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Vol. 8 No. 4 - April 5, 2008


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Local group sees proposed gas drilling as environmental threat

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Mt. Herman as seen looking west from the Woodmoor Lake Dam showing the approximate location of the two exploratory gas wells proposed by Dyad Petroleum. Photo by Chris Pollard.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Chris Pollard

Nearly 100 residents attended a public meeting on April 1 to hear a presentation by the newly formed Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition (FRERC) regarding the proposal by Dyad Petroleum of Midland Texas to drill two exploratory wells on the side of Mount Herman.

FRERC was recently formed by residents of the area adjacent to Mount Herman. They have started to gather information about the issues associated with gas drilling that are of concern to local residents and to communicate them to relevant parties. They also want to ensure that best efforts are made to ensure adequate controls.

Chris Amenson introduced the organization to the audience, and Fred Lanyon gave a description of the project. Dyad has leased 21,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, covering an area from several miles south of the northern border of the Air Force Academy to several miles north of Palmer Lake. The initial proposal is to drill two 8,000-foot directional wells from 5-acre pads just west of Mount Herman Road and Red Rocks Drive. The wells would reach under Mount Herman and the adjacent Raspberry Mountain. If gas is found, then there would be a 20-acre compressor site between the two wells.

The U.S. Forest Service is due to release its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) draft within the next few weeks. Then there will be a 30-day public comment period, followed by a Forestry Service rework in response to comments obtained and then a final release of the EIS. Based on public comments, the Forest Service can approve or disapprove the permit or request further study.

Bill Benson then spoke about the process of drilling and the potential implications of the drilling, fracturing, and servicing of the wells. He noted that the area planned for drilling consists of porous rock, which allows water to travel through it into the various aquifers that supply the drinking water to area residents. For the Town of Palmer Lake, the leased area covers most of the catchment basin for surface water.

While there is some risk of a "blowout" in drilling, most of his concerns were directed to the problems of chemicals used in what is called the fracturing or "fracing" (pronounced fracking) process and chemicals released when the well is in production. In fracing, a process now used in the majority of wells, a usually toxic brew of chemicals is injected into the rock at very high pressure to create cracks and spaces for the gas to flow through to reach the well pipe.

Benson noted that there were several hundred chemicals that a driller could use, but there is no requirement for disclosing what they are. There is usually a protective casing for the upper part of the well to prevent groundwater interfering with the drilling operation. But in some cases, this is not sufficient to keep the fracing chemicals in the pipe, citing a testimonial from someone whose water well was blown out after fracing occurred 1,000 feet from their home. Benson cited several other people (all in Colorado) who said they themselves had been contaminated with these chemicals, from their well water or by surface spills and airborne contamination.

Gloria Lanyon gave a short case study on the town of Pinedale, Wyo., where she once lived. Located about 100 miles north of Rock Springs, the area was well-known for trout fishing and elk and moose hunting. Then gas was discovered nearby in 1975. There was little resulting activity until 1993, when the process of fracing started to greatly improve well productivity. She said the people there did not understand when the fracing started and were in general not friendly to environmentalists or the idea of protected areas. Because of the effects of fracing on the environment, they now support and welcome help from environmental organizations and believe that conditions would have gotten worse.

Pinedale newspapers have reported well contamination with hydrocarbons and high mountain lakes showing degradation from oxygen deficiency and acidification from the drilling and production emissions. (It should be noted that Pinedale is 20 miles from the Jonah main well field, not immediately adjacent to developed areas.) The region’s air, which Lanyon believed to be once among the nation’s cleanest, has now turned to a common brown haze; she said two ozone advisories were issued in just one month in 2008. Where there were once only proposals for 500 wells, there are now 3,100 wells.

Amenson noted that representatives from Dyad had been invited to the meeting but had declined to attend, suggesting that it was premature because no permit had been granted. Several residents volunteered to help in planning and producing comments when the EIS statement is issued.

The FRERC has a Web site, http://frerc.org, where a copy of the evening’s presentation was to be posted.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, March 10: Ag water import cost estimates soar to as much as $1.6 billion

Web site exclusive. Below: Map of pipeline route alternatives.

Click here or on the map to zoom in or download the map

By John Heiser

At the March 10 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Boyle Engineering representatives Steve Price and Mary Williams Stahl presented an update on their engineering study for the project proposed to transport as much as 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.

The current members of the authority are the Cherokee Metropolitan District, the City of Fountain, the Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake, the Triview Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

The Boyle study is considering various alternatives including the amounts of water to be transported, pipeline routings, and treatment locations.

Alternative amounts of water

  1. 6,735 acre-feet per year to address just the projected needs in the Tri-Lakes area.

  2. 15,235 acre-feet per year to address Tri-Lakes area needs as well as the needs of the Fountain and the Cherokee District.

  3. 50,000 acre-feet per year to provide additional capacity to serve other areas as a way to share the cost of construction and operation.

Pipeline routing alternatives (see map above)

  1. A western alignment 76 miles long.

  2. A central alignment 83 miles long.

  3. An eastern alignment 111 miles long.

In each case, for 15,235 acre-feet per year, 6 pump stations will be required and, depending on the alignment chosen, the construction cost will vary between $130 million and $175 million. Each alignment has different issues such as the availability of utility easements and the number of stream crossings.

Operational alternatives

  1. All storage at Stonewall Springs near Pueblo. Treatment near Stonewall Springs.

  2. All storage in the Tri-Lakes area with water treatment near Stonewall Springs.

  3. Storage in the Tri-Lakes area and at Stonewall Springs. Treatment near Stonewall Springs.

  4. Storage in the Tri-Lakes area and at Stonewall Springs. Treatment near Fountain.

Tri-Lakes area storage is currently assumed to be on the Younger Ranch on Highway 83.

Water treatment is needed to address water quality concerns that include salinity, selenium, iron, sulfate, pharmaceuticals, and radionuclides. The study is currently assuming that water treatment using reverse osmosis will be required.

Preliminary cost estimates:

Capital Costs (in $ millions)
Operational\af 6,735 15,235 50,000
Alternative 1 253 451 984
Alternative 2 385 785 1,644
Alternative 3 260 440 918
Alternative 4 276 456 1,011

These figures exclude land acquisition, permitting, and the cost of water but include installation of pipe and construction of pump stations, water treatment plants, and storage facilities. Price emphasized that these figures are subject to change as the study proceeds. He said that at this stage of analysis, alternatives 1, 3, and 4 are essentially identical in cost.

An estimate of annual operating and maintenance costs is being developed.

The draft report is due in mid-April.

Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) completed

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. The final cost for the WIPS study totaled $274,043.

Proposal for follow-on water supply/demand study tabled

At the February 8 PPRWA meeting, 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 estimated the study would cost less than $50,000.

At the March 10 PPRWA meeting, representatives of Monument, Palmer Lake, and Triview announced that they would not be contributing toward the cost of the study. Since the results would not apply to Fountain or the Cherokee district that would leave just the Donala and Woodmoor districts to pay for the study so the proposal was tabled.

The Donala district subsequently announced that it will have the firm do a similar study covering just the Donala district.

Executive sessions

Executive sessions to address preparations for negotiations were held at the beginning and end of the public session.

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held April 16 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, March 19: Authority forms committees to do planning

By John Heiser

At the March 19 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), the group decided to form two committees: One to pursue a source of renewable water and one to look at ways of coordinating local operations.

The current members of the authority are the Cherokee Metropolitan District, the City of Fountain, the Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake, the Triview Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District

The renewable water committee consists of representatives of the Cherokee district, Fountain, Monument, and the Woodmoor district.

The local operations committee consists of representatives of the Donala district, Monument, Palmer Lake, the Triview district, and the Woodmoor district.

Phil Steininger, president of the PPRWA and general manager of the Woodmoor district, distributed draft copies of a paper on regional collaboration in which he suggests formation of a metropolitan water district to own, operate, and administer new facilities such as a major supply or water treatment project. In a separate concept paper, Steininger suggests consolidation of administration and operation of the local districts. The two papers were assigned to the local operations committee for discussion.

Legislative update

Gary Barber, manager of the authority, reported that Colorado HB08-1141, which would require developers to identify a sustainable water supply for their developments, has "hit an impasse." Colorado SB08-119, which originally would have authorized the use of cisterns to collect rainwater from up to 3,000 square feet of roof on a single-family primary residence, has been amended to conduct a test to assess potential impacts to water rights holders. The amended bill has passed the house and been introduced in the senate.

Conservation plan update

Rocky Wiley of Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor (RTW) Engineering, reported that the application seeking a $60,000 grant to develop a comprehensive coordinated conservation plan is nearly complete. He noted that he is awaiting letters of support from Triview and Palmer Lake. All the PPRWA members except Cherokee had previously agreed to supply a letter of support. Cherokee has been pursuing approval of its own separate conservation plan.

Fountain’s challenge

City of Fountain utility director Larry Patterson passed around a map showing new developments in Fountain. The map showed over 16,000 lots of new developments, most of which are residential.

Falcon area districts interested in joining

Larry Bishop, manager of the Woodman Hills Metropolitan District and former manager of the Triview district, said that Woodman Hills currently has about 2,400 taps with an anticipated 4,500 at full build-out. He announced that a group called Falcon Area Service Providers has been formed. It includes Woodman Hills; Falcon Highlands Metropolitan District; Paintbrush Hills Metropolitan District; Meridian Service Ranch Metropolitan District, which is expected to grow to as many as 10,000 taps; and Four Way Ranch, which currently has one house but is expected to grow to as many as 12,000 taps. He said all of the districts are dependent on Denver Basin groundwater. He added that many of the wells in that area produce as little as 20-50 gallons per minute. He said the group is "very interested in what the [PPRWA] is doing." He announced that Woodman Hills will be applying for PPRWA membership.

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held April 16 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Most of the meetings are held at Monument Town Hall; however, the meeting June 18 will be held at the City of Fountain office, 116 S. Main in Fountain and the meeting October 15 will be held at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office, 6250 Palmer Park Blvd. in Colorado Springs.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Two local districts part of pilot water conservation program'

By Susan Hindman and David Futey

Water conservation has become more than just a matter of limiting your sprinkler time to three days a week during a dry spell. With aquifer levels dropping and additional housing developments on the horizon—and considering our low precipitation totals even in a good year—we are witnessing the beginning of an era when our available water from the aquifers and local reservoir and river systems is seriously threatened.

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority recently released the Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) report, which projected a shortfall of water by 2020 of about 2,100 acre-feet per year without substantial improvements in conservation and efficiency. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Current water demand by the seven WIPS participating districts is approximately 4,200 acre-feet per year; by 2020, the projected demand is approximately 7,500 acre-feet per year.

In addition, according to Donala Water and Sanitation District, water rates could double or quadruple during the next eight years, depending on how regional water agencies solve water access and delivery challenges.

Among the report’s recommendations is that all water providers immediately implement conservation programs to reduce overall demand.

El Paso County agencies, developers, contractors, and other professionals have formed an informal, solutions-oriented partnership to address water conservation. The program, called Water Returns, seeks homeowners in participating communities who are interested in becoming educated about landscaping practices that decrease water use, improve aesthetics, and enhance property values, while conserving water. Residents can choose to install new landscape, make significant renovations to existing landscape, or do simple retrofits or improvements to existing landscape.

The program is being coordinated by Cherokee Metropolitan District, which notes that "Coloradoans spend about half of their water on outdoor irrigation. There’s a better answer than just spending more money to buy more water." It’s estimated that easily applied, yet attractive landscaping practices can result in water savings of around 30 percent.

The Donala and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts are among the 10 county water districts that have signed up for the Water Returns pilot project. Each district is seeking six customers who will volunteer to attend four workshops, offer their yards for xeriscaping (water-conserving landscaping) efforts, and agree to be the neighborhood "experts." Both districts will pay their registration fees and are offering to pay 25 percent of the participants’ landscaping costs, up to $2,000.

The workshops will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon on April 26, May 31, June 28, and Sept. 27 at the Cherokee district offices, 6250 Palmer Park Blvd. Training in xeriscape techniques as well as resources and support will be provided by Colorado State University Extension. CSU volunteers will maintain a help hotline to assist the homeowners throughout the project.

After the training is complete, Donala says these residents will be asked to be the district’s "poster children" for landscaping ideas and will hopefully help neighbors as they seek to enhance their own landscaping.

Interested Woodmoor and Donala residents should contact their respective districts for further information. To learn more about the program, visit www.cherokeemetro.org

Things we can all do to help

Each water district has its unique challenges, and residents can help reduce water use by reading up on a program called "Water—Use It Wisely," a national comprehensive water conservation campaign. The campaign has grown to include more than 200 organizations around the country.

Over the next few months, OCN will be highlighting water issues as well as conservation tips, which can be found at the program’s Web site, www.wateruseitwisely.com, "100 Ways to Save Water." Here are 10 tips from that site:

  1. If you use a broom to sweep your driveway and sidewalk instead of hosing them down, you can save up to 80 gallons of water every time.
  2. Replacing a flower or shrub with a low-water-use plant for year-round landscape color can save up to 550 gallons each year.
  3. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak. It’s easy to fix, and you can save more than 600 gallons a month.
  4. Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.
  5. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks, so that every drop goes down you, not the drain.
  6. Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.
  7. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost instead and save gallons every time.
  8. Drop that tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save gallons every time.
  9. Collect the water you use for rinsing produce and reuse it to water houseplants.
  10. Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.

For more information

For a national perspective on the issues of water, you may wish to review the following:

  1. The Great Lakes Water Wars, by Peter Annin (2006): This book notes that even in the area of the world with the largest amount of available freshwater, contention for water abounds.
  2. "Options Running Dry," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=731125:  This article, posted on March 23, 2008, describes the water shortages faced by the Southeast, in particular the Atlanta metro area, and the concern over water diversions within and from the Great Lakes Basin.
  3. U.S. Drought Monitor, http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html: This Web site, maintained by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, provides a map of current drought conditions and links to information on preparing for and mitigating drought, along with a gallery photos of drought conditions from various states.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, March 12: Merger talks back on track with Donala

By Susan Hindman

With House Bill 08-1259 no longer a threat to the proposed merger between Academy and Donala Water and Sanitation Districts, debating the details of the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) dominated the business at hand for the Academy board. Clauses in the bill, which was in committee in the Colorado Legislature, had proposed dictating whom districts could service; those clauses were removed after numerous complaints.

Discussion about problems with the February IGA proposal was similar to last month’s: "It still comes down to the money," said Academy’s attorney Paul Murphy, referring to the funds that Donala wants to keep versus what Academy needs to operate until 2014. That’s the date the district’s general obligation bond would be paid off and the two districts would be legally allowed to merge.

Operations money comes from Academy’s mill levy and would be needed to pay for things such as insurance, audits, elections, board member meeting fees, and future membership in a metropolitan water district if one is organized. The board wasn’t clear if those expenses would be absorbed by Donala or be paid by Academy.

At this point, according to the IGA, the total estimated cost to Academy for joining with Donala would be $1.265 million. That would pay for Academy’s lift station, connecting the water distributions system, and abandoning Academy’s sewer treatment plant.

The IGA calls for Academy’s assets — such as the tanks, pump house, and property — to be turned over to Donala upon merger. Richard DuPont, president, said he thinks Academy ought to be able to retain the right to sell those assets prior to dissolution. The IGA now calls for water rights to be conveyed to Donala in 2014.

In response to a concern by a resident about the water rights, Jerry Jacobson, the district’s operator, discussed the scope of the issues and costs. "We have the alluvial wells and x-amount of water in those. And the Dawson-Denver that we’re pumping, and there’s x-amount of water there. The Arapahoe is much deeper than the Denver, so it costs a lot more to drill it and pump it," he said. The wells can be problematic. He pointed to an Arapahoe well drilled by Donala that has "radiological problems" and an Arapahoe well drilled by Forest Lakes Metropolitan District that has "radioactive issues."

Murphy added that the Laramie Fox-Hills aquifer is "poor quality and is much deeper, so generally nobody uses it for things like drinking water."

"So," Jacobson continued, "you can have water rights, but to obtain that water, there’s some risk involved. You can drill a well that doesn’t produce or is radioactive or requires further treatment."

He noted other things that are changing. "We used to use our shallow wells as much as we could. However, new regulations have come down from the state that require more testing. And those wells can have organic carbon (not contamination) in that water that reacts with chlorine to form a byproduct — so that all of a sudden limits how much you can use that water. Those wells will probably come under the surface water rules in 2009," which will require cryptosporidium tests that will cost $2,500 to make sure those wells aren’t contaminated with it.

