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Vol. 8 No. 3 - March 1, 2008


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the PDF file. This is a 12.4 Mbyte file and will take about 75 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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Valentines for Vets

Below: February 9 at the Monument Library, Mary Fox is ready to help her daughter Ally as she works on a Valentines card to be sent to our troops overseas. To her left, Mariah Mayhugh and Cody Hamilton concentrate on their creative efforts. For additional information on the event and other library events during February and March see article below. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Water districts suffering from sticker shock

By John Heiser

What do $15 million, $18 million, $48 million, and $339 million have in common? They are all estimated price tags for some of the water projects being considered by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA).

At the February 8 meeting of the PPRWA, Boyle Engineering presented a preliminary report on their engineering study for the project proposed to transport up to 50,000 acre-feet of water per year north to the Tri-Lakes area from fallowed fields on farms along the lower Arkansas River. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Boyle estimates the cost at $339 million including treatment and transmission costs to three points in the local area but excluding the cost for the water rights and storage and treatment of the water once it arrives in the Tri-Lakes area. The final report is due in April.

The PPRWA’s recently completed Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) report, as summarized below, recommends implementation of an indirect potable reuse (IPR) system for treating and recycling effluent from the wastewater treatment plants for use in local drinking water systems. The estimated cost is $48 million.

The WIPS study also recommends construction of local water storage at a cost of $18 million and construction of a backbone pipeline to move water among the local water districts at a cost of $15 million to $21 million.

The members of the authority as of January 1:

  • Cherokee Metropolitan District
  • City of Fountain
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District
  • Town of Monument
  • Town of Palmer Lake
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District

The members are now wrestling with how to pay for these projects.

WIPS summary

Copies of the final WIPS report have been distributed to the members and can be purchased for $100 from the PPRWA. An electronic copy is to be posted on the PPRWA Web site but, as of press time, had not yet been posted. Highlights of the WIPS report:

  • The WIPS participants were the Academy Water and Sanitation District, the Donala district, Monument, Palmer Lake, the Triview district, and the Woodmoor district.
  • The study assumed that a renewable water supply would be available locally by 2020 so the existing and interim water supplies would need to meet projected demand until at least that time.
  • Current demand by the WIPS participants is approximately 4,200 acre-feet per year. By 2020, the projected demand is approximately 7,500 acre-feet per year. At full build-out, the anticipated demand would be approximately 8,200 acre-feet per year.
  • Without substantial improvements in conservation and efficiency, the modeling shows a projected shortfall by 2020 of about 2,100 acre-feet per year.
  • Currently, approximately 65 percent of the WIPS participants’ water comes from wells in the Arapahoe aquifer. The remainder comes from the Dawson aquifer, the Denver aquifer, and from reuse of water from the wastewater treatment plants. Continued declines in the water levels in the Arapahoe aquifer will reduce well yields and affect peak well pumping capacity.
  • Based on the projected increase in demand, the study predicts a shortfall in Arapahoe aquifer productions of up to 572 acre-feet per year in 2012 and a shortfall of 907 to 2,107 acre-feet per year in 2020.
  • Interim ways to address the anticipated shortages include optimization of the use of the existing wells to reduce interaction between adjacent wells, construction of a satellite well field, and implementation of IPR.
  • The cost for construction of a satellite well field in Douglas County that could produce 2,000 acre-feet per year was estimated at $35 million ($17,580 per acre-foot). The cost for a satellite well field in El Paso County is estimated at about $22 million ($11,000 per acre-foot). The annual operation and maintenance cost was estimated to be $640 per acre-foot.
  • The report estimates that IPR can yield 2,802 to 3,027 acre-feet per year at an approximate construction cost of $48 million ($15,874 per acre-foot) and an approximate annual operation and maintenance cost of $375 per acre-foot.
  • The report notes that a satellite well field uses non-renewable water while IPR can help stretch non-renewable water supplies in the interim and then more efficiently use water from renewable sources when that becomes available.
  • The study also considered locations and sizes for a local reservoir. It noted that implementing IPR would reduce the local storage requirement from about 6,100 acre-feet to about 3,800 acre-feet. Of the seven reservoir sites considered, the estimated costs ranged from $18 million to $30 million depending on the size and location. The cost per acre-foot ranges from $2,400 to $10,100 with an average of about $4,800. Due to the time needed for planning, design, land acquisition, permitting, and construction, the study recommended that work on the reservoir begin during 2008.
  • The study recommended that a large capacity backbone water line is needed to interconnect the local water providers and distribute water whether from renewable or non-renewable sources. The recommended alignment essentially follows the I-25 corridor. Depending on the final alignment of the pipeline, the construction cost was estimated at $15 million to $21 million.

Recommendations from the report:

  • All water providers should immediately implement conservation programs to reduce overall demand.
  • Each water provider should look at ways to optimize their use of existing wells. Each provider should coordinate well operations with surrounding providers.
  • Start implementation of a backbone pipeline to interconnect the local water providers.
  • Start implementation of an IPR system. In the event an IPR system proves to be impractical, pursue construction of a satellite well field.
  • Start implementation of a local reservoir.
  • Aggressively pursue sources of renewable water.
  • Conduct a follow-on study (WIPS II) to refine the design of the backbone pipeline; work with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to refine the IPR system design; refine the evaluation of potential reservoir sites; evaluate cost and yield for additional development of the Dawson, Denver, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers; evaluate the cost and yield of potential satellite well field locations; and identify further efficiencies that could be achieved by coordination of the local providers.

Expenditures during 2007 for the WIPS study totaled $225,313. Additional invoices through the end of January totaled $23,633.

Follow-on water supply/demand study proposed

Jon Ford, groundwater hydrologist and vice president of Leonard Rice Engineers, presented a proposal to refine the WIPS projections of local supply and demand though 2025 based on:

  • Using water from the Dawson, Denver, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers in addition to the Arapahoe aquifer.
  • Additional surface water supplies available through exchanges on Monument Creek.
  • Applying a 12 percent demand reduction due to conservation by customers.
  • Revising the demand projections based on the recent decrease in development in the Tri-Lakes area.
  • Strategic placement of 6 additional Arapahoe aquifer wells within the Tri-Lakes area.

Ford expressed concern that the yields from wells in the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer are usually low, perhaps 50 gallons per minute; pumping costs are high; and there are quality issues with the water. He added he would not have much confidence in the analysis until additional local Laramie-Fox Hills wells have been drilled.

Ford noted that wells in the Dawson and Denver aquifers need to be carefully located to minimize impact on adjacent homeowners’ domestic wells.

The authority members agreed to supply Ford with growth projections for use in the analysis.

Ford estimated that the study would cost less than $50,000. Since some of the member districts’ shares exceed the representatives’ expenditure authority, a decision on starting the study was postponed to a special meeting March 10 so the representatives could consult with their boards.

Lower Arkansas agricultural water project update

The authority’s attorney Rick Fendel reported that discussions are being held regarding the corporate structure for the "Super Ditch" company to administer the export of water from the lower Arkansas River basin.

He noted that initially, "A lot of people objected to the export of water" and added that some of the related entities have restrictive provisions in their articles and bylaws. He said, "It sounds like we have that worked out."

Conservation plan update

Rocky Wiley of Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor (RTW) Engineering, asked each district for a letter supporting the conservation plan. All but Cherokee agreed to supply a letter. Cherokee has been pursuing approval of their own conservation plan. Several members noted that the staff of the Colorado Water Conservation Board has been unresponsive.

**********

A special meeting of the PPRWA will be held March 10, 1 p.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street in Monument.

The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held March 19 at 8:30 a.m. at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office, 6250 Palmer Park Blvd. in Colorado Springs. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Most of the meetings will be held at Monument Town Hall; however, the meetings on March 19 and October 15 will be held at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office and the meeting June 18 will held at the City of Fountain office, 116 S. Main in Fountain.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, February 6: Colorado House bill could kill merger plans

By Susan Hindman

A bill pending in the state Legislature could derail plans for Academy Water and Sanitation District’s merger with Donala Water and Sanitation District, according to Academy’s attorney, Paul Murphy. The bill, which he learned about only recently, says that special districts cannot service anyone new outside their boundaries. In this case, Donala, which operates as a special district, would not be allowed to service Academy’s residents because Academy would not be considered part of Donala by the time the bill became law. (See update below.)

If passed, the bill would go into effect in August. The consolidation wouldn’t be effective until Jan. 1, 2009, at which time Donala would begin providing water and sanitation service to Academy’s residents. But the consolidation, as it’s set up now, would not be completed until Academy’s bond debt is paid off in 2014; Academy must remain a legal entity until then.

If the bill passes, Murphy said, "It would effectively kill this deal…. They (Donala) couldn’t service us."

Any attempt to merge sooner than Jan. 1 is complicated by the mill levy payoff date. President Richard DuPont noted that the district will have around $300,000 in reserves at the end of the year, at the time of the proposed merger. He is waiting to hear from the bank that issued the bond as to whether that money could be used to pay down the bond early. If it can’t be paid off early, then a moved-up merger date would have Academy’s residents assuming Donala’s mill levy on top of its own, which board members don’t consider an option.

Another component to House Bill 08-1259 is it "requires a special district that currently provides services outside its territory to file a petition within a specified time to modify its service plan in order to provide services only within its territory." Murphy said this would impact those who presently live outside the Academy district but are being serviced by the district.

Overall, the measure would affect many special districts around the state as well as residents who are serviced by a district but aren’t officially part of that district. Operator Jerry Jacobson commented, "That kind of flies in the face of the state’s desire to do away with all these little wastewater plants."

Murphy said that the bill "is worrisome," and he urged the board to contact legislators to voice their opposition. Organized efforts against the bill are still in the early stages. The bill will be voted on no later than the first week of May — or it could get killed or passed earlier than that, he said.

[Update: On Feb. 18, Evan Goulding of the Special District Association of Colorado sent out an e-mail notice to special districts saying that it appeared the bill’s sponsor has agreed to remove the restrictions on operations outside of district boundaries. However, at OCN deadline, no official action had been taken to revise the wording of the proposed bill.]

Other merger updates

DuPont said that following a recent meeting with Donala, the board received a letter from that district covering the issues that had been brought up and the actions that need to be taken. Donala reviewed Academy’s budget and "marked off those things that they can absorb … and left those things that we would be responsible for," he said.

DuPont said that Donala doesn’t want to pay for all of the water rights in the Denver Basin — which includes water in the Denver, Dawson, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers –– under the Academy district. Donala is only interested in paying for that portion of the Arapahoe water that Donala will not have to use to supply Academy’s customers and will be available to supply Donala’s customers. So out of the $558,000 worth of water that the water consultant says Academy owns, Donala has offered to pay $79,272 — roughly $1,200 per acre-foot — for the limited amount.

There was a suggestion that the remaining water rights be sold. Murphy said there are markets for buying water rights, so Academy might "let it be known" that this water is available.

"There’s at least some possibility that those water rights may have a value to someone else other than Donala because they may use it for a different purpose, such as augmentation," Murphy said. "That’s something to find out."

Another bill complicates things

Murphy also brought up another bill pending in the House that would make it harder for Academy (and other private and government entities) to collect overdue payments. He said that Rep. Doug Bruce had introduced HB08-1277, which would eliminate the option of tacking those fees onto property tax bills collected by the county treasurer’s office.

While Academy has not exercised this option in the past, it is currently struggling with getting payment of delinquent bills from three households that are in foreclosure or bankruptcy. Eliminating this option for collection creates an additional headache for entities that are owed money, Murphy said.

[Update: On Feb. 19, the House Committee on Finance recommended that this proposed bill be postponed indefinitely. The motion passed 7-4.]

Water and wastewater report

Jacobson said the district used 2,168,700 gallons of water in January, an average of 67,771 gallons per day. He attributed the January water distribution system loss –– the difference between the total water produced and the total amount registered on all the customers’ bills –– primarily to testing of one replacement hydrant and to problems with three houses that had frozen pipes.

He said the wastewater test results for CBOD (the oxygen demand for the effluent) were not in compliance for the 30-day average. "We had the same conditions last winter," he said.

Because of the cold weather, Jacobson said he has been continuously running the blowers that aerate the wastewater lagoons and will continue to do so "until it warms up to the point where I’m confident they (the blowers) won’t freeze up." However, by aerating continuously, the wastewater is constantly mixing and the waste isn’t able to settle to the bottom of the lagoon as required , "so that can impact the numbers," he said.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is March 5.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, February 20: District takes positions on pending state legislation

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting February 20, the board unanimously voted to take positions on three pending bills in the state legislature.

HB08-1141

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported that State Representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, has introduced House Bill 1141 requiring developers to identify a sustainable water supply prior to getting approval for their developments. Duthie noted that El Paso County Commissioner for the Tri-Lakes area, Wayne Williams, and the county attorney’s office are actively opposing the bill. Regarding the bill, Duthie said, "It just makes sense. We need a state policy on water and growth." Despite some concerns by board members about how the bill would be implemented, the board unanimously voted to support in principle HB08-1141. As of press time, the bill had been passed with amendments by the local government committee and referred to the appropriations committee.

HB08-1259

This bill would prevent special districts from providing services outside their territorial boundaries. It would also require additional financial reporting and that special district elections be held on the same date as general or coordinated elections. Duthie said the bill was proposed to block a particular development in Aurora and is "bad law." The board unanimously voted to oppose HB08-1259. As of press time, the bill had been assigned to the local government committee, a hearing scheduled for Feb. 19 has been postponed, and changes to the bill are being negotiated.

SB08-119

This bill, proposed by the son of former governor Roy Romer, would authorize the use of cisterns to collect rainwater from up to 3,000 square feet of roof on a single-family primary residence. The water could be used for ordinary household purposes, fire protection, watering of livestock, and irrigation of up to one acre of gardens and lawns. Duthie noted that water rights attorneys and others are opposing the bill because it could be viewed as impacting downstream water rights holders. Duthie said it would increase water storage in the state and, "It’s about water conservation." The board unanimously voted to support SB08-119. As of press time, the bill had been passed with amendments by the senate committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy and passed on the first and second reading by the full senate. The vote on the third reading was pending. It had not yet been introduced in the house.

"Hot" wells

Water from the new Well 14A in the Fox Run Regional Park is testing higher than prior wells for radiation from radon and other natural sources. Duthie said the radiation level is being monitored to see if implementation of additional treatment will be required. He added, "This could become a factor in other wells."

Duthie noted that water from a well drilled into the Arapahoe aquifer by the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District is too radioactive to use.

Events during 2007

Duthie distributed a summary of events during 2007. Some highlights:

  • There were 36 homes or townhomes built in Gleneagle, Struthers Ranch, and Paradise Villas. One house is under construction. The Paradise Villas complex has 7 complete and occupied and one under construction. Keller Homes completed Struthers’ Ranch Filing I and John Laing Homes completed Struthers’ Ranch Filing II and III.
  • Wastewater plant expansion and replacement is continuing. During the year, $2.8 million was spent on Weaver Construction, $251,147 was spent on GMS Engineering, and $20,155 was spent on other related costs.
  • The water line work under Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road was completed at a cost of $123,720 for the contractor and $4,670 for engineering. The Triview Metropolitan District reimbursed Donala $47,633 under a cost-sharing agreement.
  • Well 14A in Fox Run Regional Park was drilled at a cost of $472,922 and equipped at a cost of $230,779. The cost for the pipeline to deliver the water to the treatment plant on Holbein Drive was $854,906 for the contractor and $69,962 for engineering.
  • The water main in Struthers Road that connects with the Triview district at Baptist Road was completed at a cost of $140,024.
  • The Badger meter and Orion transponder retrofit costs during 2007 were $349,319. There are 132 meters remaining to be converted.

Other matters

  • During the three months from November 1 through January 31, the district’s $5.7 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 4.83 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus yield, which yielded 4.66 percent during the same period. The average maturity of the district’s investments is 254 days.
  • The district has received applications from four candidates for the two board positions up for election in May. The two positions are currently held by board president Ed Houle, who is term-limited, and Dale Schendzielos. As of press time, the declared candidates are Bill George, Warren Gerig, Gene Pfeffer, and Dale Schendzielos.
  • Duthie distributed copies of a presentation summarizing the results of the Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) report funded by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). Duthie noted that the report should be revised to reflect increased conservation and current growth rate projections, which are less than when the WIPS study was started. Duthie also reported on the PPRWA retreat Feb. 8 and meeting Feb. 20. For more information, see the PPRWA article.
  • Due to operational errors at the wastewater treatment plant, high chlorine levels killed the de-nitrification bacteria and the corrective actions may not bring the ammonia levels within limits before the end of the month. Although the problem must be reported to the state, Duthie said fines are typically not imposed unless the problem persists.
  • Triview has requested further details explaining the cost overruns totaling about $4 million on the wastewater treatment plant expansion project.

Following the public meeting, the board went into an executive session to discuss personnel, negotiations, and water purchase issues.

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Wed., March 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org. Colorado state bill text, history, and status can be found at www.statebillinfo.com

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Monument Sanitation District Board, February 21: Willow Springs Ranch development included

By Jim Kendrick

The application for inclusion by the Willow Springs Ranch development landowner, MHW LLC, was unanimously approved during a public hearing by the Monument Sanitation District board on Feb. 21. This inclusion will increase the number of properties serviced by the district from about 1,000 active taps to over 1,400.

Many of the homes will have to be served by a lift station due to the steeply sloped topography of the southern filing, regardless of which special district provides wastewater service.

Monument Sanitation District has the excess wastewater treatment capacity to serve the new development immediately and no bond debt, which would require the imposition of property taxes on each lot. Forest Lakes Metropolitan District is also adjacent to the development and has up to 70 acre-feet per year of excess water rights that it can sell to the Willow Springs Ranch developer, but no excess wastewater capacity to offer.

District manager Mike Wicklund also informed the board that about 2,000 feet of vitrified clay collection lines in downtown Monument are being relined with Insituform cured-in-place lining that seals deteriorating joints, reduces groundwater and tree root infiltration, and reduces total treatment costs at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment facility. This material is similar to PVC pipes and extends the life of the clay pipes approximately 100 years.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

**********

The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Mar. 20 at the district conference room, 130 Second Street. Meetings are normally held the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Triview Metropolitan District Board meeting, February 26: Difficult financial choices discussed

Below: The Monument Board of Trustees, Town Staff, and Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met in a joint workshop on Feb. 26 immediately after adjournment of the regular Triview board meeting. Both boards agreed to work more closely and meet every other month at Town Hall following the regular Triview board meeting. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

At the Feb. 26 board meeting, acting district manager Ron Simpson briefed the board of the Triview Metropolitan District on some financial challenges that have to be faced in the coming months. Due to the slowdown in development, Triview is not receiving tap fees for new construction and cannot build the roads and other infrastructure required by its service plan for Vision Development’s Copper Heights and Copper Terrace developments. The modular building Triview rents for its office space is for sale and the lease will be terminated within 30 days of acceptance of a purchase contract. Proposals by the district’s attorney Pete Susemihl to temporarily eliminate or dramatically reduce recently approved impact fees to stimulate new growth were discussed, but not approved by the board.

Following the conclusion of the regular monthly meeting, the board then met with the Board of Trustees in Town Hall for a joint workshop. Mayor Byron Glenn proposed that the town’s Public Works Department take over all aspects of the district’s daily operations and maintenance. Glenn said that the savings from eliminating district salaries and professional consultant fees could be pledged to paying off recently increased district debt. Triview took out a second $2 million Colorado Water and Power Administration (CWPA) loan in December to pay half of the cost overruns in the expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. The board added 10 mills to the district’s 2008 property tax to pay for this latest loan.

Public Works employees already operate and maintain the Triview water and wastewater systems on a contract basis. Glenn proposed that town administrative staff take over the daily office functions of the district and that town consultants replace the district’s consultants. The district would not be dissolved however. The Triview board would still perform its fiscal responsibilities for budgets, appropriations, and paying off the roughly $50 million in district debt.

Triview board meeting

Jackson Creek resident Robert Fisher was sworn in to fill the vacant director seat on the board by the district’s attorney, Pete Susemihl. Fisher’s appointment will last until the April special district election.

Administrator’s report: District Administrator Dale Hill reported that the end of year financial report may be different than the audit as some sales and property tax from 2007 continue to be received. The board unanimously approved renewal of the engagement letter submitted by the district’s auditor, Tom Sistare of Hoelting and Co. Inc. His fees did not increase for the 2007 audit.

Hill noted the high costs for several street repairs during the past month. Director Joe Martin said. "Our roads are looking pretty sad." Fisher showed pictures of damage to the sidewalks and gutters in front of his house and asked if the district’s snow plowing contractor could be asked to reimburse the cost of repairs. Hill said Fisher would have to be able to prove the damage was caused by the plow, as opposed to the heavy weight of a garbage truck for example, to make a valid claim.

