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Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 3 - March 5, 2005

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Judge faults county and developer but approves taking of private land for Milam Road extension

By Jim Kendrick

District Court Judge Rebecca Bromley ruled on Feb. 23 that El Paso County’s condemnation of portions of six residential lots on Peregrine Way for the extension of Milam Road adjacent to Black Forest Regional Park is legal. The purpose of the condemnation is to extend Milam Road north from Shoup Road into the Cathedral Pines subdivision being built by Kings Deer Development, LLC. However, Bromley denied the developer’s request for immediate possession.

The case brought by the Board of County Commissioners against the owners of the six properties was heard Jan. 5-7 in Colorado Springs. While the judge found the county’s eminent domain condemnation of the property was "indisputably" performed to directly benefit the Kings Deer Development, her ruling noted that Colorado statutes place the burden on the condemned property’s owner to prove that the condemnation is not for a public purpose.

Some key findings in Bromley’s decision:

  • "But for Cathedral Pines development, the County would not be pursuing an extension of Milam Road."

  • "Dan Potter, a principal of Kings Deer [Development], testified that his feeling was and always has been that he was going to extend Milam Road north of Shoup for the benefit of the proposed development, and he did not care what anyone else thought. Kings Deer entered onto the Respondent’s property without permission for the purpose of surveying the proposed road and cut down some trees on Respondent’s property."

  • "[John] McCarty, Director of the County DOT, testified in his deposition that the extension of Milam would be prohibited by the Black Forest Preservation Plan."

  • "The County approved the Cathedral Pines plat on December 16, 2004 with access through Holmes Road and Winslow Road and no requirement for the extension of Milam Road. In doing so the County created a public safety issue. The County now argues that Holmes and Winslow are not safe and appropriate access for Cathedral Pines."

  • "The final recorded plat of Cathedral Pines Filing No. 1 was introduced into evidence on the first day of trial. The plat does not require the condemnation of Milam Road. The Planning Department and the County Commissioners have approved the development fully aware that the condemnation might be denied. They appear to have satisfied themselves that the development can proceed consistent with the County’s requirements without Milam Road."

  • "Condemnation of private property for public roadways is almost always found to be a public use."

  • "The Milam Road extension clearly will be available for public use both for those who live in the new development and the public at large."

  • "The Court concludes that the facts of this case regarding whether of not the proposed condemnation is for a public use or public purpose weigh evenly between the parties. Therefore, the Respondents have not carried their burden of proving the condemnation is not for a public use or benefit."

  • "This Court has observed the close ‘hand in glove’ relationship between the County and the developer first hand with respect to this matter."

  • "The Court has substantial concerns about the County and the developer’s conduct in pursuing this condemnation, however, the Court cannot conclude that the Respondents have proved the County’s actions have been fraudulent or in bad faith.

  • "The County authorized the condemnation more than two years ago, and its failure to set this matter for a hearing on immediate possession during the interim period makes it clear that immediate possession is not essential to the County’s needs. The need for immediate possession – construction contracting and permitting requirements – is based on the developer’s schedule not the County’s."

  • "Accordingly, the Court finds that the lack of need for immediate possession and that immediate possession would cause irreparable harm to the Respondents’ property negates immediate need for possession."

The county undertook the condemnation after the courts ruled they could not legally construct a road through the southern-most 80 acres of Black Forest Regional Park.

The six homeowners’ legal costs for their attorney, Ken Sparks, are $100,000 for this lawsuit to date. They are meeting with Sparks to determine whether they will appeal Bromley’s decision. The total costs to the Friends of Black Forest Park for their lawsuit that prevented construction of the road through the park were over $195,000; they have been reimbursed $21,000 for court costs by the county and $11,000 by Potter.

Several other property owners have reached agreement with the county to give up land for improvements at the intersection of Milam with Shoup and were not part of the condemnation lawsuit.

the full court findings. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Bills would create "water development district"

By Judy P. von Ahlefeldt
(Courtesy of the Black Forest News, Feb. 24, 2005 issue)

View Map of Tri-Lakes Water Providers

There are some far-ranging, long-term water plans afoot for northern El Paso County.

On Feb. 17, Sen. Tom Wiens (R-Castle Rock), called a meeting in Monument on short notice to discuss a draft Senate Bill for a Water Conservation District for El Paso County. The bill would be a late-submittal bill for which a title has been reserved for the 2005 state legislative session.

Although the entity is called a Water Conservation District under state statute, it might be more accurately titled a Water Development District.

A bill for an Arapahoe-Douglas County Water Conservation District (HB1298) was submitted by Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch) and Sen. Dan Grossman on Feb. 21. It has been assigned to the House Agricultural Committee.

What both of these proposals would do is create two coalitions of water providers: Douglas and Arapahoe counties together, and El Paso County by itself. Each of these coalitions would have more power to develop water sources for urban development along the Front Range than any individual water provider—i.e. Colorado Springs, Aurora, or any of the smaller cities or metro districts.

The draft El Paso County proposed Senate Bill specifically declares that "increased reliance on ground water supplies in the Denver Basin Aquifers and fractured granite aquifers, coupled with projected growth and increasing needs for reliable, renewable water supplies, make it imperative that local governments be provided with an organization through which they can consult and work together to ensure that the best conservation and resource development practices are adopted and utilized."

Available conservation and resource development options include the two broad categories of using nonrenewable aquifer water or renewable sources that include surface water or alluvial (rechargeable) water. Water reuse can also be added into the water equation. Using renewable and nonrenewable sources in some kind of linked system (i.e., use surface water in wet years and groundwater in dry years, or use surface water to recharge alluvial storage) is called conjunctive use.

The City of Colorado Springs is already placing satellite well fields at the south end of the Denver Basin (for example, on Flying Horse Ranch and Wolf Ranch) where high-capacity commercial pumps will remove water for urban development, ostensibly until water is available from the Pueblo Reservoir expansion/Southern Delivery System.

But that is only for the City of Colorado Springs. El Paso County has a host of other smaller water providers, including towns such as Palmer Lake, or metro districts such as Donala, Woodmen Hills, Park Forest, Paint Brush Hills, and Cherokee. Most are in northern El Paso County. At the present time, these metro districts are entirely dependent on groundwater and will be until the aquifers are pumped dry. Thus, they need "renewable" water in order to supply present users beyond the "300-year" horizon in El Paso County’s Land Development Code and provide water for new developments outside the city.

Thus the proposal for an El Paso County Water Conservation District. In the bigger picture, this makes a regional Water Conservation District (whether Douglas-Arapahoe or El Paso County) more politically and economically powerful to obtain renewable water, which mainly comes from two sources: the Western Slope or the Platte or Arkansas River agricultural users.

Front Range water interests have been arguing for years with Western Slope and agricultural water interests over getting more water for Front Range growth. Water Conservation Districts would give them a more powerful tool.

Meantime, back on the Palmer Divide, a group of northern water providers calling themselves the Palmer Divide Water Group have developed two alternative plans for pumping water from satellite well fields in northern El Paso County.

  • Alternative 1A states: "Northern water providers continue to pump individual [commercial] wells at existing rates, (2,410 AFY [acre feet per year]). Regional water pumping and conveyance system for one-half of the 2020 demand from a satellite well field, 2,2551 AFY and one-half from reuse (2,480 AFY.)"

  • Alternative 1B states: "Regional water pumping, treatment and conveyance system for northern providers’ 2020 demand from satellite well field (4,961 AFY) and remaining from reuse, (2,480 AFY.)" (Map dated Dec. 30, 2001).

If the El Paso County Bill is brought to the Senate, it will likely be referred to a Senate Committee before both bills are brought to the legislature for debate and vote.

These proposals are the latest in the long debate over how Colorado’s water should be used.

Judy von Ahlefeldt, publisher of the Black Forest News, can be reached at 495-8750 or blackforestnews@earthlink.net.


Republican senators issued a statement on Feb. 21 blasting the group that submitted the bill for jumping the gun. Senators Jim Dyer (Arapahoe), Tom Wiens (Castle Rock), Nancy Spence (Centennial), and John Evans (Parker) criticized the introduction of House Bill 1298—the Douglas-Arapahoe Water Conservation District Act—and its announcement as bizarre.

"House Bill 1298 appears to be a late-bill effort by special interests that failed to gain support from any of the senators representing the region involved," the senators said. "Further, the bill fails to meet the minimum standards necessary to protect the interests of our citizens and their quality of life."

View Map of Tri-Lakes Water Providers

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New Monument police chief and town planner named

By Jim Kendrick

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg announced on Feb. 11 that Jacob Shirk will be Monument’s new police chief and Catherine Green the new town planner.

Sonnenburg said he was excited to fill the positions from "lots of good candidates" in "an incredibly competitive field for both positions." He added that he looked forward to working with them because "both have a wealth of experience in their fields and are extremely qualified." He said they "would be an asset to the town" and expected both to make "substantial contributions." Both will start work during the second week in March.

Selection process

The screening committee for the chief’s position included: Trustees Gail Drumm and Steve Meszaros, Police Advisory Committee member Ginny Cullen, Acting Chief Sgt. Rick Tudor, and Sonnenburg. Former Chief Joe Kissell assisted in screening the application packages and in the first round of interviews. The Board of Trustees accepted the committee’s recommendation.

Town Planner applicants were screened and interviewed by Mayor Byron Glenn and Sonnenburg.

Captain Jake Shirk

On Feb. 11, Captain Jake Shirk was reached by phone at his office in the Aurora Police Department. He said he was eager to take over the Monument Police Department and his first order of business would be "to do nothing, just observe how the department operates for the first 30 days."

He said that he has learned over 29 years in Aurora that managing any police organization is "no different than managing a business" in a lot of ways. After he becomes familiar with his staff, he will examine their policies, then every couple of years analyze whether they "are habits or good practices." Only then would he make any changes.

He is enthusiastic about being in Monument because the small department atmosphere and mission "feels right" to him. As he had told the Board of Trustees at their Feb. 7 meeting, he said he will be a practitioner of "community-oriented policing." He said, "Success can only come with the cooperation and assistance of residents and business owners." He will spend time to closely coordinate with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department, since most of his interdepartmental experience is with departments to the north of the Palmer Divide.

Shirk said he and his wife plan to move from their home in Castle Rock to the local area. They have four children, five grandchildren, and three more grandchildren "on the way."

Cathy Green

Pueblo Director of Planning and Assistant City Manager Cathy Green was also reached by phone on Feb. 11 following Sonnenburg’s announcement. Green said she was ready for a new professional challenge and that the position in Monument offered the variety and dynamic growth environment she was looking for.

She has a strong and diverse background in urban, economic, and community development as well as historic preservation and transportation and urban design. Her background includes 19 years of planning experience, the last 15 in Denver and Pueblo. She managed a staff of seven in Pueblo.

In addition to having a master’s degree in planning and community development, she graduated in 2003 from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. She is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Although still a Pueblo resident, she is quite familiar with issues in northern El Paso County since her husband is a manager in the Castle Rock Planning Department. She plans to move to the local area.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, Feb. 15: Plat for Walters Commons recommended for denial

By Steve Sery

There were three items on the agenda of interest to residents of northern El Paso County.

One was a rezone from RR-3 (minimum 5 acres) to RR-2 (minimum 2½ acres) of a 5.5-acre parcel located north of Northgate Road and just west of Hwy 83.

Although the property is surrounded on three sides by RR-3 properties, the south side is across the road from a portion of Flying Horse Ranch that will have townhomes and much greater density. The rezoning was approved 9-0.

Another rezoning was requested—of two parcels, from RR-3 and C-2 (commercial) to PBD (Planned Business District) in order to expand the current Black Forest Service Center. This is on Shoup Road just west of Black Forest Road.

One adjacent landowner objected, saying it was outside of the one-quarter-mile radius commercial node at the intersection of these two roads. However, a part of the property is within the node, and the Black Forest Land Use Committee agreed with the rezoning, provided deed restrictions were placed on the property. After some discussion, the rezoning was approved without deed restrictions 8-1.

Last up for consideration was the Final Plat for Walters Commons, Filing No. 1. This is a 178-unit townhome project on 18.66 acres at the northeast corner of Higby and Bowstring Roads, just east of Lewis-Palmer High School.

When the preliminary plan for this was approved, the Walters family owned the property as well as 130 acres adjoining on the north. These 130 acres were to be placed in a conservation easement and was so indicated in the letter of intent. It was on this basis that the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) agreed to the replat of the property and the development plan.

Subsequently, the portion that is to be developed was sold to Pulte Homes. The conservation easement has not been finalized, and there appeared to be some question as to the Walters’ intent at this time. WIA strongly objected to this, as they feel the situation has changed and they would not have agreed to the replat without the conservation easement. It was not included as a condition in the preliminary plan, but it was in the original letter of intent and in fact was in the letter of intent submitted with the final plat. However, a new letter was presented at the meeting without any mention of the easement.

After lengthy discussion, the majority of the commissioners felt this was a significant change from the preliminary plan, and the motion to deny was passed 7-2.

A module of an amendment to the Land Development Code (LDC) dealing with zone name changes, use changes, and format changes was presented for review. This is an ongoing project to update the LDC. As before, the only public input received was from the Black Forest Land Use Committee.

The next regular meeting is March 15, with the possibility of a second meeting on March 22.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Feb. 10: Restoring the lake’s water level dominates meeting

By Tim Hibbs

Amid a groundswell of public support, questions remain about how best to replenish the water supply in Palmer Lake and at what cost. Awake The Lake Committee (ATLC) chairman Jeff Hulsmann, council members, and citizens offered different perspectives on the problem at the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting on Feb. 10.

After Town Attorney Larry Gaddis advised that the final recommendation on a course of action should come from the Water Committee, Trustee Chuck Cornell promised a special meeting of that committee to address the issues. That meeting was held on Feb. 18 and was attended by Cornell, Mayor Nikki McDonald, and Trustees Trish Flake and George Reese.

The ATLC was sanctioned by the council at its Dec. 9, 2004, meeting, and was formed to explore ways to restore the water level in Palmer Lake. It provides updates on its progress at each council meeting.

Hulsmann said that progress had been made since the last council meeting, with over $1,200 raised in one week through a committee fundraiser. He stated that Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt gave the committee a more accurate estimate of the amount of water needed to fill the lake: 30.47 acre-feet. The amount of water targeted by the ATLC was up to 80 acre-feet, with the excess planned for longer-term supplementary needs.

The larger issue is the cost of the water. Hulsmann stated that a cost of $4.60 per 1,000 gallons was being used by the ATLC for calculation purposes, though he was not certain how that figure was derived.

Rogers Davis, a resident who has participated on two recent water rate committees, offered some clarification. He stated the $4.60 rate is a value that includes all overhead, salaries, fees, electrical, and gas costs as well as chlorine, other chemicals, and the cost of pipe.

He, along with Cornell, noted that many of those costs would not be incurred by water transferred from the town reservoir to the lake. Davis estimated the actual cost for reservoir water would be closer to $1 per 1,000 gallons.

[Note: Cornell subsequently offered some details that were discussed at the special Water Committee meeting on Feb. 18. The actual cost for the water will likely work out to be less than half of the $4.60 rate, but he reserved discussing the precise amount until the next council meeting. The 30.47 acre-feet of water for the one-time lake infusion will ultimately be drawn from the D2 well and not from the town’s reservoir. However, as it is prohibitively expensive to provide a dedicated supply line directly from the wellhead to the lake, the water will be drawn from the public system at a point about 200 feet east of the lake.

Since the well supplies the town water system, the water placed in the system from the well is first chlorinated. State regulations require that the water added to the lake be de-chlorinated, so a temporary de-chlorination station will be placed near the point that water is drawn for use at the lake. This arrangement also allows for precise metering of the water pumped into the lake basin.]

Cornell noted that he had spoken with State Senator Tom Wiens and with Hal Simpson, state engineer with the Department of Natural Resources, on these issues. Both stated their opinions that if reservoir water were used, chlorination would not be needed, nor would the town be required to seek a water discharge permit. Cornell stated he would seek a formal affirmation of these opinions from state quality engineer Mark Pifher.

[Note: Pifher later stated that the town would indeed need a discharge permit for its proposal. However, the state also issues what is known as a Minimal Discharge Permit, which is available at reduced cost and processing time. Palmer Lake’s use qualifies for such a permit, and Cornell has initiated the process to file this permit with the state.]

Cornell said he didn’t feel that using reservoir water was the best option, an opinion McDonald echoed and one that Hulsmann said is shared by Orcutt. McDonald stated that contractually, the town owns the amount of water held in the reservoir as of March 15, so it is in the town’s best interests to reduce its reservoir withdrawals until after that date. Amounts received by the reservoir after that date are allocated for other downstream uses.

(The reservoir holds 144 acre-feet of water at capacity. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, and the Palmer Lake water system’s usage averages about 230,000 gallons per day in winter months.)

Hulsmann and the members of the council expressed their interest in ensuring that the public be apprised of all proposals and developments regarding the lake. In response to a question from Trustee Max Parker, Town Clerk Della Gray noted that the final analysis and report from CTL Thompson is available for public review in the town office.

CTL Thompson is the engineering firm hired by the town to identify and analyze the problems leading to the loss of water in the lake. The report also contains a set of recommendations designed to mitigate those problems.

Other Agenda Items

The council unanimously approved the agenda items for the meeting as well as all consent items.

Liquor Licensing Board: The council met briefly as the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Board to consider two liquor license applications. Steven Spry of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce requested a license for his organization’s annual dinner, scheduled for April 2 at the Pinecrest Event Center. Spry stated that approximately 300 people are expected to attend the event.

The Gleneagle Sertoma Club, represented by Sherry Edwards, submitted the second application. Edwards is co-chairperson of the club’s first annual Spirits of Spring beer and wine tasting event, to be held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts on April 1. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares and other local charities. The board unanimously approved both applications.

Freedom Week: McDonald declared the week of Feb. 13-19 as Sertoma’s Freedom Week in Palmer Lake. Dennis Daugherty, chairperson of the Monument Hill Sertoma National Heritage program, accepted the proclamation.