The expenses don’t end there. "Since we can’t pump shallow wells as much (those are 5 horsepower pumps), we have to pump 50 horsepower (for deeper wells) instead. Of course, power costs are going up," Jacobson said. "As far as (building a new) wastewater plant … we’d have hurdles to jump there, too, as far as getting our site application approved because we are so close to another district….

"Everything is getting a little more complicated as time goes on. That’s what’s driving this. Another big factor is the availability of certified operators. They’re getting harder to come by." But the upgraded wastewater treatment plant would require a higher certification than the current plant, and "the state will fine you $300 a day if you don’t have certified operators."

"There’s not a dollar amount put on some of these things, so they’re not entered into the equation," Jacobson said, which prevents residents from seeing the whole picture of the cost of consolidation versus going it alone.

Costs to handle many of these things would bump up the $700,000 estimate Academy had gotten for building its own wastewater treatment plant.

Notice to Academy district residents

Because several homes experienced extensive damage and high water bills because of frozen pipes this winter, the board suggests that residents take precautions if they are planning to be gone during the winter. They request that residents turn off water to the house, to prevent wasting water while the house is empty, or have someone monitor the house while they are gone. Water left on without heat in the house will cause frozen and burst pipes. When the pipes thaw, the ice that was plugging the pipe melts, and water starts to flow at a high rate. This wastes water and causes considerable property damage.

Operator’s report

Jacobson reported that the water system was "operating okay and in good repair." He said he received a call from one resident about discolored water. He said the resident contacted his neighbors, but no one else was experiencing this problem, which Jacobson found unusual.

Jacobson wasn’t sure why the water was discolored. He flushed several hydrants and "took the precaution of draining the recycle tank (where the backwash water from the filters go). … If that water is allowed to settle out and pumped back to the plant … sometimes I wonder if there can be color in that water that causes that. The problem is, by the time I learn about it, it’s all gone." His efforts resolved the resident’s discoloration issue.

He reported that Well 1 did not need a new pump and is working. The meter quit working in Well 3, so he bought parts for it, instead of buying a new meter, saving the district about $1,900. Well 3 will be pulled to inspect the pump, motor and well casing.

Jacobson said the wastewater system test results are in compliance. He noted that this coincided with returning the blowers that aerate the wastewater lagoons to a timer, rather than having them running continuously because of concerns about freezing.

The board agreed to purchase two digital alarms, to replace the analog alarm system, for the water plant and tank site. The alarms would notify Jacobson if the water tanks are experiencing low pressure or a high or low tank level, as well as a power fault. He said the alarms would help him head off problems. "We did operate for quite a long time without alarms, but since we’ve installed them, they’ve alerted me to situations that I could respond to before things got out of hand. So it’s been worthwhile to have these alarms." Cost of each alarm upgrade is $250.

The other site needing a new alarm is the lower lift station, but because it overflows into Donala’s system the liability would be limited to paying Donala for the overflow. Jacobson said it was preferable that Academy monitor the lift station rather than be notified by Donala that there was a problem. Donala has a SCADA system that monitors overflows.

No elections

The May board elections have been canceled since there are no candidates running in opposition to the current members.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is April 2.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, April 2: Early bond payoff not possible

By Susan Hindman

The April 2 meeting of the Academy Water and Sanitation District board yielded little new information about the merger with Donala Water and Sanitation District.

Treasurer Walter Reiss said he was told that the district can’t refinance its current bond, which is scheduled for payoff in 2014. The hope was that it could be refinanced with an earlier payoff date, to help in the merger effort. But he said the only option as far as paying it off early would be to survey all the bondholders to see if any are interested in selling off their bonds, which the board doesn’t consider an option. Following other business, the board went into executive session to discuss negotiation strategies.

Operator Jerry Jacobson gave an update on the current service being done on well 3, the oldest shallow well and the one that is pumped the most of the three wells. The well was pulled and videotaped. He was told the casing is sound, so the next step is to clean it and videotape it again and review what condition it’s in. He said he originally thought the well was to a point where it might need to be redrilled, but he said the company doing the work think it’s in good shape. The updated cost to clean, videotape, and reinstall well 3 is $2,850.

He added that it’s possible that a new pump and motor will be needed. The pump is "operable," but he noted that it’s a 10-year-old pump, which is a "good life expectancy." He said he’d know if these need to be replaced once the results of the cleaning are known.

"One of the reasons I’m looking at replacing it (the pump) is because I want to be able to operate both shallows at once," Jacobson said. "But we can’t do that. If we’re running well 3 and I turn on well 1, well 3 quits pumping and will trip out." The source of the problem hasn’t been determined.

He noted that all other water systems are operating fine and are in good repair. In addition, he said last month’s wastewater test results were in compliance.

Board member sought

The board is seeking a volunteer to serve as a director on the board. If you are interested, call the district’s office at 481-0711.

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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 May 7.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, March 19: Donala to test for pharmaceuticals in the water

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting March 19, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported that the district is starting to test water for pharmaceuticals. He noted that the tests, to be done by an Underwriters Laboratory lab in Indiana, cost about $1,750 per sample and check for about 100 items.

The problem of pharmaceutical and personal care product (PPCP) contamination of drinking water has gained international attention. The Associated Press produced a series of articles on the topic. There is more information at www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2008/2008-03-10-099.asp

The following information is from Donala’s Web site:

"The products get there through the wastewater stream and have been detected in streams and rivers around the world. In some cases, hormonal changes in aquatic life can be traced back to PPCPs in their water. Although there is no proof that such pollution is harmful to humans, it just stands to reason that it could be. The EPA and state health departments have yet to determine what to do about this problem since it is a huge issue around the globe. More and more of these and other products are introduced to our streams and rivers through wastewater systems, and there are very few (if any) ways to treat for them.

The recent article in the Gazette stated that these products have also been detected in deep well water supplies like Donala’s. The article did not define ‘deep’ and we do not believe the products have transpired the 700 feet plus it would take to invade Donala’s supply, but we are testing for the products just in case. We are also testing the wastewater stream to get an idea of what kind of PPCPs and illegal drugs are being flushed down our system.

Please, if you can at all avoid it, do not flush pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and illegal drugs down the toilet."

The EPA has information at www.epa.gov/ppcp/, including a link to the following federal guidelines for proper disposal of prescription drugs:

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.
  • Mixing prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, will further ensure the drugs are not diverted.
  • Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so.
  • Some communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid-waste programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Where these exist, they are a good way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

Although there is currently no coordinated Tri-Lakes area take-back program, the pharmacies at King Soopers, Safeway, and Wal-Mart say they will accept and dispose of pharmaceuticals if requested by a patient. King Soopers pharmacy suggested those wanting to dispose of pharmaceuticals remove the label from the bottle, add water, cap the bottle, shake and then discard the bottle in the trash.

Cost of service analysis

Some highlights of Duthie’s report for 2007:

  • Total treated water delivered during 2007 was 338.37 million gallons, which was 142,000 more than in 2006. The associated costs during 2007 averaged $6.48 per 1,000 gallons, an increase of 9 percent from 2006.
  • Total raw water delivered to the golf course during 2007 was 13.21 million gallons, 3 million less than in 2006. The associated costs during 2007 averaged $5.63 per 1,000 gallons, a decrease of 4 percent from 2006.
  • Total reuse and Jake’s Lake augmentation water during 2007 was 32.44 million gallons, 0.8 million more than during 2006.
  • Total Donala wastewater treated during 2007 was 152.06 million gallons. The associated costs during 2007 averaged $4.48 per 1,000 gallons.
  • Comparing the treated water amounts and wastewater returns, the report concludes that on average Donala’s customers used 45 percent of their water for irrigation or other outside uses.

Other matters

  • The board unanimously voted to support the Water Returns program (see article on page 8).
  • During the three months from Dec. 1 through Feb. 29, the district’s $5.7 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 4.68 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 4.21 percent during the same period. The average maturity of the district’s investments is 7.6 months.
  • Two board positions are up for election May 6. The two positions are currently held by board President Ed Houle, who is term-limited, and Dale Schendzielos. The four candidates are William George, Warren Gerig, Gene Pfeffer, and Dale Schendzielos. The polling place will be the Donald Wescott Fire Station at 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Applications for mail-in ballots may be filed with the district until 3 p.m. May 2.
  • Duthie reported that the El Paso County Water Authority has voted to oppose HB08-1259, which would prevent special districts from providing service outside their territorial boundaries. It took no action on HB08-1141, which would require developers to identify a sustainable water supply for their developments, and SB08-119, which would authorize the use of cisterns to collect rainwater from up to 3,000 square feet of roof on a single-family primary residence. At its Feb. 20 meeting, the Donala board voted unanimously to oppose HB08-1259 and support HB08-1141 and SB08-119.
  • Duthie reported on the Pike Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) meetings March 10 and 19. For more information, see the PPRWA articles on pages 3 and 4. Duthie added that although the PPRWA has decided against having the engineering firm Leonard Rice conduct a study to produce a more accurate prediction of the anticipated shortfall in water supply and identify the location and type of additional wells that should be drilled, Donala will have the firm produce a similar study limited to Donala’s needs. Duthie said, "I want to know how much time we have."

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, April 16 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

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Triview Metropolitan District, March 25: Board includes Sanctuary Pointe, reduces commercial fees

By John Heiser

At the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors meeting March 25, the board unanimously approved inclusion within the district of the Sanctuary Pointe project. The board also unanimously approved a substantial reduction in the impact fees charged for commercial, office, and industrial developments.

Board president Bob Eskridge and members Joe Martin, Robert Fisher, and Mark Veenendaal were present. Julie Glenn was absent.

Sanctuary Pointe inclusion

The Monument Board of Trustees approved the Sanctuary Pointe project on November 20, 2006. The project is planned for up to 600 dwelling units on 460 acres north of Baptist Road near the Fox Run development.

District manager Ron Simpson noted that since Triview cannot issue any more debt he negotiated an arrangement with Classic Homes, the developer of Sanctuary Pointe, under which Classic will install $3 million in district water and sewer infrastructure needed for the project and the district will rebate 75 percent of the impact and inclusion fees that Classic pays when building permits are issued. The rebate will continue until Classic has received $3 million in rebates. After that, Triview will receive all of the impact and inclusion fees, which currently total $22,450 per dwelling unit.

A public hearing was held on the inclusion during which no members of the public were present.

Fisher identified some errors in Classic’s inclusion petition.

After further discussion, the board unanimously approved the inclusion subject to the fee rebate arrangement and revisions to the court order to correct the errors in the inclusion petition.

Simpson said work on the project might get underway in Spring 2009.

Commercial impact fees reduced

Simpson reported that the level of Triview’s current road and bridge impact fees is such that potential commercial users are dissuaded from locating within the district. He presented several alternative plans for reducing the fees and recommended a plan that would reduce the fees about 59 percent. After some discussion, the board unanimously approved the suggested reduction.

Tom Repp, Triview’s engineer and a project manager with Nolte, announced that he is leaving Nolte to work for the Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise. He introduced Will Kroger who is his replacement as district engineer.

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The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be held April 22 at 5 p.m. in the district conference room, 174 Washington St. in downtown Monument. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Mar. 3: Controversial Willow Springs Ranch sketch plan approved

Below: County resident Georgia Ward’s ranch. Photos by Jim Kendrick.

Below: County resident Georgia Ward

Below: Aerial view of Willow Springs Ranch showing the relationship (clockwise from top left) to Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility at the south end of Mitchell Avenue, the south end of Synthes Avenue inside the Synthes industrial park, the railroad tracks to the east, Baptist Road to the south, Forest Lakes subdivision to the southwest. Georgia Ward’s 40-acre ranch on Rickenbacker Avenue is southwest of the Watt home and ranch buildings and Monument Creek. Photo provided by land planning consultant NES, Inc.

Click here or on the drawings to zoom in, view the PD site plan, or download the drawings

Click on the drawings to zoom in, view the PD site plan, or download the drawings

Below: This drawing shows the relationship of the Ward residence on Rickenbacker Avenue and the Nasby residence on Spaatz Road to the proposed south end of Mitchell Avenue (top center) on the northeast corner of Ward’s ranch. It also shows the negotiated realignment of the collector segment of Forest Lakes Drive on the southwest corner of Ward’s ranch. Also shown is the changed route of the proposed trail system further away from the Nasby residence on Spaatz Road and the buffer of trees added between them. The dashed line for the previous proposed alignment of Forest Lakes Drive shows how short and direct the county’s connection to Rickenbacker Drive would have been had it not been dropped about 10 years ago. Drawing provided by land planning consultant NES, Inc.

Click here or on the drawings to zoom in, view the PD site plan, or download the drawings

By Jim Kendrick

On Mar. 3, the Monument Board of Trustees held a half hour "town meeting" to hear the comments of adjacent county property owners on town plans to extend Mitchell Avenue from the current dead-end next to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility to Baptist Road. The town prefers to connect Mitchell to Forest Lakes Drive, which is currently under construction, to save money.

In response to the county residents’ comments, members of the board and staff reiterated that the Mitchell Avenue extension is an entirely separate issue from the Willow Springs Ranch annexation ordinance that was also on the agenda. Mayor Byron Glenn stated that the town has no funds available to pay for any of the proposed extension options within the next five years.

The board then held hearings on the final resolutions for annexing each of the two sketch Willow Springs Ranch filings as well as a hearing the planned development (PD) site plan for the Willow Springs Ranch development. The hearings on these two lasted about three hours and all three were approved. However, the board cut the maximum number of proposed homes in the sketch plan from 450 to 384 dwelling units. The developer, Infinity Land Corp., will pay a proportionate cost for a traffic signal at Beacon Lite Road and Second Street.

All seven board members were present for this meeting.

Mitchell Avenue extension discussed

Background: The board had conditionally approved annexation of the first Willow Springs Ranch hearings on Feb. 4. The board also approved town PD zoning for the parcel after agreeing to annexation of the parcel. (See aerial view of the Willow Springs Ranch annexation on the right.)

However, the applicant’s request for a maximum density of 450 houses in the Sketch PD Plan was tabled on Feb. 4 at the request of Mayor Glenn 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 developer Paul Howard, CEO of Infinity Land Corporation had said that a "handshake agreement" had been made to purchase the additional water rights from Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, no contract had been signed.

Some trustees had also expressed concern on Feb. 4 that Howard had not met with some of the adjacent county property owners to address issues they had raised during public comments.

(For more background information on the Feb. 4 hearings, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n3.htm#bot0204

Discussion: Glenn stated that the board had looked at funding availability for the Mitchell Avenue extension in detail in May 2007 as a part of the town’s five-year capital improvement program. The board determined that other expensive capital projects had a higher priority. No funding was allocated to the extension of Mitchell Avenue. "At this time, obviously, we have no plans to build this roadway. The town has a lot of priorities that are way ahead of Mitchell (Avenue). I just want to make that clear, that there is no intention to take anybody’s property or build a roadway."

Town Manager Cathy Green said four routes for connecting the south end of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road had been considered by the board and staff. She said that a key factor in the evaluation is that the southeast portion of Forest Lakes Drive is "almost complete, except for final grading and paving." This southeast segment of Forest Lakes Drive, a county road, was made part of the Willow Springs Ranch annexation at the town’s request. The relevant segment runs northwest from the west end of Baptist Road along the common boundary between the Forest Lakes and Willow Springs Ranch developments as shown on the sketch plan (See page 14.) When completed, this segment of Forest Lakes Drive will meet county standards for a minor collector road.

The options Green discussed were:

  1. Mitchell Avenue could be extended straight south using donated right-of-way along the western boundary of the Willow Springs Ranch parcel, then in a southwesterly direction through the middle of county resident Georgia Ward’s 40-acre horse ranch to connect to Forest Lakes Drive. The new extension of Mitchell Avenue could also be constructed to meet county standards for a minor collector road at a cost of about $5 million.
  2. Mitchell Avenue could be extended to the southeast, all the way to Baptist Road, entirely within the 259-acre Willow Springs Ranch property to the east of Ward’s ranch –– with no connection to Forest Lakes Drive – at a cost of about $10 million, including a 200-foot bridge. Green said this routing would needlessly duplicate the existing Forest Lakes Drive roadway.
  3. The north end of Forest Lakes Drive could be connected the south end of Rickenbacker Avenue, at the southwest corner of Ward’s ranch, as originally proposed by the county in the 1990s.
  4. The town had previously rejected a proposal for an alternative east-west collector road that would have connected the current southern dead-ends of Mitchell Avenue and Synthes Avenue to Old Denver Highway just south of the entrance to the Trails End Subdivision at the Wagon Gap Trail intersection. Green said that the cost for the bridge over the railroad tracks would be about $10 million to $11 million, not counting the other costs for right-of-way and paving for the roadway east of the railroad tracks to Old Denver Highway.

