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Vol. 7 No. 3 - March 3, 2007


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Tri-Lakes enjoys a Rockin’ Sock Hop!

The Sock Hop was held Feb. 10 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. Photos provided by Pat Yorke of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. For other TLCA events, check our community calendar, visit www.trilakesarts.org, or call (719) 481-0475.

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Below: Above: Lars Ebbesen (new TLCA life member) dances with Woodmoor resident Debbie Haltermann. In the background, disc jockey G. T. from 91.5 KRCC’s Vintage Voltage.

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Below: Sarah Schweiss and Darby Watt enjoy a blast from the past. 

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 5: 
Delay in I-25 interchange adds to Baptist Road commuter woes

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Below: Excavation and installation of infrastructure for the widening of El Paso County’s Baptist Road by the Baptist Road and Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authorities has been slowed by snow storms and several utility relocation and environmental permit delays. This picture was taken on Feb. 28 at the southwest corner of the Leather Chaps Drive intersection as snow began to fall yet again. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

The I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion will be delayed by five months due to a delay in the right-of-way transfer, Mayor Byron Glenn told the Monument Board of Trustees at its Feb. 5 meeting.

In other matters, the board:

  • Rejected two proposals to amend the town zoning ordinance with a sentence that would have prohibited occupants of recreational vehicle owners from sleeping overnight at the Monument Marketplace Wal-Mart.
  • Approved the fourth amendment to the final planned development (PD) site plan for the Monument Marketplace to allow the proposed Texas Roadhouse restaurant to use exterior building materials that are not part of the approved PD design guidelines.

All board members and staff department heads were present.

Delays for Baptist Road commuters extended

Interchange delay: A substantial amount of right-of-way is required to widen Baptist Road from two lanes to eight between Jackson Creek Parkway and the new eight-lane bridge over I-25. Hammers Construction and Darryl Tiegs have sold the Timbers at Monument property to another investment group without donating, as promised, the right-of-way for construction of several westbound lanes of Baptist Road west of Jackson Creek Parkway. The sale will not close until the end of March.

The new owners will not begin transfer of the required right-of-way to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) until some time after the sale is closed. Now, the soonest the interchange construction can be completed is the end of 2008.

This delay in transfer of critical right-of-way also has delayed the start of advertising for bids for construction of the interchange and the sale of the bonds to finance it, which in turn caused the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting that had been scheduled for Feb. 9 to be postponed until March 9 at Monument’s Town Hall.

The transportation authority had originally planned for construction to begin in December, immediately after voters approved a temporary 10-year, 1-cent sales tax to finance expanding the state’s interchange with road construction bonds. The authority is paying for the expansion because the state will not have Senate Bill 1 funding available for several years. When CDOT receives this funding, CDOT will repay the authority $16 million, the current construction cost estimate for the contract. The transportation authority will use CDOT’s promised reimbursement to pay off the remaining principal and interest payments from the planned sale of $21.5 million in bonds this spring.

Struthers Road delay: Construction of the rerouted and widened Struthers Road extension north from the Struthers Ranch development to the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road initially was delayed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect Preble’s mouse habitat. No grading or other ground disturbances were allowed from April 1 to Nov. 1 next to the mouse habitat on both sides of Jackson Creek immediately south of Baptist Road and east of the I-25 northbound off-ramp to where it crosses under I-25.

The county began grading next to the habitat after Nov. 1, with all grading and excavating to be completed by the end of March. Paving Struthers Road next to the habitat between April 1 and Nov. 1 is permitted by Fish and Wildlife.

Although grading for Struthers Road was authorized beginning on Nov. 1, construction has been further delayed by condemnation procedures required for the county to obtain two 5-acre lots along the western edge of the Chaparral Hills residential development. The owners have refused to accept the county’s offer for the right-of-way.

The current estimated completion date for the Struthers Road construction is late 2007. Any further delays may force some of this construction to be halted from April 1 to Nov. 1, which would delay completion by several more months at a minimum.

Baptist Road delays: Widening of Baptist Road east of Jackson Creek Parkway has already been delayed for several months for relocation of underground electrical utilities by Mountain View Electric Association. The longest delays came in reaching an agreement on where and how to move electrical lines at the northeast corner of the Monument Ridge development, next to the steep slope up to the Family of Christ Church’s western parking area. The utility has still not completed movement of all affected electrical lines, having been overwhelmed by the scope of new construction throughout El Paso County.

The Triview Metropolitan District sanitary sewer collection lines that will serve the proposed Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe developments are being buried below the new westbound lanes of Baptist Road between Gleneagle and Leather Chaps Drives. Triview initiated excavation several months later than planned. Then the Triview sewer line was not installed deep enough to ensure proper gravity flow of wastewater. Several heavier-than-normal snowfalls and hard freezes delayed the reinstallation. The affected westbound lanes still have not been completed.

Jackson Creek Parkway traffic delays: Reopening of the intersection of Leather Chaps Drive and Baptist Road has also been delayed by several months due to the incorrect Triview sewer line installation. This has substantially lengthened the time commuters have had to use Lyons Tail Road as a detour to access Jackson Creek residential areas. As a result, shoppers continue to face daunting traffic backups within the King Soopers center during rush hours if they attempt to exit the center onto Jackson Creek Parkway between Baptist and Lyons Tail Roads. No traffic lights are planned for this King Soopers center access or the Lyons Tail Road intersection to help resolve the problem.

Monument Ridge utility installation delay: After El Paso County connects Struthers Road to Jackson Creek Parkway and widens Baptist Road east of Jackson Creek Parkway, the improved northbound and eastbound lanes adjacent to the new Monument Ridge mixed-use development will have to be excavated and nearly all of the new curbs along the Struthers and Baptist frontages will have to be removed. Because of timing problems, the Monument Ridge developer will not be able to install the commercial area’s underground utilities, acceleration/deceleration lanes, and three controversial right-in/right-out-only accesses before the county paves these two road segments.

(A diagram of these road segments, curbs, and new accesses was published in OCN on page 6 of the Feb. 3, 2007, edition and can be seen at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n2.htm#botjan16.)

Monument Ridge access delay: The county has not approved these controversial accesses onto Struthers and Baptist Roads. The county’s Transportation Department objects to the northern access on Struthers because vehicles are likely to create traffic safety issues by crossing through both Struthers Road northbound through lanes, then break into the double left-turn lanes in order to go west on Baptist Road. Vehicles exiting Monument Ridge at the western access onto eastbound Baptist Road may cross through both eastbound through lanes in a very short distance to get into the left-turn lane for the Jackson Creek Crossing intersection, the unmarked southeastern access to the King Soopers shopping center between Family of Christ Lutheran Church and 1stBank.

Some motorists will compound the hazard by then making an illegal U-turn to go west on Baptist. They will be turning hastily in front of westbound cars that will find it hard to slow down to avoid a collision as they descend the steep slope from the Leather Chaps Drive intersection. Jackson Creek Crossing is the unmarked access to the King Soopers shopping center from Baptist Road.

Jackson Creek Crossing delay: The Board of Trustees intends to annex Baptist Road from the county after completion of all the improvements, paid for by a Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) 1-cent sales tax and BRRTA traffic impact fees for new building construction. Monument is not a participant in the PPRTA or the BRRTA temporary sales taxes. However, most of BRRTA lies within the Jackson Creek portion of Monument.

Baptist and Struthers Roads will be major collectors after construction is completed. County standards for major collectors specify a minimum spacing between traffic signals of at least one-half mile. The town wants to construct a full motion (four-way left turns) intersection at the eastern access to the King Soopers center. However, the county will not approve this requested signal because the Jackson Creek Crossing intersection is less than a quarter-mile east of the existing Jackson Creek Parkway signal.

In addition, the county will not accept ownership of the widened roads until about a year after construction is completed to ensure that all aspects of the contracted work meet warranty specifications. After that, the town must take ownership of Baptist Road in order to no longer be bound by this county’s prohibition of the traffic signal. The town would then excavate the county’s median at the Jackson Creek Crossing intersection that would prevent left turns from the three adjacent commercial developments onto Baptist Road. Once the median is removed, the town would build a full-motion traffic signal for this intersection.

The town’s position is that the full-motion traffic signal between Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive is needed to provide safe access to Baptist Road for the King Soopers shopping center and the adjacent proposed Jackson Creek Market Village shopping center to the east, as well as Monument Ridge.

The Jackson Creek Market Village center was approved by the board even though it will have no accesses of its own. The Market Village center must rely entirely on the two existing King Soopers center accesses because it will be so far below the grade of Baptist Road.

Without this full-motion signal, there would be no direct access from Monument Ridge to westbound Baptist Road.

Way cleared for Baptist Road improvements on the west side of the interchange: Glenn said that the plan for donation of land for right-of-way for widening Baptist Road between I-25 and Old Denver Highway "has been pretty much taken care of." The owners of the Diamond Shamrock property will lose their existing access to Baptist Road on the southwest corner of their property due to construction of new lanes and curbs. A new road will go north from Baptist Road through the middle of the cattle pastures between I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail. A new east-west access road will be built a few hundred yards north of Baptist Road. This access road will connect the west side of the Diamond Shamrock station to the new north-south road.

Glenn concluded his roads report by saying that if there are any further Baptist Road construction delays beyond May 1, "the mouse will get in the way, and then we’re up the creek."

New commuter rail line proposed

Trustee Gail Drumm reported that a second high-speed commuter rail line had been proposed to connect Denver to the Utah border along I-70 . Drumm said the Front Range Commuter Rail Association will add this proposal to its $2.5 million feasibility study for commuter rail lines along the Front Range from Albuquerque, N.M., to Casper, Wyo. CDOT will contribute 10 percent of this funding.

The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority web site explains the relationship between the various authorities promoting this plan:

"Rocky Mountain Rail Authority (RMRA) is an organization formed by Inter-Governmental Agreements between Colorado cities, town, counties and transportation districts. RMRA will work with the Colorado Department of Transportation to conduct the Rocky Mountain Corridor study. To be a member of RMRA you have to be a governmental agency.

Front Range Commuter Rail (FRCR) was formed in 2004 as a non-profit corporation to promote the high-speed rail line along the Wyoming-Colorado-New Mexico Front Range. The scope of the region’s transportation needs have grown to include the Colorado I-70 mountain corridor and the name Front Range is not accurate. Official forms have been filed for FRCR to do business as the Colorado Rail Association (CRA). Businesses, other corporations, and individuals are encouraged to join CRA to help us with our important work. CRA will coordinate the election that is being planned for November, 2008 to put in place the building of the RangerXpress System."

(see map at: www.rangerxpress.com/img/CO_RangerXpressSpurs20070107.jpg

Traffic light sensors cannot detect some cars

During public comments at the start of the meeting, the board and town staff first discussed the unresolved problem of the traffic light at Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. At the Jan. 16 BOT meeting, the Monument Police Department reported that District 38 school buses were forced to run red lights at this intersection when through or left-turn signals would not turn green. Control cameras that detect vehicles at the intersection apparently are not sensing their presence during and after snowstorms.

This is the only signalized intersection that Monument owns. All other Monument traffic signals, except the pedestrian-activated crossing signals for the Santa Fe Trail on Second and Third Street, belong to the county (Baptist and Higby Roads) or CDOT (state Highway 105.)

"The problem is when it’s snowing and the air is not clear and you’re in a light-colored car, the camera does not pick up your car so the light doesn’t change," said Town Manager Cathy Green. "They are the cheapest such cameras you can buy. So we didn’t really come to a solution other than that didn’t seem to be the first priority on Triview’s list."

Triview Metropolitan District has been responsible for reviews and approvals of all proposed development plans as well as construction, inspection, acceptance, and maintenance of Jackson Creek infrastructure since the Regency Park annexation about 18 years ago

During the past year, Monument has started requiring staff reviews and approvals of all these items. The town staff also has taken steps to upgrade the standards and regulations for construction within Triview to match those required elsewhere in Monument by town ordinances.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said Triview promised to look into the possible purchase of better cameras to control traffic lights at this intersection. "You get what you pay for," he said.

Trustee Steve Samuels said that the CDOT traffic lights at the Baptist Road interchange also often do not sense cars. Kassawara said the town cannot replace the I-25 control cameras because it does not own them.

Knollwood Drive signal construction further delayed

Kassawara said owners of all the properties adjacent to the Highway 105 and Knollwood intersection had told him they have had their land surveyed and have prepared the correct legal descriptions and deeds necessary to donate land to the state for a new traffic signal. The owners also had told him that they had provided this documentation to CDOT, which should have met CDOT’s final requirement to approve the start of signal construction, yet no work has been done. He reiterated that CDOT is responsible for approving the required warrants and constructing traffic signals for state highways. He added the town has no control over CDOT accepting and approving the adjacent landowners’ legal documents or initiating construction.

Right-turn-only arrow eliminated

During the first public comment period, Steve Meyer, the town’s representative to the El Paso County Highway Advisory Commission, reported that CDOT had eliminated the right-turn-only arrow cycle that used to allow motorists to turn right from the northbound I-25 Baptist Road off-ramp onto eastbound Baptist Road while the westbound lane had a green light. Traffic is once again heavily backing up down the ramp onto the shoulder northbound I-25, endangering commuters at rush hour as vehicles pass them at 75 mph. Meyer said he had asked the county’s project manager for the Baptist and Struthers Road construction project, Andre Brackin, to get CDOT to turn the cycle back on. Meyer added that the control cameras for the interchange also occasionally fail to detect vehicles on the off-ramps.

Meyer suggested, if there is no oncoming traffic, that motorists turn on their bright lights for five seconds, then off, then back on for another five seconds to ensure that the interchange traffic light control cameras detect their presence. This technique will also work for the control cameras at other intersections, including the problematic Triview signal at Leather Chaps Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway.

A few days after the BOT meeting, Meyer said CDOT had extended to 70 seconds the maximum allowed green-light period for vehicles exiting the northbound off-ramp onto Baptist Road by right and left turns. However, the right-turn only cycle will not be restored.

Meyer said he has been maintaining the web site www.MonumentMatters.org, with the help of staff, to replace the temporarily inactive town web site, which is under repair

Residents urged to clear snow

Meyer also said that he had recently discovered that the town has no mechanism for any form of code enforcement, particularly for required snow removal by homeowners on residential sidewalks and school bus stops. Also, the various Jackson Creek homeowner associations have no ability to fine residents for not clearing snow. He suggested more aggressive enforcement of business license requirements to raise revenue to pay for a code enforcement officer.

Glenn asked the staff to have Triview District Manager Larry Bishop enclose a mailer in the next cycle of Triview utility bills to remind homeowners of their civic responsibility to help protect neighborhood children and put an ad in the Tribune requesting residents to comply with the town code. Drumm said the town plows the snow onto the sidewalks, making it impossible to keep them shoveled. Meyer said many of his neighbors shoveled more than 5 feet of snow off their sidewalks, "so it can be done."

Plans to reopen skateboard park approved

Skateboarder Ryan Whisenhunt and Public Works Director Rich Landreth requested permission to move forward with plans to have the area skateboarder committee help clean up and reopen part of the town’s currently closed park after worn-out structures are removed. The board approved the request by consensus.

Two proposals to control RV parking defeated

Kassawara gave a "refresher course" on the RV parking issue. He said that after Wal-Mart announced its Marketplace construction plans, some members of the town’s Planning Commission and Board of Trustees said that overnight RV parking at Wal-Mart would be an unacceptable eyesore and a potential source of crime. Other members who own RVs, or who have parents who are RV owners, said that Wal-Mart would not promote their national program encouraging people to sleep in their parking lots if it was a crime problem. There was no consensus on the issue on either panel at that time.

The owners of recreational vehicles often park overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots throughout the nation. This is encouraged nationally by Wal-Mart for folks who usually shop in these stores before hitting the road again. There are popular Internet sites listing Wal-Marts that allow RV parking, which owners refer to when planning trips. Wal-Mart asks RV occupants to check in with store security personnel before staying overnight.

A Wal-Mart spokesman told Vision Development, the Marketplace developer, and town staff that the corporation would not voluntarily comply with a request from the town to prohibit overnight RV parking before the town approved construction. Wal-Mart said it would conform, without protest, to a prohibition that was town-wide and applied equally to every large retail store with similarly sized lots and multi-family housing parking lots, as well as the Conoco and Diamond Shamrock truck stops. Limited on-street RV sleepovers in residential areas are allowed by the town code.

After those discussions, Wal-Mart’s plans for the Marketplace were administratively approved by the town’s Development Services Department without public hearings, and the RV parking issue was dropped. Wal-Mart’s building plans and parking lot configuration conformed to design guidelines approved in 2003 as part of the Marketplace master plan.

RV parking issue resurfaces: The board recently asked the staff to draft wording to prohibit RV parking after the Marketplace Wal-Mart opened. A public hearing on a draft ordinance amendment was held at the Nov. 8 Planning Commission meeting.

The proposal would have added this sentence to the section of the town’s zoning ordinance in the section on "exclusive use for parking spaces" for commercial and multifamily housing parking lots: "No off-street parking lot shall be used for overnight parking of recreational vehicles from dusk to dawn."

The additional sentence was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Commissioner Carl Armijo and former Commissioner John Kortgardner opposed. Both noted before the vote that they owned RVs.

At the Dec. 4 BOT public hearing, the word "occupied" was added before "recreational vehicles" to eliminate possible confusion regarding RVs parked in the lots of RV sales and repair centers. The staff’s proposal was not intended to preclude an accessory use like temporarily parking an RV in a lot for Christmas tree sales, which would be covered by the issuing of a temporary business license. Kassawara said sleeping in an 18-wheeler is not the same as sleeping in a recreational vehicle. The trustees and staff discussed several concerns on both sides of the issue.

If the town were to allow overnight parking of occupied recreational vehicles:

  • There should be specific locations with oversize spaces for RVs and campers, with adequate illumination and visibility for town police patrols.
  • The town would have to waive the minimum number of required Wal-Mart parking spaces required for its square footage.
  • The town would have to pay for restriping the Wal-Mart parking lot for larger RV spaces and for Marketplace signs designating where overnight parking of occupied RVs would be allowed, now that the final plats and PD site plans for the Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores have already been approved by staff.
  • Allowing overnight RV parking at Wal-Mart would hurt existing campground businesses in the area and harm the aesthetics of Jackson Creek.
  • RVs in the Wal-Mart lot could probably not be seen from Jackson Creek homes or I-25.
  • Overnight RV parking at unlit office building parking lots is not addressed by the proposed amendment.
  • If the town were to prohibit overnight parking of occupied recreational vehicles:
  • The restrictions should be applicable throughout the town.
  • The town would have to pay for signage prohibiting overnight parking at all affected town parking lots.
  • An exception should be made for church parking lots and residential private driveways.
  • Campers and RVs on lots where Christmas trees are temporarily sold are not a recreational use.
  • Due to other duties, police would probably not be available to ask RV owners to leave the Wal-Mart lot until well after midnight.
  • Awakening unknowing people and requiring them to move their RVs from the Wal-Mart lots in the middle of the night would be unsafe.
  • The town would lose tax revenue from this Wal-Mart and nearby stores and restaurants to the Castle Rock and North Academy Boulevard Wal-Mart shopping centers that allow overnight parking.
  • The town would have to pay for "No overnight RV parking allowed" signage throughout the Marketplace, now that the final plats and PD site plans for the Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores have already been approved.

The proposed amendment was continued again on Dec. 18 and Jan. 16 so that all seven trustees and Police Chief Jake Shirk could attend a public hearing.