Business Licenses: Jane Garrabrant requested a business license for Whispering Pines Artwork, an Internet-based business. The company produces greeting cards and note cards, and can be found online at http://www.whisperingpinesart.com. Garrabrant stated that she already possesses a sales tax license. The council approved the business license application unanimously.

Mike Wislinsky submitted an application for a license for a new business called Premier Garage of Colorado. The company was formed to install garage flooring and to perform garage makeovers and improvements.

In response to a question from Trustee Gary Coleman, Wislinsky noted that as a contracting business, it pays a use tax on materials brought in from outside the town. Gaddis noted that the business would still need a sales tax license but only for goods sold in Palmer Lake. The council unanimously approved the application, subject to it being issued a sales tax license.

Kim Makower submitted a business license application for Palmer Lake Tennis Center, which conducts tennis lessons in Glen Park, a property owned by the town. Cornell stated that the center’s Web site offered products such as tennis and paddle tennis racquets for sale, and as such would require a business license.

Makower disagreed, stating that his products are only offered as a service to his clients. He further stated that his products are purchased and sold at retail cost and are not subject to sales tax. Gaddis said that if any products are sold in Palmer Lake, a sales tax license was required. He noted that there is no cost for a sales tax license, but Makower said that, from his perspective, the cost was not the issue.

Parker stated that he had received complaints from some residents that the courts at Glen Park are frequently in use by the Palmer Lake Tennis Center. Parker noted that the complaints centered on how the courts are scheduled. Makower said that one court always remained available for scheduling at the town office.

Flake said that, especially in winter, scheduling the center’s lessons and public sessions is difficult. She stated that Makower provides a needed service to the community by offering reasonably priced lessons and good service to his clients.

Gaddis advised the council that they could approve the business license application, contingent on Makower securing a sales tax license. Makower then requested that the council table his license request until a subsequent meeting. The council voted unanimously to table the request.

Committee Reports

Community and Economic Development – Buildings: Coleman said that Julie Lokken has nearly finished painting the entire town hall building, and he wanted to thank her for her dedication to the project. He also noted that town volunteers participated in a weapons of mass destruction exercise and drill on Feb. 5.

Parks and Recreation: Flake said that Parks and Recreation is forming a committee to organize the Blue Columbine Festival in conjunction with the Palmer Lake Historical Society. The event is currently scheduled for June 11. She noted that Deahna Brown is tentatively scheduled to begin teaching Pilates and yoga classes in mid-March. Gray stated that classes would not be held on Thursdays due to a scheduling conflict.

Roads: Parker received a letter from resident Gary Atkins, who is also a member of the Palmer Lake Planning Commission, regarding dust control problems on Circle Road that affect his property. Parker and Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich met with Atkins and agreed to have Town Engineer Paul Gilbert review the issue.

Parker said that the Roads Committee is evaluating the possibility of issuing a revenue bond for road improvements, to be repaid with money from the roads capital improvement fund. The issue would require a public vote in April 2006. Cornell stated that water system improvements would be addressed at the same time roads were being worked on, saving the town the expense of separate excavations.

Police: Reese noted 101 total police incidents for the month of January, along with 3 arrests, 26 cases, 20 traffic citations, and 22 dog warnings. These totals are similar to those in December, with no identifiable upward or downward trends.

Fire: In Trustee Brent Sumner’s absence, Fire Chief Phillip Beckman detailed a total of 16 calls for January: 1 fire, 8 medical, 1 traffic accident, 5 other, and 1 public assist call. He said the department has a new ventilation chain saw and has received some new wildland firefighting equipment.


The council passed two town ordinances unanimously. The first, Ordinance 1-2005, was a request to vacate a public right-of-way on a portion of Clio Avenue, constituting an area of about 4,480 square feet. The second was Ordinance 2-2005, a request to vacate a portion of Loveland Slope and Epworth Highway. The Palmer Lake Planning Commission had previously recommended the council approve both requests.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:28 p.m. The Palmer Lake Town Council conducts a public workshop on the first Thursday of every month and meets in formal session on the second Thursday of the month. All meetings are held in the Town Hall building in downtown Palmer Lake.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 7: Case presented for repairing damaged car

By Jim Kendrick

At the Feb. 7 meeting, Santa Fe Trails resident Scott Brandon asked the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) for compensation for car repairs after he struck a boulder he said was accidentally placed in the middle of the street by a town snow plow.

The board interviewed Aurora Police Captain Jacob Shirk, who was recommended for appointment as Monument police chief by the town’s search committee. The board also filled a vacancy on the Police Advisory Committee (PAC). In addition, Mayor Byron Glenn gave an update on discussions he had with developers wanting to put in a water park on Baptist Road west of the interstate.

Plowed rock on Santa Fe Trails street causes vehicle damage

Brandon made a presentation requesting compensation from the town for damage he incurred while driving in the Santa Fe Trails neighborhood at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 22. The 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee he was driving received about $3,800 of damage after he struck a 53-pound rock that he said a snowplow had moved to the center of the street and then covered with snow. The Jeep belonged to Colorado Springs resident Suzanne Erskine, who was visiting and asked him to drive the car for her because of snow, ice, and mounds of snow the plow had left in the middle of the street.

Brandon brought the boulder he hit into Town Hall and also presented pictures showing the debris field, including a sheared-off Old Denver Highway road edge marker accidentally spread throughout the subdivision’s streets by the plow. The rock had paint on it, which he said came from the Jeep’s suspension, and numerous markings where the bottom of the car had scraped it.

Background: There had been complaints to the town in the past about the plow moving snow to the side of the street, piling snow on already cleared driveways and sidewalks. The added snow would often freeze, making it more difficult to remove. Residents in subdivisions with sidewalks are required by town ordinance to clear their sidewalks after a snowfall.

During 2004, Public Works had plowed the snow to the center of the residential streets to avoid this problem. However, this effectively created a "divided highway" on town streets. Drivers often had to drive their vehicles through this snowpack in order to make left turns or exit driveways. If a car was parked in the plowed lane, drivers had to drive through, or straddle, the plowed berm to get around them. Smaller cars would get stranded on top of the snow and ice berms.

Debris and ice chunks would often be buried in the berm, completely hidden from a motorist’s view. Concerned their cars might be damaged, drivers would often drive the wrong way down the street until there was a knocked-down portion of the snow-and-ice-packed center before crossing over to the correct lane.

Over time, the berms would be knocked down by vehicles. The remaining portions of the center berm and the knocked-down snow in the driving lanes often froze. Often, that snow was not re-plowed.

At several recent meetings, the board discussed the pros and cons of this unusual alternative method of plowing but had left the "plow to the center" policy in place. However, after Brandon’s accident, the town changed the policy, and snow is again being plowed to the side of the road. The county plows to the right side of the road on two-lane streets.

Plowing issues: Brandon said that the plow had cut the corner while coming southbound on Old Denver Highway as it made the right turn into Santa Fe Trails on Woodfield Drive. He said that the plow’s blade picked up "probably four" of the large pink granite landscaping boulders that served as a curb at the entrance to the subdivision and "hundreds of pounds" of decorative one-and-a-half-inch river rock behind the boulders.

The blade then moved and buried these boulders, as well as the river rock, in the center snow berms on Woodfield Drive, Park Trail Drive, and Ranchero Drive. River rock debris was also left in each of the intersections along this path.

He showed several photos that displayed the missing boulders, river rock, and reflector at the entrance, and other photos that showed the debris field on these three streets and intersections. He said the town was responsible for the debris being in the street.

Brandon said he struck the 53-pound boulder, which had been buried under a foot of snow in the center berm, while driving westbound on Ranchero Drive. He had to drive through the berm to maneuver around a parked pickup truck. The Jeep struck the boulder with its left front suspension, just inside the left front tire.

"There were no footprints in the area to indicate that the rock was placed there by vandals," Brandon said, "and it was obvious to Suzanne and I that the plow picked the rock off and buried it there as a result of plowing to the center of the roadway." He added that even at 10:30 a.m., the temperature was still near zero degrees and there were no kids out or footprints anywhere in the vicinity of the impact.

Lithia Jeep in Colorado Springs told Erskine that the damage included the front-end alignment, bent suspension parts, and broken welds where they attach to the unibody structure. Glenn questioned whether the rock was tall enough to hit anything under the car.

Brandon gave Sonnenburg a copy of the estimate on Jan. 3 and the claim was turned over to the town’s insurer, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA). Brandon learned on Jan. 21 that CIRSA had denied the claim.

He praised Sonnenburg’s "diligent efforts" and said the town manager had "appealed this decision three times to the insurance company." Brandon said he feels the town is responsible for the rock being hidden in the snow berm and that the town and CIRSA need to decide who is responsible for paying for the damage, to avoid having to involve Erskine’s insurance company.

Brandon said Erskine’s deductible is $1,000 and having her insurer pay for the repair would be an unfair burden. He said Erskine’s insurer told her that her rates would increase if they paid for part of the repair, despite her flawless driving and claims record. He also noted he had to take a day off work on Feb. 1 to obtain supporting letters from neighbors on all three streets, after CIRSA continued to deny the claim.

CIRSA’s denial: In a letter dated Jan. 25 and addressed to John Erskine, Suzanne’s husband, CIRSA’s claim representative Mike Wagner wrote, "As you have correctly pointed out, the snow drift referenced in our prior letter was a mound of snow created by the snow plow as it went though Ranchero Drive. We do not dispute this point. We do disagree with your position that it is irrelevant how the rock came to be in the mound of show. This point was central to our decision to deny your claim. As you have pointed out, there are multiple ways the rock your vehicle collided with, could have been placed in the mound of show. We simply do not believe there is any evidence to suggest the rock was placed in the mound of snow by a City snow plow because of the negligence of the Town or its employees."

CIRSA then suggested that Erskine "seek compensation from your personal auto insurance carrier."

Brandon asked the board for prompt resolution to avoid the time and trouble for all the affected parties by having to seek restitution through small claims court. He again thanked Sonnenburg for the many hours of effort he had given to help resolve the issue in his favor, adding that "Sonnenburg displays a level of integrity not often seen and should be considered an asset to your organization."

Discussion: Sonnenburg said CIRSA had inspected the streets in question twice, and said he had accompanied the representative for the second tour. Trustee Gail Drumm said "I walked the whole thing" referring to the streets in question. Trustee George Brown, who also lives in Santa Fe Trails, said he too had seen the boulders and rocks and would be a witness for Brandon. He asked that a CIRSA representative attend a BOT meeting.

Referring to the plowing policy, Trustee Tommie Plank observed that she "brought this up two months ago." She said that the other trustees had said no citizens wanted their driveways or sidewalks blocked by plowed snow. She added that the snow berms in the center of a road surface melt and refreeze constantly and add to the stress on the pavement surface, leading to early cracking and potholes.

Brown agreed, saying he didn’t see the plowing to the center of the street as a problem during previous discussions, but now realized that it could be. Drumm said the town can’t plow the snow onto the sidewalks and then give people citations for not shoveling it back into the street. Glenn said that the town can’t plow to the center any more as a safety issue and that plowing to the side can be a problem for him and Brown as they have north-facing lots. Brandon offered to pay for the repairs, if the town would agree to repay him $3,800.

After much discussion, Glenn asked for recommendations on how to proceed. The board agreed to have CIRSA come out and look at the vehicle and do interviews. Glenn asked if CIRSA might change its position on negligence after the interviews and car inspection. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said they could. Glenn said that it would be hard to show any negligence by the town. Brown asked if driving over the berm, not knowing what was buried in it, could be considered negligent. Shupp said a case could be made that the town was negligent in plowing to the center of the street.

Trustee Dave Mertz said the town should pay for the repairs and make a permanent change to the policy regarding plowing snow to the center of the street. Shupp noted that if Mertz’s first recommendation was acted upon, it would "negate the insurance policy," precluding any chance of reimbursement of the town by CIRSA. Sonnenburg added that CIRSA had never looked at Erskine’s vehicle and had simply concluded there was no proof that the plow pushed the rock into the snow berm.

Brandon said it was unlikely that the driver of a 15,000-pound truck would be aware that the blade had hit rocks weighing 30 to 60 pounds, much less all the river rock, nor would he recall the incident; it was simply accidental and not negligent. He asked that the town "do the right thing" and change the plowing policy and pay for the repair costs. He added that the boulders should not have been approved to be in a position where the plow would pick them up. Plank disagreed, saying the location of the boulders was not the town’s responsibility.

Glenn asked if Santa Fe Trails was responsible for having the rocks too close to the road. Drumm said that the town had approved the landscaping plan for the subdivision’s entrance. Plank said "We bear some responsibility." The other trustees agreed. Brown said that CIRSA’s response was "lame" and Plank said it was "ridiculous." Orten asked Sonnenburg to request that the HOA move the rocks.

Glenn suggested that Brandon obtain three estimates and that the town pay the lowest one. Glenn asked for photos of the physical damage to the car.

Brandon said that the Erskines had waited long enough for the town to accept responsibility and that if the town would not agree to reimburse him at this point, then the car would be repaired at the dealership directed by Erskine’s insurance company on Feb. 10.

Brown said he did not have enough information on CIRSA’s position to make a decision at this time. The board chose not to provide direct reimbursement because they wouldn’t see the estimates until the next BOT meeting on Feb. 22. The issue was then continued to the next meeting.

Police chief candidate introduced

Captain Jake Shirk of the Aurora Police Department met with the board after being nominated by the town’s search committee. He has 29 years of experience in the Aurora department and currently commands District 1 with 190 officers and a budget of about $14 million.

He has advanced from patrol officer, beginning in 1976, through the ranks of detective, sergeant, lieutenant. His most recent commands include communications, patrol, emergency response team, SWAT, detention section, and detective/administration. He noted he had participated in every SWAT raid during the time he was their commander.

Shirk said that moving to the Monument department "feels right." His principle philosophy is to establish a good working relationship between the department and the citizens, because success can only be achieved through cooperation with, and active support from, the residents and business owners. He added he would be involved with a lot of groups in the area as well as continuing the sound relationships the town has with the Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department.

He noted that he attended the Aurora Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program in 1999, where he was elected to their board of directors. He was elected chairman of the board for 2003 and 2004.

Trustee Frank Orten said he was very familiar with Aurora’s community-oriented police programs, having worked there and attended the chamber’s leadership program. Shirk said he anticipated concerns about his transition from a large city to a small town and had done his research. He wanted to have a closer relationship with a smaller staff.

Plank asked how he learned of the open position. Shirk said he heard about it from former Monument Police Chief Al Sharon at a police leaders’ conference where they had met. Plank asked, "You’re aware that he left under unfavorable circumstances?" and asked if that would be a problem for Shirk. He said no, that he knows Sharon professionally. Sharon is currently a commander in the Brighton Police Department.

When asked, he said his "lead projects" would be completing the new police department and establishing a good working relationship with the new shopping centers on Jackson Creek Parkway regarding crime prevention. He noted that his Aurora district has about 100 burglaries per month.

Shirk said he was familiar with the issues of gaining accreditation, when questioned by Trustee Scott Meszaros, because his department is already accredited. He also observed that it is important for Monument’s officers to learn Spanish.

See article on Shirk’s appointment, announced on Feb. 11.

Police Advisory Committee vacancy filled

Monument resident John Harmon spoke to the board about his application for the vacant position on the Police Advisory Commission. Harmon works in civil engineering services for the Office of Emergency Management in El Paso County. He is a four-year resident and a volunteer for the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services group. He performed similar volunteer services with sheriff’s departments rescue squads while living in North Carolina and Tennessee. He was also a certified emergency medical technician in North Carolina. He said he does volunteer work at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Trustee Tommie Plank said he is "certainly well-qualified" for the committee and the board "appreciates your volunteering." He was approved unanimously.

Wastewater facility expansion endorsed

The board unanimously concurred with Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall’s recommendation that the town endorse the planned upgrade of the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. The facility is jointly owned by Donala Water and Sanitation District, Triview Metropolitan District, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. Wall noted that there would be no effect on Monument and that the expansion complies with the town’s comprehensive plan and would improve Triview’s services to Jackson Creek.

Regional Building updates

The board unanimously approved an ordinance to adopt the new revised Pikes Peak Regional building code and a resolution to adopt the 2005 Regional Building fee schedule. Regional Building said the revised code "incorporates the new 2003 edition of the International Building Code and various other model codes regulating building construction." No fees were changed for 2005, though the format of the tables in the document has been changed.

See related story for revision to the ordinance on Feb. 22.

Downtown Revitalization Grant

The 15-page contract with the Colorado Community Revitalization Association to conduct a two-day workshop on how to improve Monument’s downtown area was unanimously approved. The town will match the state’s Department of Local Affairs’ $3,000 grant with another $3,000 to pay for the workshop, which is now scheduled for May 17 and 18 in Town Hall.

Contracts updated

Street sweeping: The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for 2005 that provides for street sweeping within Triview by the town’s Public Works street sweeper. An additional "2.43 centerline miles" of street surfaces are covered by this contract.

The cost of the services increased from $3,054 to $4,776 per month, reflecting the higher expense of the new, more capable street sweeper that will be delivered to the town this spring. The contract calls for two 32-hour sweeping cycles each month. Additional sweeping would cost Triview $48 per hour.

Wall noted that there is a "60-40 split" between Triview’s road miles and those in the rest of the town, but Triview uses 65 percent of sweeper hours due to the driving time to and from Jackson Creek. The formula for the IGA’s costs was specified by the BOT in 2000. Sweeping in Jackson Creek is a full-time job for 11 to 12 days per month. Other full-time sweeping requires 8 to 9 days per month, and Wall reminded the BOT that this was the primary justification for adding a fifth person to Public Works at the start of 2005.

Glenda Smith, a former trustee, asked that the sweeper make an additional pass on the new bike lane on the west side of Mitchell Avenue. Wall agreed that the bike path needed to be a higher priority since the current sweeper does not vacuum up the debris it sweeps, leaving a substantial amount on the side of the road. He also noted that the vacuum would bring the sweeper into compliance with the dust limitations for air circulated by sweepers.