Ward and her late husband donated right-of-way to El Paso County along the western boundary of their ranch about 15 years ago for the specific purpose of connecting Rickenbacker Avenue to Forest Lakes Drive for an access to Baptist Road and I-25. Under the county’s plan at that time, Monument residents west of the railroad tracks could have driven to Baptist Road via Mitchell Avenue, Arnold Avenue, Fairchild Avenue, Chennault Road, Rickenbacker Avenue, and the future Forest Lakes Drive.

However, none of the existing residential roads meet county standards for a minor collector. Additional right-of-way would have been required. The county subsequently dropped this project about 10 years ago when neighboring residents of these rural residential roads complained at hearings about the right-of-way and additional traffic issues that would have been generated by this proposed connection to Baptist Road.

The sketch plan for Willow Springs Ranch already includes construction of part of this proposed east-west road –– from the south end of Mitchell Avenue eastward to the south end of Synthes Avenue, where the primary access to the north section of Willow Springs Ranch will be built. However, the northeastern portion of the Watt property between the tracks and Old Denver Highway was not purchased by Infinity. All of the 259-acre development annexed by the town is west of the railroad tracks.

Currently, the only I-25 access for houses along Mitchell Avenue is Second Street, through downtown Monument to Highway 105 at I-25 exit 161. However, Second Street traffic is blocked at the train crossing between Mitchell Avenue and Front Street every 20 minutes on average. Major northbound traffic backups occur on Mitchell when trains cross Second Street during early afternoon shift changes at the Synthes Avenue industrial park.

A Mitchell Avenue connection to Baptist Road would partially mitigate these delays. However the same trains would also block Baptist Road, west of the Old Denver Highway intersection. The county has long-term plans to build a Baptist Road bridge over the railroad tracks at an estimated cost of about $10 million using Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funds.

Public comments: County resident Charles Carrico, who lives on Rickenbacker Avenue, said "I’ve got a simple question. Why? Why do you need that at all? The people who will live there shouldn’t be there because we’re all limited to 5 acres and (Willow Springs Ranch) snuck in five houses per acre … Why do they need a route that comes through our neighborhood and destroys our lives?"

County resident Sarah Nasby, who lives at the intersection of Spaatz Road and Rickenbacker, said that the Mitchell Avenue decision cannot be separated from the annexation decision for Willow Springs Ranch, regardless of the opinions of the developer’s and town’s traffic engineering consultants. . . These consultants said that Mitchell Avenue can handle a 50 percent increase in traffic at the Second Street railroad crossing that will be generated by the additional traffic from Willow Springs Ranch residents and the Empirical Testing Corp. facility proposed for the southeast corner of Mitchell and Synthes Avenues. Nasby also stated that traffic generated at the intersection of Mitchell and Arnold Avenues by the new Colorado Junior Volleyball Gymnasium "is a nightmare. It’s only going to get worse."

Nasby also requested that Mitchell Avenue be extended through the Willow Springs Ranch development. She said she had learned that Infinity had offered to pay for the right-of-way through Ward’s ranch, in addition to donating right-of-way within the development, even though Infinity was claiming that the development would have no impact on Mitchell’s level of service. Nasby said, "I’m sorry but a developer is not going to pay for that land, that right-of-way, if it’s got nothing to do with the development."

Georgia Ward said that the town’s map shows a requirement to build a 500-foot to 600-foot bridge over the creek, 100-year floodplain, and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat on her property for the town’s proposed alignment. "I don’t understand" how that can be cheaper than the 200-foot bridge through Infinity’s property. She noted that she and her husband had given the county land for widening Rickenbacker –– "We weren’t paid for it or anything."

Later, county representatives told Ward that they "couldn’t afford" the cost of construction over the ravines on her property. "Those ravines are still there. I would really like to see the engineer’s estimate" of how they can come up with this road, she said, that is "cheaper than a road through a flat piece of land and a 200-foot bridge. I’d really like an answer for that."

Spaatz Road resident Steve Phillips said he does not believe that "for expediency’s sake, we’re willing to compromise individual freedoms and rights for a community benefit." He added that this sounded "a lot like communism" and "the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the few."

He asked how a monetary value could be put on what "we hold dear and true in this country … the rights of individuals to be free and safe and secure in the use of their lands."

Board comments: Mayor Byron Glenn stated:

  • The county has published Major Transportation Corridor Plans for over 20 years that show an extension of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road.
  • The proposed alignment through the middle of Ward’s ranch is the cheapest of the four options considered by the town.
  • While he is sympathetic to the concerns of the Rickenbacker Avenue residents about property rights, particularly Georgia Ward, the connection of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road is necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of the town’s residents west of the railroad tracks in case of emergency "like the Hayman fire"..
  • The county charged the Forest Lakes development about $120,000 for the future cost of the Mitchell Avenue extension.

Green said:

  • The cost of the route through Ward’s property is half that of the route through the Willow Springs Ranch development because Forest Lakes Drive construction costs have not been paid by the town.
  • The bridge costs in the two alternatives are only part of the total costs for each option.
  • Annexation is different than development within an existing residential town property because the town has the leverage to require a developer to make off-site improvements as a condition of the annexation "contract."
  • Infinity is being required to construct a northbound right-turn lane from Mitchell Avenue to Second Street, as well as donations of easements and right-of-way and cash contributions for the Mitchell extension.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted:

  • Infinity was being required to pay for all mitigation of added traffic on Mitchell Avenue and Second Street, proportional to its share of the total daily trips, based on no extension of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road being built in the near term.
  • The required traffic mitigation on Mitchell is based on concurring reports from the developer’s and the town’s traffic engineering consultants.
  • Houses in the southern filing will not use Mitchell Avenue.
  • The town will not build the Mitchell extension for another five years at a minimum, so it is not part of the annexation or sketch plan decisions by the board.
  • The right-of-way being donated by Infinity for Mitchell Avenue is a negotiating opportunity that saves all Monument residents money in the future.

Glenn added:

  • When construction at the Lake of the Rockies development begins, that developer will make similar contributions for further extending the right turn lane to Second Street and for the total cost of extending Mitchell to Baptist.
  • Any developer who builds in the Synthes industrial park in the future will be required to make similar contributions as well.
  • If eminent domain is the only solution, a judge determines the fair market value of the property taken.
  • The final alignment of the north end of Forest Lakes Drive and Mitchell Avenue will be affected by D-38’s decision to build a Forest Lakes school just south of the Nasby residence

Trustee Steve Samuels observed that while the board understands the emotions of those who had spoken, it had to make a decision that was best for all town and county citizens affected by these development proposals. He doesn’t believe "eminent domain is a right or correct way to go" in "trying to judge what is wise or safe."

Trustee Tim Miller said that Ward had already donated land for the connection of Mitchell to Baptist and wanted to know the feasibility of connecting the south end of Rickenbacker Avenue to Forest Lakes Drive before condemning a strip through Ward’s ranch.

Ward asked how the town can take land outside its jurisdiction to build a road across the middle of her county property. which is in the county. She also asked how a new road through her property could cost less than improving already constructed roads that were part of the county’s proposal to use the existing roads between Mitchell and Rickenbacker.

Glenn said the town had made a presentation to the county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force in February about building the road through her ranch, and would soon present the proposal to the county Planning Commission. The Planning Commission would then make its recommendation. The county would allow the town to build and maintain the road where it crosses county land in consultation with the county, similar to consultations on Old Denver Highway. Glenn also noted that the southeast segment of Forest Lakes Drive was part of the Willow Springs Ranch annexation and would be a town road as well.

Glenn added that the town had already purchased substitute Preble’s mouse habitat that could be set aside as a substitute for any habitat destroyed in constructing the bridge or roadway within Ward’s ranch. The bridge would span the full length of the floodplain.

Trustee Gail Drumm said that the town was making a mistake in annexing Willow Springs Ranch. The town was footing the bill to pay for all of the Mitchell Avenue extension and absorbing all the future maintenance costs of the county’s Forest Lakes Drive "to help out the developer." He said the county should pay the costs for extending Mitchell Avenue. "It’s the county’s job."

Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the U.S. and Colorado constitutions have provision for eminent domain as long as fair compensation is paid.

Willow Springs Ranch annexation approved

Green noted that an annexation resolution is the only type of resolution requiring a public hearing. Public hearings are required for ordinances. She noted that all the owners of the parcel had signed the application for annexation and both of the filings had satisfied the requirement for at least one-sixth contiguity with the existing town boundary. (The Planning Commission had approved the annexation by a 4-2 vote on Jan. 9. For details, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n2.htm#monpc.)

County resident Steve Phillips questioned the documentation on how extension of municipal services to the property would be accomplished and paid for in the annexation impact report. He said the capital construction costs for a D-38 school were also not listed in the annexation impact report. He said the developer had not met the county’s 300-year water supply requirement.

Shupp said the state and town groundwater supply requirement is 100 years of water.

Trustee Tommie Plank responded that D-38 is responsible for building classrooms, not the town. When the preliminary and final PD site plans are submitted to the town, D-38 will provide comments on providing services to the residents of the parcel at that time.

Kassawara added that a new cash-in-lieu agreement had been negotiated with D-38 that increases the fee for each new home that will be collected by the town and forwarded to the school district to ensure that there is sufficient funding for future schools. The developer builds all municipal services to town, district, and utility company specifications, then turns them over at no cost to the entities.

Both resolutions for annexing the north and south filing –– with the same eight conditions of approval, that were approved on Feb. 4 by a 5-2 vote (Drumm and Miller opposed) –– were approved in turn this time by a 6-1 vote, with Miller opposed.

Willow Springs Ranch sketch PD plan approved

Kassawara and consultant land planner John Maynard, of NES Inc., gave similar presentations to the ones they gave at the Feb. 4 hearing that was continued. (For those details, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n3.htm#bot0204)

The Planning Commission approved the sketch plan by a 4-2 vote on Jan. 9, expressing concerns about the additional traffic that will be generated on Mitchell Avenue. For details, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n2.htm#monpc

Kassawara also discussed the changes that had been made to the sketch plan in the interim. Some of the items he noted were:

  • Infinity representatives had met with the Nasbys to address their concerns as requested by Samuels.
  • The annexation agreement was being worked out as required and will be finalized before the annexation is recorded with the county.
  • The developer met with the Nasbys as requested and made several changes to the sketch plan at their request.
  • Additional buffering was added to the northwest corner of the southern filing.
  • A note was added regarding the utility easement south of the Ward residence – "50 foot no-build easement/trail corridor" and it was also designated as "open space."
  • The trail segment that was visible to the Nasby residence was removed.
  • The relocated trail will provide access to the future detention pond.
  • The right-of-way for the north end of Forest Lakes Drive was shifted to the east, resulting in a loss of an additional acre of developable land near the roadway.
  • A note was added to the plan stating "Future Mitchell Avenue location to be determined by the Town of Monument."
  • A note and gray color were added to indicate a future "overflow" parking lot purchased by the developer on the east side of the railroad tracks for the 10-acre park site on the northeast corner of the parcel.
  • The layout of the adjacent lots in the county-approved Forest Lakes site plan property along Forest Lakes Drive was added.
  • Concurrent Planned Development residential zoning was approved for the parcel on Feb. 4.
  • Infinity is providing a cash donation to the future southward extension of Mitchell Avenue by the town, in addition to the right-of-way and easements already donated.
  • The north and south filings will "function independently and there is adequate existing traffic capacity for both without construction of the Mitchell Avenue extension.
  • There are no outstanding significant issues with the modified sketch plans in the staff’s opinion.

In his concluding remarks, Kassawara reiterated that the development does not require an extension of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road.

Developer comments: Howard noted that:

  • The required letter of intent from Forest Lakes Metropolitan District to sell water rights for the required 70 acre-feet per year of supplemental water was now included in the sketch plan application.
  • The upgrades that Infinity would provide to Mitchell Avenue at Second Street were approved by his and the town’s traffic engineering consultants and that the extension of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road was not required for the additional traffic the north filing would generate.
  • Home building permits for each home would be increased from $290 to $1,350, to pay for the eventual building of a D-38 school with Infinity’s concurrence.
  • Infinity will build and donate the water supply line connecting the Forest Lakes water tank to the town’s water main on Old Denver Highway (at a cost of about $750,000).
  • The 70 acre-feet of supplemental water rights Infinity will purchase from Forest Lakes Metropolitan District will be dedicated to the town.
  • The town will not have to pay for the construction or maintenance of the 117 acres of open space, parks, and trails within the development. The new trails will connect to all adjacent regional and county trails.
  • Infinity is donating $500,000 to the Mitchell Avenue extension project, even though it is not required or related to the Willow Springs Ranch development.
  • Infinity has been working on this development for over a year – "We are not rushing anything." Still, similar developments in Colorado Springs are approved in about six months. "This is painfully slow."
  • Further delays increase Infinity’s costs and have nothing to do with the town’s desire to build a Mitchell Avenue extension.
  • The new access road for the north filing will also improve access to the interior of Synthes industrial park.

Howard said the following changes had been negotiated with the Nasbys:

  • The alignment of the north end of Forest Lakes Drive had been moved an additional 109 feet to the east of the Nasby property line for further separation from their residence.
  • The development’s trail had been moved south so that did not go near the Nasby property.
  • Trees will be planted on the east side of Forest Lakes Drive to screen the development’s one-acre lots closest to the Nasby home.
  • These trees and the relocated trail will be 545 feet from the Nasby residence.
  • In contrast, the D-38 school building in Forest Lakes will be only 218 feet away, and if it is not built, the land will be converted to 4,000-square-foot residential lots.
  • The 50-foot no-build area between the development and the southern boundary of the Ward ranch has been clearly defined on the sketch plan as requested.

Traffic consultant Jeff Hodson, of LSC Consultants, reviewed how the new right-turn lane from Mitchell Avenue to Second Street that Infinity will construct would mitigate the development’s additional traffic. He noted that the level of traffic service at the four-way stop sign intersection at Beacon Lite Road and Second Street would deteriorate sufficiently to require a new traffic signal. The worst traffic at the railroad crossing on Second Street lasts only 8 minutes during the 2 p.m. Synthes shift change, not 15 minutes as required for the worst rating.

Howard agreed to pay a pro rata share of the costs of signal construction based on Infinity’s share of future additional traffic through that intersection, as an additional condition of approval of the sketch plan.

Public comments: Sarah Nasby requested that Infinity be required to build a fence around her property. She said that each lot in the north filing should be no smaller than 2.5 acres. She said an additional 50 feet of buffering should be required along the entire length of the common boundary with the Ward ranch, making it 100 feet wide as she thought she had been promised. She said that the town could afford to pay an additional $8 million to construct the road through Willow Springs, since it could afford $19 million for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion. The Forest Lakes Drive right-of-way should be widened to 120 feet, the county standard for a collector, from the town’s proposed 80 feet.

County resident Robert Delacroce said he owns the ranch across Baptist Road from this development. Based on the town’s apparent acceptance of the requested densities in the Willow Springs development, he will ask the town to allow him to build 1,500 homes on his ranch. He also asked the town to protect his water and access rights to his irrigation ditch (4.8 cubic feet per second) within Willow Springs. He was assured his access and easement would be protected as part of the dedicated open space.

Phillips said the town was allowing a density that could not be supported by the available water on the parcel, yet was imposing more and more restrictions on water usage throughout the town.

County resident Chris Jeub, who lives on Rickenbacker Avenue, expressed his concerns about additional traffic and water availability for only 433 houses, while the developer is still asking for a maximum of 450 homes. The sanitation plant will be a serious issue for new homebuyers. The Mitchell Avenue extension is inseparable from the sketch plan.

Ward stated that the board approval of the sketch plan as shown with half of the Mitchell Avenue extension already shown, was in fact an approval of the rest of the extension of Mitchell Avenue to Forest Lakes Drive through the center of her ranch. "I’m tired and you know how I feel … You cannot separate them." She asked how her horses could get to the east half of her property after the town takes her land and builds the road. Would the town build a tunnel or a bridge for her?

Ward left Town Hall before the vote on the sketch plan was taken after much further discussion. Glenn later said the tunnel for her horses would be a box culvert under the new bridge across Monument Creek.

