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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 5 - May 6, 2006

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Wescott FPD donates pumper to hurricane ravaged Louisana department

Below: Donald Wescott Fire Protection District donated its spare rescue pumper truck to the Henry Volunteer Fire Department in Louisiana to help replace those lost during Hurricane Katrina. Wescott Chief Jeff Edwards (left) discusses plans for the trip with American Medical Response (AMR) Paramedic Eric Miller and Wescott Captain Scott Ridings, who drove the engine to Louisiana. The two left on Apr. 14 and arrived at the Henry station on Easter Sunday. Ridings said the Henry firefighters were astounded by the excellent condition of the engine and the full complement of installed equipment that allowed the pumper to be immediately put into fully operational service. (See article for details.) Photo by Jim Kendrick

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High school site selection summit raises issues and alternatives

Below: Superintendent David Dilley makes a point during the High School Site Summit April 12. Seated are school board members (L to R): Gail Wilson, Jes Raintree, LouAnn Dekleva, and Dee Dee Eaton. Photo by John Heiser

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By John Heiser

Despite just a few days’ notice of the meeting, an estimated 150 people attended the Lewis-Palmer District 38 High School Site Selection Summit April 12. Many came to protest the potential construction of a high school on a 60-acre portion of Marie Wissler’s 814-acre ranch near Furrow Road and King’s Deer Point. All board members were present except Stephen Plank, who was traveling.

The board departed from its usual procedure by not imposing a time limit on questions and comments. School board president Jes Raintree said, "We will stay until the last question is answered." The meeting lasted more than five hours.

Superintendent David Dilley provided background on the district’s efforts and difficulties in securing a second high school site:

  • In the 1990s, the district realized it was facing significant growth.

  • Dr. Jerry Parsons, business manager for the district at the time, was tasked with identifying appropriate parcels.

  • Parsons arranged the September 1995 purchase of the 70-acre site on the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 105 from the Younger family for $296,480. Dilley quoted Parsons as saying the Highway 83/105 site was never viewed as adequate for a large high school.

  • District 38, like Academy District 20 and Falcon District 49, is mostly residential. The Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution passed in the 1980s has the effect of reducing overall residential property tax revenues despite increases in residential market values. This has been a significant limitation on the school district’s ability to obtain bonded indebtedness.

  • At the meetings held regarding the November 2004 ballot measures, Dilley said voters were told a potential second high school would be "somewhere in the eastern part of the district" although not specifically the Highway 83/105 site. Dilley added that due to the debt limitations, an 800-student high school was being considered at that time.

  • Current county and town regulations adopted in the late 1990s set the contribution developers must make to the school district. The county requires dedication of 697 square feet or payment of $308 per single-family dwelling. The Town of Monument requires dedication of 660 square feet or payment of $291 per single-family dwelling. Those figures value land at about $19,200 per acre or about 44 cents per square foot. Dilley later added that land along I-25, where substantial growth is expected to occur, is priced at roughly $3 to $4 per square foot. Based on the regulations, to obtain a 60-acre parcel through dedication would require a development project involving 3,700 to 3,900 houses.

Denny Hill and David Porter of Strategic Resources West presented the results of a growth study conducted by the district using a coalition of representatives from El Paso County, local water and sanitation districts, and the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake. The study projected build-out of the area in 25-50 years. Some of its conclusions (all figures include the Monument Charter Academy):

  • The district will need space for an additional 3,090 elementary school students beyond the present 2,091 (2004-05) for a total student population of 5,181. That translates to an additional six to seven elementary schools with 500 to 550 students each.

  • The district will need space for an additional 1,056 middle school students beyond the present 1,459 (2004-05) for a total of 3,571, so a third middle school with about 1,000 students will be needed.

  • The district will need space for an additional 2,050 high school students beyond the present 1,806 (2004-05) for a total of 3,856, so a second high school will be needed.

  • Total K-12 enrollment could grow from the present 5,356 to more than 12,000.

  • With careful management, the district has adequate capacity for a few years at the elementary and middle school levels.

  • Lewis-Palmer High School is already 150 to 350 students above its planned capacity of 1,500 to 1,700.

  • A bond issue will be needed in November 2006 to fund construction.

Hill added that much of the anticipated growth is concentrated along the I-25 corridor. He said growth in the eastern part of the district would be constrained by the lack of water and sewer districts.

Hill presented the growth coalition’s high school site criteria, which include a square to mildly rectangular site with 60acres or more, economical access to water and sewer services, two adjacent street frontages with adequate access and capacity since high schools generate significant traffic, manageable site slopes, and a location that will balance student population and socioeconomic diversity. Hill noted that much of their work on this project was focused on evaluating the Wissler property.

Hill also reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of one large high school vs. two smaller high schools. He added that if one large high school were built, it would probably become the largest high school in the state. Hill and Porter said they also considered combined high school/middle school facilities.

Dilley outlined some of the other sites considered, including an 80-acre property on Highway 83 near County Line Road that is for sale, a parcel on Beacon Lite Road in northern Monument, a parcel behind the Mennonite Church on Highway 105 west of I-25, part of Forest Lakes south of Baptist Road and west of I-25, and parcels near Lewis-Palmer Middle School. In each case, he identified some of the concerns with the site. Regarding the Highway 83/105 site, Dilley cited concerns about traffic dangers. He said that if the district puts a school there, the amount of traffic would justify a traffic light but concluded, "Our biggest fear is the speed differential."

In response to criticism that the growth study looked only at student populations at full build-out in 25 to 50 years, Dilley presented the following estimate of high school enrollments over the next 10 years:

Some of the comments residents made to the board:

  • Rather than focusing on build-out, use year-to-year projections. By 2011, the high school will be over capacity by only 400 to 600 students, so a smaller second high school (800 to 1,000 students) on the Highway 83/105 site would suffice. A second smaller high school could be built when it is needed.

  • Reconsider expanding Lewis-Palmer High School.

  • It appears the administration settled on the Wissler property before all alternatives were thoroughly examined. Develop detailed information on several alternative sites so a choice can be made.

  • Form a committee of interested residents to help research alternative sites.

  • Since much of the anticipated growth is in the west and southwest parts of the district, the administration should look more closely at possible sites near Baptist Road.

  • The roads that service the Wissler property, Furrow Road and King’s Deer Point, have significant problems that would be expensive to resolve. Furrow Road was the site of an accident where a high school student was killed.

  • Reassigning sixth-graders to elementary school and ninth-graders to middle school would make better use of the existing capacity and reduce the Lewis-Palmer High School student body by one-fourth, although it would disrupt some existing programs and some students would view this as a demotion.

  • Consider a separate ninth-grade or ninth- and 10th-grade center to relieve the overcrowding at the high school. That would suffice for four or five years and give the district time to find a site for a second high school.

  • Concentrate on solutions a majority of voters will support so the needed bond issue ballot measure will pass.

  • Use of eminent domain is morally and ethically wrong and the wrong message to send to students.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is May 18. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, April 14: Traffic impact fees to double July 1

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) approved two incremental traffic impact fee increases. Fees will double on July 1 and then increase to three times the current schedule on Jan. 1, 2008. Traffic impact fees for new residential and commercial building construction have always been the authority’s only source of revenue. These are the first fee increases since BRRTA was created in 1997. County Commissioner Jim Bensberg was absent.

Total revenues over the past nine years have been insufficient to cover the comparatively minor preliminary costs for design and engineering, much less right-of-way purchase or projected construction costs for widening Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to Desiree Drive. The only previous construction performed by BRRTA was the westbound deceleration lane on Baptist Road at Leather Chaps Drive.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved payments of $131,340 for April, including:

  • $16,143.69 to Grimshaw & Harring for legal services

  • $3,621.54 to King & Associates, Inc. for engineering

  • $98,824 to PBS&J for project management and engineering

  • $3,950.90 to R.S. Wells, LLC for district management

  • $8,800 to Clerk of the Court for construction fees

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker, of Grimshaw & Harring, said that all but one of the required right-of-way transactions for widening Baptist Road east of I-25 past Desiree Drive had been concluded. The sale price for a condemned right-of-way has been agreed on, but the court had not determined the final split of legal fees to be paid by the landowner and BRRTA.

The board unanimously approved a bid for $3,200 from CPA Dawn A. Schilling for an independent audit for 2005, the first since the creation of BRRTA. Previous BRRTA boards have always chosen not to have independent audits performed because revenues and expenditures have always been below the statewide minimum amount that triggers the independent audit requirement for special districts.

Each of the quarterly "Accounting Compilation Report and Financial Statement" balance sheets has been independently prepared by BRRTA’s accounting firm, BKD, LLP, for BRRTA’s management company, R.S. Wells, LLC.

At the March 10 meeting, the board had approved a separate independent audit of all fees that should have been collected since BRRTA was created in 1997. The fee audit will be performed by J.W. Simmons & Associates for a cost not to exceed $2,500.

The board unanimously approved the first-quarter accountant report. The BRRTA general fund started the year at $200,574. First-quarter revenue was $288,585 in traffic impact fees and $4,148 in interest—a total of $292,733. First-quarter expenses were $51,066. BRRTA assets at the end of the first quarter of 2006 were $442,241 in cash plus $523,539 in cumulative engineering and design expenses for widening Baptist Road east of I-25.

Engineering report

Construction contract overview: Project Manager Andre Brackin of the El Paso County Department of Transportation Capital Projects Management Division reported on the first BRRTA construction contract’s milestones. The county received several bid proposals for the first BRRTA construction contract. The contract improves Baptist Road east of I-25 past Desiree Drive as well as new construction of Struthers Road to connect the existing four-lane segment between Northgate Road and the Struthers Ranch development to the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. Baptist and Struthers Roads are county roads. The existing two-lane I-25 frontage portion of Struthers Road south of Baptist Road will be abandoned, once the new connection to Jackson Creek Parkway is completed.

Brackin said the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) had approved the combined Baptist/Struthers Road construction contract with Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt, Inc. (RMMA) for $10,173,996 on April 12. The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had already approved the RMMA contract award on March 27 by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Douglas Bruce opposed and Bensberg absent. BRRTA is not a party to the RMMA construction contract.

Two other contracts discussed: Brackin noted that the agreed-upon cost for an extension of the existing construction management contract with design/engineering consultant firm PBS&J for managing the RMMA contract was $380,000. PBS&J has performed all the design and engineering work for Baptist and Struthers Road to date. Brackin noted that votes to approve the PBS&J contract extension were also scheduled for the BOCC meeting on April 17 and the PPRTA meeting on May 10.

Brackin said the budgeted amount for a separate contract for system utility and easement agreements with Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) was $150,000. MVEA will install the new cable for its power line relocations along Baptist Road and coordinate its work with RMMA through PBS&J. Brackin said that the cost of MVEA’s first proposed contract was $500,000, though negotiations may lower that figure before signing. He noted that costs for Struthers Road right-of-way purchases have been lower than expected, partially offsetting the dramatic cost increases for the copper in the new underground power lines. Brackin also noted that there may also be some unbudgeted costs for Qwest relocations, but there will be no cost for relocation of Triview Metropolitan District water and sewer lines.

Brackin said that the contracts and documentation for the relocated utilities and easements should be written by May 5. They will be voted on by BOCC on May 25 and PPRTA on June 14. The Notice to Proceed for Baptist Road should be issued to RMMA on June 16. Construction will last from 12 to 18 months. Brackin said this may seem like a long time, but Baptist Road will be kept open for through traffic throughout the contract.

Brackin noted that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) owns the protected mouse habitat area between new Struthers and I-25 and that CDOT had just changed its position regarding right-of-way for new Struthers Road construction on state property. Rather than use an Intergovernmental Agreement for construction as previously agreed, CDOT now "wants to completely retain ownership" of all its property west of new Struthers Road.

This change will now require use of a Memorandum of Understanding between the state and county transportation departments to grant the needed roadway easement to the county by the state. The Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have accepted the county’s biological assessment but will not issue an environmental permit until this memorandum with the state Transportation Department has been signed. This memorandum will have to be approved by the BOCC before construction can begin.

Due to Preble’s mouse mitigation requirements, major new construction for the rerouted Struthers Road can be performed only from Nov. 1 to April 30. Brackin said total construction time for new Struthers Road should be six to nine months. Work that does not affect the mouse habitat can be performed before Nov. 1 and after April 30.

$2.85 million funding shortfall: Brackin distributed copies of his March 29 memorandum to county Transportation Director John McCarty on the RMMA contract. The total cost listed in the memo for the project is $10,703,996. The five schedules in the contract are:

  • Schedule 1, $235,980: Widening/regrading of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and I-25. This figure does not include the $650,000 cost for roadway improvements to the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection or traffic signal modifications for four-way traffic, which the town of Monument will pay for. Monument’s funding comes from previously agreed upon traffic impact fees paid to the town by Vision Development for Monument Marketplace and other new commercial and residential construction in Jackson Creek.

  • Schedule 2, $6,647,417: Widening/regrading of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and Tari Drive.

  • Schedule 3, $101,188: Construction of a frontage road along the south side of Baptist Road between Family of Life Church to Leather Chaps Drive. The church and adjacent houses to the east will lose their driveway access to Baptist due to it becoming a major arterial with a median between Leather Chaps Drive and I-25.

  • Schedule 4, $3,039,561: Construction of four new lanes of Struthers Road from Struthers Ranch development to the south end of Jackson Creek Parkway.

  • Schedule 5, $149,850: Noise wall along the south side of Baptist Road between Gleneagle Drive and Desiree Drive.

Funds available for widening Baptist Road (Schedules 1, 2, 3, and 5) are:

  • PPRTA is providing $6,944,000 for the RMMA contract and utility agreements; spending to date is $937,950 for engineering and $575,514 on property acquisition – remaining PPRTA funds are $5,430,536.

  • BRRTA is able to provide about $200,000 in current funds and $260,000 in 2006 revenue for the RMMA contract, utility agreements, and the PBS&J management contract.

  • Monument reported at the March 10 BRRTA meeting that it can supply about $800,000.

The total funding available for Schedules 1, 2, 3, and 5 is $6,690,536. However, these four schedules cost $7,134,435, a shortfall of $443,899.

Funds available for Struthers Road are:

  • Only PPRTA is providing funding for new construction for Struthers Road, a total of $2,464,000.

  • Spending to date for schedule 4 is $953,775 for right-of-way purchases and other expenditures.

The remaining PPRTA funds available for Struthers Road are $1,510,225, a shortfall of $1,529,336 for the schedule 4 cost of $3,039,561.

The total available funds for the $10,703,996 project are $8,200,761— a shortfall of $2,503,235. Brackin noted that this shortfall figure did not reflect the higher than expected utility system cost from MVEA. Brackin said this additional $350,000 in costs had increased the total project to just over $11 million, making the shortfall in available funding about $2.85 million.

Brackin said that additional funding may be available if there are: savings from other 2006 PPRTA projects, BRRTA revenues in excess of the budgeted $260,000, or savings from other 2006 county Transportation Department capital projects. He said a developer had helped PPRTA on the Akers Road project, which may make approximately $1 million available to move to other 2006 PPRTA projects. He said BRRTA and the county should not request that PPRTA transfer funds to the Baptist/Struthers project until all bids on the Akers Road project are in.

Discussion: Hunsaker pointed out that the county had never budgeted funds for the Baptist/Struthers project. He thanked the county for making funds available because the RMMA contract could not have been awarded without funds to pay for it.

Mayor Byron Glenn asked if there could be any savings or schedule benefit if Baptist Road were closed for some period. Brackin said there would not be a significant cost savings, but the small amount of time that could be saved would be lost if the bid proposal had to be amended and the process re-opened.

Ron Doolittle of Family of Christ Church asked if signs would be posted to help drivers find the church’s driveway. Brackin said there would be.

Chaparral Hills resident Linda Silviera, whose Leather Chaps Drive house will be next to the new frontage road for the church, inquired about the status of the proposed light barrier fence that would screen her home from headlight glare at night. She suggested a low maintenance material for the fence. Brackin agreed to meet with Silviera to work out the details for the fence.

The BRRTA board unanimously approved the PBS&J contract extension, the sixth amendment to the contract, without discussion. The total cost of the PBS&J contract to date is now $1,331,968.

Acquisition report: Hunsaker reported that a check had been sent for the condemned right-of-way purchase and that some negotiations were still being held for access easements during construction.

Growth study updated: Chip King, of King & Associates, gave an update of the absorption study he had presented on March 10. His presentation focused on residential growth, which he said would average 291 houses per year within BRRTA. The total now is just under 1,000 houses.

Fee increase approved: There was a lengthy discussion on how much BRRTA’s fees should increase given the large shortfall for the first phase of construction and the large expenses that remain for future improvements west of the I-25 interchange, to include a very expensive bridge over the railroad tracks for the proposed Forest Lakes development at the west end of Baptist Road.

CDOT Commissioner Terry Schooler is also the consultant land planner for developer Landco’s 117-acre Promontory Pointe residential development. He pointed out that Landco as well as the developers of Home Place Ranch and Sanctuary Point had agreed to form three separate road improvement special districts. All three will be allied with Triview for road construction and maintenance.

The three special districts will pay for construction of the northward extension of Gleneagle Drive to Higby Road, to be called Ranch Pointe Road, and the widening of Higby Road from the east end of Home Place Ranch to Jackson Creek Parkway. Higby will also be rerouted away from Lewis-Palmer High School, to the southwest of the current alignment. The new roadway will start near the intersection of Harness and Higby Roads. The existing segment of Higby that provides access to the high school from Jackson Creek Parkway will remain in place.

Schooler asked the BRRTA board to remain aware of the mill levies that would be associated with each of the three special road improvement districts, the existing Triview mill levies that would also be assessed annually, and the 1 percent BRRTA sales tax ballot initiative for the November election, when determining the size of the BRRTA traffic impact fee increase. The BRRTA sales tax initiative was proposed at the March 10 meeting after Wal-Mart refused to voluntarily participate in the 1 percent public improvement fee proposed for all commercial properties within BRRTA.

County Commissioner Wayne Williams said BRRTA’s voters would not approve a 1-cent sales tax unless new residents and new businesses helped by paying traffic impact fees. He also said the county would not support the construction efforts if the developers did not help with a fee increase. He added that there was no way to pay for the $2.85 million RMMA contract shortfall without a fee increase and a tax increase and that road construction costs had more than doubled since 1997.

Williams suggested an effective date for doubling the fees of July 1 to encourage prompt payments by some builders to generate immediate cash. PPRTA has been paying design and engineering invoices for BRRTA for the past several months so that PBS&J could remain solvent. BRRTA’s current cash balance is the result of Wal-Mart paying its impact fee a few months ago to avoid the BRRTA fee increase. Kohl’s will likely avoid the increase as well as several other new Monument Marketplace tenants. Williams also suggested that the rates increase to three times the current fees on Jan. 1, 2008, to maintain long-term BRRTA viability for the remaining improvements to Baptist Road on the west side of I-25.

The vote to increase the rates per Williams’ proposal was 3-1, with Monument Trustee Dave Mertz opposed. Mertz voted no because he thought that the combination of a new mill levy for road improvement districts, ever-increasing Triview mill levies, a sales tax, and new impact fees was too much in a single year. He pointed out that the developers don’t "pay their own way" for infrastructure improvements because all new costs are passed on to the home buyer or store owner. Williams agreed with Mertz but said that the new residents and new business traffic were making congestion on Baptist Road, not those who had moved here years ago and paid a BRRTA fee that had since become deflated over time.

I-25 interchange issues: The agenda item for determining a final reimbursement agreement for Hammers Construction for engineering work on access to Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the I-25 interchange was unanimously continued.

Williams and Glenn reported on a meeting with CDOT regarding a new strategy for early private financing for Exit 158 improvements. There is no state funding for CDOT to widen the ramps and bridge over I-25 at this time. The town’s position has been that if BRRTA could build the new interchange using private construction bonds and pay the bond interest with a public improvement fee or sales tax, CDOT would give the interchange improvement a higher priority for funding before 2019. This also assumes that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments would include the interchange in its Traffic Improvement Plan for CDOT Region 2.

Glenn, Williams, Schooler, and Town Manager Cathy Green met with CDOT Executive Director Tom Norton and Region 2 Director Bob Torres to seek assurances that CDOT would pay off the bond principal, if possible by the end of the 2007-12 Transportation Improvement Plan. They reported that Norton and Torres were amenable to making a formal payback agreement. Still, any bond proposal and temporary sales tax ballot issue must provide enough revenue to pay off the bond principal as well as the interest during the life of the bonds, in the event that CDOT cannot repay BRRTA.

Glenn said that interchange contract and financing specifics from bond consultant Piper-Jaffrey would have to be presented to Norton and Torres no later than Aug. 1. Williams said that the commercial developers of Monument Marketplace, Monument Ridge, the Timbers, as well as the annexation developers Landco, Colorado Commercial, and Classic Homes were helping with the sales tax and other bridge financing issues such as donation of right-of-way to lower CDOT’s total costs for the interchange project.

The board went into executive session for legal advice at 3:50 p.m. No actions were taken before adjournment after coming out of executive session. The next scheduled BRRTA meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. June 9 in Monument’s Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of even numbered months. However, special meetings are frequently held now that construction is imminent. For information on changes in BRRTA meeting scheduling, contact Town Hall at 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, April 6: Council discusses two controversial developments

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council again made no decision on Al Fritts’ request to subdivide lot 4 of the Rancho IRACEMA commercial development on Highway 105 into two lots of 14.2 and 13 acres. Mayor Nikki McDonald said the town could prevent any new construction on the 88 percent of the lot that is currently vacant by declaring it to be open space.

Also, George Blake and Kreig Campbell tried to get guidance from the council on their proposal to develop the corner of Glenway and Valley Crescent, behind the Speed Trap Cafe building on Highway 105. Trustee Chuck Cornell and Town Attorney Larry Gaddis were absent.

Election results announced

McDonald opened the evening’s session by congratulating the winners of the April 4 trustee election (who were sworn in at the end of the regular council meeting April 13).