Triview water operations: The board also unanimously approved an IGA for 2005 that provides for Triview water system operations and maintenance by the town’s Public Works Department. The cost of the service increased from $13,525 to $14,200 per month. There has been no change in the scope of services provided to Triview, so this is just a "cost of living increase."

Franchise fee auditing: The contract with Mark V Professional Consultants for auditing the town’s franchise fee contracts was unanimously extended. Treasurer Judy Skrzypek said the audit of Mountain View Electric Association is complete and the settlement for $102,000 completed. "The remaining audits are with Aquila, Adelphia, and Qwest."

Payments over $5,000

The board unanimously approved the Triview November sales tax payment of $10,207 and the January payment to GMS, Inc. of $9,647.15 for its engineering services.

GOCO grant applications continued

The board considered applications for two Great Outdoors Colorado Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation Grants, which must be submitted by March 3:

  • A reapplication for a grant for Limbach Park restrooms and drinking fountains of $96,000, with a town match of $64,000 ($160,000 total)

  • A mini-grant application for $17,500, with a town match of $7,500, for construction of improvements at Lavallet Park or Dirty Woman Creek Park ($25,000 total, each)

However, no matching money was appropriated in 2005 for the larger grant. Brown asked, "When do we have to come up with the money?" Glenn noted that there would have to be a line item in the town’s budget for the local match amount if the grant were awarded.

The issue was tabled until Feb. 22 to allow time to determine whether the matching funds could be appropriated after the larger grant application was submitted or could be further delayed until after that grant might be awarded. Sonnenburg noted that the town would pay the contractor after the construction contract was signed, and then apply for reimbursement.

BRRTA update

Glenn reported that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) had approved an intersection to upgrade the current right-in-right-out access to the King Soopers shopping center from Baptist Road.

This new intersection design would provide for dedicated left-turn lanes, along with four other lanes (with curbs) on Baptist, but there would be no traffic signal. The new cross-street will be named Jackson Creek Crossing Road. The intersection will be constructed by BRRTA and the county. Northbound Jackson Creek Crossing Road would lead into the King Soopers center, and southbound would lead into the Barber parcel. However, in the approved design no left turns will be allowed from King Soopers or the Barber parcel onto eastbound or westbound Baptist road, respectively.

The extension of Jackson Creek Crossing to the south of Baptist would be just west of the Family of Christ Lutheran Church. The Barber parcel is under a provisional contract at the present time while the unnamed developer explores building options.

Glenn expressed disappointment that the new intersection would not allow left turns from King Soopers onto eastbound Baptist Road because traffic in front of King Soopers will now double when the new Jackson Creek Market Village shopping center is built next to it, just to the east. Left turn traffic exiting the King Soopers center onto southbound Jackson Creek Parkway will also double. However, he noted that the intersection would be designed so that a traffic light with a dedicated left-turn light in all four directions could be added with minimum construction and expense at a later date.

Glenn said the town and the county should coordinate on requiring escrow funds from commercial properties that will be built on the east side of the interstate. The funds would contribute to the cost of this full-motion Jackson Creek Crossing light in addition to future full-motion lights at Leather Chaps and Jackson Creek Parkway.

He also noted that BRRTA was trying to arrange for earlier financing of the Baptist Road I-25 interchange than the Colorado Department of Transportation can provide. He said at this time BRRTA remained about $8 million short of the $14 million total required to pay for the entire CDOT interchange upgrade. Glenn noted that a suggestion to have Monument issue $8 million in bond debt, to be paid back later by CDOT when their money becomes available, would probably not be approved by voters since the interchange is not within the town’s boundary.

Water park discussions

Glenn reported he had an "exciting meeting" with a firm called "Outrageous Oasis." This is the firm that had previously planned to build a water park amusement resort on Northgate Boulevard, east of I-25 within Colorado Springs. Anticipated water consumption was a factor in the failure of those plans. The firm is now investigating plans to build a similar kind of water-oriented resort in the commercially zoned areas on either side of Baptist Road between I-25 and Old Denver Highway. He said that Triview had given a tentative approval to provide water to the development on the north side of Baptist. Initial estimates show the attraction would generate an income of about $87 million in the first 10 years.

Plank asked why the firm had not pursued development in Colorado Springs after the plans for Northgate Road had fallen through. Glenn said the city was probably focusing on a new convention center.

Glenn noted that the developer is looking for tax breaks, and he suggested that the town could forego up to half of the 3 percent tax revenue for up to five years to encourage them to develop within the town. He said the name given to this tax break is a "special improvement district."

Glenn said there would be a need for further study of water supply and conservation by Wall and Triview District Manager Ron Simpson. It is simpler and cheaper to have Triview provide the water, rather than Forest Lakes, to the future water park site (on either side of Baptist) since Triview has existing infrastructure to the nearby King Soopers center. The town’s water supply system only extends to just south of the new Well 9 on Old Denver Highway.


Building permits way up: Glenn reported that in 2004, the number of building permits issued by Pikes Peak Regional Building, which extends outside of El Paso County, were up 1,200. He also said the number of building permits to be issued within El Paso County in 2005 is expected to go up 50 percent.

Growth studies: Plank reported that the growth studies for District 38 have been performed by a consulting group with an excellent track record for accuracy. The school district is hoping to have meetings with the surrounding districts and town to gain a consensus on their goals for the region, so that each entity can form more realistic and effective long-range plans. The district will pay for the future studies but needs better collaboration with the town, Palmer Lake, and Triview.

Lawsuits proceeding: Shupp noted that significant legal paperwork had been submitted regarding the Rockwell concrete batch plant and District 38 land dedication lawsuits that the town is involved with. He said these cases are moving forward.

BOA vacancy: The board agreed that the town would advertise in the paper for volunteers to fill a vacancy on the town’s Board of Adjustment. Likewise, signs may also be posted prominently at major intersections in town.

Snow shoveling not happening: Sonnenburg said the town has received several comments about residents not clearing their sidewalks of snow. He asked if the board wanted to supplement notices in the town newsletter with visits from a town official, probably a police officer, or send official letters to the individuals.

Plank asked if the job description for the new Public Works position included citations and enforcement, as she thought it would. Wall and Sonnenburg said there were unresolved issues about whether a civilian Public Works employee could give out citations. Drumm said police officers could ask residents to remove the snow, but does the board want them to start giving out citations? Orten suggested posting prominent signs at major intersections regarding snow removal. Sonnenburg noted that they cost about $60 each.

The board went into executive session to discuss "negotiations" at 8:06 p.m. No topic for the negotiations was given. The board later adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

The next BOT meeting was scheduled for Feb. 22. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 22: Board hears two pre-application presentations

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) discussed for a second time whether it is fair for businesses in the historical district to pay a traffic impact fee when they remodel or add on and commented on two proposed developments, both are combinations of residential and commercial. One proposal was to build about 150 homes and a commercial resort at the 66-acre Lake of the Rockies campground property southeast of Monument. The second proposal was condominiums and office-warehouse buildings on 10 acres on the east side of Beacon Lite Road, north of Wolf Court.

Trustees Frank Orten and Dave Mertz were absent.

Scheduled Guests

Freedom Week: The board unanimously approved a proclamation from the Monument Hill Sertoma declaring Feb. 14-21 as Freedom Week. Sertoma sponsors a number of patriotic events, including an essay competition by local eighth-graders on "What Freedom Means to Me." The best local essays are entered into a national competition. Sertoma representative Dick Cissell, said, "If you want to have tears in your eyes, read them."

Computer Security Upgrade: Treasurer Judy Skrzypek endorsed the recommendation of the town’s new computer consultant, Trusted Consulting Group, to upgrade security for the staff’s and police department’s computer networks at an additional cost of $473 per month. The board unanimously approved the increase. The board also approved a second $5,000 "block payment." This is the lowest service pre-payment amount for which Trusted Consulting Group gives a bonus of free additional future service. The 5 percent bonus for the $5,000 pre-payment is $250.

New restaurant asks for waiver of traffic impact fee

The Herb Bistro Garden is under construction in the new addition to the Gallery Center at Second Street and Beacon Lite Road. Richard Pankratz, owner of the Gallery Center, had questioned the fairness of the impact fee, which he must pay in order for the restaurant owners to be issued a liquor license.

Background: Trustees had been asked once before whether remodeling or expansion of existing businesses in the historical district should trigger a traffic impact fee. The impact fee ordinance was passed by the BOT in 2001. Toys 4 Fun owner Monika Marky protested the $3,000 impact fee in June 2004, saying her remodeling wouldn’t generate the extra traffic—and resulting road needs—that the fee was designed to pay for. Marky added that she had already paid $943 for a drainage impact fee. She said, "All of this is making it hard for business owners to succeed."

Marky’s fee was deferred by the board at that meeting, and the mayor asked the staff to investigate exemption of fees downtown or a different fee schedule for downtown businesses. However, the issue was not discussed again for eight months.

The traffic impact fee applies to new construction or expansion and is based on the Institute of Traffic Engineering standards for the number of vehicle trips generated. It is intended to help pay for major roadways. The staff does not have the discretion to change or waive the fee.

Discussion: In a fax to Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg, dated Feb. 18, 2005, consultant traffic engineer Neil Geitner presented additional data to update his original recommendation of July 20. The board had not discussed the issue since.

His fax provided figures for square foot waivers, based on 2004 traffic impact fees of $244,600. Trustees had discussed if it would be possible to exempt additions/remodels depending on their size. He calculated that if the first 500 square feet of an expansion were exempted from the fee, the town would have collected $229,200, a loss of 6.3 percent. He calculated that if the first 1,000 square feet of an expansion were exempted, the town’s loss would be $216,000 (11.7 percent loss). Geitner said an initial square foot waiver would have to apply equally everywhere in town, not just downtown, to withstand a lawsuit. He also noted that impact fees can only be waived entirely for low-income housing zones under Colorado law.

His recommendation was, "Based on the quick review of the 2004 history, the 1,000-square-foot exemption may be too large a change. A 500-square-foot exemption would result in a smaller cumulative fee reduction while granting some relief to smaller commercial projects."

He also recommended against having a separate fee structure for downtown, because it is too difficult to justify in court that the variations are valid for a town the size of Monument. He reviewed, then dismissed, several other commonly accepted methods for differentiating impact fees for the same reason.

Geitner attended the meeting to respond to questions concerning his written input. He said that changing the town’s fee structure would make a lot of work for the town’s attorney. Keeping them as simple as possible makes them more defensible.

Trustees Gail Drumm, Tommie Plank, and George Brown asked about how downtown retail businesses are differentiated. Geitner said the town’s ordinance differentiated retail as low or high traffic, with a threshold of 50 trips per day per 1,000 square feet. Restaurants are usually "high traffic." He also said several small expansions should be additive; if there were any square foot exemption, it would only apply to the first expansion.

Pankratz said the assessed traffic impact fee for his Gallery Center restaurant expansion was $4,572.48, which he said "seems to me to be awfully awfully high for 1,000 square feet considering that what we’re trying to do as a small mom-and-pop type of operation is revitalize the downtown area." He said businesses downtown "really do need some help."

Pankratz said he doesn’t believe there are any downtown businesses causing any traffic problem—"Retail is not the problem, rather people driving through downtown to go spend their money somewhere else." He asked the town for an outright waiver of the fee. He offered to pay his fee in the interim so that the restaurant owners could move forward while considering his request.

Town attorney Gary Shupp said, "I would strongly recommend that you not waive fees." He said that justifications for waivers are hard to make in court. He said that square-foot exemptions would not be as vulnerable to challenge in court.

Brown asked Pankratz if he agreed that the town had to collect revenue for road improvements. Pankratz said the share paid by retail was too high. He reiterated that there is no traffic problem. Brown said there could be no waivers for Pankratz or Marky. Plank noted that the downtown area was the only place where all of the 3 percent sales tax can be collected. Triview’s traffic impact fees in Jackson Creek are completely different.

Geitner then reiterated the need for the $8.2 million in projected roads has not decreased and that cuts for small downtown businesses would have to be offset by increases for other builders elsewhere in town. He said the fee structure is based entirely on the number of trips each building generates to be fair and defensible in court. Brown told Pankratz he would have to pay something. The board continued the issue to the March 21 meeting to ensure that all seven trustees could be present for the discussion along with Pankratz and Marky.

By consensus, the BOT let the restaurant owners move forward on their liquor license without requiring Pankratz to pay the traffic impact fee. The Herb Garden Bistro’s liquor license was conditionally approved pending a positive result from the routine background report on the owners by the FBI. Approval of the owners by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation had already been received.

Panel asks for guidance on new police building

Police Advisory Committee Chair John Stearns, member Rick Squires, and acting Monument chief Sgt. Rick Tudor asked the trustees again for guidance on how to proceed on land acquisition to begin the planning and construction of a new police department building. The recommended building size for a 20- to 30-year life span is 18,000 square feet, including a 4,000-square-foot multipurpose room for court hearings and training. The minimum lot size needed for this size building is 41,000 square feet.

Stearns emphasized that the designer must have experience in designing jails, courts, and police buildings to know what the unique security requirements would be. They estimated the cost of the building at about $3 million.

Stearns reviewed the pros and cons of sites in three areas. One site is 9.98 acres and located just north of the Safeway center ($300,000) on Highway 105. There are two possible locations within the Wahlborg addition (donated by the developer.) The developer has already donated a lot next to Highway 105, just east of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The committee is recommending the proposal of a swap of this lot for one at the southwest corner of Wahlborg, along Knollwood. The committee has also talked with Vision Development about purchasing a lot on Jackson Creek Parkway by the electrical substation ($300,000). Squires discussed the timeline required for a 24-month construction cycle. He also discussed how to save money by having the general contractor design and build electrical, water, and sewer systems.

Stearns asked if the board was ready to make a decision on the type of financing to propose to the voters for this project.

After a lengthy discussion, Mayor Byron Glenn said the BOT still could not give clear direction at this time. He said that Skrzypek needed to meet with the landowners to discuss lease-to-own options since the town does not have the money required for purchase at this time. Brown asked the committee to reconsider potential cost savings by having at least part of the building be two stories. No decision was made about the type of financing or layout of the structure or a possible election date for ballot issues.

Revised fee schedule

The board unanimously approved a resolution that corrected the inaccurate building permit fee schedule inadvertently sent to the town by Pikes Peak Area Council of Government’s Regional Building Department.

Car show approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution that would close a portion of Second Street, Washington Street, and Front Street from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 19, for a Tri-Lakes Cruisers Car Club auto show. The request is identical to that of the club’s last car show in the fall, which was held in the parking lot next to Rosie’s Diner. Dick Cissell said that show resulted in a donation of $3,500 to the building fund for Tri-Lakes Cares.

Payments over $5,000

The board unanimously approved a payment of $69,392.56 to Triview Metropolitan District for sales tax revenue collected by the state.

Lake of the Rockies plan goes before board again

Kim Catalano of Catalano-Way Group gave an update of his tentative plans to purchase the Lake of the Rockies campground on Mitchell Avenue. Catalano is exploring the possibility of building about 150 homes on the Lake of the Rockies property.

Catalano said he had discovered significant issues with the 18 larger building lots on the west side of the dam since there is no public access and a private road would have to connect with the Shiloh Pines development. Costs may be too high to develop a public road that might connect to Mt. Herman Road. Plans for building in that area are now on hold.

The mouse and floodplain constraints in the areas around the dam have changed the nature of the resort planning. Public trails and a nature education area may be feasible, but the golf course plan has been dropped.

The property has about 75 acre-feet of water. There are 137 lots now in the plan for immediate development. Glenn said that ordinarily each single-family equivalent home requires a half acre-foot so these lots would require 68.5 acre-feet. Catalano said that his plan for controlled irrigation would shave 30 percent off that requirement for each house, leaving 22.5 acre-feet available for the resort and its commercial components.

There was a lengthy discussion about controlling outside irrigation by having two separate meters for each home: one for the total water used and a second that measured the irrigation portion and that would be controlled by a homeowners association. Brown said the town would have no control over the HOA.

Catalano said he believes his plan would be a good test case for this innovative water conservation strategy through mandatory Xeriscaping. Several other trustees also expressed concern about the limited water for such a high-density plan.

Drumm noted that Catalano’s 7,000-square-foot lots were much smaller than the adjacent West Oak Ridge lots, which range from 10,000 to 18,000 square feet. Drumm also noted that the area was zoned downtown commercial and required rezoning. He said the proposed development did not have a welcoming feel that would draw people from other areas through the historic area and out to the lake. He recommended a redesign using the "new urban style," where houses would face the lake with garages and streets in the rear.

Catalano said he was confused, and he thought his proposal for a resort fit within the zoning and comprehensive plan goals. Without a resort and commercial buildings, he said the parcel would have to have more than 150 lots, many patio-home style, to break even. Drumm said that patio homes are not selling on the west side of Interstate 25.

Catalano also said he was trying to find a concept that would draw people to the development and that it was a challenge since so much of the campground property was unusable. He said that patio homes with a nearby personal care facility, or hotel suite, within a resort would be something older people who are looking to downsize their house and yards would find attractive.

Trustee Scott Meszaros said he was concerned about adding so many houses, given the problems that are created at the railroad track crossing on Second Street. Catalano replied he thought that the proposed connection of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road had been approved. Resident Sam DeFelice proposed that alternative emergency access could be built from northern Mitchell Avenue to Highway 105 on the west side of the railroad tracks or through Forest Lakes.

Catalano concluded by saying that without 150 lots and "with the problems the board was having with his water plan," it was not likely that the parcel could be developed profitably and that he might "have to walk away from it." He added that he had planned to purchase the property about 15 minutes after this meeting ended, but would have to reconsider. He expressed concern over the many problems with the property, a lake without water, and competing with the patio homes being built on the Wahlborg property.