Some of Howard’s replies to citizen comments were:

  • There most likely would not be more than 433 homes in the future preliminary PD sketch plan.
  • A full disclosure about the proximity of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility will be issued with the sale of every new home in the development.
  • Condemnation would most likely also be required if the Rickenbacker connection is chosen instead of the Ward ranch connection.
  • Trying to tie the Mitchell Avenue extension to his development is "ridiculous" – it is a long-standing separate town project.

Glenn stated that he could not ask residents to pay $9 million to extend Mitchell Avenue when options costing $4 million or less are available. He added that the proposed density up to five units per acre was too high. He added that allowing densities that high in the town’s Richmond Homes developments "was a mistake."

After further lengthy discussion, there was consensus among the board members that a maximum of four dwelling units per acre in the northern filing was appropriate. This lowered the maximum number of homes in the development from 450 to 384. Howard agreed to this 10th condition of approval.

The sketch plan was approved, at about 10 p.m. by a 5-2 vote, with the eight previous and two additional conditions. Drumm and Miller voted no.

Other matters

The board:

  • Unanimously approved a referral of an annexation application for the vacant 81-acre Wakonda Meadows development on the west side of Beacon Lite Road, south of Wakonda Hills, to the Planning Commission as the first step in the annexation and rezoning process.
  • Unanimously approved the replat of the Woodmoor Placer development creating two new lots to the immediate north and south of the new YMCA building on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway, north of Higby Road.
  • Unanimously approved a new ordinance creating town-wide standards for the design and distribution of potable water systems that will also apply to the Triview Metropolitan District.
  • Unanimously approved a new ordinance creating town-wide regulations that will allow the town to enforce compliance with building and construction regulations – including a new power to issue "stop work" orders – that will also apply to the Triview Metropolitan District.
  • Tabled a proposed regulation to sell a portion of the town’s surplus water rights to the city-block Hull Subdivision between Beacon Lite Road and Grace Best Elementary School at a discounted rate to promote very high urban densities in the downtown district.
  • Rejected an ordinance that would have authorized salaries for trustees elected in April for attendance at board meetings (Drumm opposed)
  • Unanimously approved a liquor license renewal for the Bayou Barbq restaurant in Monument Plaza.

The meeting adjourned at 10:23 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Mar. 17: Monument election cancelled

Below: Mayor Byron Glenn (left) presenting outgoing Trustee Dave Mertz with a plaque, a model of a Corvette, and a watering can in honor of his service as a Trustee and Chairman of the Planning Commission over the past eight years. Photos by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Town Manager Cathy Green and Town Clerk Scott Meszaros showed the current town flag designed in 1870 and a new flag that is similar to the new town logo. The board determined that the old and new flags should be displayed prominently in the new town hall building. 

By Jim Kendrick

Due to the number of candidates exactly equaling the number of vacant seats, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution canceling the regularly scheduled election. Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustees Tommie Plank and Gail Drumm were re-elected to four year terms. Planning Commissioner Rafael Dominguez will also serve a four-year term, replacing former Planning Commission Chairman and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Mertz who chose not to run for re-election.

Trustee Travis Easton was absent.

Trustee Comments

Trustee Tim Miller noted that the stripe showing where to stop for a red light on westbound Baptist Road at the Struthers Road intersection has worn away, creating a safety issue when people drive through this intersection. People are stopping by the signal next to the on-ramp for the north lane of I-25, blocking those turning west from the northbound off-ramp. Public Works Director Rich Landreth said he would contact the Colorado Department of Transportation (CD)T) to coordinate repainting of the stripe east of Struthers Road.

Glenn reported that CDOT had agreed to re-pave Baptist Road from Struthers Road to the west side of the bridge over I-25 when the weather warms up. Also, "CDOT is also going to mill and pave I-25 from Gleneagle north."

Glenn said he talked with Valero Corporation to let them know that the Diamond Shamrock fuel station on the northwest corner of the Baptist Road interchange will be receiving new water and sanitary sewer connections. The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority should be receiving Valero’s right-of-way donation for the interchange expansion within a week which should hasten the start of construction.

Frost is delaying the preparation of the sub-grade for grading and paving of the eastbound lanes of Baptist Road east of the Struthers Road intersection.

Baptist Road widening of Baptist Road on the west side of the interchange is still #3 on the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments improvement list, as is improving I-25 from the south Academy gate through Monument.

Boyle Engineering gave a presentation to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority on the costs of transporting water from the Arkansas river to regional water districts that are members (see article on page 3). The cost of constructing a transport system for 15,000 acre-feet per year would be about $500 million. Larger systems that could transport 50,000 acre-feet per year would cost $1 billion or more. Partnering of all the water systems in the region could lower the cost per household to about $1,000 per year.

Glenn and Town Manager Cathy Green met with County Commissioner Wayne Williams and El Paso County Department of Transportation Director John McCarty to discuss two options for connecting Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road –– a connection of Forest Lakes Drive to the 60-foot right-of-way of Rickenbacker Avenue or building a road through Georgia Ward’s ranch.

McCarty said the only way the Rickenbacker option would work would be to create a straight road from Arnold Avenue, west of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility to connect directly to Rickenbacker. This would require taking right-of-way from nine different lots, plus their houses. The county said this is not possible, so the route must be through Ward’s ranch.

The town will negotiate with Ward for purchase of the needed right-of-way with appraisals from both sides. If a purchase cannot be negotiated, a judge will decide what the fair market value is and how much land the town would be required to purchase to avoid devaluing the remainder of her property.

Glenn recognized Turner Smith, the mayor-elect of the town of Ramah, who was attending the meeting as an observer. He is the husband of Town Treasurer Pamela Smith.

Glenn presented Mertz with a certificate of appreciate in honor of his service to the town on the board, BRRTA, and the Planning Commission, as well as a model Corvette to build in his free time, and a watering can to help the town with its irrigation issues. Mertz spoke at length of the goals that the town had achieved, particularly stabilization of the previous rapid turnover in town staff, creation of more open space, unification of east and west Monument as well as those that still needed further work, such as code enforcement and upgrade of the I-25 view corridor.

Green and Town Clerk Scott Meszaros showed the current town flag designed in 1870 and a new flag that is similar to the new town logo. The board determined that the old and new flags should be displayed prominently in the new town hall building.

Final site plan for Empirical Testing Corp. approved

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara and architect Rick Barnes gave similar presentations to those given to the Planning Commission on Feb. 13 for the Preliminary/Final Planned. The commission approved the preliminary/final Planned Development (PD) site plan for two buildings to be constructed in three phases by Empirical Testing Corp. on the southeast corner of Mitchell and Synthes Avenues. Empirical is moving from a smaller facility in Colorado Springs. (For more information on that hearing, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n3.htm#monpc.)

Kassawara noted that Empirical is a very clean, medical testing operation that would be a significantly beneficial high tech employer.

Barnes said that the facility will be a testing lab for artificial joints that surgically replace damaged human hip or knee joints for example. Most of Empirical’s customers are overseas clients.

Barnes said that Empirical asked the town for an address on Mitchell Avenue specifically because the company tests parts for competitors of Synthes Corporation. He noted that Synthes has its own lab to test the artificial joints that it manufactures. In addition, much of the frontage of the property along Synthes Avenue is blocked by water and wastewater easements.

Barnes said that initially the company will have about 20 employees during normal working day hours, five days per week. One person will work during the day on the weekends to monitor the test equipment. The number of employees may grow to 35 people in the long-term. Their arrival and departure times are different than the large numbers of employees for each shift at Synthes Corporation.

As with the Planning Commission, Barnes and Kassawara gave answers that satisfied nearly all of the questions the trustees had about the buildings, landscaping, and drainage.

There were no public comments for or against the construction of the testing facility, even though it had been controversial at the Planning Commission hearing. Kassawara and Barnes said there would be very little impact on Mitchell since most employees would not make many trips and delivery trucks would visit the plant only a few days a week.

A motion to approve the site plan was quickly offered and seconded.

However, Glenn expressed concerns about how the spacing for the Mitchell Avenue driveway for the building would affect Arnold Avenue traffic if Mitchell is extended to Baptist Road in the future. Glenn said he wanted to ask Empirical for five feet of right-of-way so that the town would have 80 feet rather than the current 70 feet. There was also a lengthy discussion about whether 80 feet of right-of-way would be required for creation of turn lanes and bike lanes. Glenn stated that he thought Mitchell would be a major collector.

Kassawara said that Mitchell Avenue would be a minor collector and that only 60 of the available 70 feet would be needed and that the town has no standards for driveway spacing on a collector. The extra 10 feet of existing right-of-way are handy to have for adjusting the alignment for the improved roadway, if required, including a continuous northbound right turn lane from Arnold Avenue to Synthes Avenue. However, 80 feet of right-of-way is not required for the existing part of Mitchell Avenue.

Glenn said that the amount of right-of-way needed by the town in the long-term should be studied by the developer’s traffic consultant. The town should not lose the opportunity to require a right-of-way donation from Empirical if there is a chance that the town might have to purchase it later. Glenn was adamant about having LSC perform a study on the relative proximity of Arnold Avenue and the driveways for Empirical, the adjacent volleyball center, and Synthes Corporation.

Consultant traffic engineer Chris McGranahan, of LSC Transportation Consultants, said that his study looked at traffic contributions on Mitchell Avenue. The location of the driveway was worked out. Barnes asked whether Synthes Avenue intersection would still have three-way stop signs or a traffic signal. Kassawara said that when the project was submitted, there were no town plans for making Mitchell Avenue a collector road. McGranahan said that turn lanes would not be required for the Empirical driveway due to its small traffic count whether Mitchell Avenue was a collector or an arterial.

Green said that town regulations do not address this issue. Barnes said he did not understand what the town was asking him to do and what changes might be required of Empirical.

After lengthy further discussion, an additional study of traffic loading, driveway spacing and potential conflicts in 2020 on Mitchell as a major collector road by LSC was made a condition of approval for the site plan. The board unanimously approved the site plan with this additional condition.

Other matters

The board approved a service plan for the metropolitan district to be created for operations and maintenance of the parks, trails, and open spaces of the Willow Springs Ranch development. The maximum authorized debt for the metro district will be $10 million dollars with a mill levy cap of 50 mills to maintain 125 acres of open space. The initial mill levy will be 35 mills. The vote was 4-2, with Drumm and Miller opposed.

Five payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  • $78,672 to Triview Metropolitan District for January sales tax
  • $6,731 to Triview Metropolitan District for February motor vehicle tax
  • $14,273 To Stantec Consulting, Inc for engineering work on Old Denver Highway improvements.
  • $5,000 to the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee for July the Fourth fireworks.
  • $44,563 to Nolte Associates, Inc. for engineering work for the Third Street improvement project.
The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 7 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Mondays of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission meeting, Mar. 12: Wakonda Meadows annexation, rezoning, and sketch plan approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission approved discussed annexation, rezoning, and a sketch Planned Development (PD) plan for the undeveloped/rural 85 acres between Wakonda Hills, Beacon Lite Road, the northern town limit, and the Santa Fe Trail. The sketch plan showed 85 single-family homes on about 67 acres and 48 Town Homes on roughly 9 acres. Another 14 acres of land in the Zonta parcel to the south are already part of the town.

The commission also approved an amendment to the town code increasing the cash-in-lieu fees charged to a residential lot at the time the town issues a building permit. The residential fee increases from $290 to $1,350.

Wakonda Meadows annexation

Land Planner Dean Mabe of LRS, Inc., gave the applicant’s presentation for landowner Ken Barber, of Zonta Partnership, LTD:

  • The proposed layout protects the existing topographical features of the vacant property, as well as the existing drainage, wetlands, and waterways.
  • The proposed streets meet all town specifications.
  • The internal trails connect to the Santa Fe Trail and will allow access to the trail for the public from Beacon Lite Road.
  • The development’s homeowner’s association will own the development’s open space.
  • The town will own and maintain the trail system and finished park after the developer builds them.
  • The density within Wakonda Meadows will match that of adjacent Wakonda Hills homes at the northern boundary.

Principal planner Karen Griffith reported that the annexation proposal met all state statute requirements for at least one-sixth contiguity and availability of town services. All owners have signed the annexation application. The annexation request also meets the requirements of the town’s comprehensive plan.

The commission unanimously approved the annexation with two conditions:

  1. An annexation agreement shall be executed by the applicants that satisfactorily address commitments and referral agency comments.
  2. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made and approved by Town Staff.

PD zoning approved: Griffith recommended that the applicant’s request for planned development zoning be approved since it meets the requirements of the town’s comprehensive plan.

The PD zoning request was unanimously approved with two conditions:

  1. The Wakonda Meadows annexation shall be approved and recorded prior to recordation of the PD zoning ordinance.
  2. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording of the zoning ordinance.

Sketch PD plan approved: Mabe noted that the land use for the 98.8-acre development would be:

  • 85 lots on 67.17 acres of land for single family residential (average density of 1.27 dwelling units per acre)
  • 48 townhomes on 8.88 acres of multi-family residential (average density of 5.4 dwelling units per acre)
  • 18.55 acres of open space
  • 1.4 acres of recreational area
  • 1.72 acres of detention ponds
  • 2.66 acres of Beacon Lite Road right-of-way
  • A total of 133 dwelling units for an average density of 1.35 dwelling units per acre

Griffith stated that:

  • The sketch plan meets all town and comprehensive plan requirements.
  • Town water consultant Bruce Lytle has determined that there is sufficient water rights on the property for the proposed densities.
  • The property’s water rights must be adjudicated in water court, however, for use within the town’s well fields. The case has been filed.
  • A well site on the parcel will be dedicated to the town.
  • The applicant will be required to contribute a pro rata share for the cost of installation of a traffic signal at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105, based on the additional traffic generated by the development.
  • The county has asked that wetlands on the parcel be designated as "no-build areas" on the site plan.
  • The county has asked that all of Beacon Lite Road adjacent to the development be annexed by the town.
  • A note has been added to the plan regarding the required preservation of vegetation if possible.
  • D-38 has requested that school bus stops be set aside along with cash-in-lieu of a land dedication for a school on the site.
  • The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has requested an east to north left turn lane be constructed by the developer at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105 as well as a west to southbound right turn and left turn lane.
  • CDOT is requiring a $47,000 fair share contribution to the signal light to be constructed at this intersection.

The site plan was unanimously approved with five proposed conditions:

  1. The maximum number of residential units shall not exceed 133 dwelling units.
  2. Cash-in-lieu-of-land dedication fees shall be based on the average market value of land in the D-38 School District. Fees shall be collected when the land use permit for each residential unit is issued by the town.
  3. The turn lanes requested by CDOT shall be shown on the preliminary PD site plan. The applicant will escrow $47,000 when the preliminary plan is submitted.
  4. A qualified environmental professional will certify that the 1.4 acre park and proposed trail are completely outside of any wetland areas on the parcel and that there are no significant environmental constraints to the development of the park for active recreational uses such as picnic tables and playground equipment.
  5. Technical corrections shall be made prior to finalization of the Sketch PD plan.

Town code amendment approved

D-38 Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman advised the board that the revised fee schedule for cash-in-lieu-of-land that had been negotiated with the town staff was satisfactory for the district’s capital needs for the near term. The code has been amended to reflect an appropriate amount and type of land needed for each type of district school and each type of housing. A waiver may be issued by the town under the amendment to waive the school fee for senior citizen apartment complexes.

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on April 9 at Town Hall, 166 Second Street. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, March 13: Council seeks new town water attorney

By David Futey

On March 13, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved a resolution to advertise a request for proposals from candidates wishing to fill the vacant town water attorney position. The board also cancelled the April election as the number of council candidates exactly matched the number of contested seats.

Trustee Trish Flake was absent. In the audience were members of the Palmer Lake community, which included Boy Scout Troop 514.

Request for water attorney released

The request for a special water attorney was released on March 21. Key dates that follow are April 9 for any written requests regarding the position and April 23 for submissions. The Town Council will hold an executive session on May 1 to review submissions and receive presentations, make a recommendation by May 7, and vote on May 8 to make a selection.

Election cancelled

By unanimous decision, the Town Council approved a resolution to cancel the municipal election because the number of candidates equaled the number of vacant council positions. Former Planning Commission Chair John Cressman will replace Mayor Max Parker, who chose not to run for re-election. Former Mayor Nikki McDonald and Dan Reynolds will replace Trish Flake and Susan Miner, as Flake and Miner chose not to run. Trustees Gary Coleman, Bryan Jack, and Max Stafford retained their positions. Jack and Stafford were recently appointed to the council to fill vacant seats and this was their first opportunity to run for election.