Director Julie Glenn inquired about the monthly $609 lease payment for a Ford Explorer. Hill said an Explorer was originally leased for use by former district manager Larry Bishop in June. The Explorer was subsequently exchanged for a Ford Fusion with a new four-year lease. Although the Ford dealer would only give $7,000 for the trade-in of the Explorer for the Fusion, the remaining cost to terminate the lease was $23,000. Hill said the district has no funds available to buy out the remainder of the lease by paying the difference on the amount owed and what it could get from a private sale. The district has no choice but to continue making monthly payments since money was appropriated to make all of the 2008 lease payment in the current budget. She added that the lease payments for the district’s pickup truck are much lower.

Susemihl suggested that since the lease has a clause that makes continued payments contingent on new appropriations each year, the board should not appropriate any money for 2009 lease payments and terminate the lease on Dec. 31 rather than paying for another three years.

Manager’s report: Acting District Manager Ron Simpson gave a lengthy wide-ranging report:

House Bill 1141 may require developers to show that available water resources in a development will last indefinitely instead of a limited amount of time.

He recommended that the board approve payment of $25,000 for 2008 annual dues for membership in the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. He said that the district does not have $17,000 to pay its share for a second authority water infrastructure planning study; Triview’s share for the first study was about $5,900. Susemihl agreed saying the member districts should get away from costly studies covering the next 20 years and instead determine what their immediate and long-term financial resources are and then make more realistic plans on how to obtain additional water rights and the infrastructure needed to transport the water to each member district. After further lengthy discussion the board unanimously approved the $25,000 dues payment.

Simpson reported that Rick Blevins Vision Development’s director for Jackson Creek had requested $893,918 for infrastructure improvements for the town-approved Copper Heights development at the north end of Leather Chaps Drive. Triview is a developer district and its service plan requires it to provide all infrastructure for any approved development. Simpson noted that the district has no funds for this infrastructure. Blevins said that if Triview cannot perform its service plan obligations, that Vision Development "is done" in Jackson Creek.

The board discussed possible options to repay Vision Development if it installed its own road, utilities, parks, trails, and the like, after noting that Triview has no cash to start partial periodic reimbursement. The district has maximized the amount of debt it can incur and has no financial means to support this kind of repayment proposal at this time. Susemihl said, "If there is to be reimbursement, it can’t be debt." Blevins suggested increasing the density of Copper Heights and building cheaper houses to start generating some tap fees for Triview during the current housing recession. He also suggested that Triview defer construction of playgrounds, parks, and trails in the development.

There was a lengthy discussion on reducing or eliminating the recently approved increases in the impact fee schedule that were deemed necessary to provide enough cash to pay for future infrastructure. Simpson said that the impact fees are nearly as high as construction costs per square foot for commercial properties. Blevins noted that Brakes Plus had cancelled its contract with Vision Development for its Monument Marketplace store once it determined how high Triview’s impact fees are. Blevins added that other companies have also begun to look elsewhere due to excessive fees.

Susemihl suggested suspending the impact fees because there had been no building permits, no impact fees, no tap fees, and no revenue from growth in 2008. In the short run it is better for Triview to generate a steady stream of long-term property taxes than try to get too large an amount of impact fees. He added that when the district is built out there will be plenty of sales and property tax to pay off the bond debt.

Simpson also reported that the district may lose its lease if the building is sold by the owner with 30 days notice once a contract is accepted. Simpson noted that the district could not afford to buy the property. There was no discussion of alternative office options.

Simpson gave a lengthy review of why Triview had to take out a second subsidized state loan to maintain its ownership of new wastewater plant capacity. Commercial property taxes are four times higher than residential taxes and a mill levy generates more revenue more reliably than sales taxes and wastewater fees.

The board members each explained why they had voted for a 10 mill increase instead of a $120/month sewer fee, noting the lower costs for each homeowner and the tax deductibility of the extra taxes. They all reiterated that the board had to choose between these two options that were mandated by CWPA as a condition of the second $2 million loan, which has a 3.64 percent interest rate due to a federal subsidy. Commercial loans would have a much higher interest rate, which makes it worthwhile to follow the CWPA mandate to raise the mill levy.

Simpson noted that had Triview not opted to pay for half the cost overrun, it would have lost the opportunity to own much of the planned future expansion of the wastewater facility’s capacity. Donala would have paid for all the extra capacity in the current expansion and Triview would have had to pay "out of district rates" to use Donala’s excess capacity. These rates for using another district’s treatment capacity are typically 50 percent higher than the owning district’s direct costs. Triview cannot afford to raise its sewer rates 50 percent because there still might not be enough revenue to pay off the first $2 million CWPA loan and these rates would limit or end growth in the district.

After more discussion the board adjourned at 6:20 p.m. to go to Town Hall for the 6:30 joint workshop.

Joint workshop discussion

At the workshop during Glenn’s opening remarks, he offered a proposal for the town staff to take over all operations except those of the board. Glenn suggested that the saving of hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and consultant fees may be enough to convince CWPA to eliminate the 10 mill property tax increase or cut it in half. The town staff already performs water and wastewater operations and maintenance for Triview’s facilities.

He also said that there was a lot of "anger" over the tax increase when people stand in their front yards and see their streets and curbs deteriorating even though they are nearly new. He said that Jackson Creek Parkway is only three years old and needs to be rehabilitated already. He added that the town may sue the contractor for the cost of replacing the defective installation.

Glenn also suggested an extensive campaign by board members and staff to educate Triview residents on the problems the district and town has to solve with infrastructure repairs and debt payments. Triview is a large part of Monument and the town will take over all of Triview’s functions when Triview debt has been paid off, so it’s reasonable for the staff to start the process now.

Glenn said that there needs to be additional rooftops to draw in more commercial development which will raise tax revenue to pay off the debt. He also suggested that Triview’s service plan needs to be amended because it has no funds to build or repair the roads in Vision’s developments.

Triview President Bob Eskridge suggested formation of a working group consisting of Town Manager Cathy Green, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara, Treasurer Pamela Smith, Public Works Director Rich Landreth, Simpson, and Hill to discuss all the financing, operations, maintenance, and public relations issue that Glenn’s proposal may raise.

Each board member and staff member in attendance pledged support to find cost effective solutions to Triview’s current financial crisis. West side trustee Tommie Plank said the solution should not be at the expense of west side taxpayers who are not part of Triview.

Jackson Creek resident Steve Meyer noted the wave of tax, rate, and fee increases proposed or imposed by Triview recently and endorsed Glenn’s call to communicate with the residents.

Green asked if Triview could ask a judge to declare bankruptcy. Attorney Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw and Harring PLC said that it was an option but there would be a higher mill rate even if some debt was eliminated. Town Attorney Gary Shupp was more cautious about the option than Hunsaker. Susemihl said the district is not bankrupt and asked that Green’s group come up with options for reducing costs for developers and residents. He said the attorneys could find a way to make the selected option work.

After further discussion the two boards agreed to formation of the joint study group of staff members. There will be no attorney participation in the group for now. The boards agreed to another joint workshop meeting after the April Triview meeting. The workshop adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, February 4: Willow Springs Ranch annexation and rezoning approved; sketch plan tabled

Web site exclusive: View or download drawings of the Willow Springs project.

Below: Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara and Principal Planner Karen Griffith discuss annexation, rezoning, and planned development sketch plan proposals at the Feb. 4 Board of Trustees meeting for the 259-acre Willow Springs Ranch development on the west end of Baptist Road. The board approved the annexation and rezoning with a 5-2 vote. The sketch plan was continued, however, due to concerns about the complexity and cost of extending Mitchell Avenue southward to connect to Forest Lakes Drive through a county resident’s 30-acre property. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 4, the Monument Board of Trustees approved the serial annexation of two filings in the 259-acre Willow Springs Ranch development just west of the railroad tracks, between the Synthes plant and the west end of Baptist Road. No annexation agreement was provided to the board for review or approval prior to this vote.

Although the board also approved town Planned Development zoning for the parcel after annexing it, the applicants’ request for a maximum density of 450 houses in the Sketch PD Plan was tabled due to the developer not having secured an adequate water supply. The available groundwater on the parcel is about 70 acre-feet less than the annual minimum supply requirement for 450 houses. While a "handshake agreement" had been made to purchase the additional water rights from Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, no contract had been signed.

The Planning Commission narrowly approved the three requests by a 4-2 vote on Jan. 9. Commissioners Patricia Mettler and Glenda Smith voted against all three requests, due to existing traffic congestion problems on Mitchell Avenue at the Second Street railroad crossing and the concerns of adjacent property owners. There was also concern that the land would be initially stripped of vegetation and then not developed as has occurred in the Villages at Woodmoor, Monument Ridge, and Promontory Pointe developments over the past several years.

All board members were present for this meeting.

Baptist Road interchange logjam broken

During initial trustee comments, Mayor Byron Glenn announced that a schedule for advertising, bidding, and actual construction for the Baptist Road I-25 intersection expansion would be set at a Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting to be held on Feb. 8. The BRRTA board has obtained enough right-of-way on the west side of I-25 to begin construction on that part of the project.

Note: THF Realty, Inc., the new owner of the former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store property on the northeast corner of the interchange, continues to refuse to provide BRRTA with needed right-of-way to construct the additional westbound lanes and new dual lane northbound on-ramps. BRRTA may have to condemn the required THF Realty land prior to construction on the east side of I-25. The condemnation process would delay east-side construction another year.

Winning essay on freedom presented

Prior to the hearing, Ted Bauman of the Monument Hill Sertoma Club asked the board to endorse a proclamation for "2008 Freedom Week." Bauman also announced the top three essay winners from each of the three area middle schools. Each year, about 500 students participate in the annual eighth-grade contest, writing essays on "What Freedom Means to Me." Monument Academy student Jacob Glenn, the mayor’s son, read his winning essay, "Freedom, a Gourmet Meal," to the board. The other winners were:

  • Kristen Bednar, Creekside Middle School
  • Katelyn Glasmith, Creekside Middle School
  • Taylor Wollenburg, Creekside Middle School
  • Christopher Van Dyke, Lewis-Palmer Middle School
  • Darby Watt, Lewis-Palmer Middle School
  • Emily Ward, Lewis-Palmer Middle School
  • Amanda Lewis, Monument Academy
  • Garrett Rogers, Monument Academy

(See photo below. the freedom essays as a PDF file. This is a 6 Mbyte file and will take about 35 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.)

The board unanimously approved the proclamation declaring Feb. 17-23 as "2008 Freedom Week." After it was signed, it was given to Jacob Glenn to present to the Sertoma club at its annual awards breakfast on Feb. 9, where Bauman said each of the nine winners would be officially recognized with a plaque and a prize check.

Willow Springs Ranch hearing

Monument Principal Planner Karen Griffith asked that the staff and applicant presentations for all three proposals be combined prior to four separate votes on annexation of each of the two filings, the town’s Planned Development (PD) zoning, and the PD Sketch Plan.

The applicants are land owners MHW LLC and developers Paul Howard, Todd Evans, and Charley Williams of Infinity Land Corp. of Colorado Springs. The applicants’ consultants are:

  • Land planning – John Maynard and Tasha Howard of NES Inc.
  • Civil engineering – Tim McConnell of M&S Civil Consultants Inc.
  • Environmental – Walsh Environmental Scientists and Engineers Inc.
  • Traffic – Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc.
  • Legal – Steve Mulliken of Mulliken, Gleason, Weiner P.C.

Staff comments

Griffith said extensive details on PD zoning and residential PD site plans will not be available at this first stage of development. Those details will be available at the next stage of development. There are extensive wetlands on the parcel. The applicants plan to include two parks.

Annexation comments: Town staff members said each annexation meets the requirements of the Colorado Revised Statutes, lies within Priority Area 1 of the Urban Growth Area specified in the Monument Comprehensive Plan, and conforms to each of the comprehensive plan’s annexation policies.

The project can be readily served by existing roads and area electricity, gas, and phone utilities. The town will provide water from its partnership in the new 1.5 million gallon Forest Lakes Metropolitan District water tank. Monument Sanitation District will provide sanitary sewer service.

Much of the land is constrained by floodplains, protected mouse habitat, and slopes. The applicants will form a metropolitan district to provide storm drainage, road improvements, and maintenance of parks, trails, and open spaces in this otherwise "un-developable" land. The improvements will be dedicated to the town, and the town will maintain the roads.

A development agreement between the town and the landowner will detail the rights and obligations of each.

Note: No draft of the annexation agreement or the development agreement was provided to board members.

Two conditions were proposed by the staff:

  1. An annexation agreement shall be approved by the town Board of Trustees and executed by the applicants that satisfactorily addresses commitments and referral agency comments prior to recordation of the annexation ordinance with the county.

  2. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made and approved by town staff.

The proposed density is 1.73 dwelling units per acre for 450 single-family and patio homes. However, town water consultant Bruce Lytle of Lytle Water Solutions determined that there is a deficit in available water rights on the parcel of at least 67.05 acre-feet, based on Lytle’s assumption of a maximum of only 433 houses.

Forest Lakes Metropolitan District has said it is willing to sell the applicants the 67 acre-feet of additional water rights. The town staff had asked the applicants to provide a letter of intent from Forest Lakes Metro prior to the board’s hearing. The staff recommended that the planning commissioners and trustees approve a condition lowering the proposed maximum number of houses from 450 to 433.

Note: the applicants had not obtained a signed letter of intent from the Forest Lakes Metro District.

PD zoning comments: Griffith reported the following land use breakdown:

  • 11 acres of single-family residential at 1-3 dwelling units per acre (4 percent)
  • 17 acres of single-family residential at 2-4 dwelling units per acre (7 percent)
  • 66 acres of single-family residential at 3-5 dwelling units per acre (25 percent)
  • 20 acres of patio home residential at 4-7 dwelling units per acre (8 percent)
  • 116 acres of open space (45 percent)
  • 12.5 acres of parks (5 percent)
  • 17 acres of right-of-way (6 percent)

The proposed zoning conforms to the comprehensive plan’s recommendations for growth and land use. The zoning will protect floodplains, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, and drainage way. A trail system will be incorporated in the development.

There were no major comments or concerns from referral agencies on the proposed PD zoning.

The proposed conditions for the map amendment ordinance establishing the PD zoning were:

  1. Annexation of Willow Springs Ranch Additions No. 1 and No. 2 shall be approved and recorded prior to recordation of the zoning ordinance.

  2. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording of the rezoning ordinance.

PD sketch plan comments: Griffith reported that the plan gives the town and the applicants’ assurances that the land uses, densities, and major road configurations are acceptable. Actual densities and design guidelines will be defined at the next stage of development planning, a preliminary PD site plan.

The sketch plan complies with the town’s comprehensive plan’s land use principles and policies. The applicants have provided wildfire mitigation and vegetation preservation plans.

The Willow Springs Ranch development will be divided into two unconnected segments, with the north portion using Mitchell Avenue and Second Street for access to I-25 and the south portion using Baptist Road.

The applicants will provide right-of-way along the northwest boundary of filing 1 to extend Mitchell Avenue to the southwest, though not far enough to connect with the existing north dead-end of Forest Lakes Drive. The land that would be needed to connect the two dead-ends lies within El Paso County and is largely mouse habitat. Construction of an expensive bridge above the habitat would be required.

The county and Forest Lakes Metro District have asked the town to ensure that equitable cost-sharing agreements for all required infrastructure improvements, including necessary road improvements to Mitchell Avenue, Forest Lakes Drive, and Baptist Road, and the proposed $11 million BRRTA bridge over the railroad tracks are part of the town’s annexation agreement with the applicants. The county also asked the town to ensure that internal development trails have adequate connections to the county’s existing and proposed trails.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has expressed concerns that the Willow Springs Ranch proposal far exceeds the district’s ability to pay for building additional school capacity needed for the children who would live there. There is no existing school capacity to serve them. The district is at its statutory limit for bonding and cannot bond for additional facilities to serve the development. The district is asking for usable land within the development for building a school.

This lack of capacity could be partially mitigated if the county were to agree to donate the proposed county school site within the adjacent Forest Lakes development to D-38. However, if the county were to do that, the town would still have to require a substantial increase in the currently required cash-in-lieu amount payment from the Willow Springs Ranch applicants to D-38. That cash payment would have to be equal to the actual market value of land within the district for a school site. The current town policy for collection of only $300 per house in lieu of 10 acres of donated land does not provide enough money to the school district to pay for the necessary additional facilities for new developments within Monument.

Note: D-38 has had problems obtaining sufficient usable land from the landowner to build an elementary school within the currently stalled Home Place Ranch development on Higby Road.

The conditions for the PD sketch plan proposed by the staff were:

  1.  The maximum number of residential units shall not exceed 450 units and shall be adjusted downward if necessary based on the dedication of water rights to the town in conformance with the town’s water standards.

  2. Cash-in-lieu-of-land school dedication fees shall be based on the average market value of land in the school district. Fees shall be collected at the time of each land use permit.

  3. Written documentation shall be provided from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the 10-acre park use is acceptable within mouse habitat and that it can be developed with playground equipment and picnic facilities, and that the proposed trail system has been approved, or alternate locations will be dedicated and approved. Approval from Fish and Wildlife should also include that the existing ranch buildings and homes can remain within the habitat and be converted to community uses.

  4. Written documentation shall be provided from the Fish and Wildlife that the proposed trail system has been approved, including connections to the county Regional Trails, or alternate locations will be dedicated and improved.

  5. The 2.5-acre park will be constructed to include playground equipment sufficient to serve the needs of the residents of the development, including at least one playfield, while maintaining native trees and shrubs to the extent possible. A sledding hill will be provided, if feasible.

  6. Trail connections and easements will be provided for the Regional Trail system, including the construction of on-site connections to the Santa Fe and Forest Lakes Trails. The final location, design, and dedication of these trails shall be approved by the town and shall be based on the input of the county Parks Department at the time of Preliminary and Final Planned Development Plans and Preliminary and Final Plats.

  7. A water-line connection between the north and south development phases shall be shown on the Sketch Plan map.

  8. Technical corrections shall be made prior to finalization of the Sketch PD Plan.

Applicants’ comments

Maynard and Tasha Norman of NES gave the applicants’ presentation. Much of Maynard’s presentation was summarized in Griffith’s three separate staff reports to the board, summarized above. Some of the other main points Maynard discussed were:

  • The town staff requested that Forest Lakes Drive, a county road within the Forest Lakes development, be made part of the annexation. The applicants have arranged for that change, including it on the southwest border of Filing 2.
  • The preliminary traffic study by LSC shows that access to the northern residential area via Mitchell Avenue and Second Street is adequate. The single entrance to Filing 1 will be at the south end of Synthes Avenue. A road will be constructed connecting the south dead-end of Synthes Avenue to the south dead-end of Mitchell Avenue. Mitchell Avenue does not need to be extended to Baptist Road to ensure adequate traffic service.
  • No traffic signals need be constructed to handle the additional traffic from either filing at the present time or at buildout. The town’s traffic consultant has concurred with the LSC traffic study’s conclusions.
  • The applicants would pay for about 250 feet of the required 550 feet of northbound right-turn lane at the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and Second Street to hold vehicles when trains block Second Street, allowing other vehicles to proceed northward past the intersection. (Note: There is no other immediate source of developer funding for financing construction of the other required 300 feet of right turn lane. None of the required paving has been completed to date. The Lake of the Rockies sketch plan was approved in 2006 after several other proposals were rejected over the previous four years, but the developer has been unable to sell lots to any homebuilder to date.)
  • Four accesses will be provided along the east side of Forest Lakes Drive for residents in the south filing. There will be no direct access to Baptist Road due to plans for a future BRRTA bridge over the railroad tracks, which will block the entire southern boundary of the parcel, including the current ranch driveway on Baptist between the tracks and Forest Lakes Drive.
  • There will be no direct access to Old Denver Highway across the railroad tracks for Willow Springs Ranch residents. The applicants own none of the Watt property east of the tracks between the Trails End development, Old Denver Highway, and the Colorado Sports Center hockey rink.
  • Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue District has requested an easement for a secondary emergency access for fire apparatus along the existing dirt driveway from Old Denver Highway to the former Watt residences on the northeast corner of the parcel. However, this easement may not always be available due to frequent flooding by town stormwater that flows down the east side of the railroad track and across this single-lane dirt driveway where it passes under a single track trestle bridge. The applicant had no plans to preserve or use the driveway to Old Denver Highway because it does not own the northeast portion of the Watt property, which remains unsold. For previous OCN reports on these floods and uncontrollable mudslide that dumped tons of sediment onto Watt’s driveway and undermined the adjacent railroad tracks to the north, see:

www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n5.htm#monpc 
www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n6.htm#monpc 
www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n11.htm#botoct18 
www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n12.htm#bot1115 
www.ourcommunitynews.org/v5n1.htm#botjan3 

  • The existing concrete bridge across Monument Creek, which is part of the Watt family’s primary driveway to Baptist Road, is sturdy enough for emergency use by brush fire trucks. This bridge and driveway will not be part of the road network within the development.
  • One or two lift stations will be constructed to deliver wastewater uphill to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility adjacent to the northwest portion of the development and the primary entrance road intersection with Mitchell Avenue.
  • New homeowners will have to sign a disclosure form prior to purchase acknowledging that they know their homes are next to a wastewater facility and the railroad tracks.
  • The proposed densities in each area of the development were based on a land suitability analysis and adjacent county housing densities.
  • Half of the development is open space and park due to floodplain and mouse habitat. There will be no houses along the eastern side of the property along the railroad tracks due to Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat. The perimeter of the northwest portion of the parcel next to the county residential lots is also floodplain and mouse habitat.
  • If the Preble’s mouse is de-listed as an endangered species, the town could not sell the dedicated mouse habitat to a developer — it must be preserved as open space.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife has approved a waiver for preservation of the former Watt residential and livestock area on the northeast corner of the parcel as a 10-acre park that will be suitable for picnic tables and trails only. The existing ponds are fed by Teachout Creek and are part of the habitat and floodplain area waiver.
  • The applicant has a "handshake agreement" with Forest Lakes Metro for provision of up to 67.05 acre-feet per year of supplemental water rights.