The results for mayor were:

  • Max Parker – 174 (elected)

  • Kim Makower – 155

McDonald was term-limited and could not seek re-election for mayor or trustee.

The results for the five open trustee positions were:

  • Richard Allen – 274 (elected)

  • Trudy Finan – 263 (elected)

  • Jim Girlando – 252 (elected)

  • Susan Miner – 239 (elected)

  • Trish Flake – 191 (elected)

  • Carol Deblois – 113

  • Kay Deblois – 100

Trustee Gary Coleman has two years remaining on his four-year term and was the only council member not up for election.

There were also six ballot questions April 4, including three "de-Brucing" questions, two separate new half-cent sales taxes, and elimination of term limits for the Town Council:

  1. Retainage of excess 2006 fiscal year revenue – 267 Yes, 69 No (approved)

  2. Retainage of excess 2007 fiscal year revenue – 244 Yes, 90 No (approved)

  3. Retainage of excess 2008 to 2011 fiscal year revenue – 175 Yes, 154 No (approved)

  4. Sales tax increase (half-cent) dedicated to Palmer Lake Police Department – 170 Yes, 164 No (approved)

  5. Sales tax increase (half-cent) dedicated to Palmer Lake Fire Department – 164 Yes, 170 No (disapproved)

  6. Elimination of term limits for Palmer Lake Town Council – 94 Yes, 235 No (disapproved)

Liquor Licensing Authority hearings

The council unanimously approved special-event liquor licenses for the Tri-Lakes Center of the Arts for May 13, June 3, and June 10. The center plans to seek a year-round "arts license" later this year so that it can hold monthly events and not be constrained to the town’s limit of 10 special event licenses per year. Three previous special event licenses had already been approved.

The authority unanimously approved a waiver of the town’s $500 arts license application fee because the center is a nonprofit organization. The center will still have to pay $240 to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for fingerprint checks and a $500 state fee for the new license, neither of which the town can waive.

The authority also granted Palmer Lake a special-event liquor license for the retirement ceremony for Police Chief Dale Smith to be held at McDonald’s Historic Pinecrest conference center June 30.

New business license approved

The council unanimously approved a request for a new business license for William Sherman’s Front Range Epicurean, primarily a catering, specialty food, and cooking class business at 292 S. Highway 105. This historic building was previously the Rolling in Dough cookie store.

Sherman said the business will not be a restaurant but will have a chef’s table for a maximum of 12 people for special-event dinners. He said he would return to the council if he decided to build and open a restaurant addition, consistent with the style of this historic building, which is displayed in several of the old photos that decorate Town Hall. There was considerable laughter when he said he didn’t expect to contribute to the "major parking issue on Highway 105."

Sherman will also get a sales tax license for his retail sales. The new license was placed on the consent item agenda for the April 13 meeting. McDonald advised Sherman that he need not attend that meeting.

Road renaming continued

Parker asked that discussion of the name change from Frontier Lane to Circle Road be continued until the regular meeting, so that he could complete discussions with the residents whose street name would be changing. The request was unanimously approved.

Inn at Palmer Divide controversy continues

Al Fritts again requested a subdivision of the 27.2-acre Inn at Palmer Divide property on Highway 105 into a 14.2-acre lot for the inn and a separate vacant 13-acre lot. He had made the same request at the previous two Town Council meetings and previous two Planning Commission meetings without result.

Background: In a review, Fritts said he purchased the 37.2-acre Rancho IRECEMA subdivision parcel from Duane Ollers in June 1999. The town approved a zoning change from rural residential (2.5 acres) to planned unit development (PUD) before the purchase.

Fritts said the request to build the Inn at Palmer Divide was presented to the Planning Commission in July 1999. He showed the drawings for the initial proposal for six buildings consisting of a main conference center and restaurant building and five guest houses with five rooms each—three to the west of the main building and two to the east. The Planning Commission and the Town Council unanimously approved the six buildings and a commercial water tap. He said there was no opposition to the proposal at either of the hearings.

Fritts said he had met with the owners of all the adjacent and nearby properties before these hearings, including Chuck and Denise Cornell and Gary and Mary Coleman who "had no objection at all to the project."

All four are now bitterly opposed to the inn and the subdivision request. Chuck Cornell and Gary Coleman were elected as trustees in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Denise Cornell was appointed a Planning Commissioner in 2004.

Fritts said that in 2000, he found an investor and lender for the inn who wanted to increase the size to 100 rooms. The council only approved a change that converted the two eastern guest buildings to a lodge building with 24 guest rooms, additional conference rooms, an exercise facility, and a pool. The three western guest buildings were unchanged at five rooms each, for a new total of 39 guest rooms. The town no longer wanted to provide the commercial water tap for the larger facility due to a "change in its water situation." Fritts later negotiated an agreement and easement for water for the inn from the Mission Training International (MTI) well.

Fritts said that the inn and MTI have been incorrectly lumped together as a single enterprise of his because he was the project manager for both after MTI purchased 10 acres for its building. However, Fritts acted as MTI’s project manager for construction. After the MTI building was completed, Fritts said he remained an employee of MTI for the next three years, managing other issues, and has worked as a consultant on a contract basis for the past two years.

He asked that the council consider his request for the subdivision of the inn parcel without reference to the history of MTI, which is a separate entity. He then asked the trustees if they had any questions on his request for subdivision.

Discussion: Finan and Flake asked if the eastern 13 acres were vacant or open space on the PUD master plan. Fritts said the land is shown as vacant and there have never been plans to develop the vacant space in the past nor are there any at this time. The town requirement for open space in the PUD ordinance is 30 percent. Currently, lot 4 is 88 percent vacant. The proposed 14.2- acre lot for the inn would be over 70 percent vacant. The proposed 13-acre lot would remain completely vacant. The hillside ordinance, which restricts construction if slopes exceed 15 percent, does not apply to either of the two proposed lots since the maximum average slope on both is just over 9 percent.

There are no setback issues with the proposed subdivision since the side setback remains at more than 200 feet and the front setback is over 300 feet, versus the 25- and 50-foot minimums, respectively. Any future plans for development, if they were to occur, would have to be submitted for review and approval by the Planning Commission and the Town Council.

Finan, who was absent for the previous subdivision request hearings in March, asked why Fritts was requesting the subdivision. He again said that the Small Business Administration had suggested that he subdivide for their construction loan, and his bank had also agreed to have only 14.2 acres as collateral for the long-term loan as long as the entire inn project is completed. Both lenders believe that having the 13 acres unencumbered would provide Fritts with more leverage for additional cash to give a stronger financial position on their loans and for the success of the inn. Fritts had provided copies of both documents at the March 9 meeting. He provided copies to Finan and the other trustees at this session.

McDonald said the 13 acres would be "unbuildable or undevelopable" because the town has now declared all 13 acres open space dedicated to the town. Fritts said the town could not legally do that.

Trustee-elect Miner said the town "can’t deny the subdividing ability. You can deny any future projects on it and keep it open space by denying whatever is brought forward to build on it." Fritts responded that unused vacant property was not automatically open space that could be taken by the town "for the life of the property."

Town Clerk Della Gray pointed out that McDonald and Miner were misusing the term "open" and that it applied only to the 30 percent dedicated to the town. McDonald said that at the March 9 Planning Commission hearing, Town Attorney Jim Kin had said there was no legal basis for the town to deny the subdivision request. Miner said that this technicality would not prevent the town from denying any further development on Rancho IRECEMA regardless of what was proposed.

Coleman noted that if the council denied Fritts or a future owner of the subdivided 13-acre lot the right to build on land zoned for commercial use, "They’d sue us." Parker said he disagreed with Kin’s position. He said Fritts’ request to subdivide the lot was a "de facto circumventing of the amendment to the PUD process."

Fritts said, "The only reason for an amendment would be a change to my project, and I’m not changing my project." He added, "In our opinion what we’re asking for has no negative effect on the town. It only has a positive effect for us and a positive effect for the town. It allows us to potentially be more successful. You get the revenue, the sales tax, the property tax. I would think that would be much preferable to putting us in a position where we could potentially fail and then you have property that is not producing any revenue at all."

Parker said the council was not "trying to deny your success" or accusing Fritts of "trying to circumvent the process." He said he did not know whether the subdivision was legal grounds to require an amendment, what precedent would be set by approval of his request, and that he still didn’t know the seven-year history of the project despite numerous hearings. He added, "Our two attorneys from the same firm disagree" about what the 1972 PUD ordinance means.

Fritts replied that the town had approved five or six vacations, subdivisions, or combinations of two lots into one lot for residential purposes in the past three months. McDonald said that none of these requests was within a PUD zone.

Fritts said that the repeated denials of his as well as other proposals give the impression that the town is not "truly interested in building a stronger economic base for commercial" by putting him "through the process we’ve been through for the past three or four months when they read articles in this newspaper," holding up a copy of OCN. He added he had been "warned for seven years by numerous people not to try to do this in Palmer Lake because of the attitude toward these types of things."

McDonald replied that this "perception has always been there and that’s OK." She added that MTI was not separable from the inn, because Fritts needed to sell the 10 acres to them to raise money, which she had supported at that time.

Trustee-elect Allen said that Fritts had met all the town’s requirements he had been told about and had answered every question asked of him regarding each of the many changes in the development of the inn. He said the trustees should educate themselves about the town’s rules and regulations and make a decision on his request. "If you’re going to promote bringing businesses in, I’d never use his project, his endeavor, as an example because he’s jumped through a lot of hoops and run the gauntlet." He added, "It’s up to you to maintain that institutional memory" on how to apply the PUD ordinances and regulations to the subdivided lot in the future.

Coleman said he wanted to see a water plan for both new lots in the subdivided lot 4 and that CDOT should review and approve the creation of the 13-acre lot. Fritts said he would provide Gray a copy of the agreement with MTI for well water and that there would be no traffic impact for CDOT to review or comment upon regarding the vacant lot.

Planning Commissioner Gary Atkins said, "I really think this town needs responsible commercial development to increase the tax base and increase the money to spend to improve our town. I don’t know why we seek to fight every commercial development that will be good for the town. This development is going to be good for this town." He added "What would the harm be?" if there were more commercial development on the subdivided lot. He added, "We need the money" to improve roads, livability, and water distribution to attract commercial development on County Line Road and farther south on Highway 105. He noted that no other project in the town has been required to have 88 percent open space and the requirement would be "unfair."

Atkins also said it was "unfair" for adjacent property owners to sit on the Town Council and Planning Commission to "scrutinize this particular property they way they have, unprecedented over any other any property" in this town. "It’s a shame to do this to this person and that people who are neighbors on the boards and directly involved should recuse themselves and not be speaking on this. It’s wrong, it’s really embarrassing to the town" for "neighbors to have the power to create such a negative impact." He added that the property should be divided and developed for the betterment of the town. "You shouldn’t fight it."

McDonald replied that the town’s aquifers will dry up in 20 years "and then what?"

During further discussion, Parker acknowledged that that the trustees had not yet looked at the PUD master plan approved in 1999. McDonald, Miner, Flake, and Parker again expressed their concerns about setting a precedent by making a decision on the subdivision request. No actions were proposed and no decisions made.

Easement request continued

Property owner Tim Shank made a request for a preservation easement and 15-foot road easement for Hallin Hills Lots 5A and 5B and adjoining Lot 4 in the Pine-Crest Tri-District Assembly Grounds Addition No 1. Shank said the development had been replatted by a minor subdivision at the Planning Commission.

Gray said the purpose of the preservation easement was to remove it from the property so that the average slope of the remainder of the parcel would no longer violate the town’s hillside ordinance. Shank said the road easement also eased this problem and that the steepness of the area prevented realignment of the existing road. Gray said that the town had done this kind of thing in the past on Highland Road.

Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich said the town would take over this private road after the work was completed, even though it would not meet Douglas County standards that apply to the rest of the town’s roads.

McDonald advised Shank that the item could not qualify as a consent item, and he would have to return for the regular council meeting April 13.

Conditional use request continued

Kreig Campbell requested a conditional use in a CC zone for a mixed dwelling permit for a structure to include a restaurant, two shops, and six offices at street level, and three residential lots at the southeast corner of Glenway and Valley Crescent.

"I must admit that you’ve terrified me," with the town’s denial of development requests for Fritts for seven years, Campbell said. He added that he was asking for the maximum density and number of different uses that he anticipates, but he did not know what would be feasible for approval at this time. He noted that there had been confusion over his request at the Planning Commission hearing March 15. "They didn’t know what to ask for."

Campbell said that he and Blake were seeking guidance on what style and scale of architecture the neighbors and the Town Council would like to see on the vacant land. He said their original thought had been to match the appearance of the Speed Trap Café building. There had been some consensus by the Planning Commission to have the building match the adjacent Grayson’s Pineview Inn bed and breakfast building on Middle Glenway.

Parker noted that the town’s comprehensive plan is ambiguous about the preferred appearance for new mixed-use downtown buildings.

Coleman said Campbell needed to interview each of the neighboring property owners so he and the council could get a better feel of their preferences. Campbell said he would not initiate those recommended discussions until the council explained its preferences, so that the discussions with the neighbors would be more focused and productive. He added, "We want to fit in" but "I’m in a trap here" because he had provided a design but could not get feedback from the town on whether it was acceptable or not.

Miner suggested Campbell choose vintage architecture to restore the feel of the historic downtown area and acknowledged that the comprehensive plan recommends no particular architectural controls, "just an essence." Campbell replied that he didn’t mind taking the lead on a new type of architectural initiative for future downtown development, but didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on engineering and then be told to change the design to Victorian. "I’m not getting any feedback. Let’s keep all the cows going west." McDonald suggested that he work with Miner after the new board is sworn in, because she had directed the development of the comprehensive plan when she was previously a trustee.

Girlando said that until now, he did not know there was a comprehensive plan, and if it doesn’t provide any firm guidance, the council needs to change it. However, town planning commissions are responsible for drafting and approving comprehensive plans under state statutes.

Flake asked for sidewalks. Campbell said he would discuss the idea of sidewalks with the owner of the Speed Trap building, adding, "It’s not easy if each of you has a separate goal."

Shanks said that what he, Campbell, and Blake want is a solid revenue base in Palmer Lake, and they can’t develop a proposal without guidance by the Planning Commission and Town Council. "What type of design will make the town grow and be more beautiful?"

Campbell asked for specifics to take back to the Planning Commission. McDonald said no decision could be made at this time and the town would have to assign a person or committee to serve as liaison with the council because the town has no professional planning staff. Campbell said he needed guidance on variances for parking, setbacks, and rooflines before he could submit a more detailed design.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, April 13: Council approves concept of mixed-use development

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council approved a mixed-use concept by George Blake and Kreig Campbell to develop the corner of Glenway and Valley Crescent, behind the Speed Trap Cafe building on Highway 105. The council tabled Al Fritts’ request to subdivide lot 4 of the Rancho IRACEMA commercial development on Highway 105 into two lots of 14.2 and 13 acres. Trustee Chuck Cornell was absent.

After the business agenda was completed, the new Town Council, staff department heads, and municipal judge were sworn in.

Mayor Nikki McDonald announced that Fritts had notified Town Clerk Della Gray that he had been called out of town and would be unable to attend this meeting. A two-part motion to amend the agenda and table Fritts’ subdivision request was unanimously approved.

The new business license for William Sherman’s Front Range Epicurean catering, specialty food, and cooking class business on 292 S. Highway 105 was unanimously approved as a consent item, as was the payment of bills for March.

Committee reports

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported 26 Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department calls in March composed of: seven fire, seven medical, five wildland, one traffic accident, one public contact, and five public assists; 11 of these were mutual aid. Six firefighters had recently re-certified with the U.S. Forest Service for wildland fires. Coleman also reported that the department and the Palmer Lakes Fireworks Committee would hold their annual Easter Pancake Breakfast fundraiser at Town Hall.

Coleman said, "I would like to clear the air on the misconception that the tax increase issue number 5 did not pass because not enough of the volunteer fireman turned out to vote. It is not that they did not turn out to vote but that a number of our volunteer fireman are not residents but they still choose to support our town. Many of our firefighters have shown up tonight to show that they support us. They are an unpaid force. They really put themselves out for us and I’m extremely proud of them. I thank you all for coming out tonight." The audience gave them a round of applause.

There was no monthly water report due to Cornell’s absence.

Police Trustee Trudy Finan reported March’s statistics: 120 calls for service, three custody arrests, 18 cases, 50 traffic citations, 34 traffic/dog warnings, and two dog citations. There were 27 calls supporting the Monument Police Department and 17 calls supporting other county and town departments. Traffic citations were up from 34 in February due in part to the Department’s Seatbelt/Aggressive Driving Campaign. Finan also noted the fatal accident on Highway 105 during the snowstorm.

Finan said she would convene the Police Committee to begin interviewing candidates during the following week to replace Police Chief Dale Smith, who will retire July 1.

Tennis court resurfacing grant may be lost: Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake reported that Kim Makower, manager of the Palmer Lake Tennis Center (PLTC), had notified her by e-mail that he had decided not to offer the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) certified tennis lessons as promised in his grant application to the Colorado Tennis Association (CTA) for a tennis court resurfacing grant. The USTA certified tennis lessons are a condition of the December award of the $2,500 "Adopt-a-Court" CTA grant. The town’s matching requirement is about $5,600.

Flake did not say why Makower had decided to reverse his written promise on a Tennis Center letterhead in the grant application package. Makower had written, "If funded by the USTA and the district, we are committed to moving forward with the appropriate philanthropic, governmental, and corporate funding to guarantee the success of the growth of tennis in Palmer Lake." In this same application letter, Makower had added, "This grant, if received, requires a five-year commitment of tennis programming to grow the game."

Background: The second grant application prepared by Makower was dated Oct. 28, 2005. The application was endorsed by Flake, former Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Steve Spry, and Tim Wolken of the El Paso County Parks Department. After the grant was awarded to the town in December, Makower told CTA there would be a check award ceremony–– a condition of the grant––on Jan. 12 at the regular Town Council meeting, apparently without notifying Gray or McDonald.

McDonald combined the workshop and regular meetings on Jan. 5 to meet a state deadline for a special liquor license application for a fund-raising event. At that meeting, the council and Makower decided to hold a press conference on Jan. 12 to present the award.

During a phone conversation on Jan. 9, CTA Development Director Kristy Harris asked Town Clerk Della Gray to reschedule the presentation ceremony for one of the February Town Council meetings—preferably on Feb. 2—but would have to confirm the preference after checking the availability of the other CTA attendees. Gray sent an e-mail to Harris later on Jan. 9 that asked for confirmation of the preferred date and noted that the check presentation ceremony had been added to the agenda for the Feb. 2 workshop, with planned participation by Harris, Peters, and CTA Executive Director Fritz Ganger. However, they did not attend that meeting. Harris did not acknowledge the e-mail notification and has not talked to the town since.

Makower wrote a letter dated Jan. 12, on a Tennis Center letterhead, to Carolyn Peters of the Community Development Committee of the CTA that claimed the award ceremony "had been unilaterally cancelled" by the town. He also wrote that the town’s "breach of discretion and protocol has led me to believe that some elements of our grant application may not be true and correct." His letter did not define those "elements".

He also wrote, "We are questioning whether or not the PLTC can honor our obligations under the spirit of the grant. The PLTC 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 (Town Council) has in promoting tennis in the community." His letter concluded, "We will present the findings of this investigation to you and/or your committee no later than April 17, 2006."

Neither Makower nor any CTA representatives attended the Feb. 2 workshop meeting. The agenda item for the CTA award ceremony was continued.

At the regular council meeting 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." Trustee Max Parker, who later decided to run for mayor, 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.

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 courts or pay reservation fees. Gray said the fee for residents is $2 per hour and $10 for nonresidents. Maggie Amato asked that if Makower was not paying the fee, his tennis center should 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."

No action was taken Feb. 9 and the grant was not discussed again until Flake’s announcement that Makower would not offer the lessons after all.

Flake suggested making an amended grant request and said she would hold a committee meeting to generate alternative suggestions for the town to meet the grant requirements for lessons before summer.

Flake also reported:

  • The town was looking for a Jazzercise instructor to supplement the 9:15 a.m. "pay-as-you-go" yoga classes in Town Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday and the belly dancing class at 11 a.m. Wednesdays.

  • The fishing derby at Palmer Lake is scheduled for 8 a.m. June 3. The town’s liability policy will be used by the Awake the Lake Committee for Division of Wildlife approval. The lake will be restocked by the DOW before the derby.

  • Chuck Pyle will give a concert during the Columbine Festival 1-3 p.m. June 10 on the Village Green in front of Town Hall.

Fountain Creek Watershed Study representative Bob Miner distributed meeting reports that listed fiscal-year expenses and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding shortfalls for the next five years despite the availability of community matching funds. The state Health Department will request bids for a water quality study and is continuing its hydrology studies for the region.

Greg Cook reported that the Awake the Lake Committee would like to set up a town-sanctioned subcommittee for the town’s park by Palmer Lake. The pavers project for the memorial park by the lake is proceeding. Cook will distribute a flier in town water bills seeking funds and recruits for the committees.

He asked the council to lobby the railroad to restore the natural drainage into the lake that was diverted to the north of town by a rail repair after a major accident near County Line Road. He suggested a culvert under the tracks to restore the historic flow of the natural spring into the lake.

Street name change approved: The council unanimously approved a name change for Frontier Lane to Circle Road. Town staff will notify all affected residents, regional agencies, and other entities and install a new street sign.

Preservation easement continued: Tim Shank did not attend the meeting. The item was unanimously continued until May.

Conditional use request for new multi-use project approved

Kreig Campbell requested a conditional use in a CC zone for a mixed-dwelling permit for a structure to include a restaurant, two shops, and six offices at street level, and three residential lots at the southeast corner of Glenway and Valley Crescent.

Campbell said that there were two challenges for his proposed project: finding an acceptable design for his development and determining the formal process of gaining approval for the requested conditional use permit. "It’s opened up a can of worms that’s large. We want to be sensitive to what the town wants. The town is sensitive to us and we appreciate that. We have citizens who have different opinions of what the building and project should look like."

