

The show is the major fund-raising event of the year for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club. Proceeds benefit local nonprofit groups such as District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organizations that provide services to residents within the community. For more information, please visit the Web site at www.tlwc.net.

Below: 2005 Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale. Photo provided by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

Tri-Lakes Senior Forum April 29

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) and Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging (PPAAA) are joining to host the Tri-Lakes Senior Forum to be held April 29, 8 a.m. to noon, at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Tri-Lakes area senior citizens are invited to attend and discuss their needs with people from organizations that provide help and care for Tri-Lakes area seniors. Housing, finances, safety, nutrition, mental health, physical health, well-being, participation, social support, assistance with everyday activities, transportation, and caregiver support are some of the issues that will be addressed. There is no charge to attend the forum. Transportation to and from the forum will be available for seniors.

A comprehensive report of forum results and recommendations for future effort will be compiled by the Forum Organizing Committee. The report will be distributed to appropriate local government officials, community leaders, and other interested parties.

Attendance will be limited to the first 150 to register. Registration deadline is April 7. Register by phone at 471-2096, e-mail at seniorinfo@ppacg.org, or regular mail at PPAAA, Attn: Eileen Porubsky, 15 S. 7th Street Colorado Springs, CO 80905. For more information, phone Chuck Roberts, 488-3855 or Michael Decker, 471-7080, x114.

J. Paul Durbin: Tri-Lakes Cares Volunteer of the Year

Tri-Lakes Cares presented J. Paul Durbin with the 2005 Volunteer of the Year Award with much gratitude for his many years of service to Tri-Lakes Cares and to the entire community. The award was given at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration held at the Monument Library on Feb. 9. Durbin has been chairman of the board for the past two years, and was instrumental in Tri-Lakes Cares’ obtaining their new building. He is an active volunteer in daily operations as well as serving on the board. Durbin will continue as a one-term vice-president in order to complete his stewardship of building construction.

Wakonda Hills Sewer Improvements to begin in mid-March

Monument Sanitation District awarded J & J Excavating, of Colorado Springs, a contract to build sewer collection lines in the northeast portion of Wakonda Hills. Construction will begin in the middle of March 2006. Wakonda Hills residents can contact District Manager, Mike Wicklund at 481-4886 for further information.

Tri-Lakes SPIRIT

Tri-Lakes SPIRIT is a girl’s fast-pitch softball travel team that supports local high school programs. The team finished in second place in the Colorado State Championship Tournament last year and was ranked second in the nation in its age group/division. In 2006, the team will be competing throughout Colorado in tournaments against girls ages 14 to 16. For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Kathi Lee at 487-8830.

Below: 2005 Tri-Lakes Spirit players. Photo provided by Kathi Lee.

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