Public hearing comments

No one spoke in favor of the project.

Town resident Sarah Hammond asked about the proposed southward extension of Mitchell Avenue. Mayor Glenn said that Mitchell Avenue would be discussed after the conclusion of the hearing.

Hammond asked how the town could agree to construction of 450 new houses when the town distributes annual notices restricting water used for landscaping and car washing, particularly when the applicant does not have a firm agreement with anyone for the required additional water. "Don’t give me a notice to scrimp on water again. All of the sudden we have water?" Glenn said that state water engineers and hydrologists have determined that there are an additional 70 acre-feet per year of water available from Forest Lakes Metro. Glenn added that the watering and car washing restrictions will continue indefinitely.

Note: House Bill 0801141 would require that water be available for all new construction indefinitely, while the town only requires that groundwater be available for 100 years from all four aquifers. The county has a 300-year groundwater requirement.

County resident Sara Nasby said she lives just north of the proposed Forest Lakes elementary school site. She read aloud extended portions of several sections of the county’s Tri-Lakes comprehensive plan regarding the Twin Valley area. She noted that the proposed development would not comply with the minimum five-acre lot rural residential standard. She asked for construction of an 8-foot-tall noise wall along the boundary with the existing adjacent rural residential lots that are not being annexed.

Nasby noted that consultant Nolte Engineering had prepared a 23-page report for the county on how to extend Mitchell Avenue. The Nolte report stated that the extension would require 120 feet of right of way, not 80 feet. Nolte said that Mitchell would go through the center of the Watt property rather than west of it through her neighbor’s property.

Nasby said that NES had previously written a letter to the Town of Monument on behalf of the Forest Lakes development noting the concerns of county residents for what she characterized as a "huge road" next to their properties. She noted previous county plans to connect the existing north end of Forest Lakes Drive to the aligned south end of Rickenbacker Avenue, which connects to Mitchell Avenue via Arnold Avenue, at a much lower cost. This alternative alignment would not require a substantial condemnation through the center of neighbor Georgia Ward’s property. "Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s find out exactly where the road is going. Let’s have a little bit more dialog with the existing residents."

Adjacent county resident Chris Jube noted that the proposed extension of Mitchell Avenue to the southwest through mouse habitat would be expensive and require significant planning for a 120-foot-wide highway. He noted that the town’s proposed bridge will divide Ward’s 30 acres in half, devaluing the elderly widow’s land considerably, adding additional cost to what will be a very expensive, "hefty" bridge.

Jube stated that his home is adjacent to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. The prevailing winds across the facility blow directly into the proposed development year-round. He said the wastewater facility does not present an odor problem to his home more than once or twice a year, when the wind temporarily comes from the east. He said the town should require the developer to pay for covers over the four ponds at the facility before houses are allowed to be built.

Jube noted that the Forest Lakes and Willow Springs Ranch development were inconsistent with the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan and the proposed density is double that of the Forest Lakes development. The trail system would be a security danger to his family as well as to the adjacent landowners’ horses and other livestock.

County resident Georgia Ward noted that she had watched Colorado Springs approve "subdivision after subdivision" over 30 years. She said the "subdividers were allowed to do anything they wanted and then the city paid the price afterwards" in the form of huge bridges that are being built too late to solve traffic problems. She noted that Infinity does not want the Mitchell extension to go through its land. Monument taxpayers may be reluctant to pay the very high cost of the needed bridge over a floodplain, with 15-foot-deep floods, and mouse habitat when flat dry land is available within the Infinity property. "Who on earth is going to pay for the bridge?" She noted that her neighbors weren’t informed of the proposal being "rushed through" by the staff.

County resident Richard Nasby said the project will not provide Lewis-Palmer School District 38 the proper resources of "$4,000 per roof." He said Infinity was trying to push the proposal through before the D-38 cash-in-lieu-of-land fee could be raised.

Nasby also noted that he had called the "county planning department" (actually the development services department) about the Mitchell Avenue extension and had talked to El Paso County Long Range Planning Division Manager Carl Schueler. Nasby said that Schueler informed him that he had never seen the plan and called it "highly unorthodox" for the town to proceed without coordinating with the department.

Nasby also said that the proposed right of way would be only 30 feet from his horse barn, making the barn unusable. He said the town is approving this right-of-way realignment before the county’s Major Thoroughfare Task Force can hold an emergency meeting to review the new Mitchell Avenue alignment for the first time on Feb. 12.

Ron Murphy, a development consultant for the adjacent rural properties to the east, said that Mitchell Avenue would be inadequate as an 80-foot-wide, two-lane collector road. The new alignment of Mitchell Avenue through county landowners’ properties appears to be the lowest cost option, but could be perceived as a misuse of the town’s condemnation powers. Glenn replied that the town had not looked into acquisition of the county land for the new right-of-way. Glenn also said that Old Denver Highway would become a major county arterial.

County resident Steve Phillips said that the density of Willow Springs Ranch would actually be four times the density of the proposed Forest Lakes development to the west. He said that the development proposal approval process was being rushed.

Phillips asked where the wells would be drilled for the two projects, how deep they would be, and what would happen to the neighboring individual landowners’ wells. Glenn replied that no engineering studies have been performed on where to place the wells. Phillips said the town should have a responsibility not to harm adjacent individual wells.

Phillips also asked who would pay for the extension of Mitchell Avenue and the expensive bridge. Glenn replied, "I’ve asked you people before that we’re talking about an annexation and you keep bringing up Mitchell." Phillips and several others in the audience said they were offended by being called "you people." Glenn said, "I apologize, for the moment." Glenn also said the county had not dealt with the Mitchell Avenue problem and the town was trying to take it on. Phillips said that the developer should pay for the extension to Mitchell to connect with Baptist.

Glenn said that the speakers from the county would benefit from the emergency access provided by the Mitchell Avenue extension. Phillips replied that there are two sufficient primary exit routes for those in the county west of Mitchell Avenue, via Arnold Avenue and Spaatz Road to Lindbergh Road.

Developer’s responses

The public hearing was then closed for the developer’s responses to public comments.

Developer Paul Howard said that the Mitchell Avenue extension is a town project that has nothing to do with his development. A buffer will be built along the northwestern boundary by the large rural lots, but not by the Synthes Avenue industrial area in the northern filing or the proposed Forest Lakes town houses adjacent to the south filing.

Maynard said that the applicant would pay whatever cash-in-lieu fee the town and D-38 determine is appropriate for the proposed development, based on current land values. He expects that to be about $1,200 per house, similar to other regional school districts. The higher fees will be paid when each building permit is issued by the town. Griffith said the new ordinance for the new D-38 house fee would go to the town’s Planning Commission in April. Howard said he would pay the increased fees as each lot’s building permit is issued.

Maynard noted that the county planning staff had in fact reviewed the three proposals prior to this hearing and that their comments were included in Griffith’s staff report. The county had asked for fair and equitable contributions, in addition to standard BRRTA road use fees, to all the affected transportation systems including Forest Lakes Drive, Baptist Road expansion west of I-25, and BRRTA’s bridge over the railroad tracks.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Tim Miller said, "I think there’s something wrong with our process" because too many proposals come to the board with too many unresolved issues and dissension not heard or dealt with by the Planning Commission. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said the Planning Commission and staff can’t discuss unanticipated neighboring landowner issues that are brought up for the first time at the board hearing.

Miller asked if the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan issues that are brought up at every annexation hearing are germane. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that they are not germane. Only the town code and comprehensive plan apply to board annexation, zoning, and site plan decisions. Trustees can choose to consider county documents in an advisory manner, if they choose to do so, but the county plan is not a controlling document.

Miller also noted that there have been many broken promises in the Promontory Pointe development already, along with other developments in Jackson Creek.

Trustee Gail Drumm said that the water study should not have used the Laramie-Fox Hills water aquifer resources because extraction is not cost-efficient and the studies are unreliable in the foothills, particularly south of town. Howard replied that his and the town’s hydrologists had agreed to the amounts of water available in all four aquifers.

Drumm said he thought the extension of Mitchell Avenue was to be to the southeast, avoiding the Ward property entirely. He expressed concerns that the issue was "completely up in the air," and the town should not have to pay to maintain a county road. "I don’t see any cost efficiency at all." He said that Forest Lakes Drive should remain with Forest Lakes Metro, and he wasn’t in favor of the proposals.

Trustee Travis Easton asked about cost participation with the county. Howard reiterated that the Mitchell Avenue connection "doesn’t involve us. That’s a town issue that the town will proceed with." Howard said he had met with Schueler and his boss, Development Services Operations Director Mike Hrebenar, and they were very supportive of the proposals.

Schueler noted that County Commissioner Wayne Williams and County Administrator Jeff Green had asked him to attend the hearing in case any questions were raised about the county’s view of the town’s plans for the property. Schueler said that the proposed development was a logical annexation for the town. There had not been much discussion of the Mitchell Avenue extension within the county staff in the past 10 years. Schueler said the Nolte studies and Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan have become outdated due to many changes along Baptist Road and the evolution of the town’s several annexed developments.

Schueler stated that there were originally three county proposals for extending Mitchell Avenue as a county road:

  • No extension because the Watts said they’d never sell their land for development
  • An extension through the center of the Watt property if it was in fact sold
  • A connection of the existing Forest Lakes Drive to Rickenbacker Avenue along the northern boundary of Ward’s property, using the land already donated to the county, to make the shortest connection

Schueler also noted that the county would have "taken a harder look at the proposed densities" had the land remained in the county, but once annexed it is solely the town’s business.

Note: The county requires three times the amount of groundwater reserves that Monument requires.

Ward added that her late husband gave the county the land for connecting Forest Lakes Drive to Rickenbacker Road over 10 years ago. They did not get a written guarantee that the county would not take other portions of her land, she added, because the county promised that the matter was settled as a result of this donation. She noted that there was a lot of opposition from her neighbors to connecting Mitchell Avenue to Rickenbacker Avenue at the time of the donation and the county abandoned the project. Schueler did not disagree with Ward’s comments.

Glenn said the town’s proposed new alignment of Mitchell would increase county resident safety, reduce the number and costs for Monument Creek crossings, and require far less substitute mouse habitat.

Glenn asked if the sewer system could drain by gravity to the Forest Lakes Metro system. Maynard said no and that Monument Sanitation District has excess treatment capacity and wants to include the development. Forest Lakes Metro has no excess wastewater treatment capacity at Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Facility now and no plans to purchase any additional capacity in the future.

Trustee Dave Mertz expressed concern about so many houses being built next to an industrial park and a wastewater plant when the expected land use for the parcel in the comprehensive plan is a business park. Griffith said the extensive open space would be a sufficient buffer for new homes.

Mertz noted that there will be significantly less revenue from a residential area than the planned commercial use. "What fiscal benefit do we have?"

Howard replied that the benefits the town would receive are:

  • All the water tap fees for each of the houses
  • All the property’s water rights as well as the additional water rights purchased from Forest Lakes Metro District
  • A donation of 125 acres of wetlands and mouse habitat for the two parks, the open spaces, and the trail system, which the town will not have to pay to maintain
  • Maintenance of this open space through property taxes imposed solely on the Willow Springs Ranch homeowners by the developer’s metropolitan district, while the parks would be amenities enjoyed by all town residents
  • All the interior roads within the project as well as a new road that will connect the south end of Synthes Avenue to the current dead end of Mitchell Avenue
  • A contribution of $800,000 toward the proposed Baptist Road bridge over the railroad track and the proposed Mitchell Avenue bridge over Monument Creek
  • $500,000 to $600,000 to Forest Lakes Metro District for water infrastructure that will cost $750,000 to connect the district’s water tank to the town’s water treatment and distribution system
  • A way to access the town’s groundwater and storage tank rights within Forest Lakes that would remain inaccessible to the town otherwise

Howard also noted, "Twice the Town of Monument tried to force Tom Watt to annex so that they could get the Mitchell right-of-way across his property in the area that we are donating. Tom said, ‘I’ve got more money than you so you can go ahead and try.’ We’ve donated a very important piece of the puzzle for the Mitchell extension."

Trustee Tommie Plank said the board should separate the Mitchell Avenue extension from the annexation decision. She said, "I’m not convinced that Arnold Avenue isn’t a better way to go" for extending Mitchell to Baptist Road via Rickenbacker Avenue. There needs to be a way for people on the west side of the railroad tracks to get to Baptist Road.

Shupp said that previous Colorado court decisions had shown that boards cannot consider the availability of schools that would be provided by an entirely separate school district in annexation decisions. Shupp said the town could work with D-38 to increase the amount of cash assessed by the town when it issues a building permit to the homebuilder.

Shupp said there is no question that additional studies need to be conducted before the town decides whether to extend Mitchell Avenue, then determine the final alignment and how the needed property will be acquired. If eminent domain condemnation is used to obtain right-of-way, a decision will have to be made on whether to take all or a part of the Ward property, as well as a determination of the whole property’s value and the diminution in value if only part of the property is condemned.

Hodsdon of LSC said that his traffic study had shown that the Second Street background traffic in 2010 – the amount of traffic that would use Second Street if the Willow Springs property is not developed – would be 5,700-5,800 vehicle trips per day across the railroad tracks . The north filing of Willow Springs Ranch would add about 2,500 trips per day across the tracks in 2010.

Hodsdon reported that the length of the Mitchell Avenue northbound right-turn lane that is required to hold eastbound Second Street traffic and allow northbound Mitchell traffic to flow freely during train crossings is 550 feet. Willow Springs Ranch traffic would require about 250 feet. Vehicles from the existing homes west of the tracks would use the 300 feet to prevent the current traffic blockages that occur with every train crossing.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth said all the planned wells in Willow Springs Ranch and Forest Lakes would be deep wells that would have no impact on surrounding shallow residential wells.

Trustee Steve Samuels said that the county residents who had commented needed to remember that "Sometimes the baby has to be cut in half … you own what you have." Others can develop their vacant land. The annexation provides the town with important water improvements. The staff should discuss options with Ward and the Nasbys to reach a compromise. Eminent domain should not be used.

Miller made a motion to continue the two annexations, rezoning, and PD sketch plan due to lack of a full review of all the issues that had been brought up but not addressed, particularly the Mitchell Avenue extension.

Shupp suggested that the board consider voting on the annexation and rezone ordinances since neither involved Mitchell Avenue, then consider continuing the sketch plan hearing until further study of Mitchell Avenue issues. Griffith added that the annexation would have to come back to the board again for another public hearing, which would also include another discussion on developer participation in infrastructure and road construction.

There was no second for Miller’s motion for continuation of all the items.

Annexation and rezoning ordinances approved

Separate motions for successive annexation of each of the two filings, each with the staff’s two proposed conditions for annexation, were approved 5-2, with Drumm and Miller opposed.

Shupp noted that town zoning for an annexed parcel must be established within 90 days. A motion to establish town PD zoning for both filings was also approved 5-2, with Drumm and Miller opposed.

PD sketch plan ordinance continued

Glenn said more study was needed on several issues before a vote is taken on the PD sketch plan. He said that the town needed a signed agreement with Forest Lakes Metro from the applicants for purchase of additional water, a cost analysis for the proposed extension of Mitchell Avenue across Ward’s property, and a hydraulic analysis for various creek crossing options.

Kassawara noted that sketch plans are not recorded, and all Glenn’s concerns could be expressed as conditions that would also apply to the preliminary and final PD site plans. Glenn disagreed.

Samuels reiterated that the staff needed to meet with Ward, Jube, and the Nasbys to discuss their concerns about taking of land and protecting their properties with buffers, then offered a motion to continue the sketch PD site plan. The continuation was approved unanimously.

Glenn then expressed concern about having annexed Forest Lakes Road.

Shupp noted that the town had already annexed it. The board could revisit the issue before the annexation agreement is approved by the board and recorded with the county.

Miller said, "A motion earlier might have been a good idea."

Landreth, Drumm, Mertz, and Easton said that the town would have to plow and maintain the road to get to the interior residential roads in the property every time it snows, as it does with several other portions of county roads serving other town developments. Drumm said that the road should only be annexed if and when the county agrees to the extension of Mitchell Avenue, because the new Willow Springs Metro District would only maintain interior open space and trails. After further inconclusive discussion, the board recessed with no final decision on Glenn’s desire to de-annex the just-annexed Forest Lakes Road.

Town fee schedule amended again

Kassawara noted that several trustees had raised questions at the Dec. 3 meeting regarding the basis he had used for previously setting each of the numerous fees to match the salary, benefits, review, and inspection costs, and other related costs that each transaction has imposed on the town. Some of the observations he made while reviewing the methodology and final determination of the various fees were:

  • A cap of 20 percent was imposed on the numerous fee increases that should have gone up more than that, based on the direct cost criteria.
  • Some fees were reduced.
  • Fees for large projects increased much more than smaller ones because of the length of time required for far more extensive plan review and inspections required.
  • The fees are less than or equal to those of surrounding communities, yet they ensure that development pays for itself rather than forcing existing resident taxpayers to pay for it.

The amended fee schedule was unanimously approved and will go into effect after 30 days.

Third Street construction change order approved

Two change orders were submitted to town staff for the town’s Third Street improvement project.

The originally approved $1.3 million stormwater drainage project includes new curbs and gutters, as well as underground stormwater pipes that will replace the current overtaxed stormwater drainage ditches on both sides of Third Street. The pipes are part of the town’s new stormwater master plan.

The board later elected to bury the electric power lines under a separate $208,139 contract with Nolte Associates. Current plans for the latter contract call for the power line burial to be completed prior to this year’s Fourth of July parade. The first Nolte Associates change order for this project cost $17, 652. This change order for $33,040 further increased the contract cost to $258,831.

Kassawara noted that Nolte, the town’s engineering consultant, would have to contract for surveyor services for relocation of the Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) power lines from poles to underground trenches. MVEA will not perform the surveys for its own power lines. The cost of surveying and map preparation is an additional $8,430.

Other tasks that will cost an additional $24,610 included:

  • Additional pothole boring to precisely locate underground utilities before digging the MVEA trenches.
  • Nolte’s preparation of front-end bid documents to meet Colorado Department of Local Affairs specifications.
  • Work on a conceptual plan and cost estimates for the Beacon Lite Road improvements – the actual improvements.
  • Nolte’s coordination with MVEA, Qwest, and Comcast for the burial.
  • Coordination between Nolte and Nolte’s drainage sub-contractor Ayres Associates to revise stormwater piping to better accommodate existing utilities and drainage outfall systems.

Compromised stormwater improvements noted

The Ayres Stormwater Master Plan design for the Third Street stormwater pipe system would have had the capacity to transport all stormwater to the west end of the street and under the railroad tracks for a 100-year storm. This design would have required the replacement of the existing, inadequate 36-inch culvert under the railroad track with a new 60-inch culvert that would have transported all the stormwater to Monument Lake. Since the master plan was approved, the Ayres engineer who designed the drainage system, Chris Doherty, has resigned.

Kassawara said the Third Street system has subsequently been redesigned to be capable of only partially handling a 25-year storm. The excess stormwater will now flow around the new smaller pipes and rise to the crown of the surrounding streets, with the entire pavement underwater.

During storms greater than a 25-year storm, there will be continued flooding on Third and Front Streets as a result of this compromise. Currently, stormwater from Third Street that can’t flow through the existing 36-inch culvert turns south to travel down Front Street, where it combines with Second Street flooding.

After the meeting, Kassawara stated that it would be too difficult and costly to bore holes under the tracks for a 60-inch replacement culvert or a second 36-inch culvert that would partially mitigate the current flooding problems.

Note: The fact that the master plan no longer intends to prevent flooding as previously promised was not reflected in the minutes for the meeting that were approved on Feb. 22.