He asked for prompt approval of the conditional use permit and then asked that the proposal be sent back to a committee to provide guidance to clarify "the developer’s rights and the town’s goals" to ensure a viable investment for the short term as well as town assistance on an acceptable design for the long term.

Parker said the list of potential uses was too large for the proposed building. Campbell said the list was larger than what he expected to be approved but included the maximum possible numbers of each type of use.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis suggested a simpler title of "mixed residential and commercial use" with further definition of the final configuration to be brought back to the Planning Commission and Town Council after the design of the project is further defined.

Coleman said neighbors of the proposed project described the building as too large. He said there wasn’t room for a 24-foot driveway and the required on-site parking.

Campbell said he was aware that the design would evolve and may require a variance. He said that the neighbors should participate in the design review committee. He added that he has already purchased the property. Some neighbors in attendance volunteered for the committee. Other neighbors thought it was too soon to grant the conditional use permit without further guidance and refinement of the proposal by the Planning Commission. All, however, agreed that the town should want to help Campbell develop the project and an appropriate compromise.

Planning Commissioner Gary Atkins said the commission had not approved a specific design or size for the project, only the concept of a conditional use with combined residential and commercial.

Campbell said he needed a statement of support for the project, if the permit were not approved, to ensure financing support from his investors. The council unanimously approved the mixed-use concept combining residential and commercial on the site, on the condition that the specific design must be approved by the Planning Commission and Town Council.

The council adjourned at 8 p.m.

New council takes office

Then Palmer Lake Municipal Judge John Ciccolella swore in new Mayor Max Parker and new Trustees Richard Allen and Susan Miner as well as re-elected Trustees Finan, Flake, and Girlando.

The new council convened and unanimously passed a motion to re-appoint all the town officers. Town Clerk/Treasurer Della Gray, Deputy Town Clerk Tara Berreth, Town Attorney Larry Gaddis, Chief of Police Dale Smith, and Fire Chief Phillip Beckman were sworn in. Gray swore in Judge Ciccolella.

The new council unanimously approved a proclamation declaring the town’s Arbor Day would be held April 21. He noted that there would be a celebration May 19 at the Palmer Lake Elementary School.

McDonald recognition

Parker presented former Mayor McDonald with a plaque commemorating her long service on the Town Council after an emotion-filled speech listing her accomplishments and praising her character and commitment.

McDonald said, "You have a great new board that will be a blessing to this town."

McDonald’s husband, Bill, presented a witty poem he had written about the joys and woes of her six-year tenure as mayor.

The second meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m. for a reception for old and new council members.

The next council workshop meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. May 4. Council workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 11 in Town Hall. Regular council meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month.

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 3: Three development proposals approved

By Jim Kendrick

A standing-room-only crowd was again on hand for the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting April 3 for public hearings on three types of development proposals:

  • Revised PD sketch plan for Lake of the Rockies

  • Final PD site plan for Colorado Junior Volleyball Gymnasium

  • Amendment to the zoning map for Promontory Pointe

The board also approved new liquor licenses for IL Fratello’s Restaurant, Inc. and Jasmine Garden, Inc.

Trustee comments

Mayor Byron Glenn said that he and Town Manager Cathy Green had met the previous week with Bob Torres, director of Region II of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Torres agreed to schedule a meeting of these three with CDOT’s Executive Director Tom Norton for April 14, along with County Commissioner Wayne Williams and Promontory Pointe spokesman Terry Schooler, who is also a CDOT commissioner.

Glenn said his main agenda item for the April 14 meeting would be to get assurances that CDOT would pay for all or most of the planned improvements to the I-25 Baptist Road interchange (Exit 158) if the Colorado Legislature provides enough capital improvement funding. The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA), Monument, and the county had arranged for private financing of interchange expansion using private road construction bonds.

The town’s goal is to have the interchange improved before the possible availability of CDOT capital improvement funds in the region’s 2007-12 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). Glenn said that BRRTA, Monument, and the county were also planning to directly lobby the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments on April 18 to ensure that the interchange is on the TIP list of approved state road construction projects in the region that would be eligible to receive state capital funding as it is appropriated each year by the state legislature.

Glenn noted that the interest on the tax-exempt construction bonds would no longer be paid for by a voluntary public improvement fee charged by BRRTA retail businesses, since Wal-Mart had refused to participate at the March 10 BRRTA meeting. He said BRRTA will now seek approval of a temporary 1-cent sales tax in the November election to pay the interest on the privately financed road construction bonds until CDOT funds become available to pay off the bond principal. However, CDOT may not be able to pay for the total construction costs and might offer to pay only 90 percent of the capital construction costs.

Also, CDOT might not be able to pay anything against the private construction bond principal for the interchange in the worst-case scenario for year-to-year CDOT capital project funding priorities. In this worst case, the temporary sales tax would have to be extended to pay off the entire principal as well as all the interest for the construction bonds over a nominal 10-20 year period.

It is too early to know the actual interchange improvement costs, or the amount of revenue the retail stores within BRRTA could generate as Jackson Creek, Home Place Ranch, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe (Baptist Camp) are annexed and developed, though a study has been commissioned by BRRTA. Design and construction costs for Baptist Road widening from I-25 to Tari Drive and connection of the existing Struthers Road between Northgate Road and the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road are much higher than estimated, about $2 million more than the amount available from BRRTA, PPRTA, and the county.

Liquor license hearings

After it was noted that fingerprint reports for the applicants—IL Fratello’s restaurant, 1415 Cipriani Loop, and Jasmine Garden, 1425 Cipriani Loop—came back clear, both licenses received final approval. Trustee Tommie Plank asked if either owner had any history of violations with previously held liquor licenses. Police Chief Jake Shirk noted that Detective Mark Owens had discovered no violations of previously held liquor licenses by either applicant during his investigation.

Plank then noted that there are now three restaurants next to each other in this location. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said that the owner of the properties is trying to buy additional land for parking. The town’s Board of Adjustments approved the clustering of the three restaurants, noting that adjacent businesses operate only during the day and that their lots could absorb additional cars after they had closed and the three restaurants opened for their peak evening hours.

SEH contract extended

The board unanimously approved an extension through the end of 2007 for the contract with traffic consultant Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH). Kassawara said that the various individual rates in the extension increased an average of 5.75 percent over two years. He added that there had been no increases in 2004 and 2005 or for work performed since the last contract expired in January. The extension now exempts travel charges for up to four site visits to the town per year and markups for sub-consultants. The maximum amount of the contract is $30,000 per year. All but about $2,000 of this cost is paid by retainer fees from developers.

Lake of the Rockies sketch PD plan approved

Kassawara said landowner and developer BK-LOR, Inc. had made further revisions to proposed sketch plans for developing the now vacant land that was formerly an RV campground. This was the fifth revision of the original submission presented to the staff in October. The parcel, southwest of the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and Second Street, wraps around the east and south sides of Monument Lake and the dam. Kassawara added that the latest revision had reduced average density, increased open space, and improved access to Monument Lake as requested by the Planning Commission and BOT as well as addressing many of the concerns expressed by neighboring landowners.

In addition, BK-LOR has offered to donate the existing 4,759-square-foot general store building and the existing well. The building will need a new roof. There are 30 additional parking spaces along the lakefront in this revision, so the building could house a senior center or other public facility.

Kassawara discussed the major changes to the sketch plan. He said the number of planned single-family homes had been reduced from 196 homes to 164 homes. The area just west of the dam, which currently has no access from the town or the county, had been changed from three lots to two. Densities have been adjusted to match West Oak Ridge to the south and the various developments to the east. The north-end density remains unchanged at 5-6 dwelling units per acre in clusters of neo-traditional homes with rear-alley accesses to rear-facing garages.

The main access road is now called Monument Lake Parkway. This tree-lined right-of-way has increased to 75 feet to provide a better view of the lake. Trees will also line the boulevard median of the parkway. An internal roadway and an alley were eliminated.

The amount of open space next to the lake has been increased, with better parking access along the lakefront. Total open space is about 40 percent.

BK-LOR’s proposed deceleration lanes for northbound and southbound Mitchell Avenue have been lengthened. The 300-foot right-turn lane, plus a 90-foot taper, from northbound Mitchell Avenue to eastbound Second Street should be able to hold stacked traffic for an average train passage of about four minutes. The southbound right-turn lane for Monument Lake Parkway is now 154 feet, with an additional 96 feet of taper, the CDOT standard for the speed limit for a minor arterial. Sufficient Mitchell Avenue right-of-way will be dedicated to the town to ensure a full capacity of 60 feet of right-of-way for the entire frontage and intersection of Mitchell with Second. Kassawara said Mitchell Avenue will not change from a minor to a major arterial before buildout, which would require a right-of-way of 80 feet.

New water issues: The reduced number of houses eliminates some concerns expressed by town water consultant Lytle Water Solutions, LLC, about groundwater capacity for the site. Bruce Lytle had originally determined the maximum water capacity for the development to be 206 single-family equivalent (SFE) taps. He then revised that number down to 196 taps while recommending only 194 taps in January, due to high irrigation requirements for the three proposed large lots on the west side of the dam. This number is based on depleting all the water in all four aquifers of the Denver Basin within 100 years. El Paso County requires adjudicated groundwater for a development to last 300 years.

However, BK-LOR has now decided not to seek a density that uses all the potential groundwater under the site. Lytle’s estimate determined that the site can serve only 164.8 SFE taps, if the 31.6 SFE taps available from the deepest aquifer, Laramie-Fox Hills, are not used. This is consistent with Monument’s policy of having no wells that are deep enough to access the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer. A further problem is that the water in the Denver aquifer under the parcel has not been adjudicated and cannot be used.

The campsite has been served until now by a single Dawson aquifer well that is adjudicated to produce 49 gallons per minute, and the developer has offered to donate the rights to this well to the town to offset the temporary shortfall until all the groundwater under the parcel has been adjudicated in water court. However, Public Works has declined to use water from this low-capacity well in the interim.

Developer and landowner Jerry Biggs said he had met with neighbors since the January hearing and had addressed their concerns. Tim Seibert of NES gave a PowerPoint presentation that again highlighted the changes pointed out by Kassawara. He noted that there were three additional acres of parkland in this revision. He added that on March 7, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had authorized continued use of the existing roads below the dam as walking/biking trails within that Preble’s mouse habitat. No new trails can be built, and motorized vehicles will be prohibited on the existing roads.

The developer reported that the approximate land use breakdown is now:

  • 2-3 dwelling units per acre – 11.2 acres

  • 3-4 dwelling units per acre – 19.3 acres

  • 5-6 dwelling units per acre – 10.0 acres

  • Large lots – 8.15 acres

  • Open Space – 27 acres

Jerry Biggs also provided copies of two letters from consultants who had evaluated the site for commercial uses. Biggs had sought the evaluations in response to several Planning Commission and BOT requests to include some commercial or restaurant businesses on the property.

Kevin Kratt of Kratt Commercial Properties wrote, "It is clear to me that this is not a viable commercial site." Problems he cited were the lack of:

  • Adequate residential density in the area

  • An underserved need by nearby existing businesses

  • Adequate visibility and traffic flow

  • An anchor to draw traffic

President David Lux of Concept Restaurants Management C.S., Inc., a former Red Rocks Ranch resident, wrote, "Jerry, in all honesty I cannot envision a successful restaurant operation in that location."

Public comments: John Wilson spoke in favor for his mother Delores Wilson, who lives just north of the development on the opposite side of the current dirt lane access road to the lake. He said the developer had eliminated access from this town dirt lane to the rear alley for the northernmost houses in the development as his mother had requested. The developer will build a screening fence between her property house and adjacent rear garages along the north boundary of the development.

Ron McCauley also spoke in favor. He said he became a downtown business owner in July, and there is not enough traffic for his business to survive. He said the development would provide an expanded customer base. He said he had substantial pedestrian traffic from the campground before it closed and expected walk-in traffic from the permanent residents of this proposed development.

West Oak Ridge resident Tim Schutz said even though he thought the project may still be too dense in terms of traffic and water consumption, he was in favor of the proposal on balance. He praised the innovative and creative mix of price ranges and types of houses, the creation of additional trail access for neighboring developments, additional parking along the lakeshore, and the developer’s "reaching out" to the affected neighbors to address their concerns.

Schutz suggested that the town ask the developer to replace the roof of the old general store but noted that if the building were to be renovated, it would be a plus for the town. He made several recommendations for conditions of approval for the final PD site plan:

  • No access to the two proposed large lots on the west side of the dam from Mount Herman Road.

  • A separate bike path should be created in addition to the bike lanes recently added to the sides of Mitchell Avenue.

  • A separate sidewalk/trail along the west side of Mitchell Avenue.

  • Adequate regulations and covenants to preserve the level of maintenance for low-cost houses in this development.

  • Full documentation of the architectural and landscaping requirements in the PD Design Guidelines and master plan to prevent future deviations by individual builders.

  • Sufficient front and side setbacks that ensure the survival of the planned trees and the lasting curb appeal of the clustered neo-traditional houses.

Monument business owner Steve Marks noted he would develop 41 acres that he owns just north of the project on Monument Lake Drive, and he would soon propose a similar overall design. He said 11 acres of the parcel are already in the town, and he would propose annexation of the rest of the parcel that is in the county. Marks’ property is north of Monument Lake Drive.

Town resident Lowell Morgan said he was not opposed to the proposal, but the plan should note that the town water department had never planned to drill into the Laramie Fox-Hills aquifer. He cautioned that former Town Planner Mike Davenport had frequently advised the BOT that the 100-year assessments for groundwater were based on 30-year-old data and that the town is on the edge of the Denver basin in the finger region. He suggested that the board have Bruce Lytle or another water expert make a presentation for the proposal at the next Lake of the Rockies public hearing. He said that Schutz’s suggestion for a separate bike path was a good one because the existing bike lanes on the shoulders of Mitchell Avenue and Second Street are never swept by the town.

County resident Chris Tirpak, who owns property next to the two large lots on the west side of the dam, also said that he was not significantly opposed to this proposal, and it was as good a compromise as the town could reasonably expect. He also noted that the Lake of the Rockies developer’s traffic consultant, LSC Transportation Consultants, had not accounted for the future Mitchell Avenue traffic from the 41 acres of Marks’ planned development to the north.

Siebert said that the developer was negotiating for access easements to the project’s two large lots with the owners of adjacent vacant county lot in Shiloh Pines. The easements would have to be approved by the county, because it maintains the roads in that development. He added that there were no plans to obtain an access to the south to Mount Herman Road.

Trustee comments: Plank and Trustee Dave Mertz and expressed concern about ensuring adequate prevention of unauthorized motorized vehicle traffic on the existing roads within the mouse habitat below the dam for other than maintenance of the road/trail system, mouse habitat, existing utilities, and dam. Seibert said he would propose a gate system on the PD Site Plan.

Trustee Dave Mertz asked about possible covenant restrictions against extended resident parking on Monument Lake Parkway rather than in the rear garages and driveways within the rear-alley-loaded portion of the project. Glenn said it is difficult to enforce parking restrictions in a public right-of-way. Mertz responded that on-street parking is prohibited by covenants in Jackson Creek. Siebert said permit parking would be an option to control on-street parking but didn’t expect it to be a problem based on other "traditional neighborhood design" developments within El Paso County.

Plank and Trustee Travis Easton said they remained concerned about Mitchell Avenue traffic stacking on Second Street during train crossings; the town’s traffic consultant SEH has not submitted a review of the LSC traffic studies. Easton said he was not sure 60 feet of right-of-way was sufficient for dedicated left-turn lanes and a deceleration lane at intersections. Seibert said there was room in the proposed dedicated railroad south of Second Street, between Mitchell and the railroad tracks, and along the Mitchell Avenue frontage for additional right-of-way for the deceleration and stacking lanes. The town also intends to use the unpaved portion of this dedicated land for additional detention ponds as part of the new storm water master plan for downtown.

Trustee Tim Miller noted the many written concerns submitted by residents regarding density and setbacks. Seibert said that setbacks were reduced as a compromise to create 30-foot-wide common areas in front of the homes in the traditional neighborhood portion of the development at the north end of the project, as well as rear garages, rear driveways, and alleys.

Miller and Green noted that the town could not afford to buy this privately owned land for a park because it costs three times the town’s total annual revenue. Trustee Gail Drumm noted that there was vacant land on the northeast shore of the lake that the town could consider for a park.

Glenn thanked the developer for the three additional acres of dedicated open space for parks and cooperation in revising the plan to meet town and neighbor concerns. He said that the northern, traditional neighborhood design portion of the development would be attractive to young people who want to work, shop, and live in a walking neighborhood. He said the town could probably find the funding to replace the roof on the dedicated building.

Glenn expressed concerns about the size and location of the proposed detention ponds, traffic at the railroad crossing, and lack of plans for an improved Second Street pedestrian crossing of the railroad tracks. He was also concerned about the current inability to extend Mitchell Avenue southward to Baptist Road through mouse habitat and to Highway 105 to the north in the near future to relieve backups for trains. He suggested establishing a precedent by making Mitchell Avenue three lanes wide, with a dedicated center turn lane for the entire frontage of this parcel as well as a detached bike path/trail.

Glenn said the Planning Commission should review this revision of the plan because they had never formally voted on any of the various Lake of the Rockies proposals presented to them before the BOT voting on this ordinance. Green said that the board was only approving the proposed densities and a change from commercial to residential use and that the Planning Commission’s concerns about overall density had been addressed.

Glenn said that the motion to approve the sketch plan should call it a "conceptual plan" only and that the submitted plan should be made an amendment to the ordinance. Green said that the board needs to review and tighten the town ordinance on sketch plans to give developers and board members more confidence about approvals prior to developers spending considerable money on engineering design for final site plans.

The board unanimously approved the ordinance authorizing the sketch plan’s proposed densities and exclusively residential uses. No conditions were placed on the approval.

Colorado Juniors Volleyball Gymnasium approved

The board unanimously approved the ordinance for the final PD site plan and subdivision improvement agreement for a 15,800-square-foot indoor volleyball facility to be built by Access Construction within the Planned Industrial zoned area east of the intersection of Mitchell and Arnold Avenues. The nonprofit Colorado Juniors organization has agreed to $119,000 worth of exterior improvements to the four-court steel facility.

Kassawara reported that the building design was upgraded to include a stucco veneer with stone accents, front windows, and a landscape buffer recommended by the staff to provide a better appearance than the neighboring Synthes and Summit Container steel buildings. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal March 8. A condition of approval was town staff approval of all final engineering plans.

There was no opposition to the proposal at the Planning Commission or BOT hearings. Several parents of current and former participants praised owners Bill and Judy Peer at both hearings for the success of the program in developing its participants for adulthood and also for college volleyball programs, netting 118 athletic scholarships worth over $7 million to date for its participants.

The ordinance hearing for the renewal of the franchise fee contract with Mountain View Electric Association was unanimously removed from this and future agendas because the utility had still not provided a copy of its proposed revisions. The hearing had been continued at previous BOT hearings.

Promontory Pointe Rezoning approved

The board unanimously approved PD zoning for the northern 78 acres of Promontory Pointe that were annexed Feb. 6. This zoning matches the PD zoning for the southern 39 acres, next to the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive that were annexed and rezoned in 1989.

The original county zoning for the parcel before annexation had been RR-3 (5-acre lots or larger). A condition of annexation in state law requires that annexed land be given a town zoning within 90 days that complies with the town’s Comprehensive Plan. Green noted that there is no requirement for the town to continue a zoning equivalent to the county’s zoning for the annexed land. The Planning Commission unanimously approved PD zoning for the 78-acre annexation on March 8.

Tim Schutz, attorney for the Kingswood HOA, presented a copy of the signed agreement between the developer and the association regarding construction by Landco of a screening fence on adjacent Kingswood property-owners’ land. He asked that the agreement be attached to the record for the new zoning map. Green accepted the agreement but declined to attach it to the record because that might imply the ordinance was a form of illegal "contract zoning."

Landco owner Ray Marshall reported that a road improvement district was being formed in conjunction with the developers of Home Place Ranch and Sanctuary Pointe (the former Baptist Camp parcel) to finance widening of Higby Road and construction of the northward extension of Gleneagle Drive. The latter will be called Ranch Point Road and will connect to the future intersection of Furrow and Higby Roads to complete the north-south arterial called for in the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan. Marshall said the road improvement district would be managed by the three developers, Triview Metropolitan District, and the town. He expects a cap of no more than 7 mills for the district.

Marshall said there are no current plans for this new special district to pay for widening the rest of Jackson Creek Parkway to four lanes, contrary to other statements about the scope of planned improvements. He said the three developers may consider proposals to widen some portions of Jackson Creek Parkway to four lanes between Higby and Highway 105 after the final costs and required mill levies for Higby and Ranch Point Roads are determined.

Triview District Manager Ron Simpson concurred with Marshall on the 7 mill levy maximum and the limited potential for financing the widening of Jackson Creek Parkway with those limited revenues.

Staff reports

Green reported that the BOT post-election retreat would be May 6. She suggested canceling the July 3 BOT meeting due to the holiday. She said the staff is working in coordination with developers, Triview, and Lewis-Palmer School District 38 on traffic studies for future additional accesses on Jackson Creek Parkway as well as a new road improvement district for the parkway and Higby Road.

At 9:30 p.m., the board went into executive session to discuss real estate negotiations. No actions were taken after returning to regular session before adjournment.

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 17: Board salutes Orten at his last meeting

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved a resolution thanking Trustee Frank Orten for his service. The board also ratified a change in its contract with the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) and discussed financing problems for police station construction and new roads.

Board of Trustees Comments

Jackson Creek park concerns discussed again: Trustee Dave Mertz asked about the town staff’s success in negotiating with Triview Metropolitan District and developer Vision Development for construction of a park in Jackson Creek. Mertz has criticized Triview and the developers of new Jackson Creek subdivisions recently, noting that none of the proposals include neighborhood parks. There has been no proposal from Vision Development for a regional park to replace their originally proposed "field of dreams" regional park that was to be built in an area that was later declared to be Preble’s mouse habitat.