Motocross contract renewed

The council unanimously approved a request for renewal of the town’s contract with the Palmer Lake Sports Riders for motocross riding at the town’s park on County Line Road, east of the railroad tracks. This contract is reviewed annually for renewal.

Fishing Derby to be held June 7

An Awake the Lake Committee representative reported that the group’s annual Fishing Derby is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon June 7. The derby is normally held on the first Saturday of June. Greg Cook proposed that a children’s festival also be held that day on the west side of lake by the gazebo. Details on this festival will be presented at the next meeting. For this event, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines whether to stock the lake by its condition. Cook indicated the condition of the lake was good at this time and thus did not foresee any issue.

Trustees’ reports

Water: At the request of other trustees, Water Trustee Stafford contacted the Woodmoor and Monument Water and Sanitation Districts to determine the cost of buying water for Palmer Lake. Woodmoor responded with a cost of $60 per acre-foot, but a price had not been received from Monument.

Town water operator Jeremy Dunda passed his certification test for Class B water operator.

Roads: Jack said the Roads Department has received the new front-end loader and backhoe, and the staff members are training on it. The process for hiring a new road technician is ongoing.

Fire: Coleman said the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department has received a $10,000 grant from the Colorado State Forest Service for assistance in writing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

The department held its annual Easter Pancake Breakfast at the Town Hall on March 23.

Coleman reminded residents that house numbers must be visible from the street. If any resident needs assistance, the department will install address signs for $20 donations.

Safe Passage to School Grant

Trustee Susan Miner said the town staff received a notice to proceed on the previous award of a federal Safe Passage to School grant, the first of three notices for this project. The town has received environmental and right-of-way clearances for utility construction that would start after the surveyor makes a final assessment around the school area. Once completed, the Town Council will need to formally approve a resolution for the construction portion. Sidewalks may be in place during the construction season, but overall completion of the project will probably not occur until next year.

Easter Egg Hunt:

The Town of Palmer Lake sponsored its annual Easter Egg Hunt on March 22 in the Town Hall. Melissa Gray coordinated the event with the assistance of Easter bunny helpers Jeveleena Whitehouse, Dixie Del Faro, Zach Smith, Kaitlin O’Connor, Cristy Sulewski, Devin Wood, Terry Lenhard of the Police Department, and Shana Ball of the Fire Department. The Egg Stuffers were from the Volunteers of Mission Training International and the all important role of the Easter bunny was played by Valerie Ibarra.

Farmers Market

The Farmers Market will begin on July 4 in the Village Green area in front of Town Hall. Discussions are under way regarding arrangements for the remainder of the summer.

Building code fee schedule endorsed

The Town Council unanimously endorsed the 2008 fee schedule for the Regional Building Code that went into effect on Jan. 1.

Meadow Lane extension

Local developer Randy Jones reported that he has met the town’s requirements, as requested, for the extension of Meadow Lane. However, Jones requested that the council waive the requirement for an 8-inch concrete slab and that the temporary gravel road he has already installed remain in place. If constructed, the slab would be 100 feet long by 24 feet wide and have a grade at or below the grade of the adjacent grassland. Jones reported that this particular area receives significant water flow, as it is in a floodplain area, and the concrete could freeze and break apart after a short period. Should this occur after the warranty period, the repairs would be the responsibility of the town. The repairs would most likely be significant, because damaged concrete would have to be removed before repairs were made. The Planning Commission recommended that the slab be constructed to 6,000 psi with structural steel for reinforcement.

Trustee Miner suggested that it would be helpful to know the potential cost of repairs for various road surfaces, such as gravel, concrete, and asphalt, as that would give some indication of the town’s liability once it took ownership of the road. A decision on Jones’ request was continued until the April 10 regular council meeting.

Job openings

The staff received 35 applications for the vacant police records technician position. The top five or six applicants will be ranked and contacted for interviews as the selection process proceeds. Two applications were received for the vacant chief of police position. Trustee Richard Allen expressed concern that the job pay scale excludes 75-80 percent of potential job applicants.

A motion was unanimously approved to immediately accept the job descriptions of these two vacant positions and the vacant road technician position. Trustees are to review the remainder of job descriptions prior to the next council meeting. The job descriptions are being reformatted for uniformity and updated as needed to meet current responsibilities.

Personnel manual being updated

The town’s personnel manual is being updated for the first time since 1994. Trustee Jack and Town Clerk Della Gray have been updating the manual, and they presented a draft document of those updates to the council. They received personnel manuals from 15 other Colorado communities of similar size and have used Eaton’s for most comparisons.

Mayor Parker expressed concern over the present and drafted maximum accrual amounts of sick and vacation time. He noted that significant accrual hours have led to considerable payouts to employees who have resigned from town employment. Trustees are to review the edited version of the manual and comment by e-mail to the town clerk. It is planned to have a final draft available for vote by April 10.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

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The next Town Council workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 3. The next regular council meeting is at 7 p.m. April 10. Both meetings will be held in the Town Hall. The workshops are normally held the first Thursday of the month. The regular council meetings are normally held the second Thursday of the month.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School District Budget Summit, March 10: District plans November mill levy override ballot measure

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Below: Superintendent Ray Blanch presenting the D38 budget at the budget summit March 10. Photo by John Heiser.

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By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School District Budget Summit March 10, it was announced that the school board had unanimously voted to place a mill levy override (MLO) ballot measure on the November ballot. More than 70 people attended the summit.

Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman presented the efforts the district has taken to reduce and realign expenses.

Some highlights:

  • The district has an annual operating budget of about $40 million. About 55-60 percent comes from the state with the remainder from local property taxes. The budget is composed of 71 percent salaries, 15 percent benefits, 8 percent supplies, and 6 percent services.
  • There is a 3 percent designated reserve ($1.2 million) required by TABOR. The board has elected to hold an additional 3 percent designated reserve, which results in an improved bond rating for the district. On the recent high school construction bond issue, it resulted in a savings of about $4.5 million.
  • The district’s undesignated reserves as of June 30, 2007 were $3.9 million. $1.8 million of those funds will be used to help cover the operating expenses for Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. An additional $1.7 million in the undesignated reserves will be used to cover the funding shortfall for 2007-2008. By the 2010-2011 school year, the undesignated reserves will have been reduced to about $450,000.
  • 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. Blanch noted that some of these reductions "need to be done." He added that part of the adjustments corrects for fewer students in the district than in past years.
  • In 2008-2009, additional reductions are needed totaling about $1.7 million.
  • In 2009-2010, additional reductions are needed totaling about $1.2 million.
  • In 2010-2011, additional reductions are needed totaling about $300,000.

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 stated that, within the district, the number of students per central office administrator is currently 500 and is estimated to be 525 in August 2009. He compared that to the following number of students per administrator at nearby districts: Widefield 500, Harrison 470, Fountain/Ft. Carson 430, Cheyenne Mountain 305, Academy 250.

Blanch said that elementary school staffing in the district consists of a principal, one teacher for each 19 students (with the budget realignment this will increase to 21), a counselor, an instructional coach (added in 2002-2003), one technology professional (changed to licensed staff in 2000-2001), one reading instructor (added in 2005-2006), one music instructor, one art instructor, one gifted-talented (GT) specialist, one physical education specialist, and one media/library professional (changed to licensed staff in 2000-2001).

Middle school staffing consists of a principal, an assistant principal, one teacher for each 28 students, two counselors, an instructional coach (added in 2006-2007), one literacy lab instructor (added in 2005-2006), one math lab instructor (added in 2005-2006), one GT specialist, and one media/library professional (changed to licensed staff in 2000-2001).

Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) staffing consists of a principal, four assistant principals, one teacher for each 24 students, one athletic director, one activities director, seven counselors, a student assistance center with three teachers (added in 2005 through 2007), one reading instructor, one GT specialist, and one media/library professional (changed to licensed staff in 2000-2001).

For the 2008-2009 school year, as part of its student population is transferred to PRHS, LPHS will lose one assistant principal, the activities director, three counselors, and 32 teachers.

Blanch noted that if no additional revenues are received, 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 structures 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 an additional 4-6 full-time staff positions.

Blanch said that looking at lifetime earnings the district’s teacher compensation is currently 2-4 percent behind other districts in El Paso County and 15-17 percent behind compensation in Douglas County.

Here are some highlights of the question and answer session:

  • What should the normal reserve be? Wangeman replied that 6 percent is typical.
  • How is the Learning Points community education program paid for? Blanch replied that the program is entirely funded by the tuition fees charged.
  • Who is going to do the work of the counselors and intervention specialists that are being eliminated? Blanch replied that the district will have to rely more on teachers to do that work.
  • If the MLO is passed, what will dictate the priorities for funding? Blanch said the priorities will be based on the district’s recently completed strategic vision. The strategic vision focuses on student learning, the whole child, and community engagement. The strategic vision document is posted at www.lewispalmer.org/media/EDocs/Strategicvision_1_20_08.pdf
  • What will the new fees be? Blanch said the average will be about $67 per year per student. He added that the administration is working to avoid pricing students out of participation.
  • What about charging a fee for busing? Wangeman noted that no district currently charges a fee for busing children to and from school. She added that the total annual cost of the busing program is $2.2 million. Of that, the district is reimbursed for all but about $950,000. She noted that the fee committee concluded that due to potential safety concerns, it should be a last resort.
  • What percentage of the budget goes to administrators’ salaries? Blanch replied that 8 percent of the salary funding goes to administrators’ salaries. He said that is about average compared to comparable districts.
  • Do the developers pay for the costs for schools and staff? New developments provide land for school buildings or pay fees in lieu of land. Blanch noted that the fees in lieu of land are currently inadequate to cover the district’s additional costs.
  • What will happen if neighboring districts such as Academy district and Douglas County pass MLO measures and district 38 does not? Blanch replied that the district’s current disadvantage in teacher compensation will get worse.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the Board will be held April 17 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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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, March 20: Board implementing policy governance

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Below: (L to R) LPHS students Tanner Ottaway, Britney Ghee, Eric Uribe, Alex Colvin, and Joseph Marcus engaged in conversation with the consultant JimWeigel and school board members Mark Pfoff, Jeff Cantlebary, Gail Wilson, John Mann, and Dee Dee Eaton. In the foreground are the Superintendent’s Secretary Vicki Wood and Superintendent Ray Blanch. Photo by John Heiser.

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By John Heiser

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board has adopted the policy governance model. Since April 2007, Jim Weigel a training consultant with the Colorado Association of School Boards, has been working with the board on understanding and implementing policy governance.

Background on policy governance

The following information is from the April 23, 2007 school board workshop. Weigel has said the principles of policy governance would apply equally well to a variety of governmental boards.

Defining terms: Weigel said the role of the board is to discern the expectations of the residents of the district, delegate authority to the superintendent and staff to meet those expectations, report the results to the residents, and be accountable to the residents for those results. He said, "The purpose of the board is to see to it on behalf of the residents that the district as a whole accomplishes worthwhile results for the students." He defined "governance" as "The process that makes decisions which define expectations, delegate authority, or verify performance." He defined "policy" as "A written statement of a value or perspective that underlies, controls, guides, or influences organizational conduct."

Principles: Weigel stated the following principles of policy governance:

  1. Boards should trust in their constituency. The focus should be on the residents’ expectations instead of issues inside the organization.
  2. Boards should speak with one voice or not at all. Only approved written motions count. Individual board members need to emphasize to residents that they do not speak for the entire board.
  3. Boards should formulate policy by setting the broadest principles first. Administrative procedures should be left to the superintendent and staff.
  4. Boards should define, delegate, and verify rather than react, ratify, or report.
  5. A board’s pivotal duty is to determine ends (i.e., goals, vision) related to the purpose of the district. The board is accountable for accomplishing those ends.
  6. Boards should control the means used by staff by limiting, not prescribing. The policies should identify what is not allowed, as was done in the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights, rather than specifying how things are to be done.
  7. Boards should first explicitly design its own products and processes.
  8. Boards should forge a relationship with staff that is empowering and safe.
  9. Boards should allow and require any reasonable interpretation of the policies.
  10. Boards should evaluate the superintendent’s performance against the policies.

A conversation with students

As part of implementing policy governance, at the school board meeting March 20, the board members engaged in a conversation with Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) students Alex Colvin, Britney Ghee, Joseph Marcus, Tanner Ottaway, and Eric Uribe. The conversation focused on questions such as, "What does success look like to you as you are about to leave high school?" and "How well prepared were you for high school, based on your middle school experience?" The students generally expressed satisfaction with the education they received and noted that the district has many excellent teachers. Despite the diversity of backgrounds represented by these students, they had some concerns about the general lack of cultural and ethnic diversity within the school district.

Citizen comments

Kristin Boyd, representing the Lewis-Palmer Education Association, said the staff feels vulnerable and would like to know how policy governance is going to be implemented. She urged the board to post the district’s policies and procedures on-line so everyone will know what the rules are. She also expressed concern that the government-mandated Response to Intervention program has been put "on the back burner."

Randy Vieira, Babette Hansen, Bob Hansen, and Rebecca Moore spoke in support of the LPHS baseball program and coach Chuck Milo. Moore said coach Milo has been a friend and father-figure to her son. She added, "[Coach Milo] is a gift to this district."

Other matters

  • Capital reserve budget approved - Cheryl Wangeman, the district’s chief financial officer, requested budget approval for the 2008­-2009 capital reserve facilities projects. These projects, which include remodel and repair work at the district’s schools, total $1.2 million. Board members Mark Pfoff and Jeff Cantlebary suggested it might be best to designate $112,000 of the anticipated surplus funds from the high school construction bond issue to fund several items in the capital reserve budget thereby retaining more flexibility within the capital reserve budget. The other board members said that the needs at LPHS are great enough that the $112,000 should remain part of the capital reserve budget in addition to any funds remaining from the construction bond. The proposed capital reserve budget was approved as submitted on a vote of 4-1 with Cantlebary voting no.
  • New auditing firm selected - The board approved the selection of the independent auditing firm of Swanhorst and Company for the 2008­-2009 school year, as recommended by the district Audit Committee. Swanhorst audits only governmental agencies and school districts. They also have experience in auditing charter schools.
  • Facility and Enrollment Committee (FEC) report - Alisa McGrath presented the bond expenditure update. The FEC tracks the expenditure of bond monies associated with the construction of Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) and the improvements to LPHS. Deborah Goth presented the annual FEC report concerning enrollment and forecasting. She stated that enrollment projections provided by Strategic Resources West have proven to be accurate and reliable for planning purposes. The current projections are that at full build-out the district will need 2 high schools, 3 middle schools, and 11-12 elementary schools. The committee recommended that the district annually compare actual and projected enrollments against building capacity numbers in order to properly plan for new buildings.
  • Operating Limitations Policy 2.2: Treatment of Staff – Superintendent Ray Blanch presented this first monitoring report under the policy governance model. The policy states, in part: "The Superintendent shall neither cause nor allow organizational circumstances for staff, including employees, independent contractors and volunteers, which are inconsistent, undignified, disorganized or unclear." The monitoring report concluded that the district’s policies and procedures need to be reviewed and in some cases expanded or revised. A schedule for completing those actions was presented. Blanch addressed comments and questions from board members, who then accepted the report and found it reasonable.
  • Board member comments – Board member John Mann commended the LPHS students for their participation in the conversation with the board. Board member Gail Wilson commented on the recent release by Governor Ritter of his plans for the CAPK (Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids) program, which will require the state Board of Education to work collaboratively with the CCHE (Colorado Commission on Higher Education) to create a system for pre­-K through 12. She also addressed possible adjustments to the School Finance Act and how this may impact funding for full-­day kindergarten. Cantlebary commented briefly on the newly formed Committee on Constituent Community and requested that there be continued discussion of their involvement with the district. Pfoff remarked that, as a representative of the people, he is motivated to assure the district is fiscally responsible. Board president Dee Dee Eaton discussed possible professional development events and trainings for the board members.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the Board will be held April 17 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, March 12: May election ballot complicated by resignation

By Jim Kendrick

Board Chairman Brian Ritz opened the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board meeting March 12 with an announcement that Director and Secretary-Treasurer Dave Cross had submitted a letter of resignation on Feb. 27 due to a conflict with other commitments. The deadline for finalizing the ballot for the district election on May 6 had already passed, so the approved ballot will not reflect the additional need to replace Cross.