Glenn suggested that Catalano improve his water plan, review traffic needs, and consider adjusting his lot density next to West Oak Ridge. Drumm reiterated the need to look at "new urban styles," like the new homes on Montana Vista Lane facing the Santa Fe Trail.

Condominium, office plan before board again

Developer Jerry Hannigan, accompanied by property owner Don Katanic, of Cinatak Construction, LLC, gave a similar presentation to the one Hannigan gave to the Planning Commission on Feb. 16 to build about 116 condominiums and two office-warehouse buildings north of Wolf Court on Beacon Lite Road. The proposed name of the development is Village Condominiums of Monument. Hannigan also acknowledged the shortage of water on this parcel, 28 acre-feet for the high density.

Katanic said the condos would range in price from $75,000 to $180,000, and his proposed building plans have been successful on his properties in other states. Hannigan said the owner was also open to having the parcel be entirely residential.

Glenn noted that the 20-unit apartment buildings were oriented "perpendicular to the natural slope" of the parcel, which would create some significant grading issues on the lot. He also questioned the heavy truck traffic for the office-warehouses next to high-density residential; "not a good combined use." He suggested small retail community shops along the Beacon Lite frontage instead. Brown agreed and said that the development would require a traffic light at Beacon Lite and Highway 105. Glenn noted that the town’s subdivision regulations would be substantially revised soon.


School District 38: Glenn announced he and Plank would attend a meeting with D-38 representatives at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 for long-range planning in the area.

Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority update: In order to accelerate Baptist Road projects and complete the I-25 bridge at Baptist Road, the Pikes Peak RTA members would have to agree to defer improvements on Highway 24 west of Manitou Springs. Commercial developers would have to add a 1 percent "improvement fee" through an "RTA for the I-25 bridge." Home Depot and Wal-Mart would have to agree to the fee, which may be unlikely. Glenn said, "It’s getting a little depressing." He added that without that bridge, the town may "have to think seriously about a potential slowdown" in commercial development, "so we’re going to have a hard decision ahead of us."

Subdivision regulations: Glenn said the new town planner, Catherine Green, will be working on new subdivision ordinances, a new planning fee schedule, and new landscape ordinances for Xeriscaping. Shupp said that the town had revised the regulations to allow for less water for multi-family housing, but that change would not apply to Catalano’s single-family house proposal.

Shupp added that Catalano’s development "will not fly" unless the BOT significantly changed the ordinances, "a significant change in policy." He also said that the BOT approves a proposal as a total package, then holds the developer to meet the agreed proposal. Plank then advocated asking Catalano to put in more small resort commercial businesses around the lake "in the package" to make the development more inviting as a "destination." She suggested an ice cream shop and a bicycle rental store to encourage rides around the lake and downtown. There was general agreement from other board members.

Water: Glenn reported on the creation of a Front Range Water Conservancy to give area governments a stronger lobbying position in competing for water. He will be working with Palmer Divide Water Group consultant Gary Barber and the wastewater treatment facilities on how to best convince the city of Colorado Springs to allow the town to refill the lake.

Town Manager: Sonnenburg reported that the re-application for a GOCO grant for restrooms and a water fountain in Limbach Park would be made this fall. The new planning department fee schedule is being finalized to better reflect the amount of time the planning staff spends on each application.

Planning Department monthly report: The staff approved commercial land-use permits for three businesses in Monument Marketplace: Big City Burritos, Super Cuts, and Rhino Videos. The staff also approved a business license for Palmer Lake Motors to take over the vacant Burger King building. The Planning Commission and Parks and Landscape Committee will hear an application for Jackson Creek Market Village, just east of King Soopers, in March. Planning Assistant Jennifer Rieger will be resigning her position on March 2 to take another job.

The board adjourned at 9:15 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on March 7 at Town Hall, 166 Second St.

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Monument Planning Commission, Feb. 9: Plan presented for converting campground

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission (PC) heard a pre-application presentation for a concept called Village Condominiums at Monument, between Beacon Lite Road and I-25 near the weigh stations. Also, Kim Catalano, developer of the recently annexed Trails End subdivision, gave a second pre-application presentation for a new development next to Monument Lake. The posted hearing for the Jackson Creek Market Village Preliminary Plat, Final Plat, and Final PD Site Plan was unanimously continued until March 9.

In addition, a standing-room-only audience had come to the meeting for a different pre-application presentation—only to discover it was not on the agenda. However, during a public comment period at the end of the meeting, homeowner association representatives and citizens from Higby Estates and Woodmoor weighed in on the sale of the 440-acre Sally Beck property to developer Dale Turner.

Election of officers

Former PC chair Lowell Morgan presided at the opening of the session—an ironic start, considering he was voted off the commission and then elected as the alternate at the Jan. 18 Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting. Because two commissioners were absent for this meeting, he was a voting member.

The commission unanimously elected, with 6-0 votes, a new chair and vice-chair. Incumbent Commissioner Ed Delaney, who was absent, was elected chair, and incumbent Commissioner Kathy Spence was elected vice-chair. The former alternate, and newly elected commissioner Tim Davis was the other commissioner who was absent. Spence took over from Morgan and presided for the rest of the evening.

Village Condominiums of Monument pre-application

Jerry Hannigan, of Monument developer Hannigan and Associates, gave a pre-application presentation for their 10-acre parcel north of Wolf Business Park. This type of presentation to the PC and BOT gives a developer a chance to discuss plans and make adjustments before spending substantial amounts of money on engineering design.

Hannigan’s proposal would require a change in the parcel’s zoning from its existing planned commercial development (PCD) designation to planned residential development (PRD), to allow construction of 116 residential units in buildings with up to 20 condo units as well as 19,000 square feet of intermingled office/warehouse buildings.

The town’s revised comprehensive plan designates this parcel a "small office/warehousing" area and specifies a desire that development be clustered, small scale, and under 25 feet in height to preserve the I-25 view corridor. The town would provide water service and Monument Sanitation District would provide sewer. Hannigan’s presentation included eight pages of photographs of the three proposed building styles and a one-page narrative of the proposal.

Hannigan’s project narrative: The project will require 46.5 acre-feet of water per year—43.5 acre-feet for the residential units, 1 acre-foot for the office-warehouse buildings, and 2 acre-feet for landscape irrigation. The total available under the 10 acres is approximately 15 acre-feet (per year), resulting in a shortfall of 31.5 acre-feet (per year).

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation would make up the difference through an agreement the contract owner currently has with them. Surface drainage would be directed to a shallow detention area before being discharged into a detention pond south of Wolf Business Park.

The sketch plan calls for four rows of buildings, with each row aligned east to west. Two 20-unit buildings would be along the north and south boundaries of the property. Between these buildings are two rows of three six-unit residential buildings (next to Beacon Lite) and an office-warehouse building between them and I-25 that would provide a buffer from the noise for the smaller residential buildings.

Discussion: Hannigan said his main goal was to provide affordable housing since the planned adjacent Zonta and existing Wakonda Hills developments are residential 1-acre lots. He acknowledged that the zoned use is commercial and there is a substantial shortfall of available water for the requested increase in density. But he said condo units are "needed in town, salable in town, and fit in."

Morgan told Hannigan that he appreciated the water planning he had already done.

Hannigan also noted that the residential buildings would be separated from the larger 20-unit buildings by the office warehouse structures. He added that his parcel is separated from the existing RV storage area by another 5-acre parcel. Morgan expressed concern that the wall and berm at the I-25 southbound weigh station would not provide a useful sound barrier.

Spence said the parcel was too close to I-25 noise to be acceptable for homes. She said that although there is a mobile home park on the east side of Beacon Lite, no permanent residences have been allowed in this strip.

Commissioner John Kortgardner expressed his concern regarding the property’s single entrance that would be used by 116 residential units and several businesses. He was also concerned about the available turning radius from Beacon Lite Road for the largest trucks, with relatively narrow entry/exit lanes separated by a median.

Hannigan said that the commercial traffic would not peak until after people had left for work or school. He added that he could not rule out occasional 18-wheeler traffic to the warehouse businesses, but knew that he would have to build acceleration/deceleration lanes on Beacon Lite.

Kortgardner also expressed a desire for sufficient landscaping to provide a visual buffer along Beacon Lite. He asked if there would be a clubhouse or other amenities in the development. Hannigan said "not yet."

Kortgardner said that at least some of the condo units would house families with kids. "Where would they play?" he asked. Hannigan said there are no plans for a playground and that all of Kortgardner’s suggestions would force the price of each unit to increase. He added that the office-warehouses would be a better buffer than a clubhouse.

Hannigan, who lives in Wakonda Hills, noted that he had not taken a survey of residents near the proposed development but said, "The impression I get from my neighbors, is that as long as the quality is there, there is not much concern about office-warehouses versus low-cost residential." His neighbors don’t want the existing propane tank and RV business to expand southward.

Commissioner Travis Easton—who is a civil engineer for Nolte and Associates, the engineering consultant firm for the Triview Metropolitan District and the Timbers development—expressed his concerns about traffic backups at the entrance, particularly 18-wheelers. He asked Hannigan for details on the rebuilt detention pond. Hannigan said it had been sized to handle all the drainage flow from upstream lots.

Kortgardner said that this proposal was better than large warehouses, propane tanks, and RV storage. He also asked if there was a particular economic reason for proposing office-warehouses. Hannigan said that he had included office-warehouses because that is what the comprehensive plan called for. The proposed addition of residential units was in response to repeated comments by town officials that there should be some affordable housing in the area for police and school teachers who work in Monument.

Morgan responded by saying that made it a good plan, but there wasn’t enough water. He added that the comprehensive plan’s concern about interstate noise was inconsistent because there has been little concern expressed by town officials regarding noise in approving a number of other new subdivisions that are adjacent to the railroad tracks.

Spence then told Hannigan that the revised comprehensive plan called for upscale facades with stone and wood for the office-warehouses. She also reiterated that those who had developed the plan believed that residential buildings in this location would be too close to I-25. She added that the lack of open space or play areas in his proposed sketch plan would inevitably lead to the condo units turning into primarily rental property that would not be kept up.

Hannigan summed up by saying he had concluded that most of the commissioners were hoping for a use other than residential and thanked them for their input.

Lake of the Rockies pre-application

The Catalano Way Group gave a pre-application presentation of a sketch plan for a residential and resort development on the 66-acre Mitchell Avenue campground. The sketch plan called for 2.2 acres for the hotel/conference facility, 18 "premium lots" (about 10,500 square feet), 102 "standard lots" (about 7,040 square feet), and 30 "patio home lots" (about 3,500 square feet).

Although the property is zoned commercial, Catalano proposed no specific zoning change to allow residential homes to be built. Types of homes would range from small lot to large lot single-family houses, plus patio homes. The planned community would also have a hotel and other resort amenities. He said he would expect that, at a minimum, tennis courts and putting greens, among other resort amenities, would be available to all residents for an annual or one-time fee schedule established by the HOA.

The sketch plan was incomplete on specific building locations. However, the plan to build a nine-hole golf course on the southwest corner of the parcel has been dropped due to floodplain, wetland, mouse, and drainage issues, following discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Catalano estimated that 10 to 14 acres would be set aside as "open space" to meet 100-year flood plain requirements. The existing fenced "mouse highway," constructed after the dam was repaired, runs from below the dam to the wetlands to the north of the property and is still required by Fish and Wildlife at this time.

Discussion: Morgan confirmed that the north boundary of the property was next to the narrow dirt park lane, which is currently the only Monument Lake public access, and that the sketch plan included trails. Catalano said he would work with the town to improve the adjacent dirt road if possible and that more trails could be built within the property once they have a more definitive ruling from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Morgan asked if the lots next to West Oak Ridge subdivision would be similar in size to those of the adjacent existing homeowners (about 7,000 square feet), and he said yes.

Morgan pointed out that the parcel is zoned for commercial use, which would require rezoning to residential use, and that it was also part of the "downtown" area set aside by the comprehensive plan. Morgan said Catalano’s plan for the parcel was the best one he’d seen in the past seven or eight years. Spence added that she was glad there would be overflow parking for the beach area.

Catalano said he might be able to include a restaurant, bed and breakfast, and 200-seat meeting room, though no plans are firm at this time. He currently projects about 150 investment residential units at the resort, at a cost of about $30,000 to $40,000 each.

The density of the proposal exceeds the available water under the property. Catalano has changed the proposal to include more residences where the land is owned in common by a homeowners association, which would be better able to limit the amount of water used for irrigation. The smaller lot sizes would likely attract purchasers who are not interested in maintaining a yard.

Covenants would restrict landscaping to Xeriscape only for the most part. There would be two water meters for each residence, one for total use and a second for the amount used for irrigation. Catalano characterized these rules as a "test case" on what dispensation or waivers the town would give in the downtown area for a developer’s water conservation efforts.

Requiring that all front yards be held in common and maintained by the HOA and preventing homeowner access to the water meters should help minimize the amount of irrigation water used by the development. Catalano noted, "You can go broke paying for water lawyers."

The developer said there were still some significant drainage engineering issues to be worked out. Easton asked if lift stations would be required for sewers. Catalano said no, that he might arrange for service by the Monument Sanitation District and the Palmer Lake Sanitation district.

There is an existing Palmer Lake line that runs along the lake shoreline and the west side of the ridge line above it by the dam. This sewer collection line could serve the 18 larger lots at the far southwest corner of the parcel that are isolated from the other lots by steeply sloped terrain. A lift station might be required to connect these large lots to the rest of the area if it were served by Monument Sanitation District. Conversely, it would be difficult or expensive to have the whole parcel served by Palmer Lake and might also require a lift station.

Public comment focused on the Beck property

Residents from Higby Estates and Woodmoor asked several questions about the proposed Home Place Ranch development and offered some comments about what the town should do if the parcel is annexed by Monument.

Larry Smith spoke for the Higby Estates residents, saying he was concerned about the negative effect of up to 1,200 homes on their wells, property values, and commute on Higby Road. Morgan replied that developer Dale Turner had only given a very brief overview of his intentions to the Planning Commission and the BOT in January, and that there was no formal proposal or details for either group to analyze. Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg said the BOT comments had focused primarily on water and traffic.

Morgan then described the town’s review process for annexation, rezoning, and plat approval, noting that there would likely be posted and advertised hearings by the Parks and Landscape Committee, Public Works Committee, and the PC. The BOT would use the advice from those meetings at its hearings.

Sonnenburg confirmed that if the parcel is not annexed, it could be developed under county review. Town Attorney Gary Shupp stated that in either case, there would be posted notices on the property along Higby Road, and hearings would be advertised in the paper and around town. Sonnenburg said he would notify both communities’ HOAs of all related Beck property agenda items if they would provide the planning department with e-mail addresses.

Former WIA president Susan Cooley said the situation was "scary" due to the lack of "public notice." Kortgardner said the presentation was only preliminary, just like the two pre-application presentations already heard at the meeting. Morgan said that while the very sketchy presentation looks okay in terms of compliance with town and county standards, there are significant questions as to why the town would even consider annexation, since a predominantly residential annexation is a money-losing proposition, when the services required are weighed against the property taxes collected over the long term.

Morgan also noted that the Triview Metropolitan District or the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District would be holding an inclusion hearing, since Turner had begun negotiations with both special districts for water and sewer service to the parcel.

Morgan noted that the development would probably have at least 600 children at build-out, well above the 350 required to have a dedicated elementary school. He said the developer had indicated that the planned community commercial shopping area would probably be in the interior of the development, rather than fronting Higby.

Kortgardner noted that there was no traffic study yet. Several Woodmoor residents expressed concern about additional traffic on Higby Road and interior Woodmoor streets from Lewis-Palmer High School automobile trips.

One county resident expressed astonishment that there is no left turn lane from westbound Higby onto southbound Jackson Creek, encouraging drivers to run red lights at peak traffic periods. Morgan noted that while he is equally dismayed, Higby is a county road, and that residents need to direct their concerns to Commissioner Wayne Williams and the county’s Department of Transportation.


Spence asked if the town had followed through on her request for passage of a "No overnight parking" ordinance, which would prevent such parking at the Monument Marketplace Wal-Mart as well as at the closed Rite-Aid drugstore on Highway 105. Sonnenburg said he had researched it, but it would have to be discussed by the Planning Commission in March before the BOT would consider it for enactment.

Kortgardner volunteered to fill the Planning Commission member position on the town’s Board of Adjustment. The commission unanimously approved his nomination.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 9 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Commission meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Monument Sanitation District, Feb. 15: Board plans for additional infrastructure

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Sanitation District Board discussed a new building, a new collection system addition, and taking over an existing private collector line on Feb. 15. Options for completion of the collection lines in Wakonda Hills were also discussed. All members of the board were present.

The treasurer’s report noted that two tap fees have been collected so far this year, totaling $14,240.

Accountant selected

Ray Russell, a CPA from Denver, met with the board to offer accounting services. The current accountant and budget officer, Barb Glab, wants to retire. He said that Mason, Russell, and West, LLC, provides a wide range of services, from bookkeeping to complete district management, for 30 to 40 special districts in Colorado each year. Russell agreed to become the district’s budget officer as well.

The cost of the service would remain the same, about $6,000 annually. Russell said he would draft an engagement-of-services letter, which would be an open-ended, month-to-month agreement. The board approved his proposal unanimously.

JUC items

Chairman Lowell Morgan said there was little to report from the previous evening’s meeting, noting that Mark Ennis’s firm, Access Construction, had been awarded the contract. Treasurer Ed Delaney said the projected contract amount of about $407,000 had risen to $440,000, as expected. He noted that the board had already approved the $10,000 appropriation increase required from MSD and the other two owning districts, Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

Zonta discussions to resume

District Manager Mike Wicklund told the board he had talked with the Zonta parcel developer, Ken Barber, that afternoon. Wicklund said they agreed to schedule another working meeting between Zonta, MSD, and the town to re-start discussions on preliminary development plans and annexation of this property.