Mayor Byron Glenn said he had discussed the issue again with Vision Development’s project manager Rick Blevins. Glenn said Blevins had told him "If you can get Mr. Dave Mertz off our backs, we’ll be more than happy to give you guys a park." Glenn added that Blevins was "thinking of parks that are not really useable to us. Our thoughts are we’d like a 12 acre piece we could put a football field on."

Triview asks to town to take over its operations: Glenn said he has told the staff that "the next time a zone change comes in that we need to negotiate a lot of these things that haven’t been done. Personally I don’t think that Jackson Creek has given a whole lot to the town. We’ve bent over backwards. They need to dedicate something to the town for the good of the region."

Glenn noted that Triview had requested a one-year extension of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for services through the end of 2006, but the town had limited the extension to six months. Triview has again asked that the IGA be extended for the full year. Green noted that Triview had asked the town to take over all of Triview’s municipal services responsibilities except sewers. She said that the earliest takeover should not occur until 2007 and had asked Triview to propose a draft of the new IGA.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said another issue to be resolved prior to the takeover would be elimination of all the differences between Triview’s and the town’s zoning and construction regulations. Kassawara has initiated a new inspections program where town inspectors exercise oversight of construction in Triview and issue the final approval on all new public infrastructure and residential/commercial development. He said that the differences in the two sets of water system regulations had been resolved and were ready for approval.

Glenn said that Triview must fix all the existing substandard road and drainage problems that the district has allowed to occur prior to final negotiations on a new IGA and town takeover of operations and maintenance. He also said, "Tom, I think we need to have authority on the final approval of the street plans along with the inspection of the roads if we’re going to have to maintain them." Kassawara replied that adoption of unified street standards is the next issue to be addressed with Triview at the staff level.

Glenn said, "Before we take over any roads or sign those agreements, they’re fixing those four inlets on Jackson Creek (Parkway)." Glenn was referring to the drainage inlets for the very large storm water drainage way where Jackson Creek crosses under Jackson Creek Parkway just north of the Lyons Tail Road intersection.

Road construction update: Glenn and Mertz reviewed the results of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting Apr. 14. They also made several additional comments about how to make up for the $2.8 million revenue shortfall in Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) funds for the first BRRTA road construction contract and the cost of moving Mountain View Electric Association power lines jumping from $200,000 to $600,000. (See article on page xxx for details on traffic impact fee increases.)

Glenn said he would like the town to participate in making up the revenue shortfall. He noted that the county Department of Transportation is "willing to take up some of the slack that PPRTA and BRRTA can’t take over." He suggested giving PPRTA the town’s revenue from the 2007 Mountain View Electric Association franchise fee.

Other funding shortfalls identified: Glenn also noted that BRRTA is "$10 million short for the full improvements on Baptist including the west side and the railroad bridge."

Cost estimates for future Baptist Road improvements are:

  • $8.5 million for widening west of Old Denver Highway and a bridge over the railroad tracks

  • $1.6 million for widening east of Desiree Drive to Tari Lane

  • $0.98 million for widening between I-25 and Old Denver Highway.

Planned contributions toward this $11.1 million cost are:

  • $1 million from PPRTA

  • $1.414 million from the Forest Lakes developer

  • $1 million from other unspecified sources

Glenn noted that the Promontory Pointe, Homeplace Ranch, and Sanctuary Point developers had agreed to set up three individual road improvement districts. There will be a mill levy of approximately 15 mills on residential property to "pay for the Gleneagle Drive extension to Higby," which will be called Ranch Point Road. The districts will also pay for widening of Higby along the frontage of Homeplace Ranch and west to the Pulte Townhomes. Glenn added, "Triview will pay for their portion of Higby Road" further west of the Pulte townhomes to the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection "and I’m pushing for Jackson Creek (Parkway) north of Higby as well." He said that "Development will pay for itself" including road improvement and utility infrastructure costs. Future commercial developments will pay traffic impact fees to these road improvement districts.

Trustee Tommie Plank said that the new homeowners are the "ones paying for the growth," not the developers. Glenn agreed that the "mill levies will be on the residents, about 15 mills." He said that for most residential property in Colorado Springs the total mill levy is 110 to 120 mills, less than that proposed for these three annexations. He added that the purchase of lots in these three developments is market driven and will be voted on in each district.

Mertz said he had voted no on the BRRTA fee increases for the same reason Plank had noted, Homebuyers would have to pay the proposed special district property tax and the proposed new BRRTA sales tax, as well as the doubled BRRTA traffic impact fees. He noted that Commissioner Wayne Williams had said at the BRRTA meeting that the new residents and businesses are the ones creating the traffic problems and should be the ones who to pay for the road improvements.

Glenn said he agreed with Williams and that "the users should pay for the improvements they use," particularly the I-25 interchange, since there will be no money for Exit 158 improvements unless the voters approve the taxes in November. Plank replied that she felt sorry for the residents of Jackson Creek. Glenn said, "It’s their choice to live there." Mertz and Glenn are Jackson Creek residents.

Glenn said that town representatives had met with CDOT Executive Director Tom Norton. He said that Norton had no reservations about repaying the principal for the private BRRTA bonds that have been proposed to finance early construction of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange if the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments adds the interchange to the 2007-2012 Region 2 Transportation Improvement Plan on May 10. Glenn also said that the public improvement fee concept was not dead as a method of paying the interest on the private bonds, even though Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, and Home Depot have refused to participate in the voluntary one-cent retail sales fee.

Amendment to EPCWA Agreement approved

The town’s representative to EPCWA, Betty Konarski, said the main purpose of the revision to the contract between the Authority and its member communities was to lower the quorum requirement for EPCWA meetings to 9 organizations. She said that the Board of County Commissioners had made membership mandatory for county water-providing entities, but noted it is not mandatory for them to attend meetings. The other two changes were the addition of drainage issues to member and EPCWA responsibilities and to require member organizations to appoint specific primary and alternate representatives. Only these appointees will be eligible to vote.

Trustee Gail Drumm objected to the addition of drainage issues, saying Colorado Springs had become carried away with their authority to tax people for drainage. He said the town shouldn’t be a part of that. Konarski said that EPCWA had no authority to act on drainage and "Your point is well taken." She added that every other member had ratified the changes and that the town should maintain "a voice at the table" just as it does by attending Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments meetings. Glenn said that a positive vote on resolution to ratify the proposed revisions would not be a vote to create an enterprise fund as had been done in Colorado Springs.

The ratification motion passed (6-1) with Drumm opposed.

Parting gifts for Orten

The board unanimously approved a resolution praising Trustee Orten’s community involvement, contributions to the Town and BOT, and membership as town representative to several county organizations. Orten was presented a framed copy of the resolution, a plaque, a book on fly fishing titled "Zipping My Fly," and John Fielder’s "Mountains of Colorado." Orten announced that he was about to start a new job in Lakewood and would be moving there shortly.

Police building decision deferred

Green reviewed staff actions on construction of a new police building. She said that the town could not incur any additional bond debt, leaving lease-purchase or certificates of participation as the only options for financing. She said she needed more time for research by the town’s architect for the police station.

Glenn said there was not enough information for a decision at this time on all the options available. Plank said that the range of options under consideration may have expanded away from the town’s original goal of just a police station or perhaps a police station with a town hall option.

Financial issues

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

  • $32,147.13 to Triview for its half of February sales tax generated within the metropolitan district ($27,038.49) and March motor vehicle tax ($5,108.64)

  • $10,000 to the lobbying/promotional group Front Range Commuter Rail for a one-year membership fee so that the town can remain a candidate for a passenger train station when the freight trains no longer use the tracks through town.

Smith reported that the summary for the first quarter of 2006 would be ready in May, after the town receives first quarter tax revenue information.

After lengthy discussion, the board unanimously continued a request from the Historic Monument Merchants Association for a town Economic/Community Development Grant to pay for "Art Hop" street-side banners and upgrade the banner holder for the new poles on Second Street just west of Highway 105. Business Owner Linda Pankratz was unable to attend the meeting and answer the trustees’ questions. The request appeared to be for $9,000 with a $1,000 match.

Staff Reports

Kassawara announced the hiring of Planner Karen Griffith. She will work on Thursdays and Fridays until mid-May, then transition to full-time. She still works for the Planning Department of Douglas County. Green and Town Attorney Gary Shupp recommended that the town make a voluntary donation of about $4,000 to the Colorado Junior Volleyball organization rather than set a precedent for non-profit organizations by waiving the use tax for the group’s new gymnasium on Mitchell Avenue. The Final PD Site Plan for the gym was approved Apr. 3. Mertz asked Green to make the donation an agenda item for the May 1 meeting.

Green and Kassawara reported that a start date for construction of the new YMCA on Jackson Creek Parkway has not been determined.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported that work was proceeding on four town wells and there has been a delay in obtaining the building permit from Regional Building for the town’s new water treatment plant 3. Electricity has been installed in the town’s new Public Works garage allowing the staff to move in. Heat and gas will be installed in early fall. He also said that a voluntary citizen committee had reviewed plans on Mar. 22 for parks and landscape improvements planned for downtown this year.

Green and Landreth endorsed the idea of the town taking over all of Triview’s operations and maintenance responsibilities for town infrastructure in Jackson Creek.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported that three new police cars would be delivered by the end of the month and that there has been positive response to the new black and white paint scheme on the department’s vehicles. He showed photos of the department’s support for the funeral and memorial service of Colorado Springs Officer Jared Jensen. There were 64 new cases in March. Shirk also announced new documents that show day of the week and time activity data for seven different parts of town by percentages. The highest activity for March was in downtown, 39 percent of calls, followed by 29 percent in Jackson Creek.

Drumm suggested that the town soften its demands of the railroad while also seeking a commuter railroad station. Green said she and Town Clerk Scott Meszaros would work that issue through state officials in Denver rather than the railroad.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 1: Same trustees begin new term of office

By Jim Kendrick

Four members of the Monument Board of Trustees were sworn in May 1. The board unanimously approved a resolution declaring May 12 Arbor Day and approved a one-year renewal of the liquor license for the Conoco station on Highway 105.

Four trustees sworn in

No votes were cast for the Board of Trustees election that had been scheduled for April 4 because only four candidates were running for four vacant seats, resulting in election by acclamation. New Trustee Steven Samuels was elected to replace former Trustee and Mayor Pro-tem Frank Orten. Incumbents Tommie Plank, Travis Easton, and Tim Miller had each been appointed, so this was their first election as well.

The board appointed Trustee Dave Mertz as mayor pro-tem, Plank as trustee member of the town’s Board of Adjustments, and Easton as alternate to Mayor Byron Glenn as the town’s representative to the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Also appointed were Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara and Town Manager Cathy Green as primary and alternate members to the Traffic Advisory Council of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. All the appointments are for two years.

Joint Police Department service area merger discussed

Police Chief Jacob Shirk asked for and received the board’s endorsement to discuss options for various levels of increased cooperation between the Monument and Palmer Lake police departments. He said dual police powers would help both departments, minimizing criminal activity that takes advantage by moving back and forth between the two towns. He noted numerous possible advantages and disadvantages to various levels of consolidation.

He added that the towns are insured by the same government entity, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk-Sharing Agency, which has experience with joint police operations liability issues and can provide advice on how to plan for combined operations. He noted that the towns have a Memorandum of Understanding with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Financial issues

The board unanimously approved a one-time voluntary donation of up to $4,400 from the BOT’s discretionary fund to the Colorado Juniors Volleyball Association. The final amount of the donation will equal the association’s construction materials sales tax fee, which cannot be waived.

The board unanimously approved a corrected Economic/Community Development Grant Application from the Historic Monument Merchants Association for $1,400 for new banners and mounting equipment for this year’s Art Hop on May 18.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that the trial date for the lawsuit filed against the town regarding the Transit Mix concrete batch plant (proposed for Washington Street and Highway 105) has been moved from November 2006 to sometime in 2007. CIRSA is responsible for the cost of representing the town in this lawsuit, including a possible pre-trial settlement.

Glenn said that a joint dinner meeting with Triview Metropolitan District would be held in Town Hall at 6 p.m. May 8. He also proposed that the staff schedule a quarterly community meeting to solicit constituent comments. It would be held in the Creekside Middle School auditorium in mid-June.

Glenn noted that the BOT meeting scheduled for July 3 should be rescheduled or cancelled. The consensus of the board was to defer this decision to the June 3 meeting.

Green noted that the trustees would hold their traditional retreat at the start of a new term of office May 6 at the Inn at Palmer Divide.

After a reception following the swearing-in, the board began a lengthy executive session at 7:20 p.m. to discuss real estate negotiations regarding the town’s growing number of options for new buildings in new locations. After the executive session, the board directed Green to solicit offers from regional banks for alternative lease-purchase options for new construction. No decisions were made about location, building size, or which town functions would move.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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Monument Planning Commission, April 12: Meadows at Monument Lake approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved three documents for the new Meadows at Monument Lake development on vacant land on the south side of Monument Lake Drive, just east of the Raspberry Point townhomes:

  • Rezoning map changing the existing R3 zone to Planned Development (PD)

  • Preliminary plat

  • Final PD site plan

The commissioners also approved the third amendment to the Final PD Site Plan for the Monument Marketplace in Regency Park. All the commissioners were present.

Meadows at Monument Lake

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara gave an overview of the proposed single-family attached development, then landowner Justin Tabone, of Delford, Inc., responded to citizen and commissioner questions during each of the three open public hearings on his proposals for rezoning, preliminary plat, and final PD site plan. About 15 neighbors were present for the three hearings.

Commissioner John Kortgardner recused himself from the three hearings, noting that he is a Raspberry Point homeowner. Alternate Commissioner Lowell Morgan replaced him for these hearings.

Kassawara reported that Tabone proposed that his company, Hartford Building Company LLC, build 15 new townhomes on 3.902 acres. Land use would consist of:

  • Residential lots, 0.694 acre

  • Right-of-way, 0.446 acre

  • Parking, 0.175 acre

  • Irrigated common area, 0.400 acre

  • Non-irrigated common area, 1,406 acres

  • Open space, 0.781 acre

The average lot size is 3,206 square feet, ranging from 2,855 to 3,505 square feet.

Rezoning: While the proposal generally meets the existing R-3 zoning requirements, Kassawara reported that, "Due to the topographical limitations of the site, the applicant is not able to meet the minimum lot size and setback requirements of the R-3 zone and still provide individual platted lots" for each single-family home to simplify fee simple homeownership. The unusable topography is proposed to be common areas or open space that will be maintained by the proposed homeowner association. Kassawara called this request "a minimal rezoning." Because there are only four exceptions to R-3 zone requirements, a compendium of design guidelines and a PD master plan are not required. The staff proposed no conditions for the rezoning request.

In the plan, the R-3 minimum lot size is 3,630 square feet, while the proposed PD minimum is 2,800 square feet. However, there is substantially more open space to the rear of each home than in a typical townhome community. Kassawara emphasized that the smaller lot sizes do not increase average density and there will be no fences to separate rear lot lines and common areas.

Rear setbacks are reduced substantially from the R-3 minimum of 25 feet to only 5 feet, but there is a wide common area between the lots and the boundary of the development. The common areas between the rear lot lines and development boundaries are 25 feet wide or more next to Raspberry Point. No house is closer than 30 feet to the common boundary with Raspberry Point. The common area behind the Tabone townhomes on the east side of his parcel is 92 feet wide or more.

The R-3 front setback minimum is 25 feet, while the proposed PD minimum is 20 feet. This setback limit still allows sufficient room for driveway parking to allow snowplowing of the entire paved roadway. On-street parking will be prohibited on the single access cul-de-sac private road. Kassawara reported, "Front setback reductions are minimal and merely allow the development to occur on the buildable area of the site."

Preliminary plat: Kassawara said that the plat was simple and straightforward, with a single private road called Bel Lago Terrace. The right-of-way is 50 feet wide and meets town standards for a dead-end street with a cul-de-sac, should the town ever have to take over ownership of the private road.

Lots 11, 12, and 13 are currently deemed unbuildable by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department due to being in a floodplain. However, after they are elevated and regraded with fill, the applicant can seek a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) from Regional Building for future construction. No conditions were recommended for the preliminary plat.

Final PD site plan: Kassawara reported that the designated open space in the floodplain is too steep for a park and would require a waiver by the Board of Trustees as a condition of approval. He suggested that "the Town accept it as a dedication since little or no maintenance will be required." He added that there is no usable space for a park on the property but few children are expected to live there. He also noted, "Receiving in-lieu fees for such a low-valued unbuildable piece of property for use elsewhere is not an acceptable alternative"

The development will generate 90 trips per weekday on Monument Lake Road, with a peak of six trips per hour. There will be no large trash bins as each individually owned home will contract for trash pickup. A 5-foot-wide gravel trail between Monument Lake Road and the lake has been voluntarily added to the plan at staff’s request.

Kassawara proposed three conditions of approval for the final PD site plan:

  • Pikes Peak Regional Building Department approval of the LOMR for construction for Lots 11-13

  • Board of Trustee approval of the required dedication to the town of open space within the 100-year floodplain

  • Approval of engineering plans by town staff before final approval of the final PD site plan

Rezoning hearing

Public comments: Raspberry Point resident Ann Krill noted that there were natural springs on the site. Tabone said that his geotechnical consultant would locate them and provide for appropriate rerouting of flows and drainage. Kassawara said the town would review and approve the plan.

Krill said her basement had been flooded with sewage several times. Morgan and Planning Commission Chair Ed Delaney noted that the backups were caused by the development’s privately owned sewer collection line. They said the Monument Sanitation District is upgrading those lines, which had no cleanouts, for about 20 homes at no expense to the residents.

In response to Krill’s concerns about views and wildlife, Tabone noted that the proposed attached houses are only 1.5 stories tall, about 20 feet less than the Raspberry Point homes, and that the main floors are lower than those of the adjacent existing townhomes. Kassawara said the vacant space within the proposed development is three times the size of residential lots.

The rezoning from R-3 to PD was unanimously approved without commissioner comments or conditions.

Preliminary plat hearing

Background: In 1973, developer Ray Smith began construction of the existing Raspberry Point townhouses on a parcel called Raspberry Mountain Townhomes on the proposed plat. The two multi-family structures along the common boundary of the two parcels, on the northeast corner of the development, encroached onto the neighboring Meadows parcel to the east. However, this problem was not acted upon until the past decade. Several years ago, the affected townhome owners agreed to purchase the land under the rear portions of their houses to avoid a threatened lawsuit from Ernie Biggs, the owner of the Meadows parcel at that time. The sales of the encroached pieces of land were coordinated by real estate agent and Raspberry Point HOA president Betty Konarski before she was elected mayor of Monument.

However, the land purchases included only the land under the rear portions of all the houses in the two buildings but no additional land for backyards. There are no rear setbacks for these two units of townhomes. The purchased land under the rear of these two multi-family structures was not replatted with the town at the time of sale to the various homeowners.

The realigned boundary now depicted on Tabone’s proposed plat wraps around the existing side and rear walls of these townhomes. In the proposed Meadows re-plat, the houses that comprise the amended irregular boundary are identified on the new plat as the "Townhouse Encroachment" for the "Replat of Raspberry Mountain Townhouses Filing No. 2." Tabone has created rear façade separation of at least 30 feet between the formerly encroaching Raspberry Point townhomes and his proposed duplexes.

Public comment: A resident who wasn’t required to identify herself asked about the size of the building separations, and Tabone said some corners of houses were closer than 20 feet to the sides of other buildings but that most side-to-side separations were more than 30 feet. Kassawara noted that this exemption had already been approved in the previous vote on rezoning and that the angles between the houses created average separations of well more than 20 feet.

Resident Rick Squires noted he owned the adjacent property to the east and asked Tabone what kind of houses he would be building. Tabone said the houses would start at $320,000, have 2,100 square feet of finished space, and 1,200 square feet of unfinished space in the basement. He added that some basements might be excluded if the natural spring problem isn’t resolved.

Krill asked about the rear setback distance, and Tabone replied that there are no rear setbacks for adjacent Raspberry Point homes like hers and that his setbacks were 30 feet or more.

The plat was unanimously approved without commissioner comments or conditions.

Final PD site plan hearing

Public comment: Krill said additional traffic would be a burden, but Kassawara said the increase of one additional car every 12 minutes on Monument Lake Drive at rush hour would not affect neighboring properties or worsen backups for trains at Second Street. Commissioner Morgan noted that the number of additional houses that Tabone was proposing was less than one-quarter the number of Raspberry Point townhomes.

Krill said that railroad crossing backups were a problem. Kassawara pointed out that it would be "unfair to make Tabone pay $2 million for a bridge over the railroad tracks at Second Street for an additional five cars per hour at most, a bridge even the town can’t afford."

Krill said that many people drive too fast on Monument Lake Drive. Kassawara said that these kinds of incidents should be reported to the Monument Police Department when they occur.

Krill said the construction would affect her quality of life. Kassawara noted that Tabone would be required to conform to town ordinances regarding dust and noise. Construction is only allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There would be daily inspections by his staff. He added that Tabone had a right to build on his property just as the developer of Raspberry Point had a right to build Krill’s home.

Krill said that her sister had lost a house in California to a brushfire and that fire service in her area is inadequate. Kassawara said that the community would be as safe as any other town neighborhood. A fire station and hydrants are close by. Tabone said there would be two fire hydrants in the development and the houses would be stucco.

Krill said that the fire danger in the community due to cigarette butts around the lake "frightens me" and no signs are posted to direct people not to discard cigarettes around the lake. Kassawara said that the town did not have the personnel resources to patrol the trails around the lake continuously and that the topic was not germane to the plat hearing.

Tabone responded to other questions from citizens. He noted that construction should take about 18 months, and three streetlights, identical to those in Raspberry Point, would be installed Kassawara asked that these residents direct their concerns about paving and bridges on Monument Lake Road to Public Works Director Rich Landreth and that Tabone could not be required to repave this road.