There was also an announcement that the department will host a second open house this year on May 17 featuring wildland mitigation; boating, motorcycle, bicycle, helmet, climbing, and hiking safety; and presentations from representatives of the Colorado Cancer Center. This open house occurs in conjunction with Emergency Medical Services week and other district activities planned at local schools. Firefighter Valerie Marshall is in charge of the open house. For more information, call 488-8680.

Directors Joe Potter, Kevin Gould, and Greg Gent were present.

Board vacancy

The timing of Cross’s resignation does not allow the opening to be filled in the election on May 6. The 60-day limit to appoint someone to fill the vacancy ends April 27. Some of the people previously interested in the position are on the ballot for the election and some are not. The board decided to solicit letters of interest to be submitted before April 11. The board would like the interested parties to be present at the April 16 meeting, when a replacement will be appointed. The vacancy will be posted on the district’s Web site.

High fire hazard maps being updated

During the discussion leading to unanimous approval of the minutes for the previous regular board meeting on Feb. 20, Chief Jeff Edwards was asked if all of the district’s high hazard wildfire mitigation areas had been defined. Edwards advised that the district has a working draft of the operational map showing these areas but the Forest Service and Pikes Peak Regional Building are still working on the final version of the official maps.

Treasurer’s report

Gould volunteered to fill the vacant treasurer’s position until the regular board meeting on May 21, when board officers will be elected for the next two years.

The department received a tax payment of over $600,000 at the beginning of March. This revenue will allow the department to make a lease-purchase payment of approximately $300,000, due on April 1. The payments paid off the last three years of the lease-purchase agreement for Engine 2, the district’s water tender, and the addition of the third engine bay and offices at Station 1.

There was consensus on getting an estimate from Osborne, Parsons & Rosacker for the 2007 audit.

Chief’s report

Chief Edwards thanked the board for holding a special meeting with employees and volunteers on March 7, noting that it was a "good discussion." He also thanked the board for approving the purchase of bullet-proof vests for employees, which have been received. However, the ceramic plates to insert in the vests and the helmets are still on back-order due to combat needs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two full-time firefighters will attend a Tactical Emergency Medical training course in May. Two Wescott volunteer firefighters have already been trained by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. These four will train the other district firefighters after the May class and help determine whether any other specialized tactical emergency equipment, besides the Kevlar vests and helmets, will be needed.

Volunteer firefighter Elyze Wermel spent many hours handing out fire safety information at Wal-Mart. In return, Wal-Mart is offering Wescott a grant. Edwards recommended that the district ask for a grant for purchase of automatic electronic defibrillators for area schools, due to a need identified during recent events at Antelope Trails Elementary School and a local golf course. Wescott is arranging to provide training to Academy School District 20 personnel for emergencies, including use of the automatic defibrillators.

Edwards reported on growth within the district. A Walgreen’s drug store is being built on the southeast corner of Baptist and Struthers Roads, which will soon be followed by a Chase Bank, a McDonald’s, and a Fairfield Inn. There are also plans for building 47 town homes in the area currently occupied by the Gleneagle Golf Course driving range.

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns advised the board that Capt. Scott Ridings was drafting a grant application for purchase of a new district ladder truck and for a ventilation system for the Station 1 engine bays. The grant application is due April 3. The grant awards might not be announced for up to a year, however.

Runs up significantly: The run report shows a 30 percent increase in calls compared to the first two months in 2007, with a year-to-date total of 245. The total runs in February were 123, including 80 calls in the district and 43 calls that were mutual/automatic aid calls to support neighboring districts.

The board discussed the vehicle mileage report for the month, expressing its concern that Engine 2 is not being driven enough. The new and primary backup pumper trucks are being used on a rotational basis at this time. The board was concerned that both pumper engines will eventually have the same mileage and would prefer to extend the life of each engine by using both vehicles. Board members said they were trying to be fiscally responsible and make sure that firefighters have proper equipment.

Edwards noted that the mileage being put on these two vehicles depends on the call load. The new engine has many safety features that the older one it replaced does not. It has a crew cab that was designed and built to better serve the needs of the firefighters. All medicine can be kept warm on the new engine but must be kept in exterior, unheated storage cabinets on the older engine. Also, the hose beds are also lower on the new engine, which is much safer for loading hose after a fire.

Edwards also stated that firefighters are generally taught to use one primary engine and keep a reserve engine for when it is needed. The reserve engine must be kept in working condition and must meet all recurring tests for pump operations. The fire service generally bases replacement on years of service and not on mileage.

Gould stated that he now feels that the board and the firefighters better understand each others’ concerns. He would like to see a policy showing the board how this matter can be handled to satisfy the operational and safety needs of the firefighters and the fiscal needs of the board.

Board members will review a draft mission statement for the district to determine the need for any changes prior to final approval at the next meeting on April 16. The board also requested a final list of any changes employees feel need to be made to the Policy and Procedure Manual prior to final approval on April 16.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:07 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on April 16 in the Station 1 conference room, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. For more information, call 488-8680.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Mar. 27: Several expenses approved to expedite construction

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held a special meeting on Mar. 27 to approve:

  • A payment of $567,965 to Mountain View Electric Association to move utility lines.
  • A payment not to exceed $50,000 to relocate a Triview Metropolitan District sanitary sewer line for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion.
  • An intergovernmental agreement between BRRTA and the Pikes Peak RTA to split sales and motor vehicle ownership taxes 50-50 for properties within BRRTA and PPRTA.

All were unanimously approved. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Dave Mertz were absent.

The board also approved a payment not to exceed $160,000 for installation of a sound wall that is 1,100 feet long and 8 feet high for 21 lots on the south side of Baptist Road, east of Gleneagle Drive, if the 21 lot owners all agree to waive a restriction on permanent structures in the drainage easement where the wall is to be built. If the sound wall materials cannot be provided in a timely manner or if the lot owners do not all sign easement waiver documentation within 45 days, the sound wall will not be built before the end of the current Baptist-Struthers Road improvement contract in mid-to-late June.

The funds for the sound wall are not available from PPRTA. However, PPRTA has contributed an additional $2 million to the original $8 million commitment to cover most of the unexpectedly high contract cost of $10.2 million for the combined Baptist-Struthers Road project.

The permitted delay in constructing the sound wall will require that installation of the final topcoat layer of asphalt and changing the level of all the manhole covers to match the final asphalt grade on Baptist Road will be delayed. The right-hand eastbound lane of Baptist Road will be closed during the time the concrete work for installing.

**********

The next BRRTA meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on April 11 in Town Hall, 166 Second Street.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, March 24: Knollwood Village again asks for extended hours

By Chris Pollard

The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board on March 24 postponed a decision on a request by Knollwood Village developers to allow an extension of business hours at a development at Knollwood Boulevard and Highway 105.

Background: On March 26, 2007, the WIA heard a request from Knollwood Village developers to allow an extension of opening hours beyond the previously agreed 9 p.m. if the developers agreed to a lower height of the buildings. The WIA subsequently polled residents on the request. Just over half of the residents who responded said it would be acceptable. At the April 24, 2007, meeting of the WIA, a representative of the developers, David Jones, said that they were really looking for unlimited hours rather than extended hours. With several residents present, the board voted to deny the request.

At the March 24, 2008, meeting, Steve Hammers, president of Hammers Construction, representing the Knollwood Village development, gave a short presentation to the board showing modified proposals for the long central building planned for the area northeast of the junction of Knollwood Boulevard and Highway 105, just east of the construction site for a bank that is nearing completion. The proposal calls for a slightly lower building than originally proposed. The height for the bulk of the building would be set at 17 feet, with some architectural features rising to 27 feet.

Hammers also discussed the idea of an additional entrance to this development and the adjacent Monument Academy School, currently under construction, which was being discussed with El Paso County and Monument Academy. The entrance would be on Highway 105, approximately halfway between the west entrance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Knollwood Boulevard. The entrance on the north side of the highway would be "right in, right out" and not have a traffic signal. This is near where a new building for Tri-Lakes Printing had been proposed, but that has now been cancelled.

The developers said this new entrance proposal would address some of the traffic problems. They also want to target the development to high-end restaurants and said that in order to attract those clients, they needed to extend opening hours to midnight.

The board decided not to make a decision immediately and would have board members research the issue.

Lake Woodmoor work proposed

Bob Irwin, a land developer with Colorado Lakeshore, gave a short update on proposals for land development work around Lake Woodmoor. He said that because Woodmoor Water and Sanitation was in the process of draining the lake, his company wanted to take the opportunity to remedy a number of problems. With the lake drained, construction of these modifications would be easier. The company planned, in cooperation with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation, to install a pipe to deal with problems of occasional flooding north of the lake. They also planned to relocate a sewer line that runs through one of the proposed developments.

More significantly, they had come to an agreement with Woodmoor Water, which owns the lake, on re-establishing the lot boundaries on the east side of the lake. Currently, at the high water mark of the lake, even after a recent lowering of the spillway, lot boundaries are under water. To fix this problem, it was agreed to add more rip-rap on the east side of the lake as an extension to that installed at the last draining of the lake around houses at the end of Lower Lake Road. To support the rip-rap, the lake bed would be raised about 5 to 6 feet along the lot boundaries so that approximately 3 feet would be showing at the high water mark.

In response to questions from the audience and the board, Irwin noted that there were no current plans for the construction of buildings at any of the sites. He said his company is only involved with the preliminary development of the land to enable construction at a later time.

Monument Academy update

Dana Murphree and Laura Gipson, representing Monument Academy, gave a short update on negotiations with the WIA and plans for the Highway 105 entrance. They said that they had agreed on building colors and landscaping on the north side of the building, which is close to residents of South Park Drive. Gipson noted that they would have a good idea of the schedule for the installation of the landscaping in about 60 days.

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March Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

An active weather pattern continued to affect the region during most of March, with rapid swings between cold and mild temperatures, plenty of gusty winds, and our share of snow. For the month, temperatures were below average and precipitation was near normal.

March started off just about how you would expect it, with record highs on the 1st and blizzard conditions on the 2nd. Strong winds out of the southwest raced over the region on the 1st, bringing in mild air that warmed even more as it descended down the slopes of the Front Range. This allowed temperatures to jump into the 60s across the area. But these winds were ahead of a powerful Pacific storm that was moving through the intermountain West. The cold front associated with this storm moved over the region around 4:30 a.m. on the 2nd, and snow quickly followed. Snow became heavy at times during the morning as temperatures dropped into the teens. The snow combined with strong winds, gusting to 50 mph at times, to produce blizzard conditions during the day as the pressure gradient strengthened between the high pressure moving in behind the cold front and the area of low pressure strengthening over southwestern Colorado. This storm moved out of the region just as quickly as it moved in, with sunshine returning on the 3rd.

Temperatures warmed the next afternoon into the 40s under a stronger March sunshine and breezy southwest winds. However, this didn’t last long as the next storm moved into the region by evening. Another 4-6 inches of snow accumulated across the area by the morning of the 5th, and temperatures remained cold. High temperatures on the 5th and the 6th topped out in the 20s, with morning lows dropping below zero on the 4th and the 6th. Mostly clear skies returned for the next few days until the evening of the 8th, when the next system brought more light snow through the early morning of the 9th. However, as usual this snow melted quickly as the sun angle continued to get stronger in the transition from winter into spring.

The week of the 10th started off with quiet weather, with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. Highs were in the upper 40s to upper 50s through the afternoon of the 12th. Subtle changes began to take place on the 13th as the jet stream began to take aim at Colorado. This put us in for a roller coaster ride of sorts as several fast-moving weather systems affected the Tri-Lakes region. From the morning of the 13th through the morning of the 17th, each day saw at least a trace of snow, and during the entire period most of us picked up 5-7 inches. However, much of the snow melted under the stronger March sunshine so overall accumulations were never that great, but it was a cold and white period. The jet stream then took a detour to the north from the 18th through the 21st, which allowed us to warm up. Temperatures jumped from the mid-40s to the low 60s from the 18th through the 20th, allowing spring to start off on a quiet and mild note. More unsettled and cold weather moved in during the morning of the 22nd, with light snow falling through the morning of the 23rd. Most areas received 2-4 inches of snow with this latest storm.

The last week of the month started off quiet and mild as temperatures soared into the 60s from the 24th through the 26th. However, a weak surge of cold air managed to push into the area during the morning of the 27th with a reinforcing shot on the 28th. These cold fronts brought low clouds, fog, flurries, and freezing drizzle to the area and cooled temperatures off by 20-30 degrees. Westerly winds quickly kicked this cold air out of the region on the 29th and high temperatures rebounded into the 60s, but another surge of cool air moved back into the region to end the month, again bringing low clouds, fog, flurries, and freezing drizzle.

A look ahead

April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the Tri-Lake region. We can see 80-degree temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. April 2005 and 2007 received heavy snow, but 2006 was dry with less than 10 inches of snow and under an inch of rain. So, this April could bring us just about anything. The official monthly forecast for April 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 equal chances of above or below normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

March 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 46.7° (-2.6)
Average Low 17.8° (-2.9)
Highest Temperature 65° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature -4° on the 4th/6th
Monthly Precipitation 1.52" (-.57)
Monthly Snowfall 26.1" (+1.6)
Season to Date Snow 104.0" (+2.2)
Season to Date Precip. 13.47" (-1.46)

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Town official responds to stormwater report

Some corrections are needed to the section of the OCN article covering the Feb. 4, 2008, Monument Board of Trustees meeting ("Compromised Stormwater Improvements Noted," page 18). This section reports on a presentation I made regarding the town’s Third Street improvements project. The article contained several representations that should be corrected so that the public has an accurate accounting of not only the statements made at the meeting, but the project itself, and to assure your readers that the town is not deliberately compromising their safety or in any way seeking to construct anything less effective than that which is recommended by the Stormwater Master Plan.

The facts of this issue are:

  • The piping system as contemplated by the Stormwater Master Plan did not "have the capacity to transport all stormwater to the west end of the street and under the railroad tracks for a 100-year storm," as opposed to what was reported. The system was originally designed to carry a major portion of a 100-year storm in the pipes, with some stormwater flow being carried in the street by newly installed gutters. During a 100-year storm, roadway pavements throughout the region would be inundated, so it makes no sense to design pipes so large that they will only function to their maximum capacity once in a very long time. I clarified this during my presentation in response to a question by Mayor Glenn.
  • The article stated that the system as redesigned is only partially capable of handling a 25-year storm. This is not the case. The system will now carry the entire 25-year storm in the pipes, with no "excess stormwater flowing around the smaller pipes and rising to the crown of the surrounding streets," as stated in the article. This was not mentioned during the discussion and is not factually correct.
  • The article stated that "during storms greater than a 25-year storm, there will be continued flooding on Third and Front Streets as a result of this compromise." This was not stated during the meeting and is also not the case. During any major storm, there will be a volume of water flowing along the gutters on the sides of the roadway for a short period of time, usually coincident with the duration of the storm. The design as proposed will not result in "flooding" of the roads, but until the entire downtown drainage system is overhauled to include underground piping and curb and gutter, there will likely be some water along the edges of the pavement during severe storms due to the incapacity of the existing ditches and culverts to carry the runoff volumes generated by a storm.
  • The existing culvert underneath the railroad tracks is 48 inches in diameter, not 36 inches as reported.
  • The redesign being called a "compromise" is not a true description of what drove the decision to downsize the drainage pipes on Third Street. In reality, the downsizing effort is an attempt to make the project better and more cost-effective for the town in several respects. The first benefit is that smaller pipes will be easier to "thread" through the maze of underground piping and conduits that exist along Third Street. Another benefit of downsizing the system is that it will allow us to use the existing culvert underneath the railroad tracks, thus avoiding a long and potentially costly effort to gain permission from the railroad to allow us to place an additional culvert under the tracks or to replace the existing culvert with a larger one. Finally, the cost savings to the town in downsizing the pipes to a more functional size is currently in excess of $60,000.
  • Finally, the reporter stated, "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." This editorial comment should be retracted in light of the factual information provided above. The original piping system and the redesigned piping system are both designed to limit or prevent roadway "flooding" (which in common usage means total inundation of the roadway). The roadway and drainage system has been designed to greatly improve the drainage capabilities of the Third Street corridor beyond what exists today.

Thank you for your efforts to provide good, accurate information to the public.

Thomas A. Kassawara, P.E.
Director of Development Services
Town of Monument

Editor’s note

Jim Kendrick’s OCN report on what was said and its apparent implications was based on a careful review of his recording of the Feb. 4 board meeting. After meeting with Kassawara to discuss concerns, Kendrick asked him to provide additional clarifying information about the expected performance of the approved stormwater drainage design for Third Street in a letter to the editor, in order to clear up any confusion created by the article.