Kassawara said the board might wish to add an additional amendment directing creation of oversize parking spaces for RVs, which can use as many as six ordinary spaces.

During the public hearing, resident Steve Meyer said an exception should be made for RV occupants at the Diamond Shamrock and Conoco stations, as there is no prohibition for truck drivers sleeping in their vehicles. He said another exception should be considered for RV occupants who stay in their vehicles at commercial lots when highways are closed for snow. He said that there would be no one to enforce security other than Wal-Mart.

Resident Shawn Morris said he has stayed overnight at the Diamond Shamrock and Conoco stations when he couldn’t drive his RV back to his house through snow.

Campground owner Ernie Biggs said he "objected more" to the existence and competition of the Air Force Academy’s campground but was "adamantly opposed" to prohibiting RV parking at Wal-Mart as a private property issue. He said , "There’s a lot of RV (owner’s) that really detest the cheap houses that you guys live in. They pull in with a million-dollar rig and all these little $250,000, $300, $400,000 houses, they kind of look down on them. There’s more and more of that happening all the time. At one point in time in my campground last summer I had 22 rigs and all of them cost over a million dollars. What to somebody looks ugly, to other people looks beautiful." He added that board members should not try to force their views on others.

Some of comments from the letters and e-mails submitted from across the country to the town were:

  • The overwhelming majority of RVs are not eyesores and owners are not vagrants.
  • The average fill-up after an overnight stay exceeds 100 gallons of fuel.
  • When the town realizes how much revenue has been lost and rescinds the restrictions, RV owners will still drive through Monument to neighboring Wal-Marts in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock as they still do elsewhere.

During the board’s discussion, some of the trustee’s comments were:

  • RVs are not a problem now, and the issue can be addressed later.
  • Adding an ordinance of this magnitude is ridiculous.
  • Truck stops have facilities for dumping wastes, which Wal-Mart does not.
  • Threatening letters and e-mails to trustees from RV owners across the country are coercive and offensive.
  • The ordinance is not a way to harm Wal-Mart, though many people oppose its business practices.
  • RV owners can afford a $45 parking fee at campgrounds.
  • The only security threat that worries Wal-Mart security officials are Wal-Mart’s employees stealing RV owners’ property while the occupants are asleep.
  • The town needs to invite people in rather than push them out.
  • County residents that say "they don’t want cheap houses next to them" at land use hearings are appalling.

Chief Shirk said that allowing RV parking to continue would not be a public safety problem. Business owners can ask problem RV owners to leave their parking lots as well as their stores as a trespass issue. Police would get involved if they did not leave.

Monument Marketplace manager Rick Blevins said that the center’s covenants have already established RV parking areas. He added that the Marketplace’s designated RV parking areas are not currently prohibited by the town’s code and also comply with the Regency Park zoning code.

After just under an hour of discussion on numerous options and the complications that each could create, the board voted down Trustee Miller’s motion to add the single-sentence RV parking prohibition to the ordinance (1-6), with only Trustee Tommie Plank in favor.

Another motion to allow occupied RVs to park overnight at commercial lots, with the following six conditions, was proposed by Trustee Dave Mertz:

  • Parking is restricted to one night only
  • Jack stands cannot be extended (prevents damage to the parking lot)
  • No barbecuing by the occupants
  • RV awnings cannot be extended
  • Property owners must be notified and give permission
  • The RV parking area at each specific commercial lot has to be approved by the town

This motion failed by a 3-4 vote with Easton, Mertz, and Plank in favor and Drumm, Miller, Stevens, and Glenn opposed.

YMCA development fees clarified

Kassawara reported the costs the town would be assessing for development of the proposed YMCA facility on Jackson Creek Parkway, between Lewis Palmer High and I-25, north of Higby Road. The YMCA had requested waivers of several fees, including what they said were $63,000 in planning fees, because the YMCA is a nonprofit organization that will be providing community services that the town cannot afford to provide. The YMCA will also discount its fees for those who cannot afford standard fees.

Kassawara said the actual costs to the YMCA will be:

  • Planning and engineering review—$10,050
  • Permit and inspection fees—$5,400
  • Land use application fee—$250
  • Drainage impact fee—$13,325
  • Use taxes—$46,935
  • Traffic impact fee—$53,963
  • Jackson Creek Parkway improvements—$87,000
  • $30,000 for the YMCA’s share of the $125,000 cost for a new traffic signal
  • $65,000 for curb and gutter on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District will also charge the YMCA an impact fee of $15,750.

Kassawara said a portion of the traffic impact fee would be waived because the YMCA would pay about $30,000 for its share of the cost of a new traffic signal north of Higby Road at the intersection it will share with Lewis-Palmer High School for their new parking lots.

Kassawara said, "Refunding impact fees is not something that is generally done. It tends to create problems for those who pay the impact fees when somebody else is getting away." The fees are also part of his department’s revenue in the 2007 budget and would have to be replaced from another unspecified source. He noted that the town had donated $4,346 to the Colorado Juniors Volleyball Gymnasium that offset the construction materials use tax that was collected. Treasurer Pamela Smith said the town must make a donation if it chooses to do so because it cannot waive fees.

Glenn said it was fair to make a similar type donation of $46,935 to the YMCA that offsets the use tax. Trustee Tim Miller supported Glenn’s proposal. Trustee Steve Samuels suggested that "in fairness" the donation be limited to $4,346 because the YMCA is a business that makes money but will pay no taxes to Monument.

Rick Blevins of the Jackson Creek Land Co. said that his company had donated 12 acres of land, worth over $2 million, to the YMCA three years ago to help it generate matching grants from other sources. The cost of the proposed building has risen from $10 million to $15 million.

After 25 minutes of discussion, a motion to donate $4,346 in town funds to the YMCA was unanimously approved. A motion to make a donation to the YMCA equal to the share of the traffic signal cost did not receive a second.

Marketplace amendment approved

The board unanimously approved the fourth amendment of the Monument Marketplace planned development site plan. The amendment shows minor site plan changes that had been approved by staff since the third amendment was approved.

The fourth amendment also includes a waiver for building materials for the proposed Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Waived are the use of painted cedar siding in lieu of stucco and a forest green metal roof larger than 500 square feet. The Texas Roadhouse is on the northwest corner of the Marketplace between Wal-Mart and I-25 and will face south. The corporation had originally asked for clear stained cedar and an unpainted metal roof, which staff had denied due to lack of compatibility with the existing structures. Kassawara said the suggested variation would not detract nor add to the Marketplace’s "Colorado mountain theme."

Rowdao Drive was renamed Blevins Buckle Drive after Trustee Plank objected to the spelling. The spelling "Rodeo" was rejected previously by the Enumerations Office of the Regional Building Department because it had already been used elsewhere. Blevins gave a Blevins buckle, commonly found on many saddles, to the board in honor of the occasion. (For examples see: www.tandyleather.com/products.asp?dept=231 )

Other matters

Glenn said he opposed the potential car wash which had replaced the gas station originally depicted on the west side of Lot 10 in Filing 14 on the southeast corner of the Marketplace due to lack of specific information on water usage. A condition of approval was: The car wash will require future approval by the board on this lot.

The board approved a number of continuing professional service contracts with the following engineering consultants:

  • Ayres Associates Inc.
  • Carter and Burgess, Inc.
  • Nolte Associates, Inc. (Easton recused himself)
  • Stantec Consulting, Inc. (Glenn recused himself)

The board also approved a design contract with Centennial Services, Inc., for the new Town Hall and Police Department building to be constructed at the southwest corner of Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105. The contract for design and cost estimates only is not to exceed $172,000 of the total authorized $2.9 million for completion of the entire project.

In other matters, the board approved:

  • An ordinance that authorizes a "part-time (two days per week) manager/organizer" to coordinate downtown development events and improvement projects.
  • Renewal of the Casa Diego’s hotel/restaurant liquor license by a 6-1 vote, with Miller opposed.
  • Unanimously renewed the animal control service contract with the Pikes Peak Humane Society for the same $8,500 fee as the previous year.
  • The November financial report and five payments over $5,000.

The board went into executive session to discuss real estate negotiations at 9:10 p.m. No votes were made after the executive session concluded at 9:50 p.m., and the meeting was immediately adjourned.

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On the Roads: 
Status of Baptist, Struthers road construction

This is the first in a series of monthly updates on El Paso County road construction from Kem Reliford, project engineer at the county Department of Transportation.

Baptist Road

You may have noticed our general contractor has not been very visible on BaptistRoad. We have experienced some construction delays due to weather and utility conflicts. Most of the work that has been done on Baptist Road over the last two months has involved utility relocations/installation by private utility contractors.

Also, we are under an environmental deadline to meet construction milestones for the new Struthers Road, so the general contractor has focused construction efforts in this area.

Struthers Road

Construction in the area is focused on subgrade stabilization within the roadway section near Baptist Road. The presence of groundwater has made the ground too soft for road construction or loading with heavy construction equipment. The general contractor is installing large rock and geotextile fabric, which is a porous, synthetic cloth, to address this condition and should finish this phase of the work within two weeks. The rest of the roadway has been cut to preliminary grade and awaits utility relocations so that final roadway grading may commence. There is an April 30 deadline for construction of the roadway section on Struthers Road, due to the presence of the endangered Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. Construction on the new Struthers Road has been delayed due to ongoing right-of-way acquisition negotiations for two parcels that will front the road. All utility relocations and completion of the new roadway, as designed, are dependent upon the county obtaining possession of required right-of-way.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 20: Plans for senior center advance

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Below: Creekside Middle School student Michaela Diamond and Monument Hill Sertoma’s Benny Nasser at the Feb. 20 Board of Trustees meeting. Diamond, one of nine winners of the Sertoma Freedom Week "What America Means to Me" contest, read her essay, "A Life Worthy of Freedom," to the trustees. Nasser noted that Sertoma has sponsored the essay contests since 1974. Mayor Byron Glenn declared the week of Feb. 19 to Feb. 25 Sertoma’s Freedom Week. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees gave final approval to donate town land for a regional senior center on Feb. 20.

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and a board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, thanked the board for finalizing the paperwork to donate a town lot on Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive for construction of a senior residence facility. He said this will be the first such facility in the Tri-Lakes area.

Roberts also said the Partnership submitted an offer earlier that day to purchase the Palmer Lake Bowling Alley on Highway 105, which the group would convert into a senior center. He asked the board to add a line item to the town’s budget for senior programs to help pay for operation of this new center.

The partnership is seeking donations for the senior center project, which can be made through Jay McKeown, Peoples Bank of Monument, 488-8900.

Mayor Byron Glenn said he supports town funding for the center as well as improvements for seniors in the town’s parks, noting that the senior population in the area has risen from 2,000 in 2000 to 7,500 in 2007.

In other matters, Glenn reported that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) still has Baptist Road and I-25 widening, from Academy Boulevard (Exit 150) to County Line Road (Exit 165), on its Transportation Improvement Plan. This PPACG highway construction priority list is used by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to allocate state Senate Bill 1 funding of regional projects.

Glenn said Colorado Springs is now pushing for a high priority for roads to support Peterson Air Force Base war-time mobility requirements with construction of a new $35 million interchange at West Stewart Avenue and Powers Boulevard. This request is in addition to the already-approved priority for roads between Fort Carson and the Colorado Springs Airport.

Glenn said the trustees should get involved with the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority Citizen Advisory Committee and PPACG committees.

"We have to look out for the people using I-25 every day," he said. "It’s getting worse and worse, especially that part going south from here to Gleneagle." He asked the trustees to speak up for the need for these already-approved improvements for I-25 so that its priority is not overridden by this new proposal.

Other matters

  • Benny Nasser introduced Creekside Middle School student Michaela Diamond, one of nine winners of the Sertoma Freedom Week "What America Means to Me" contest. She read her essay, "A Life Worthy of Freedom," to the trustees. Glenn read the proclamation declaring Feb. 19-25 as Sertoma’s Freedom Week.
  • Trustee Tim Miller announced that Glenn had been awarded the annual Spirit of Monument award at the annual dinner held for the board and staff members.
  • Glenn asked the board to read the Southern Colorado Economic Forum report on 2005 and 2006, which notes that Colorado’s economy is expected to bounce back by the end of 2007. Unemployment in El Paso County is decreasing, with small firms having the greatest increase in jobs. The housing market is down considerably due to construction material costs rising more than 23 percent per year for the past three years. Foreclosures are also up, creating a higher number of homes for sale.
  • Trustees Tim Miller and Gail Drumm asked Smith for an analysis of the possible benefits from more early payments of existing town debt as a hedge against the economy remaining flat and slow growth in revenue.
  • The board reviewed a draft list of 28 items that staff had proposed for the town’s 10-to-20-year capital improvement plan. Staff members provided information on each of the projects and answered trustee questions about alternative sources of potential funding improvements to Old Denver Highway, downtown drainage, and parks, among other topics. Glenn asked the trustees to submit a list of their top 10 priorities — based on the health, safety, and welfare of citizens — to the staff prior to the next board meeting.
  • The board unanimously approved the December financial statement and preliminary year-end figures. Smith noted that when the figures for the new Town Hall and Police Department building are removed, 2006 revenues are up 8 percent from 2005 — up 9 percent in the general fund and 4 percent in the water enterprise fund. Net sales tax revenues are 8 percent higher than budgeted for 2006 "due to increased development and retail sales." Expenditures in 2006 are down 19 percent from 2005 — 5 percent under the 2006 budget in the general fund and 36 percent under budget in the water enterprise fund.

Bosco payment raises questions

Four payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  • $121,673 to Triview Metropolitan District for December sales tax receipts ($116,161) and motor vehicle tax receipts from November through January ($5,512)
  • $10,000 to Rocky Mountain Rail Authority for the town’s membership dues for 2007
  • $19,600to Layton Truck Equipment Co., Inc. for a truck bed for plow truck
  • $79,357 to Bosco Constructors, Inc., for work on the water treatment plant

The payment to Bosco Constructors, Inc., of $79,356.55 for expansion of the water treatment plant on the northwest corner of Second Street and Beacon Lite Road drew several questions. Though not the final payment, Public Works Director Rich Landreth said it’s about 98 percent complete, with about $30,000 remaining. He added, "We’re holding their feet to the fire" as Bosco works on "punch list" items. The Bosco project should be done, except for landscaping, by March 3. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said part of the payment had been withheld until Bosco cleared up a problem with one of its subcontractors.

In addition, the town will hold $57,000 in retainage fees in an escrow account. These funds could be used to pay for possible repairs by another contractor during the warranty, should Bosco might not perform them at the town’s request–a standard practice for public capital improvement projects. When the warranty period is over, the town will return whatever funds are in the retainage account, if any, to Bosco with interest.

Rockwell Ready-Mixed Concrete appeal denied

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that Town Manager Cathy Green rejected property owner Kalime Masse’s appeal of her denied business license application for a concrete batch plant.

Green had acted as hearing officer for the appeal on Feb. 12. Masse had sought to renew a long-expired business license for the abandoned Rockwell Ready-Mixed Concrete, Inc., plant on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street.

Background: The Rockwell Ready-Mixed Concrete batch plant began operations in 1952. A building permit for an addition to the existing batch plant was issued to Bartlett Construction in 1984. After some initial work was performed, the Bartlett construction project was abandoned in 1985 without being completed. The plant was then abandoned in 1987.

The town purchased the 5-acre parcel, to be used as a town maintenance/equipment yard, at a federal marshal’s tax sale in 2001, and put down a $10,000 deposit on the property. Then-Mayor Betty Konarski urged the board to abandon the purchase and forfeit the $10,000 deposit to avoid a possible lawsuit by the former property owner Ross W. Clinger even though a federal judge had ruled that Clinger could not interfere in the sale of the property. The board forfeited the $10,000 deposit.

Masse then purchased the property at a federal marshals tax sale in 2002. Clinger never sued Masse, but Masse has filed two lawsuits against the town.

Masse then applied for a business license renewal the next year. She argued that her planned use was a continuation of operations under current zoning. However, the business license application listed a variety of possible industrial operations that might be performed other than as a concrete batch plant, including concrete recycling (grinding in a large tub grinder), and manufacture of Portland cement powder. She said her renewal was "grandfathered" because there would be no change from the previously planned and permitted use, and she did not need to submit new planning documents to show how she would renovate the abandoned facility. The renewal application was rejected by Town Clerk Anne Holliday because new planning documents were required by town ordinances.

Masse appealed the denial and the board held a special meeting in 2003 to hear her appeal. After a lengthy hearing including testimony from staff and public comment, the board unanimously denied her appeal of the business license denial. (see http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v3n6.htm#rockwell for a report on this hearing.)

Green’s findings on Feb. 17 note the following:

  • Masse subsequently appealed the board’s decision to the District Court. The court found that the town’s business license ordinance was unconstitutionally vague and ordered the town to revise it. The court remanded the case for Masse to file a new business license renewal application under the revised town ordinance. The town amended the business license ordinance on Nov. 15, 2004.
  • On Sept. 16, 2006, Masse applied for a business license. However, she again listed other business uses besides the batch plant: "Manufacturing, fabrication, storage, and sale of concrete products; aggregate, sand, rock, cement, and additives; supplies, steel, and other construction materials; construction equipment; vehicles, trailers, and repairs to same; and landscape materials, including hay and straw; as such business has historically been conducted on this property." The town denied the new application Oct. 18. Masse did not appeal.
  • On Nov. 30, 2006, Masse filed a third application, which the town denied on Dec. 22, 2006. Masse picked up the denial documents at Town Hall on Dec. 26. Her appeal, dated Dec. 18, 2006, was submitted on Jan. 2, 2007.
  • Green reported, "A structure which Ms. Masse purports to be the remnants of a concrete batch plant still exists on the property." According to, "testimony at the hearing, which was not disputed by Ms. Masse, the structure has not been used as a concrete batch plant for nearly 20 years and is a rusted and decrepit building." However, Masse asserted that she could "flip the switch" and begin batch plant operations. Green found her claim to be able to operate "from the existing structure in only 36 hours is not credible."
  • A building permit would be required for any construction necessary to restore the abandoned plant’s components to working order, as well as to build other hardware or infrastructure necessary to a functional plant.

Some of Green’s other findings were:

  • Masse provided a commercial property record card that showed the property was foreclosed in 1988, with ownership taken by U.S. Marshals.
  • Town code, as revised in 2001, requires a business license applicant to submit a subdivision plan and plat as prerequisites for a building permit.
  • Town code requires its officials to deny applications if a proposed business will be in violation of any regulation having a direct bearing on the proposed business.
  • The third application was denied "since the use does not conform to town codes and the Uniform Building Code."
  • Town code defines a batch plant as only "a facility for mixing or combining of materials to produce concrete or asphalt."
  • Pikes Peak Regional Building Department code considers the 1984 business permit "abandoned due to failure to complete the project, and is deemed expired and null and void under RBC 105.9.1."
  • "The evidence shows there are no current valid permits for the operation of the batch plant on this property."
  • "There is no evidence that a plat was ever recorded" at the County Tax Assessor’s Office.
  • There is no record that a site plan was approved by the town or recorded by the county Clerk and Recorder.
  • There is no record of a current active town building permit.
  • There is no record of a certificate of occupancy for a concrete batch plant use on the property. The plant’s use ceased in 1988 and does not exist in perpetuity after the use ends.
  • Even if the plant had not ceased operations in 1988, it would be a non-conforming use after the 2001 amendment to town code, has remained abandoned over 180 days since that amendment,
  • and the code requires that "such use shall not thereafter be reestablished, and any future use shall be in conformance."
  • Masse conceded that she did not know if the operation of the batch plant could comply with Colorado pollution, vehicle, or water use standards.
  • All other infrastructure on the parcel must also comply with Regional Building codes for a building permit to re-establish any use.