Commissioner Tom Martin asked how streetlight locations were determined. Tabone said that Mountain View Electric Association determines their location and configuration. Shrouding will minimize light leaks to adjacent parcels. Kassawara noted that Tabone had voluntarily added a third street light. Illumination levels will exceed the minimum requirement by at least 20 percent.

The final PD site plan was unanimously approved with the three recommended conditions noted above.

Third amendment to Monument Marketplace final PD site plan

Commissioner Kortgardner returned to his seat for the remaining agenda items and Morgan returned to the audience.

Kassawara noted that Rick Blevins of Vision Development and Monument Marketplace, Inc. was seeking a third amendment to the shopping center’s final PD site plan. He reported that the proposed amendment is consistent with the approved 1987 master PD site plan for Regency Park, which runs from Baptist Road to north of Higby Road, and that the staff concurs with his requests. Blevins proposed three changes:

  • An update to reflect previously approved filings and current expectations for future filings.

  • A broader range of permitted exterior building materials and colors.

  • Additional parking as required by governing codes.

Kassawara reported that Blevins’ "submittal is also an opportunity for the town to note and correct any deficiencies in the previously approved PD site plan, upgrade some of the standards that were originally adopted, enhance the quality of the development by recommending some improvements to the design guidelines for the project, improve the proposed site layouts and features of the remaining parcels, and generally focus on making the Marketplace a more upscale ‘showplace’ … as the premier retail establishment in the Jackson Creek area."

Kassawara said that Blevins had agreed to numerous upgrades and changes in the proposed amendment for landscaping, pedestrian safety, traffic circulation, and "curb appeal." Commercial square footage decreases from 658,000 to 654,681 square feet. An additional 49 parking spaces are created in the northeast corner of the center, for a new total of 3,877. Choices of exterior colors were expanded but still remained within a muted "Colorado mountain theme."

Kassawara proposed nine conditions of approval, due to the applicant’s rejection of them during negotiations for the third amendment. His proposed conditions were:

  1. Limit outdoor public address systems to the Home Depot and Wal-Mart garden centers and drive-through restaurants.

  2. Delete trailer sales from the permitted uses in the land use modifications table.

  3. Prohibit overnight parking of trailers and recreational vehicles of all types.

  4. Complete screening of all outdoor storage areas from public view.

  5. The second amendment to the PD Site Plan must be recorded before recording the third amendment.

  6. Specialty pavements should be required for major pedestrian areas project-wide on a case-by-case basis to allow for special tenant requirements.

  7. Bigger trees should be required in areas of new construction to match those of mature existing trees in established areas.

  8. Modification of the open-space calculation for the entire project would exclude Jackson Creek Parkway, perimeter buffers, and internal landscape areas (except for the clock tower/plaza area).

  9. Change the name of Rowdao Drive to one approved by the Board of Trustees.

The commissioners had several comments and questions for Kassawara and Blevins.

Commissioner Kathy Spence said that overnight RV parking was a problem because the center is isolated and "You don’t know who’s in the RV and who might want to steal the RV." She added that someone other than the town would have to take legal responsibility for any RV incidents.

Blevins responded that Wal-Mart would not agree to the condition because it has already made plans for a designated parking area for RVs similar to those for its stores in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock. He added that overnight parking at Wal-Mart had been administratively reviewed and approved.

Spence also expressed concerns about the earlier deletion of proposed bike paths and the plan to allow more exterior colors.

Commissioner Carl Armijo questioned the addition of new restrictions after the final PD site plan had been approved. He also objected to the town retroactively denying what he felt was Wal-Mart’s right to set its own overnight parking policies on its own land. Kassawara replied that it is his job to recommend improvements to the document if and when the applicant requests amendments as part of normal PD negotiations. Shupp agreed with Kassawara and said that if the applicant doesn’t agree with new restrictions after initiating an amendment, a court can ultimately determine if the town’s new requirements are excessive. There are several Wal-Mart locations where overnight parking is prohibited, but it is difficult to enforce for a 24-hour supercenter.

Blevins noted that three main sections of the center have no decorative paving sections for pedestrian areas and that the new buildings would not be consistent. The existing owners should not be required to install decorative paving now that construction is completed. Kassawara said that Chili’s voluntarily installed colored sidewalks without complaint. He added that all future centers, including the Timbers at Monument would be required to have specialty paving for pedestrian areas and wide sidewalks in front of stores. Blevins replied that he had agreed to this item for several new buildings already.

Blevins said that he would pass the conditions on to the owners of the buildings and the owners of Monument Marketplace, Inc. but had no authority to agree to them. He objected to the expense of renaming of Rowdao Drive to merely suit the whims of a few trustees. Blevins noted that the street name had already been approved by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, though the name had not been formally platted in one of the approved filings. He said he would present the owners’ responses to the conditions at the BOT hearing.

During discussion on a motion to approve the amendment and the nine conditions, a change was made to reword the prohibition on trailer sales to restrict them only as a "primary use." The motion was approved 6-1, with the amended condition that would allow some trailer sales by Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Armijo voted no.

Referral letter approved

The commissioners unanimously endorsed a letter written for the town by Kassawara to the county regarding its request for town comments on a vacation and replat for the Timberview Subdivision Filing No. 3. The applicant has asked the county to subdivide the 10.54-acre parcel on the south end of Minglewood Trail, to the northeast of the intersection of Higby Road and Fairplay Drive. Kassawara wrote, "Staff finds no issues with this plan and no significant impacts to the Town as a result of this development."

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. May 10 at Town Hall, 166 Second St.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 18: Donala approves plant expansion loan

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Donala Board of Directors had passed a resolution approving a $5 million loan for its share of the Upper Monument Creek facility expansion. The loan, obtained through the Colorado Water and Power Authority, is subsidized by the federal government through a special wastewater program, and offers a very low interest rate of 3.64 percent. Expansion is necessary because the plant is approaching capacity.

Construction on the expansion has begun

General Manager Dana Duthie briefed members on the status of the project and passed out a timeline showing anticipated start and completion dates for the various phases.

Weaver General Construction is ready to lift the storage building off its mounts, after which it will begin "ripping up asphalt" and moving water and sewer lines.

Excavation for the equalization basin has also begun. The basin, which is the most urgently needed component of the expansion, is expected to be operational by October.

Duthie reported that the entire project is running approximately 12 days behind schedule.

District cost savings highlighted during financial discussion

In reviewing recent expenditures, Duthie informed the board that because district personnel were able to perform much of the construction work on the new Chaparral Hills pipeline, the district spent just over $25,000 for a job that was bid by a contractor at $55,000.

Duthie told board members that Superintendent Robert Hull’s extensive knowledge of the district’s systems and operators’ proficiency with the equipment gave Donala the flexibility to perform in-house many of the functions that water and sanitation districts routinely contract out. After adding up the differences between contractor’s bids and Donala’s actual cost on several jobs, Duthie estimated Hull had saved the district nearly $1 million in contracting expenses.

Water Authority report

County will seek stormwater fee: During his summary of the April 5 El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) meeting, Duthie informed Donala directors that the County Commissioners intend to propose a stormwater fee in 2007 to fund an enterprise that would build infrastructure to handle storm runoff in the county.

Water Authority member Cherokee faces water supply dilemma: Authority members were briefed on the status of a water dispute involving the Cherokee Metropolitan District, which is a member of the EPCWA. Cherokee is located in eastern El Paso County; its east-west borders coincide roughly with Powers Boulevard and Marksheffel Road. The area extends slightly beyond Highway 24 on the south and Barnes Road on the north side. The district had sought to use water from its wells in the Upper Black Squirrel (UBS) aquifer to provide a water supply for planned development within the district’s boundaries but outside the Upper Black Squirrel designated basin boundaries. (The aquifer recharges from surface water but is considered not tributary to Arkansas basin water flow, and therefore not subject to augmentation requirements.)

Disagreement with the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District over the terms under which Cherokee could pump from the UBS aquifer led to a court hearing. Water Court Judge Dennis Maes said that Cherokee was, according to an article in The Gazette, "improperly relying on water it pumps from the [Upper Black Squirrel Creek] basin to meet commitments to customers outside the basin". Cherokee attorney Pete Susemihl argued that the district’s need for water for the new developments qualified as "emergency use", which was permitted under the terms of the 1999 agreement with the Upper Black Squirrel’s management district.

Maes disagreed, finding that Cherokee’s water supplies were insufficient to honor its obligations, and ordered that Cherokee stop using its primary wells in the north part of the district to supply out-of-basin developments.

The ruling could affect future development within Cherokee’s boundaries. It has already delayed work on the Ranch at Whispering Springs, a 185-home subdivision which was approved by the County Commissioners despite their awareness of an opinion issued by the state water engineer in 2004 finding an "insufficiency of water" for the Cherokee district.
Members also discussed recent letters, articles and editorials in The Gazette regarding the future of northern El Paso County’s water supply. In particular, Authority president Larry Bishop agreed to draft a letter to the editor in response to an earlier letter written by University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) professor Daphne Greenwood.

The exchange was precipitated by an article authored by Gazette reporter Jane Reuter addressing the rapidly decreasing well water supplies in northern El Paso County communities. The article referenced a report by UCCS student Jacob Stiedemann and was accessible online.

EPCWA executive agent Gary Barber, who is also manager of the Palmer Divide Water Group, wrote a column that was subsequently printed in the Gazette criticizing the research and the report’s dire conclusions. Greenwood’s letter defended the student’s work as an important part of public discourse and representative of alternative viewpoints, and also questioned Barber’s objectivity. EPCWA members felt a letter to the editor was an effective way to reach the public in order to correct Greenwood’s misrepresentation of the water group, which is not a "private trade organization" but a governmental agency established by state statute.

Donala reaches well enclosure compromise with homeowner group

In the meeting minutes summarizing the board’s special session on April 6, Duthie outlined revised plans for the new enclosure around Well 11, located near the southeast corner of Ridgefield and Glengate Lanes.

A wood stockade fence had previously surrounded the site. For several reasons, including federal Homeland Security recommendations and periodic blowdown problems, the district proposed installing barbed-wire fencing and a chain-link gate around the well head. Donala sent letters to adjoining homeowners informing them of the district’s plans.

Several homeowners objected to the change. In addition to acting as a barrier limiting well access, the wood fence had provided visual screening, blocking well equipment from view. Landscaping in the area is tightly controlled by neighborhood covenants, and nearby residents wanted a visual shield and a more attractive façade in keeping with the surrounding properties.

Joe Price, president of the High Meadows Homeowners Association, wrote a letter to the district voicing the group’s objections to the planned fencing. Peter Tronnier, whose home is next to the well, and three other HOA members appeared at the March 28 meeting to discuss the issue.

Duthie agreed to look into other options, but told homeowners he is still required to meet the new Homeland Security recommendations. And in fairness to other Donala residents, the district is limited in the amount of district funds that could be spent to improve the appearance of the enclosure.

Duthie discussed options with the board at their March 28 meeting, and later investigated financially feasible alternatives. At the April 6 special session, he presented a new plan to the Donala directors that proposed replacing the stockade fence with split rail, shielding the control panel itself with a stockade fence, and surrounding the well head with green-coated chain link fencing. He told the board he would send letters to neighboring Ridgefield residents and the High Meadows Homeowners Association informing them of the revised plans.

Directors approve revised water rate resolution

The Donala directors approved a new rate resolution, which incorporates changes made to the Donala rules and regulations involving improper use of sewers and hydrants. The rate change establishes monetary penalties for unauthorized discharges to the sewer, unauthorized use of a hydrant, and a fine for non-compliant use of a grease trap/interceptor or failure to submit pumping reports. The resolution also defines the conditions under which the district may disconnect water service should the violations continue after notification.

The changes do not affect the basic water and sewer rates that were passed in late 2005 for commercial and residential customers.

Colorado Springs Utilities may share Donala lift station

Duthie told board members that Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) may enter into an agreement to share capacity of Donala’s southern sewer lift station. The station is near Picolan’s new 49-lot development on Doral Way, which is not part of the Donala Water and Sanitation District but has been annexed to Colorado Springs and will be served by CSU.

Earlier offers by Duthie to negotiate a partnership were rejected by the city utility. But the Pikes Peak Regional Council of Governments Water Quality Control Division recommended disapproval for CSU’s plans to build a second lift station 400 feet from Donala’s, and instead urged the two entities to consolidate their facilities. Unnecessary disturbance of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat during construction of a redundant facility and the accompanying pipeline could further complicate a permitting process.

Duthie told the board that the lift station, which was originally designed to service commercial development in the area that never materialized, was large enough to easily accommodate the additional loads represented by the subdivision. He also assured members that CSU customers would pay sewer rates equivalent to or greater than the total amount Donala customers pay for sewer service, including taxes.

Project highlights

  • Equipment for Wells 2D and 3D are on order; the district expects both Denver aquifer wells to be up and running soon.

  • Eastern Colorado Builders was awarded the contract to paint the Baptist Road tanks and will begin sometime in May.

  • GMS has resumed work on designing the Baptist Road pipeline. The additional water supplied will help meet increased demand from new homes in Struthers Ranch.

The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 2:07 p.m., when the board went into executive session..

The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on May 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

Election Results

Donala’s ballot issue requesting the extension of the mill levy to finance the waste plant expansion loan and to fund future surface water purchases and the accompanying infrastructure necessary for storage and conveyance passed by a vote of 105 to 38.

The three candidates for the three open seats—Dennis Daugherty, Dick Durham, and Tim Murphy—were all elected.

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Forest View Acres Water District, April 27: Residents object to fee increase; board considers proposing property tax

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting April 27, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors heard from residents objecting to the $25 administrative fee approved by the board in December and ratified by the board in January.

Board President Barbara Reed-Polatty noted that many other utility districts rely on a property-tax mill levy as well as user fees. Adoption of a mill levy would require a vote of district residents. A work session to discuss that and other topics is scheduled for May 12, 9 a.m., at SDMS, 141 Union Blvd., Suite 150, in Lakewood.

Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, the district’s contract water operations manager, reported that two leaks totaling an estimated 65 gallons per minute were repaired in early March. The district has been suffering large water losses since January.

The board consists of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, Brian Cross, Ketch Nowacki, and Eckehart Zimmermann. The vacancy created when John Anderson resigned in January has not been filled. All board members were present. Reed-Polatty presided.

Administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting services for the district are provided by Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS). Lisa Johnson, SDMS district manager, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. Deborah McCoy, president of SDMS, was also present. 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.

LaFontaine 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 2005, 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 has been rescheduled to begin June 27. The felony charges Unger faces carry a potential sentence of four 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 but, according to Rufien, it will likely be delayed. 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.

Comments on the $25 per month administrative fee increase

In a letter to the board, Ruth Meinking said, "I strongly request that this additional charge be reconsidered and management determine other ways to pay this debt besides demanding more of the consumer."

Ronald Warden’s letter to the board said, "I simply refuse to pay the new additional charge. I see absolutely no reason why the customers of FVAWD should be made to pay for the mismanagement of the previous board members which resulted in alleged theft of FVAWD monies."

Resident Colette Feher-Laning expressed dismay at her $80 monthly water bill for very little water. She added, "What we are paying for is the embezzlement."

Nowacki agreed, saying, "We are paying for [Unger’s] alleged theft and the cost to rebuild. Twenty-five dollars is a drop in the bucket." He added that the district is preparing a capital improvement plan and associated financing plan.

Resident Richard Crocker, who will join the board at the May meeting, noted that most utility district boards budget 10 percent per year for infrastructure maintenance and improvement.

Reed-Polatty added that these costs are an investment in the value of the residents’ properties.

Cross thanked residents for coming to the meeting and getting involved.

Resident Susan Gates replied, "It is nice to have a board you can talk to."

Financial matters

Johnson presented a list of claims paid through April 27 totaling $11,024 that included $4,487 for LaFontaine’s services and $2,421 for electricity.

The net cash balance for all funds as of March 31 was $36,136.

The total for accounts payable as of April 11 was $132,363. That consisted of $59,969 due attorneys Petrock and Fendel, $59,448 due SDMS, and $12,946 due Rufien.

Cross noted that the accumulating charges for SDMS are about $7,500 for the latest month and $5,821 for the prior month. He added that these figures are considerably more than what was budgeted.

McCoy and Johnson replied that some of the factors in the SDMS fees in recent months are preparations for the annual audit, support for the monthly work sessions being held in addition to the monthly meetings, and correspondence with residents regarding the fee increase.

Wilde billing dispute

District resident Lee Wilde contends that due to an agreement with the Nevins family when he purchased his property, he has a right to free water service for up to 15,000 gallons per month.

Rufien’s position is that the agreement was with the Nevins family and does not apply to Wilde. A letter to that effect has been sent to Wilde.

As of April 19, the outstanding balance for water to the Wilde property from January 2005 was $953.

McCoy reported that SDMS is following the district’s procedure, which could result in disconnecting service if the bill is not paid.

Leaks repaired

LaFontaine reported that significant leaks were detected and repaired March 6 and March 9. He estimated the two leaks totaled perhaps 65 gallons per minute.

During March, the district’s surface plant produced 2.09 million gallons, averaging 46.8 gallons per minute over 31 days. The district’s well in the Arapahoe aquifer produced 361,700 gallons, averaging 107.8 gallons per minute over 2.3 days. The net monthly production was 2.32 million gallons.

Water sales for February totaled 1.09 million gallons.

LaFontaine calculated the net loss from the system during March was 1.23 million gallons or 112 percent of sales.

He added that since the leaks were repaired, the Arapahoe well has not been needed to meet the district’s needs.

Executive session held on legal matters

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

**********

The next meeting will be held May 25, 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.

A work session is scheduled for May 12, 9 a.m., at SDMS, 141 Union Blvd., Suite 150, in Lakewood.

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Wakonda Hills sewer construction begun

Below: Construction of the Monument Sanitation District sewer collection system in Wakonda Hills has begun. Work will continue through the summer and should be complete in September 2006. Contact Mike Wicklund at 481-4886 for questions concerning including into the district, tap fees, user fees and any complaints regarding the construction. Photo by Mike Wicklund

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

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, April 26: Ballot issue hotly debated; then defeated by voters

By Elizabeth Hacker

The April board meeting started off with a bang. Steve Meyers, a spokesman for a number of citizens present in opposition to Triview Metropolitan District’s ballot issue "A" that will be voted on in the May 2 election, stated that his Web site (www.votenoonmay2nd.org) opposed the ballot issue because it didn’t specify the sources of monies that would be retained or how the money would be used.

Meyers added that his position on the ballot did not influence the residents he served as vice president of the Homestead at Jackson Creek Homeowners Association. He said the HOA didn’t fund the Web site and that the opinions there were his own.

District resident Robert Fisher added that while he would like to see Triview keep the sales tax, he felt the wording of the ballot was irresponsible and ambiguous.

Triview board president Steve Stephenson replied that the board had carefully considered the wording of the ballot and that the information on the Web site opposing the ballot issue was incorrect and misleading. He warned Meyers that if the ballot failed, the residents would have him to blame for incurring even more of the burden of the existing debt service of $28 million plus $7 million in interest due to the bond holders. Stephenson said that if passed, ballot issue "A" would not raise taxes but allow the district to keep incremental increases collected from revenue sources, including sales tax that would otherwise be returned to the commercial entities.

Under TABOR, he said, the district was required to return extra collected revenues to commercial entities but not to the residents who paid them. By retaining step increases in sales tax, the district’s debt load could be reduced much sooner. In high-growth areas like The Market Place at Jackson Creek, there will be years when there are significant step increases in collected sales tax revenues. If the measure passed, the district would be allowed to keep extra revenue that would be used to pay off the debt.

Stephenson added that the district has not been able to pay down the $28 million in debt or the $7 million in outstanding interest. He stressed issue "A" would not increase taxes but would significantly shorten the time necessary to retire the debt, adding that if the ballot fails, the debt service would increase because more interest would accrue.

A resident in opposition to the ballot issue expressed concern that the wording was ambiguous and could cause the mill levy, one of the highest in the county, to increase. Stephenson reiterated that the mill levy would stay the same until the debt service was retired and then it would go away, and that "de-Brucing" the district’s sources of income does not change the mill levy.

Stephenson added that he thought the reason residents elected him to the board was to represent them in making these kinds of decisions and that he felt he was serving them by putting issue "A" on the ballot. He added that he realized he should have taken more time to meet with the community to explain the measure’s benefits in ridding the district of its debt.

Meyers, however, said Stephenson was offered the opportunity to argue his views but that he had not replied. Meyers reported that residents are leery of Triview’s history of perceived mismanagement, pointing out that in 2001 the mill levy was increased to 25 mills without a vote and that in 2003 El Paso County increased the cap on the mill levy by more than 6 percent.

Triview attorney Pete Susemihl responded that the increase in 2001 was approved by the voters and that the Gallagher amendment to the state constitution required an increase in the mill levy to be consistent with the increase in property values in 2003. He added that most citizens were not aware of the Gallagher amendment and how it continues to increase mill levies in growing communities.

Meyers questioned why the district continued to pursue new developments that necessitate an increase in debt to expand the infrastructure. Stephenson replied that Triview was required under special district law to build infrastructure within the district boundaries, adding that much of the infrastructure is already built––resulting in the current debt. He added that while Triview negotiates infrastructure costs for new development, most often the benefits outweigh any new debt created by them.

District manager Ron Simpson pointed to the map of the 1987 service area and noted that the district was legally obligated to build all the major roads, parks, signs, and infrastructure within the district, adding that it put a big burden on the public. He suggested that if the district were to be established today, it may have been able to pass more of the cost on to the developers. Attorney Susemihl corrected Simpson, saying that the law still requires metropolitan districts to develop the infrastructure.

Susemihl noted that today’s interest rates are more favorable than the 12 percent rate for the outstanding bonds issued in 1987. He added that Triview incurred $12 million for roads before the first house was built and that the district has built in stages in an effort to save money.