The 99-acre parcel, zoned RR3 (rural undeveloped), is between Beacon Lite Road and the Santa Fe Trail, south of Wakonda Hills. The southern 14 acres are already inside the town limit. The Barbers are asking that the remaining northern 85 acres be annexed by Monument. Their development sketch plan proposes that 85 single-family homes will be built on the 85 acres, to be re-zoned PRD or R1, and that 48 townhouses will be built on the 14 acres, to be re-zoned PRD or R3.

Background: The district previously asked the Barbers to determine where the roads would be when their parcel is developed, so that the district’s sewer collectors could be installed underneath them. Wicklund said the talks between Zonta and the town broke down last May when Monument’s Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall and former Town Planner Mike Davenport told Zonta owners Ken and Doug Barber that they would have to build a new well, water treatment facility, and storage tanks, in addition to the normal service lines to support their 133-home development. This extra infrastructure was estimated by Wall to cost the Barbers about $2 million.

Wicklund said that Davenport may not have known that high capacity water storage and service lines that would serve the Zonta parcel are already in place along Beacon Lite and already supply water to and from the town’s storage tanks above Wakonda Hills to the north. Wall knew these town water lines were already there, yet his May memos to the Planning Commission (PC) and the Board of Trustees (BOT) regarding the Zonta pre-application clearly stated that $2 million in additional infrastructure would be required if the northern 85 acres were annexed.

There was some question as to whether the BOT had understood Wall’s memo. However, Morgan, who was chair of the PC for that May hearing, said there was no ambiguity in the memo: It clearly required a $2 million payment if the Barbers were to connect to the town’s water system—and only permitted connection for the 85 acres if that portion were annexed.

The Barbers discontinued discussions with the town after noting that no other developer that had applied for annexation recently had been required to build that much infrastructure for the town’s water system at such a high cost. Furthermore, since the lot sizes are about 1 acre, each proposed new home in the county portion of the parcel could have its own well, if annexation is denied. Sewer would be provided to Zonta by MSD, regardless of the outcome of the annexation request.

Wicklund said the Barbers were surprised that the town would turn them away when annexation would net Monument a surplus of up to 60 acre-feet of water. The Zonta parcel’s water from all four Denver basin aquifers has already been adjudicated in water court. Wicklund added that the town has little surplus water remaining even after spending $1.5 million on well 9 next to Trails End.

The town required no similar infrastructure payments from the Trails End developer, Catalano-Way Group, even though that development will use much of this well’s new production. Wicklund also noted that the town would collect a lot of money for the 133 additional water taps.

Benefit to Wakonda Hills still sought: The Barbers and the district are once again proposing that the town review the long-range Zonta development plans. The district wants to extend sewer mains across the parcel to the southern boundary of Wakonda Hills by the end of 2005. Currently, about two-thirds of Wakonda Hills homes still use their individual septic systems, which were grandfathered on their 1-acre lots when the county increased the minimum lot size for septic to 2.5 acres. The other Wakonda Hills residents have already petitioned for inclusion into the district and are connected to the existing Beacon Lite collector.

There is a potential problem with failing septic systems there, which will not improve because of the layers of clay in the ground that are exposed by the sloping terrain. If an individual system fails, the overflow can contaminate many nearby wells over time. The county requirement of 2.5-acre minimum for septic systems was put into place years after Wakonda Hills was platted.

The slope of the land in western Wakonda Hills does not allow those homes to be connected by gravity flow to the district’s Beacon Lite 12-inch collector line. The district would like to be able to connect these western homes to their system through the proposed Zonta collector lines. Otherwise, a third lift station would need to be built. This alternative would result in a larger district loss on the Wakonda Hills project, short-term and long-term.

Once all the district’s collectors are installed in Wakonda Hills, MSD can offer remaining residents the option to voluntarily connect to the sewer system immediately or at a time of their choosing in the future. The tap fees from Wakonda Hills and Zonta residents would just about pay for the entire system.

The Barbers are not planning to build on the Zonta parcel immediately. They are just agreeing with MSD on the location of the sewer lines and streets now, so that MSD can immediately benefit by connecting the rest of Wakonda Hills to the Zonta collection lines instead of the costlier connection to the Beacon Lite lines. The Barbers would later build their streets over these already-installed MSD collection lines, locking them in to those street locations.

If the Zonta development is built as currently proposed, MSD would eventually collect about $800,000 in sewer tap fees from Zonta residents. The town would collect much more than that, about $1.2 million in water tap fees from Zonta residents. If the town approves the sketch plan and annexation, construction would begin soon.

Wicklund said construction through the Zonta property would begin as soon as easements can be obtained. He said he hoped to have the Zonta easements in hand by the next MSD board meeting on March 15. He said the extra cost of the longer collector lines through Zonta are more than offset by the costs that would be incurred if an additional lift station had to be built.

Trails End update

Construction of 8-inch collector lines just inside the development’s boundary with the Village at Monument is proceeding on schedule. MSD is inspecting daily to monitor installation methods and materials. Wicklund noted that the installation company is a longtime builder in this area.

District may take over Raspberry Point collection line

The board agreed to take over ownership of the 6-inch private collection line that runs through the backyards of many of the townhouses if easements can be obtained. This subdivision has had a complicated history regarding rear property lines and gravity and lift station connections to the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation District systems.

Wicklund proposed that the district absorb the $30,000 cost of providing 11 manholes and new connections to meet current codes, even though the district has only taken over collection lines that are 8 inches or larger in the past. He said this policy decision would avoid future time-consuming disputes over whether a sewer backup was caused by a blockage in the district’s sewer line in front of an affected home or by the owners’ private sewer line behind the home.

He added that the private 6-inch line has been particularly vulnerable to tree root infiltration recently.

Board member Jeremy Diggins agreed with Wicklund. Morgan concurred, adding, "This is what a sewer district does." Although previous boards had rejected Wicklund’s proposal, this board—after lengthy discussion—unanimously approved his recommendation. Wicklund will assure the private sewer line is in satisfactory condition with a TV camera inspection of the entire length and obtain required easements before the district begins construction and takes possession.

New Domino’s says it’s only a bakery

The board rejected the soon-to-be-built Domino’s request for a "bakery" waiver on the construction of an external grease interceptor that is required of all restaurants by district regulations. The pizza restaurant will be just west of the former Burger King building on Highway 105. Wicklund told the board that Burger King, Taco Bell, and Rosie’s Diner are all required to have a grease interceptor and 6-inch line as well.

Meeting with the mayor

Wicklund reported that he and Morgan had met with Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Tommie Plank to provide them with additional information that would further clarify why MSD had taken positions that Glenn had not agreed with.

Wicklund said he and Morgan had reiterated that it was in the MSD constituents’ best interest that all the board members be electors within the district. If the town were to take over MSD after a dissolution, and Jackson Creek continues to grow as projected, it is conceivable that there will be a time in the near future when no member of the BOT would live within the MSD district. Unlike the town’s water system, which lies entirely within the town’s boundary, a substantial part of MSD is not part of Monument.

There are also substantially different policies regarding the use of property taxes, franchise fees, and contractors versus paid staff for maintenance and construction. The town charges a franchise fee to residents who use town water that is transferred to the general fund, but does not do so to water users in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District or the Triview Metropolitan District.

Wicklund listed numerous other differing policies, conventions, and restrictions that were discussed. Both sides agreed to meet again soon to discuss overlapping issues.

After some discussion, the board decided against offering any pre-payment discounts or an option to pay by credit card or computer at this time. The board also briefly discussed how sewer service might be provided to the Lake of the Rockies campground if the owner sought inclusion into the district.

The board adjourned at 8:38 p.m. The next board meeting will be held on March 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the District Office at 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 8: District prepares for busy building season

By Sue Wielgopolan

At their meeting on Jan. 8, the board of directors listened to reports on the progress of numerous projects as contractors working in the district gear up for the coming building season. Woodmoor continues to move forward with its own projects, including the Bowstring sewer replacement, the new water station, and the new Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) lab, to be built jointly with Monument and Palmer Lake. Members also discussed the purchase of new billing software and the possibility of meter replacement in the near future.

Joint Use Committee report

Vice-President Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s representative to the Joint Use Committee (JUC), reported on the JUC’s recent activities. The JUC held a special meeting to review the bids of three pre-approved contractors, and recommended that Access Construction build the new lab facility. Nasser characterized the builder’s construction schedule as "very aggressive," with plans to complete the building in 3½ months once ground is broken.

District Manager Phil Steininger asked the board to authorize President Jim Taylor to sign the contract once it had been approved by the other two participating entities, Monument Water and Sanitation and Palmer Lake Sanitation. The board approved the authorization.

Steininger also wanted the board to allocate funds of approximately $10,000 to cover Woodmoor’s share of the lab budget shortfall. Approval is being withheld, however, until the precise dollar amount needed is determined.

Water legislation update

Steininger informed the board that he would brief them regularly on proposed water legislation. Although Pat Ratliff, lobbyist for the Water Authority, supplies Woodmoor with written updates, much of it is not geographically specific. Steininger will address those issues directly affecting the Woodmoor district.

This month, he provided a summary of the following five pieces of legislation that he considered pertinent to the district’s activities: (HB stands for house bill, SB for senate bill, and 05 is the year the bill is introduced.)

HB05-1156: If passed, this bill would make local water districts responsible for informing all parties that could possibly be affected (such as businesses, governmental agencies, other states, as well as private individuals) by any permits for which they had applied. The state previously had this responsibility.

Steininger pointed out to members that though the bill sounds simple enough on the surface, local districts usually have neither the staff nor the knowledge base to determine who could be affected. For example, sinking a well into one of the deep aquifers could affect states downstream in the Arkansas Basin—conceivably as far away as Louisiana.

Erin Smith, the Woodmoor district’s attorney, expressed the opinion that it was probably a cost-shifting measure, intended to pare expenses from the overburdened state budget. Steininger said small water districts could be significantly impacted by having to commit scarce resources to hire consultants to determine who legally needs to be informed. It could also have significant legal ramifications, possibly opening up the districts to lawsuits.

HB05-1177: This bill would create a 25-member committee to discuss and resolve issues among water districts. A basin roundtable forum had been recommended in the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. A process to formulate water projects and obtain funding already exists. The committee’s decisions won’t be binding, but the goal is cooperation among districts.

HB05-1181: Presently, the nine district court judges who serve primarily as water judges only have jurisdiction in dealing with water rights. This bill would expand their powers to also consider issues of water quality. Steininger voiced the opinion that although these judges are well-versed in the intricacies of Colorado Water Law, becoming proficient in understanding water quality issues would add another long and complicated education period.

SB05-045: This bill would authorize limited recreation powers to water districts on reservoirs they own and maintain, and would prohibit other groups from providing recreational services without the express permission of the water and sanitation district involved. The bill would only apply to reservoirs whose use is not currently administered by another agency.

At present, only state, county, and city park and recreation departments may regulate use and collect recreation fees on waters owned by public entities, regardless of which entity actually owns the reservoir.

This particular piece of legislation was initiated in response to protests to the current rules by Frank Jaeger of the Parker Water and Sanitation District. He feels that because his district is bearing the costs of the Reuder/Hess reservoir, it should retain any recreational revenues from public use.

SB05-083: This bill, a resurrected version of a similar bill previously proposed in 2004 by State Senator Jim Dyer creates a south metro water conservation district. The initial bill encompassed regions south of the Denver metro area and included northern El Paso County; the current bill does not.

Steininger said that according to State Senator Tom Wiens (representative for El Paso, Teller, Park, Lake and parts of Douglas counties), the scope of the district was reduced in order to appease Western Slope legislators, who feared that too large a district would carry a disproportionate amount of influence. Also, Colorado Front Range senators feared that a conservation district covering too large and diverse an area would encompass different basins that might have conflicting interests. In that case, intra-district squabbling could render the agency divided and therefore ineffectual.

Contractor damages sewer line

Steininger reported that Lawrence Construction, while working on the interstate project this past fall, inadvertently tore the north outfall sewer line. Rather than report the mishap immediately to Woodmoor, the contractor instead covered the line. A significant increase in suspended solids to the Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) from Woodmoor’s lines led to investigation of the cause.

The discovery of the tear two weeks after the incident resulted in a repair, but not before an appreciable amount of gravel had washed into the line. The sewer line had to be cleaned from the break point to the plant. So far, costs incurred for gravel removal from the sewer pipe by a private contractor and removal by staff at the treatment facility have totaled roughly $10,000.

Normally 53 percent to 56 percent of the total amount of suspended solids coming into the shared WWTF is attributed to Woodmoor; the sewer line breach resulted in Woodmoor’s share increasing to roughly 70 percent.

Steininger estimates that additional costs for removal of solids from the sludge lagoon and the increased share of suspended solids charged to Woodmoor could bring the total cost to between $50,000 and $60,000, which Lawrence Construction has agreed to pay. Fortunately, the break and resulting influx of foreign material did not cause permanent damage.

Water station planning continues

Planning for the contractor water station to be built off Highway 105 continues. Jesse Shaffer, district engineer, is currently working on the design. The owners of the site and the Village at Woodmoor, WED Development, want to begin work in June or July.

Steininger asked Smith whether the Woodmoor district must obtain approval for the station from the Town of Monument. She replied that although land-use issues were historically local, she would need to investigate this particular case and possibly discuss her findings in executive session at a later date. Steininger stated that regardless of the legalities, Woodmoor wants the station to look good and for the town to be satisfied with its appearance.

Operations update

Wells 8 and 17 are out of service. Pumping at Well 17 was discontinued because of declining yield; the pump is scheduled to be pulled February. Well 8 is waiting for testing.

Development updates

Village Center: Richmond Homes, the primary builder at the Village Center at Woodmoor (formerly known as the Wahlborg property), held a pre-construction meeting in February. They intend to begin construction of the "wet" utilities in Phase I on Feb. 14. Richmond will be doing all construction work, including infrastructure and high-density housing, and expects to break ground for homes in June.

Walters property: Steininger reported on the status of the Walters development, which Pulte Homes is building. He said the sewer lines have been installed, and work on the water lines is expected to begin in two weeks. James Whitelaw, the new board member who replaced Dick Durham, asked whether Woodmoor’s engineers were monitoring sewer line installation to ensure that future settling would not become an issue. Steininger replied that any major settling would be obvious within the first year, and that the district is using video inspection to spot sags or horizontal alignment problems. The district routinely uses air pressure to test the lines for leaks and mandrel testing to assure proper horizontal alignment.

Misty Acres: Talks continue with Sam Schoninger, owner of Misty Acres. The subdivision is located near County Line and Monument Hill Roads. The contractor’s entitlements expire in June if they haven’t shown work by that date. Plans for the development include multi-family and single-family homes, as well as some small commercial buildings. The group has purchased additional water from Woodmoor to cover their anticipated needs. Schoninger wants to have the infrastructure in place by the end of 2005 and plans to begin building in 2006.

Brookmoor project: The remaining 29 lots in the Brookmoor project have been sold. The area is located behind the Amoco station east of Woodmoor Drive. Development had previously stalled, due to lake overflow and storm runoff issues below the Woodmoor Lake spillway. The new owner has taken steps to remedy the problem and will start building homes by the end of 2005.

Bowstring sewer replacement will begin soon

Plans for the Bowstring sewer replacement are almost complete. Shaffer intends to deliver traffic pattern plans to the Colorado Department of Transportation this month. The district will accept contractor bids for the project through Feb. 25. Shaffer expects to review the bids and be able to make a recommendation to the board at the next meeting.

Steininger stated that a maximum of $400,000 had been budgeted to cover the Bowstring replacement project. He then asked the board whether they wanted to authorize Taylor to individually select the winning bid as long as the cost was under $400,000,, or whether members would rather review bids during a meeting. Members expressed the desire to award the bid in a special meeting.

In the interest of expediting the contract, the board decided to cancel its regular meeting scheduled for March 8 and meet March 2 for a special session. (Note: The board later decided to reinstate the original meeting date of March 8.)

Effluent water sale authorized

The Woodmoor district is allowed to pull the same volume of water from Dirty Woman Creek as they are releasing as effluent from the Tri-Lakes WWTF. This is known as exchange water. Prior to 2003, Woodmoor had no way to take advantage of exchange water and sold its effluent water to the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association (CWPDA). But since April 2003, the district has been able to capture and store nonpotable water in Lake Woodmoor, greatly reducing the amount of effluent water available for sale.

The CWPDA wants to renew its contract with the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District to purchase excess effluent water. Last year, CWPDA purchased 67 acre-feet of water at a cost of $10/acre-foot. It is to the district’s advantage to use its exchange water; only the amount that it is unable to use will be available to the agency. Members of the board unanimously authorized Taylor to sign a one-year contract with CWPDA.

Landscaping standards discussed

Discussion turned to water conservation in the district and how active a role the district wishes to play. Woodmoor has passively encouraged water conservation in the past by providing price breaks to low-usage consumers, offering free literature on water conservation and sponsoring Xeriscape demonstrations. The district has not specified irrigation type, prohibited water-intensive vegetation, or set limits on the square footage that can be watered.

In response to a builder’s inquiries, Steininger asked the board whether the district wishes to establish landscaping standards for developers to help reduce water usage. Because of the volume of new homes and common spaces characteristic of new developments, he feels that if Woodmoor wishes to place landscaping restrictions on builders and homeowners, now is the time.

The issue brought about animated discussion. Board member James Whitelaw, who brings experience from more populous states, voiced the opinion that Xeriscape is "the future." Smith expressed the concern that any guidelines would raise legal issues.

Steininger sees the need to protect water resources, but doesn’t want the district to become "grass police." He also pointed out that although they could place restrictions on builders for common spaces, such as greenbelts and entrance sign areas, the district did not have the authority to restrict the choices of individual homeowners. Homes comprise the largest percentage of irrigated spaces.

Mike Rothberg, consulting engineer for RTW, felt that specifying types of vegetation or restricting the square footage to be planted was a waste of time. It could bring the district into direct conflict with any of the numerous local homeowners’ associations and did not directly address the real concern, which is water usage and efficiency. He instead raised the idea of placing a restriction on the amount of water to be used per unit area—for example, limiting water use to ½ acre-foot per acre, with higher water rates for over-usage.