Shupp said that the next town hearing, if held, would be on the denial for a building permit for the Masse property. Should Masse appeal Green’s findings on the business license, mediation would be held under retired District Court Judge Matt Railey.

Traffic-light troubles

Kassawara said he met with Triview Metropolitan District Manager Larry Bishop, as directed at the Feb. 6 BOT meeting, to negotiate a solution for the poor performances of the Triview’s traffic signal at Leather Chaps Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway and the district’s snow removal contractor.

In a Feb. 8 e-mail to Kassawara, Bishop wrote, "The traffic light is state of the art and will be upgraded with new software as it becomes available. We will reset the cycle timing between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. to 30 seconds, thereby in light traffic shortening the time a driver has to wait for the light to change." Bishop added that if this does not work, the district would "go to flashing red light in all four directions during the same time period."

Trustee Travis Easton said Triview has not provided a solution to the problem of D-38 school buses having to turn left against red lights when the camera sensors don’t see them and the red left-turn lights don’t change. Miller said the light is not state of the art. Kassawara said he would call Triview board Chairman Steve Stephenson if there is no further progress with Bishop and, "I’m sorry I couldn’t solve the entire problem."

Kassawara also reported there was still no progress on getting CDOT to begin construction of its long-planned traffic signal at Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive.

Steve Meyer, the town’s El Paso County Highway Advisory Committee representative, reported that county Department of Transportation Director John McCarty would meet with CDOT on Feb. 27 in an effort to change the timing of the traffic light at the end of northbound I-25 off-ramp for Baptist.

Vehicle backups extend down the ramp and a quarter-mile on the shoulder of the northbound lanes, with other vehicles passing within a few feet at 75 mph. Meyer said that CDOT has refused to lower the speed to 55 mph until the interchange expansion has been completed to reduce the severe risk to area commuters.

"It’s going to be a multi-car disaster," he said.

Other construction and town issues

Meyer also reported no progress has been made to condemn the Good and Salinas parcels for right-of-way along the new alignment of Struthers Road. If not resolved soon, Struthers Road construction will halt for six months, until November, due to Preble’s mouse disturbance restrictions.

Meyer added that McCarty, his Assistant Director Rich Kramer, and County Commissioner Wayne Williams would meet with Mountain View Electric Association officials next week to offer the services of county transportation crews to move the utility’s electric lines. The sewer installation under Baptist Road between Leather Chaps and Gleneagle Drive is stalled due to Mountain View’s inability to provide workers to move their lines, "hurting us more than the weather."

Landreth reported that the town’s substitute water plan for exchanging water to Monument Lake had been accepted by the state. The substitute water plan states how the town would augment flows in Monument Creek below the Monument Lake Dam when it withholds water in the lake for storage. Augmentation protects downstream users who have more senior water rights than the town when Monument Creek flows are not high enough for the town to own part of the flow. The town will purchase excess effluent from Donala Water and Sanitation District to compensate for the amount of water stored out of priority.

Landreth said more work must be done on procedures for accounting for these water exchanges as the next step for the town to gain storage rights in Monument Lake.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros said the cost of a home-rule charter commission would be a minimum of $30,000 to $40,000.

The absences of Trustees Dave Mertz and Steve Samuels were excused.

The meeting adjourned at 7:32 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. March 5 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 481-2954.

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Monument Planning Commission, Feb. 21: 
YMCA final site plan approved; modified Promontory Pointe site plan not approved

Web site exclusive: YMCA design

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Promontory Pointe Plans

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Promontory Pointe vicinity map

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Promontory Pointe Site Plan

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By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission approved a preliminary/final planned development (PD) site plan for the YMCA’s Tri-Lakes Family Center on Feb. 21. YMCA plans to break ground April 12.

The commission also approved a preliminary/final plat for retail buildings in the Monument Marketplace and the exterior designs of three new Richmond Homes models in the Trails End development. However, John Laing Homes’ revision to the previously approved final PD site plan for Promontory Pointe did not win approval.

At the normal starting time of 6:30 p.m., it looked like there might not be a quorum as only three of the seven commissioners were present: Vince Hamm, Patricia Mettler, and Lowell Morgan. Vice Chair Cathy Spence rushed to Town Hall from the airport having just returned from a long trip out of town. The meeting began at 6:53 p.m.

First phase of YMCA project approved

The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region plans to build a 45,000-square-foot building on the northwest corner of a 12-acre lot between I-25 and Lewis-Palmer High School on Jackson Creek Parkway, about a quarter-mile north of the Higby Road intersection, said Karen Griffith, principal planner.

The contemporary masonry, stucco, and aluminum building will feature a skylight the length of the building for sunlight and views, as well as a community room, recreational aquatics center, exercise room, gymnasium, locker room facilities, and a child-care room.

There will be 231 parking spaces (214 required), an outdoor synthetic turf soccer field, and a half-mile walking trail around the perimeter of the property. This is the first of two phases of construction.

The second phase would include a 21,095-square-foot building and second synthetic soccer field. The second building, which will be built in about 10 years, would house an eight-lane competition swimming pool, another strength-and-conditioning room, racquetball courts, an auxiliary gym, and more restrooms. The timing of the second phase depends on the nonprofit’s fund-raising and membership growth.

There will be two accesses onto Jackson Creek Parkway. The main access will be in the center of the property, opposite a new access planned for the north parking lot of the Lewis-Palmer High School. The other access will be right-in/right-out-only on the northeast corner of the YMCA property.

Griffith noted that a preliminary/final replat of the property also was submitted with the site plan, but it is being revised and will be submitted for review by the commission and Board of Trustees at a later date. Griffith described in detail how the proposal meets the town’s 10 review and approval criteria for a PD site plan. More than 71 percent of the site is composed of landscaping, and there are trails throughout the property that will connect to those proposed for adjacent parcels, she said.

New traffic light should improve safety: Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara discussed plans for the new traffic signal that is expected to help mitigate traffic problems caused by 55 percent of southbound morning school traffic on Jackson Creek Parkway. The new northern high school access is expected to substantially reduce student traffic at the Higby Road intersection. District 38 will share the cost of signal construction with the YMCA.

This signal, at the southern YMCA access, would operate "on demand" for the new high school and YMCA driveways so that it also makes traffic safer beyond the peak arrival and departure periods for the high school. The light would stop Jackson Creek Parkway traffic only when it senses a car ready to exit either facility. The proposed signal might be operational by the start of the next school year.

Griffith also noted that the YMCA traffic consultant’s study had concluded that a southbound deceleration lane on Jackson Creek Parkway for either of the two YMCA accesses is not required for the expected traffic growth, and the town’s traffic consultant concurred. The staff will re-evaluate the need for a deceleration lane if future traffic is higher than forecast by the study, Griffith said. She added that there would be an internal drop-off lane in front of the building for pedestrian safety.

No referral agencies submitted major comments or concerns about the proposal, and the Woodmoor Improvement Association approved the YMCA’s plans, Griffith said. The developer submitted a lengthy document describing in detail how the proposal met the numerous goals in the town’s comprehensive plan, she said.

Griffith proposed five conditions of approval:

  • The traffic signal be an "on demand" signal.
  • A final subdivision plat/replat shall be approved and recorded prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the building.
  • Approval is subject to final staff approval of engineering plans.
  • All referral comments shall be addressed to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording.
  • Technical corrections shall be made to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording.

Land Planner Rhonda Boger Linder presented the applicant’s digital animation tour of the property. She described how the building’s architectural theme and features will be attractive additions to the view corridors for I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway. There are no issues with Preble’s mouse habitat, wetlands, or flood plains. She described each area of the large facility and how users will be able to see mountain views as they work out.

During the open public hearing, Lewis-Palmer High School parent Allen Tomaneck asked if there would be a dedicated left-turn lane for southbound students on Jackson Creek Parkway. Kassawara said the road would be widened for construction of a left-turn lane for students using the new high school driveway to the north parking lot.

Parent Colin Cassidy asked what the uses of the synthetic turf field would be. He said artificial turf is "untenable" for competitive games. Andy Barton, executive director for the Tri-Lakes Family Center, replied that the field would be used primarily for instructing 3-12-year-old developmental players. The synthetic field is safer and more usable year-round than grass, Barton said

YMCA project manager Ted Rinebarger said swimming and lifesaving lessons would be offered in the recreational pool that could be used by D-38 students, as well as multi-generational exercise programs and part-time jobs they could walk to. Sliding-scale membership rates will be available for low-income families, he said.

Spence expressed concern that there would be no deceleration lanes for southbound vehicles entering at either YMCA access on a road used primarily by high school drivers at peak periods. She proposed requiring this deceleration as a condition of approval for the site plan.

Traffic Engineer Chris Sheffer, of transportation consultant Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig, said Jackson Creek Parkway traffic won’t be high enough even when all lots are developed by 2030. However, he said his firm recommended adding two northbound left-turn lanes for the YMCA and a right-turn lane for the north high school parking lots at the signalized intersection. He added that the radius of the curb for the northern access would be larger than normal to allow easier right turns at higher speeds than Spence might expect.

The town can’t legally require the lane unless traffic studies show they are warranted, said Kassawara. The parkway will be widened to four lanes and provide passing room for cars to go around those entering the property from the north. He said 75 percent of southbound vehicles would use the northern access. The town can’t purchase and build a deceleration lane for the northern access on the frontage of the adjacent vacant property to the north without knowing the planned uses and parkway accesses future development might require.

If traffic grows more than expected, a deceleration lane could be added when the parkway is widened based on traffic studies conducted at that time. All property owners in the immediate vicinity would pay their fair share of the cost for widening and additional turn lanes through traffic impact fees.

The site plan was approved unanimously with no conditions.

John Laing Homes revises approved Promontory Pointe plat and site plan

After purchasing many of the lots in Promontory Pointe from land owner and developer Mount Vernon Estates Land Holding LLC owner Ray Marshal, John Laing Homes determined that the lots would have to be resized to better fit the single-family home models proposed for the project. Marshal retained ownership of 19 lots, including the large estate lots on the east side of the development next to the Kingswood development in the county.

Griffith said the plat and plan were very similar to the previously approved proposals. The total number of proposed lots on the 117-acre development was reduced from 284 to 274. This required approval of a new final plat and final PD site plan for the still-vacant parcel. The new plan also calls for a 1.57-acre internal park to be built by John Laing Homes, dedicated to the town and then maintained by Triview Metropolitan District.

The name of the north-south collector road that will be a northward extension of Gleneagle Drive from the intersection with Baptist Road through the center of the parcel to Home Place Ranch has been changed a third time. Triview’s district manager and board preferred a different name within the annexed land so that it would be clear that the parcel was no longer in the county. The Enumerations Office of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department rejected the other three proposed names and directed the town to change the collector name to Gleneagle Drive to minimize confusion, particularly for emergency service drivers.

The streets and lots near Gleneagle Drive were redesigned so no homes have direct access to Gleneagle Drive, Griffith said. The county and several area residents had recommended against the common driveways, called eyebrows, which had been approved in the previous final site plan.

Elimination of controversial county backyard trail easement disputed: Griffith reported that since the first final plat and site plan had been approved, Triview had purchased a privately owned 50-foot-wide strip between the western perimeter of Promontory Pointe and the adjacent homes on the eastern perimeter of Jackson Creek. This strip runs north from Baptist Road to an existing Triview dirt utility access road. This dirt road extends east from Split Creek Drive in the Homestead development in Jackson Creek to the Triview water storage tank on the northeast corner of the Promontory Pointe property.

Background: In the first proposed final site plan, a 30-foot-wide trail and utility easement ran through the rear of all the back yards along the western boundary of Promontory Pointe, from Baptist Road to the northwest corner of the parcel. The lot owners would have had to pay taxes on this trail and utility easement (about 200 square feet each), even though the easement would have been isolated and unavailable for the owners’ private use.

Mount Vernon, the developer, was to install utilities under the trail, construct a split-rail fence on both sides of the trail and utility easement, and install the trail and landscaping before any building permits were issued for the affected houses. Triview was required to perform and pay for all future trail and fence repairs and maintenance on this part of the homeowners’ private properties. This information was to be documented on the plat, site plan, and in the parcel covenants. Prospective homebuyers were supposed to have been able to see the completely constructed fences, trail, and landscaping in place before ever looking at the lot.

County agrees to move trail: Triview purchased the 50-foot-wide strip south of its water tank utility road because it wanted a wider right-of-way for access to its utilities and maintenance of the trail. As expected, the El Paso County Parks Department agreed to move its trail out of the back yards of the adjacent Promontory Pointe lots and into the 50-foot Triview strip after the first final site plan was approved.

However, there are still eight Promontory Pointe houses in the proposed John Laing Homes revision of the final site plan on the west edge of the development north of the Triview utility road. The county’s trail would still extend north through these back yards under the currently approved Mount Vernon site plan.

Griffith said the county Parks Department held a meeting with town staff, Triview staff, and the Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch developers. An agreement was reached to realign the trail. It now turns eastward from the north end of Triview’s easement, along the Triview utility road, then turns northward along the west side of Gleneagle Drive to meet the trail proposed in Home Place Ranch, also on the west side of Gleneagle Drive. Griffith said it would be a better location and trail experience for most users. However, several Homestead residents in the audience later protested eliminating the trail segment through the back yards of these eight houses.

Griffith said the plat revision still conforms to all the town’s subdivision regulations, land dedication requirements, and design principles. She recommended approval of the revised final plat with the following conditions:

  1. Right-of-way for Baptist Road shall be dedicated to the county prior to recording of the plat.
  2. All referral comments shall be addressed to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording.
  3. Technical corrections shall be made to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording.
  4. Cash-in-lieu of land to satisfy school land dedication requirements shall be paid prior to issuance of a Monument Land Use Permit for each home.
  5. A subdivision improvement agreement (SIA) shall be approved by town staff for content and executed between the applicant and Triview Metropolitan District prior to recording of the final plat. This will include the applicant’s pro rata participation in the future traffic signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road, if no other funding becomes available.

Unresolved site plan issues reported: Kassawara noted several unresolved issues with the revised site plan:

  • John Laing Homes must pay a proportionate share of the traffic signal costs when traffic warrants are met now that the county has deleted funding for it from its Baptist Road widening project. The signal is necessary to control traffic at this main entrance to the development.
  • Final grading plans must be coordinated for the shared boundary with Home Place Ranch to the north, especially the grades for Gleneagle Drive.
  • There are unresolved inconsistencies between the grading plan and the promise to preserve natural features such as trees and rock outcroppings. John Laing Homes cannot grade in buffer areas or remove as much vegetation as they have requested.
  • A standard general condition on making all technical revisions requested by staff is included to catch any other inconsistencies or errors discovered later.

Griffith said the site plan met all 10 general review and approval criteria except those required revisions that were noted by Kassawara. She recommended approval of the revised final site plan with the following conditions:

  1. All referral comments shall be addressed to the satisfaction of town staff.
  2. Approval is subject to final approval of engineering plans by staff including finalization of the drainage, traffic and grading plans. Minor changes to the plans may be approved by staff.
  3. Approval is subject to technical corrections to the satisfaction of staff.
  4. The installation of completed asphalt pavement for Gleneagle Drive from the north end of Phase I to the north property line will be required when and if the construction of Gleneagle Drive from Higby Road south through the Home Place Ranch property is commenced. Otherwise, the road right-of-way will be prepared to final grade with proper compaction, without asphalt paving, for construction traffic.
  5. A subdivision improvement agreement (SIA) shall be approved by town staff for content and executed between the applicant and Triview Metropolitan District prior to recording of the final plat. This will include the applicant’s pro rata participation in the future traffic signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road, if no other funding becomes available.

Land Planner Lee Martin of Land Architects gave the developer’s PowerPoint presentation, noting a greater emphasis on a Western railroad theme, diversity of models and lot sizes, and a larger park.

During the open public hearing, Kingswood resident Dick Wolf asked staff to confirm that there had been no change in the previous negotiated agreements between the Kingswood residents and Ray Marshal. Kassawara confirmed that Marshal still owns all the lots adjacent to Kingswood, and those previously signed letters of agreement are still in force.

Homestead HOA President Robert Fisher objected to the loss of the 30-foot trail easement behind the eight houses between the Triview utility road and the northwest corner of Promontory Pointe. During the lengthy discussion, Fisher said another trail right-of-way still existed behind the houses at the northern perimeter of Promontory Pointe between the northwest corner and Gleneagle Drive. However, this east-west section of secondary trail is in Home Place Ranch outside residential lots.

Kassawara replied that the eight homeowners still could not build anything within the rear 30 feet of their lots, preserving the requirement for a heavy landscape buffer and split-rail fence between these houses and the rear of the adjacent Homestead houses.

Kassawara and Griffith said the county will build the realigned trail right away and the location along Gleneagle Drive was a good compromise with a larger trail corridor. Fisher replied that this portion of the trail is only 10 feet wide and near a collector road and again asked that the trail and trail easement be restored.

After further discussion, Spence and Martin noted that the proposal included a better county east-west trail plan to access Fox Run Park from the Santa Fe Trail. Homestead HOA Vice President Steve Meyer said the commissioners should require the improved county trails plus the previously approved local trail.

The four commissioners unanimously approved the plat.

Morgan said the proposed revision of the site plan had too many unresolved issues, calling it a "semi-final site plan." Kassawara replied that the unresolved issues were all minor, "stuff you guys don’t need to be bothered with" again.

Hamm expressed concern about the lack of a traffic signal at Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive. Kassawara said the signal can’t be installed until traffic counts meet national standards for traffic warrant minimums.

Morgan said the traffic light might not be installed for five years, jeopardizing those trying to enter Baptist Road by left turns. The many unresolved delays in the construction of Baptist Road, the bridge over I-25, and the dangerous backups on I-25 for people exiting at this interchange will force future Promontory Pointe residents to drive through Gleneagle to access I-25 at the Northgate Road interchange.

Developer traffic consultant Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants said traffic using Lyons Tail Road to avoid the Leather Chaps Drive signal to the west would add to the traffic count at the Gleneagle Drive intersection, hastening installation of the light. Promontory Pointe planning spokesman Terry Schooler, who is also the region’s Colorado Department of Transportation highway commissioner, said this bypassing traffic would increase the cross traffic count for Baptist Road and also hasten installation of the traffic signal. Morgan said the town now has to invite gridlock due to failure to improve the I-25 interchange to hasten traffic signal installation at Gleneagle Drive.

After 90 minutes of discussion, a motion to approve the revised final PD site plan failed by a vote of 2-2, with Spence and Mettler in favor and Morgan and Hamm opposed. Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the failure to recommend would be reported to the Board of Trustees at its scheduled hearing on the proposed plat and site plan.

Monument Marketplace plat approved

This 6-acre filing between Jackson Creek Parkway and the Wal-Mart will have a 61,178-square-foot commercial building with three mid-sized retail units. The original plan was for a slightly larger building with four bays. There were no issues or proposed conditions for the perimeter plat, said Kassawara. The planned commercial development site plan for this building will be approved by staff based on their compliance with the previously approved design guidelines of the Marketplace.

Marketplace manager Rick Blevins said Petsmart and Staples have signed contracts. The other store may be a clothing store, but no contract has been signed.

Although the room was filled with citizens, none spoke for or against this proposal.

Hamm asked if Jackson Creek Parkway would be improved north of the Marketplace.