Simpson said there was an established ceiling for debt that was approved in 1987 and that they could not increase the mill levy without voter approval. Meyers said the board didn’t share this information with the community. Simpson replied that under TABOR, the district’s hands were tied. If it spent more than $50 to inform the public of a ballot issue, it could be taken to court and accused of financing a campaign.

Meyers said he had spent a lot of time researching ballot issues and that the information on his Web site had been collected from reliable sources and was not his personal opinion. If the measure had been written to only address sales tax retention, it would have been clear. Stephenson replied that if the language had said "sales tax," it would have been difficult to manage.

In response to Fisher’s question why the 30-year debt at 12 percent couldn’t be refinanced at a lower rate, Stephenson said the debt is being refinanced but that because most of it is held by bond holders, it is "not as easy as refinancing a house." Susemihl said Triview had to finance through bonds because they could not meet the restrictions for securing public financing. Resident Mike Wermuth said this was important information that should be made available to residents of the district via a Web site or mailing.

(Note: On May 2, the ballot issue was defeated by a vote of 85 to 54.)

District Manager and Engineer Reports

Carwash: Consultant engineer Chuck Ritter said that state regulations on reused water in carwashes are not clear. No facilities in the state use recycled water at this time. He recommended the district not consider requiring the use of recycled water in the carwash proposed for Monument Marketplace until there are others operating in the state. Developer Rick Blevins said that the Marketplace did not have a commitment for adding auto parts sales to the carwash proposal. Stand-alone carwashes are prohibited by the zoning for the Marketplace.

Parks, Open space and Landscaping: Simpson reported that the irrigation system is operational, and Triview plans to plant more flowers for color this year. He asked residents to report any dead trees so that they could be replaced.

Monument Ridge development: Simpson reported that phase 1 calls for commercial development that may include a Walgreen’s, small retail, and a fast-food restaurant. Phase 2 will include residential townhomes. Simpson said that the road for the townhomes should not be a public road unless it met district standards. Mayor Byron Glenn responded that a 50-foot-wide easement and 30-foot-wide pavement would serve the needs of the townhomes. Simpson replied that a 30-foot-wide road is too narrow for snowplows and maintenance vehicles to negotiate.

Road Metro District Update: Susemihl reported that he was drafting the paperwork for the road district and that the board could review it in detail at the next meeting. Basically, a new district would be formed to pay for improvements to Higby Road and the collectors within the Ranch Point and Sanctuary Point Subdivisions. Each subdivision would form its own road district and that a mill levy would be placed over each development to pay for internal roads only.

Glenn commented that the Town was still pushing for the developers to also pay for widening of Jackson Creek Parkway. He said that new growth has to pay for it because TABOR limits the money available to the Town for road improvements.

Well 4-A tie-in: Simpson reported huge increases in water consumption so far this spring. Beginning May 1, the town’s watering restrictions would begin. Irrigation had begun earlier than normal because of warm weather, he suggested, and to meet peak summer demands they would need to bring more water into the system to service existing properties as well as those being built. The board agreed that well No. 4 should be installed to meet peak summer demand.

Joint Use Facility with Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District: Simpson reported that he has been working with the architect for the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District on joint use of the site north of the MVEA substation on the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway. The fire district has offered to build the facility with a lease-back agreement to Triview. Susemihl suggested alternatives including a condominium agreement. Simpson said that placing a well on the site was an option, since there would be no fuel storage by the fire district.

Restructuring of bond debt approved: Attorney Kim Crawford, of Sherman and Howard LLC, presented the amended bond document for $1.8 million in bonds to the Triview board, Blevins, and the subordinate bond holders. Lender Compass Bank would restructure the bond issue to allow conversion of interest into principal and reduction of the interest rate. The board approved and signed the amended resolution.

Street standards update: Ritter estimated that it would take about two months to review and integrate town and district street standards. The draft unified standards may be ready for board approval in July. The town has agreed to pay Nolte up to $19,290 to develop common street standards. Triview paid Nolte to draft common water standards.

Street striping program: The board approved proposals by United Rentals for epoxy street striping, which should last longer than paint. Striping for Leather Chaps and Lyons Tail will cost $7,526, while striping for Jackson Creek Parkway will be $17,000.

District administrator’s report: Dale Hill reported that 13 new housing permits were issued in April. The board approved $24,000 for landscaping, tree replacement, and flowers, noting that half would be paid in April and the remainder in May.

The meeting adjourned at 5:15 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on May 24 at the district offices, 174 Washington St. Meetings are normally held the fourth Wednesday of the month.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, April 19: District donates engine to flooded Louisiana department

By Jim Kendrick

Before the meeting, the directors inspected the new air bottle refilling trailer, purchased with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, that had just been delivered to Station 1. Chief Jeff Edwards later reported the successful delivery of Wescott’s spare rescue truck to the Henry Volunteer Fire Department in Louisiana (see picture on page 1). Secretary-Treasurer Dave Cross was excused.

The board first went into an hour-long executive session for the purpose of receiving legal advice from attorney Tim Schutz.

Engine donation campaign completed

Edwards said the Henry Fire Department was very happy with Wescott’s donated rescue truck, which replaced the one lost to Hurricane Rita last fall. "It was much more than they had expected."

The district paid for new tires and a new battery for the truck, under $1,000, and two return airline tickets for the drivers, about $200. American Medical Response (AMR) Paramedic Eric Miller and Wescott Capt. Scott Ridings made the trip.

Wescott equipped the truck with hose, tools, extrication equipment, plus vehicle and hand-held radios. Wescott firefighter Shannon Balvanz coordinated the contribution of five sets of bunker gear from the Eldora Volunteer Fire Department in Eldora, Iowa. Balvanz’s father, Lonnie Balvanz, is the assistant fire chief for Eldora.

In addition to the equipment, Miller solicited sizable donations from Chevron and Hess Oil companies. Both organizations have operations at the "Henry Hub" located in Henry, La. The hub supplies 3 percent of the daily natural gas used in the United States.

Treasurer’s report

Recording Secretary Ginnette Ritz reported that the 2005 audit should start in May. The board requested that the department try to save gasoline when possible because of rising prices.

Chief’s report

Trailer damage: Edwards said the new air trailer was slightly damaged during shipping. The vendor will pay for repairs.

New truck: Edwards said he and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns have been looking into lease-purchase of a new truck. New truck prices are $300,000 to $340,000. If ordered before June 1, the truck would not be delivered until sometime next year. Wells Fargo Bank has approved a 10-year loan for the district. Burns will present a proposal within the next month for a decision at the May 17 meeting, if possible. The new truck would need new hose and possibly new extrication gear, which are separate expenses.

Grants: The department received a $5,000 grant from Mountain View Electric Association toward the purchase of a new Lifepak 12 heart monitor. The district is also awaiting a May decision on another grant proposal submitted to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for this new Lifepak 12.

Training: Wescott hosted an AMR Academy in which six district firefighters were certified to treat patients in the rear of the ambulance during Basic Life Support transports. The six are now qualified to work part time for AMR. Wescott also held a red-card class, enabling department deployments on wildland fire teams. One firefighter completed the Juvenile Firesetters Course. Two new volunteer firefighters have been sworn in.

The American Heart Association has created new CPR standards. As a result, the district will probably need to purchase new instruction materials and may need to reprogram their automatic external defibrillators in order to comply.

Edwards said he is looking into a "Train-the-Trainer" program in Illinois for extrications involving hybrid vehicles.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:01 p.m. The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 17 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, February 22: Keough receives medal

By Susan Hindman

A request for a new rescue pumper, to be housed at Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive, and a post-meeting award to a firefighter highlighted the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District board meeting on April 26. All five board members were present, as were a number of firefighters (for the award presentation).

Financial report

Treasurer Bob Hansen reported that as of March, the district has received $443,104 in property tax revenue, $47,115 in specific ownership tax, and $3,774 in interest income. The district’s three bank accounts total $837,859.

Expenses were higher for certain categories, such as medical exams (for new hires and older firefighters); copies, postage, and shipping; general liability expenses; building supplies (repair of water damage at Station 3); communications (cell phone bills); and vehicle repair parts (problems with one of the fire trucks).

Still, the district is 1.4 percent under budget. The bottom line, says Hansen: The budget calls for average monthly spending of $102,055, yet spending in the first quarter averaged $97,535 per month. "If we continue with this trend, the district will be approximately 5.6 percent under budget" at the end of the year.

New engine purchase proposed

Capt. John Vincent presented a request for a Smeal class A rescue pumper that would replace a 1997 pumper that has reportedly been plagued with mechanical problems.

The proposal was drawn up by Vincent, Battalion Chief Mike Dooley, Lt. Eric Brown, and Ken Cox, fireman and head mechanic. The new truck would be a little over 2 feet longer and customized to include a longer front bumper to place the Jaws of Life and other equipment, a winch that could be plugged in on any side of the vehicle, tie-down points, room for 750 gallons of water, and numerous amenities.

The price is $323,144. Some money could be recouped from the sale of the troublesome pumper, the oldest in the fleet—which has, says Director Bill Ingram, "a unique transmission, a unique engine, and a unique drive train." A few numbers were suggested, from $25,000 to "under $100,000."

Director Tim Miller questioned whether the board was prepared to act on this request this evening. "I’d like to make sure that of all the various things we can do with this money, is this the single most important?"

"Yes," Chief Rob Denboske responded. "I think it’s something we need, with the issues we’ve had with the other vehicle we have now…. All our vehicles are running twice as much as they used to," he added, due to the increase in call volume.

Vincent is hoping a decision can be made soon, to take advantage of available 2006 motors before the new EPA standards take effect on the 2007 motors, which will bump up the price. In addition, it could take up to a year from the time it is ordered until the district would receive it.

While no decision was made, two board members will meet soon to go over details of the request and report back to other directors.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

Tri-Lakes board and Fire Authority meetings canceled

Following the conclusion of the meeting, the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board was to meet, but the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District—which makes up the other half of the Fire Authority board—did not have a quorum, so the meetings of the Tri-Lakes board and the Fire Authority were canceled. However, an award presentation went on as planned for the board members and audience present.

Medal of Merit awarded

Denboske presented a Medal of Merit to firefighter/EMT Christopher Keough for his actions in response to a medical emergency on Jan. 12. He had been riding in Palmer Lake police officer Nikki Tezak’s patrol car when she became involved in a pursuit that started in Colorado Springs and wound up on Glen Street in Palmer Lake. There the driver was eventually shot by another officer. Keough was hurt when the injured driver’s car hit Tezak’s patrol car. Keough ignored his own injuries and took care of the injured driver until other medical help arrived. Keough received a hearty round of applause from the firefighters and board members in the audience.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, February 22: Springs toll road project en route

By Steve Sery

It was a most unusual occurrence at the April meeting: There were no projects directly affecting OCN’s coverage area. I can’t remember this ever happening. However, one item of interest was a presentation by former El Paso County Commissioner Chuck Brown. It was the Springs Toll Road Project, not to be confused with the "Super Slab" in eastern El Paso County.

This is a public-private initiative to build a toll road from I-25 at Northgate Road east to Highway 83, connecting with the new Powers Boulevard extension, then eventually intersecting I-25 South around the Academy interchange. Sections of the road are already built and would not be tolled; other sections are partially built.

All tolls would be collected via transponder, similar to the option on E-470. There will be no toll booths. The Planning Commission agreed to send the proposal on to the Board of County Commissioners. All governmental agencies will have an opportunity to review the project proposal, which has been in the planning stage for two years.

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Senior Forum, April 29: Forum tackles numerous issues faced by local seniors

Below: Tri-Lakes area seniors and others met April 29 to discuss the local challenges. Photos by JoAnn McNabb

Below: Carol Bohannan and Max Morton. 

By JoAnn McNabb

Cleeta Carlson, a young 81, was worried because she has been in the area for a year and still doesn’t have a doctor. Doctors aren’t accepting Medicare, she explained, because they already have too many patients. Carlson was attending the Physical Health breakout session of the Senior Forum held April 29 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Rebekah Shardy of Peak Vista explained to the participants that Peak Vista doctors do accept Medicare patients at their primary care clinics. Nonetheless, the nearest services are in Colorado Springs at Vickers and Union.

This is one of the predicaments for seniors in the Tri-Lakes area. The Senior Forum was organized by Police Chief Dale Smith, Michael Decker of the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging, and Chuck Roberts of the Forest Ridge Community Church and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy on Aging Partnership.

Max Morton, representing Affinity Diagnostic Services, came to discuss problems of balance and falling. Carol Bohannan was there to find a good place to volunteer. Even though a senior, she has been active all her life and stresses that it is so important to keep physically active and mentally engaged. She said health and exercise should be a personal responsibility of each individual. Betina Zimmerman suggested yoga as a good way to stay limber.

Andy Barton said the Tri-Lakes YMCA wants to be friendly to older adults. Morton said that for seniors who are members of Secure Horizons, all services at the "Y" are at no cost, and he suggested visiting the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention Web site ( http://prevention.stanford.edu/research/category.asp). Session moderator and student nurse Val Chapa asked for ideas on how to get people to be physically active.

Diana Steele talked about what nobody really wants to discuss: hospice care. She said it’s a mistake for people to shy away from this topic because there are many services available, not just for the last few days of life. Steele’s organization is Odyssey Health Care. She said hospice care is 100 percent funded by Medicare, and patients may live at home. She said services may be provided for as long as six months.

Contessa Nail from Colorado Access Advantage spoke about her nonprofit organization, which provides health care for those with low incomes. She said it is federally funded, with no cost to the individual. It provides support in addition to Medicare A and B such as dental, eyeglasses, and eye exams.

The Physical Health session identified problems: accessibility to primary care, accessibility to urgent care, and transportation to medical appointments.

Finance session

Financial advisor Jack Fry led a discussion about money problems facing seniors. Affordable housing was one of the major issues. Liberty Heights in Colorado Springs was represented at the meeting and is the closest nursing home for Tri-Lakes residents. Tim Irish said a senior living community is envisioned off Highway 105.

Joe Dawson, attorney, had many suggestions about who seniors can rely on, such as Adult Protection Services and the Police Adult Abuse Division. He said there is even danger in giving family members power-of-attorney because sometimes family members do not use funds honestly.

Karin Kovalovsky of Air Academy Federal Credit Union said the credit union plans to sponsor a seminar on identity theft.

The finance group also raised the issue of how to reach seniors to provide information when they are leery of unsolicited contacts. Suggestions included creating a senior center or a Web site. For now, seniors can attend the Senior Lunch on Mondays and Thursdays at the Town Hall.

Organizer Michael Decker says that the hope is to produce a compendium of issues and services for the Tri-Lakes area much like the "Yellow Book" of Colorado Springs produced by the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, April 29: YMCA Tri-Lakes facility proposal discussed

Web site exclusive: Click here on on the plans to zoom in

Click on the plan to zoom in

Click on the plan to zoom in

By Chris Pollard

The first major item on the agenda was a presentation by YMCA Major Gifts Director Ted Rinebarger and LKA Partners principal architect Jim Strange regarding the proposed construction of a 45,000-square-foot YMCA Family Center on land near Lewis-Palmer High School. As well as describing the proposed facility, the two asked for variances to the design standards that the WIA imposes in that area. The YMCA wants relief on four items, in particular to allow extended hours of operation and changes to parking requirements. The design would incorporate downward-facing lighting to minimize light from the facility.

What they are building is based on a survey of Tri-Lakes residents, and the first phase is an attempt to accommodate most of the residents. If the facility is popular, they might add more activities. The soccer field is intended for multiple uses.

Rinebarger said they were working on a round of "silent" fund-raising and would then approach large donors that have given to the YMCA in the past. Later in the summer, they would start seeking donations from the public.

Strange said they would try to block views of exterior air-conditioning units and plant trees to buffer sounds from the freeway. They will complete a traffic study with the school district, he said.

The design standards call for operation from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except Sunday, but the YMCA would like to operate from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. They hope to break ground in November or December.

The WIA Board voted unanimously to grant variances with regard to opening hours and width of parking spaces.

Planning for Woodmoor Town Meeting

Bill Walters announced plans for a Woodmoor town meeting in July. He said it should start out as a social event rather than just making it a complaints session. Hans Post, president, said the goal was to improve communication with the residents. Perhaps it would be better to call it something like "town social meeting" so that it is more informal than previous ones, Post said.

Camilla Mottl, executive director, suggested holding it later in July and perhaps in the evening and provide food. Betty Hutchinson, treasurer, said it would be good to have some sort of budget in mind beforehand and suggested about $400. Post asked them to work on it for the next meeting and come up with a more detailed proposal for this "Woodmoor Social" to be held sometime in July.

Proposal to meet at the Woodmoor Barn

Allen McMullen, director of open space, suggested that future board meetings be held in the Woodmoor Barn. He said it would encourage more attendance than the current room, which could quickly become crowded if only a few people showed up. In the motion to approve the change, only one director voted against the measure.

Comments on charging for vacation checks

Recently, Woodmoor Public Safety has been asking residents requesting vacation safety checks whether they would consent to requiring payments for them rather than the current system, where payment was voluntary. Bill Walters added that there might be a discount for longer stays.

This proposal was to help to recover rising fuel costs and loss of revenue to the WPS from other homeowner groups. WPS was considering a fee of $2 to $5 per day. Kevin Nielsen, chief of WPS, said a number of residents believed that when the extra public safety fee was added to the annual dues, they would get vacation checks for free.

Currently, 30 percent of people who request checks make voluntary contributions, but probably only 20 percent of residents use the service. Surprisingly, the busiest month is actually March around the time of spring break.

Post suggested that the item be put on the agenda for a future meeting so that people would have notice before the subject was discussed again.

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Community meeting, May 3: Morningview: A new Gleneagle housing development

By Bill Carroll

JR Engineering, Inc. on behalf of Picolan, Inc. and Smith Creek Holdings, LLC held a neighborhood meeting May 3 to discuss its application to the City of Colorado Springs for a new housing subdivision proposed for the vacant tract of land immediately south of Doral Way in the community of Gleneagle. Over 25 area residents came to the meeting to hear an update on what Picolan plans to build. Also in attendance was city planner, Andrea Barlow, who is overseeing the application.

Morningview, the proposed new development, would be made up of 49 new single-family homes on 24.33 acres of vacant land. The site in question was landlocked until Picolan, after years of negotiating with the Bethesda Corp., then ultimately the Gleneagle Civic Association (GCA), was able to purchase a strip of land from the GCA in December 2005. Many area residents still oppose the project in any form. Because of the neighborhood concerns and opposition, the City of Colorado Springs urged Picolan and Smith Creek Holdings to hold this neighborhood meeting and bring residents up-to-date..

Little has apparently changed in the way the development will be built from what has been submitted to the city and GCA several months ago. The development would still have 49 lots with a development average of a little over 12,000 square feet per lot. Some at the meeting were concerned the side set-backs of only 5 feet from house to lot line would make the development look like the cluster developments east of Powers Boulevard in the Springs, but Picolan representative Steve Sharkey said "These were minimum set-backs …in actuality, the side set-backs will mostly be greater than 5 feet."

One major change required by local fire departments was that Picolan increase the width of the development’s single-access entranceway off Doral Way to allow for large emergency vehicles and apparatus. This was approved, as was the modification of a cul-de-sac that was removed and squared off for fire access.

If all goes according to Picolan’s plans, the project will go before the city Planning Commission on June 8. If approved there, it would go to two hearings before the City Council in late June and July. If the City Council approves the project, construction can commence as early as August. Picolan representatives say new streets should be in by early 2007, and the project would be completed in 2009. Acuff Homes is the intended builder for the development.

County seeks your thoughts on Fox Run Park

Residents of northern El Paso County are being asked to participate in a survey regarding the Fox Run Regional Park master plan update, prepared by the county Parks and Leisure Services Department. The department updates the respective park master plans every five years. Suggestions for park facility upgrades and additions are included in the survey, which has been printed on the right side of this page and the left side of the next page.

Residents are urged fill out both sides of the survey, clip it out, and mail it to the El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services Department.

Once the surveys have been processed, the department will conduct a series of community meetings to discuss the results and obtain additional input on updating the master plan. Tim Wolken, director of Parks and Leisure Services, says the meetings will be conducted over the summer.

The master plan will be updated with information gathered from the surveys and citizen meetings. The updated plan will be presented to the Park Advisory Board and then the Board of County Commissioners for final approval. Improvements to the park will be completed in 2006-07.

Wolken is encouraging everyone to return the survey and participate in the park’s future. "The county Parks Department always attempts to administer the park system with a citizen-driven philosophy that allows our citizens every opportunity to actively participate in park improvement projects," he said.

The deadline to return the survey is May 19; see the form for more information. For questions, call Wolken at 520-6981 or e-mail him at timwolken@elpasoco.com.

the Fox Run Regional Park Survey as a PDF file. This is a 206 Kbyte file and will take about 1 minute to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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April Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

After being spoiled by the previous three Aprils, which produced below-average temperatures, abundant snowfall, and ample moisture—averaging 4.27 inches of precipitation and over 40 inches of snow—Tri-Lakes residents were left wondering what happened this year. The month ended up well above normal on the temperature side and unfortunately very dry as well. Not a good combination as we head toward summer.

The month started off promising enough, with scattered showers of rain and snow on the afternoon of the 1st. Unfortunately this turned out to be an April Fool’s joke provided by Mother Nature as we didn’t receive measurable precipitation again until the 7th. Warm and dry conditions continued for the second week as temperatures remained above normal and precipitation was once again almost nonexistent.

The week of the 10th started off with highs in the 60s and 70s as high pressure tightened its grip on the region, pulling more warm air into the region. This culminated with record highs on the afternoon of the 13th, with many areas reaching the upper 70s and low 80s. Fire danger conditions also continued to be extreme throughout the week, as a combination of warm temperatures, low relative humidities, and gusty winds all made the situation very hazardous. A weak cold front did roll through during the morning of the 15th and brought with it a quick shot of showers, but certainly not enough to alleviate our concerns for a dry spring.