Worried about Mount Herman drilling

My name is Natasha Lovato; I am 12 years old and a sixth-grader at Lewis-Palmer Middle school in Monument. It has been a concern to me that there will be drilling for oil and gas on Mount Herman. I have been living at the base of Mount Herman for all 12 years of my life. Every morning when I get up and gaze out my window at the mountain, my heart melts. I look at the colors and hues year round.

But I don’t just see the mountain’s beauty; I see the life in the mountain as well. Fox, deer, bear, mountain lion, coyote, a variety of birds, and the forest itself will be threatened by the drilling. Homes that are already being built throughout this area are destroying the wild lands as it is. People move here for the beauty of Mount Herman and the surrounding mountains.

What will happen to our community if that natural beauty is taken away? Oil rigs will replace trees, and mounds of dirt will replace the forest floors. This is a frightening thought, not only for me, but for the many concerned residents of Monument and Palmer Lake. Do you care, Dyad Petroleum Co.? Don’t you think that it would be a better choice to drill in a place where there isn’t a community at the base of a mountain where you are drilling? Mount Herman truly is Monument’s picture window.

Natasha Lovato

Thanks from Shamrocks Against Dystrophy

As chairperson of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Shamrocks Against Dystrophy, I want to take a moment to thank businesses and patrons in the Monument area for their generous participation in our 2008 campaign. I’m delighted to say that this year’s fundraising efforts were a great success.

Those little green and gold shamrocks mobiles sold by local businesses help support MDA’s vital programs of research, health care services, and public education right here in Monument and across the country.

On behalf of all the individuals and families coping with muscle-wasting diseases, I send a big warm "thank you" to Monument residents — you’ve certainly put a smile in these Irish eyes!

Maureen McGovern
Muscular Dystrophy Association

Mitchell extension important for residents

I believe that the extension of Mitchell Road is important to the community and necessary for the safety and well-being of a significant number of people.

My family, I, and my many neighbors live in a cul-de-sac area west of Mitchell Road. We must drive north along Mitchell Road to the rail crossing on Second Street in Monument to travel south toward Colorado Springs. Often our travel is significantly delayed at the rail crossing because of long, slow coal trains.

Hundreds of families, and close to 1,000 existing residents, will receive significant benefits by the completion of an extension of Mitchell Road to Baptist Road. Additionally, new homes are being built in this cul-de-sac area all the time, and the planned 430-home development will further increase the population that will benefit from the extension of Mitchell Road.

The extension of Mitchell Road to Baptist Road will:

  1. Decrease the distance we drive on trips toward Colorado Springs by 3 to 5 miles for each round-trip.
  2. Decrease emergency response times for the sheriff’s department coming from Colorado Springs. A deputy would travel 1.5 to 2.5 fewer miles to reach our homes.
  3. Decrease emergency response times for Monument police in some situations. A patrol car in the area along Baptist Road could respond to an incident off Mitchell Road more quickly, and vice versa.
  4. Decrease the distance and travel time for an ambulance to transport me or one of my neighbors by ambulance to a hospital emergency room. An ambulance would travel 1.5 to 2.5 fewer miles to a hospital in Colorado Springs.
  5. Decrease the distance and travel time for firefighting vehicles from nearby fire districts responding to assist in battling a wildfire. Additionally, many of the homes in this area are not served by a water district and thus no fire hydrants are available. The distance that fire department tankers would have to travel to refill at a hydrant would be significantly decreased. These tankers could refill at hydrants near Interstate 25 and Baptist Road.
  6. Alleviate problems of first responders being delayed in responding to emergencies. In all cases of emergency response, the presence of a train at the rail crossing on Second Street can significantly delay their efforts.

If Ms. Ward (the landowner) cannot be persuaded to sell some of her land for the public good, I believe that the extension of Mitchell Road is an important and necessary use of eminent domain.

John Sidor

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Perspective on Our Community: Things HOAs can do to help the water situation

By Dave Futey

Regarding water levels in the West, they are well below flood stage and getting lower. A recent National Geographic article gave an in-depth analysis on the water situation in the West, a historically arid and semi-arid environment that is only getting drier. Climate change—whether you believe it’s man-made or part of the Earth’s own cycle or both—appears to be the culprit. Regardless of cause, it is predicted to exacerbate the already dry conditions over time by virtue of the predicted decreased levels of precipitation.

As an example of foreshadowing in Colorado, we need only look back to five years ago. By 2002, there had been three to four years of generally below-average precipitation, and thus snowpack, causing reservoirs to be at low water levels not seen for over 50 years. Snowpack contributes to 80 percent of the water systems in Colorado, which, in turn, impacts water to 10 other Western states.

Our Community News has provided extensive coverage on the issue of water. This coverage has included: highlighting projected costs to transport water here from outlying areas, such as the state’s Lower Arkansas River Valley; the joint efforts, though still seemingly somewhat in flux, of area water districts; the seemingly unabated housing developments that continue to be platted; and the various water district and civic meetings on the issue.

This background brings me to the following point. I never thought I would live in a house where its modifications are governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA) and the related covenants. From my perhaps limited perspective, the purpose of the HOA is to ensure that covenants are followed by all members within the association. The covenants, for their part, appear to be structured to ensure that a certain decorum is maintained in the community and that property values are maintained—an argument I have heard more than once in relation to the covenants.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, the color of a house, a garbage can that is in plain view, a barking dog, or a trailer parked for an extended period in the driveway will not matter much if the cost of water is exorbitant—or if there is no water available at all. Looks will matter little when there is nothing to drink.

So, to HOAs in the area: Why not take on an issue that will really matter to the future of the communities that you serve and that many, including me, enjoy living in. Here are my conversation starters for your next meeting:

  1. Seek ways to coordinate with your area’s water district to facilitate communication to your members on water issues.
  2. Promote conservation in your communities through educational forums or by other means.
  3. If your covenants prevent xeriscaping or a related type of water-conserving landscaping, modify them to not only allow it but also to offer encouragement to residents.
  4. Seek opportunities to match homeowners who are interested in xeriscaping with those who perform such services. Perhaps neighbors on the same or adjacent streets who are interested in xeriscaping can cut costs by using the same contractor.
  5. Coordinate activities with other HOAs in your vicinity because, most likely, their constituents are drawing from the same aquifer as you.

I suspect other ideas could spill over in the midst of your meetings, once some guidance comes from within—before we find ourselves without water.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: April is Poetry Month

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Edna St. Vincent Millay asked, "To what purpose, April, do you return again?" For National Poetry Month, of course! In 1996, the Academy of American Poets designated April as the month to raise the country’s awareness and, hopefully, appreciation of poetry.

We all read poetry to and with our children when they were young; the rhythm and predictable rhymes of many children’s books make them work especially well for young brains just learning the patterns of letters, words, and numbers. Adults often tend to avoid poetry as reading material, perhaps remembering forced memorization in school, or just not thinking of poetry as a writing style to enjoy. Here are a few suggestions for the very young and for the older reader as well.

Out Came the Sun; A Day in Nursery Rhymes
Illustrated by Heather Collins (Kids Can Press), $19.95

Not just another anthology of nursery rhymes, these were carefully chosen by the illustrator to tell the story of a single, adventure-filled day in the lives of an endearing family of stuffed animals. From the rousing rise-and-shine rhyme to the hushed lullaby, this book is a great one to read while cuddling with a toddler any time of day.

Animal Crackers
Illustrated by Jane Dyer (Little, Brown and Co.), $19.99

Dyer’s beautiful soft watercolors illustrate this collection of traditional and contemporary poets. She recalls that her mother, while feeding her and her twin sister, would give one of them a book to look through. "Though the books became covered with applesauce, peas and such, that only made them more delicious."

Don’t Bump the Glump! and Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins Publishers), $17.99

Fans of Silverstein (and what kid isn’t?) always smile when recalling his outrageous poems and drawings, funny and profound. Who can forget Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Who Would Not Take the Garbage Out, or Jimmy Jet and His TV Set? Now there is Don’t Bump the Glump! Originally published more than 30 years ago under the title Uncle Shelby’s Zoo, this menagerie of silly and scary creatures, illustrated by Silverstein in stunning ink and watercolor washes, is the only children’s book he created in full color. Step inside this most unusual bestiary and meet a number of outrageous characters, including the Wild Gazite, the Flying Festoon, the Slithergadee, and the One-Legged Zantz. This richly rendered collection of 45 poems will mesmerize Shel Silverstein fans of all ages. Betcha can’t keep from laughing!

Sailing Alone Around the Room
By Billy Collins (Random House), $14.95

America’s Poet Laureate (2001-03), Collins has a unique voice, often humorous, ironic, and poignant in the same piece. "Deceptively simple and gentle, (Collins’ poems) wrap their friendly arms around you, tell you a joke, pour you a drink …" (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) For fans of his appearances on A Prairie Home Companion who love to hear him recite his own work in his slightly raspy, often sardonic tones, Collins will be appearing at Colorado College on April 3. Check www.coloradocollege.edu for details.

Selected Poems
By Carl Sandburg (Harcourt), $16

Carl Sandburg was one of the country’s most beloved writers. His years of traveling the country and working many odd jobs as a young man gave him a concern for the American worker, and he retained that focus, often writing about those concerns for all of his 89 years. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice: in 1940 for Abraham Lincoln: The War Years and in 1951 for Complete Poems. He wrote in many forms: as a newspaper columnist, folk-song writer, novelist, biographer, and poet. But I think of him (and thank him!) for certain phrases from his poems that jump into my consciousness from time to time like "Chicago: City of the Big Shoulders," or "The fog comes on little cat feet." Words that form pictures that stay with us.

Perhaps it’s time for you to pick up a book of poetry and reacquaint yourself with those snippets that keep popping up in your mind every so often, pieces from works that were assigned reading in high school or college.

T.S. Eliot wrote, "April is the cruelest month." Maybe National Poetry Month will lessen that effect. Until next month, happy reading!

(Poem in Your Pocket Day has been celebrated each April 17 in New York City since 2002. City parks, bookstores, workplaces, and other venues burst with open readings of poems from pockets. Even the mayor gets in on the festivities, reading a poem on the radio. The idea is simple: Select a poem you love during National Poetry Month, then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends. Covered Treasures will have a Poem in Your Pocket display — stop by and share your verse!)

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High Country Highlights: How to garden in sun or shade

By Woody Woodworth

Taking time to choose the right plants for specific conditions in your garden will greatly improve your garden’s overall look and feel—and will cut down on overall maintenance and watering requirements.

Determine which areas of your yard receive a lot of sun, or tend to be more in the shade. Especially note the times of day and how long each area remains in shade or how many hours of sun it receives. Try to select plants that fit your gardens natural growing conditions. Areas of your garden that face west or south naturally tend to be much hotter and receive much more direct sunlight. Taking a little time to choose the right plants for these demanding growing conditions can help save you time, money, and water, as well as improve your overall results.

The amount of sun an area receives is measured in hours. For instance, a "full sun" area would receive five or more hours of direct sunlight per day. "Partial sun" would be about three to four hours of sun per day. Also, there is a difference between morning sun and afternoon sun. Morning sun areas tend to provide a cooler environment, whereas afternoon sun is generally much hotter. Filtered sun is an area with sun and shade in roughly equal amounts. An example would be areas beneath large trees that have open canopies. "Partial shade" areas are those that will receive about one to three hours of sunlight per day. "Full shade" areas never receive direct sunlight. The north side of fences or walls, or areas beneath trees with heavy or dense canopies would be considered full shade areas.

Each plant, available at your local garden center or nursery, will have a tag that describes the basic growing and care requirements for that particular plant. Most often, the plant’s tag will include the plant name and variety, such as: Shasta daisy—Alaska. The type of plant: perennial. Height at maturity: 2 to 4 feet tall. Width at maturity: 18 to 24 inches wide. Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart. "Spacing" is the recommended distance between plants when you first plant them in the ground, taking into account the eventual size at maturity. Spacing plants a little closer together than recommended at the time of planting will tend to give a more immediate fullness to your garden, as well as when the garden matures. This technique works well with flowering plants, annuals, and perennials.

The plant tag will also include the light requirements, such as "full sun" for the Shasta daisy or "partial shade" for plants that require shade during the hottest part of the day. In general, if the light requirements listed for a plant contain the word "sun" (i.e., "full sun," "partial sun," etc.), the plant requires some amount of direct sunlight per day. If the light requirement uses the term "shade" (i.e., "light shade," "full shade," etc.), then it would be a shade-loving plant such as caladium.

Now that you’ve picked out the right plants for the right garden areas, be sure to take the following steps to give them a fighting chance in our harsh environment:

  • Amend the soil when planting by using composted material.
  • Mulch your plants to prevent excessive evaporation.
  • Water often to get plants established, then once top growth has developed and plants become accustomed to their environment, water less often, but deeply.

There are many plants available today that will accept a wide range of growing conditions. Your local garden center will have plant types and varieties that are perfectly suited for our region’s growing conditions.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Northern pintail

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

Spring is a good time to watch for migrating waterfowl, including ducks, geese, herons, and egrets, as they are returning to nest in Colorado or briefly stop here on their long journey north. A few days ago, Randy and I spotted a small flock of northern pintail ducks, presumably resting along their migration route.

The pintail is a common duck that is widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It often is found in large flocks of up to 1,000 ducks, except during breeding season when pairs separate and form smaller flocks. Spring is the pintail’s breeding season and the time when the drake aggressively pursues hens, including hens of other duck species. The small flock we observed was peacefully swimming in unison and dipping for aquatic vegetation at the edge of a lake, which may indicate that pairs have already formed.

The pintail is a dabbling duck distinguished by its long, pointed tail, goose-like neck, sleek body, and narrow, gull-like wings. Some birders consider it to be among the most elegant of all waterfowl, and because this swift-flying duck rapidly takes flight directly from water, it is often referred to as the "greyhound of the air." Weighing a little more than 2 pounds with an average length of 18 inches and wing span of 35 inches, it is considered a medium-size duck but more streamlined in the water and the air.

The pintail is named for its elongated central tail feathers, which constitute one-fourth of the drake’s body length. A white stripe on each side of the drake’s neck extends from the back of its chocolate-brown head down to its white breast, further emphasizing its curved goose-like neck. Sharply contrasting the bright white feathers on the drake’s striped neck, chest, belly, and the patch under its tail are the black feathers on its back and central long tail feathers, which often appear iridescent. The feathers on the side flanks and outer tail feathers are a soft gray. Other distinguishing features include its blue-gray bill with a black strip running along the center and its slate-gray legs and webbed feet. The drakes display breeding plumage from January through July, and April is a great time to see the pintail in its full splendor!

The breeding season ends in July and the drake’s colorful plumage eclipses to a dull brown, making it difficult to distinguish a male from a female or juvenile. Similar to other female waterfowl, the female pintail is dull in comparison to the colorful drake. The dark brown feathers on her back contrast with lighter buff feathers on her head, neck, and lower body. The hen’s long neck and pointed tail help to distinguish her from other female ducks. The juvenile pintail appears very similar to the female.

Dabbling ducks dip their heads below the surface of shallow ponds and lakes to filter aquatic plants, insects, and crustaceans. The pintail also forages on land in moist soils and harvested grain fields for nuts, native grass seeds, and kernels of rice, wheat, corn, and barley.

Nesting for the pintail starts earlier than it does among other ducks, and it is the only dabbling duck that builds its nest away from water on open ground on prairies, the tundra, or between the rows of tilled cropland, which can present a problem if field stubble is burned or cultivation begins in early spring. The nest is a simple bowl of grasses lined with down feathers used to protect the eggs from the fluctuating springtime and freezing nighttime temperatures.

Often in early May, the hen begins laying one egg a day. The clutch size ranges from 3 to 12 greenish eggs, and it is not uncommon for other ducks such as the mallard to deposit eggs in a pintails nest. Once all the eggs have been laid, the female sits on them until they hatch. In late May or early June, the eggs hatch within hours of each other. Shortly after the gray, downy chicks’ feathers have dried, the chicks leave the nest and follow the hen to food and water.

In late summer, the northern pintail is among the first to begin its southern migration and may fly as far south as Central America. Once abundant, the pintail has suffered a disturbing decline since the 1950s due to habitat loss. In 2001, the breeding population was estimated at 3.3 million birds, substantially below the North American Waterfowl Management objective of 5.5 million birds. Because the northern pintail’s preferred breeding habitat is in open fields and shallow wetlands, it has suffered from persistent drought and loss of grassland habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region that has led to strict hunting regulations and better habitat management practices.