"Eventually it will be a four-lane divided road all the way to Highway 105," Blevins said. "That is dictated by development and traffic studies that show a demand to widen it." The four commissioners unanimously approved the plat.

Second amendment to Trails End site plan approved

Doug Fullen of Way Architects represented land owner Five Y Eyes Guys, LLC, requesting approval of three new models of homes. The Trails End development is at the south end of Monument between Old Denver Highway and the railroad tracks at the Wagon Gap Trail intersection.

The town’s comprehensive plan calls for a variety of housing styles for single-family home developments, Kassawara said. The original site plan called for only three models, and the first amendment added eight new models. The models proposed in the second amendment are equal to or larger in size than those previously approved and comply with all town architectural and height requirements. There are no plans to change the lot sizes for the larger models as they will still comply with all town-approved setbacks, said Fullen said. There would be no new colors or materials in the proposed models, he said.

The increasing variety of models is a market trend, said Kassawara. Although the housing market has declined steeply in the past several months, larger new homes are selling much faster than smaller ones. Richmond Homes is responding to this market shift with additional larger models. Spence said more models would make the development more appealing

"I don’t see a down side," said Hamm. The amendment was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., March 14 in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 481-2954.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, Feb. 8: 
Police Chief Gilliana announces 24-hour police coverage

Photos by Jim Kendrick

Below Palmer Lake Planning Commissioner and Bella Panini Restaurant owner Ken Trombley describes his plans for expansion on Feb. 8 during a Liquor Licensing Authority meeting at Town Hall. Trombley received unanimous approval for expansion of the coverage of his license to cover the new dining area addition. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click here or on the photo below to zoom in and read the freedom essays

Below: Renae Wall reads her winning Freedom essay to the Palmer Lake Town Council, Feb. 8. See the photo caption on page 12 for more information on the Freedom essay program.

Click on the photo to zoom in and read the freedom essays

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 8, the Palmer Lake Town Council held a special meeting with Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phillip Beckman. The single agenda item was an executive session on "negotiations," so no citizens or press attended. All members of the council were present.

This special meeting had originally been scheduled on Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in lieu of the council’s monthly workshop meeting; however, it was postponed until Feb. 8 due to snow.

No votes were taken by the council after it concluded the executive session. The special meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m., the doors to Town Hall were unlocked, and the citizens and volunteer firefighters who had been waiting outside on a cold evening took their seats.

Liquor Licensing Authority meeting

The council, acting as the town’s Liquor Licensing Authority, approved two applications:

  • For modification of premises for the planned expansion of the Bella Panini Restaurant at 4 Highway 105.
  • The parameters of a survey for a new liquor license for the Speed Trap Coffee Bar at 84 Highway 105.

Bella Panini owner Ken Trombley said, "We have an opportunity to acquire the space next door to our current facility." He added that he had to expand the coverage of his liquor license to match the expansion of his dining area by 300 square feet. Trombley said he planned to begin construction on Feb. 20 to ensure the comfort of his customers as soon as possible. The board approved his request unanimously.

Speed Trap owner Peter Kavanagh said he was seeking a new tavern liquor license after three years of operation. He said he plans to expand the lunch menu and provide an intimate lounge atmosphere for live musical performances with wine bar, beer, and mixed drinks to offer something different for the area. He said he was asking for a tavern license because his food receipts probably would not exceed the minimum 25 percent requirement for a hotel/restaurant license. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said he agreed with Kavanagh’s decision. After a short discussion, the board unanimously approved a 500-foot radius as the parameter for Kavanagh’s survey of neighboring homeowners’ opinions regarding his application.

The authority adjourned at 7:20 p.m., followed immediately by the start of the regular council meeting.

Regular Town Council meeting

Police Chief Dan Gilliana announced that his department had initiated 24-hour coverage. The council rejected a draft ambulance service letter of agreement proposed by Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority (TLMFA) that was different from the proposal that the council had rejected in August. The council unanimously approved a new business license for Alma construction Corp. at 700 Highway 105 to sell kits for constructing sheds.

Chief Gilliana reported several administrative changes:

  • The town has received several applications for a part-time position he has opened.
  • Gilliana has signed an agreement for his staff to participate in a Colorado Springs Police Department training program on elder abuse that is paid for by a state grant.
  • The town needs to replace the department’s computer, which is at least 17 years old, and the department’s Internet system.
  • The Monument Police Department has been a great help in improving coordination of coverage, policies, and procedures.
  • Cindy Beers has completed Colorado Bureau of Investigation forensic training on crime scene investigations.

Chief Gilliana reported 45 total incidents since the start of 2007, including: 2 felony child abuse, 2 harassments, 6 DUI, 1 discharging of a firearm resulting in an animal death, and 2 motor vehicle thefts.

Ambulance service proposal voted down

Trustee Richard Allen said he had privately negotiated another draft services agreement with Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District President Charlie Pocock and Chief Rob Denboske. Allen’s efforts to revive that dead agreement were neither directed nor endorsed by a vote of the council. Allen is the Roads Trustee.

Trustee Trish Flake endorsed the proposed agreement. Allen and Flake made the same arguments they have made during most board meetings since Tri-Lakes terminated the long-standing ambulance agreement effective Sept. 30.

Allen and Flake said that the emergency medical and ambulance service Tri-Lakes would provide under their proposal is in no way superior to that being provided under a new ambulance service agreement with Larkspur Fire Protection District.

They said Tri-Lakes would have a faster response time to a dire medical emergency. They argued that response time was the most important criterion in advocating termination of the current ambulance service agreement with Larkspur.

If Spruce Mountain Road is ever closed for a bridge repair near the intersection with Fox Farm Road, Larkspur apparatus would have to take a longer route to Palmer Lake slowing their response time, Allen and Flake said.

During the discussion, Fire Trustee Gary Coleman and the other trustees also made the same arguments they have been making since they voted in favor of the Larkspur agreement in September.

Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phillip Beckman also said that there was no reason to drop the Larkspur agreement. He and Coleman noted that Larkspur, unlike Tri-Lakes, has not insisted on taking incident command away from Palmer Lake Fire Department personnel whenever its personnel respond to a Palmer Lake scene.

Background: In addition to providing ambulance service since Oct. 1, Larkspur is also providing medical cross-training and ambulance training for all the volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMT) in the Palmer Lake Department. Larkspur also has agreed to work toward a long-term agreement to assign an ambulance in or near Palmer Lake on a permanent basis. Tri-Lakes has not offered these services to the Palmer Lake Department.

In the November election, Palmer Lake voters approved a half-cent sales tax to help fund the volunteer fire department. Beckman has used that revenue to hire part-time EMTs during weekday hours (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) when all the Palmer Lake volunteers are at work. Beckman said this has substantially quickened the response of Palmer Lake medical personnel to local incidents during the workweek.

Since Larkspur took over the ambulance contract, Beckman has asked Tri-Lakes for mutual aid medical assistance when the emergency called for paramedic assistance, a system both sides say is working well.

Citizens comment on Tri-Lakes proposal: After a very long, contentious, and repetitive discussion that raised no new information from the trustees, citizens commented on the proposal.

Resident Faye Brenneman, a nurse, had been a case manager for several seniors in the area when ambulance response was required. She said quick response was really important but that "Tri-Lakes crews do not have good respect for Palmer Lake, and once they get there they don’t listen to anybody" though they are competent and do their job. I think they should respect the crews here and assist them and then they would make better judgments."

Resident Bob Miner said that there had been two fire incidents near his home and "Tri-Lakes never showed up" though Woodmoor/Monument and Palmer Lake did. At area meetings, the Tri-Lakes board members interrupted and discredited speakers from other districts, he said. Tri-Lakes has repeatedly been unable to provide paramedics on their ambulances as required by the previous ambulance agreement with Palmer Lake, Miner said.

Resident Jennifer Martin, wife of a full-time Denver firefighter, said she was getting sick of these debates. She asked why Beckman was never consulted for answers by the trustees and that this kind of debate would never be tolerated in Denver.

Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District board member Si Sibell said he had a heart incident at the Depot Restaurant and it took the Larkspur ambulance 12 minutes to respond. However, Palmer Lake EMTs responded within two minutes to his emergency, and Sibell repeatedly denied that he needed an ambulance during the incident. His wife never called Tri-Lakes to ask for an ambulance to transport him to the hospital. Larkspur medical personnel identified that he was incorrect in stating he was fine and transported him.

After more debate, the motion to cancel the Larkspur ambulance service agreement and start a new agreement with TLMFA was defeated by a 2-5 vote, with only Allen and Flake in favor.

Freedom Week essay

Ted Bauman of the Monument Hill Sertoma Club introduced Lewis-Palmer Middle School eighth-grader Renae Wall, who read her essay "What Freedom Means To Me." Wall was one of nine winners in the annual Sertoma contest for area eighth-graders. The council unanimously approved a resolution declaring Feb. 18-24 Sertoma’s Freedom Week.

Payment authorization

The council unanimously approved a resolution establishing a policy recommended by Gaddis that "pre-authorizes" Town Clerk Della Gray to pay routine and recurring bills that the board will then ratify at regular town council meetings. This policy change was requested so Gray could avoid late fees on some utility bills. Any unusual bills will be presented to the board for approval prior to payment.

Committee reports

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported that the Fire Department had 14 calls in January (two were for mutual aid). There were seven medical, two fire, two traffic accident calls, two for public assistance, and one for public contact.

Coleman said the first meeting of the PLVFD support team was held on Jan. 8. The team is composed of volunteers other than firefighters or emergency medical technicians who want to help the department. Anyone interested in volunteering for the support team can contact town staff at 481-2953 for information.

Coleman suggested that residents purchase 6-by-18-inch reflective signs at Wal-Mart for $10 to help PLVFD personnel find their houses during an emergency. Trustee Susan Miner suggested that the department could make a bulk purchase of the signs and sell them at department fund-raisers. Parker asked residents to post the signs so they can be seen in the snow.

Parks, Recreation, and Buildings Trustee Trish Flake reported the need to repair a leaky roof and crumbling ramp at the town library. She thanked a long list of volunteers who had all contributed to making the January Winterfest ice skating event at the lake a "big success." Flake asked residents to participate in county Parks Department survey on how to improve the county park on the east side of the lake as well as the numerous new town-endorsed recreational programs being offered by Great Starts–Info: www.gscamps.com.

Water Trustee Jim Girlando reported that all water supplied to the town in December and January was surface water. He reported on the Jan. 16 town water committee meeting in which there was a consensus to upgrade the town’s water delivery system infrastructure. He added that the committee will gather information needed for discussions on revenue, water rates, costs, and prioritization of upgrade projects.

Economic Development Trustee Susan Miner reported joining the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee so the town would have better economic information. Her streetscapes committee has begun work to determine the costs the town would incur by annexing State Highway 105 within the downtown area.

Town representative Bob Miner gave a lengthy report on this year’s plans for the Fountain Creek Watershed Study’s Vision Task Force. Funding of $75,000 for the Task Force will be sought from the Arkansas River Basin Roundtable of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Separate funding will be required for implementation of the Task Force’s plan for flood and erosion control.

Awake the Lake Chair Jeff Hulsmann said the water committee meeting that Trustee Girlando discussed had produced more questions than answers, because the experts disagreed on where to get water to fill Palmer Lake. Hulsmann said he and committee member Kim Makower met with Rich Snyder, the state’s Water Division 3, District 10, water commissioner, in Colorado Springs to discuss options for refilling the lake.

Hulsmann stated that the town could take any amount it wanted to from its annual allocation of surface water from the reservoir to fill the lake and offset evaporation losses as the railroad and the town used to do. He added, "We have to file for storage rights." He said the committee would pay the $500 fee to apply for the storage rights. He acknowledged that there would be objections from every downstream user, particularly Colorado Springs Utilities, but that the town still needed to start the process as soon as possible.

Hulsmann said the town took no water from the reservoir in 2005 due to the drought, nor any from the town’s D2 well. He dismissed experts’ concerns about the town using too much well water in any year as scare tactics. Hulsmann said 2007 would be a good year to use reservoir water to refill the lake since flows into the reservoir are high enough to ensure that the town will have its full quota of 147.5 acre-feet.

Girlando asked Hulsmann if the water to re-fill the lake could be taken from the reservoir without augmentation by groundwater. Hulsmann said that no augmentation water would be required once the town gets storage rights in the lake and that Snyder had confirmed that to him.

Hulsmann said the only way Commissioner Snyder could object to the diversion of reservoir water is if some surface water would drain into the Platte Basin if the lake overflowed. Parker asked Hulsmann to provide, in writing, confirmation of Hulsmann’s assertion that it was also Snyder’s opinion that no augmentation would be required if the town filled the lake with reservoir water. Hulsmann said he would provide that written documentation.

Hulsmann also said town water attorney Ronni Sperling’s opinion at the Jan. 16 meeting was that Palmer Lake is not a natural lake and so leakage would not be considered natural drainage. He said he felt other lawyers might disagree with Sperling. He said the issue would remain unresolved unless tested in water court.

After the council meeting, Snyder said he met with Hulsmann and Makower on Feb. 1. Snyder provided OCN a copy of the written opinion, dated Feb. 5, that he sent to Makower. Some of Snyder’s comments in the Feb. 5 letter are:

  • "This letter is to document your request for a written opinion from this office regarding the possible use of water stored in Glen Park reservoir to fill and maintain the water level in Palmer Lake."
  • "Glen Park reservoir was adjudicated in case no. CA 13801 on 02/08/1954 with an appropriation date of 11/25/1904. The decreed owners are the Town of Palmer Lake and the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Company. Decreed uses are for Domestic, Municipal and Industrial. Capacity of the reservoir is 147.5 acre-feet." (An acre-foot is approximately 325,851 gallons.)
  • "Given the above decreed uses for Glen Park reservoir, it is my opinion that water from the reservoir could be used to fill and maintain water levels in Palmer Lake if the Town of Palmer Lake so chooses. However, there are some issues that need to be resolved prior to the proposed use.
  1. Since Palmer Lake drains northward into the Platte River drainage (Division 1) and water from Glen Park is from the Monument Creek/Fountain Creek drainage (Division 2), the use of Glen Park water in Palmer Lake may require an Augmentation Plan to replace depletions" and ‘to protect senior water rights’ in Division 2.
  2. Palmer Lake does not have a storage right for any surface water runoff from Division 2 that is impounded by Palmer Lake would require an augmentation plan to replace depletions, or be passed through to Monument Creek to prevent downstream injuries to senior rights.
  3. Accurate daily accounting of the uses of water from Glen Park Reservoir would have to be submitted to this office on a form that is acceptable.
  4. Glen Park Reservoir is allowed to fill to its capacity of 147.5 Acre-Feet one time per year when it is in priority to store water. This will almost always be from November 15th to March 15th each year. Any out of priority storage will require augmentation."
  • "These issues need to be addressed prior to using water from Glen Park Reservoir in Palmer Lake. If you have any questions, please contact me."

Snyder said he told Makower and Hulsmann on Feb. 1 that augmentation would be required, then confirmed that opinion with this letter, contrary to the statements that Hulsmann made at the Feb. 8 council meeting that Snyder’s opinion was that no augmentation would be required.

Makower read a statement that noted:

  • That the town water committee could not finish its task "due to lack of information from the water department as well as poor leadership."
  • That he questioned the town’s homeland security concerns regarding water production information and the size and timing of the Jan. 16 water committee meeting.
  • His opinion that the town should hire a water attorney that will support the committee’s recommendations to refill the lake.

The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m.

**********

The next regular council meeting will be on March 8 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent. Workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. Regular meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Meetings are often combined, so check for actual dates at 481-2953.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb 21: 
Waste plant costs escalate

By Sue Wielgopolan

General manager Dana Duthie informed Donala board members at their Feb. 21 meeting that the total cost for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility expansion would be significantly higher than the original estimate. The cost for concrete alone is expected to increase 40 percent by June.

The facility is co-owned by Donala, and Triview and Forest Lakes Metro Districts. Forest Lakes has already purchased all the capacity it will need. Triview and Donala are splitting the cost of the plant expansion equally between them.

Donala will seek to increase its Colorado Water and Power Association loan or obtain new financing for 2008.

Duthie complained that the sluggish building-permit process is causing delays in the expansion construction schedule, and GMS engineers Dave Frisch and Mark Morton are still spending too much time shepherding the applications through the various steps.

President Ed Houle was absent and excused; Vice President Dennis Daugherty acted as presiding officer in his place. Donala resident Warren Gerig attended to observe the meeting.

Engineers seek savings to reduce expansion price

Engineers are looking for ways to cut costs to reduce the overall price of the plant expansion. Duthie said additional biosolids handling could "fall out if necessary." The plant’s sludge press is being operated only 20 hours per week. With the facility running at full capacity after expansion, it would operate approximately 80 hours each week, which is within its capabilities. By eliminating the additional press, which costs about $210,000, and the building needed to house it, the plant owners could save $600,000.

At least a portion of the sludge could also be hauled out as liquid waste. The new railroad crossing that no longer runs under a low, narrow train trestle, can now accommodate the liquid waste trucks that were too large to negotiate the underpass.

Duthie told board members that the new estimates include a larger administration building to which sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and a break room were added. Duthie said the cost of the building could be reduced by adjusting the contract to call for construction of the shell alone. The interior work could be finished in-house.

Donala still waiting for water line to plant

Forest Lakes Metro District has so far failed to begin construction on the new water line it agreed to provide to the expanded waste plant. Duthie said that if the pipeline promised in the intergovernmental agreement among Forest Lakes, Triview and Donala isn’t started by April, he will send a letter of default to Forest Lakes. Duthie said the water line must be operational by December.

The small well that presently supplies the waste plant is sufficient to handle the facility’s present needs. But a larger volume at good pressure is needed for fire suppression and to work with the polymer used in the sequencing batch reactors.

Duthie said that unless he sees tangible progress by April, he will begin construction of an auxiliary water line from Donala that will run under I-25. He estimates the cost of that pipeline would be around $330,000.

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority gets down to business

New authority approves by-laws: Duthie told board members that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) approved the proposed by-laws at its Feb. 15 meeting. Attorney Rick Fendel, who helped author the by-laws, pointed out that there is a problem concerning the dues structure.

This year, larger member agencies, including Donala, are paying $20,000 each in dues. The two smallest districts are only paying $2,500 for dues for this year. The by-laws state that each entity is entitled to one vote, but do not specify yearly dues or require that each agency pay the same amount.

The larger districts want to make the dues and voting structure fair to their constituents while making membership affordable to smaller entities, and subsequently proposed assigning dues and voting rights based on the size of each district. Fendel reminded the group that any amendment to the by-laws must be unanimously approved.

Discussion of the issue was postponed.

Authority maintains ties with Parker: Although former PDWG member Parker Water and Sanitation is not formally associated with the PPRWA, the group agreed it is important to continue talking with manager Frank Jaeger. Several potential projects originating north of the Palmer Divide, including the conceptual Green River pumpback, could eventually deliver water to northern El Paso County.

Infrastructure study underway: Bishop Brogden Associates lost no time in kicking off the Water Infrastructure Planning Study, which was approved and funded at the Jan. 9 meeting. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the existing infrastructure and identify opportunities for interconnection, reuse, exchange, and distribution of surface water among PPRWA members. GMS engineering is nearing completion of the first task, which is to map existing centralized lines in the area.

GMS engineer Roger Sams pointed out that there were significant gaps in the map where centralized lines belonging to smaller districts exist. Members decided to contact those districts to request their participation in the study and invite membership in the group.