For the third week of the month, warm and dry was again the description of our weather. No storms moved through, and temperatures generally remained well above average. Highs reached into the upper 70s on the afternoon of the 17th, and when combined with gusty winds, elevated the fire danger throughout the region. A Pacific cold front rolled through early the next day and knocked 25 degrees off the highs, but unfortunately it left all of its moisture in the mountains. We were able to enjoy sunny skies and seasonal conditions, and highs were stuck in the mid- and upper-40s on the afternoon of the 18th.

Skies remained clear the next few days as temperatures moderated through the 50s and into the 60s. Overnight lows were chilly, however, under the clear skies, with low 20s common through the middle of the week. As the next Pacific storm approached the region late in the week and into the weekend, temperatures again soared to record levels, with upper-70s common on the 22nd and 23rd. Winds were calm on the 22nd, making for a great day to get outside (and many of us got our first sunburns of the year), but picked up on the 23rd, again elevating the fire danger and stressing plants trying to get moisture as they start growing.

Finally, some moisture and cold air arrived late Sunday into Monday as a Canadian airmass banked up against the Front Range and Palmer Divide. Temperatures were stuck below freezing from the morning of the 24th through the afternoon of the 25th, and we were treated to beautiful ice-covered trees. However, many of the early growing plants that had been spoiled by the warm weather weren’t too happy to be covered in a layer of ice. Skies cleared quickly after this storm moved out, and temperatures rebounded back into the 60s and 70s on the 26th and 27th.

Another cold front, this time with some actual snowfall, moved in during the morning hours of the 28th. Most areas above 7,000 feet received 1-3 inches of snow, much-needed moisture. The final weekend of the month turned out to be right on average as highs reached back into the 40s, 50s, and low 60s under partly cloudy skies.

As spring continues to progress across the Palmer Divide, it becomes important to pay attention to developing afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Lightning will take over as the main threat in the area.

A look ahead

May often provides a wide variety of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms and even some snowfall. The official monthly forecast for May 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), calls for a slight chance of above normal temperatures and equal chances of normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

April 2006 Weather Statistics

Average High 61.2°
Average Low 29.0°
Highest Temperature 80° on the 13th
Lowest Temperature 19° on the 25th
Monthly Precipitation 0.78"
Monthly Snowfall 6.8"
Season to Date Snow 90.0"
Season to Date Precip. 11.81"

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Troubling tactics

I was very disappointed by the tactics employed by the (D-38) school board at the recent meeting on March 16. Clearly, they were aware that the majority of attendees were there for the high school land acquisition debate, yet it was scheduled as the last item on the agenda. There were so many items on the meeting agenda, I believe a separate meeting should have been scheduled just for the Wissler Ranch debate.

I also found it incredibly unfair for the land developer, who was "sponsored" by the board, to ramble on beyond the five-minute time limit that was set for the citizens. Why were his views any more important than those of the average tax-paying citizen? His comments and his "joke" sign ("Save the kids, Condemn Wissler") were inflammatory and in very poor taste. This was another display of a lack of good judgment on the part of the board.

Why should the Wisslers suffer because of poor growth planning? The land developers, who seem to be a major cause for this problem, should step up to the plate and help solve this problem and put aside more funding and more property for schools. In the 2004 bond election, my wife and I voted for expanding the high school on the current site. This would have centralized resources at one site rather than splitting them between two locations. Why was this a viable option then but not now?

There are just too many unresolved questions for me to believe that the Wissler property is the only available option at this time. This is not about "NIMBYism"-- this is about doing what’s right for the Wisslers, our citizens, and our students.

I believe any major community project such as a new high school location must meet the dual goal of broad community support and creating the best possible high school. Life is all about making workable compromises, and the school board needs to look at all sides of the issue. Hopefully the community and the school board can come to a mutually beneficial agreement that will be the best solution for everyone involved.

Glenn Whiteside

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Don’t take the ranch

Sixty acres of Wissler’s Ranch land may be taken via eminent domain to build a "mega" high school. Some say, "Big deal, it will happen anyway, why fight it." As citizens, parents and taxpayers, we must take a hard look at what is really going on. We need to ask tough questions and get honest answers from our District 38 school board who we elected to serve our best interests.

To take Mrs. Wissler’s land when the school district already owns property to build a high school is unconscionable. The land the district already owns is at Highway 83 and Walker Road. This 70-acre parcel has a breathtaking view of Pikes Peak, adequate utilities, a fire station nearby, and easy access with roads equipped to handle the increased traffic flow. The location is in the middle of District 38, centrally located for students who live east and west of Highway 83. In 2004, the school board placed a bond issue to build a new high school on the ballot. Cost projections were based upon the 83 and Walker Road site and were estimated at $31 million. Why the bond issue was defeated is unknown.

How will this additional purchase of land at Wissler Ranch estimated at $1 million fare any better? Can the school board guarantee a bond issue to pass for a high school that is twice the size and presumably double the cost proposed for the 83 and Walker Road site? Why do we need a school that large when a smaller high school was proposed by this same board less than two years ago? Are Furrow and Kings Deer Point roads safe thoroughfares to handle the increased school traffic or must they be widened and stoplights added at a significant cost to taxpayers? If you’re thinking the school board has first-rate answers to these questions, you would be wrong.

Let’s not give the school board a free pass. Decisions are being made behind closed doors that will take land we don’t need from an unwilling seller and build a 1,900-student high school we don’t want or require. Notify your school board and advise them to stop pursuing Wissler Ranch and get on with a solution that is honorable and makes sense.

Jim and Annette Hazuka

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Open letter to the school board

I write this open letter to you, the local board of education for District 38 and the largest employer of our Tri-Lakes region. I have been reading in the paper that you have run out of options on the subject of the site for a second high school. Firstly, you should realize that you already have a second high school. What was used for a high school before the current structure was built? It is still there. It has the lockers, gym, locker rooms, cafeteria, and laboratories that are needed for a high school. In the early 1990s, it was used as the middle school. Currently, it is being used as an elementary school. However, the cost of building new elementary schools is a fraction of the cost of a new high school. Build an elementary school where it is needed and convert this old structure back into a high school and save over $20 million.

Further, you need to consider what provides public support for these options—certainly not keeping them a secret and then springing them on an unsuspecting public. The district did not win its last bond election in November of 2004 precisely because it did not hold any discussion on the various options open for a second high school. I seem to remember a site near Highway 83 and not this taking of farm property near the county line. Part of this public discussion should be around some real options, such as the location, and the cost.

Finally, you need to sell any project to the voting public. Your last four major projects were ill-considered. They consist of a middle school in Jackson Creek, where an elementary school is needed, since so many young families with young children live there. Therefore, they could walk to school, getting needed exercise. You built an elementary school in a retirement community of King’s Deer, where busing must be maximized. You had to enlarge the bus barn within a residential area to accommodate this. Finally, with your control of over 95 percent of all community classrooms, especially in the evenings and weekends, you wasted money converting an old building to these uses. Obviously, you need to better manage the assets the public has entrusted to your keeping.

Leon W. Tenney

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Wal-Mart should pay

This letter is in regards to the article about Wal-Mart refusing to participate in public improvement fees to finance improvements to the Baptist Road I-25 interchange ("Wal-Mart refuses to participate in public improvement fee," April 1, 2006). Without Wal-Mart’s participation, there is insufficient projected PIF revenue from other retail stores to pay the interest on the BRRTA’s proposed highway construction bonds. BRRTA will now seek a 1 percent sales tax ballot initiative in the November election.

I would like to urge everyone to vote this tax increase down. Wal-Mart will be the major contributor to the traffic increase at this interchange (especially large trucks), and they are not willing to pay their fair share for the improvement. They would rather shift all the burden to the taxpayers. Nobody should be surprised by this behavior - this is a typical example of Wal-Mart’s business and community practices. We can expect more of the same in the future. We have sacrificed the quality of life in our community to this "low price" leader. All we can expect from Wal-Mart is more traffic, more pollution, more crime, and more taxes all in the name of "low prices." A $2 pair of socks is really $10 when you account for the increased taxes and community burden due to Wal-Mart. We get what we pay for.

The community needs to pressure Wal-Mart to be a responsible community partner and not just a stand-alone "profit-at-all-costs" entity. This community deserves to be treated better than this and needs to boycott Wal-Mart until they become a responsible community partner and help shoulder some of the costs needed for community improvement brought on by their store location.

Monica Garcia

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Same old, same old

Seems like every week, I read about the efforts that Monument citizens have to go through to ensure new housing projects provide the right solution for the communities. And every week I read that, for the most part, the same issues are brought up, and the majority of the board members take the same position they have before.

There are some common threads here, and board hasn’t gotten the message. The majority of the community is not against growth -- it’s against growth with more negative long-term impacts than positive ones.

Case in point: The Jackson Creek/Kingswood community and the ordeal we went through with the builders of Promontory Point. The community spent months negotiating with the board and the builder over water issues, density, traffic issues, I-25 access, impacts to school construction, etc. Instead of the board having someone look into the views opposing those of the builder, the community was forced to either roll over and accept the builder’s proposal, or energize and put together a package that pushed back.

After months of hearings, debates and organized outcry, we learned the builder has acquiesced to most of our demands. While the community did a stellar job, it should not be up to us to go head to head with the board or the developer, who has lawyers, engineers, and lobbyists on their side.

Now look at the latest round of meetings for Home Place and other developments. Basically the same issues are being raised, and the majority of the board is rattling off the same mantra it did at the beginning of the Promontory Point issue. It appears they nor the other builders have learned anything.

We deserve a board that pays attention and ensures the best interests of the community are well-represented. Maybe they should put the word out that they are tired of seeing the same plans over and over and let the developers know they shouldn’t even think about coming to the table unless the majority of citizens’ issues are addressed from the start? Or, if those board members don’t get the message, maybe we should energize one more time and replace some of them?

Michael DeKort

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The other side

This is a response to the article titled, "Officer Degenkolbe Awarded Distinguished Service Medal," featured in the April 1, 2006, edition of the Tri-Lakes Our Community News. I feel compelled to write the letter about inaccuracies in Jim Kendrick’s account of the incident for which Degenkolbe was meritoriously recognized. I do not wish to denigrate Officer Degenkolbe’s performance of duty or impugn his reputation.

Consideration was not extended to both sides of the story -- only the alleged victim’s questionable account was used. Several assumptions attriuted to his account were dismissed in court when they could not be substantiated.

The alleged victim, James Zachary Ryan Bond (AKA Ross Ryan Tampow and David Creighten Beale), was never doubted. He presented himself as an investigator or undercover agent. But his lifelong affiliation with crime is a matter of public record. He involved himself in my affairs ostensibly to help some younger family members with alleged drug problems. Unsolicited meddling, trespassing, and a barrage of telephone messages bordered on harassment.

Bond burst through the door awakening Bailey in one of two uninvited entries that day. Bailey reached for his pistol, inquired who was there, and when Bond responded, asked him to leave, emphasizing he wanted to sleep. Refusing to leave, Bailey discharged his weapon into the television (away from Bond), emphasizing his seriousness. Bond left and filed a complaint that Bailey shot a hole in his coat, for which he demanded $400 in reimbursement.

That coat (evidence) could not be produced in court. Unsubstantiated and false statements made by Bond to the District Attorney include: Bailey placing the gun to his own head; . Bailey uttering a suicidal threat; and Bailey strangling his hybrid wolf. Bond returned with police, opened the door abruptly and awakened Bailey by calling him outside, for which Bailey’s initial response was consistent with the perceived threat by Bond.

Marsha Bailey

OCN focuses primarily on what is said and done at public meetings. What was reported in the OCN article on the March 6 Monument Board of Trustees meeting accurately reflects what said by the Monument Police Chief and what was written in the police department’s account of the incident.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Remembering Mom

By the Staff at Covered Treasures

Ahhh, May. Warmer weather, mayflowers, and Mother’s Day. As we reflect on mothers, grandmothers, and other women who have influenced our lives, we feel grateful. Small gift-books say thank you in a special way—on their own or as a nice addition to a gift basket or a bouquet of flowers.

Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me
By Maya Angelou, $9.95

This new title is a touching poem for an adult child to give to his or her mother. A reflection on the growth stages from child to adult, the poem is a poignant reminder of a mother’s constant love and encouragement. Maturing past the years when "you knew nothing and I knew everything," the adult child gives thanks for his or her mother’s unconditional love.

Furry Logic Parenthood
By Jane Seabrook $9.95

"The moment you have children, you forgive your parents everything!" Quotes accompanied by adorable animal drawings are bound to put a smile on any mother’s face. There is also an original Furry Logic for those who want to give a token to a friend who is like a mother.

A Morning Cup of…
By various authors, $17.95

This small hardcover series is delightful. Subjects include pilates, meditation, and stretching. Each volume introduces a 15-minute daily routine do in your home. Easy to follow, humorous illustrations, and an audio CD add to the fun of improving the body and the mind. Include one of these bright, cheerful books with a cute coffee mug or teacup and you have given a unique and useful gift.

Gift by the Sea
By Anne Morrow Lindbergh $16

This perennial favorite is now out in a lovely 50th anniversary edition. This book is essential for the mom who does too much and who feels under pressure on a regular basis. Read about Anne’s time by the sea as she ponders her life and the meaning of it all. This timeless book speaks to all generations of women.

Mothers are Special
By Lucy Mead, $5.99

This gift book is a tribute to those who love, encourage, and inspire. Most moms fit the bill, and the quotes and short stories in this book are sure to bring a few tears to the givers’ and receivers’ eyes. "Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart it don’t mean a thing." (Toni Morrison) How perfect is this in its punchy truthfulness? Assuredly, even at age 60, your mom will still worry if you take a cross-country trip or need surgery. "Forever a child" to each mother is something we all realize as we mature past the "know-it-all" stage of our lives.

A Weekend to Change Your Life
By Joan Anderson, $23.95

New York Times best-selling author Joan Anderson gives women practical advice and inspiration for building creative, independent, and fulfilling lives through discovering who they truly are and who they can be. Drawing on her own life and the experiences of the women she meets in her workshops, Anderson shows women how to move beyond the roles they play in relationship to others and reclaim their individuality. Through illustrations and gentle instructions, she illuminates the rewards of nurturing long-neglected talents, revitalizing plans sacrificed to the demands of family life, and redefining oneself by embracing new possibilities.

Meditations for New Mothers
By Beth Wilson Saavedra, $7.95

This charming book might be just the perfect "first Mother’s Day" gift. It is one of those bedside-table books for those overwhelming new mother moments when one wonders what in the world one has undertaken. Each page tackles a unique topic beginning with an apt quote, followed by musings, and ending with a meditation. For example: Body Awareness introduces Mark Twain’s quote, "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been." A few wise words and then the meditation: "During my lifetime I have traveled many roads—they decorate my face and my body." A ribbon is included to mark one’s place.

Remembering our own mothers, grandmothers, and mother-friends gives us a chance to honor them and reconnect. Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours. And until next month, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: Attracting Hummingbirds

By Woody Woodworth

Look at a backyard that has lots of hummingbirds and most likely you’ll see a yard that has large, bold masses of red flowers. Put out a "Stop Here" sign by using plants with red nectar-rich flowers. Amazingly, hummingbirds can see the color red, especially a large area of it, from over a half-mile away. Use a combination of feeders as well as masses of flowering plants, and you will keep your yard attractive to hummers during the summer and into the fall.

Although feeders filled with nectar will attract many hummingbirds, other hummingbirds prefer natural nectar sources. Fill your yard with a variety of vines, shrubs, and annual and perennial flowers. Provide a succession of red, orange, and pink flowering plants, luring migrating hummingbirds to stop along their long journey.

Create good habitat, starting with native shrubs and trees. The average "lawn planet" yard is a wasteland as far as they’re concerned. By planting hummingbird-friendly flowers and shrubs that are native to our area, you will create a hummingbird haven. Shrubs, when not filled with flowers, will provide perches and cover and maybe even nesting spots for the small birds. They will also act as dividers in your garden, creating multiple feeding areas, important when you have these territorial birds claiming plants and feeders as their own. Plant vines along fences and trellises, create new flower beds, add annual and perennial flowers to window boxes, hang baskets of blooms on your patio. Even if your garden is small, even if you only have a balcony in an apartment, you can have hummingbirds feeding on your flowers.

Some common plants that hummingbirds enjoy are bee balm, bleeding heart, butterfly weed, columbine, coral bells, daylilies, delphinium, lilacs, gay feather, penstemon and phlox. Roses and marigolds might catch a hungry hummingbird’s attention, but they don’t produce the right type or quantity of nectar to satisfy this very selective clientele.

When flowers aren’t blooming yet, use nature’s nectar recipe to fill feeders. Natural nectar contains little more than water, sugars (mainly sucrose, a.k.a. white sugar) and small amounts of mineral salts, with no preservatives or flavors, and no dyes. Hummingbirds are attracted by the color red, but red plastic on the feeder will do the trick.

One part plain granulated sugar dissolved in four parts ordinary tap water creates a solution remarkably like natural nectar. A solution made with boiling water spoils less quickly (always allow to cool before serving). Don’t use honey, which can cause a fatal fungus infection. Put out fresh solution every four or five days (more often in hot weather), and clean feeders thoroughly at least once a week. Selecting a feeder design that’s easy to clean and refill will save time and prevent hygiene problems.

One more tip: Use natural pest-control methods. Chemical pesticides indiscriminately kill the tiny insects and spiders that hummingbirds eat and may put the birds at risk of secondary poisoning. Spiders are important allies in the war on insect pests, and their webs provide female hummingbirds with silk to build their nests.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, April 20: Searching for an Air Force Academy

By Dee Kirby

Dr. Elizabeth Muenger, command historian at the Air Force Academy, discussed the nation’s early desire for an Air Force Academy and the search for a site. She traced the evolution of aircraft, from its main use during World War I as surveillance planes to the more advanced technology that played an integral part in the battles of World War II. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower recognized the need for "interservice cooperation" among all branches of the armed services, for the airplane supported not only the soldiers on foot, at sea, or in the air but the troops of our allies as well.
The Air Force, originally the U.S. Army Air Corps, earned recognition as a separate military branch when President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act in 1947. However, plans to build an academy were put on hold because of the presidential elections of 1948 and 1952 and the Korean War. Newly elected, President Eisenhower authorized the establishment of the Academy when he signed Public Law 325.

A committee was appointed to begin the exhaustive process of visiting 580 sites, nominated by their communities for consideration. The site needed to meet certain criteria such as the availability of 15,000 acres or more; possess a natural beauty with a healthy climate minus extreme weather conditions; be accessible to transportation and be welcomed into a community by leaders and residents. The search narrowed to three sites; Geneva, Wis.,,Alton, Ill., and Colorado Springs.

Three factors tipped the scale to Colorado Springs. First, the nod of Eisenhower, who loved Colorado. He and his wife, Mamie, who had family in Denver, visited Colorado each summer for 50 years.

Second, city leaders of Colorado Springs and residents vigorously campaigned to bring the Academy to the area. So vigorous were they in their bid that a local citizen grew a beard, flew to Alton, and armed himself with signs that read: "We don’t want you in Alton," which suggested lack of community support in Alton. He then flew back to the Springs, shaved his beard, and returned to his occupation as a car dealer.

Finally, Charles "Lucky" Lindbergh sealed the deal when he put to rest concerns about iffy flying conditions near the Rampart Range. The flight selection board, of which Lindbergh was a member, arrived at the Pine Valley Airport (where the current AFA field is located) to check out flying conditions. Lindbergh approached a crusty old man to rent one of his planes. Suspicious of the young flier, the old man demanded to see a pilot’s license. Quietly, Lindbergh placed 23 licenses from around the world on the counter. Quickly, Lindbergh had the keys of a Cessna in his hands. Muenger said that Lindbergh flew around and despite thin air and swirling air currents, he gave his blessings.

From 1954 through ‘56, the state of Colorado quietly bought out 160 land parcels that totaled 18,000 acres, composed of Pine Valley, Lehman Valley, and the Douglas Ranch. The fair market value for semi-arid land in the 1950s averaged $126 per acre, which was based on an average of three appraisals. Even though the land was acquired under eminent domain, some land owners went to court to negotiate a better deal, but most settled without a court battle.

In 1959, the first class of Air Force Academy cadets graduated.

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Reflections: My quest for an umbrella stand

By Elizabeth Hacker

By now, most readers have already read about the 30th Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale that took place the weekend of April 22-23. It has become a community tradition that I have attended every year since we moved here in 1990. The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsors this annual event with the help of the Lewis-Palmer High School Serteens, Monument Hill Sertoma, and donations by many area merchants. This event is truly supported by this community. It attracts antiques lovers from near and far who shop and browse the booths of the 60 or so dealers who fill the gyms and halls of Lewis-Palmer High School.

Whether it is the charm of the antiques or the characters who come to this show, for me it is the ultimate shopping experience! I can still remember the first show I attended in 1990. My son was in a stroller, and I had my 2-year-old tethered to my side to keep her from wandering off and handling delicate items. This year, I saw many mothers, fathers, and grandparents with children, and it brought back many fond memories.

Perhaps the allure for me is that my mother was an antiques dealer and sold her treasures at shows like this one. Every summer, she went to Europe (sans kids) to shop for antiques, and she brought them back to sell at shows in the winter. I always feel a sense of the past when I’m at these events. And one of my favorite TV shows is the PBS "Antiques Road Show."

Although the Pine Forest Show is virtually the same every year, different experts are invited to share information. This year, Jan McKinney’s talk on English antiquing gave me an insight into how romantic it must be to travel to England to buy antiques. Quilt historian Lynn Lybolt was on hand to talk about antique quilts and how to properly care for them. International science fiction authors Kevin Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, who are married to each other and live in the area, were signing books and talking to many of their devoted fans. I also enjoyed meeting Miss Colorado, Jessica Urban, who was as gracious as she is beautiful.

Some years I play the sleuth, looking for the perfect antique, while other years I go to learn about the past, to check current pricing, or to take in a bit of the eye-candy. I always run into folks I haven’t seen for a while and meet a few new people, which, being the social creature that I am, I enjoy.