The resolution for the change order was approved (6-0-1), with Trustee Travis Easton, a Nolte civil engineer, abstaining.

The board also unanimously approved a payment of $115,971 to Nelson Pipeline Inc. for extending a 12-inch water line southward on Old Denver Highway to connect town Well 9 to the water treatment facility. Kassawara said the project was under budget due to savings made by Nelson in the amount of materials used.

The board unanimously approved the November financial report, the 2007 sales tax report, and a resolution declaring April 25 as Arbor Day.

Batch plant appeal

Shupp reported that a hearing would be held in District Court on Feb. 8 for oral arguments concerning Kalime Masse’s continuing appeal of the town’s denial of her request for a renewal of a long-expired business license for the abandoned Rockwell Ready-Mix concrete batch plant on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street. This litigation has lasted over four years, with the town prevailing at every hearing.

Public comments

Three town business owners discussed their concerns and provided documentation to the staff and trustees regarding with the proposed expansion of the town’s sign ordinance. They had concerns about achieving name recognition for small start-up businesses.

John Savage, owner of Rocky Mountain Oil Change and Carwash at Highway 105 and Second Street, presented multiple copies of 16 surveys signed by owners from downtown Monument regarding the new sign code.

Don Peterson, owner of First Class Pack and Ship in the Safeway shopping center, said he had found hundreds of sign ordinances on the Internet. He presented copies of documents from the Signage Foundation for Communication Excellence that offered suggestions to help businesses and towns to promote business success, information on town liability for restricting businesses from succeeding, and suggestions from the federal Small Business Administration. Peterson said the town had not recognized the direct relationship between the size of a small-business sign and its success.

Glenn asked Green and Shupp to review Peterson’s document before the Feb. 22 hearing.

Karen Evans, owner of Chick and a Windshield, presented copies of her letter summarizing her views on the staff’s meeting with business owners held in Town Hall on Jan. 17. She said that any restrictions should be based on safety issues rather than an arbitrary aesthetic standard.

She reminded the board of her previous public comments that the staff has never compiled a list of e-mail addresses to notify businesses of code changes even though the town has the e-mail addresses recorded on business license application and renewal forms. She said there are hundreds of home businesses that cannot afford to be members of the Chamber of Commerce, which is the sole contact the staff uses for area businesses.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

(See article below for coverage of the Feb. 19 hearing on the expanded sign ordinance.)

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Monument Board of Trustees, February 19: Controversial sign ordinance expansion approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees approved a town code amendment expanding the town sign and billboard ordinance from 10 to 25 pages on Feb. 19. The original hearing on the amendment had been continued on Dec. 3 when several business owners complained that the town had not notified them of the hearing. The board directed the staff to hold a special meeting where these and other owners could comment on the amendment. This meeting was held in Town Hall on Jan. 17.

Trustees Dave Mertz and Tim Miller were absent.

Trustees’ comments

Mayor Byron Glenn noted that he would soon renew discussions of regional water issues with Colorado Springs officials. He said he would meet with City Councilman Darryl Glenn, City Manager Penelope Culbreth-Graft, and Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte. Glenn told the trustees he would review the topics he would be discussing in executive session at the end of the meeting. However, the topic listed on the agenda for the executive session was "Real Estate Negotiations." None of the trustees or staff questioned Glenn on the apparent discrepancy.

Background on signs and billboards code amendment

Jan. 3, 2006, board meeting: Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Steve Spry told the board that he wanted to build a 23-foot-high digital electronic sign, measuring 76 square feet, on chamber property on the east side of Highway 105 at Third Street. He asked the board to consider a "nonprofit" waiver to the town ordinance prohibiting any form of off-site billboard advertising, where an advertisement for a business is displayed on a different landowner’s property. The sign would provide 15-second flashing notices of Tri-Lakes activities about 80 percent of the time and would list the names of businesses helping to pay for the costs of the sign and its operation the rest of the time. Letter sizing for messages would be designed for 35 mph traffic and the 15-second intervals.

Town Manager Cathy Green said the proposed Chamber sign met all town commercial sign code standards other than the restriction that prohibits off-site advertising.

Company name listings would cost $125 per month each, and there would be no advertising copy. Spry said that he would receive a co-op grant from the national chamber association for half the cost of the sign. About 100 other chambers throughout the nation have similar flashing electronic signs, he said. The sign was expected to have an operational life of about 20 years. The listing of company names would cease after the sign is paid for, in about five years.

Trustee Tommie Plank asked that Spry provide a copy of his proposed guidelines for soliciting local sponsors for the 15-second flashing advertisements and announcements to the town when he submitted a formal application for an ordinance change.

Spry resigned shortly afterward and the chamber did not follow up on the proposal. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n2.htm#bot103)

Aug. 20, 2007 board meeting: During public comments at the Aug. 20 board meeting, Rocky Mountain Oil Change and Car Wash owner John Savage said he has had a "struggle with the town" in complying with several restrictions on signs and variances for sign setbacks in upgrading his building and expanding it for a new car wash. He said he had to hire an attorney to split his business to form a separate car wash business to be able to post a second car wash sign on the side of his building in addition to the front oil change sign.

Savage stated that the town was enforcing different standards on his building than on any other commercial landowner on Highway 105, and most of the other businesses have far larger and uglier signs than his small signs that Plank had complained about. He noted that Safeway had three signs on its building and two digital electronic signs, Arby’s had seven building signs, Taco Bell had three building signs, and Wal-Mart had 27 building signs and a pole sign.

Plank, a Historic Monument Merchants Association business owner, said that the rules are different for downtown than for the rest of Monument, including Jackson Creek. She said that Savage’s business in on the corner of the entrance to downtown. However, Savage’s business is in the C-1 (commercial) zone, not the B (downtown business) zone.

Plank also said that she would prefer no mention of Pennzoil on his building sign. She said that Savage had chosen to have a Pennzoil sign as one of his authorized signs instead of a car wash sign. Savage replied that Pennzoil is an integral part of his oil change business.

The other trustees agreed with Savage that Highway 105 is solely a commercial route. They also agreed that the rules for all town signs outside the downtown district should be amended so that they are consistent on both sides of I-25, specifically the sign rules within the Regency Park Planned Development, east of I-25.

Director of Developer Services Tom Kassawara said that signs built before he started working in Monument that violate the "vague" and unenforced existing sign code are "grandfathered." This may appear to lead to unfair enforcement on Savage now that he has begun applying the code to requests for signs on new and remodeled buildings. He was rejecting Savage’s signage even though it may be equivalent to other existing "grandfathered" signage on the Highway 105 corridor on buildings not being modified.

Kassawara also noted that he had issued the car wash a separate sign permit before Savage and his lawyer had created the "multi-tenant building" situation that allowed this additional sign. Kassawara noted that he had suggested how Savage could work around the sign code. The code allows as many directional signs as are required but restricts their size to two square feet. Savage said the allowed size of the direction signs is too small to be seen by drivers from Highway 105 or Second Street, causing safety problems.

Kassawara also noted that sidewalks and landscaping buffers are now being required for other new and renovated buildings on Highway 105 as well as in the Monument Marketplace.

The board concluded that the sign code for small businesses should be a staff priority in the future. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n9.htm#bot0820)

Sept. 4, 2007 board meeting: Kassawara responded formally to Savage’s concerns at the next board meeting.

Kassawara reviewed a lengthy document he had prepared and presented to the board that summarized the history of staff discussions and negotiations with Savage during the past three years. Kassawara also presented 19 photos of Savage’s permanent signs, safety and directional signs, banners, and variable electronic sign with a repeating series of messages.

Several of the signs advertised the opening of Savage’s new car wash. There are many directional signs on Highway 105 and Second Street to help drivers navigate because cars can only enter his business from the alley behind the property.

There was plenty of parking and room to maneuver cars into the oil change bays on the lot in front of his building before the highway was widened from two to seven lanes.

Kassawara said the signs and banners were distracting to drivers at the town’s busiest intersection. He gave no data on traffic incidents or accidents caused by Savage’s signage. He noted that revisions to the sign code amendment for the business corridor would likely differ from the downtown business district. The existing code allowed two signs, no banners, and no flashing signs.

After a lengthy discussion by the board and staff, there was consensus that the town’s sign code should be updated. The board directed the staff to prepare a revision of the sign code for a public hearing. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n10.htm#bot0904)

Oct. 15 board meeting: Kassawara said he had invited selected business owners, four from Highway 105 and four from Second Street, to a luncheon meeting to discuss a draft of the code revisions. Banner and sandwich sign restrictions drew the most comments. Kassawara distributed to board members a summary of the revisions and owner comments received to date.

Another meeting was held on Oct. 25 with members of the Historic Monument Merchants Association. The final draft of the revised sign code would be presented to the Planning Commission on Nov. 14 and to the board in December. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n11.htm#bot1015)

Nov. 14 Planning Commission meeting: During public comments, A.B. Tellez, owner of Rosie’s Diner, asked if his normal Christmas decoration paintings on the windows would violate the proposed window signage maximum of 25 percent, down from 50 percent, of the square footage. Kassawara said that temporary decorations would not be covered by the tighter restriction; however, temporary sale signs in excess of 25 percent would still be prohibited. Savage again expressed concerns that the new restrictions on multiple-use businesses like his for the number of allowed signs and overall square footage were too tight. He objected to any restriction on window signage.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the sign code following a public hearing. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n12.htm#monpc)

Dec. 3 board meeting: During the board’s sign code amendment hearing, Steve Marks, owner of the Monument Plaza shopping center on the west side of Highway 105, said that neither he nor any of his tenants had received any notice from the staff about the proposed changes, much less the hearing date. The town had not provided any of the 450 businesses with copies of the new sign code. The owners could not determine how they might be affected and couldn’t comment at this hearing, Marks said.

Kassawara said the town had depended on business owners to notify each other after the Sept. 27 meeting.

Green said that no business would have to take down an existing illegal permanent sign because they would all be "grandfathered" as legally non-conforming signs even though they would also violate the new code.

However, Savage had to comply with the code because of Savage’s renovations he was making to his business. The neighboring businesses that weren’t being upgraded did not have to comply. The town started enforcing the code about the time Savage’s signs were erected.

Green said that the town was now specifically targeting banner signs because they often tear apart and are not taken down after they are damaged beyond repair.

The town, for example, installed two banner poles at the entrance to downtown on Second Street. Each banner sign the town has installed on its poles has been torn apart within a few hours. The town has been unable to find a support apparatus that will protect banners from being shredded when hung from these two poles.

The hearing on the proposed major revision of the town’s commercial sign ordinance was unanimously continued until Feb. 19 because a large number of business owners in attendance said they too were unaware of the proposal and had not had time to determine if the many new restrictions might harm their operations. Glenn directed the staff to distribute copies of the new code to interested business owners and solicit additional comments at an advertised meeting. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n1.htm#bot1203)

Karen Evans, owner of the Chick and a Windshield repair business, organized a well-advertised meeting of town business owners in Town Hall on Jan. 17. Copies of the new ordinance were printed by town staff and available for pick-up at Town Hall prior to the meeting. Savage presented copies of the owners’ comments to town staff and trustees at the Feb. 4 board meeting. (For more information, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n1.htm#signs)

Feb. 19 sign code public hearing

Kassawara reported that the staff had made additional changes to its proposed expansion of the sign code after holding a meeting with 16 business owners on Jan. 17, following the Dec. 3 continuation.

Kassawara said the main topics of concern at the Jan. 17 meeting were the additional restrictions that reduced window signage from 50 to 25 percent and the prohibition of pennants and flag streamers to advertise special sales events. Kassawara said the maximum size of window signs has been changed back to 50 percent, as listed in the current code. A provision that allows two strings of pennants or streamers will be allowed for a monthly sales event and for grand openings and closings. The surveys, documentation, and a letter presented by three business owners at the Feb. 4 board meeting during public comment were attached to the staff report on the code amendment.

Kassawara stated that the proposed revisions are intended to provide for more attractive signage to preserve the beauty of Monument while helping to attract shoppers and visitors to Monument businesses. Some of his other introductory remarks were:

  • "Without regulations, signs could get out of hand." Signs could cover 100 percent of a business’s windows "or worse, you could get wind up with flashing signs, neon, huge pole signs with message boards on every corner of the property. Trustees, planning commissioners, and some residents have said to me on more the one occasion that they don’t want Monument to be like other large cities in the area."
  • "Without an adequate sign code, we could end looking like Academy Boulevard, for instance, or worse."
  • "Updating and improving our codes to make them enforceable and effective will allow the future code enforcement officer that we all hope to have on hand sometime this year to assure that the town’s appearance is kept at the high standards that the board expects" with "a balance between the needs of the businesses and the town as a whole with regards to appearance."
  • "The revised sign code is less stringent than the current code in many areas."

Monument has not enforced the town code in the past. Recently, summer interns have occasionally been tasked to inform landowners of code violations. The board approved the mid-year creation of a code enforcement position in the 2008 budget. The new position may now be filled sooner, in late spring, in time to begin enforcement of landscape watering restrictions.

Some of the changes presented at this meeting were:

  • Signs must be in harmony with the building, the site, and the surrounding neighborhood and made of quality materials.
  • There are different regulations for the B downtown business zone and there had been no complaints regarding these revisions.
  • Streamers and banners are now allowed in the revision for special events, though large balloons and moving signs are still not allowed.
  • Temporary banner and pennant/streamer displays are now allowed for special events — 30 days for openings/closings and 10 days for sales.
  • Banners and pennant/streamer displays count against total allowable sign square footages.
  • "Sandwich" signs and permanent structures that may display banner signs within them may be approved through a revocable permit.
  • There are new rules for permanent and temporary sign permit applications, reviews, and approvals.
  • The previous reduction of the maximum area of window signs from 50 percent to 25 percent of the area of the windows for improved safety and aesthetics has been dropped due to business owner complaints.
  • There are many new definitions in the code.
  • Landscaping around the base of "monument-style" and "free-standing" signs is now required.
  • Monument-style signs are now allowed in residential and business zones, but not free-standing signs.
  • Master sign plans must be submitted for multi-tenant centers to create more uniformity of signage and be coordinated with the center’s design.
  • "Canopy signs" – shop names on awnings – are now defined and allowed in the downtown zone, but are not listed as a permitted sign in commercial zones. Under-canopy signs are allowed in both zones, except in automotive service areas.
  • Projecting signs are now defined and allowed for downtown businesses only.
  • "Open" signs are allowed only for members of the Historic Monument Merchants Association as temporary signs not requiring a permit.
  • An additional wall sign is to be allowed on free-standing buildings.
  • Each tenant in a multi-tenant building can have a single wall sign in addition to a single sign within the building’s directory sign.
  • Single-tenant buildings can now have three signs, one more than before.
  • Several changes were made to the allowed sizes and setbacks for signs in the B and C-1 zones.
  • The changes define subdivision identification signs and clarify display rules.
  • Nonprofit organizations are allowed one sandwich sign and an extra free-standing banner sign base, which count against the total allowable sign square footage.
  • "Flashing sign" means any sign that flashes, blinks, or cuts on and off; whose message changes more than once per day; and is used for identification, advertising, or promotional purposes.
  • Automatic changing signs such as public service, time, and temperature and date signs are not "flashing signs."
  • Electronically controlled message centers are considered to be "flashing signs."
  • Non-conforming legal signs are defined as those that were lawfully erected and maintained prior to coming under the purview of the amended sign code or those granted a waiver and are "grandfathered" if they have a permit, even if the business is sold.
  • Non-conforming illegal signs, those that were illegal when constructed and have never conformed to town code are subject to code enforcement.
  • Outdoor advertising is now illegal, unless it was legal at the time of construction.

Public hearing comments

Resident John Dworak of Rampart Realty expressed three concerns. The revision limits commercial real estate signs to 6 square feet, while the industry standard for commercial real estate signs is 4 feet by 4 feet. The restriction imposes extra costs on landowners and realtors to make special "for sale" signs for Monument. Standard commercial signs typically cost $300 while standard residential signs typically cost $30.

The town should also allow one "for sale" or "for lease" sign per tenant or suite in multi-tenant buildings, Dworak said. Different realtors may be advertising suites in the same building at the same time.

The town should change the restriction of only one sign on large commercial parcels with extensive frontages with a rule that allows a proportional number of signs. He suggested one sign per 200 feet of frontage.

A.B. Tellez, owner of Rosie’s Diner on Highway 105, asked if his neon road and building signs, which were on the restaurant when he recently bought it, would now be prohibited. Kassawara replied that they are "grandfathered" because they have a permit and would still be legal if Tellez sold the diner. His temporary pennants and streamers would be allowed during the annual car show as well.

Savage asked, "Is there anything illegal about my signs?" Kassawara replied that his curb signs are illegal under both versions of the code because their size is larger than the two square feet allowed for directional signs. Savage said that the signs would be ineffective and unsafe if reduced to two square feet. These signs that say "Open" and "Enter" are placed by Savage’s access to Highway 105 and his rear alley entrances to the oil change bays and to the car wash.

Kassawara noted that the banner signs that Savage uses for his car wash are all illegal under the old code. One would be legal under the new code if he installs a "banner board" to hold it, but it would count as one of his three permissible business signs when displayed.

Savage has displayed banner signs:

  • On the corner of Second Street and Highway 105
  • By the Second Street entrance to the alley that leads to the entrances for his oil change bays and the entrance to his car wash. Both entrances are at the rear of his building
  • Over the payment window for the car wash.

Kassawara said he and Savage disagreed on the adequacy of the definition of flashing signs in the code. Savage’s electronic sign is legal, but the frequency of Savage’s message is higher than the proposed limit of once a day. Savage’s messages change every two to three seconds.

Savage replied that the new code did not specifically define the word "flashing." Other cities define a flashing limit of four seconds. "It’s absurd to say flashing is just once a day" and is "completely unfair," Savage said. His attorney had told him that several cities have been sued over similar restrictions, the sign people have normally won those suits, and this was "something I don’t want to get into. I don’t know why you guys approved my sign and now you’re telling me I can’t use it the way I intended on using it. That just doesn’t make sense to me." Colorado state law allows electronic signs to change as often as every four seconds.

Savage noted that the code revision is based on the Castle Rock sign code, which allows 2.5 square feet of sign per each linear foot of building or 1.5 square feet of linear lot frontage and allows signs on any and all walls within the square footage limit. Savage has wall signs on all four sides of his building. He added that the new code makes it hard for him to compete with the Wal-Mart oil change center. Wal-Mart is allowed to have 27 signs, as well as banners and streamers, in the Monument Marketplace Planned Development while he is allowed only two wall signs and his pole sign.

Jim Stilton of Master-Bilt Homes at the Villages at Monument said, "There is kind of an uproar right now" because the town did not communicate with the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce about how much change there would be in the sign code revision. "There are a lot of items in there that seem to be questionable to the chamber," he said. "What is another month or two to get something like this taken care of?" He said he was confused by the changes.

Don Peterson, owner of First Class Pack and Ship in the Safeway shopping center, asked if Green had read the studies on small-business advertising that he had provided to her and the board at the Feb. 4 meeting, as directed by Mayor Glenn at that meeting. She said she had not. She made his documentation available to trustees and individuals at their discretion in Town Hall.

Peterson questioned the need for police to be able to see in windows at businesses like Curves, which normally has all its blinds closed for the privacy of the women who are working out. He also said that window signs are 20 times more effective than advertisements in publications and objected to the code restrictions on sign sizes and window coverage.

Lucy Maguire, Monument’s director of Downtown Development, said the sign code revision was a normal part of Monument’s growth. The changes were prepared by an experienced and qualified professional staff and are evolutionary and needed to avoid problems in 10 years, she said.

Board comments

Plank said business owners needed to look at the town with "new eyes" so that there aren’t too many signs "shouting for attention" or blocking each other. She said she had asked the staff to review the sign ordinance so that the new code enforcement officer would have enforceable ordinances on the books. As a downtown business owner, it is not her goal to harm businesses or lower sales tax revenues. She added that a Chamber of Commerce representative attended the business owner meetings held by the staff.

Plank and Dworak had a lengthy discussion on real estate signs. Plank said Dworak could get a variance for each of his real estate signs. However, each sign would also require an individual permit application and approval until the variance or waiver was approved. Green suggested that the board make 4 feet by 4 feet the maximum size for commercial real estate signs that do not require an individual permit. She also suggested that real estate signs for each tenant be considered temporary so that the one real estate sign per building restriction would not apply.

Trustee Steve Samuels said the code is intended to be pro-business without allowing the town to "look like Times Square." As a small-business owner, he said he has learned that service is at least as important as signs in business growth, if not more so. Small businesses have to compete with Wal-Mart and Kohl’s with quality service and an attractive, well-maintained building. Owners need to read the local newspaper to stay abreast of town issues. A once-a-day change is too restrictive on flashing signs, but every four seconds is too frequent, he said. Owners of electronic signs should be able to change messages.