The inventory revealed that mains in most districts and municipalities consisted primarily of 8-inch lines, which are insufficient for the conveyance of surface supplies among providers. Triview and Donala were the only districts that had installed any 12-inch lines.

Sams also noted that there was a shortage of regional water storage capacity. Storage capacity of all the districts combined only totaled about 6 or 7 million gallons, with Donala alone accounting for approximately 4.75 million gallons.

Monument to fill lake: The state of Colorado approved Monument’s diversion permit, enabling the town to fill Monument Lake. Donala had previously offered to sell effluent credits to the town at $50 per acre-foot based on monthly accounting. Although the original temporary permit that was approved by the state specified that accounting would be done monthly, the state water commissioner is requiring that Donala track daily the amount of effluent used by Monument.

Since the process is much more time-consuming, Donala must increase the price to compensate for the extra man-hours spent on monitoring. The district considered charging the standard $400 per acre-foot the PPRWA has set for intra-authority effluent sales, but at Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth’s request, agreed to $250 per acre-foot for the remainder of 2007.

No action has been taken on the agreement yet.

Water lease agreement approved: Water authority members unanimously approved an agreement with Stonewall Springs Quarry to provide up to 175 acre-feet of effluent water per year to the quarry as needed for augmentation. Stonewall Springs will pay $20,000 per year for the lease, and an additional $150 per acre-foot for any quantity used.

The state mining permit for the quarry requires that Stonewall Springs have available water for augmentation should the mining operation expose groundwater. The augmentation water is intended to replace any evaporative losses resulting from that exposure.

The group wanted to know how the agreement would affect the authority’s arrangement with Monument. Manager Gary Barber replied that owner Mark Morley is pursuing other sources, and Barber does not expect that Stonewall Springs will need the water. In addition, Morley must give the authority one year’s notice that he will be exercising the lease.

The agreement with Stonewall Springs is important because the authority hopes to make future arrangements with Morley’s company for storage space at the quarry and Brush Hollow Reservoir.

Consultant will assess funding maximum: Alex Brown of UBS Municipal Securities Group will conduct a survey to determine the maximum amount of money the water authority is collectively willing to spend on water projects, especially those involving renewable supplies. Brown will be considering increments of $200-, $400-, and $600-million dollars. Project scope and options for the future will be limited by the budget the authority agrees to work within.

Districts will choose own conservation programs for 2007: Rocky Wiley reported that applying for funds through the conservation grant program was more complicated than members had originally thought. With a March deadline for applications looming, the four largest members, Donala, Woodmoor, Triview, and Monument, decided to adopt their own conservation programs for 2007. Members decided to regroup and compare notes in the fall, with the goal of choosing and coordinating a comprehensive regional program in 2008.

Authority looking for logo: The new PPRWA needs a logo, and member districts and municipalities want residents of the Palmer Divide region to submit their ideas. Representatives proposed holding a contest to obtain a design, which will be used on letterheads and the Web site.

Donala decided to conduct its own competition. Donala residents are encouraged to submit a design, which may include up to four colors. The winner of the Donala’s contest will receive credit for one monthly water bill. The authority will then chose a logo from among the entries from each district. If Donala’s entry is selected, that customer will receive credit for a second monthly water bill.

Donala to complete Struthers pipeline

Duthie told board members he had reached an agreement with Triview manager Larry Bishop to finish the pipeline along Struthers Road, which will connect the two water systems.

Donala has been unable to install the last 500 feet of pipeline due to a legal dispute between El Paso County and the landowners over the price of the easement for Struthers Road. Construction on the project has been delayed as a result of the impasse, presenting Bishop with a second opportunity to install his half of the connecting pipeline before the asphalt is laid.

Bishop instructed the developer who plans to build on the parcel on the southeast corner of the intersection of the Struthers extension and Baptist to install the portion of the pipeline that would service his development, which still left the pipeline 650 feet short of Donala’s termination.

Duthie offered to complete the pipeline in exchange for a 12-inch system to be installed by Classic Homes in either the southeast corner ot Triview or the northeast corner of Donala, and Bishop accepted. The pipeline will serve as the third 12-inch connecting line between the two districts.

Testing on new well in Fox Run Park complete

Duthie told board members that the testing on Well 14 is complete. The well produced a respectable 700 gallons per minute.

The transformer for the well has been ordered from Mountain View Electric, and the district expects to have the well up and running by mid-summer.

Henkle Drilling has not yet moved its equipment from the site. The company has spread the substrate from the "mud pit" to dry. Donala requested that Henkle level the area.

Donala will then put in the pipeline across the easement in the park. The district will wait until after AmWest and Mountain View have completed their work to erect the fence around the well equipment.

Frozen pipes, breaks, and a sewer backup keep maintenance busy

Some of the older water lines in the district, laid before the Donala district was created, are buried beneath less than 4 feet of cover. Lines in those areas are vulnerable to freezing. Donala was recently forced to dig up the street to re-establish service to an unoccupied home on Huntington Beach. Duthie blames a combination of shallow pipeline depth and an obsolete copper coupling for the problem.

The district instructed homeowners on Huntington Beach and Doral Way to leave their faucets on to allow a steady trickle, rather than a drip, during extremely cold weather. In an effort to encourage residents to comply, Donala offered to waive water use charges for up to two weeks of every month for absent homeowners.

Obsolete infrastructure was also likely to blame for a sewer service line backup on Westchester. Operators believe segments of the line were separated from each other over time, and the clay soil was acting as a pipeline. The house was unoccupied for over a year, and during that period the surrounding soil collapsed, cutting off access. Donala is attempting to determine the exact location of the line to avoid tearing up a large potion of the road.

As sometimes happens with water main breaks, the stress resulting from a large fracture can cause breaks on other lines. Duthie reported that a secondary break on a line in Bermuda Dunes may have resulted from the break near Rangely on Jan. 20. Duthie told board members that a tap saddle had failed. The district was able to repair the damage quickly.

Members question investment returns

Duthie distributed the monthly investment summary. Daugherty noted that returns on investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management again lagged behind returns for Colo Trust, the fund in which Donala had previously invested all its reserves. Donala still has a small portion of its reserves with Colo Trust. He also said he understood that once invested, the district must wait for the bonds to mature.

Duthie said that Davidson had decreased its charges two basis points as a result.

Murphy, who was new to the board in May 2006, asked why all Donala’s reserves were not invested in Colo Trust. Duthie replied that when Donala signed up with the investment firm, it was outperforming Colo Trust. When interest rates went up, the roles became reversed.

Duthie told the board that investing with Davidson added flexibility, as varying amounts reach maturity at different times, enabling Donala to have cash available when it is needed. He expects that as the bonds come due and are invested at higher rates, Davidson will again outperform Colo Trust.

Members will continue to monitor Davidson’s performance.

Yearly cost of service analysis skewed by waste plant, redrill costs

Duthie distributed his yearly cost of service analysis, which separated Donala consumers into categories and compared the cost of providing water and sewer service to each group against the amount paid for those services. The analysis serves as a baseline in determining whether the district’s rate and tax structures need to be adjusted to cover costs, and also helps in building the annual budget.

Duthie cautioned the board that this year’s figures were skewed by costs associated with the waste plant and two unanticipated well redrills. In each year’s summary, he lists expenses during the year they are incurred and does not spread the cost of "big ticket" items over time. As a result, Donala appeared to be in the red in 2006.

The board discussed spreading expenses for items such as the waste plant expansion over several years. Duthie replied that it was difficult to estimate life expectancy for assets such as wells or treatment facilities, as it could be half or double the estimate. Members suggested using multiple sources, including auditor figures, past history in the district, other district’s figures, or consultant’s projections to arrive at a reasonable life expectancy.

Members agreed that in spite of its drawbacks, the analysis was valuable as a tool and a record of services provided, and Duthie should continue to compile the figures.

El Paso County Water Authority news

No quorum at county water authority meeting: Duthie told the board that the Feb. 7 meeting of the El Paso County Water Authority was poorly attended. Because too few were present to achieve a quorum, no action was taken.

Lobbyist Pat Ratliff reported on several bills currently before the Legislature, and included her recommendations on whether to support or oppose each.

Cherokee requests inclusion in transit loss model: The Cherokee Water District, which had previously declined inclusion in the Transit Loss Study and Model, has requested participation. The model was created to measure the volume of water lost in transit from Monument Creek on its way to the Arkansas River using input from a series of gauging stations. Because the transit loss model will allow the state to more accurately track stream flows, entities that have contributed funds toward the establishment and maintenance of the model will be able to receive credit for their effluent and use it for exchange or sale downstream.

The change in direction was prompted by Cherokee’s desire to participate in Fountain Creek exchanges.

To be included, Cherokee will be required to pay back a proportionate share for the study and contribute funds yearly toward the model’s maintenance. The El Paso County Water Authority and Colorado Springs contributed $300,000 each. There is some dispute as to which of the two entities Cherokee will reimburse and share transit loss maintenance costs.

The meeting went into executive session at 2:50 p.m. to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease or transfer of water, and personnel matters.

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Mar. 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 8: 
Woodmoor to repair dam

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Woodmoor Lake dam is in need of repair, John Sikora of URS Dam Engineering told the Woodmoor board at its Feb. 8 meeting. While the dam is in no immediate danger of failure, Sikora recommended the district repair the draining infrastructure to prevent erosion and structural weakening.

He noted that the corrugated metal outlet pipe is showing signs of corrosion. As the deterioration continues over time, water seepage could erode embankment soil and carry it into the pipe, creating pockets that would eventually weaken the structure, Sikora said. He gave the directors an overview of the contents of URS’ proposal for safety modifications to the dam.

The board also heard about the loss of several million gallons of water in January caused by an undetected break in a water main under Dirty Woman Creek. Water supply to the break area was shut off, but the pipe hasn’t been fixed yet.

The public portion of the meeting was suspended at about 1:25 p.m., and the board went into executive session to accommodate water consultant Walraven Ketellapper of Stillwater Resources. Members met with Ketellapper to discuss negotiations for the possible purchase of water facilities. No decisions were announced when the public session resumed at 2 p.m.

Condition of dam prompts action

Because failure of the Woodmoor dam could result in loss of life, it is classified as a Class 1 dam, and yearly inspections are required by the state. After its most recent inspection, the state engineer’s office rated the dam "conditionally satisfactory," with the recommendation that Woodmoor have the dam professionally evaluated and conduct a video inspection of the outlet pipe. The district hired URS to investigate the condition of the dam’s infrastructure and recommend action.

URS reviewed the design, drawings and a recent inspection report filed by the Dam Safety Branch of the Division of Water Resources within the state engineer’s office. At the engineering firm’s request, Woodmoor provided a video of the outlet pipe interior.

Sikora presented a written proposal for services that documented the dam’s condition and listed parts of the structure in need of repair or upgrade.

As well as being rusted and corroded in places, the outlet pipe is also sagging, and small seeps were observed flowing into the pipe. Additional seepage on the downstream side of the embankment may indicate deterioration of the internal collection system. URS suggested further investigation. URS also mentioned that the district reported the outlet gate had been difficult to close completely when last operated.

The URS proposal identified four alternatives to be evaluated. One involved using a "cured-in-place" pipe liner such as insituform, which would provide the least reduction in flow volume of the three lining options. Since the state mandates that all reservoirs impounded by Class 1 dams must have drainage systems capable of lowering the water level five feet in five days, and the current pipe size is barely sufficient to meet that criterion, this advantage is important. However, Sikora said the option added only minimal structural support, and water constantly leaking into the corrugated pipe could prevent formation of a strong bond between the metal interior and the liner material.

Two of the other alternatives involved placement of 8- and 10-inch metal liners, which are more cumbersome and expensive to insert, and significantly reduce flow capacities. Both would add structural stability to existing infrastructure. Without additions to the system, the district would need a waiver of the drainage requirement from the state for one of the alternatives.

Another option involves adding auxiliary drainage infrastructure or recognition by the state of existing pumping mechanisms as supplementary systems to the outlet conduit capable of meeting the five-feet-in-five-days rule. While probably more expensive than plastic lining, the metal alternatives would reduce structural concerns.

The fourth alternative is to excavate and replace most or all of the system. It is expected to be the most expensive, but would incorporate the most current standards of practice.

Woodmoor has additional project objectives it wants to meet. The district is permitted by the state to store up to 943 acre-feet of water in the lake; capacity is significantly less. Woodmoor would like to enlarge the lake, preferably by dredging, but if that compromises bank stability, the district will consider raising the spillway. Woodmoor also intends to begin using water stored in the lake for irrigation and as a supplemental drinking supply, and subsequently wants to complete any upgrades or repairs as soon as possible.

In its conceptual engineering proposal, URS agreed to provide detailed analysis of each of the four alternatives including initial capital outlay and life-cycle costs, and to recommend an alternative based on Woodmoor’s needs and budget, as well as conformance to the state’s requirements. URS also will evaluate alternatives to increase lake volume.

After the proposal for conceptual engineering services is approved, URS estimated the firm will need two months to formulate alternatives and outline a time frame for state approval, bidding, and construction. URS will meet with the state engineer’s office to determine which alternatives would be acceptable. Woodmoor will select from those options.

While Woodmoor staff had hoped to begin repairs by this fall,, Sikora told members a more realistic time frame would be to begin construction in fall 2008. He said state approval alone could take up to six months, followed by contract bidding and draining at least a portion of the lake. The district wants to be able to use lake water to offset peak demand during the height of summer irrigation season, as well as minimize potential disruptions to service, so construction cannot take place during irrigation season.

Board members unanimously approved acceptance of the proposal and authorized expenditures not to exceed $38,700 for the initial phase of the project. By accepting the contract, Woodmoor also agreed to retain URS as design engineers for the dam modifications.

District developing emergency action plan for dam

The Colorado Division of Water Resources requires that operators of all Class 1 dams develop an emergency preparedness plan. Manager Phil Steininger distributed the final draft of Woodmoor’s update to board members for review and comment at the meeting. The draft will be distributed to area emergency agencies for comment.

Steininger said engineering consulting firm RTW is compiling an emergency action plan, which describes in detail how the district will implement an emergency preparedness plan. The action plan will specify duties of key members of district staff. Several copies of the plan will be available to staff at the Woodmoor office, and will list procedures to follow and contacts to notify in order of priority should a breach or other emergency involving the Woodmoor Lake dam occur.

Woodmoor employees will receive instruction on how to differentiate an emergency requiring immediate action from a preliminary problem, and training on how to react in each case.

One member asked if El Paso County was set up to use reverse 911 to simultaneously call all homes in the flood area to warn residents to evacuate. President Jim Taylor replied that after the Hayman fire, several agencies had requested that the county install the software and hire personnel necessary to operate a reverse 911 system, but the commissioners said the necessary funds were not available.

Woodmoor tracks down major water leak

Operations manager Randy Gillette reported to the board that during January, the district was able to account for only 62 percent of the water it pumped. In a typical month, Woodmoor is able to account for around 95 percent of the total pumped.

Operators had noticed a higher use of the wells, but none of the tanks had been extraordinarily depleted. No customers had reported breaks or a loss in pressure. And wastewater flows did not show a dramatic increase during that period.

The South treatment plant had not been in service when the problem apparently began. The plant went back online at the end of January. Pumps were constantly refilling the clear well, which struggled to keep up with demand. By Feb. 2, operators had determined the problem was somewhere within Zone 3 boundaries (the southern part of the district, primarily between Highway 105 and Higby Road), and began walking the main line routes.

A water main break in Dirty Woman Creek turned out to be the culprit. The 6-inch cast-iron pipe had broken, and water was gushing into the creek drainage, not far from the Crossroads at Monument and nearby bridge off Highway 105. No one had spotted it due to the heavy snow. Because the system is looped (does not terminate in a dead end), no customers experienced loss of service or even a serious reduction in pressure.

The break was isolated and the water supply to it turned off. Since then, the south tank’s behavior has returned to normal. Gillette estimates that the break was undiscovered for the better part of six weeks, and Woodmoor lost 8 or 9 million gallons of the approximately 17 million that were pumped during that period.

Because of current high flows in the creek, Gillette said crews have not been able to repair the line. Woodmoor rented a mini-excavator to dig out the line, which operators suspect experienced a sheer break, but due to unstable slopes and creek depth the effort was unsuccessful. The district will hire a contractor to repair the main once flows have decreased and the weather is more conducive to operations in the creek.

Merits of water conservation programs discussed

Steininger reminded the board that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) is trying to develop a regional water conservation plan for all entities that belong to the authority.

RTW consultant Rocky Wiley told PPRWA members at their Jan. 9 meeting that a change in legislation, geared specifically to encourage smaller water groups to band together, had made state grant money available for developing comprehensive conservation plans. Wiley agreed to coordinate an effort to obtain a grant for the water authority.

At an unofficial meeting of several authority members, representatives from the four largest entities, including Triview Metro District, Woodmoor and Donala Water and Sanitation, and Monument, decided it was important to implement the same water conservation plan in all their districts. Representatives then tried to agree on a plan that would best suit their collective needs.

Woodmoor previously used a circle-diamond-square plan that restricted irrigation to evening and early morning hours, and customers watered every third day on a rotating basis. The plan assigned each address a circle, diamond, or square to use to correspond to calendars that had the symbols to indicate the days each group was to water. The plan had the advantage of reducing peak demand significantly, but proved difficult to program into many existing irrigation controllers.

Triview had implemented restricted hours as well but had assigned its customers to irrigate on odd or even days. Peak demand was not reduced by as great a margin, but the plan simplified sprinkler system clock programming and was easier to remember.

Members discussed implementing a restricted hours, three-day-per week program. Customers would be assigned a Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday watering schedule, with all residents refraining from watering on Sundays. This plan had the advantage of simplicity, and would work with most clocks on the market.

The representatives opted to take the issue to their respective boards for consideration.

Woodmoor directors discussed the merits of the different schedules. Steininger’s chief concern was whether the proposed three-day schedule would reduce peak and annual demand sufficiently to meet the district’s goals. Members agreed that the main drawback of the circle-diamond-square program was its complexity. Most existing clocks required reprogramming at least every other week in order to follow the program, which is daunting to many residents.

The board discussed whether it would be feasible for Woodmoor to offer to replace customers’ irrigation clocks at the district’s expense, or offer rebates on new, more sophisticated clocks.

Director Elizabeth Hacker said the chosen plan should be as simple as possible and suggested that customers would be more receptive to an every-other-day or three-day plan. Hacker also proposed that the district consider sponsoring a contest to draw attention to conservation, perhaps rewarding the household posting the greatest reduction in water use with a prize or gift certificate.

Wiley said studies he had seen showed that a watering schedule of every other day actually increased annual demand. He said most homeowners would not ordinarily water every other day, but when faced with the decision to water or wait two more days, will take the opportunity to irrigate when allowed.

Members agreed that educating residents about water-saving devices and more effective watering systems, such as drip irrigation, was important to the success of any conservation campaign.

Steininger said he would share the board’s feedback at the next PPRWA meeting.

South treatment plant still not ready for surface water

Gillette told the board that attempts to bring the South treatment plant online for surface water treatment have not yet been successful. Operators are fine-tuning the process control and chemicals, and are working with the chemical vendor Nalco. Gillette has also consulted with RTW engineer Mike Rothberg to discuss the filter operations and plant design. Because Woodmoor will be treating surface in addition to well water, a different and more stringent set of treatment regulations apply.