Rothberg argued that the use of more efficient sprinkler heads and advanced timing systems could conserve more water than mandating specific types of vegetation or restricting the square footage of plantings. He felt limiting water usage would more effectively address water reduction goals, while giving developers the freedom to choose their own landscape designs.

The board made no decisions regarding landscaping guidelines, but will revisit the issue at a later date.

New billing software discussed

Woodmoor’s staff is researching new billing software for the district. The present system, which is DOS-based and approximately 10 years old, is outdated. Staff would like to be able to produce more detailed bills and print them out in sheet form instead of postcards. Mailing envelopes could include flyers containing important district information.

Steininger estimates the cost of purchasing software and switching over to a new billing system will be about $25,000. He asked board members how involved they wished to become in the selection process. Board member Ron Turner indicated that he wants to be involved early; Nasser wants a list of criteria to be used in choosing new software.

Steininger said he would write up evaluation criteria, assemble a short list of vendors, and make recommendations about the staff’s preference by the March meeting. He also mentioned the possibility of arranging a vendor demonstration.

Steininger to participate in District 38 advisory board

School District 38 has invited Steininger to serve on an advisory board as Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s representative. The purpose will be to make recommendations to the school board on the best locations for new schools, taking into consideration location and density of new developments in the area, as well as the location and capacity of new facilities.

The panel will include representatives from several area governmental agencies, including the Tri-View Metro District and local mayors. The advisory board will meet four to six times during the course of the next few months, with the intent of presenting its recommendations in July. The board gave Steininger permission to participate.

Water meter and transponder replacement discussed

Problems with obsolete and aging equipment have prompted the Woodmoor board to examine its current water metering system to determine whether district-wide replacement may be desirable. Steininger said many of the batteries in the district’s transponders are nearing the end of their projected life. (Transponders are devices that enable district staff to remotely read water meters.) The district has already replaced several units and expects to retire the remainder within the next three years.

Obsolete transponders are only part of the problem. Approximately half of the 3,000 meters currently in use in the district are at least 15 years old, and accuracy may be an issue. Steininger expects to add another 1,000 water meters over the next three years to accommodate new homes.

Since registers and meters manufactured by different companies are incompatible, all metering-related equipment in the district must be from the same manufacturer. Steininger wants the board to decide whether the most cost-effective solution would be to replace the entire metering system with new integrated units, or to replace transponders, meters, and registers on an as-needed basis.

Cost constraints were cited as the biggest drawback to system replacement. Steininger’s research to date indicates that if Woodmoor chooses to replace the entire system, the minimum cost per house for equipment would be around $150, not including the price of installation. (New homes are required to pay for their own meters.) He added that the district would need to budget the change-out for 2006.

Rothberg said that by replacing all the old meters, considerable cost savings from accuracy alone could help defray the price of replacement. New units are required by law to be 100 percent accurate for at least four years. He stated that 8 to 10 percent of the district’s water is not being billed due to several factors, including leaks, flushing, and metering inaccuracies. Although this percentage is well within legal limits, a higher level of metering accuracy would reduce "losses."

Rothberg said when the water district in Craig, Colorado, replaced its metering system, cost savings were expected to pay for the replacement in about seven years. Instead, savings were realized in only 3½ years through metering accuracy alone. He also suggested that Woodmoor could further reduce installation costs by using temporary employees to replace the units.

No decisions were made at the meeting. The Woodmoor board will evaluate long- and short-term costs and the merits of different water metering systems before deciding whether to replace or upgrade the district’s aging meters.

Other business

Smith reported that she is still reviewing the new Woodmoor district rules and regulations. She hopes to return the first draft and her comments at the next meeting.

Taylor told the board that the U.S. Geological Service agreed to design and build the metering vault on Dirty Woman Creek. Cost is not yet known.

In the interest of full disclosure, Secretary Ron Turner informed the board that he may be participating in a project on Higby Road involving Preble’s meadow jumping mouse mitigation. He promised to recuse himself should conflicts arise.

The meeting went into executive session at 2:55 p.m. to consider district matters pertaining to negotiations and future inclusions. No decisions were made during executive session.

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors will meet again on March 8 at 1 p.m. at the district office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, Feb. 14: Joint Use Committee awards construction contract

By Jim Kendrick

The Joint Use Committee (JUC), which acts as the board of directors for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), unanimously approved the low bid for the new laboratory and office building to be built within the facility at the south end of Mitchell Avenue.

Facility director Bill Burks reported that the amount of dissolved heavy metals being processed by the plant remains well below the peaks that occurred early in 2004. He also discussed some operational changes that will be made under the new five-year permit. The JUC director from Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), Joe Stallsmith, was absent.

Financial report

The committee unanimously approved the payment of all bills over $5,000. They approved an annual fee increase of $1,000 charged by attorney Michael Cucullu for his review of the draft minutes for each session.

Todd Bell, the alternate member from PLSD, noted that attorney fees for 2004 were "off the charts." Monument Sanitation District (MSD) Chair Lowell Morgan said most of that increase went to consultant attorney Tad Foster for negotiations for the facility’s new five-year permit—particularly the extensive work required to address the high copper concentrations the facility had to treat during 2004.

The amount paid by the facility to the United States Geological Service in 2005 for collection of stream flow data in Monument Creek north of Northgate Road has been reduced from $3,000 to $2,200.

Operator’s report

Burks reviewed the December discharge monitoring report, which summarizes all treatment statistics for influent and effluent water.

Burks noted that one of the blowers that aerate the facility’s wastewater treatment lagoons and one of the clarifiers that separate solid sludge would be turned off more often than in the past, to save operating costs and simplify control of the wastewater treatment processes. Burks is working with the state Department of Health for final approval.

Burks added that the limit on the pH (acidity) of discharged water had been changed from 6.3 to 6.5 with the new five-year permit. He also discussed some statistics that verified the effectiveness of the ultraviolet bulbs that disinfect the water just prior to discharge to the creek.

Access Construction awarded contract

Morgan noted that the winning bid had been selected and awarded for the new WWTF laboratory building during a special meeting on Jan. 24. The representatives of all three owner sanitation districts reported approval by their separate boards of an additional appropriation of about $10,000 each to cover the entire $440,000 contract expenditure.

The JUC unanimously approved an amendment to the contract regarding the general contractor’s requirement to have $5 million of professional liability insurance. The amendment now allows for a minimum of $5 million in insurance by adding the subcontractor’s professional liability insurance to the general contractor’s coverage to reach $5 million requirement. All three district representatives felt that the general contractor had an excellent reputation and this was acceptable.

Construction was formally set to start on Feb. 22. Members all agreed that a groundbreaking ceremony was appropriate. June 12 is the expected completion date.

MSD director Chuck Robinove noted that the electroplating study may not have resulted in a cost-effective alternative method for removing some types of contaminants. But the report should be saved to verify the "due diligence" of the JUC in working to resolve the high dissolved copper concentrations that occurred in 2004. Final review of the report was continued until the next meeting so that the consultant engineer could make his presentation.

The meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m. JUC meetings are normally held on the second Monday of the month at one of the three member districts’ main offices on a rotating basis. The next JUC meeting will be March 14 at the new PLSD offices at 120 Middle Glenway, across from Town Hall.

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Forest View Acres Water District, Feb. 9: Possible criminal activities surface at water district

Questions regarding the recent resignation of Forest View Acres Water District’s (FVAWD) longtime office manager were addressed at the district’s Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 9. Board members present were Kevin Lonergan, John Anderson, Barbara Reed-Polatty, and Tom Guenther.

Apparently, the district has had accounting irregularities for some time. In December 2004, the El Paso County Sheriff seized and impounded all FVAWD records and has been conducting its own investigation. No criminal charges had been filed at this point. However, the board indicated criminal charges might be presented within the month. In the meantime, the district has been working with its attorney to recover the missing funds.

Subsequent to a letter from the state auditor last November, the district began its own internal investigation. There were immediate suspicions of forged checks, $30,000 was missing from the maintenance contingency fund, and several other accounting irregularities surfaced. Supervisors indicated the missing funds could easily top six figures.

As of its last formal external audit in 1998, the FVAWD had paid off its long-term revenue bonds. However beginning in 1999, the district has been conducting its own internal annual audits, under authorized waivers from the state.

Until last November, the on-contract office manager had kept all office records and accounts at home. The office manager was not bonded. However, as of this month, all office business will be conducted in the district building, which is located on Rockbrook Road. FVAWD has also closed its existing bank accounts and has changed banks and its accounting procedures.

The district is now faced with daunting problems, such as reconstructing its billing procedures, mailing lists, and financial structure.

Five concerned residents attended this meeting. Two of them volunteered to help set up the new office.

The FVAWD currently services about 300 homes in the Red Rock Ranch and Shiloh Pines area. Water service will not be interrupted.

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Triview Metropolitan District, Feb. 23: Erroneous classification could cause difficulties, costs

By Jim Kendrick

Triview Metropolitan District Manager Ron Simpson said that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment used outdated and incorrect information on a single well to misclassify Triview’s data in the Department’s Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) documentation.

Also discussed at the Feb. 23 meeting was approval of the capacity expansion application for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), which is proceeding on schedule. The signing of a contract for implementation of a Great Outdoors Colorado grant was unanimously approved.

SWAP error

SWAP data is used to classify districts by well size and type and other criteria. In addition, Triview uses the data in its annual consumer confidence reports. Simpson says the faulty data should have no immediate negative effect on the district; however, the state may require the Triview to list that data as if it were correct in the district’s 2006 Consumer Confidence Report if the matter is not resolved.

Simpson said the data used was collected in 2001 and was incorrect at that time. The report’s authors made no attempt to contact the district to verify their figures or update the material by other means. There appears to be little chance of correcting that information.

The state’s health and environment department has been notified that Triview’s data is in error and that the district is in the wrong classification, but will take no action due to what they said was a "lack of funds." There will be no correction until the next cycle of data collection and reporting. The start date for gathering new data is unknown at this time.

Simpson’s main concern is that a new mandate from a state or federal agency may be approved for the category of district wrongly assigned to Triview. Simpson said there could be a great deal of difficulty if the district is given new directives with mandated deadlines that should not apply to Triview. Complying with inappropriate mandates would be a waste of money. However, failure to meet a deadline could result in fines or other sanctions that would be costly to rectify.

The board also agreed with Simpson’s concerns about being required by the state to publish information known by all parties to be false.

Facility expansion update

The Water Quality Management Committee has approved the site application for the WWTF expansion that will substantially increase the facility’s treatment capacity. Simpson said the owning districts of the facility are conferring with the Air Force Academy on having them treat some wastewater for Donala Water and Sanitation District.

Donala has a large collection line that is 1.5 miles from the Academy’s sewer system treatment plant and could divert wastewater from the Upper Monument Creek facility to that plant. The military facility has enough unused capacity to handle all projected growth in the Donala district through complete buildout.

If all new Donala flows were diverted to the Academy, the expansion of the Upper Monument Creek facility could be postponed for five to seven years. Furthermore, all the projected Triview and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District growth could be handled at the WWTF without converting to a new technology. There would be short-term and long-term savings in operating the WWTF, because the size of the expansion would be small enough to stay within the facility without having to expand vertically with taller structures to accommodate the additional Donala growth.

Triview would have to buy out the Donala share of a future expansion, but growth within the district and increased sales tax revenues coupled with increased taxes should put Triview in a better financial position to pay for the deferred WWTF expansion, according to Simpson. A prompt decision on whether to use the Academy option is needed to avoid unnecessary planning and design costs and still be ready for permit renewal in the future.

Jackson Creek updates

Simpson noted that he is working with Monument Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg to apply for federal assistance through the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, to help pay for the additional two lanes of Jackson Creek Parkway that will be built by Triview between the Monument Marketplace and Higby Road.

Simpson reported that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is responding to claims that the Preble’s mouse is not endangered but said he did not expect any real change for several years due litigation by a variety of interest groups that would follow a de-listing.

The board was briefed on the letter the district had submitted to the town planning staff that documented deficiencies in the information provided by the developer of Jackson Creek Market Village. This is a townhome and shopping center development that is proposed for the undeveloped parcel between Baptist and Lyons Tail, on the east side of the King Soopers center. Engineering consultant Chuck Ritter, of Nolte and Associates, said that the developer has promised to provide the needed information to address a substantial number of unresolved engineering issues.

Simpson noted that all the required reflective markers have been installed along Jackson Creek Parkway.

Grants and trails

Simpson said he and Forest Lakes Manager Ann Nichols, met with Brian Kay of the El Paso County Parks Department to discuss a proposal to build a trail within the easement for the Jackson Creek interceptor on the west side of I-25. Triview’s major concern is that the county not do anything to complicate the district’s access to its major sewer line. County support for constructing the trail in the easement may make it easier to gain access to the easement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife where it traverses protected habitat.

Timberline’s estimate for irrigating the trail in the Heights subdivision was $17,943, which is less than expected. There is an existing water line in the area to tie into, and the savings from that was not considered in calculating the initial estimate. The proposed Timberline contract was unanimously approved.

Development status

Simpson and Ritter were scheduled to meet with the potential developer of the 440-acre Sally Beck property on Higby Road between Woodmoor and Higby Estates. Ritter also reported that the developer interested in the Barber property, across Baptist Road from the King Soopers center, has approached Donala to discuss possible water and sewer service.

The developers of the Timbers project, between Foxworth-Galbraith and the Monument Marketplace have begun discussion with Triview. Also, the Carriages West developer will begin work on new western filings along Lyons Tail.

Street striping bid received

Triview has received its first bid, $54,000, for re-striping Jackson Creek Parkway with epoxy paint. The district also has the option of using the contractor who did the initial striping under the original parkway construction contract. In order to expedite the job, Simpson recommended that the district pay the $1,500 cost for traffic control during actual painting. A final decision will be made as soon as all the other striping bids are in.

Two agreements with the town updated

The intergovernmental agreement (IGA) revision negotiated with the town for street sweeping has been finalized. The bigger and better sweeper will have the additional capacity to vacuum up the dust and swirling grit created by the huge brushes.

The new monthly rate will begin when the town receives its improved vehicle and puts it into service. The rate goes from $2,338 per month to $4,776. There are usually two sweeps per month, though the contract provides for additional sweeping by the town if required.

The annual IGA for water operations and maintenance by town water system staff has been renewed. The contract increase was less than 5 percent; the contract for 2005 costs $170,400.

Both IGA proposals were approved unanimously.

The snow removal contract with Timberline is also undergoing staff review before the final contract renewal is presented to the board. Simpson said he hopes to work out an acceptable agreement with Timberline before the next board meeting in March.

Water conservation group proposal still a work in progress

Local District 4 State Senator Tom Wiens met with members of the Palmer Divide Water Group and other entities on Feb. 17. Sen Tom Lamborn also attended. Wiens proposed the formation of a water conservation district. Simpson said this type of district would be created by the state legislature.

However, some participants advocated the formation of a conservancy special district (created by a court) or county servicing authority to avoid an organization so large that some members would have different competing requirements and interests. Mayor Byron Glenn has asked former Mayor Betty Konarski and the town’s water lawyer Bob Krassa to help guide the effort to improve the region’s ability to compete for water funding and lobby for helpful legislation.

Administrator’s report

Dale Hill reported that Triview had issued five new building permits. Due to a vacancy on the staff, the district is searching for a replacement. The district has been invited to participate in a town meeting held by the Board of Trustees at Grace Best Elementary School on March 7 at 7 p.m. Hill received unanimous approval to pay all outstanding bills and invoices for the month.

The meeting adjourned at 6:01 p.m. The next meeting is at 4:30 p.m. on March 23 in the Triview District office, 174. Washington St. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 16: District wrestles with golf course water contract

By Sue Wielgopolan

Discussions over water contract negotiations with the Gleneagle Golf Course dominated the Feb. 16 Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting. Jon Brockman, general manager of the golf course, attended, representing the current owner, San Diego attorney Miles Scully.

Members also listened to a summary of current water legislation, authorized a letter threatening legal action over a sewer easement, and considered a possible rehab project on one of their wells. President Charlie Coble was absent from the meeting.

Golf course water contract at issue

For several months, Donala has been negotiating with Scully, who purchased the Gleneagle Golf Course in late summer of 2003, over water rights and a long-term contract to provide water. One of the central issues is use of the small pond on the east side of Gleneagle Drive known as Jake’s Lake. The golf course wants to use the water in the pond to irrigate its greens.

The land surrounding the pond had been deeded to the Gleneagle North Homeowner’s Association by the former owner, Bethesda Development. Neither the water in the pond nor the pipelines that feed it was included in the sale to the golf course. Although Bethesda still owns the pipeline, it may not have owned rights to the water and may have been using the pond water illegally. The new owner of the golf course continued to use the water from Jake’s Lake, unaware of water rights issues.

The state engineer, Hal Simpson, has since ordered that no water be removed from the pond until water rights issues have been sorted out. Donala and Brockman have been unable to contact Dale Turner, President of Bethesda Development.

Donala has applied through the state for a permit to use the water in Jake’s Lake. Water rights for the Arkansas basin are already over-allocated, so any water pulled from the lake must be augmented (replaced) between 98 and 100 percent. Donala proposes to augment the water in the lake using effluent from their wastewater plant. Ultimately, both sides would benefit; the golf course would be able to purchase less expensive effluent, and Donala would have a buyer for its excess effluent.

Tom Morse, president of the Eagle Villas Homeowner’s Association, attended the meeting to speak in the golf course’s behalf. Eagle Villas is located adjacent to the driving range, which Gleneagle no longer waters on a regular basis, citing the high cost of irrigation water as the reason. Homeowners surrounding the range consider the dry conditions unsightly. On behalf of his organization, Morse came to ask Donala to lower rates as incentive for the golf course to water the range.

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, informed Morse that the golf course’s rates were already favorable; they are paying a significantly lower rate than homeowners in the district pay for their well water. The golf course pays $3 for 1,000 gallons for untreated well water; homeowners pay $4.50 per 1,000 gallons of treated well water. And unlike most users who pay a higher rate for large volumes of water, the golf course’s rates are fixed.