Glenn said he agreed with Dworak’s real estate sign requests. He did not want flashing signs that resembled those in Las Vegas — people stop paying attention to them after a while — nor any more neon signs. He said that Savage’s banner signs catch people’s eyes rather than his "very nice landscaping." He also could not account for business owners not reading the local newspaper and "only 14" attending the Jan. 17 Town Hall meeting.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said he had never seen a successful suit in Colorado by a small-business owner regarding sign code restrictions.

After a lengthy discussion of each trustee’s opinion on what the minimum flashing interval should be for Savage’s sign, Shupp said the board members needed to apply "a modicum of common sense" in setting a limit. Ultimately a judge would decide what constitutes flashing if the matter were taken to court.

Glenn suggested changing the limit in the proposed revision from one day to one hour, and to allow up to four-by-four-foot commercial real estate signs without a permit.

The board approved the sign code revision by a 4-1 vote, with Trustee Gail Drumm opposed to any restriction on the number or interval of Savage’s messages.

Staff reports

The board unanimously approved a change order submitted by Nelson Pipeline Inc. for extending a 12-inch water line southward on Old Denver Highway from Wagon Gap Trail to the Colorado Sports Center property. The cost of dealing with unexpected, excessive amounts of groundwater, and additional pumping and trench stabilization, was $8,259. Two additional unexpected utility crossings cost $1,493. However, the project was still under the bid price of $134, 039 by $2,211 due to savings made by Nelson in the amount of materials used.

The board unanimously approved one-year liquor license renewals for Jasmine Garden, a restaurant at 1425 Cipriani Loop, and Casa Diego’s Restaurant at 1455 Cipriani Loop. There were no violations during the past year at either restaurant.

The board unanimously approved the following payments over $5,000:

  • $115,178 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of December sales taxes
  • $6,346 to Triview for its share of motor vehicle taxes
  • $48,205 to Nolte Associates Inc. for engineering work on the Third Street renovation project
  • $24,862 to Friedland Construction for work on Well 9
  • $6,827 to Colorado Machinery for repairs on a town backhoe
  • $101,923 to El Paso County Department of Transportation for escrowed funds for the traffic signal at Baptist Road
  • $21,332 to El Paso County Water Authority for the town’s annual 2008 dues
  • $25,000 to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for the town’s annual 2008 dues

Treasurer Pamela Smith attended her first board meeting in a few months, drawing cheers from all in attendance. She is continuing to recover from injuries sustained in a horse-riding accident. The board unanimously approved her pre-audit financial report for the December/year-end financial report. The audit will be performed in April.

Smith also presented her 2007 sales tax summary. Sales tax collections were $39,298 over the amount projected. The town’s gross sales tax collections increased 19 percent in 2006 and 28 percent in 2007.

Shupp reported that District Court Judge David Prince had rejected Kalime Masse’s latest appeal of the town’s November, 2006 rejection of her second request for a renewal of the long-expired business license for the defunct Rockwell Ready-Mix concrete batch plant on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street. Shupp said he expected that Masse would appeal Prince’s decision to the Court of Appeals. Prince did not rule on Masse’s separate case for a request for renewal of the plant’s long-expired building permit. Shupp expects the legal battle to continue for another five years.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported that he expected the department to make more drug arrests following the recent arrest of two Lewis-Palmer High School students for drug distribution.

The Police Department will be working with St. Peter Catholic Church and other faith-based groups to conduct additional emergency-preparedness training.

The department met for two weeks with the Palmer Lake Police Department to assess combining some services with Monument. He said it was in the best interest of both departments that Palmer Lake hire its own new police chief. Shirk will participate in the search and selection.

The town will install an alarm system with a panic button for the safety of meeting participants in Town Hall. Other security measures will be added without public notice.

Green reported that the town is meeting with Forest Lakes Metropolitan District on partnering in the district’s water tank, water treatment facility, and pipeline infrastructure. The district is in El Paso County next to the just-annexed Willow Springs Ranch development. Green suggested hiring a code enforcement officer sooner than mid-summer, as planned for in the 2008 budget. The board agreed to fill the position early, before watering season begins.

There was a lengthy discussion of Green’s proposal to implement a payment schedule for trustees for regular and special board meetings and for attendance at other meetings as the town’s representative, prior to the April election. The suggested schedule was $30 for meetings in Monument, $40 in Colorado Springs, and $60 in Denver and Pueblo. If the payments were to be approved, only those trustees elected in April would be eligible for them.

There was no consensus on trustee payments for meetings or the amounts for each type. Payments can only begin after the election following creation of the payment program, and only to those trustees who have stood for election. Glenn, Drumm, and Plank are eligible to run for re-election and would be eligible to be paid if they are re-elected and the payment program is approved before the April election. Mertz has announced that he will not run for re-election. The other three trustees are not up for election in April.

Plank said the three candidates for re-election should abstain from the vote. This would require that the other four trustees be in attendance for the vote so that they constitute a quorum.

The matter was continued.

The board went into executive session at 8:30 to discuss real estate negotiations.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. March 3 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, February 13: YMCA parcel replat, Empirical Testing site plan approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission on Feb. 13 approved a replat of Tract A of the Woodmoor Placer Subdivision that created three separate lots within the 32-acre YMCA parcel between Lewis-Palmer High School and I-25. The board also approved the preliminary/final Planned Development (PD) site plan for two buildings to be constructed by Empirical Testing Corp. on the southeast corner of Mitchell and Synthes Avenues. Several adjacent residents expressed concerns about the impact of the new construction on safety and traffic on Mitchell and Arnold Avenues.

Commissioner Kathy Spence was absent due to illness.

YMCA parcel replatted into three lots

Mark Johannes of consultant Clark Land Surveying in Colorado Springs was the applicant representing the land owners, YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region and Vision Development, also located in Colorado Springs.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith noted that the 32.02-acre Tract A was divided into three lots. The 12-acre Lot 2 in the center of the parcel contains the new YMCA facility that is under construction. This lot was donated to the YMCA by Vision Development, which is the developer of Jackson Creek.

Lot 1 to the north is 11.648 acres. Lot 3 to the south is 8.364 acres. Both of these lots are still owned by Vision Development.

New utility easements were created by vacations at the common boundaries of each of the new lots. Separate gas (15 feet) and electric (20 feet) utility easements run the full length of the western boundary of the entire parcel, next to I-25.

A 30-foot Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District easement runs the full length of the southern boundary of Lot 3, along Higby Road. A 20-foot utility easement also runs the full length of eastern edge of the parcel along the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway. The previously platted 16-foot telephone access easement near the dividing line of Lots 2 and 3 and the 50-foot electrical easements near the east side of the parcel were vacated.

The YMCA is creating these new lots for development. Griffith stated that the proposed vacation and replat conforms to 13 town code subdivision regulation requirements. The Regency Park Planned Development zoning for the parcel is Planned Commercial Development, which is to be used for mixed-use commercial/residential development.

Griffith reported that:

  • Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) also requested a 20-foot utility easement on the north side of northern Lot 1 and the south side of southern Lot 3. These easements were not shown as part of the replat.
  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District requested an additional utility easement along the western boundary of the subdivision that overlaps the existing MVEA easement and a 20-foot public utility easement across the northern boundary of Lot 1. These easements were not shown as part of the replat.
  • Vision Development expressed concerns that these additional easements in Lots 1 and 3 may not be needed to provide utilities to the subdivision. The town staff has recommended that these referral requests be further evaluated when development proposals for Lots 1 and 3 are submitted to the town. If any of the requested additional easements are in fact needed, they can be dedicated as part of the final site plan approval process. Griffith proposed that this be made a condition of approval and listed as a note on the replat documents.
  • Woodmoor requested that a note be added to the replat documents stating that "The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District shall not provide any service to Lot 1 until the owner/developer dedicates utility easements to the District. Such easement alignment(s) shall be dedicated to the District in a configuration and form of legal instrument satisfactory to the District." Griffith proposed that this also be made a condition of approval and listed as a note on the replat and vacation documents.
  • A third standard condition of approval was that any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by staff prior to recording the replat and vacation.
  • Woodmoor had asked for another condition of approval just before the hearing: A new 30-foot water and sewer easement should be dedicated along the northerly part of Lot 1 in the approximate location where the existing sewer easement is located prior to recordation of the replat. Griffith proposed that this also be made a condition of approval and listed as a note on the replat and vacation documents.

New Commissioner David Gwisdalla asked Griffith about buffers for future houses along Bowstring Road. Griffith said the smaller lots would likely reduce the scale of the buildings that would be proposed and be more compatible for views. She said the nearby segment of Bowstring is in the county and not connected to Jackson Creek Parkway, so there are no traffic circulation issues. Circulation is a standard plat criterion.

Gwisdalla asked why there were no acceleration or deceleration turn lanes required for each of the three subdivision lots and why they weren’t a condition of approval for the replat. Griffith said a traffic study would be required when site plan proposals are submitted for development of Vision’s vacant lots. The studies would address the need for turn lanes at that time.

Turn lanes cannot be required by the town unless a traffic study shows that they are needed and they are also recommended by the town’s traffic consultant. When Jackson Creek Parkway is completed, there will be at least six lanes with turn lanes at the intersection for the entrance to the north high school parking lot. If traffic warrants southbound turn lanes when the YMCA construction is completed, the town will require construction at that time. However, the YMCA traffic consultant’s report that was approved by the town’s traffic consultant showed that there would be no requirement for the YMCA to pay for southbound turn lanes for the next 25 years.

Jackson Creek Parkway will become a four-lane boulevard in the future with dedicated right- and left-turn lanes for the new entrance to the north high school parking lot, which uses the same intersection as the main entrance for the YMCA.

Gwisdalla asked what the plans were for the two vacant lots. Johannes replied that Vision Development initiated the replat application, and he was not aware of Vision’s development plans for the two lots.

YMCA project manager Ted Rinebarger said the YMCA would open April 19. He invited the commissioners and staff to a tour before opening day.

There were no citizens’ comments. The replat and vacation were unanimously approved with the conditions noted above.

Empirical Testing Corp. site plan approved

Architects Rick Barnes and Matt Hood of Barnes Architects gave the initial presentation for land owner Chris Lissey and applicant Empirical Testing, which is a testing lab for artificial implant joints for Synthes and other manufacturers worldwide. Empirical is moving from Colorado Springs to what will be a larger facility with about 20 employees initially, and 35 when the final phase is completed. Low-noise testing machinery will operate automatically around the clock. [Correction: Empirical Testing does not do testing for Synthes, which has its own testing facility. OCN regrets the error.]

Barnes said it is a "clean" facility with no traffic impact or requirement for a large parking lot. They want a Mitchell Avenue address rather than a Synthes Avenue address to ensure that there is no appearance of any ties to Synthes Corp. and to preserve its image of complete impartiality for Synthes’ competitors.

Empirical’s driveway will be about one-third of the way down the hill from the Synthes Avenue intersection with Mitchell Avenue to the Colorado Junior Volleyball Gymnasium driveway. The gym is also in the Synthes industrial park, opposite the Arnold Avenue intersection with Mitchell.

Hood described the site plan proposal. Two buildings would be built in three phases. The first phase would be the northwest portion of the north building, about 25,000 square feet. Another 8,800 square feet would be added to the first building in the second phase. The third phase would be a separate building to the south of about 11,400 square feet. Parking and landscaping for each of the phases would exceed the town’s requirements. All existing trees would be preserved or relocated on the site to the maximum extent possible. Lost trees would be replaced on a two-for-one basis. Trees that die would be replaced.

County rural residential lots of 5 acres or more are to the west of the 7-acre vacant lot. Industrial plants and office buildings surround the lot in the other directions in the town’s Planned Industrial Development zone.

There would be a detention pond on the southwest corner of the property to control drainage from historic flows. The drainage has been reviewed and approved by the town engineer, Tom Kassawara, along with all other parts of the plan.

The buildings would be built into the natural berm of the lot, lowering their effective height and minimizing their visual impact for residences to the west. The buildings would be screened from these houses by landscaping that exceeds the requirements of the town. There would be only a few deliveries per week during the business day by standard delivery trucks.

Barnes noted that the building would be constructed of "green" products that minimize interference and noise during windy conditions. All exterior lights would be fully shielded to prevent any light from leaving the property in accordance with national lighting footprint restrictions. Exterior signs would not be illuminated at night. All heating and ventilation blowers will be on the east side of the buildings to minimize noise for adjacent residents.

There is sufficient water on the property, according to town water consultant, Lytle and Associates, for a 54,000-square-foot facility, but the plans call for 45,408 square feet.

MVEA may need an additional electrical utility easement, which it can request when Empirical applies for service. This easement would have to be dedicated to MVEA by a separate instrument, since the lot is not being replatted.

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue District has asked for an additional hydrant. It also asked that the proposed hydrant be relocated due to an access conflict with the proposed landscaping. The location of the hydrants would be finalized during the staff’s review of the construction documents.

Griffith gave a report on the site plan’s compliance with the numerous preliminary and final PD site plan review and approval criteria in the town code. The number of parking places was determined by the number of employees instead of the area of the facility, which would have required more spaces. The staff approved the lower number because most of the facility’s testing equipment operates automatically. Empirical has far fewer employees than a manufacturing business would have for the same square footage.

Griffith proposed three conditions of approval:

  1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by the staff.
  2. Surety (an escrowed cash deposit) for the cost of providing a sidewalk along the Mitchell Avenue frontage will be provided prior to recordation of the site plan.
  3. Any necessary utility easements shall be dedicated by separate instrument upon request by a utility provider.

There was a lengthy technical discussion among Gwisdalla, Griffith, and Barnes about traffic, drainage, and landscaping requirements, during which Barnes and Griffith showed how the plans met or exceeded all town code requirements. Barnes and Griffith also answered all the other commissioners’ questions.

It was noted that the town will not provide any additional stormwater protection for the industrial park as part of its stormwater master plan. Also, there is adequate capacity for planned employee trips on Mitchell Avenue and the Second Street intersection for the next 25 years.

Some of the neighboring landowners’ concerns were:

  • The town does not enforce stop-sign and speeding violations on Mitchell Avenue between Synthes Avenue and Arnold Avenue.
  • Too many cars park on Mitchell and Arnold Avenues during competitions at the volleyball gym.
  • Too many Synthes employee vehicles from the parking lot to the south of the gym cannot make it up the hill to the Synthes Avenue intersection during snowstorms.
  • Silt is deposited into the driveways and lots on the west side of Mitchell Avenue due to excessive erosion of the sandy soil in the industrial park.
  • There is a lot of traffic during the shift changes at the manufacturing plants.
  • Mitchell Avenue has never been connected to Baptist Road, as planned for about 15 years, forcing all traffic in this area to go north to the Second Street intersection where backups occur during train crossings.
  • The Empirical buildings should use a driveway on Synthes Avenue or a common driveway with the gym.

Griffith and Barnes replied that Empirical’s small number of vehicle trips would not aggravate traffic problems on Mitchell and Arnold Avenues as shown in the traffic study covering a 25-year period.

A Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District sewer easement along the south boundary of the Empirical lot precludes the installation of a driveway entrance on the southwest corner of the property, as does the steep slope on that part of the lot.

At the end of the two-hour hearing, the commissioners stated their consensus that it was unlikely that there would ever be a better commercial neighbor than Empirical Testing for the adjacent residential landowners. The preliminary/final PD site plan was unanimously approved with the three proposed conditions.

The meeting adjourned at 8:59 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 12 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, February 8: BRRTA to move forward on bids for interchange

Below: When the I-25 Baptist interchange is expanded by the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, the new access to the Diamond Shamrock fuel station on the northwest corner of the interchange will be through the Phoenix Bell property using a portion of the abandoned Old Denver Highway shown below. The CDOT historian has not yet determined whether this concrete has to be preserved because of its historical importance. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

Enough right-of-way has been donated to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) on the west side of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange to allow the authority to start the process of advertising for a construction bid for part of the project, according to an update given at the Feb. 8 BRRTA meeting.

THF Realty, owner of the former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store, has still refused to provide right-of-way. Condemnation may be the only way for BRRTA to obtain the necessary land to build new northbound on-ramps, westbound lanes, and an eight-lane bridge. Representatives of ADK Monument Developers LLC, owner of the vacant Timbers at Monument property, which surrounds the vacant hardware store, have informed Monument Mayor Byron Glenn that ADK will donate right-of-way for widening Baptist Road, but have not done so to date.

New County Commissioner Amy Lathen, who was appointed to replace Douglas Bruce, attended her first BRRTA meeting. She replaces Commissioner Jim Bensberg for 2008. Commissioner Wayne Williams was absent, attending another meeting. Monument Trustee Dave Mertz announced that he is not seeking re-election to the Board of Trustees and would be leaving the BRRTA board when his term ends.

Election of officers for 2008

The chairmanship rotates between the county and the town each year. The board unanimously elected the following officers:

Chairman – Commissioner Williams
Vice Chairman – Monument Mayor Byron Glenn
Secretary – Commissioner Lathen
Assistant Secretary – Commissioner Dennis Hisey

Financial report

The board unanimously re-appointed Dawn Schilling to perform the 2007 audit. Schilling’s fee schedule remains the same as for the 2006 audit, not to exceed $3,500. Copies of the final 2006 audit, which was approved at the previous meeting in November, were distributed to the board members.

The board unanimously approved payment of nine checks for a total of $103,398:

  • $3,300 to Dawn A. Schilling, LLC for the 2006 audit
  • $1,834 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $52,217 to PBS&J for engineering services
  • $1,407 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services
  • $1,875 to BKD LLC for accounting services
  • $6,876 to Carter & Burgess, Inc. for construction management services
  • $1,667 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $30,444 to PBS&J for engineering services
  • $3,778 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services

District Manager Denise Denslow, of R.S. Wells LLC, said that the board would have to amend the 2007 budget at the next meeting.

Denslow noted that BRRTA funds are being used to pay for some interchange invoices from Carter & Burgess, PBS&J, and the Colorado Department of Transportation, instead of revenue bond proceeds, until it is certain that the cost of the construction project for expanding the I-25 Baptist Road interchange does not exceed the proceeds of the bond issue. Denslow said that once the interchange construction contract is approved, these temporary BRRTA expenditures of about $70,000 to date will be paid back from bond proceeds.

PBS&J was hired by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to assess the I-25 corridor, design the Baptist Road interchange, and prepare a bid package in 2006. PBS&J continues to be a consultant to CDOT. CDOT must approve all aspects of the expansion even though BRRTA is paying for it with voter-approved revenue bond proceeds to expedite completion.

PBS&J also designed the widening of Baptist Road east of Jackson Creek Parkway and construction of the new portion of Struthers Road that now connects to the parkway. PBS&J is also managing the Baptist and Struthers contracts for the county.

However, BRRTA selected Carter & Burgess to manage the interchange expansion contract. Some updates have been made to the original PBS&J design contract due to right-of-way and utility delays, requiring additional coordination between the two consultants and additional interchange billings from PBS&J.

The ongoing construction work on Baptist and Struthers Roads is paid for with Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funds. PBS&J engineering design costs are paid for by BRRTA road use fees.

Denslow said that revenue from BRRTA’s temporary one-cent sales tax, which is being used to pay for the bonds, was about $450,000 in 2007, a bit below the projected amount in the BRRTA budget. BRRTA’s attorney, Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw & Harring PC, added that monthly sales tax revenues started at about $62,000 for July and increased to about $90,000 in December.

On the other hand, BRRTA is receiving more interest earnings on its unexpended bond proceeds than projected in the 2007 budget because of delays in starting the bid process and construction. The BRRTA budgets for 2007 and 2008 were based on interchange construction beginning in December or January.

BRRTA road use fees for 2007 totaled about $614,000, and the end-of-year general fund balance was about $563,000. BRRTA’s total end-of-year assets totaled $699,584. These figures are subject to change after Schilling’s audit.

A separate audit will be performed to determine whether all BRRTA businesses have turned in the right amount of sales tax revenue, dating back to July 1. There were some businesses within BRRTA that didn’t start collecting the additional one-cent tax on July 1. Some catch-up deposits have already been made. Use tax revenues—sales tax that should be charged by county retail stores that are outside of BRRTA on goods delivered within BRRTA—were about $13,000.

The financial report was unanimously approved.

Sewer line contract approved

The board unanimously approved an amendment for an increase of $56,412 for the interchange construction management contract with Carter & Burgess. The amendment increased the total cost from $1,692,703 to $1,749,115.

Construction project contract manager Bob Torres, of Carter & Burgess, said the increase is to pay for an appraisal report on the land for the required easement and right-of-way acquisition services (about $31,000), as well as design of a new sanitary sewer line (about $25,000). The town of Monument is paying for the sanitary sewer collection line that will run from a Triview Metropolitan District interceptor by Old Denver Highway to the Diamond Shamrock truck stop on the northwest corner of the Baptist Road interchange. Even though the fuel station is on the west side of I-25, it was previously included by Triview.