Well 20 testing complete

Engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that hydrologic consulting firm Bishop Brogden Associates completed its analysis of test results for new Well 20, near the intersection of Higby and Fairplay. The well yielded a consistent 300 gallons per minute. Projections of expected future yield will be used to determine the sizing for the pumps and pipeline. The district is still waiting to receive the video of the well interior and report on water quality from the lab.

Shaffer told the board Henkle Drilling is working on completing site grading and cleanup.

RTW is assembling the contract for equipping the well. The district hopes to open the bidding by the end of March and choose a contractor around mid-April, with construction to commence shortly after.

The well will be remotely controlled through the district’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, which will monitor the clear well level at the South water treatment plant and turn the well pump on and off as water is needed.

Woodmoor needs an access variance from El Paso County to build its desired access to the well off Fairplay. The county does not allow direct driveway access off Fairplay, but given the other choices of Higby and Ox Yoke Way, the district considers that route the safest and least disruptive alternative.

Construction around the well will last several months, and Woodmoor wants to avoid moving heavy equipment on Ox Yoke Way, a residential street. A pullout directly onto Higby creates a potential safety hazard because the line of sight is limited, and traffic on Higby travels at a moderately high rate of speed. Until the access route is confirmed, the district cannot begin construction of the well equipment.

The district expects to have the infrastructure completed and the well operational by early fall.

Lenar building despite lack of regional building approval

Shaffer told the board that Lenar, the developer of Misty Acres, which is located east of the RV campground and south of County Line Road, is still working toward conditional acceptance of the water and sewer infrastructure.

Despite the fact that the development infrastructure has not been approved, Lenar has started building on the 25 lots in Filing 1. Shaffer reported that eight foundations had been poured, and two more lots had foundation excavations. According to Shaffer, Lenar is building at its own risk. Until Woodmoor accepts the infrastructure, there is no guarantee the district will approve the work that has been done.

Shaffer said Regional Building had no interest in stopping construction but wanted to make sure the district was aware Lenar had begun work on the houses.

High school will consider non-potable irrigation

A non-potable water line for irrigation to the new Lewis-Palmer School District 38 high school will cost an estimated $800,000 to $1.25 million, Steininger told the board. The school district will conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it will proceed with the separate water line.

The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 3:18 p.m. and the board went into executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, or sale of water rights; to consult with their attorney on specific legal questions related to negotiating positions; and to discuss personnel matters.

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The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor board will be at 1 p.m. March 8 at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive.

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Web site exclusive...

Artesian Conduit

Below: On Feb. 23,  water shoots from a top of a electrical conduit approximately 15 feet up on the side of a power pole at the south-east corner of Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. The source of the water was unknown but appeared to be related to run-off from recent snow storms. Photo by Mike Wicklund

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Forest View Acres water judged "best tasting in Colorado"

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 21 Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) announced that the district had won the competition for best tasting water at the recent Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA) 26th Annual State Conference held in Colorado Springs, Colorado the week of Feb. 5.

District Manager Lisa Johnson reported that judges selected FVAWD’s water as the best tasting from all samples submitted to the competition. Johnson said she was delighted that FVAWD would represent Colorado at the national competition in May. She added that Mike Bacon, the district’s Operator in Charge, was surprised when he heard the announcement and said, "This is good news for the Forest View Acres Water District community and for the potential growth in this area."

District’s water advances to national competition: FVAWD is representing Colorado rural water districts at the National Rural Water Association’s (NRWA) "8th Annual Great American Water Taste Test 2007" to be held on May 1 in Washington D.C. Johnson said, "The District has not had a lot to celebrate for a long time, so it was nice to bring some good news to the Board members of FVAWD. They are really pleased and looking forward to the results of the national competition."

Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) is a Colorado Special District that was established in 1957 by the late Hugh Nevins. The district currently provides water service to 282 residences (a population of over 600 people) in the Red Rock Ranch, Red Rock Reserve, Clovenhoof, Villas, Sundance Estates, and Shiloh Pines neighborhoods in unincorporated El Paso County. FVAWD is governed by a five-member Board of Directors and contract-managed by Special District Management Services, Inc. of Lakewood, Colorado. Its facilities and water operations management are contracted to Community Solutions, Inc. of Lakewood, Colorado.

The Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA) is a Colorado non-profit corporation, founded in 1980. CRWA provides technical assistance and training to Colorado’s public and private water and wastewater systems serving populations of less than 10,000; about 98% of Colorado’s 2,095 public water systems serve communities with populations less than 10,000. CRWA is a state affiliate of the National Rural Water Association. ( www.crwa.net, www.nrwa.org)

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, Feb. 21: 
Two new volunteers sworn in

Photos supplied by the DWFPD.

Below: (L to R) Swear-in of Jonathan Urban and Wayne Krzemien, Feb. 21.

Below: Michael Forsythe was hired to fill the vacant full-time FF/EMT position

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 21, board chairman Brian Ritz swore in Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technicians (FF/EMT) Wayne Krzemien and Jonathan Urban as new volunteers with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. Family members pinned on badges on Krzemien and Urban.

Director Kraig Sullivan was absent.

After the meeting, Wescott announced the hiring of volunteer Michael Forsythe to fill the vacant full-time FF/EMT position. Forsythe replaces Brian Gardner who took a position with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Gardner was Wescott’s Career Firefighter of the Year for 2006.

Chief Jeff Edwards said that testing for future positions has been completed, creating a list of qualified applicants who will be placed on a list for approximately one year and can be hired as positions become available.

CERT liability issue clarified

Edwards reported that Sheriff’s Office insurance does not cover their Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers if they are assisting in rescues of stranded motorists during major storms. The Sheriff’s Office advises agencies to use county Search & Rescue. However, Search & Rescue cannot handle the volume of calls generated by the types of storms that are common this year. When Search & Rescue personnel are not available, calls are given to individual agencies. The North Group will work with the media to inform people of the seriousness of weather conditions and the risks they take should they need rescuing so that fewer people will need rescuing in the future.

Training completed

Edwards completed a Department of Energy Train the Trainer class on Modular Emergency Response Training, offered by Colorado Springs Fire Department, for dealing with radioactive spills. Captain Mike Whiting and Captain Scott Ridings completed a National Fire Academy Chief Officer Training Course in Durango. Everyone on the department just received refresher courses on ice rescue. In June, Brian Ritz and Doug McIntyre will be attending a class on Pandemic Preparedness training in Aniston, Alabama sponsored by the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Channel 11 news covered the department-wide refresher training on ice rescue. Captain Sean Pearson appeared informing citizens what to do if they have a hydrant close to them that is inaccessible due to snow or other reasons. Wescott has GPS readers on its vehicles with data for all district hydrant locations.

Run reports

There were 1,141 runs in 2006, a 24 percent decrease from 2005. The average time from receipt of a call to leaving the building was 1.2 minutes. The average apparatus travel time during 2006 was 7.4 minutes. American Medical Response initiated a new policy that kept its Wescott ambulance within the district at a higher rate. The district’s 2006 run totals for other than AMR responses, increased 30% over 2005.

In January there were 55 runs within the district and 29 AMR and mutual aid alarms.

The board went into executive session at 7:45 p.m. to discuss personnel matters. The session ended at 9:23 p.m. The board announced that Treasurer Dave Cross, Chief Edwards, and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns will continue to work on revising the Policy & Procedure manual and give an update at the March meeting.

Chief Edwards is deploying to Kuwait this spring with his Wyoming Air National Guard unit for four months. Burns will take over during Edwards’ deployment.

The meeting was adjourned at 09:33 p.m.

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The next regular meeting is scheduled for March 21, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at station one at 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held the third Wednesday of the month. Info: 488-8680.

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Note: The February 2007 meetings of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority were cancelled due to bad weather.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Workshop/Special Meeting, Feb. 5: 
After asking for school board president’s resignation, three board members vote to curtail president’s role

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Below: District 38 school board members at the workshop/special meeting Feb. 5. (clockwise from the left) Dee Dee Eaton, Gail Wilson, Jes Raintree, Stephen Plank, and LouAnn Dekleva. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in and view additional photos

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board workshop Feb. 5, school board members Dee Dee Eaton, Stephen Plank, and Gail Wilson voted to restrict board President Jes Raintree’s responsibilities to only those duties specified in state law. Raintree and LouAnn Dekleva opposed the change.

Raintree opened the meeting at 5:45 p.m. by reviewing a list of recent events, including workshops on District 38 leadership and the Jan. 18 unanimous appointment of Ray Blanch as the new superintendent.

She then disclosed that at a Jan. 30 meeting with Plank, he asked her to resign. She said Plank said he also represented the wishes of Eaton and Wilson. Referring to the recent recall election and other turmoil in School District 11 in Colorado Springs, Raintree said, "We don’t want to be a D-11."

Raintree noted that on Feb. 2, she received a request from Eaton, Plank, and Wilson to hold this Feb. 5 special meeting.

In response to Raintree’s accusations that Eaton, Plank, and Wilson had been illegally meeting in other than a public board meeting, each of the three said that, in accordance with state law, they had talked individually with the others but that all three had not met.

Plank said he thought the Jan. 30 meeting was confidential. He then listed the responsibilities of the District 38 school board president in the district’s current policy statement:

  1. Preside at all meetings of the board.
  2. Consult with the superintendent in preparing agendas.
  3. Bring before the board such matters as require the attention of the board.
  4. Be responsible for the orderly conduct of board meetings.
  5. Confer with the superintendent on crucial matters that may occur between board meetings.
  6. Call special meetings of the board as necessary.
  7. Appoint special committees subject to the approval of the board.
  8. Sign any written documents to which the school district may be a party.
  9. Sign all official reports of the district except when otherwise provided by law.
  10. Appear on behalf of the board in all actions brought by or against it, unless individually a party, in which case this duty shall be performed by the secretary.

Plank said the list goes "well beyond the statutory requirements for what a president does," noting that only items 1, 6, 8, and 9 are specified in state law (C.R.S. 22-32-105 and 22-32-108).

All five members of the board should be involved in setting meeting agendas and conferring with the superintendent, he said, adding that the superintendent, not the president, should speak on behalf of the board.

Wilson said that all five board members should share equally in information that comes to the board. She stressed that the president should promptly forward information by e-mail to all board members. In response to a request for examples from Raintree, Wilson cited the development of meeting agendas.

Eaton added that she had difficulty getting information on the development of Blanch’s contract.

"I apologize to all of you," Raintree said.

Wilson suggested they research the specific statutory powers of the board president. Dekleva cited the board’s usual process of holding a first and second reading of proposed policy changes and asked, "What’s the emergency?"

Plank replied, "There is a leadership problem in the district. Board members need to be involved in setting meeting agendas."

Dekleva objected to being left out of the discussions that led Eaton, Plank, and Wilson to ask for Raintree’s resignation and then call for this special session.

Noting that the board unanimously approved the policy regarding the president’s responsibilities on Feb. 16, 2006, Plank said, "I voted for it then but not now."

Wilson said that to support the work of the district and show a unified front, she had voted for things in public session even though privately she had concerns about them.

Eaton said she and Wilson had only been on the board two months when the policy was approved.

Wilson said there is no board manual or orientation training, adding "Dee Dee and I were like deer in the headlights."

When Plank tried to make a motion to suspend the current policy regarding the president’s responsibilities and have the district operate under the list of responsibilities specified in state law, Joanne Jensen, secretary to the superintendent, noted that the meeting had not been called to order and a roll call had not been done.

Raintree said the matter could wait until the board meeting Feb. 15 but Plank insisted that Raintree call the meeting to order, which she did. Board secretary Dekleva called the roll and then Plank made his motion, which was seconded by Wilson.

Dekleva said she opposed the motion because policy changes should get a first and second reading before being approved, adding "I don’t see the emergency."

The vote was 3-2 with Eaton, Plank, and Wilson in favor and Raintree and Dekleva opposed.

Eaton moved that the 20 operating norms and 16 process norms adopted Feb. 16, 2006, also be suspended. Some of those norms specify that the president is the point of contact for the press and that the superintendent and the president set meeting agendas.

Some of the norms have been ignored or no longer apply, Eaton said, adding that the board may want to adopt some as policy but "I am not comfortable with having something not being followed. It is not good leadership or good management."

Plank seconded the motion. The vote was approved 3-2, the same as the prior motion.

Eaton thanked Raintree for her efforts on behalf of the district and then turned to the audience and said, "We are fractured as a board. There needs to be a lot of healing."

Raintree offered to work with Eaton to develop a new policy to spell out the responsibilities of the board president. The other board members asked to be kept informed by e-mail.

The meeting adjourned at 6:57 p.m.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m. March 15. The district’s Web site is www.lewispalmer.org. The Monument Academy Web site is www.monumentacademy.net.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, Feb. 15: 
Board formally strips president and vice-president of non-statutory powers

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Below At the school board meeting Feb. 15, Kilmer Elementary School 5th grader Rachel Braaten and her news teacher Sharon Gedack describe the operations of the school’s KCRY television programs. Braaten is a news anchor for the morning news show that gives students announcements, weather, and information at the start of their day. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click on the photo to zoom in and view additional photos

By Jim Kendrick

At the regular Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting Feb. 15, board Vice President Dee Dee Eaton, Treasurer Gail Wilson, and Director Stephen Plank voted for formal policy changes that will limit the duties of board president and vice president to only those authorized by Colorado statutes. Secretary LouAnn Dekleva opposed the change. The board also added a policy statement that board members have authority only when acting as a board legally in session or when carrying out specific instructions from the board.

Superintendent Ray Blanch said President Jes Raintree was absent due to a family matter.

Director Steve Plank said that various D-38 boards had expanded the duties of the president over time under various boards. He said the board had voted to limit the responsibilities of the board president at a Feb. 5 special board session. (The vote on Feb. 5 was 3-2 with Raintree and Dekleva opposed.) Plank said, "To do that, we had to revise policies and so we have a policy proposal." Dekleva said she had a discussion item prior to the vote on the policy changes required due to the Feb. 5 vote. (See article on Feb. 5 D-38 meeting on page 26 to read the 10 duties of the board president that were eliminated.)

Dekleva said Raintree had handed her some research Raintree had done regarding policies on board president duties in numerous other Colorado school districts. Deklava read a list of the additional responsibilities that board presidents of these other districts have beyond those listed in the statutes.

Deklava said, "I still want to go on record that I don’t know why we have an emergency to suspend that policy because I still don’t see the emergency." She said she "didn’t see the need" for the Feb. 5 "emergency meeting" and noticed that the proposed policy Plank had offered did not list the duties of board secretary or treasurer and wondered if they were forgotten or incomplete.

Dekleva also proposed adding a policy statement: "It is understood that the members of the Board of Education have authority only when acting as a board legally in session. The board shall not be bound in any way by any action or statement on the part of any individual board member, except when such statement or action is in pursuance of specific instructions from the board."

Plank said the proposal didn’t refer to the secretary or treasurer because the new limitations only applied to the additional duties of the president and vice president. He said he had no objections to adding Dekleva’s proposed general policy statement to the proposal.

Wilson noted that the entire list of additional duties was suspended on Feb. 5. Plank said his intent was only to restrict the duties of the president. Dekleva said the board was not following the typical district process by not having a first and second reading of the policy revision. Plank replied that there were two options in the district policy on changing district policy. He said the first and second reading option applies to policies that apply district-wide. The other policy allows for only one reading. Plank said the policy change he was proposing only applies to the board and he recommended passage after a single reading. The motion passed 3-1 with only Dekleva opposed.

Second high school progress report

The board also discussed construction for the second high school at Monument Hill and approved the following contracts:

  • Saunders Construction as general contractor for improvements at Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS), including the stadium
  • E-Cube, Inc., as the commissioning agent for the second high school

Jeff Chamberlin of RLH Engineering discussed recent progress on the high school project, including design changes, budget update, non-potable water project for irrigation, and consulting services contracts. He also updated the board on the LPHS design schedule, design progress, traffic study, and budget update. These monthly building project updates will be posted on the district’s Web site. Some of Chamberlin’s presentation follow:

The first phase of two phases of second high school construction includes site work, utilities, and structural components.

  • Design complete: Mar. 29
  • Bids received: Apr. 19
  • Start construction: Apr. 30

The second phase includes landscape, architectural, mechanical, and electrical components

  • Design complete: May 15
  • Bids received: June 5
  • Start construction: July 2

Other factors:

  • The building was reduced 13,000 square feet to 217,000 square feet.
  • Boiler added to geothermal heating system for coldest days of the winter.
  • Sauders Construction’s cost estimate is $49.4 million at schematic design completion.
  • The project team’s cost estimate is $47.8 million at 50 percent design development completion.
  • Estimated costs for two raw water taps for irrigation is $300,000.
  • Annual water savings for switching from treated to raw water is $33,500 for 16 million gallons.

The first phase of two phases of LPHS improvements includes the base contractor agreement, stadium subcontract, and artificial turf subcontract.

  • Design complete: Jan. 8
  • Bids received: Jan. 24
  • Start construction: Mar. 26

The second phase includes field house, track, concession building, press box, lighting, roadway, and associated site utilities.

  • Design complete: May 15
  • Bids received: June 5
  • Start construction: July 2

Other factors:

  • Saunders Construction’s cost estimate is $4.667 million at schematic design completion.
  • The target budget is $4.45 million
  • Savings of $170,000 have been identified

Bonds raised $65,063,477 for both projects and expenses to date of $6,261,288 leaving $58,802,190 remaining. (For more details see: www.lewispalmer.org/media/EDocs/LPSD_BOE_Progress_Report_for_February07_022707.pdf)

The board also authorized the superintendent and RLH Engineering to enter into negotiations with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District to develop a joint-use non-potable water system at the new high school and Lewis-Palmer Middle School.

Other matters

  • The board approved establishment of an audit committee to facilitate oversight of district funds. The committee will receive an annual charge from the board and will report to it.
  • The board approved reallocation of several projects totaling $269,000 in the 2006-07 capital reserve budget.
  • The board voted to approve open/closed enrollment status of District 38 schools for the 2007-08 school year, as follows: Lewis-Palmer High School, Grace Best Elementary, and Lewis-Palmer Elementary will be closed to new enrollment. Lewis-Palmer Middle School, Creekside Middle School, Prairie Winds Elementary, Palmer Lake Elementary, and Kilmer Elementary will be open at some grade levels. Final determinations will be made following processing of applications received during the "open enrollment window."
  • The board charged Dr. Keith Jacobus, Executive Director of Learning Services, with making a recommendation to the board on March 15, 2007, regarding the Monument Academy request to offer full-day kindergarten.
  • The board passed a resolution to petition the state Board of Education to maintain the district’s exclusive chartering authority. The percentage of students in the Lewis-Palmer School District attending Monument Academy is 10.9 percent, which is above the 9.6 percent required for automatic renewal of the Exclusive Chartering Authority.
  • The board voted to approve revisions to open enrollment policies.
  • Cheryl Wangeman, Chief Financial Officer, reviewed the calendar for budget development and discussed the Capital Reserve Fund, Bond Redemption Fund, Insurance Fund, and Nutrition Fund. She has developed a budgetary request form for anyone wishing to make a suggestion or request for the 2007-08 school year. The forms are available in the Finance Office and must be returned to that office by March 7.
  • Dr. Laura Douglas, Executive Director of Special Populations, reported on the English Language Learner (ELL) program, Special Education Programs and Services, Medicaid Reimbursement, 504 plans, RTI Implementation, and CDE Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process (CIMP). As the district grows, so does the number of students utilizing these programs.
  • The Boundary Committee will review input received following three public events held to present boundary options to the community. Further study of options is being conducted, and additional public events will be held if any boundary scenarios are changed. (see proposed alternative boundary scenarios on page 30)
  • Ted Belteau, Executive Director of Personnel and Student Services, provided numbers of students who have applied for open enrollment within the district and numbers of nonresident requests for attendance for the 2007-08 school year.
  • Debbie Leasure reported on the upcoming annual school reports that will be given at District Accountability Advisory Committee meetings in March and April.
  • Blanch announced District 38 has received re-accreditation from CDE, including a commendation for the Options 38 program at LPHS.
  • Over 700 people submitted nominations for a total of 100 different recommended names for the second high school. In accordance with board guidelines, the committee sorted and filtered names and presented the following suggestions for consideration (listed in alphabetical order): Lewis-Palmer North High School, Monument Hill High School, Palmer Divide High School, Tri-Lakes High School. Additional names worthy of consideration were Chautauqua High School, Henry Station High School, and William Crawford High School. The board plans to select a name for the second high school at the meeting on March 15.
  • Ray E. Kilmer Elementary School students shared a taped video of one of their daily announcements and discussed their KCRY News program. Lewis-Palmer High School students presented videos they had produced.
  • Rob Shearer, LPHS student body president, reported on recent and upcoming LPHS student activities. He noted that the College Board has rated LPHS as having one of the strongest Advanced Placement programs.
  • Monument Academy President Laura Gipson thanked LPHS for the orientation set up for Monument Academy students who will transfer to LPHS next fall.