In addition, infrastructure exists to provide reused water to the golf course at a price of $2.25 per 1,000 gallons. Re-use water passes through the same four-step process as effluent released into Monument Creek, but includes an additional filtering step. Though not considered drinking water quality, it would meet state "swim beach" standards.

The proposed augmentation arrangement using water from Jake’s Lake would be even cheaper at $1.75 per 1,000 gallons of effluent released into Monument Creek to compensate for the equivalent volume pulled from the pond. Scully is also considering the option of applying for his own permit to use the water in Jake’s Lake and buying augmentation water from other sources.

Scully has also been negotiating with Donala for long-term water rates. Brockman stated that the owner needs to be able to extrapolate his long-term costs. If the current rates double or triple, the golf course might not be profitable. At an average of 70 million gallons per year, the golf course is by far the largest water user in the district. Scully’s position with the district has been that as Donala’s biggest customer, he should be getting a larger discount.

Duthie stated that Donala is already subsidizing the golf course. Last year, it cost the district $107,000 more to pump the water than they received in revenues from Gleneagle. He suggested that one way to control water costs is to reduce the golf course’s usage. Duthie indicated he might be willing to freeze rates for a few years if Scully will commit to updating the present sprinkler system to make it more water efficient.

Duthie said he wants to see the golf course succeed; many homes, including those of several board members, border the course, and their property values — as well as those of the entire Gleneagle development — are enhanced by the course’s continued operation.

But he repeatedly stated that his first priority is to the 2,300 homes in his district, not the profitability of the golf course. The long-term outlook for the aquifers that supply water to most of the local districts is uncertain. If the cost of providing water rises, Duthie feels it would be unfair to allow the golf course to continue to pay artificially low rates while homeowners in the district pay ever-increasing rates. He asked the board for their policy guidance on whether, and to what degree, Donala should continue to subsidize the golf course.

Other issues also remain to be worked out, such as pipeline repair easements and the logistics of moving water between Jake’s Lake and the two ponds located on the golf course. Donala will continue to pursue a contract advantageous to Scully and the district. Rick Fendel, Donala’s attorney, hopes to have a signed agreement between the two participants before the start of the regular watering season.

Duthie updates latest water legislation

Duthie provided the board with a written outline of the El Paso County Water Authority meeting on Feb. 2 and gave an overview of recent activities. The authority extended the contracts of Gary Barber, their executive agent, and Pat Ratliff, the authority’s lobbyist.

Ratliff briefed authority members on recently introduced legislation affecting their districts and made recommendations as to how the authority should respond. Members voted on what action they wanted Ratliff to pursue.

  • HB05-1156: This bill would make local water districts, rather than the state, responsible for informing all potentially affected landowners of any permit application by that district. Ratliff will monitor the bill’s progress as it moves through committee but neither supports nor opposes it at this point.

  • HB05-1177: This bill would "create inter-basin compact negotiations" as Phase II of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. Ratliff will support this bill, but with possible changes.

  • HB05-1181: This bill empowers judges to address water quality issues downstream. Ratliff will lobby against it.

  • SB05-045: The bill allows water districts to have jurisdiction over recreation on and around reservoirs without being a metro district. Ratliff will support it.

  • SB05-083: This bill would create a conservation district excluding northern El Paso County. Similar bills authored by other legislators are also being proposed. When speaking for the authority, Ratliff will oppose any bill that would not include northern El Paso County

Barber is soliciting fiscal participation of agencies other than water providers in financing the Transit Loss Model study. Users who purchase effluent credits could benefit greatly from the findings in the transit loss model; Barber is encouraging these groups to help subsidize the studies. Their participation would result in the reduction of the cost to authority members. Barber would also like to have the model extend up Fountain Creek and has invited Manitou Springs and Cascade Metro District to join the water authority.

Colorado Springs, which originated the transit loss model study but does not belong to the authority, would like to have their portion of the cost of the study reduced if outside agencies contribute. Members of the authority are pressuring Colorado Springs to join and contribute dues if the city wants to reap the financial benefits made possible through the authority’s recruitment efforts.

Duthie will be on vacation during the water authority’s next meeting, which is March 2 at 9 a.m. in the third floor meeting room of the County Building, located at 27 E. Vermijo. Donala board member Dale Schendzielos will attend in his place.

Facility expansion moving along

The application for the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) expansion continues to move through the review process. Donala expects that the Council of Governments Water Quality Committee, which is an advisory board, will consider the application in mid-February, followed by the Council of Government’s review in March. The El Paso County Planning Commission will probably be looking at the project in late April. Duthie stated that he wants to get the contractor on board immediately after the application is approved.

After lengthy review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided additional paperwork is not needed for the WWTF expansion. All construction work will take place inside the existing security fence, which lies just outside mouse habitat. The FWS has also decided that because impact to mouse habitat during construction of the new railroad crossing will be minimal, no additional permits will be required.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat plan for the WWTF is now in the federal register for comment and should be approved by June, at which time construction on the crossing can begin. Mountain View Electric Association doesn’t need FWS approval to dig up and move their lines from under the crossing site; they can commence work at any time.

Donala is still evaluating ultraviolet (UV) disinfection processes to be included in the WWTF expansion. Nolte engineering is consulting with a UV specialist in San Diego to help select equipment suitable for the specific needs of the plant.

Donala will apply to the Colorado Water and Power Authority for a loan to cover their share of the expansion. The application will need to be submitted in early July in order to be considered at the Aug. 28 meeting of the authority.

Easement agreement still in limbo

On Feb. 16, the Donala board sent a letter to James Barash informing him that any further delay in signing a sewer line easement agreement could result in initiation of condemnation procedures. The district is legally entitled to an easement across Barash’s property, and agreed to allow him to choose the pipeline location. In spite of verbal agreements between the two parties regarding an easement, Barash has postponed signing a written contract.

Board members have grown impatient with the delays; failure to procure an agreement has stalled installation of the sewer pipeline. This in turn has affected the district’s ability to recover their costs for the lift station, which is intended to serve other developments in addition to Barash’s.

Gary Erickson, who is constructing an office building across Struthers Road from People’s National Bank, will only reimburse Donala for the approximately $45,000 that Donala initially put in for the lift station when he is able to hook up to the sewer line. He in turn will recover part of his cost when other customers tie in.

Personal disagreements between Erickson and Barash are blamed for the lack of cooperation. In the letter, the board urged Barash to settle any disagreements so that work on the pipeline could resume.

Duthie will attend investment seminar

Duthie informed the board of his plans to attend a March 24 seminar on investing public funds. He distributed literature that described the program. Duthie also handed out a description of another seminar on water rights sales and transfers in Colorado, which will take place on April 13, but did not indicate whether he would attend.

Wells causing some concern

Duthie presented an overview on well problems in the district. The Denver aquifer appears to be unconfined in some locations, and well drawdown could be happening more rapidly than anticipated. Some of Donala’s western wells, which pull from the Denver, are showing air, a sign that yield is rapidly declining. These wells may soon have to be shut down. In drilling some of the newer wells, such as Wells 12 and 8 in Fox Run, Donala bypassed the Denver aquifer entirely and went through to the Arapaho.

The district recently redrilled one of the oldest wells, Well 1A, which originally drew from three aquifers. (This practice is no longer allowed. Only wells predating current restrictions may draw from all three aquifers.) Donala bypassed the shallowest aquifer, the Denver, as continual plugging of the well screens made any attempt to draw from it no longer feasible.

Instead, Well 1A now draws from the deeper Arapaho aquifer. Because the water in the Arapaho is significantly softer and more corrosive, Donala had to readjust the chemicals used to treat the water.

Screen plugging is occurring in Well 3D also, which draws from the Denver aquifer. The district has sent testing data from Well 3D to Water Systems Engineering in Ottawa, Kansas, for evaluation to determine whether a rehabilitation effort might be worthwhile.

Development updates

The contractor installing the Chaparral Hills pipeline has begun work. The new pipeline will serve the homeowners who petitioned for inclusion, as well as the remaining lots that are currently undeveloped. John Laing Homes has agreed to pay half the cost. Donala will pay the remaining half; future homeowners will repay the district as they hook up.

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority is planning to widen Baptist Road to four lanes as far east as Desiree Drive. While the road is torn up, Donala and the Triview Metro District want to bore through Baptist and put in a 12-inch sewer line. Estimated cost for the project is $70,000, which Ron Simpson, Triview’s manager, has promised to split with Donala.

Duthie discussed several other projects that are in the planning stage. Among them was a sewer pipeline that will tentatively run from Struthers Ranch through the proposed Transit Mix batch plant site and on to the WWTF.

Donala may also consider supplying water to the 30-acre lot across from King Soopers on Baptist Road where Wal-Mart had planned to build. An undisclosed developer is looking at the site.

At 3:45 p.m., the board of directors went into executive session to consider financial, legal, security, and personnel matters. The next meeting will not take place on the usual third Wednesday of the month. The date was changed to accommodate members’ schedules and will be held Monday, March 28, at 1:30 p.m. in the Donala district office, 15850 Holbein Drive.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, Feb. 23: Board works for improved communications

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting Feb. 23, the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors discussed various ways of improving communications within the district and with the public. They reaffirmed use of budgeted funds for telephone equipment and computers, announced that Treasurer Bob Hansen has been designated as liaison between the firefighters and the board, and appointed Director Bill Ingram as media liaison. All the board members were present.

Chief’s report

Battalion Chief Larry Garner reported that Fire Marshal Tom Eastburn is continuing to recover from injuries he suffered in a December traffic accident. Garner said Eastburn is expected to return to full duty in June.

Garner noted that three district firefighters participated in a National Fire Academy strategy and tactics class in Durango.

He added that testing to select new district personnel is scheduled for late March.

The board unanimously approved Garner’s request that the boardroom in the Woodmoor Drive station be converted for use as an exercise and training room. The approval was made with the understanding that the room could be converted back if needed for meetings.

Treasurer’s report

Hansen said he had not yet received all the information needed and vowed to work with bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer to provide a report at future meetings. He said, "Starting next month, we will have everything we need."

Pagers for board members

Hansen supported the idea that all board members have alphanumeric pagers "so they will know what calls are going on."

In response to a question from board president Si Sibell, Joe Yordt, W/MFPD training coordinator, estimated the cost at $8-$10 per month per pager.

Firefighter liaison

It was noted that Hansen is the designated liaison between the firefighters and the board. At the Jan. 26 board meeting, Garner requested the board appoint one of its members to serve as liaison between the firefighters and the board. At that meeting, Chief Robert Denboske said he thought the idea was good, but that there would have to be an understanding that the firefighter first talks to the shift captain, the battalion chief, etc., before going to the board liaison. After further discussion on how to best implement this, the board decided not to take a vote on the matter at that meeting. Denboske said he would work out the details at a meeting later that week.

Media liaison

Ingram stressed the need for ground rules regarding the release of information to the media and the public.

Director Jeremy Diggins noted that legally, the board may only take action during a duly announced meeting with a quorum of directors in attendance. He said that unless the board were to grant one or two members the authority to issue press releases on behalf of the board, then the board would have to issue a meeting notice and hold a special meeting in order to approve those releases.

Hansen said, "We can’t wait a month to do it."

Director Rod Wilson suggested the topic be postponed for discussion at the fire authority board meeting.

Hansen replied that some issues are specific to the Woodmoor/Monument district. He said, "Bill Ingram can speak for me."

Diggins concurred, and Ingram was apparently appointed by consensus.

Death and disability insurance premium payment

Hansen said the district and the firefighters have been splitting the cost for death and disability insurance. He noted that the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District pays the entire cost, which amounts to 2.5 percent of each firefighter’s base salary. He said the total additional annual cost to the district for paying the entire premium would be about $6,000. Hansen urged the board to take action on this, saying, "If we wait a month, we are asking the firefighters to make that sacrifice for another month."

Garner noted that all the other departments he has worked for paid the entire cost of the premiums for death and disability insurance.

An audience member, Gordon Reichal, secretary of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA), noted that representatives of the fire authority told the WIA board that formation of the fire authority would not increase the costs to the department. He asked if the additional cost for insurance is due to combining the two departments.

Diggins replied, "Because of sharing administrative costs, we are saving a lot of money."

Hansen added that the two departments now share the cost for the fire marshal and have one chief and one assistant chief instead of two chiefs and two assistant chiefs. He cited a savings of about $47,000 per year. He noted that he and Ingram are Woodmoor residents and added, "I’m looking out for the interests of the Woodmoor/Monument district."

The board unanimously approved paying the entire cost for death and disability insurance for the firefighters. Hansen characterized it as a 1.25 percent pay raise for the firefighters.

Ingram asked how the Woodmoor/Monument district’s pay and benefits compare with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Garner replied that the pay and benefits package at the Woodmoor/Monument district is lower than Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Ingram expressed concern that the district brings in new people, trains them, and then loses them to other departments. He said, "I’m concerned with the potential of losing firefighters to elsewhere."

Sibell noted, "It’s happening."

Phone system

Yordt said the phone system in the Woodmoor Drive fire station was installed in 1976, has serious limitations, and is incompatible with new phones. He said he is awaiting a written quote from Qwest Communications to replace the system with one that uses their centralized equipment. He said he expects the total cost for six phones and installation to be less than $2,000. He added that the Qwest system would include 30 voice mailboxes and could transfer calls to the Tri-Lakes station on Highway 105 when no one is available to answer at the Woodmoor Drive station.

Hansen said the approved budget includes $27,000 for communication equipment. He noted that in 2004, the district budgeted $12,600 and spent about one-third that amount.

Diggins said, "Since it is budgeted, it is [Chief] Denboske’s decision."


Ingram said the board received a proposal for $4,000 of computer equipment. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said it was the same equipment installed in the Roller Coaster Road station. He noted that Captain John Vincent would handle installation and maintenance of the computers.

Hansen said that since the money was budgeted, it should be referred to Chief Denboske for a final decision and implementation.

Executive session

The board then went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

When the executive session concluded, the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting convened.


The Woodmoor/Monument Board of Directors hold its regular monthly meeting on the fourth Wednesday each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1 at 18660 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be held March 23.

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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority, Feb. 23: Board plans to address public relations issues

By John Heiser

On Feb. 23, following the meeting of the board of the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board met. Continuing a topic discussed in the Woodmoor/Monument board meeting, the fire authority board discussed ways of addressing public relations issues, including the Nov. 13 Bardsley Place fire.

This was the second board meeting since the fire authority started operation Jan. 1.

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board did not meet this month. It is scheduled to meet March 23, 6:30 p.m., preceding the 7:30 p.m. fire authority meeting.

The fire authority board is composed of the members of the Woodmoor/Monument and Tri-Lakes boards. All ten directors were present.

Treasurer’s report

John Hildebrandt, treasurer of the Tri-Lakes district, distributed updated spreadsheets showing the authority’s income and expenses through the end of January and the 2004 and 2005 budgets for the Woodmoor/Monument and Tri-Lakes districts.

Hildebrandt noted that during January, fire authority expenses were covered by $142,000 transferred from the Tri-Lakes district accounts and $117,297 transferred from Woodmoor/Monument district accounts. As a result, during January, the total income to the fire authority was $259,297.

Total expenses for January were $278,220. Some of the individual items were $114,914 in salaries, $100,494 for purchase of firefighting equipment, $14,921 for administrative costs including insurance and accounting and legal services, $9,886 in firefighting equipment repairs and supplies, $6,557 for utilities, $5,320 for severance/benefits package, $3,790 for uniforms for paid and volunteer staff, $2,183 for communication services and maintenance, and $2,128 for vehicle fuel and repairs.

Hildebrandt noted that as of the end of January, expenses and income would nominally be at 8.3 percent of the budgeted amount for the year. The actual revenue came in at 10 percent and expenses were 11 percent of the budgeted amounts. He added that subtracting the $100,494 in grant money received and expended to purchase firefighting equipment leaves total expenses of about $178,000, which, at 6.9 percent of the annual budget, is in line with anticipated expenses through the end of January.

Denver/Glendale merger

Drawing parallels with the local situation, fire authority president Charlie Pocock read a short article from the Feb. 23 Denver Post reporting that the Denver City Council passed a May ballot measure asking voters to approve the lateral hiring of two dozen Glendale firefighters as part of the merger of the Glendale fire department into the Denver fire department.

Chief’s report

Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson reported that Chief Robert Denboske had gone home ill.

Thompson reported that the fire authority responded to 106 calls during January. He said there were 54 medical, 9 fire, 36 traffic accidents, 6 public assists, 3 calls involving hazardous materials, and 48 people were transported to local hospitals. He noted that station 1 and station 3 responded to 42 calls each. Station 2 responded to the remaining 22 calls. Thompson noted that the count of fire authority personnel stands at 126, unchanged from last month, and all equipment is operational.

Thompson reported that the inventory of equipment is almost complete. The inventory is needed to make sure the proper equipment is returned to each district in the event the fire authority is dissolved.

He added that the second Smeal fire engine ordered last year should be completed and ready for delivery by mid-April.

Thompson said the fire authority is receiving many plans for new construction and subdivisions. Other personnel are reviewing those plans until fire marshal Tom Eastburn returns to duty.

He noted that 18 students took recent tests for Firefighter II certification.

EMS report

Thompson reported that the new 4x4 ambulance should arrive around mid-March.

He also noted that switching to EVS for vehicle maintenance has shortened the downtime for inspections and service.

Thompson said about 160 people participated in the homeland security exercise conducted Feb. 5 at Lewis-Palmer High School. The exercise was coordinated by the Palmer Divide Safety Group and included people from the FBI, sheriff’s office, Monument police department, local fire districts, AMR, and the Pikes Peak ham radio group.

He noted that the fire authority was the lead fire and rescue organization during the exercise. He said that in spite of problems in coordination between police and fire personnel, "The exercise went better than expected." He added, "We learned a lot from the glitches."

Director Keith Duncan said, "Thompson understated his role in that exercise. Ron convinced them to include fire."