Carter & Burgess will provide construction plans and cost estimates for the installation of about 1,500 feet of 21-inch collection line, manholes, and an 8-inch tap for the truck stop. The collection line will run along the north side of Baptist Road.

The truck stop’s septic tank and leach field are on the southeast corner of the property, where the new southbound off-ramp will be constructed. They must be removed before construction of the ramp begins.

The Monument Board of Trustees has already approved payment for all other aspects of the construction, in return for the donation of right-of-way by the adjacent landowners to BRRTA. There is no expense to Triview for this collection line installation.

Torres said Carter & Burgess will also initiate appraisals and notices for the condemnation process for the THF and ADK rights-of-way. Glenn asked Torres to hold off on the condemnation paperwork for ADK because its representative Larry Johnson had told him that ADK is moving forward with a donation. Torres replied that ADK would need a different type of appraisal for tax purposes if its right-of-way is donated.

Meeting schedule ratified

The board unanimously approved its 2008 meeting schedule. Regular meetings will take place on the second Friday, every two months, at 2:30 p.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. No meetings will be held in Colorado Springs because the County Commissioners’ building is now closed on Fridays. Any special BRRTA meetings will also be held in Town Hall regardless of the day of the week. The posting places for meeting notices are Town Hall, the commissioners’ building, and the bulletin board in the Baptist Road King Soopers.

Baptist Road update

Capital Programs Division Manager Andre Brackin, of the El Paso County Department of Transportation, reported that the contract work for Baptist and Struthers Road improvement was about 80 percent complete—$8.1 million expended of the $10.3 million total.

Bills for some utility relocations costs have not been received, about $500,000 from Mountain View Electric Association and about $200,000 from Qwest. The utility contracts are separate from the road construction contract.

The final layer of paving and the unfinished grading have been held up by cold weather and an 18-inch layer of underground frost. Some culvert installations have been delayed between Leather Chaps and Gleneagle Drives, as well as storm drain installations along the eastbound lane between Struthers and the Family of Christ Lutheran Church. However, construction of the retention wall by the church is progressing. Storm drains east of Gleneagle on the north side of Baptist, by the flood plain are also progressing. Manhole lid levels will be adjusted when the final layer of paving is installed.

Severe winds damaged several sensors and support equipment for the new traffic signals at the Baptist and Struthers intersection. Cost of repairs was estimated at about $15,000. Glenn suggested that Brackin "not automatically consider the damage an act of God," given the number of discrepancies found in the county’s final inspection of the signals just before the windstorm.

The Gleneagle Drive traffic signal is about ready for acceptance by the county. Money collected by the town from the adjacent contractors and put into escrow had not been transferred to the county transportation department. The town agreed to pay for half the installation cost, and the Promontory Pointe developer paid the other half. The county must receive all the escrowed funds before it can accept the signals and pay the contractor. Final acceptance will occur when the signal becomes operational in all four directions, once houses are being built in Promontory Pointe.

Installation of the freestanding noise wall along the south side of Baptist between Gleneagle and Desiree Drives has been delayed. Ownership of the land under the sound wall has changed. At the time the wall was planned, the area homeowners association owned this narrow 1,370-foot-long tract of land. However, the HOA subsequently deeded the bits of land to the individual lot owners in a subdivision agreement. The remaining easement for this strip only covers drainage purposes and does not allow for any structures of any kind.

The sound wall consists of prefabricated concrete panels that will be lowered by a crane into slots on fencepost-like bollards. The project cost was to be about $160,000, assuming the easement for the fence had been secured. Although most of the affected landowners are eager to have the noise wall constructed, the county is delaying the installation until the legal issues over the easement and ownership are resolved.

The existing privacy fence presents another issue: whether it should be torn down or remain standing, which would create a gap between it and the sound wall and likely collect trash and weeds. If the fence is torn down, existing side fences will not extend to the noise wall, nor is there a method to connect the needed fence extensions to the wall.

The PBS&J construction management contract tasks for Baptist and Struthers should be completed by the end of March. The county staff will perform any remaining inspection and management tasks. All work on the PPRTA-financed projects should be completed by June 1.

Interchange update

Torres noted that right-of-way along Baptist Road on the west side of I-25 has been donated by the Schuck Corp. and Phoenix-Bell. A representative of Valero Corp., owner of the truck stop, inspected the proposed right-of-way allocation to BRRTA with Torres. He has recommended corporate approval of the donation, but the donation had not been completed.

The ADK donation is progressing, though no paperwork has been signed or exchanged, pending a formal appraisal of the right-of-way value. Torres will suspend any work on purchase or condemnation of the ADK right-of-way.

While THF has signed for all the certified documents that BRRTA has sent to it, THF has not communicated with any BRRTA representatives recently. Torres will continue with the condemnation and possession and use processes.

The Army Corps of Engineers verbally approved a 404 environmental permit for the project. The application was signed by Commissioner Williams and forwarded to the corps. The permit had not been sent to BRRTA, however.

Torres noted that the CDOT staff historian has not determined whether the long section of abandoned Old Denver Highway in the donated Phoenix-Bell right-of-way is sufficiently historic to preserve. Torres said that CDOT official Dan Hunt intends to give BRRTA permission to advertise for construction contract bids prior to the historian approving removal of this concrete.

Torres said he would notify all the affected utilities that the bidding process is about to move forward. MVEA has moved some of its electric power lines on both sides of I-25, but has not yet been paid for that work. The cost to BRRTA will be between $475,000 and $500,000 for the relocations and the three new MVEA easements. There is no cost for the new easement in CDOT’s land on the southeast quadrant of the interchange.

All other utilities are relocating their equipment at their own expense.

Torres has provided MVEA with updated construction and right-of-way plans so that it can submit an update to the utility’s original intergovernmental agreement with BRRTA, which MVEA submitted in January 2007.

The BRRTA board must formally approve the updated agreement as soon as it receives it from MVEA, and then forward the document to CDOT for review and approval. CDOT will not allow BRRTA to advertise the construction bid until it has approved the updated agreement. Hunsaker said board members can review and approve the agreement by an e-mail vote, without holding a special meeting.

Construction bid package issues

Torres noted that the new truck stop sanitary sewer collection line design has to be finalized and approved by Triview, then included in the proposed bid package.

PBS&J has advised Torres that it must have all the new requirements from all the utility clearances in hand before it can begin the final update of the engineering design package for the interchange. PBS&J will need three days to prepare the updated final design package.

Once Carter & Burgess has completed the final draft of the bid package, the county department of transportation and CDOT will need two weeks to review and approve it before it is advertised.

Torres said that the advertisement could go out as early as March 17. The standard advertising period is three weeks. Once the bids are opened, it normally takes about three to four weeks to determine the winning bid and issue a notice to proceed to the selected contractor. This could occur as early as the end of April, with construction starting in May.

This timeline is entirely dependent on receiving donations or documentation granting possession and use for the necessary west side right-of-way, as well as prompt utility clearances. Even if possession and use of east side right-of-way is obtained fairly soon, most of the initial construction work will occur on the west side because there is no Preble’s mouse habitat there.

The first project on the east side will be installation of much larger stormwater precast concrete culverts to carry Jackson Creek flows under Baptist Road. This will start in November during the winter Preble’s mouse hibernation period that lasts until April 1. The project could be finished as early as the end of summer 2009, based on the proposed 18-month construction schedule.

Glenn noted that it has been 18 months since the sales tax was approved to pay for this project. Hisey noted that bid prices have been lower recently. Torres said that cost increase during the start-up delay may be offset by cost avoidance from the donated right-of-way, keeping the total contract cost close to the initial estimate of $15 million.

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The next BRRTA meeting is at 2:30 p.m. on April 11 in Town Hall. Meetings will normally be held on the second Friday of even-numbered months. For information, call 884-8017.

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Gleneagle Community Meeting, February 12: Gleneagle Golf Club pushes patio homes

By Bill Carroll

In September 2007, the Gleneagle Golf Club and its planning consultant, Thomas & Thomas Inc., advised the Gleneagle community they had been working on a development plan to eliminate the driving range and the gold championship tee boxes on the golf course and build homes on the site.

Gleneagle General Manager Jon Brockman said the club was seeking ways to raise $1.5 million to install a new irrigation system throughout the golf course, and the most plausible avenue of approach to date was to eliminate the existing driving range and all the gold championship tee boxes. Although the club would still look to actively seek new members and implement a new membership level (Eagle membership), the plan was to build 51 town homes on the driving range and three or four new single-family homes on several of the tee boxes that had sufficient room for such new homes.

At a meeting Feb. 12, the golf club and Thomas & Thomas advised the community of some updates to their plans:

  • Now only 47 patio homes, some single-story (along the boarder with Eagle Villas), instead of 51 townhomes, are planned to be built on the driving range, with a density of 5.1 dwelling units per acre.
  • The footprint per building increased to 1,700 to 2,400 square feet, up from 1,200 to 1,700 square feet.
  • The championship gold tees would not be removed, and no single-family homes would be built on or near those areas of some of the course.

When asked during the recent meeting, Thomas & Thomas President Perry Thomas advised they did not have any final traffic data at this time. In conversations with Thomas, it appeared they were heavily relying upon the traffic study done by Picolan in 2005-06 for the Morningside development to be built behind Doral Way in Gleneagle, to suffice. According to "preliminary" data, Thomas stated that the traffic coming from the 47 patio homes will have a 4-6 percent increase in traffic flow at the intersection of Gleneagle Drive and Struthers Road, though no data for the intersection of Mission Hills and Gleneagle were available.

The concept plan for the development is essentially complete and in close to final form, yet no developer has been identified. The plan still calls for the proposed development to be a "single-entry" type, with that single entrance being off Mission Hills Drive adjacent to the existing golf course parking lot. Additionally, the plan calls for an "emergency" access road/point planned for the end of one of the development’s cul-de-sacs that would intersect with Gleneagle Drive at the curve between the rear of the Eagle Villas and Sun Hills Drive; a blind and dangerous curve.

The change in the number of proposed units would be more in-line with the surrounding housing density, but Thomas & Thomas appeared to be only taking into account the density of the Gleneagle Townhomes and Eagle Villas, not the density of the single-family homes on the opposite side of Hole 6 that borders the south edge of the proposed development and where other Gleneagle homes are located on larger lots. The development plan also calls for street lights throughout the proposed new development.

Perry Thomas stated they should have an application ready to submit to the El Paso County Planning Commission around early to mid-March to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Revise the area’s master plan to incorporate the proposed development.
  • Change the zoning of only the driving range from the existing R-5 to PUD or some other level of zoning that would allow a development of patio homes with a 5.1 dwelling unit per acre density.
  • Get the development plan concept approved. When a developer is identified, they would go back to the Planning Commission for an "administrative" level of approval for the final layout, but all the approvals to move forward would be in-place from this initial submittal.
Thomas & Thomas anticipates a six-to-10-month time frame from now to when it will hold hearings at the Planning Commission and County Commissioners for final approval of the plan and initial construction. The golf course would maintain ownership of the land and be the seller of the patio homes.

Brockman said course revenue was up 18-22 percent over the past two years, and so is golf playership. The club has generated only two new Eagle memberships ($7,500 initiation fee plus $200 per month) to date, but has been marketing this membership level only since December 2007, and it will continue to push for new memberships. This is the membership level the club hoped, with 200 new members, would generate the $1.5 million needed to pay for the new irrigation system.

The club will continue parallel paths in getting the proposed development approved but not implementing it unless they cannot locate a way to finance the new irrigation system by other means. During the recent meeting, Brockman clearly stated to the assembled group that there would be no promises or guarantee to the community that the owner will not follow a similar path in the future for the rest of the golf course. Brockman did state, however, that this was not the intended path.

The owner, Miles Scully, a California attorney, wants to maintain the golf course with an improved irrigation system and the full 18 holes with championship tees. Brockman said he is actively seeking financing alternatives for the irrigation system rather than eliminate the driving range.

Perry Thomas advised that they met with representatives of the Eagle Villas complex that are directly adjacent to the proposed development and modified their plans to make sure patio homes bordering them would only be single-story and that set-backs between the two developments would be the same or greater than currently exist.

In a conversation following the meeting, Brockman said that when the course was originally built, it was a private course and membership was built into the purchase price of lots and homes so that all buyers were automatically members. They had to pay a monthly membership maintenance fee to retain that membership. Brockman said membership transferred to new owners of those homes, but over the years that somehow got blurred and it did not appear anybody took advantage of this option.

As a means to help increase revenue to partner with other alternative financing he is looking at, Brockman stated that he is willing to honor that original club membership agreement and arrangement for all existing owners who reside in those original homes. He said this means that owners of all of the Donala Subdivision 1 and 2 lots and homes would be eligible. Essentially, therefore, lot or home owners in this original area who want to be members of the golf course will now be considered members if they pay a monthly maintenance fee. A full listing of the membership levels available can be found at the Gleneagle Web site: www.gleneaglegolfclub.com

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, February 21: Board urged to propose mill levy override ballot measure

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting February 21, during citizen comments, teachers and residents urged the board to promptly place a mill levy override (MLO) question on the November ballot so there will be sufficient time to effectively inform voters about the importance of passing the measure.

Many of the citizen comments echoed the impassioned statements of teacher Jennifer Ewing who said, "I’m here because I love my kids and I love this district. I don’t want to leave but I don’t see how I can stay if I don’t have the resources to teach."

Margaret Ryan added, "I don’t see how you can consider not pursuing the MLO until it passes."

Board member Mark Pfoff said, "Teachers are what make this district what it is." He added that the board members must carefully go through the budget to make sure they are not asking for tax money unless it is really needed. He said, "We need to take the time to put forth the best ballot measure we can."

Board member John Mann added that the board has not yet made a decision on whether to propose a ballot measure or not although they are hoping to make that decision in the next month or so.

In other citizen comments, Jean Miller and Patrick Merrigan urged the board and administration to address what they described as abusive and neglectful behavior of Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) coach Chuck Milo.

Enrollment report

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported that the district received 278 open enrollment requests and in all cases was able to honor the requester’s first choice. They are continuing to accept appeal applications from those who missed the open enrollment deadline.

Of the 278 open enrollment requests, 58 were for students to go to LPHS and 43 were for students to go to Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS).

There were 17 requests for elementary and middle school students to go to the Monument Academy. There were 20 requests for Monument Academy students to go to other district schools. Most of those were for high school students. The Monument Academy no longer offers a high school program.

Adair reported that a new policy not requiring yearly open enrollment re-application has been drafted and is being reviewed by the district’s attorney. It will be brought to the board in March.

There were 39 students new to the district.

The district currently has 92 out-of-district students: 47 from Douglas County, 29 from the Air Academy district, 7 from Colorado Springs, 7 from Falcon, and 2 from Elizabeth.

The total enrollment in October 2007 was 5,222. The projected enrollment for October 2008 is for 5,170 students, a decline of 52 students.

Budget discussion

Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman presented their recommended budget realignment. Some highlights:

  • In school year 2007-2008, a $250,000 reduction is to be achieved through centralized curriculum textbook adoption, elimination of the elementary summer school, elimination of a Response to Intervention position, and elimination of the staffing pool.
  • In 2008-2009, additional reductions are needed totaling $1.7 million.
  • In 2009-2010, additional reductions are needed totaling $1.2 million.
  • In 2010-2011, additional reductions are needed totaling $300,000.
  • During that same period, the undesignated reserves will be reduced from the present $3.9 million to $450,000.

Some of the details of the 2008-2009 recommended realignments:

  • $270,000 in central office staff reductions. Duties will be reassigned to school principals or to the remaining central office staff.
  • $715,000 in reductions in full time equivalent staff positions. These staff reductions are intended to be handled through attrition. Class sizes will increase. Some staffing flexibility will be lost and some staff may have to change assignments or buildings.
  • $200,000 in reductions in supply budgets at the schools. This will reduce the flexibility of the schools and will reduce their ability to fund large projects.
  • $30,000 in tuition for full-day kinder/preschool. The programs will be required to become self-supporting. This may force some families out of the program.
  • $335,000 increase in fees charged for participation in various school programs. The district will continue to offer a variety of options for students but the fees may price some families out of participation.

Blanch noted that if no additional revenues are received (e.g., unless an MLO is passed), the additional $1.2 million reduction required in 2009-2010 would equate to 16-20 full-time staff positions. He said that would mean larger classes, loss of some programs, loss of support personnel for student interventions, damage to staff morale, and increased attrition.

He added that the further $300,000 reduction required in 2010-2011 would equate to 4-6 full time staff positions.

Blanch noted that some of the early reductions "need to be done." He added that part of it is correcting for fewer students than in past years.

Pfoff asked if the athletics and information technology (IT) budgets have been cut. Blanch replied that the IT budget would be cut about $50,000.

The board scheduled a community meeting March 10, 7 p.m. at the Learning Center to further discuss the budget realignment.

High school construction project update

Jeff Chamberlin of RLH Engineering reviewed this month’s progress on PRHS. Some highlights:

  • The project continues to be on schedule and within budget.
  • Of the $68 million in bond proceeds, interest, and other revenues, $40.6 million in invoices have been paid, $3.4 million in invoices have been processed during the latest month, and $17.6 million have been committed on current contracts leaving $6.4 million not yet committed.
  • Drilling and casing of the wells for the geothermal exchange field have been completed. System start up is scheduled for April 2008.
  • Masonry work is nearly completed. Glazing is 90 percent complete. Casework, painting, and other interior finish work are being completed.
  • Additional public tours are planned for April. A tour for incoming eighth and ninth graders is planned for May.

The board unanimously approved up to $1.66 million on a contract with Officescapes for purchase and installation of furnishings, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E). The contract includes all appliances, student desks, and chairs for the full 1,200-student capacity. The budget for FF&E was $1.75 million.

Other matters

  • New principals recognized – Dianne Kingsland, Principal of Creekside Middle School, and Lois Skaggs, Principal of Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, were introduced.
  • Girls’ gymnastics approved – Superintendent Blanch announced that the girls’ gymnastics program has been approved.
  • Board adopts policy governance – The board unanimously voted to adopt the policy governance model. Administrative policies will now be the responsibility of the superintendent. The board will focus primarily on the ends to be achieved. The administration will focus on the means to achieve those ends.
  • Learning Points community classes report – Adair reported that 19 classes, 65 percent of the proposed classes, had sufficient enrollment to be held. 208 class slots were filled. There are 110 adults, 78 students, and 21 seniors. Of the group, 12 families are attending classes together. Tuition receipts totaled $12,839 and that resulted in net revenue of $741, successfully meeting the goal of having the program be self-sustaining. Additional classes will be offered over spring break, during April and May, and during the summer. The April through June budget for the program is $17,740.
  • School calendars adopted – The board unanimously approved the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school calendars as presented by Wangeman.
  • Student learning report – Dr. Marie Revak reported on the results of the EXPORE tests of eighth graders; PLAN results for tenth graders; the EPAS system linking the results of EXPLORE, PLAN, and the American College Test (ACT) given to eleventh graders; and the Northwestern Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress assessments. There is more information on the assessments on the district’s web site. Her next report will come in June.
  • Superintendent review – Eaton read the board’s review of Blanch’s performance. The review noted the difficult political climate when Blanch was hired in January 2007. She cited his work on reorganizing the financial department, developing district budgets with the least impact to student learning, evolving a strategic vision for the district, his work with senior citizens and developing the Learning Points community classes program, his involvement in the planning and construction of PRHS and the LPHS stadium project, and his work with the board on implementing policy governance. Blanch said, "I’m proud to be part of this administrative team and support this board. There isn’t anything this team can’t handle."

**********

A community meeting to discuss the district budget will be held March 10, 7 p.m. at the Learning Center in the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson.

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center. The next regular monthly meeting of the Board will be held March 20 at 7 pm.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association meeting, February 25: Firefighters donate equipment to Woodmoor Public Safety

Below: Feb. 25: Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen (right) expresses appreciation to Jody Thorpe and the other firefighters. Photo provided by Chris Pollard.

By Chris Pollard

Five members of the Monument Firefighter Association, led by Jody Thorpe, presented a donation to the Woodmoor Improvement Association Public Safety department on Feb. 25. Chief Kevin Nielsen accepted 7 sets of Yaktrax ice grips, devices to reduce the danger of feet slipping on ice and snow. Thorpe expressed the firefighter association’s appreciation for the department’s services at accidents and other medical emergency situations, for its help in traffic control, and for other support.

Election of board officers and directors

New directors were elected at the annual WIA meeting in January. The officers and directors for 2008 were selected at this board meeting.

There were two candidates for board president, Steve Malfatti and George McFadden. Each gave brief presentations to the other members of the board and participated in a question and answer session

Malfatti stressed that he would work to continue the approach started by the previous president, Hans Post. Malfatti said he would have directors try to resolve internal board issues before they talked to the WIA office staff. He said that he believed in stiffening covenant enforcement and would likely want to add staff for covenant work and for the public safety department. He would also be against the involvement of a management company. If elected, Malfatti would not be able to attend future NEPCO meetings. He noted that he had asked Hans Post to represent him at NEPCO meetings.