As I step through the door and see all the beautiful antiques, my conservative spending habits give way to impulse buying, which, if left unchecked, could have a very negative effect on my husband’s health. To ensure him a long and healthy life, I generally only carry a specific amount of cash that I’ve stashed away for this special weekend. He often tags along because he enjoys looking at and talking about the tools and toys of his past that are now for sale as antiques. Perhaps even more, he likes the food and baked items.

Having him there also ensures that if we find something that we agree we absolutely must have, but is more than the cash I have on hand, he will enthusiastically hand over his credit card to purchase it. We feel euphoric when we bring home something we will enjoy for many years and that we can pass on to our children to remember us by. And judging from some of the increases in the prices of antiques we’ve purchased over the years, spending money on antiques can actually be a good investment.

This year, I decided I would spend my stash of $200 (compiled from the $3.50 and some change each week that I hid in a jar) on an umbrella stand. Readers might wonder why I would want an umbrella stand, because it hasn’t rained here in many moons. Precisely! We have all these umbrellas sitting in a closet that I can’t throw away because each has too many memories. Besides, if I did throw them away I might be blamed for a continued drought, and an umbrella stand would look great in our entryway.

While shopping for an umbrella stand, I ran into Linda Hauff, who had purchased some antique linen. She told me that she is always one of the first people in the door because one year she wasn’t and someone else purchased the linens she wanted as she walked up to the booth. This year, she found some tea towels that were similar to the ones her grandmother once embroidered. I noticed that she also purchased a cake!

Jim McGuire was also eyeing antiques, mentioning that his wife thought they had enough but added that if he found something he had to have, he might be able to slip it through the back door without her seeing it!

In my quest, I found only two umbrella stands and, unfortunately, they were both in excess of my budget so I will have to continue my search next year. I did find some rare grapefruit spoons, an uncirculated 1948 penny, and jade earrings that were all well within my budget.

Most important, I feel good about my purchases because they will remind me of what I did at the 30th Pine Forest Antique Show and how I was part of a tradition that benefits our community. Over the past 30 years, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club has grown from 50 to over 200 members. They continue to annually give back to the community through grants to schools, fire and police departments, and many other nonprofit organizations within the District 38 boundaries. In 30 years, they have raised upwards of a half million dollars for Tri-Lakes. Way to go, ladies!

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Larks

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

With the onset of spring on the Palmer Divide, so resonates the song of the meadowlark. We often drive the back roads of Greenland Ranch with our windows down just to hear the familiar melodic chords of its repetitive song, long before we ever spot this shy bird.

While some birds live in the trees and some swim in ponds, the meadowlark is a bird of the grassland. The first meadowlarks probably arrived in the Midwest at the same time as the prairies, on the heels of retreating Ice Age glaciers. And although the prairie is now largely legend, the meadowlark still sings on the land where the bison once roamed. Stories about the meadowlark appear in Native American folklore. One story by Long Standing Bear Chief tells of how the meadowlark is rewarded by the Creator with a yellow shirt and black necklace for bringing news, so the world would learn about the good things of life.

Most often spotted on fence posts overlooking a field of grass, the meadowlark is beneficial to ranchers because it feeds on noxious insects, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, spiders, and cutworms that may invade grasses. It is seldom found alone. The male’s success depends on his ability to defend his territory and his song. Males are polygamous and defend a territory large enough for two or three mates. While it fiercely defends a 15-acre territory during the spring mating season, the male, his mates, and juvenile offspring will join a flock in the fall and winter to more efficiently find food. The meadowlark spends the greater part of its time on the ground, where it finds all of its food. Nesting begins in the early part of May and lasts through June. The female builds the dome-shaped nest with a side opening on the ground in a level meadow, either over a natural depression or in a scratched-out hollow alongside a bunch of grass. The nest is lined with dry grass, pine needles, and horsehair. From April through August, nests may contain four or five eggs, which are white with dark brown to purple speckles. The female incubates the eggs, which takes 13-14 days, and she broods the young. Both parents feed the young, but the male usually brings the food and gives it to the female, which passes it on to the young. The young will leave the nest in 11-12 days. Because the nest is on the ground, the young must often leave it even before they can fly in order to hide from predators. Predators, including raccoons, fox, coyotes, and other birds, frequently find and destroy the eggs and young chicks.

The meadowlark has a yellow breast with a distinct broad black V-shaped marking across its chest that resembles a necklace. But its short tail and short rounded wings, white outer tail feathers, long starling-like bill, and brown-streaked back help it to blend into the landscape, and therefore it often goes unnoticed. The female resembles the male but is smaller. This bird ranges from 8 to 11 inches in length, with a wingspread of 13 to 17 inches.

The meadowlark is not a true lark, as its name implies, and it is not a starling as the scientific name, Sturnella magna, suggests. It is actually part of the group known as the blackbirds that include the red-winged blackbird and the orioles.

The horned lark is the only true lark native to North America. It’s smaller than a meadowlark but larger than a sparrow, about 7-8 inches in length. It has many similar characteristics to the meadowlark. It has brown on its back with yellowish feathers on its breast and a black necklace. Unlike the meadowlark, it has a black stripe below its eye, a white or yellowish stripe above its eye, and distinctive "horns" or feathers that stand up on its head.

The habitats of these larks overlap, and both species are found in the grasslands of the West. They are both ground feeders that eat seeds and insects, but the horned lark walks or runs instead of hopping and moves in an erratic pattern when feeding, to confuse predators.

The horned lark is one of the earliest nesting birds on the Divide. I observed a male lark establishing a territory in February while visiting Castlewood Canyon State Park. Following a short but passionate courtship that includes Mick Jagger-like strutting with erect horn feathers and aerial dynamics, the male will fly to heights of 800 feet, then plummet ground-ward with wings folded, leveling out at the last instant to impress observant females. If the first nest of eggs is destroyed by a severe spring snowstorm, the horned lark still has time to produce and raise two more broods.

The horned lark is a ground nester, and the female might feign an injury to lure predators away from the nest. This bird is faithful to its birthplace, where it returns after each migration. In autumn, juveniles form large flocks as they migrate south.

Elizabeth Hacker is a nature artist and writes about birds. Her bird prints are available in the gift shop of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

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On the Trail: Limbaugh Trail still requires alternate route

By Tim Watkins

Monument is a very special part of the Front Range for recreation. We have some wonderful scenery and diverse and incredibly scenic and challenging trails that access the area We are truly blessed by the grace of relatively untouched-well, not overly touched-land.

Much of it is in for radical change due to incredible amounts of growth. There is a need for people committed to preserving this area for recreation. Friends of Monument Preserve is an organization worth getting involved with if you want to keep using these resources. There is always a need for willing bodies to do trail maintenance and reconstruction in a sanctioned venue.

One of the most wonderful trails on the Front Range is quite well-known for spectacular scenery and wonderful routing, with a diversity seldom seen in such a relatively small area. Steep and rocky to smooth and flower-filled, the area is very popular for its series of stream crossings, dark timber, and diversity Limbaugh Canyon (Trail 715), however, is still shut off to through traffic southbound, from Inspiration Point on down, and will remain so until further notice. The best alternate route is to go up the gully at a junction near the middle stream crossing and up onto Balanced Rock Road and down from there.

Please respect the wishes of the private landowners, who are quite willing to allow continued use, exiting from the Limbaugh Canyon trail to the north, past the old U.S. Forest Service cabin. They are working diligently with the Forest Service and are cooperating to make this hopeful trail re-route work for everyone, but those who vandalize signs or fences are infringing on the rights of the private landowners. Patience and consideration are needed to keep this from stalling or not moving forward in a way that is advantageous to those of us who still love the trail. You can contact the Pike Ranger District or Balanced Rock Bike and Ski to learn more.

The trails in the "work center" are getting huge amounts of traffic now and are in bad need of maintenance. Come help do trail work! The Friends of Monument Preserve will be publishing dates for this work throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Please find alternate routes to hike, bike, ride, run, and walk when there is snow or wet conditions. There are a number of roads and places to go in the immediate area that are more free from mud and snow and should be used when the more popular trails are wet. When the trails get used wet, they get rutted from people widening the trail, creating braided trails. The damage provides more direct routes for water to further erode the trails. It is much harder to correct drainage problems if the trails are used when wet or snowy.

These trails could be lost to us if this simple courtesy to the other users and the land itself is not observed. There are many of us who want to keep playing in this place, but we do so by the grace of the Forest Service alone, so treat the area with the respect and courtesy it deserves. There is a lot of history and a lot of wildlife here that should be carefully used and enjoyed. Please take care not to litter or destroy property and don’t create new trails or modify the existing ones without proper authority. In short, be considerate of others and of the place itself.

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Art Matters: Walk of the Town: The Art Hop rides again May 18

By Janet Lee Sellers

May begins the outdoor art season in our community. New venues are available now with the monthly Art Hop of Monument merchants, so be sure to get your brochure of the updated locations for this most popular event.

The first Art Hop is set for 5-8 p.m. Thursday, May 18. It continues its tradition of convivial pursuits and fine art as the talk of the town with a walk of the town. While the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs is closed for renovation and it hosts the downtown FAC Modern with music and bistro, we can focus on our local arts scene and get to know the artists on a personal basis. Most all of the artists featured for the Art Hop are present at the events.

Don’t limit yourself and your guests to just the Art Hop evening events. Those are just to get you going into the galleries. Our gorgeous weather has just begun to coax the wildflowers and the flowering trees into days perfect for walking to the art in our town—almost any day of the week. I’ve listed some of my favorites to get you started and into the sunshine for some really fine lunchtime and afternoon walks.

Pankratz Gallery, 366 Second St., Monument, offers a new show and new twist on showings with Carrie Ann Baade. The works remind me of Hieronymous Bosch and Salvador Dalí. The gallery hopes to shake up the norm with this direction of art show. The artist will be on hand for some local talks and the Art Hop.

Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive in Monument, our community’s biggest venue for viewers at 18,000-20,000 patrons per month, will be showing large digital nature photographs of Colorado scenery, "Colorado Visions" by Doug Bennett of Colorado Springs. The photos are from last summer and fall. He is re-entering his art photography on his current travels. He told me he likes getting out to see and experience Colorado’s beauty at sunrise or so with the extraordinary lighting we can’t usually see at other times of the day, such as the sun bursting through blue sky and clouds of flaming red. His 20-by-30 prints are "light-jet" printed, which means they are digitally true to his specifications and printed with traditional photo print processing. He has written statements for each image.

Also this month at the library, Glenn Hayes will be showing his ceramic works in his very first solo exhibit, titled "The Function and Art of Baked Mud." Glenn told me, "This collection is the product of four years of practice and learning and fun. I have chosen to make functional pots because I like for the owners of my pieces to use and interact with the pots....

"All of the pieces here are wheel-thrown.… The wheel provides an immediacy to the creative process, and learning to channel the momentum of the wheel into the forming and shaping of the pot is both fun and challenging." His raku vases and the high fire teapots are among his favorites in this exhibit. All the works in the exhibit are for sale, and interested buyers can contact him at hayglenn@gmail.com.

Mother’s Day Art Fest, at the Woodmoor Barn, on Woodmoor Drive across from Lewis-Palmer Middle School, May 13, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The Woodmoor Improvement Association will hold its first flea market, complete with an art fair. Artists in our community will be on hand to sell and exhibit their artwork, including sculpture, paintings, prints, cards, and more at the new art and flea market.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake through May 19, Lucy Owens Gallery featuring William Goetz "Colorado Scenes" (Landscaping)

June 1-July 15, Palmer Lake Art Group, featuring members of the Palmer Lake Art Group; opening reception 5:30-8:30 p.m. June 3

June 1-July 15 Lucy Owens Gallery features Robert Gray; opening reception 5:30-8:30 p.m. June 3

Bella Art & Frame hosts the second annual Monument Academy First-Graders Art Show & Benefit "A Tribute to Mom." Bella Art & Frame is located in Gallery Center next to Pankratz Gallery at 366 Second St., Suite B in downtown Monument. Call 487-7691 for more information.

Monument School of Fine Arts: June Movie Camp (June 5-9) is enrolling now. Youth cinema buffs will enjoy creating original "Mini Cine" movie shorts with other talented local filmmakers with writing, filming, directing and acting for a week of hands-on movie skills and a premiere at week’s end! Ages 11-18; younger venues available. The spring/summer art classes and workshops continue with open enrollment, so join award-winning artists and faculty for the hands-on classes. The Plein Air workshops will be going on in our area and around Colorado on the weekends in spring and summer. Call 488-8280 or visit online at www.startmyart.com.

More summer art offerings are in the pipeline, so stay tuned in June.

Tri-Lakes Views developing local public art. Many cities and states throughout the country are recognizing the importance of a long-term commitment to public art. Cities large and small fund their public art programs with a percent for art ordinance, thereby ensuring a constant flow of dollars to their important art programs. Here in Colorado, for example, the General Assembly passed the Art in Public Places Act, mandating that 1 percent of the construction cost of new or renovated state-owned buildings be allocated to the creation and installation of a public art piece.

Just as local geography, history, and culture help make up the identity of a community, so does its public art. Public art has the ability to infuse new beauty into a town’s surroundings and a renewed health to its culture. It can enrich the lives and imaginations of the people who view it. It sets a community apart from all others, and provides an outlet for creativity and community pride. All these taken together really do make towns more interesting to live in, work, and visit.

Citizen participation is also critical to a community’s public art program. Drawing together various points of view ensures that any given work of art supports a community’s values. Greater citizen involvement throughout the process creates a greater sense of community and a higher probability that the end result will be embraced by the public. And yes, a larger pool of volunteers keeps everyone from getting overwhelmed or burned out.

Tri-Lakes Views (TLV) is a grass-roots organization whose mission is to support local art and history initiatives. The TLV folks are looking for volunteers to become part of the process. Anyone interested in joining the group will find information at TriLakesViews.org, or by contacting the group’s leader, Betty Konarski, at 481-2769.

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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.

Mozart goes to Monument May 6 and 7

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, conducted by Lawrence Leighton Smith, concludes the 2005-06 Mozart & Friends series with "All Mozart" May 6, 8 p.m., and again May 7 at 2:30 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Road. The program showcases Lawrence Leighton Smith’s piano prowess as he conducts from the piano Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14. The program includes the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro and Serenade No. 9 in D major (Posthorn).

The concert is part of the continued community outreach by the Philharmonic to bring orchestral music to many parts of the Colorado Springs area. The Mozart & Friends series offers a more intimate setting for audiences who want a neighborhood experience. Tickets are $20 at the door, at the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave, by calling 520-SHOW, at all Tickets West outlets, and online at Ticketswest.com.

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Medicare prescription drug sign-up May 11

Questions about Medicare Part D and its Low-Income Subsidy? The Social Security Administration, Senior Insurance Assistance, and the Tri-Lakes Pastoral nurse will hold the last sign-up event in the Tri-Lakes area for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, and the extra financial assistance provided through Social Security. The extra help can save qualified beneficiaries an average of $2,100 per year. The open enrollment period for the Prescription Drug Plans ends May 15. The next enrollment period runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

The sign-up event will be held May 11, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. Bring your Medicare card, list of medications, and the amount of your total monthly income and assets. For more information, phone 481-3282.

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Child ID program, May 13, 20

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reports that 15,000 Colorado children are abducted each year. To help in the battle, the Monument Masonic Lodge will conduct a free child ID program, May 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the D-38 administration building, 146 Jefferson, and May 20, noon-5 p.m., at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. All children must be accompanied by at least one parent. The ID process involves taking an electronic photo and index finger prints and producing a hard copy of them, measuring the child’s height and weight, filling out a form and attaching two strands of the child’s hair for DNA analysis. The parent(s) keeps the completed form. For more information phone Ed Kinney, 481-2750.

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Reception to honor retiring D-38 personnel May 17

The public is invited to a reception May 17, 4 to 6 p.m., in honor of David Dilley, superintendent; Linda Williams-Blackwell, executive director, special programs and services; Joe Subialka, executive director, financial services; and Ida Liebert, principal, Prairie Winds Elementary School. Also being honored are former board members Hugh Eaton and Bob Manning. The reception will be held in the Learning Center at the D-38 Administration Building, 146 Jefferson, Monument. For more information, phone 488-4703.

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Gleneagle Spirit Run/Walk May 20

The second annual Gleneagle Spirit 5k Run/Walk for Fun will take place May 20, 8:30 a.m. to noon, at Antelope Trails Elementary School, 15280 Jessie Drive. The 5k course winds through the streets of Gleneagle (east of I-25 between the Northgate and Baptist Road exits) and has a variety of elevations to challenge all participants. The event is organized by resident Mark Rudolph, with all net proceeds going to Boy Scout Troop 194. The 2005 event raised over $1,000. "The Boy Scouts are very visible throughout our community," Rudolph said. "They assist in many projects and activities that help to keep our neighborhood clean, safe, and beautiful."

The race will be professionally timed, and gold, silver, and bronze medals will be presented to the top male and female finishers in eight age divisions. Participants will receive an event T-shirt, water bottle, and other sponsor goodies. After the run/walk, participants will be treated to a pasta dinner, live music, stretching, body/ankle/leg massages, and a display of firefighting and emergency response equipment in a festival atmosphere. The price is $23 per participant preregistered ($30 day of the race registration). Children under 14 are free. To register for the Gleneagle Spirit call Mark Rudolph, 492-3974.

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AARP Mature Safe Driving Program May 20

This is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older. Completion of the class can get you a discount on your insurance. The class will be held May 20, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Bring a lunch. Advance registration and $10 fee are required. Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive. For more information, phone the library, 488-2370.

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Teen Summer Reading Program

Get lost in a good book, discover lost civilizations, and lose yourself in art! Teens will learn the lost art of magic, how not to get lost in the wilderness, and find lost caches throughout Colorado Springs during the Teen Summer Reading Program, May 27 to Aug. 1. Read to win books, journals, food, T-shirts, and more. Also, applications for teen volunteers are now available. For more information, call Monument Branch Library, 488-2370, or Palmer Lake Branch Library, 481-2587.

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Car show June 11

The Tri-Lakes Cruisers Car Club will present its fifth annual benefit car show June 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in historic downtown Monument. This free family event includes a DJ with ‘50s music, games for the kids, and door prizes. Proceeds from the show will go to Tri-Lakes Cares, a charity that supports families in the Tri-Lakes area. In the past two years, the Tri-Lakes Cruisers have raised more than $6,000 for Tri-Lakes Cares.

This year, the show is limited to 225 classic, muscle, street rod, and antique cars from 1900 to 2006. More than 40 trophies will be given in 18 categories. Breakfast will be provided for those who register a car. Preregistration fee is $20 per car (postmarked by June 3) and $25 on the day of the show. To download a registration form, log onto www.TLCruisers.org and click on Registration Form. For more information call Dick at 481-4533 or Bill at 481-2465.

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Garden advice at Monument Library

Beginning May 16, local Colorado Master Gardeners will staff a help desk at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Tuesdays throughout the summer, 3 to 9 p.m. You are welcome to walk in with any questions about gardening in the Pikes Peak Region. Bring in examples of disease or insect infestation from your garden that you need help identifying. Any other questions can be answered by contacting the CSU Extension Office/Master Gardener Help Desk, 636-8921, or e-mail csumg2@elpasoco.com.

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Help fill Palmer Lake

The Awake the Lake Committee has announced that the installation of a memorial walkway at the Bill Crawford memorial will begin in May. The memorial gardens are located at the north end of the lake and are dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran Bill Crawford, who lived in Palmer Lake for many years. Engraved 5-by-8 inch pavers are still available, at $75 each. This is a fund-raising effort to help keep the lake full, healthy, and a centerpiece of Palmer Lake. Order forms can be picked up at the Rock House ice cream store in Palmer Lake or ordered online at awakethelake.com.

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Exchange students need host families

International Student Exchange seeks host families for the 2006-07 school year. A young lady from Hong Kong, an environmentalist award winner, seeks a Colorado family. Talented young students from Germany, Colombia, South Korea, Norway, Spain, and Italy are waiting for host families. Change the world person by person; phone Annie, 638-8378 or e-mail nbane78@msn.com.

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County volunteer opportunities

The El Paso County Development Fund Advisory Board needs an at-large member to review, monitor, and make recommendations concerning the reserve levels and all fees and charges associated with the Land Development Review Fee Fund.

Two individuals with expertise in Family and Consumer Science (must have knowledge in food safety and nutrition) are needed for the Colorado State University Extension Advisory Committee.

A Land Developer representative is needed for the Park Fee Advisory Board. Members meet September through December to establish a fair and equitable park fee schedule.

Openings exist on the Planning Commissions for Associate representatives. Members review planning petitions and make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on land use requests, and prepare a master plan for unincorporated areas of the county.

Interested individuals should submit an El Paso County volunteer application and/or a letter of interest along with a brief résumé including address and a daytime telephone number to: Board of County Commissioners, Attn: Fran St. Germain, Executive Assistant to County Administration, 27 E. Vermijo Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208; Fax to: 520-6397; E-mail: webmaster@elpasoco.com. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com by clicking on the "Volunteer Opps" link. A list of all volunteer boards with a link to a description of duties is also available at this site. For further information you may call 520-7276. Deadline for applications is May 12.

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Local business raises money for Katrina animal victims

A local dog-care company is matching donations from the Monument area to benefit dogs that were lost or abandoned during Hurricane Katrina. Alex Farr, an employee at Camp Bow Wow Monument and a volunteer firefighter for Palmer Lake, went to New Orleans early this year to rescue dogs. He saw many pets that still have not found their owners.

During April, staff from Camp Bow Wow Monument collected $222 in cash donations from patrons of Monument’s King Soopers and Safeway. The money raised is for the Humane Society of Louisiana’s Emergency Headquarters, whose mission is to keep the Camp Katrina disaster relief shelter open to save these animals and find homes for them. Camp Bow Wow will match up to $1,000 in donations collected at its store through May 15. To make a donation, contact Camp Bow Wow Monument at 18985 Base Camp Road, or call 632-9247.

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