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: Spring

By Janet Sellers

I’m ready for spring to get going, aren’t you? The long, hard, cold winter is great for skiers and ice skaters, but the harsh conditions of everyday life and travel can’t be over too soon. It is April, and our springtime is holding off again! At our house, we’re ready for warmer weather, trees to leaf out, flowers, blooms, and springtime in the Rockies. Sometimes we just have to bring the season to ourselves in our own way. My friend Liz and I went out a couple of weeks ago in the freezing drizzle, wishing for a day of spring, or at least a spring feeling, and we found it.

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) was hosting a special, albeit ephemeral, exhibition of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. While adapting to contemporary times, this tradition remains very close to its artful origin, the art of the space between the living flowers and branches. Priests and warlords alike found that a ritualized, artful activity created moments of peace amid the hard times, and a balance for volition and acceptance in a world beyond one’s control.

Over centuries of warring states, the practice had become a man’s man-type of tradition for letting off pressure, of decompressing, with or without a guest to share in the moment. As with many traditions, the rituals became elaborate, although appearing simple, and not without its dynastic lines of practice. Ikebana grew from this tradition into its own as an art form, with an endless variety of methods, traditions, and schools of practice. Several of these schools were represented at the TLCA exhibition.

In creating and in viewing ikebana, one contemplates the art of space. Ikebana (literally, "put the flowers") practice maintains that the art of space is as important, if not more so, than the article of the art itself, the flowers and branches. From squares to triangles to circular rhythms, this art of space supports the beauty of nature. While most Western flower arrangement styles are filled with an abundance of flowers, tradition has ikebana filled with restful space in between them, a highly meaningful space.

In nature, plants take on their appreciation of space due to their need for light; leaves and branches seek optimal exposure for their continued health. In nature as in art, the optimal connection of harmony can be practiced and reflected in the act. The art is a sort of record of where the heart has been. Ikebana is supremely respectful of this. In our busy world of combining work, family, travel, and appointments, and balancing these with leisure time, we are not unlike the warriors seeking to create their own respite in moments of peace and harmony. We are vigilant in our care and planning on a daily basis, and must maintain a sense of harmony or perish. It is something we create for ourselves, and co-create in our lives with others. The definition of fine art is that it is creativity without function; it is pure thought, pure emotion, pure expression. Ikebana embodies this purity.

Here in our community, in our friendly local galleries and shops, the merchants have beautifully set out art and fancies for us to enjoy and to buy. I have never noticed this with the big box stores, but our small, local shops have the interest and the inclination to artfully arrange their venues. Sometimes it takes me by surprise. I walked into the little gift shop, Cherry, in Monument, and the whole place was thoughtfully arranged into little pathways of aisles, folk art, candles, and little fancies perched on everything from rustic farm crates to large cases.

The little "neighborhoods" were arranged in hues, each color with its variety of tone. Granted, the merchandise is not fine art, yet it is artfully placed. Big teddy bears, picnic baskets and wooden geese had their nook or archway. Every small hairpin or giftie had its place in a basket or on a box top. I gained a new respect for this kind of shop; in fact, I bought things I probably could not have noticed in the grandiose, boldly lit chain stores. There is something to be said for thoughtfulness in our day, where ever we may find it.

We can take a lesson from nature and the cultures of the ages. We can take in the artful moments of our lives any day. We may even find springtime on a snowy day and treasures close to home, artfully put out for our pleasure. Let’s get out and find them!

Call for art

Would you like to exhibit your artwork at the library? The Pikes Peak Library District Art Evaluation Committee will be jurying hanging art to exhibit in library galleries. Interested artists are asked to submit five pieces of art—exactly as they would look in a show (matted, framed, and wired). The work will be juried on art quality as well as the quality of presentation, each of which represents the artist’s aesthetic integrity.

Drop off art at Penrose Library in the Carnegie Reading Room on Wednesday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to noon. Pick up items at Penrose Library from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Artwork is approved based on the quality of each individual artist’s talent. Applicants will receive a letter within two weeks if the committee has approved their work for exhibit. Contact charnish@ppld.org or 531-6333, x2332 for more information.

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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March and April events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration.

Below: Ventriloquist Mark Hellerstein with Pansy.

Below: Astronaut Bob Stewart speaks of his experiences.

Below: Tracey Tomme of Challenger Learning Center.

By Harriet Halbig

March offered a great deal of excitement and activity at the Monument and Palmer Lake libraries.

March 5 saw the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, with several costumed readers during two birthday celebrations. It’s always a festive occasion.

During the afternoon of March 8, the Stellar Celebration hosted hundreds of patrons of all ages to hear about space travel, participate in scientific experiments with magnetism and other subjects, and make space-related crafts.

Former astronaut Robert Stewart gave two presentations to a full-house audience. He has flown missions aboard space shuttles Challenger and Atlantis. Many in the audience asked questions about training and school preparation for a career in space. Brig. Gen. Stewart stressed to the youngsters in the audience that their generation will probably be the first to walk on Mars and that astronauts in today’s space program are no longer narrow specialists in one aspect of a mission, but have a broad range of knowledge and skills. Many of the audience lingered for an autograph afterward.

Representatives from District 20’s Challenger Learning Center gave a presentation about life in space, offering samples of space ice cream and demonstrating the effects of weightlessness on the human body. The learning center offers programs to groups at its home location. Each program is in the form of a mission, with each participant serving as a mission control officer or an astronaut.

Challenger Learning Center is one of 52 throughout the country, founded by the families of the Challenger shuttle crew to stress education about space.

At the end of the event, each family was given a beautiful calendar from NASA and a postcard or a bookmark with a space theme for each individual.

The library warmly thanks the Lewis-Palmer Serteens for their help on the day of the event, and thanks the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library for their generous sponsorship.

Throughout the month of March, the library has been adorned with quilts made by the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers. On March 16, the group celebrated National Quilting Day by offering refreshments, showing some of their work, and answering questions about their art. Although it was a cold and snowy day, several hundred people came to view the quilts and hear about quilt-making.

During the final week of March, several Spring Break @ the Library programs were offered, including a puppet show, storytelling workshop, Stone Soup program, and a program on musical instruments from various countries.

April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poetry in 1996. The library has celebrated National Poetry Month since 2002 by offering a prize to anyone who performs a poem, whether original or from a book. Poetry books will be displayed throughout the month for patrons’ use.

In mid-April is our annual Duck Day. A large number of ducks and geese live in the pond behind the Monument Library. On April 12 at 1:30 p.m., patrons will learn about the ducks and be taught how to draw them. Janet Sellers of the Monument School of Fine Arts and OCN contributor will be the instructor.

The library is also seeking a name for the ceramic duck that holds donations for duck food. Suggestions can be submitted at the circulation desk.

On the 17th will be the April meeting of the Read It B4 You See It book club. This month’s title is Nim’s Island. Registration is required, and those attending will enter a drawing for a free ticket to see the film.

Literati and Beyond Writer’s Circle is a newly formed group of active and aspiring writers who meet at the Monument Library on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. Members meet to learn from one another and share their experiences.

On April 19, the Palmer Lake branch will host Tamara Brady, who will offer a program on American Sign Language. Using The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Brody will use puppets and songs while teaching some basic signs. The program begins at 10:30 a.m. and does not require registration.

On display in Monument during the month of April are Anita’s Clay Things, a collection of stoneware pieces, and the Bob Haynes Art, a collection of oil paintings.

Beginning in May, a group of knitters will meet at the Monument Branch on the second Thursday of each month from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

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

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Ceol Ceili rouses an audience with lively Irish music

Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

With a self-proclaimed availability for "Weddings, Wakes, and other undertakings," the Irish band Ceol Ceili (pronounced "keol kaylee") seemed to perform for those types of events and then some during their March 15 Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) performance. From lively, traditional Irish dance music to haunting English ballads to perhaps the most unusual happy birthday song you would ever hear; this Pikes Peak region-based quartet entertained the TLCA audience with a wide range of musical selections and humorous interludes.

Ceol Ceili is Steve Hart, guitar and vocals; Ron Sommers, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo; Heidi McClure, hammered dulcimer, bodhran, and mandolin; and Kari Wilson, bodhran, dumbeck, flute, penny whistle, and vocals. For those unfamiliar with such instruments, the bodhran, used in traditional Irish music, is a hand-held, wooden-framed, goat-skin-headed drum played with a tipper, a short-headed stick. The dumbeck is a goblet-shaped hand drum traditionally played in Middle Eastern countries. Also of note regarding their instruments, Sommers made his fiddle over a two-year time frame at an instrument workshop in downtown Colorado Springs, with this being the fiddle’s third week in front of the floodlights.

The band members clearly enjoy the versatility and flexibility provided by the range of instruments at their disposal. This was demonstrated in a two-for-one when, during one song, while Sommers played the banjo, McClure simultaneously used two drumsticks to play a beat on the banjo’s head. So even in the midst of playing for nearly 20 hours over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend at a variety of Colorado Springs locations, they brought a vibrant and fresh-sounding performance to each song. Always looking for audience reaction and interaction, from clapping to dancing, the band’s array of songs — happy drinking and war songs along with sad songs of love, following in Irish tradition — had a little for everyone.

Formed some six years ago by Hart and Sommers as a pick-up band and performing at open mic nights, the band went through a few transitions in members until adding McClure and Wilson to enrich the musical expertise and extend the range of vocal leads and harmonies. Ceol Ceili not only takes its musical roots from Celtic history but also its name. Ceol means "music" and Ceili implies a social gathering, usually a dance. And, to back up their marketing claim, they have performed at four wakes.

Additional information regarding Ceol Ceili, their CD releases and upcoming performances, can be found on their Web site, www.ceolceili.com

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Information regarding the TLCA and its schedule of upcoming events is at www.trilakesarts.org

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Snapshots of Our Community

D-38 Chess Tournament, March 8

Photos by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

Below: Eric Morgan makes his move to triumph over Riley Burkhart. This was their first tournament ever. 

Below: Elainna Tenace demonstrates her final move to Assistant Director Matt Lasley to be declared the winner. 

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RMMA Concert, March 8

Below: Clarinetist Mark Nuccio opening with pianist Michael Baron to a sold-out audience. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Taos Film Festival at the TLCA, March 8

Below: Sean Swarner, a two time cancer survivor gives his presentation at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts on being the only cancer survivor to reach Mt. Everest and then to go on to be the only cancer survivor to scale the Seven Summits, which are the highest peaks on the seven continents. He buried a flag on the last summit with the names of 300 cancer patients who encouraged him to accomplish this feat. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Games and Burros at the WMMI, March 28

By David Futey

Jacks. Marbles. Ball & Cup. Hand Puppets. If these games re-kindle memories of your childhood, you are not alone. Many of patrons who attended the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s (WMMI) Spring Break with the Burros and Pioneer Games day on March 28 were able to bring back those memories while teens and younger were introduced to those games and others for the first time. Pioneer games is a bit misleading title as many of the games that were available to play actually date back to the colonists or further in some cases. For example, Jacks, which is played by bouncing a small ball, picking up a specific number of objects and then catching the ball before it bounces again, dates back to ancient Greece. The game of "Jackstones" dates to the Pilgrims when it was played with a small ball and 6 stones. Besides the many games to play and enjoy, the Museum offered a visit with its in-house burros, Oro and Nugget. The burros are from the Sonoran Desert, located in 120,000 acre expanse that encompasses parts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. Oro and Nugget have been with the Museum for 6 years. Children were able to feed the burros carrots as part of their mid-day snack.

Photos by David Futey

Below: A little light to create a shadow and a nimble hand can spark the imagination to create a hand puppet.

Below: (L to R) Carter and Griffin Ayotte discuss strategy during a game of marbles.

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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.

Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert, April 5

Soprano Jeanie Darnell and pianist Michael Baron will perform April 5, 7 p.m., at Forestgate Presbyterian Church. The program will consist of songs and opera arias presented in their original form followed by Michael Baron presenting the same pieces in highly ornamented and virtuoso versions for solo piano as arranged by Franz Liszt and other great masters of the piano. Commentary will be given on the pieces. In addition, the public is invited to a free Master Class that morning, 10 a.m. to noon, at the church. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The church is located at 970 Northgate Road, one mile east of I-25 Exit 156. 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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March of Dimes yard sale, April 12

A yard sale will be held April 12, 7 a.m. to noon, in the KinderCare parking lot at 1150 W. Baptist Rd., Colorado Springs. If you have any donations for this worthy cause, please drop them off at the KinderCare building by 6 p.m. on April 11. Please bring large items the night before. All money raised will go to the March of Dimes campaign. Items donated are tax-deductible and receipts can be provided. For more information, contact Jazmin or Summer at 481-3306.

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Teacher Seminar: Mining & Minerals, the Foundation of Society, April 12

Teachers and other interested adults can join the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) for a fascinating day exploring Colorado’s mining heritage April 12, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Participants will learn about historic mining and milling (including a one-of-a-kind virtual tour of the ghost town of Gillman and the associated Eagle Mine), explore modern mining methods, environmental considerations, and educational resources. The course teacher is geologist Steven Veatch, whose research has focused on paleontology, Colorado geology, and Quaternary geology. The course fee of $50 ($40 for WMMI members) includes all materials and a box lunch. For an additional fee of $30, participants may earn 0.5 graduate-level semester credit from the Colorado School of Mines. This credit is optional but is applicable for teacher license renewal in Colorado and is generally accepted elsewhere. Phone the museum, 488-0880, for reservations and additional information.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale, April 19-20

The 32nd Annual Pine Forest Antiques 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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Free xeriscape class, April 24

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District is sponsoring this presentation by landscape architect Don Classan on April 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Learn the basics of xeriscape—how to choose, plant, and maintain low water-using plants in your landscape. Reservations are required. For reservations or information, call 488-2525, ext. 10, or visit www.woodmoorwater.com.

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Slash and Mulch Community Meeting, April 26

The El Paso County Slash and Mulch Program is kicking off its 2008 season with a community meeting April 26 at 9 a.m. at the Black Forest Community Center, 12530 Black Forest Rd. All county residents are invited to come and learn from the experts about forestry management practices including wildfire mitigation, defensible space, chain saw safety, noxious weeds, tree felling, insects such as mountain pine beetle, forest diseases, and much more.

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash (tree debris) and Mulch season begins May 3. Hours of operation for 2008 will be Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5 to 7:30 p.m. Free mulch will be available beginning May 31. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service, the State Board of Land Commissioners, and many volunteers. The purpose of the program is to teach best forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. The return of organic material (mulch) to the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information call the El Paso County Environmental Services Department at 520-7878 or visit www.elpasoco.com.

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Spirits of Spring Wine and Beer Tasting and Silent Auction, May 9

Gleneagle Sertoma presents its annual fundraiser, Spirits of Spring, May 9, 6 to 8:30 p.m., at The Place, 13990 Gleneagle Dr. The tasting event features an exciting selection of spring wines, microbrews, and international beers. An abundant assortment of delectable delights will be served to go with the libations, which will be offered through the courtesy of Powers Liquor Mart. The cost is $35 per person, $60 per couple. Proceeds will go to Tri-Lakes Cares and other local benevolent associations. For more information or to donate items for the silent auction, call Sherry Edwards, 488-1044.

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Benefit concert, May 10

The Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and School District 38 are hosting a family-friendly concert May 10, 2 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School auditorium. This is a benefit concert for the Tri-Lakes Senior Programs sponsored by Ent Federal Credit Union. The concert features Ron and Opal (of the Ron and Opal Show from Branson, Mo.). They were Duo of the Year 2007 by the Country Gospel Music Association. Opal is a great singer and is accompanied by husband Ron, who sings and plays steel guitar and several other instruments. Their harmonies and humor make for a truly enjoyable show. Leading them on stage will be Colorado Springs’ own Daytime Singers, part of the America the Beautiful Chorus. For ticket information, call Red Stephens, 487-8070, or Richard Allen, 488-0237.

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Free tutoring in reading at the 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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Volunteer! English tutoring classes in Monument in April

Share your love of reading – become a tutor at your library. Tutor an adult once a week for two hours. Help someone improve his/her reading, writing, comprehension and/or English language skills. Tuesdays, April 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; 1 to 4:30 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 N. Jefferson in Monument, and Thursdays, May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; 5:30 to 9 p.m., at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs. Call 531-6333, x2223 for more information.

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Library District’s new Kids Web

Pikes Peak Library District now has an exciting new Web site for children on its home page, ppld.org, 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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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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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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