McFadden said that his belief was that the main role of the president was to run the meeting and collectively set the agenda with the other directors. He believed that representation at NEPCO meetings could be spread among the directors. He noted that while he was generally in favor of a management company, he would comply with the majority direction. In the only vote of the night, Malfatti was elected by a 5-3 vote. The other appointments were:

Vice President - Terry Holmes
Secretary - Kevin Weese
Treasurer - Bill Walters
Director of the Architectural Control Committee - Ann Stevens-Goulanis
Director of Forestry - Amy Smith
Director of Covenants - George McFadden
Director of Public Safety - Jake Shirk
Director of Common Areas - Gary Marner

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

For the third month in a row, temperatures were below normal across the region in February. We received close to normal moisture and snowfall, helping to add much needed moisture to the soil as we head into spring.

The month started of with a quick-moving cold front that raced through the region during the evening hours of the 1st, bringing a shot of light snow and cooler temperatures. Highs on the 2nd struggled to reach the mid-20s under partly cloudy skies. Temperatures did rebound into the 30s on the 3rd and 4th, but more cold air and snow was headed our way late on the 4th through the 5th as colder air filtered into the area and snow began to fall. Between the mid-afternoon of the 4th through the morning of the 5th, 4-6 inches of fresh snow accumulated throughout the area. Temperatures were cold, with highs holding in the teens on the 5th and morning low temperatures dipping just below zero.

Over the next few days, several fast-moving weather systems brought intervening blows of cold air with light snow and brief warm-ups with gusty winds. The most interesting of these events occurred late on the 7th when a band of heavy snow set up over the area. This was a very localized event, with 3 inches falling between 11 p.m. and midnight over just the Palmer Divide from about Furrow Road to Black Forest Road. Temperatures reached into the low 30s the next afternoon, and then warmed to the mid- and upper-40s through the weekend.

Unsettled and generally cold weather prevailed from the 11th through the 17th as a series of storms raced across the region. None brought heavy snow to the Tri-Lakes, but some light snow did accumulate at times. On the 11th, 1-2 inches accumulated around the area, with warmer air briefly making an appearance behind this system as highs reached into the low 50s on the afternoon of the 13th. This was only the second time so far this year that we’ve topped 50° (Jan. 27 was the other).

However, this warm-up didn’t last long, as another cold front moved in on Valentine’s Day, with highs staying below freezing. Just a dusting of snow fell, but it certainly felt wintry throughout the day. Another break between systems moved in from the 15th to the 16th as highs again rebounded into the upper 40s. However, an even stronger surge of cold air moved in quickly late on the 16th. This again brought some light snow, generally 1-3 inches, and much colder temperatures as highs on the 17th only reached into the teens during the day.

Conditions dried out as we ended the month, but temperatures continued their wild swings. Highs jumped between the 30s and 40s and up to 50 during the last week of the month as several storms of Pacific origins moved through the area. These storms brought more heavy snows to our mountains — good news for reservoir storage and summer runoff (check the current mountain snowpack levels at www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/snow/state/current/daily/maps_graphs/index.html) —but only brief light snow to the Tri-Lakes on the 22nd, 23rd, and 25th. This pattern represents a subtle change for the area as we head into spring. Heavy snows are still possible and likely, but the sun is stronger, melting the snow more quickly. Also, precipitation that falls becomes more convective in nature, with heavy showers in one area while others often miss out.

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region. We can see 70° 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, but then March 2004 was mild and dry. Kind of makes you wonder what we’ll see this year. The official monthly forecast for March 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for equal chances of above or below normal temperatures and normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

February 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 36.8° (-2.2°)
Average Low 12.3° (-0.8°)
Highest Temperature 51° on the 13th
Lowest Temperature -7° on the 7th
Monthly Precipitation 0.77" (-0.01")
Monthly Snowfall 16.4" (+3.0")
Season to Date Snow 77.9" (+1.9") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 11.95" (-1.77") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us on the Palmer Divide, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Oh where, oh where?

Where can we recycle newspapers in the Tri-Lakes area? No longer at Safeway on Highway 105. No longer at King Soopers on Baptist Road. Now we have to take them to Tri-Lakes Recycling on Washington Street north of Highway 105.

I went there, up the snow-covered slippery dirt road, only to be told by the man there that I needed a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the newspaper bins at the far end of the fenced yard. Forget it!

Why no more bins in parking lots? My guess is because the owners of the supermarket lots are tired of having people dump their newspapers on the ground when the bins are full, making a mess and hoping someone else will clean it up. And I don’t blame them; I wouldn’t want all that trash on my driveway. So now we have to go to a very inconvenient place because of the slobs who dump their trash instead of taking it home and waiting until the bins are empty, as I have done in the past.

I guess I’ll just have to put my newspapers in my weekly trash pickup instead of recycling them as I’d like to do. Thanks, slobs. You’ve just made life a little more difficult for those of us who like to do the right thing.

Chuck Robinove

Editor’s note:

Herre are some recycling locations residents can use:

  • The Monument Academy dumpster is at 1808 Woodmoor Drive. This bin is provided free by Tri-Lakes Disposal and handles aluminum, newspapers, magazines, and junk mail. Tri-Lakes Disposal donates a portion of any profits from resale to Monument Academy, which uses the donations for its music and arts program.
  • The Shriners have a recycle bin for newspapers at 1845 Woodmoor Drive, on the northeast corner of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District parking lot.
  • Palmer Lake Elementary School has a large white recycle bin at Pie Corner (near the playground) at 115 Upper Glenway. Twenty-five kinds of paper and aluminum cans are accepted, and there are plans for plastic recycling. Proceeds go to PLES Green Panthers Recycling Program and will be used to purchase equipment for students.

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Perspective on Our Community: Proposed gas drilling poses risk to Monument Preserve

By Amy L. Smith

Gas drilling in El Paso County has been largely nonexistent for the past 15 years. That could change if Dyad Petroleum Co. of Midland, Texas, receives approval to drill along the Front Range. Dyad owns the oil and gas rights to approximately 21,000 acres in the Pike National Forest near Mount Herman.

In 2002, Dyad approached the U.S. Forest Service requesting approval to drill. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have reviewed two applications for permits to drill submitted by Dyad. One location is approximately 5 miles west of Mount Herman Road; the other is about a half-mile west and north of the corner of Mount Herman and Red Rocks Roads. Both well pad locations would be drilled using deviation methods (directional drilling) to target potential production zones under Raspberry Mountain.

The possibility of drilling in this area presents a risk to the Monument Preserve, which covers more than 1,000 acres of multi-use trails surrounding the Monument Fire Center at the base of Mount Herman. Because of the potential impact on the Preserve and surrounding area, the Friends of Monument Preserve (FOMP) is keeping members and nearby residents informed and is being an active voice in the process. The group’s main goal is "to preserve the area as an open space in as natural state as possible, while still allowing public use without any further degradation to the resource."

The Forest Service and BLM are currently completing an environmental assessment (EA) to disclose anticipated effects and associated activities of authorizing both exploratory well sites. This could include a central production facility located 2 miles up Mount Herman Road, electric transmission lines, and pipelines to move the petroleum.

The Forest Service is estimating release of the EA in April 2008 for formal public comment. If the permits are approved, an area of approximately 4.5 acres will be bulldozed near Red Rock Ranch. The 90-foot drilling rigs are scheduled to run for approximately two months. If no gas is found at the first site, the Forest Service feels that it is unlikely that Dyad would continue with the second site.

Although there have been many exploratory attempts in the past century, oil and gas production has failed to make a profit in El Paso County, according to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The conditions are ripe for natural gas when organic shale is trapped in porous sandstone under a layer of rock. Even though the conditions appear to be similar on the Front Range, specifically near Mount Herman, there is no guarantee any oil or gas would be found.

This kind of exploratory drilling is known as wildcat drilling. Ernie Gillingham, a surface reclamation specialist with the BLM, said, "Way over 90 percent of wildcat wells are plugged and abandoned." Although the presence of gas is not certain, the FOMP feels that drilling in this area is an inappropriate activity for this "urban interface." The group is concerned that the drilling would have adverse effects on the surrounding trail system and environment that could not be mitigated. While the proposal will undoubtedly outline reclamation efforts, it remains to be seen whether the area could truly be repaired back to its original state or whether it would be changed forever. Both the exploratory efforts as well as the potential expansion to a production facility would open the area up to visual, industrial, and noise impacts that would degrade the resource.

FOMP is working closely with the Forest Service in evaluating and providing input to this situation. Once the environmental assessment is completed, there will be a 30-day public comment period in which FOMP as an organization, as well as individual members, will be able to submit their comments.

For more information, go to the Forest Service Web page at www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/pp or the Friends of Monument Preserve Web page at www.fomp.org

Amy L. Smith is treasurer of FOMP and an active user of the trails of the Monument Preserve.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Pack a new paperback

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Looking for a good paperback to tuck into your purse, brief case or travel bag? Following are some new releases in fiction and nonfiction that offer insight and enjoyment.

Eat This Not That: Your Ultimate Guide to What to Eat When
By David Zinczenko (Rodale), $19.95

Do you know why a hot fudge sundae is a good dessert option? Why potato chips are better than fries? And why Swiss cheese is three times healthier than cheddar? This simple, illustrated guide to hundreds of foods explains why and offers nutrition tips that can lead to fast and permanent weight loss. Zinczenko suggests that the secret to looking, feeling, and living better is not by depriving yourself of the foods you love. It’s by making the best choices in a variety of real-life situations, at home, in the supermarket, and even at a fast-food counter. (Zinczenko is editor in chief of Men’s Health magazine and a regular contributor to the Today show.)

Whitethorn Woods
By Maeve Binchy (Random House), $7.95

Whitethorn Woods is about one small Irish town’s struggle with modernization and globalization—a struggle that’s encapsulated in the debate over a well in the woods that’s overlooked by a statue of St. Ann and reported to be a source of granted wishes and miraculous cures. For generations, people have come to share their dreams and offer prayers, but a new highway threatens to destroy it all.

The story is told in a collection of vignettes, each narrated from a different perspective by passionately opinionated men and women. Broken hearts and stalled careers are solved in a few deft pages, but bigger problems, like alcoholism, murder, and kidnapping are not resolved, giving the book a realistic balance.

The Fiction Class
By Susan Breen (Penguin), $14

A work of wit and intelligence with a hefty emotional weight, this narrative teaches as much about the craft of writing fiction as it does about the power of memory, love, and compassion. Even readers who care nothing about writing will enjoy meeting the intriguing personalities who make up this class.

Arabella Hicks encourages her students to nurture the distinctive voice that emerges on paper as a result of their individual focus. Unfortunately, it’s hard for Arabella to practice what she preaches. She’s been writing the same novel for seven years, and lately her time in front of the computer has involved more games of Spider Solitaire than writing. She can’t find an appropriate ending for her novel, and she’s also distracted by her mother Vera, who is suffering from Parkinson’s and living in a nursing home. When Vera begins to write a story, the author intersperses chapters of this story with descriptions about Arabella’s class sessions, and the reader could get lost in the back-and-forth narrative. As her mother’s health begins to decline, Arabella must find a way to move their relationship past its previous obstacles and into a place where both women can feel comfortable admitting they need—and love—one another.

French Women Don’t Get Fat
By Mireille Guiliano (Random House), $12.95

If you’ve ever wondered how French women stay slim while eating cheese and bread, and drinking wine, this book has the answers. Described as the "ultimate non-diet book," there are no carb counts and no fat grams listed. Guiliano suggests giving her plan about three months for it to really become a part of your life.

Tips include: keep a food journal, savor what you eat, drink plenty of water, eat a variety of good foods, make eating a special time, and cut back on portions slowly.

Guiliano learned first-hand what an American diet can do to a woman’s body. She came to the U.S. as a teenager, and returned to France with 20 additional pounds. A family doctor helped Guiliano get her body back, and she shares his advice in this book, which includes delicious, easy-to-make recipes. Guiliano has kept off the weight for nearly 30 years. She still eats three meals a day and drinks wine.

It’s amazing how a good book makes the minutes and hours fly. Waiting at the airport, in the doctor’s office, or even standing in line can be painless if you’re engrossed in an engaging read. So pick up a new paperback and be prepared.

Until next month, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: Garden planning for spring

By Woody Woodworth

Spring will be here before you know it. March is a good time to take a look around your landscape and make plans for any changes.

You can improve the overall appearance of your gardens through aggressive change or by tweaking what you already have. If you have some bare spots that you want to fill in, think about purchasing some new plants this spring or relocate some that may be crowding others. By using careful planning, you can create a landscape that will have lower maintenance and offer more enjoyment throughout the entire year. Follow a few of the guidelines to ensure success.

Be sure to put the right plant in the right area. When you match a plant’s attributes to the natural conditions of your garden, you will be more successful in maintaining a strong, healthy, growing garden. Use shade-loving plants in shady spots and sun-loving plants in more sun. Remember, the tag on a new plant that states "Full Sun" generally means four to five hours of Colorado sunlight.

Consider soil type and drainage when selecting plants. Know how much water is needed and how fast the soil may become dry. Some plants thrive on being more protected. Know the locations of your micro-climates in and around your gardens. For example, if a garden is near a stucco house, the thermal mass of the house will collect the sun’s heat and release that heat to your garden even after the sun goes down and our cool nights set in.

Create a year-round landscape. Many gardens look great with the early-blooming trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials, and then their leaves give a nice interest during the summer, but the plants offer no color. Be sure to select plants that have a variety of bloom time and offer color throughout the growing season. Remember to plan gardens to have a winter interest as well.

By planting ornamental grasses and evergreens, you can create structure, color and texture to your landscapes for an all-year appeal. Boulders add depth and give protection to some perennials. To get big color in your garden, be sure to include annuals in your plan. Use them directly to fill in color or plant them in pots and place them in your bare areas, by the front porch or any high-visibility area.

Consider plant size to ensure your gardens won’t need too many changes too often. When planning locations for trees and shrubs, be sure to leave enough space for them to reach their full mature height and width. Many times folks plant the "cute" little spruce tree close to the house, not realizing that in 20 or 30 years it may have a direct impact on the yard, house and the view. When we confine or try to control the growth habits of those types of trees by aggressively pruning, it generally leads to a pruned disaster. Know that when a canopy tree reaches a certain age, it will offer more shade and may change the attributes of your garden.

Overplanting perennials, trees and shrubs can result in too much of a good thing. It’s easy to go overboard when you want to see immediate results and you want your entire garden filled in. Not only can that be a major expense at the garden center or nursery, but generally it will lead to a maintenance nightmare. Plants will have less disease, fewer pests, require less water and be generally healthier by allowing air to circulate between plants in the garden. Before planting, carefully research spacing widths and mark where plants will fit well in your garden.

You can save time, money and extra work by using a common-sense approach with any planning changes you make in your garden this spring.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Hooded merganser

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Hooded Mergansers.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

One warm February afternoon, Randy and I walked along the South Platte River looking for waterfowl. Having recently purchased Hugh Kingery’s new guide, Birding Colorado, we were eager to see how many ducks we could spot near the Carson Nature Center in Littleton and were amazed to find an abundance of water birds, including the bufflehead, barrowed golden-eye, northern shoveler, and hooded merganser. These are but four of the 20 winter species Kingery listed at this location, so we intend to return to find more.

In winter, waterfowl have the most vibrant plumage, and the birds we saw were picture perfect, as if posing for the annual duck stamp! Each of these birds is an interesting study, but the one that most captured our attention was the hooded merganser, a fish-eating, diving duck.

There are three merganser species, often called saw-bill ducks, and the hooded merganser is the smallest. In rivers and woodland ponds where fish are plentiful, it can be found in many areas across North America.

Weighing less than a pound, with a 13-inch body length and a 26-inch wingspan, the hooded merganser is an agile diver, fast swimmer, and efficient flier, expeditiously taking off directly from the water. It effortlessly swims against in the current, dives deeply to catch slippery fish in its serrated bill, and at the slightest provocation it’s in the air. Because its legs are located farther back on its body than normal, waddling about on land is awkward and uncommon.

One of the benefits of viewing birds along the South Platte Trail that parallels the river running north from the Chatfield Reservoir through much of Denver for 15 miles is that the ducks do not shy away from people. We actually got close enough to hear the frog-like croaks of the courting male and take his picture.

The hooded merganser is highly dimorphic, meaning that the male is showier than the female. Both sexes have "hoods" or bushy crests. The female’s crest is golden brown and only slightly brighter than her dully colored body. In contrast, the drake (male) is especially beautiful with its black back, neck, and head, and the head is punctuated by bright yellow eyes. The black on its body is in stark contrast to the bright white feathers on its breast, under parts, and patch on its hood. Distinctive markings include two bold black stripes on its white breast and eight or more white stripes on its black back and tail. Copper wing feathers add color to the drake, which reminded me a bit of the male wood duck but in my opinion is more striking.

Courtship displays begin in winter when small flocks gather and three or more drakes swim, bobbing their erect head crests around a hen. The drake will raise its hood and call in low grunts to attract the attention of a hen. If ignored, the drake swims away, lowering its crests and reducing the white patch to a narrow band.

Presumably, migration begins once the pairs have formed and flocks fly to a stream or pond in Canada or the upper Midwest to breed. The hen builds a nest away from the water in a tree cavity 10 to 15 feet above ground. The hen lays one egg a day with an average nest size of 12 eggs. Reportedly, the hen does not lay all her eggs in the same nest and will lay some eggs in the nests of other cavity-nesting birds. After laying the last egg, she begins to incubate the eggs, at which time the drake leaves her to join a group of males. After the drake departs, his beautiful plumage fades, perhaps as punishment for leaving the hen to care for the chicks. But more likely, he is worn out from all that romancing.

The hen sits on the eggs for about 33 days. The eggs hatch within hours of each other and, as unlikely as it may seem, the following day the chicks jump to the ground and immediately head for water where they instinctively begin to swim and dive for food. For several weeks, the hen will stay with the chicks to protect them from predators and lead them to food. Before they can fly, about 70 days after hatching, the hen will abandon her brood, forcing them to fend for themselves. A female merganser begins mating in her second year but searches for a nest site as a yearling.

The hooded merganser’s keen underwater vision helps it to locate and catch fish, crayfish, snails, and other aquatic delicacies. While mature ducks can dive deep under the surface to search for prey, the adolescents rely on surface aquatic insects and fish until diving skills are developed.

The Rocky Mountains separate the western and eastern populations of hooded mergansers, and the Front Range is the western limit for the eastern populations. In November, flocks of the eastern hooded mergansers fly to rivers and estuaries of eastern Colorado. In April, flocks migrate to their summer home in the upper Midwest, where they will breed and raise their young. Winter is the best time to see them decked out in their most vivid plumage.

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

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Art Matters: Drawing

Collecting the art of the idea
By Janet Sellers

Drawings have fascinated artists and art lovers for millennia. Commonly, they are the plans for bigger projects. But, let’s challenge that thinking. Drawings can be very powerful. Drawings can be playful. Drawings can be really fun to observe. And, drawings have monetary value these days more than in any other art era.

As far as the muse for drawing goes, it is in the drawings that we see the person’s thinking at work. Final drawings represent finished ideas, yet sketches offer a range of ideas on a page. For pure interest and creativity, look to the artist’s drawings, especially if you are buying and collecting.

Time was, charcoal, pencils and artists’ crayons were the teaching and learning tools. Very specific versions of graphite, charcoal and waxed pigments are sold to artists to work their craft under the watchful eye of their master teacher. Just to do some research, I typed in "draw" on an Internet video search and up came with endless lists of videos for serious as well as ridiculous yet innovative art drawings and art lessons all over the world.

Recently, at sites online such as YouTube, I watched demo videos of drawings in the traditional tools for art in the chiaroscuro/ light and dark method. I was also drawn to the offbeat videos of people drawing skilled portraits in — of all things — ketchup with French fries, chocolate, and even drawing with a rib bone in barbecue rib sauce! No medium is safe from the creative mind!

Most artists, art collectors, museum directors, and art professionals have studied drawing, and many draw extensively. Some artists do not draw at all, yet the ones who do keep their eyes and hands sharp and their minds aware at the great play of fine art. Paintings can cover up a multitude of sins and errors; drawings must stand on their own merit.

Just as sports lovers watch their favorite teams and players in a practice game, so do artists look at the drawings, the record of the creative process, of other artists. It is in the hard work of the practice that the ultimate superb play is based. Likewise, truly diligent practice makes play of the actual game. In sports and in art, practice lays the foundation for the play.