The board adjourned at 10:33 p.m.

**********

The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on March 15 in the Learning Center (basement) of D-38 administration building (Big Red), at Second and Jefferson Streets. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. The Monument Academy Web site is at www.monumentacademy.net.

Meeting highlights from the district’s Web site were used in preparing this article.

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Proposed secondary school boundary alternatives

The four proposed high school/middle school boundary scenarios presented at D-38 public meetings in February are shown here. The D-38 Boundary Committee will review the public input provided and present their conclusions to the school board. The decision by the board is expected in May. In each case, the boundaries for Lewis-Palmer High School match the boundaries for Creekside Middle School and the boundaries for the second high school match the boundaries for Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Below are the attributes and deficiencies presented for each scenario.

Additional information is posted www.lewispalmer.org. On the home page click on current initiatives button. 

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El Paso County Planning Commission, Feb. 6 and 20: 
Knollwood Village filing approved

By Steve Sery

The Planning Commission met twice in February again as it continues to try a new schedule that reduces the amount of time between meetings so there is not as much pressure to get items on the agenda. The commission hopes this will produce more complete proposals with all the necessary backup, agency reports and comments from the public.

After the first two months of the six-month trial period, results are mixed. There are fewer items on the agenda so the commissioners are able to more thoroughly review them. But the commissioners still seem to be solving issues at the meeting that should have been solved before the meeting.

One item on the agenda involves northern El Paso County. It was on the consent calendar—nobody wanted a full hearing—so it was approved unanimously.

This was a request for approval of Knollwood Village Filing 1, Minor Subdivision, a two-lot commercial subdivision on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. This parcel is the commercial part of a subdivision that was split-zoned in 2005, with 4.6 acres zoned Planned Business Park (PBP) and 21.3 acres zoned Rural Residential-3 (RR-3). This action created two lots in the PBP zone and one RR-3 tract. Several restrictive requirements in the covenants pertain to hours of operation and specific allowed commercial and retail uses. For example, no fast-food restaurants are permitted.

The next meetings will be March 6 and 20. The agendas will be posted on the county web site www.elpasoco.com (click on planning committees and boards under the agenda tab).

the county planning commission's Knollwood Village Filing 1 as a PDF file. This is a 828 Kbyte file and will take about 5 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Annual General Meeting, Jan. 29: 
Benny Nasser wins Vincent J. Elorie Award

Below: Benny Nasser (L) receives Vincent J. Elorie award from WIA President Hans Post, Jan. 29.

By Chris Pollard

About 80 residents attended this year’s annual general meeting and a record 800 had returned proxies. Hans Post, WIA president, announced the winner of the Vince Elorie award for outstanding citizenship. Vince Elorie was a former Woodmoor Public Safety employee who was very community-minded and a "people person."

This year’s winner is Benny Nasser. Post said he has known Nasser for more than 13 years and that he is one of the most involved individuals in the community. He served first as secretary of the WIA Board, then as director of Forestry and Common Areas. After serving on the Board, he continued to serve Woodmoor as a tree monitor for seven years. Nasser has also worked with the Sierra Club in several of their conservation efforts in the western United States.

Nasser has mentored students at Lewis-Palmer Middle School and volunteers to instruct students from the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind in golf. He is also actively involved in many of the Monument Hill Sertoma Club projects.

Nasser also is a director of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, helping to provide safe drinking water to almost 10,000 residents while ensuring the administrative requirements of the district are handled properly. He currently serves as the district’s representative to the Joint Use Committee overseeing the management of the jointly owned Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Plant helping to coordinate the close working relationship among the three separate governmental agencies as well as the safe and efficient operation of the plant.

A quiet year for legal issues: Lenard Rioth, WIA’s attorney, complimented the work of the board and the many volunteers for a relatively quiet year for covenant and legal issues. This had been largely due to the earlier implementation of a "3C’s" program, which involves:

  • Communication — the need to communicate with residents about issues.
  • Consistency — everybody has an opportunity to be fairly treated.
  • Cooperation instead of court — trying to find an acceptable solution without legal action.

There was only one major court action during the year, and this was decided in the WIA’s favor with the judge awarding court costs covering all the association’s legal fees.

WIA income increases

Betty Hutchinson presented a brief overview of the WIA’s financial situation. The WIA had found an error in resident assessment billings. Previously, some had been billed per owner rather than per lot. This resulted in 100 lots that were not being charged. This change plus late fees and a high level of voluntary contributions for the vacation check program helped increase income over the past year. Income from the use of the Woodmoor Barn was also higher than expected. Expenses included a $1,600 contribution to El Paso County for stop signs in South Woodmoor.

Another expanded source of income was through the use of a Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CEDARS) program in which the bulk of the association’s cash balance could be deposited at higher rates of interest. This resulted in a gain of about $18,000.

This meant that the WIA was fully able to fund its reserves and, with the decision to not replace one Woodmoor Public Safety employee and delay the purchase of an additional WPS vehicle, was able to produce a budget for 2007 that did not require a dues increase.

Pine beetle problems ease

Jim Woodman noted that the past year had seen a 50 percent reduction in the number of lots with live pine beetle infestations. In 2005, 110 lots with infestations were counted, and this had reduced to 50. There was also a significant reduction in the number of infected trees per lot, many with three to six infected trees and some with only one.

This had been helped by a successful fuels-reduction program, with 51 resident projects and six Common Area thinning projects, covering 20 acres, all assisted by a $45,000 cost-sharing grant program.

Another successful program was the creation of a Forest Stewardship and Community Wildfire Protection Plan. A total of 16 people were involved in putting together the plan, which is one of the first in the state. This plan identified several areas that are classified as extremely hazardous for wildfires. In 2007 and future years, the newly formed Firewise committee will work with residents in those areas to reduce the fuels hazard.

There were also plans to create fuel breaks in a couple of areas where multiple house burns were a possibility.

Residents’ question-and-answer session

Q What is being done with Inn at Woodmoor? Is it going to stay an eyesore? A Directors believe that it has been sold but will work with the owners to remedy the problems. Q What is the status of the traffic signals at Highway 105 and Knollwood? A There is a dispute between the Colorado Department of Transportation and Mountain View Electric Association over the easements in that area. Q What does the Forestry director do to inform people living next to common areas when there is a fuels-reduction program planned? A Every homeowner is contacted, in many cases in person. Property boundaries are confirmed and lot corners are flagged. Some homeowners have initially objected but when educated about the problem have acquiesced and in most cases have been pleased with the final results. There is some flexibility if there are particular concerns. In the area around Twin Ponds, homeowners will be invited to a meeting with the Forestry volunteers and representatives from the local fire department to decide on a course of action for fuels reduction.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, Feb. 15: 
New board members installed

By Chris Pollard

The new board positions are as follows: president, Hans Post; vice president, Bill Walters; secretary, George McFadden (previously Covenant Control); treasurer,Terry Holmes (previously secretary); Architectural Control, Elizabeth Miller; Common Areas, Gary Marner (new); Covenant Control, Stephen Malfatti (new); Forestry, Amy Smith (new); Public Safety, Brian Osterholt.

‘Owner of record’ meaning discussed

At a previous meeting, Terry Holmes, treasurer, had been asked to research the issues associated with changing the rules regarding resident eligibility for director positions. Currently, to be eligible, candidates must be an "owner of record," generally meaning that they are listed as the owner of the property in the El Paso County records. Prior to the recent election, a resident who was the spouse of an owner of record had expressed an interest in running.

Holmes said it would be good for legal spouses to be able to run for office and maybe this could be covered by a legal assignment or power of attorney. It would probably have to be stated that the spouse must live in Woodmoor, unlike the current system where the owner of record does not have to be a resident to run.

Holmes said it also might be reasonable to extend this further to allow children or even tenants to run for office. The power of attorney would need to be clear on keeping one vote per lot. He suggested that perhaps the power of attorney would need to be valid for a director’s term. Other directors raised concern about some of the possible ramifications of this change and what could happen if the power of attorney were revoked. After some further discussion, President Hans Post asked that more research be done.

Strategic plan and goal implementation

Post gave a brief overview of WIA’s strategic plan and goals for 2007. Communication with residents remains a high priority, he said. The WIA newsletter was successfully revamped in 2006, but he said more needs to be done to establish rapport with the residents.

Activities within the community are currently being planned with the "Great American Cleanup" set for early May and a community flea market around the same time, Post said.

He added that communication with School District 38 is also a top priority for safety issues at the old high school and planning for the new high school.

More attention will be paid to improving the common areas, and funds have been set aside for improving trails and ponds, Post said.

Fire education

Amy Smith, director of Forestry, said she will be working with local fire departments to organize an educational event May 5 to promote the Community Firewise program. She said she hoped to have some fire department equipment on display to make it of interest to children.

Smith added she wants to start a wood-chipping program and might also try to reactivate the seedling distribution program.

Commercial vehicles definition discussed

George McFadden, the outgoing director of Covenant Control, and his replacement, Stephen Malfatti, brought up the issue of how to define a "commercial vehicle" for covenant enforcement. The current rules are defined in terms of a certain size of pickup truck. Anything more than a three-quarter-ton vehicle was felt to be a commercial vehicle but as pickups have grown in size, the dividing line is not so clear. El Paso County does not now differentiate between pickups until they reach 16,000 pounds, so there is no clear dividing line. The two were asked to continue research on this issue.

Covenant violation fee schedule

Malfatti said in reviewing rules for setting violation fees, he noted that they called for repeat fines to escalate and in some cases double. He found that the current schedule does not reflect this. He also said he had found a number of instances of suspended fines, in which the fine would be payable when the same offense was proven again. He said he was interested in standardizing the fines. Other board members said that each situation was different, and they were concerned about a straight doubling of fines. Malfatti was asked to further research his proposal.

Discussion of staff reports

Bill Walters, vice president, said he would like to see a brief summary from Camilla Mottl, executive director, and Kevin Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, of what happened during the previous month. Not all directors were aware of the day-to-day activities, and it would be useful to have any highlights presented at the meeting, Walters said.

Date of monthly meeting

The board agreed to change the date of the meeting to the fourth Monday of the month, with the next one scheduled for 7 p.m. March 26 at the WIA Barn.

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperature and precipitation came back to average levels after a cold and snowy January. Temperatures ranged from well below zero to the upper 50s, a typical range for the month, and 15-20 inches of new snow fell, adding to the well-above-average numbers so far this season.

The first week of February was one of contrasts. We started off very cold as a glancing blow of Arctic air brushed by on the 1st and 2nd, then a mild region of air moved in under a ridge of high pressure by the end of the weekend. High temperatures on the 1st and 2nd held in the teens with overnight lows well below zero, dipping to 15-25 degrees below zero on the morning of the 2nd. This cold air mass quickly moved off to the east on Saturday the 3rd, being replaced by a warm, dry air mass moving in out of the Desert Southwest. Highs on Sunday jumped into the 40s; with low to mid 50s by Monday and Tuesday — quite a change in temperatures over a couple of days. And of course temperatures would have been much warmer had we not had the deep snow pack still covering the ground and knocking 5-10 degrees off the afternoon highs.

Our "January thaw" arrived in February this year. Temperatures warmed from the 40s all the way to the 50s from the 4th through the 8th, then back to seasonal levels for the 9th, 10th, and 11th. These mild conditions, along with plenty of sunshine, allowed a good portion of the substantial snow pack to melt away as well.

Wintry weather made a return appearance during the week of Feb. 12th, with the first in a series of weak frontal passages occurring late in the day on the 12th. Cool air with low clouds, fog, and light snow stuck around for the next several days. Highs stayed in the 20s with overnight lows in the single digits above and below zero through Thursday, with 1-3 inches of snow accumulating. Winds then kicked up early Friday, gusting as high as 60 mph on the west side of I-25 in the morning and early afternoon. Temperatures rose overnight as the winds and a brief shot of mild air pushed temperatures back into the upper 30s and low 40s. However, this was short-lived as a strong front blasted through the region during the mid-afternoon. Snow soon developed behind this cold front, and by the next morning, 4-6 inches of fresh snow had accumulated. This was a welcomed snowfall for most, as it served to "freshen" the old snow pack. Sunday the 18th turned out to be a mild, breezy day with several bouts of mountain wave clouds.

After a quiet start to the third week of the month, a quick but powerful storm developed late on the 23rd. This storm just missed us, as we were right on the western edge of the precipitation. Winds howled with this storm, gusting to over 50 mph at times early on the 24th. This combined with 2-6 inches of snow to cause blizzard conditions during the morning and shutting down all travel through eastern Colorado during the day. The sun quickly returned, and temperatures returned to seasonal levels in the 30s and 40s. Breezy conditions stuck around on the 25th and 26th and made things feel a little cooler and caused areas of blowing snow over the exposed areas. Tuesday the 27th saw a brief return to mild weather, and then another storm moved into the region on the last day of the month.

At the end of the month there were still 1-2 feet of snow in most areas in the trees. Even more beneficial is the fact that this snow pack still contains 3-4 inches of water waiting to be released to the ground as it melts. Our plants are going to love that come spring!

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region. We can see 70-degree temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003, when we received 30-50 inches of snow that shut down the region. Then March 2004 was mild and dry, while March 2005 was snowy again, and last year was seasonal. Kind of makes you wonder what we’ll see this year.

The official monthly forecast for March 2007, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of above or below normal temperatures and better than average chances of above normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

February 2007 Weather Statistics

Average High 36.3° (-2.5)
Average Low 12.7° (+0.0)
Highest Temperature 55° on the 6th
Lowest Temperature -16° on the 2nd
Monthly Precipitation 1.05" (+0.33)
Monthly Snowfall 18.4" (+6.2)
Season to Date Snow 150.0" (+74.3)
Season to Date Precipitation: 23.67" (+10.60)

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

Remember, weather affects all of us 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 Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Town making Monu-mental mistakes

It’s not the development that concerns me. It’s the way the Town of Monument is going about it. After reading the articles in the Feb. 3 issue of Our Community News, I believe the town is out of control.

The town recently annexed land from El Paso County to build Promontory Pointe, Home Place Ranch, Sanctuary Pointe, and Monument Ridge, among others. The county requires less-dense housing and a 300-year supply of water for new homes. The town allows dense cluster homes to be built 5 feet from side property lines and only requires 100 years of water supply.

The town now wants to annex Baptist Road to get around various rules and requirements of El Paso County, once again. If the town gets its way this time, people will die in horrific traffic accidents. The town seems content to allow developers to rule the day. One only has to look at the proposed Baptist Road right-in, right-out intersection proposed for the new Monument Ridge development, opposite the current right-in, right-out access to the King Soopers parking lot.

It seems any time the town wants to get around the road safety, sensible zoning, and water requirements of the county, the Board of Trustees annexes the land so it can do anything it wants. Well, enough is enough.

The town is out of control and the good residents and voters of Monument need to start realizing something’s amiss.

The El Paso County Commissioners know what’s going on but don’t seem to care. To them, it’s less land they have to worry about, but that approach is wrong.

Bill Carroll

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: 
Gripping Nonfiction for the Last (We hope) Cold Winter Month

By the Staff at Covered Treasures

Winter has held us tightly in its grip this season. Spring is surely just around the corner but, as we all know, springtime in the Rockies may not mean an end to winterlike weather. Here are some fascinating nonfiction reads to take you through the last snows of the year.

Born on a Blue Day
By Daniel Tammet, $24

Daniel Tammet has savant syndrome, an extremely rare condition that gives him nearly unimaginable mental abilities. Daniel "sees" numbers as shapes, colors and textures. He is compulsive and obsessive; however, unlike most savants, he is able to live a totally independent life. This is a fascinating look at the mystery of the human brain.

The Worst Hard Time
By Timothy Egan, $14.95

This National Book Award Winner is a "can’t put down" book about the survivors of the Great American Dust Bowl. Egan delves deep into the environmental and emotional disasters of the "dirty thirties." The classic, Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck gave a voice to the people who fled the Dust Bowl. This account tells the story of those who stayed and endured.

Three Cups of Tea
By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, $15

The title of the book refers to the practice of doing business in Pakistan and Afghanistan: The first cup of tea shared, one meets a stranger; the second cup of tea shared, you become a friend; and in sharing the third cup of tea, you join the family. Mortenson, an avid mountaineer, failed in his attempt to reach the summit of K-2 and, while resting in Pakistan, fell in love with the people and their kindness. He promised the villagers he would return to build a school. Over the next decade of his life he built not one but 55 schools, many for girls. Like another book, Leaving Microsoft to Save the World, by John Wood, the reader comes away with a strong desire to help, and an affirmation of the good that can be found in the world.

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell
By Mark Kurlansky, $14.95

For centuries, New York City was famous for its oysters. According the Rocky Mountain News, this is "A small pearl of a book… a great tale of the growth of a modern city as seen through the rise and fall of the lowly oyster." Filled with cultural, historical and culinary insights – along with vintage recipes, maps, drawings and photos – award-winning Kurlansky sweeps readers from the 17th-century founding of New York to the death of its oyster beds and the rise of America’s environmentalist movement. This is engrossing, entertaining and delicious history!

Hershey
By Michael D’Antonio, $15

This year’s Valentine stamp reflects the notoriety of The Hershey Company, with its image of the Hershey’s Kiss. Almost as famous is Hershey, Pa., home to Milton Hershey’s Amusement Park, where the streets are named after chocolate bars and the lampposts are in the shape of Hershey’s Kisses. This is the rags-to-riches story of the person behind the name, a largely uneducated man whose idealistic sense of purpose created an immense financial empire. He built the world’s largest chocolate factory and a utopian village for his workers, and used his own fortune to keep his workers employed during the Depression. Enjoy this biography of this uniquely visionary American.

The Speed of Trust
By Stephen Covey, $26

Stephen Covey, author of the classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has written a new book revolving around the attribute of trust. Covey believes that trust is the key leadership quality all successful businesses must develop and maintain in order to remain successful in this global economy. He discusses the business world as well as one’s personal level of trust, and addresses how becoming a trusting individual will spill over into one’s work.