The words "to draw" connote a deep meaning on many levels. So, what exactly is drawing? The word means "to pull" as in to pull a wagon, pull out from our mind, pull a pencil across the page, and pull thoughts out of our imagination as we fulfill expression onto a surface. We can record our thoughts onto the page, onto the wall, the cave, the computer screen, whatever, and draw what we see, be it in front of us or in our brain.

Where has your mind drawn you lately? Studies show drawing focuses the mind, develops observation and communication skills, keeps the mind/hand relationship at optimal function, and more. The physical, hard copy drawing leaves a visible path for where the mind has been. Readily practiced from observation, the act of drawing provides ongoing benefit for all ages. Since it is a learned activity, just about anyone can learn to draw, regardless of age or education. Even if you think you have no artistic talent, you can learn to draw, and draw well.

What makes all these great things possible from drawing with a graphic tool such as pencil on paper? Drawing requires observation, perception, and then generating a very specific, spatially relevant activity. Drawing requires practice, which is the application of skill upon the body and mind. We use timing and quite a lot of physical energy to track, target, and record a moment of experience.

Happily, any of us can learn to draw and receive the myriad benefits it offers. I’m not saying you will be a poet, but even if learning to draw hasn’t quite made your top 10 list, taking up a class and beginning to draw from observation will offer much more than meets the eye.

Our powers of observation, communication, problem-solving, and presentation dramatically improve with learning to draw. Confidence and cognitive agility soar with an ease previously unavailable. The reason lies with the practice of looking and producing in the moment. This exercises the passive and active use of our minds in assessing where things are moving through space.

How do I know you can draw, even if you don’t know how to hold a pencil? You know and understand symbols in space. You are reading this column, taking learned symbols and holding the letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs in your mind and putting them together to create meaning from them.

How confident am I that you will be able to draw (possibly with the help of a class, coach, or artist friend)? I am very confident, because you understand space. If you can do these two things: go down a hallway without bumping into the walls and use a pencil to sign your name, there is a very good chance you can learn to draw well in only one day, perhaps in only an hour. Why? Because you understand spatial thinking. You just haven’t applied it to drawing yet.

So, go ahead and draw. Go ahead and collect or buy drawings. Ask your local galleries, venues, and museums to offer exhibits of drawings. Pick up a sketchbook and a pencil and keep it with you. You will reap the benefits of drawing and keep yourself in great shape!

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter, sculptor and writer working in the mediums of canvas, concrete/mixed media and paper. Her work supports natural habitat for rural and urban wild (and human) life.

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Watercolor Workshop Feb. 9

Below: Michelle Williams and Marysia Grant enjoy the lighter side of Bob Gray while completing their paintings at the watercolor painting workshop held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Feb. 9. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Palmer Lake Art Group opens new show

Below: At the Palmer Lakes Art Group Winter Show opening Reception Feb. 9, some members of the group collect among the art works of the main gallery, Front row L to R, Sue Jenkins, Jana Towery, Suzanne Jenne and back row L to R, Mary Krucoff, Rebecca Whitfield, Marie Simpson and Kathleen Krucoff. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Monument Library events for February and March

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Senior Athlete Linda Glick (right) and trainer Mary Ann Kluge pose at the Monument Library before showing their film and leading a discussion.  

Below: Puppeteer Alanna Jones tells Aesop’s fable about the lion and the mouse at the library.

By Harriet Halbig

Two days of activities highlighted February. On Saturday the 9th, Janet Sellers celebrated the 13th year of her program, Valentines for Vets. People of all ages were encouraged to make or simply sign a card. Sellers said of the recipients, "They can’t see a flag by your front door, but they can hold a card you make for them and know they are remembered." The cards went to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Denver and also overseas.

Later that day, Alanna Jones delighted all with her puppet program based on Aesop’s Fables, including sound effects and a stage with painted backdrops.

On the 20th, Linda Glick and Mary Ann Kluge presented their film, The Starting Line, about Linda’s efforts to compete in the Senior Games after not participating in sport since PE class in high school. The inspiring video chronicles her training and how she persevered through injury and other setbacks to triumph at the games.

Coming up in March, Dr. Suess’s Birthday Celebration takes place on the 3rd, with parties from 10:30 to11:30 a.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., with cake and other refreshments. Costumed readers will read Seuss’s familiar stories and offer photo opportunities.

March 8, a Saturday, from 1:30-4:30, the library will present this year’s winter festival, A Stellar Celebration. This promises to be a very exciting, multi-media event for the entire family. At 2 p.m., astronaut Brig. Gen. Robert Stewart will speak. The Lewis-Palmer School District’s Space Lab will be assembled in an adjoining location for visits on the half-hour. A presentation about living in space (covering such topics as food and the effect of weightlessness on the body) will be offered later in the day. Throughout the afternoon there will also be refreshments and crafts, and exciting souvenirs provided by NASA. The library thanks the Lewis-Palmer Serteens in advance for their help!

Throughout the month of March, the library will host a quilt show from the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers, called PDQ Goes to the Library. Items of all sizes, from Christmas ornaments to bed-sized quilts, will be featured on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. In its seventh year, this show is always a beautiful sight.

In addition, the quilters will celebrate National Quilting Day 2-4 p.m. March 16 with demonstrations and crafts for the children.

On Wednesday, March 21, from 10:30 to noon, the Library District will offer a genealogy workshop on using the Library Edition of the Ancestry database. For those interested in attending, please register at 531-6333, extension 2253, or online at ppld.org Events Calendar.

Spring Break @ the Library will include events almost each day March 24-28. Events include a puppet show on March 24 (10:30 a.m.), a storytelling on Tuesday (10:30 a.m.), a storytelling workshop for ages 8-12 (registration required) on Wednesday, and a program called Sound Ideas, featuring international musical instruments, on Friday the 28th at 2 p.m..

For those who usually use the Palmer Lake Branch, the Sound Ideas program will be on Wednesday, and an Art Experience workshop to create a marbled paper Earth and multi-media collage will be offered on March 27 at 2 p.m. The Art Experience is for ages 7 and up and requires registration.

For further information, contact the Monument Branch at 488-2370 or the Palmer Lake Branch at 481-2587.

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Dakota Blonde brings music of life to Tri-Lakes

Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

Though the band has shared the stage with many prominent musicians, Dakota Blonde’s performance left the overflow crowd at its Feb. 23 Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) concert searching for this band’s equal after the performance. With a playlist that blended original compositions and interesting arrangements of classic folk, country, and bluegrass songs, the nearly three-hour, two-set performance demonstrated the musical depth and breadth of the trio. Dakota Blonde is Mary Huckins, lead vocalist with accompaniment on the acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboard, and accordion, Don Pinnella, who provides lead and harmony vocals and lead acoustic guitar, and Tony Raddell on upright base and harmony vocals. As in some past performances and recordings, they were accompanied by Gordon Burt on fiddle.

Huckins not only lends her vocal and musical talents to the band’s efforts but provides the inspiration behind their name, being blonde and from Pierre, S.D., and is an award-winning songwriter. Her songwriting takes a number of avenues that includes the audience-participation song, "The Ballad of Mary’s Car." The song describes the many items that could have been found in her 1988 Dodge Omni, including a mouse that called it home for a time. Each member of the audience was provided with a lone, orange glove— one of the items found in the car—to put on and wave during the song’s chorus. The car, now with over 350,000 miles, is still running and in the possession of one of Huckins’s relatives.

Besides songs that offer humorous insights on life, Dakota Blonde’s playlist of originals includes songs that are sentimental and thought-provoking. One such song is the title track from their 2003 release, "South Dakota Afternoon." With a chorus of "‘Cause I need familiar things, the comfort that they bring," and verses that describe how the familiar can bring a sense of settling and internal peace in a world full of seemingly constant change, "South Dakota Afternoon" enables listeners to reflect on their own need to seek such comfort in their familiar places of life.

Throughout their performance, the members of Dakota Blonde engaged the audience in conversation and comic exchanges the ease of seasoned performers. Their musical unity and ability to engage the audience can be drawn from their 12 years of performing together and shared background in social services. The trio met while working at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Fort Logan, and each has a background in musical therapy, which is used to assist in the counseling of emotionally troubled children and adolescents.

Additional information regarding Dakota Blonde, including recordings and upcoming performances, can be found on their Web site (www.dakotablonde.com). A list of upcoming events at the TLCA can be found at www.trilakesarts.org

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Snapshots of Our Community

Emergency response class a great success, February 13

Below: EMT Jamal Davis checks Ting Boyarski’s blood pressure. Photo provided by Stan Beckner.

By Stan Beckner

Black Forest Fire and Rescue volunteers gave a free stroke and heart attack recognition and response class on February 13 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church. This program was provided in conjunction with the church and the Black Forest AARP Chapter. The emphasis was on recognizing early symptoms and taking immediate action. These two aspects have proved to be critical to enhancing the recovery of the stricken person.

Paulette Miksch, NP and Pete Glesser, EMT presented the well-attended class. The presentation was easy to comprehend yet covered the key physiological and symptomatic aspects of these maladies.

The presenters identified heart disease as the #1 killer today of men and women in the US. Surprisingly, heart disease kills more women than the various well-known cancers. Since symptoms vary between individuals, and are different in men and women, the advice was to not delay getting a person with suspected symptoms to a hospital. Using 911 and an ambulance service was recommended as being the fastest way to negotiate traffic and also because ambulance EMT personnel can often take initial lifesaving actions enroute to the hospital.

After the two-hour class, and as an added benefit to attendees, EMT Jamal Davis gave blood pressure checks to all who wished to participate while NP Miksch and EMT Glesser discussed situations and questions one-on-one with individuals.

Many stayed after the fire district presentation to attend the regularly scheduled AARP potluck lunch and chapter meeting. The lunch, as always, was delicious. The short business meeting that followed included reminders that the chapter would be hosting a driving safety class and a document shredding event in the coming months.

Due to the success of the class, plans are already underway to repeat the stroke and heart attack class next year. In the meantime, persons interested in joining the Black Forest AARP Chapter should call 488-3152 or 599-9240.

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Freedom essay winners announced

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

Below: Front Row Kneeling(l to r) Lewis-Palmer Middle School: 1st Christopher Van Dyke, 2nd Darby Watt, 3rd Emily Ward. Second Row Sitting (l to r) Monument Academy Middle School: 1st Amanda Lewis, 2nd Garrett Rogers, 3rd Jacob Glenn. Third Row Standing (l to r) Bob Tuggle Sertoma President, Creekside Middle School: 1st Katelyn Glasmith, 2nd Kristen Bednar, 3rd Taylor Wollenberg, Ted Bauman National Hertiage/Freedom Essay Chair. Prizes awarded were: 1st place-$150.00, 2nd place-$100.00, 3rd place-$75.00. Each student was also given an engraved plaque. Photo provided by Cynthia and Tom VanWormer.

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March 16 is National Quilting Day

Below: This recently completed quilt by Sally Martinez boasts a firefighter theme, with 12 squares that are each the back of T-shirts. While the majority of the T-shirts boast pictures or emblems from the Santa Clara County (Calif.) Fire Department—where her son is employed as a firefighter-hazmat specialist—one shirt was donated from the New York Fire Department, which says "All gave some, some gave all." Martinez, who took up quilting about 12 years ago, said it took about five months to complete. See the event notices for information on library quilting events. Photo provided by Andrew Martinez

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Ice skating at Fox Run Park, February 9

Below: The El Paso County Parks Department completed the construction of the warming hut and rest rooms by the lakes at Aspen Lake in Fox Run Regional Park in January. When winter weather allows, the lake will now be available for ice skating sessions on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Three weekend sessions were held in February before a bit of warm weather weakened the ice and ended the skating season. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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Townsend sworn-in at Wescott

Below: New Donald Wescott Fire Protection District full-time Firefighter/EMT Derek Townsend is sworn-in Feb. 19 by Board Chairman Brian Ritz. Townsend is the third of three new full-timers to be sworn-in. Wescott has added one firefighter/EMT per shift to ensure that three personnel are manning the pumper around the clock. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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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.

Library District launching Kids Web

Pikes Peak Library District will launch an exciting new website for children on its home page www.ppld.org on March 1. The site was designed to make online explorations safe, interactive, and fun for children. To access the new site, go to ppld.org and click on Kids Web. Kids Web features a wealth of resources for school reports and homework, as well as links to local historical information and biographies of people of interest in the Colorado Springs area.

Kids Web also has links to Tumblebooks, free online read-along books; a children’s blog; You Tube videos of storytellers; library program and event information; and book reading lists. On the site’s Fun & Games link, children can access a variety of free online games and learning activities, coloring book pages, and Summer Reading Program information. Parents and teachers will find the new site helpful as well – a "grown-ups" link provides information about local school districts, home-schooling, and more.

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Library seeking volunteer tutors for March

Share your love of reading––become a LitSource volunteer at your library. LitSource, an adult literacy and basic skills program sponsored by Pikes Peak Library District, is now seeking tutors for 2008. No previous teaching experience is required, and free training is provided for tutors. LitSource provides individual and small-group tutoring and informal English conversation groups for adults who want to improve basic skills in reading, writing, and spoken English. The next tutor training sessions will be held Mondays from March 3 through March 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs. Phone 531-6333, x2223 for information or to register.

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Free tutoring in reading at Monument Library

Children’s Literacy Center creates opportunities for children to improve their reading skills through access to free one-on-one tutoring. If your child is reading below grade level, call 471-8672 to find out how to get your child enrolled in the Peak Reader program. Tutoring meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 7 p.m., at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Contact Sue Kana, 337-3430.

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Free computer classes at Monument Library in March

Check the Community Calendar for free computer classes on Wednesdays during March, 8:30 to 10 a.m.

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D-38 chess tournament, March 8

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is sponsoring a free chess tournament March 8 at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, 1315 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. The tournament is open to all D-38 students, from kindergarten through grade 12. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the first round starts at 9 a.m. There will be four rounds, and the tournament should end by 1 p.m. Parents are invited to stay at the tournament, or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Chess sets will be provided. Children may bring their own snacks. Pizza and sodas will be available for purchase, with proceeds paying for trophies and medals. Each participant will receive a trophy or a medal, so RSVP to Steve Waldmann, Creekside Middle School Chess Club Coach, at 488-9887 or huskerco@gmail.com, so he’ll know how many trophies and medals to order.

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Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert, March 8

Mark Nuccio, acting principal clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic, and pianist Michael Baron will perform a concert of classical music March 8, 7 p.m., at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road, one mile east of I-25 Exit 156. In addition, the public is invited to Mark Nuccio’s free Master Class on Friday, March 7, 4-6 p.m., at the church. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.rmmaonline.org, e-mail TheRMMA@aol.com, or phone Pam at 484-0192.

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Seminar for healthier living, March 13

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club of Monument, is sponsoring a seminar, "Balance the Hectic World Around You," March 13, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Air Force Academy Falcon Club (formerly the Officer’s Club). Registration and continental breakfast are 8:45-9:30 a.m. Buffet lunch is included. The seminar spotlights living life to the fullest and the importance of taking care of yourself first so you can take care of those who depend on you.

Speakers include Dr. Michelle Hor, a gastroenterologist, Mary Peet, a registered nutritionist, and Linda Chae, a consumer advocate and world leader in the field of nontoxic personal care and home products. The seminar will close with Pikes Peak 2007 Leadership Awardee C. J. Moore’s motivating presentation on the value of volunteer work. The seminar is open to the public. For information and an early registration discount, go to www.tlwc.net and click on Seminar, or call Arlene Kramer, 481-1149.

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Ceol Céilí concert, March 15

Come dressed in green and enjoy some good music and a Scottish ale as Ceol Céilí performs at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) March 15 in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Doors open at 7 for a 7:30 p.m. show. This popular group plays traditional Irish and Scottish dance music and Ireland’s favorite ballads. Tickets are $12 TLCA members, $15 non-members. Complimentary appetizers and desserts and cash bar available. Buy tickets at The Wine Seller (481-3019) in Monument and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information, visit the website at www.trilakesarts.org

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications due March 15

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will accept grant applications until March 15. Qualified organizations that provide significant services to residents within the geographic boundaries of School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Submissions that relate to the new Tri-Lakes Senior Initiative are invited. Qualified organizations include 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools. Grants will be awarded in late May.

The TLWC sponsors two major fund-raising events: Wine and Roses, a wine- tasting event in October, and the Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale in April. Over the last 35 years, TLWC has awarded over a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations. Grant applications, instructions and guidelines can be downloaded from the TLWC wwebsite, www.TLWC.net, or send a request with a stamped self-addressed envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

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Celebrate National Quilting Day at Monument Library, March 16

Palmer Divide Quiltmakers (PDQ) presents its annual Library Quilt Show at the Monument Library at the Woodmoor Center during the month of March. "Stellar Celebrations" will feature over 75 new and historic quilts made by members of the Tri-Lakes community. The quilts will be on display during regular library hours, 10-9 Monday-Thursday, 10-6 Friday and Saturday, and 1-5 on Sunday.

March 16 is National Quilting Day and from 2 to 4 p.m. PDQ members will offer demonstrations of quilting techniques, children’s activities, refreshments, and a treasure hunt to celebrate the art and craft of quiltmaking.

Palmer Divide Quiltmakers meets at the Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Road, on the first Thursday evening of each month. Each meeting offers a program teaching a quilting technique or features the work of an outstanding quilt artist. Fun, fellowship, and motivation are important ingredients of every meeting. In addition to developing quilting skills, the guild also participates in several charitable causes, making pillows and hats for breast cancer patients, creating cuddly quilts for abused children, and supporting Tri-Lakes Cares. If you are a quilter, or would like to become one, you are invited to join! For more information, call the Monument Library, 488-2370, or PDQ president Carolyn Hock, 488-9791.

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Spring Break at the Library, March 24-28

Check the Community Calendar for special children's’ programs daily during spring vacation.

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Volunteer! English tutoring classes in Monument in April

If you have ever considered helping English learners who would like to improve their basic English language skills, now is your chance. A five-week tutoring course offered by the LitSource Office of the Pikes Peak Library District will be held at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. Classes are Tuesday afternoons April 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 1 to 4:30 pm. No prior teaching background or foreign language ability is required to tutor. All you need is a desire to help improve the reading, writing, and English comprehension of someone who is willing to learn. After completing the five-week orientation, tutors make a six-month commitment to teach a student one-on-one for two hours each week. Help make a very special difference in the life of a new resident to the Tri-Lakes community. For information/registration, phone Stephanie Kemp (481-4355) or Sherrill Wyeth at PPLD (531-6333 x2223).

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Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale, April 19 & 20

The 32nd Annual Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale will be held April 19 and 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument (I-25, exit 158 or 161). Admission price is $ 5. Antiques appraisers in several specialties will provide verbal appraisals on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. for the cost of $5 per item with a three-item limit per person.

New this year is a crystal grinder who will be available both days. New and returning vendors offer something for everyone, including furniture, jewelry, glassware and pottery, and antique claw foot tubs. The Country Café will serve breakfast and lunch items, including the ever-popular homemade steak soup. The bake sale will offer delicious desserts and a variety of beautiful geraniums will also be available for sale.

The Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale is one of two major annual fund-raising events for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, a nonprofit organization that has nearly 200 members.

To date, more than $500,000 in grants from proceeds of these events has benefited public schools, police and fire departments, and other local nonprofit groups that provide services to residents in School District 38. For more information, visit www.tlwc.net.

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Girls’ fast-pitch players needed

The Thunderstruck 14U girls’ fast-pitch softball team based in northern El Paso County has openings for pitchers and players for the 2008 season. To schedule a tryout, call Vern Bagley, 282-2883.

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Mining museum seeks volunteers

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry seeks volunteers to lead tours and programs, help with special events, maintain the grounds, and staff the front desk. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Call 488-0880 for more information.

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Help for gardeners at Monument Library

Bring your yard, plant, and insect questions to the pros. Master Gardeners are available Mondays, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays, 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, phone 488-2370.

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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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County now accepting batteries and electronics at waste facility

The El Paso County Household Chemical Waste Collection Facility will now accept household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D and nine-volt) and many types of electronic equipment including computers, printers, small televisions, stereo and video components, and VCRs. More than 40,000 tons of electronic waste is discarded yearly. Some electronics contain lead, cadmium, broken glass, and mercury and can threaten the environment if not recycled. The facility is open year-round and accepts items such as paint, lawn and garden chemicals, automotive chemicals and products, and household products and cleaners. The facility is located at 3255 Akers Drive and is open for drop-off 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more recycling information, please call 520-7878.

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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

Do you wonder how to keep the deer from munching your freshly planted garden, how to get the skunk out from under your deck without getting sprayed, or how to get the squirrels out of the attic? Colorado State University Cooperative Extension in El Paso County has a staff of trained Wildlife Masters to help you. Call the Master Gardener Help Desk, 636-8921, and you will be called promptly with an answer. A fact sheet will be sent to you by e-mail or regular mail. For information, call 636-8921 or e-mail csumg2@elpasoco.com

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