Throw another log on the fire, pour a glass of wine and read away the last of the long, cold nights. Daylight-saving time and spring arrive this month, and with them the hope of warmer temperatures and spring flowers. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights:  
Landscaping is for the birds

By Woody Woodworth

When landscaping your back yard or deciding which flowers to plant this season, think of the birds you want to attract. Bird feeders are not enough to attract the variety of wonderful birds in our area.

Most birds, even dedicated seedeaters, eat a variety of foods, including berries, nectar, fruit and nuts, as well as seed heads from flowers. Also, any landscape full of plants will attract insects, which are delicious to birds.

Though some birds are cavity-nesters (nesting in birdhouses or natural holes in trees), many will build nests deep in thickets, vines, trees and bushes. Listed below are some common backyard birds and trees, bushes and flowers they love for food and shelter. Try to include as many of these plants as possible in your landscape, remembering to plant only those suited to our climate and gardening zone.

  • American goldfinches: birch, spruce, fir, pine, oak, hemlock, maple, white ash, box elder and sweet gum trees; serviceberry trees or shrubs, sunflowers, zinnias, asters, grapes, roses and mulberries.
  • American robins: hackberry, mulberry, cedar and crab apple trees; serviceberries, hollies, sumac, blackberries, viburnums, grasses, Virginia creeper, pyracantha, roses and elderberries.
  • Black-capped chickadees: pine, aspen and hemlock trees; viburnums, sunflowers and bayberries.
  • Blue jays: oak, dogwood and crab apple trees; wild cherries, wild grapes, viburnums, blackberries, blueberries, hollies, sunflowers and sumac.
  • Dark-eyed juncos: pine, fir, aspen and hemlock trees; honeysuckle, sumac, roses and millet.
  • Downy woodpeckers: oak, mountain ash and dogwood trees; serviceberries and Virginia creeper.
  • Mourning doves: pine and spruce trees; sunflowers, grasses and millet.
  • Northern mockingbirds: hackberry, cedar, cherry and dogwood trees; hollies, sumac, viburnums, bayberries, serviceberries, hawthorns, huckleberry, plum, privet, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, cherry laurel, blueberry and pyracantha
  • Pine siskins: pine, spruce, aspen, cedar, maple and American elm trees; honeysuckle and sunflowers.
  • Red-breasted nuthatches: pine, spruce and fir trees.
  • Rufous-sided towhees: oak, pine, crab apple, apple and cherry trees; hollies, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, mulberries, huckleberries, sunflowers, millet and grapes
  • Stellar’s jays: pine, oaks and dogwood trees; elderberries and wild cherries.
  • Tufted titmice: hackberry, oak, crab apple and pine trees; sunflowers, wild grapes, blackberries and Virginia creeper
  • White-breasted nuthatches: oak, pine and maple trees; sunflowers.
  • Yellow-rumped warblers: pine, cedar, dogwood, juniper and American elm trees; sunflowers, honeysuckle, viburnums, sumac, strawberries and Virginia creeper.

Round out your planning program for plants by adding a few birdhouses (also known as nesting boxes). They provide shelter in winter and breeding sanctuaries during spring for cavity-nesting birds.

Feeding backyard songbirds is a popular wildlife-related home activity. It’s stress-free and brings a welcome flash of color, dash of motion and splash of sound into the back yard throughout the year.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Feb. 15: 
Lincoln’s greatest speech

By Diane Sawatzki

"When Lincoln gave his second inaugural address in March of 1865," the Rev. John Snyder said at the Feb. 15 Historical Society meeting, "he was already standing in the shadow of death, for he would die 41 days later. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth, is visible in a photo of the audience. While not an abolitionist, for which he was criticized by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lincoln strove to unify the country in the wake of his ‘Emancipation Proclamation.’

"In what’s considered his greatest speech, he reminded his audience why they’d entered the war—insurgents were dividing the Union—and stated, ‘Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained.’ (Which sounds oddly familiar today.) The president was not an orthodox church member, ridiculed hell-fire and damnation sermons, yet studied the Bible and noted the irony that both sides ‘pray to the same God and each invokes His aid against the other.’ He finished by exhorting his constituents: ‘Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away… let us strive on to… achieve a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.’

"His greatest speech lasted only six minutes, was received in profound silence, and received a mixed response. The Chicago Times called it slip-shod and puerile, but The London Spectator deemed it ‘the noblest political document known to history.’ At a White House reception afterward, his critic Frederick Douglass confided, ‘Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.’"

After the Rev. Snyder’s recitation and the ensuing discussion, Dee Kirby led us in a rousing sing-along of Civil War songs, including Battle Hymn of the Republic, Grafted into the Army, and Think of Your Head in the Morning.

The Palmer Lake Historical Society presents free programs and refreshments in the Town Hall the third Thursday of most months. The next meeting, at 7 p.m. March 15, is "Preservation for the Ages," the story of the Monument Tree Farm, by Brian Grossman and Chip Fleming, former Farm superintendent.

Membership in the society is $10 per year for individuals, $15 for families, and family membership comes with two commemorative mugs (plhist@aol.com or 559-0837). The society maintains the free Lucretia Vaile Museum in the basement of the Palmer Lake library across from the Town Hall. Winter hours are Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs/

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: 
The golden eagle

Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Winter can be a bleak time for Colorado bird-watchers. There are those birds that are frequent feeders that can be viewed from a window, but if you have the fortitude to leave your own warm nest, this is a good time to look for other year-round residents that might not come to a feeder.

The golden eagle is a permanent resident found across the mountainous regions of Colorado. It is named for the golden feathers on the back of its neck. My husband and I were driving the back roads of the Greenland Ranch recently when we spotted one ripping apart a skunk about 20 feet from the road. It had a commanding presence and looked to be more than 2 feet in height, weighing about 20 pounds, with a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet. We thought it may have been a female because like most raptors, females are slightly larger than males. We felt fortunate to get this close to a golden eagle because generally they avoid contact with humans.

The 59 species of eagles that are found on every continent except Antarctica are divided into four groupings: fish eagles, booted eagles, snake eagles and giant forest eagles. In America, there are only two eagles: the bald eagle, which is a fish eagle, and the golden eagle, which is a booted eagle. Booted eagles have feathers on their legs down to their toes, which appear like boots. Bald and golden eagles live and nest in Colorado and have often been observed on the Palmer Divide. Immature bald eagles are brown and can be confused with the golden eagle. Generally, bald eagles are found hunting fish and shore birds near water. The golden eagle, on the other hand, is an upland hunter of mammals, reptiles, snakes and birds, and is rarely seen near water.

The golden eagle is a strong flier and a fierce hunter. Even in a strong wind, its average flight speed is 30 mph. It hunts from a low altitude, swooping down on its prey and grabbing it on the ground from behind. A pair of golden eagles often will hunt together with one partner flying along the ground driving prey into the sharp talons of its partner. The talons are used for killing and carrying the prey while the curved beak is used for tearing flesh. The foot of a golden eagle is considered to be more powerful than the arm of a strong human. While it prefers to hunt for its food, this bird is opportunistic and will eat carrion, especially when food is scarce.

The golden eagle has been observed diving at speeds in excess of 200 mph, faster than the peregrine falcon. Unlike the peregrine, however, it does not dive to hunt its prey. Similar to the red-tailed hawk, the golden eagle soars high on warm thermal currents and abruptly falls into a rapid dive to attract a mate.

Golden eagles can live up to 30 years in the wild and mate for life. The pair builds many nests within its territory, which can vary as much as 100 square miles but is thought to be about 35 square miles in this area. Nests are usually built on steep crags but sometimes in trees. They are constructed with large branches, sticks, and twigs and lined with grasses and aromatic leaves to deter insects. The pair adds material to its nests every year, and older nests can weigh as much as 100 pounds and be 6 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep. The pair rotates between nests to defend its territory and avoid insect infestation.

Mating usually occurs in late winter, but the couple may not mate every year. In years when they do mate, the female will lay up to four eggs and incubate them for about 45 days while the male feeds its mate. When the chicks are hatched, they are covered with fluffy white down. The first chick hatched is usually the strongest and often will kill its weaker siblings. For about 50 days, the parents take turns hunting for food and bring an estimated 600 pounds of prey back to the nest to feed their young. Fortunately, eagles have excellent eyesight and can spot movement up to a mile away. At about 11 weeks, the chicks have developed strong wings and are ready to fledge the nest. The parents then teach the juveniles how to hunt. Rarely will more than one of the offspring fledge the nest, and there is only a 30 percent probability that it will reach maturity at age 4, at which time it will have established a territory and begun to look for a mate.

Many countries, including Mexico and Egypt, have adopted this noble bird as a national symbol. While sometimes used in falconry, the golden eagle’s temperament and size present unique challenges to falconers.

Since 1963, golden eagles have been protected by federal law from being hunted, and possession of a feather or body part is a felony with fines up to $10,000 or a penalty of 10 years in jail. Because these emblems are indigenous to Native American culture, they are the only ones who can legally have them in their possession. Readers occasionally ask me what to do if they find feathers or parts of protected birds, and I while I know it would be tempting to take them home, I encourage them to leave them where they find them and call or email the Colorado Department of Wildlife to report the find.

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Art Matters: 
Plein air painting

By Janet Sellers

This month will bring the first day of spring, and although here in Tri-Lakes we have our usual months of snowy weather ahead, we can get outdoors more and enjoy it on the sunny days that we do get. While we can’t get out and plant gardens, we surely can get out and paint outdoors.

The French expression en plein air (in the open air) is particularly used in regard to painting in the sunlight – the outdoors – instead of trying to paint landscapes indoors in a studio with light coming from a nearby window or artificial light. We often use the word alfresco in English for the same thing. Alfresco in Italian, however, means simply cool air; it also indicates "in jail." Let’s remember that on our next painting trip under the Tuscan sun. We’ll stay cool, stay out of jail, and just paint.

So what is the big deal about painting outdoors? The natural light affords an artist a most natural visual experience, and being outdoors provides an endless combination of light and images to put down on paper or canvas. Experienced art watchers, be they artist or art lover, can see the natural light as source in the colors and quick technique that is used for plein air painting.

Since the sunlight of day changes the shadows and view of the colors minute by minute, the artist must work at a fast pace, and nearly always must use a limited palette of colors to execute the art works en plein aire.

The painting style is often a lot looser than studio work, which means the lines and forms are more lyrical, more fluid and suggestive rather than tight and highly rendered. Content is prized over technique, and adept painterly ability is readily apparent in the work. The subject matter is up to the artist, and what is left out is as important as what is in the art work. The artists do work from observation and focus on what they are seeing at the time because the light and being outdoors are precious and fugitive. Studio painting lends itself to intellectualizing and fantasy; but when outdoors, artists seize the moment and the view.

Oddly enough, while painting outdoors, spectators love to interrupt and ask all sorts of questions, make all sorts of comments, and can be more or less disruptive to the artist’s concentration. I once had a professor who told me that her best defense was to wear mirrored sunglasses, as they appear intimidating without her having to make small talk when trying to concentrate on her work. Then again, a lot of art sales are made on the spot with the chatty observer having a story to tell with the painting on its way home. If you are one of those lucky ones to buy on the spot, let me warn you about something. Be careful not to get that oil paint on anything – the paintings take a year to dry properly before the final varnish! Watercolors are more travel-friendly. A rainy day’s walk home notwithstanding, they just need a mat and a frame, and voila! They are ready for their new home.

For all the artists eager to get out working in our iffy weather these days, I have some handy tips for you. Find a wonderful picture window from which to work out your sketch, and by all means use a camera to save the daylight on film. Slides are wonderful and make a great large area to work from even projected in the studio on the wall. These days it is hard to get slide film and development, but a close second is the new digital camera and computer hookups for monitors or projectors. It’s really difficult to do in the daytime with those, but darken the room a bit and you will be good to go.

I love to go to our Monument library and look out those grand windows. The Front Range and the pond with ducks and Canada geese are fun to look at. While many art supplies are very likely a no-no inside the library, surely you can bring a pencil and paper and sketch from indoors, or to your heart’s content out of doors there, too. Any of our local lakes and ponds are pretty as they reflect the blue sky, even if the trees and flowers aren’t peeking out of their winter shells yet. Palmer Lake reflects the pine-covered hills all around it, and we artists have been known to paint and sketch there even from the car, windows up or down, depending on the temperature.

In fact, we’ve been enjoying plein aire art sketching around town for years, and this year, some of us artists are meeting indoors at the Monument Library and other spots to talk about art history, sketching and painting.

I gave a free art class at the library in February. An hour of drawing and the history of art went by in a flash, so we’re going to make it a regular feature for the community again. The goal is to get people drawing, sketching, and in motion on art, meeting at a variety of places in our community. The class is open to all, so bring a clipboard and we’ll have the pencils and paper ready for you. The March class will have a short talk, walk, and demo on outdoor plein air techniques in watercolors. Then each participant will sketch out the scene and color it.

We expect to meet at least the first three Saturdays in March (March 3, 10, 17), 2-3 or 2-4 p.m. for those who wish to continue to sketch or just be outdoors. Bring your art-loving friends, and your own coffee or tea. This time we really will bring the biscotti! Details for where requires sign-up ahead. Contact me at 488-8280 or janet.sellers@mac.com. See you there!

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da Vinci students to perform at the Kennedy Center

By Jackie Colburn

Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs’ students, staff and parents from da Vinci Academy are preparing for performances in Washington, D.C., later this month. The school was awarded "The Kennedy Center 2006 Creative Ticket National Schools of Distinction Award" for achievements in learning curriculum through the arts, standardized test scores and community involvement.

Students and staff representatives will accept the award on behalf of the entire staff and student body at The Kennedy Center performance.

Thirty-six performers will sing, dance, and perform on various musical instruments as they represent the school’s 590 students. A team of 13 staff and adult leaders will begin the performance with a tribute to Mozart and a section on "Magic Flute." The performance will include modern dance and strings.

School Principal Pat Iagulli will conduct a performance at the World War II Memorial, titled "A Tribute to American Heroes."

The school’s methods of learning differ from conventional teaching as standard curriculum is taught through creative integration of the arts into all facets of instruction.

"In 2005-2006, this school was rated ‘High’ by the Colorado Department of Education for the elementary school level," according to the school’s Web site.

The school’s Rhonda Kimble notes a current trend to cut arts classes in order to beef up academics but hopes this award will help other schools recognize that a school can succeed with arts and academics.

Parents and staff are financing travel costs, lodging, transportation, and meals. An additional $20,000 is needed to cover expenses such as costumes, sets, equipment rental, and a T-shirt for every student attending da Vinci Academy.

The school is accepting donations to cover the additional operational costs. Corporations may have the company name and logo on the program and T-shirt if they donate monetarily to the school. The school will provide a charitable contribution letter for tax purposes.

Contact Julie Skalla, the school’s corporate sponsor coordinator, at 484-1040, for information.

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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.

Below: Major sponsors Brett Wheeler and Sheila Christy with Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Artistic Director Dr. Michael Baron, after his solo concert on Feb. 10. Baron performed a diverse program of classics and modern pieces for the delighted crowd. Baron will team with his duo partner of over 25 years, Renato Premezzi for the Alliance’s last concert of the season on Apr. 14 at 7 p.m. at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road, one mile east of 1-25 Exit 156. Info: 484-0192 or TheRMMA@aol.com Photo by Jim Kendrick

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club accepting grant applications

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is accepting applications for grants up to $10,000 until March 15. Qualified organizations that provide services to residents within Lewis-Palmer School District 38 boundaries are encouraged to apply.

Qualified organizations are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, public service agencies and organizations, and public schools. Grant applications and instructions are available at www.tlwc.net , or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

The TLWC sponsors Wine & Roses, a wine-tasting event in October, as well as the annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale in April. Proceeds from these fund-raisers benefit the Tri-Lakes community through this grant process. Last year, more than $30,000 was granted to nonprofit organizations, schools, and public service organizations. In the past 30 years, $470,000 has been awarded to benefit residents within the boundaries of School District 38.

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Flying Colors

This free homework help program is offered to Tri-Lakes students in grades three through eight for assistance with reading, writing, math, science, and social studies and to students in grades nine and 10 for math assistance. Flying Colors meets 6:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays, through April 30 at Monument Community Presbyterian Church. For information call 481-3902 or 488-8928, or visit www.mcpcusa.org.

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AARP Mature Safe Driving Program at Monument Library

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agents for a discount. Cost for the eight-hour course is $10. Class size is limited and registration is required. The course will be Thursday and Friday, March 22 and 23 from 1 - 5 p.m. at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive. Bring a lunch. To register, call 488-2370.

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How the adolescent brain works

The public is invited to attend a presentation by Dr. Keith Jacobus about the adolescent brain, with practical ideas on how to help adolescents maximize learning and studying. The lecture will be March 21, 7-8 p.m., at the District 38 Learning Center, 146 Jefferson Street., Monument. For more information, call 785-4223.

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Adult Literacy tutors needed

Help adults improve their basic skills in reading, writing and/or English language skills. Tutors work individually with an adult learner at various library locations two to four hours weekly for a minimum of six months. Meeting times and location are flexible. Free 18-hour training is held 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays, March 8, 15, 22, 29, and April 5 at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs. Participants must attend all sessions to become tutors. LitSource Volunteer applications are available at all libraries and at ppld.org, under "Jobs and Volunteers Positions." Return the completed application to the LitSource Office, Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs. Call Sherrill Wyeth, 531-6333, ext. 2223 or ext. 2224 for more information.

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Volunteer and spread the gift of reading

Join Children’s Literacy Center to provide individual tutoring to children reading below grade level at no cost to families. Tutors are trained in the Peak Reader curriculum and matched with one child for 12 weeks. This is a great opportunity for high school students (minimum age is 14) or senior citizens to make a difference in someone’s life. For more information, call Pamela Polke, 471-8672, or e-mail Pamela@peakreader.org.

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Creekside Middle School’s Carrabba’s Night and Silent Auction in April

Creekside Middle School will feature its annual Carrabba’s Night and Silent Auction April 11. Everyone in the community is welcome to attend. There is a charge to attend the dinner. Watch for details next month.

For local businesses that would like to donate a gift certificate or product for the silent auction, this is a wonderful way to help the school as well as advertise your business. For information on both events, please contact Amy Fournier at 231-1350 or by e-mail at amy.fournier@gmail.com.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale in April

Mark your calendars for the popular Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale, April 21-22 at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument. The show will feature 60 antiques dealers from several states. From noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, on-site appraisers will provide verbal appraisals for $5 per item. The Country Café will serve breakfast and lunch items including the ever-popular steak soup, and the Bake Sale will offer delectable desserts.

This is the major annual fund-raising event for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club. Proceeds benefit local nonprofit groups. During the past 30 years, more than $470,000 has been awarded to District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations that provide services to residents within the community. For more information, visit the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Web site at www.tlwc.net.

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The Library Channel

Tune into The Library Channel (Comcast 17) for live simulcasts of programs, videotaped presentations, or a schedule of Library events. The Library Channel broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Programs include story times for children, an adult literacy program, El Paso County Commissioners meetings, and much more. A community bulletin board of library events is shown between and after programs. Find the schedule online by going to ppld.org, and then click on the link "Happenings @ Your Library." From there, click on the "Comcast 17" link to search the schedule.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Senior Alliance, have developed a new Senior Safety Program. The free service includes installing and maintaining smoke detectors, a fire department evaluation of seniors’ homes to identify and correct safety hazards and address seniors’ safety needs, and Vial of Life for in-home storage of medical information in case of emergency. For information, call Lisa Frasca, 488-3304, or e-mail lfrasca@tri-lakesfire.com.

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