Thompson noted that firefighter Chip Fleming is involved with the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services and that the group is interested in working with the fire authority.

Thompson noted that all the board members who have not yet been trained on the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must watch a one-hour training video regarding handling of protected health information and sign an affidavit.

Pocock added, "You can’t say anything that a reasonably intelligent person could use to associate a person with a medical problem."

Palmer Lake fire

At 10:25 p.m. on Feb. 16, North Group fire units responded to a structure fire call at 128 Vale St. in Palmer Lake. All units responded to the call, but several were dismissed before they arrived at the scene. Although the cause of the fire was initially undetermined, Thompson said candles left burning in the vicinity of papers started the fire. He said the fire authority sent two engines, a ladder truck, and an ambulance. He noted that one of the trucks came from the Roller Coaster Road station. Thompson added that fire authority personnel were the first on the scene, arriving 3 minutes after the call was received, and quickly extinguished the fire.

He said Battalion Chief Larry Garner was the incident commander until Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phillip Beckman arrived. Thompson said, "The working relationship with Palmer Lake has improved tremendously."

Bardsley Place fire

Pocock said Denboske has prepared a press release on the North Group review of the Bardsley Place fire. He said Denboske has been trying without success for two months to coordinate that press release with the other North Group chiefs.

Director Bill Ingram suggested the press release be sent again to the chiefs with an urgent request for their response.

Public perception

Pocock suggested the fire authority prepare a series of articles including descriptions of various programs such as the volunteer and resident programs, profiles of firefighters, information on new equipment purchased, and upcoming events.

Vice president Si Sibell noted that residents ask him why fire trucks are used to bring food back to the stations from the supermarkets.

Director Bob Hansen said, "I want to see them out and about. It’s good public relations. The firefighters have to be together so they can roll to a call. I want them to know where the hydrants are."

Ingram noted, "At the Palmer Lake fire, the firefighters didn’t know where the hydrants were exactly."

Pocock asked Duncan and Ingram to serve as the editorial staff and coordinate information with the media including TV.

Carolyn Pearcy back from Antarctica

Pocock noted that firefighter Carolyn ("Crash") Pearcy has returned from six months as a contract firefighter at the McMurdo station in Antarctica. Pearcy, who was part of an emergency response team for the airstrip and station, said it was a great experience.

Pocock cited Pearcy’s story as an example of the type of firefighter profile the authority should prepare for release.

Executive Session

The board unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters and matters subject to negotiations. According to Hansen, when the executive session ended, the meeting was immediately adjourned without taking any action.


The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board holds regular meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Feb. 23: Board adds engine bay, subtracts oldest apparatus

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board met with the owner and construction manager of CMS at the Feb. 23 meeting, to review the start of construction of a third engine bay, offices, and a conference room at the Gleneagle station. CMS was delayed in receiving a permit from Pikes Peak Regional Building, but is now ready to move forward.

The board also chose to sell or donate six of its vehicles that are no longer in frequent use.

Treasurer’s Report

Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz reported that nearly all of the end-of-year billing and payments have been concluded. Final totals for the 2004 budget will be forwarded to the district’s auditor. The board unanimously approved renewal of the auditor’s letter of engagement extending the service agreement through 2005. The fee will be no more than $4,800, the same maximum amount as for 2004. Treasurer Dennis Feltz asked for confirmation that the portable temporary storage unit that is no longer in the rear parking lot of Station 3 had been emptied and returned. The board unanimously accepted the treasurer’s report.

Update on station 3 addition

Chair Brian Ritz introduced CMS owner Rob Foster and construction manager Tim Zech, saying he had asked them to meet with the board to take questions about the start of construction. CMS finally received the construction permit on Feb. 3. He said the projected completion date has changed from July 1 to July 14. During the permit delay, CMS had graded the site, added a retaining wall on the north edge of the property, and installed the drainage pipe by the driveway.

Foster told the board that they had found a significant amount of clay while digging the foundation for the addition and had enlisted a soils consultant to determine how much clay and soil to remove and how to replace it with better material. Sheldon complimented CMS on its safety program and briefings. Zech reported completion of the silt and safety fences.

Director Kevin Gould, who is an architect, asked Foster to follow up with the subcontractor on the redesign of the heating and air conditioning ducts in the hallway, boardroom, and office areas to allow the ceiling to be raised from 7 feet 8 inches to more than 8 feet. Gould said he would continue to coordinate for the board with the district’s architect.

The next regular biweekly construction meeting will be held at Station 3 on March 1. Ritz and Sheldon attend these meetings for the district.

Chief’s report

Sheldon distributed copies of a sample monthly report generated on the district’s new reporting and training software. He asked the board for permission to report monthly on one part of the statistical data and quarterly on the rest. He said that the staff continues to find new ways to discover and analyze training data that is built into the software.

Sheldon said that the report would automatically generate individual and average turn-out or reflex time (the time for the wheels to start turning after a dispatch) and response time (the driving time from wheels turning to on-scene arrival), which the program calculated to be 1.6 minutes and 8 minutes, respectively. The National Fire Protection Association standard for average turn-out time is 1 minute. The goal for the Colorado Springs Fire Department for average response time is 8 minutes.

He said that some adjustments were needed to provide additional separate listings of figures for the district’s apparatus and the AMR ambulance. Currently the program does not adjust for an AMR reflex time if dispatched while en route to or still in-processing a patient at the hospital. This AMR situation occurred a few times in January and led to the 1.6 minute statistic.

Excess apparatus

At the January board meeting, Feltz suggested it was time to trim the inventory of vehicles owned by the district and plan for long-term replacements. Sheldon was then asked to recommend which vehicles to drop and what new vehicles might be purchased to provide adequate redundancy.

Sheldon reported that the annual cost to insure five district vehicles that are no longer required for operations is $3,115. The excess vehicles are all more than 20 years old, and include two pumpers, one tender, one rescue, the chief’s car (a Chevy Impala), and an unlicensed/uninsured commercial truck with only a cab and nothing on the rear chassis.

Sheldon said that he might be able to sell the two green pumpers that came from the original county volunteer fire department that became Wescott. He said that the Impala he has been driving had 196,000 miles on it and the transmission had just gone out. He added, "It’s dead" and recommended that it be junked, along with the unused commercial truck. He recommended transferring the emergency lights from his "dead" car to the district’s other Impala. The two Chevy Impalas were both purchased inexpensively as "very used" cars from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

After a lengthy discussion, the board authorized Sheldon to use his best judgment to arrange a sale or a donation of the four engines to neighboring fire districts to the east that need useful, functioning vehicles of any type or age.

The board also determined that the next purchase by the district would be a tender with four-wheel drive and at least 1,800 gallons of water capacity. They will try to include that in the 2006 budget.

New supplemental insurance proposal tabled

Sheldon asked the board to consider providing a contribution to its full-time employees to help them buy short-term disability insurance for injuries suffered off-duty. A Wescott firefighter suffered a serious ankle injury recently while Rollerblading, requiring lengthy rehabilitation, and was not covered by workers’ compensation.

The board discussed the recommendation to provide a supplemental post-tax payment of $7.50 per pay period for the 10 full-time firefighters. If all 10 opted to take out this type of insurance, it would cost the district about $1,950 per year. Nine of them already have taken out policies of this type in varying amounts from the same company. The lowest amount of income protection coverage costs $8.31 per pay period.

Three of the board members wanted more information about pay and benefits offered by other area fire districts before voting on the new benefit. This is not a common benefit in fire and police districts or in businesses. Ritz said that although the board’s decision had been delayed, if the supplemental payments were approved at a later board meeting, they should be retroactive to March 1.

Pension fund actuarial analysis requested

The board unanimously approved Sheldon’s recommendation to submit actuarial data to the nationwide Fire and Police Protective Association (FPPA) in order to get free analyses of two different pension benefit payout increases. While only one retired Wescott firefighter is collecting benefits at this time, two more have indicated they will apply.

The Wescott program currently pays $300 a month after 20 years’ service, plus an additional $15 for each additional year over 20 years. The board voted to have FPPA do a complimentary actuarial analysis on a future base benefit of $350 or $400 per month, to determine how much the district would have to contribute to the fund. Wescott just increased its annual contribution from $24,000 to $25,000 for 2005. The state provides an equal match to the fund.

January run report

The district made 101 runs, with 100 runs in the district and a single mutual aid run for a traffic accident. District runs comprised: 26 medical, 3 traffic accident, 6 automatic alarm, 2 hazardous material, 2 good intent but false alarm, 2 public assistance, 2 carbon monoxide alarm, 1 rescue, 1 service call, and 55 AMR ambulance calls.

The board went into executive session at 9 p.m. to discuss personnel issues. No announcements were made after the executive session. The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 16 at Station 2, 15000 Sun Hills Dr.

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Lewis-Palmer Board of Education, Feb. 17: Major change to school schedule and calendar approved

By Tommie Plank

The School Board took action that will require some scheduling adjustments by parents and students next school year. On 11 selected Wednesdays, students at the five district elementary schools will be dismissed at 1 p.m. Teachers will remain behind to work in their Professional Learning Communities.

A school calendar change, which affects the schedule for all students throughout the District, shortens the winter break by one day in order for students and staff to end the school year prior to the Memorial Day weekend. The last day of classes next year will be May 24, 2006; the last day for instructional staff will be May 26, 2006. Classes will begin at the previously approved date, August 18, 2005.

The Board also approved changing the high school schedule back to the semester configuration, having abandoned that format in favor of the trimester schedule five years ago. The daily schedule will change from five 50-minute periods to one with as many as 8 periods per day. The exact configuration of the daily schedules and starting times is still being considered. The first semester will end at winter break.

The reason for the change, according to school board members and administrators, is to enrich students’ education and enable the high school to comply with increased requirements of the Colorado Commission of Higher Education.

The Board agreed that the superintendent should study possible boundary change solutions to address the increasing imbalance of student populations at Lewis-Palmer and Creekside Middle Schools (CMS). One possible remedy would be changing boundaries of South Woodmoor. Boundary changes would be phased in over a three-year period, beginning with next year’s 6th grade students, allowing all current middle school students to stay at their present school if they so desire.

Superintendent Dave Dilley, Director of Administration and Community Relations Ted Belteau, and Director of Auxiliary Services Hal Garland will speak to parents at the middle schools about growth projections and possible remedies. A hearing will be set for the March board meeting, with a recommendation presented to the Board for approval at that meeting.

The Board voted to retain Dave Dilley as Superintendent of Schools, reinstating his three-year contract effective July 1, 2005. Board members complimented Dilley on being very hard working, principled, and knowledgeable, and stated the district is very fortunate to have his leadership.

Creekside Middle School educators Tina Hackett and Jennifer Day discussed the new and improved report cards at CMS. Students are now receiving two grades for each academic class, one for tasks (homework, projects, quizzes) and one for assessments (tests, final grades). They believe the new format gives more information to parents and teachers regarding students’ progress.

Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) educators Mark Ewig (civics) and Deb Breazzano (Gifted/Talented Facilitator) discussed the positive impact of the first year of the Honors Program. Honors courses contain basic standards plus additional materials to allow more in-depth study.

Craig Ketels reviewed what has been established for students since he assumed the activities director position at LPHS this year. High school Principal Mark Brewer noted that Ketels has already made a significant impact in providing benefits to students and that club opportunities have greatly increased. New offerings include Astronomy Club, Bike Club, Cinema Club, Current Events Debate Club, Equestrian Club, Manga and Anime Clubs, and several more.

The Board also commended Ketels for being recently inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

SERTEEN officers Shawna Fehrman and Katie Magerko discussed the various projects in which the club is involved. SERTEEN membership has been increasing; this year, 198 LPHS students are members.

The District Accountability and Advisory Committee (DAAC) Chairman Karen D’Amour reported that in February their site visit was to Monument Charter Academy. The committee was impressed with the school as well as with the progress they are making on their goals.

The DAAC chair-elect has resigned due to business commitments, and the nominations committee will be making recommendations to fill that office at the March 8 meeting. Also on the agenda is the L-P Elementary School’s Fifth Grade Team, which will present Professional Learning Communities to DAAC; building reports will also be received.

Keith Jacobus, Director of Personnel Services, announced that the district received a very good response from several strong candidates for the Creekside Middle School (CMS) principal position. The position will be vacant due to the retirement this year of current principal Dr. Barbara Mascarelli.

Following the paper screening of applications, Superintendent Dilley conducted preliminary interviews of 12 candidates. Six of those people interviewed with the CMS interview team (staff and parents), district principals, and central office executive directors. A recommendation is expected to come to the board within the next few weeks.

On Feb. 24, the Board will conduct the first meeting of the community coalition to study growth in the district. Members of this coalition include the Towns of Monument and Palmer Lake, El Paso County Commissioners, Triview, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts, as well as the Board and their consultant, Denny Hill of Strategic Resources West.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be March 17 at 7 p.m. in the Learning Center of the Administration Building.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, Mar. 2: Variances granted to town home project rescinded

By Chris Pollard

Three Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) officers–Hans Post, Director of Public Safety, Kevin Nielsen, WIA Chief of Public Safety and John Ottino, WIA President–reported on a recent meeting with people working on the Highway 105 improvement project. Participants included the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) resident engineer and Beth Courrau, president of NEPCO and past president of the WIA.

Highway 105 project

The Highway 105 project is of great interest to the WIA because the road cuts the community in half. Changes to the flow of traffic on the road affect traffic through the community. The recent addition of several traffic lights close to Interstate 25 has caused an increase in traffic taking shortcuts through residential areas. There are plans improvements to the road but the available funds have to cover improvements all the way from Highway 83 through to Palmer Lake. Some safety improvements have already been started at the Furrow Road intersection by adding turn and merge lanes but no money is available to improve the intersection at Fairplay.

Although County Commissioner Wayne Williams said the traffic lights on Highway 105 would be synchronized, this has not been totally successful. The CDOT engineer said his department was going to "improve" the sequencing. He added that CDOT planned to modify the existing lights’ timing, but it was not guaranteed that this sequencing effort would include the two future sets of lights soon to be installed at Knollwood and the new intersection to be built at the entrance to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The CDOT representative said speed limits on Highway 105 will be determined by the "85% rule" and likely will be around 50. John Ottino added that work needs to be done in coordinating with the Lewis Palmer School District on their plans for access changes at the high school.

Shed siding rules changed

Laurie Healy, Director of Covenants, proposed a change to the rules on sheds so that if the house finish had been changed from siding to stucco the shed did not have to be stucco finished as well. The shed siding material would need to match the color of the stucco. Shed roofs would still have to be an exact match but the weight of stucco was inappropriate for such small buildings. Any building larger than 10’ x 20’ must still have a matching finish. This was approved unanimously.

Continuous clean-up advocated

Ottino again raised the issue of a neighborhood clean up plan that would encourage residents to continually clean up Woodmoor, rather than waiting to do the bulk of the work at the annual event. He added that the section of Woodmoor Drive between the bank and the fire station is currently one of the worst areas for trash in the community and proposed that the board of directors adopt this area for volunteer cleanup. The motion was unanimously approved. A further suggestion was made that this plan be coordinated with the owners of the Falcon Inn to get them to clean up their area also, and perhaps take down the old motel sign.

Beetle kill removal still a problem

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, announced that because of the urgent need to address the pine beetle problem he would delay further discussion on becoming a Firewise Community. He said he wanted to delay this until the July meeting because residents need to get beetle kill wood removed before June 1st. At the WIA annual meeting earlier this year, six people volunteered for the tree monitor program. He said that with the addition of these people, who will be helping residents with tree thinning for the defensible space program over the summer, the monitors could later turn their attention to the Firewise program.

Drowning reaction

Camilla Mottl again raised the issue of pond safety in light of the fatality in Gleneagle. Ottino expressed concern that signs might not be the answer but that fencing the ponds was excessive. The current rules say that skating is at the users’ risk. He said he felt it might be necessary to ban all activities in or on the ponds. Allan McMullen, Director of Open Space, said two of the ponds are occasionally used for hockey and that there might be some objections to the proposal. Post said this was exactly the sort of issue that should be discussed in the newsletter and the upcoming "town meeting" that is tentatively scheduled for May 19th. Ottino said he wants to change the signs at the ponds to "no trespassing" immediately.

Betrayal by Walters claimed

A new item was added to the agenda so Ottino could bring up the status of the conservation easement the Walters had accepted to gain approval of their town home project in South Woodmoor. Ottino said he heard recently from a realtor who contacted Kathy Walters regarding the status of the easement as part of research for the sale of a home adjacent to the easement. The realtor’s conclusion was that the easement was not going to be put in place after all.

Ottino said he subsequently talked to Walters and was told that this was not what she told the realtor. Kathy said that the conservation easement may or may not be requested, but the family would go ahead with the plan if it were feasible. If it were not feasible, the Walters would do whatever was best for their estate. Ottino said he responded that he felt he had been assured there would be a conservation easement on the undeveloped part of the parcel and that there was no ambiguity about the trade-off to get approval for higher density housing.

Although WIA had not demanded that any variances be tied to the conservation easement, a number of variances were granted on the assumption that there would indeed be a conservation easement area that could be used as recreation space adjacent to the development. The situation has become more complicated because the area where construction of the town homes has begun is now owned by the developer Pulte and not the Walters. The WIA board decided to immediately rescind variances granted to the development until the issue could be resolved.

At a recent El Paso County Planning Commission meeting, the final plat plans were voted down after it was noted that mention of the easement was no longer in the documentation.

The final plat will now go before the Board of County Commissioners, possibly as soon as their March 10th meeting. Ottino encouraged residents to come out in force to ask the county commissioners to require the easement and uphold the Planning Commission recommendation. Ottino said he was "tired of having the carrot [of the easement] dangled in front of him."

It was noted that Walters transferred the water rights from the open space portion of the property to the town house area to allow more units to be put on the developed portion. Purchase of additional water from the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District might allow construction of houses in the open space easement area.

Ottino added that he felt that approving the vacation of lot lines as part of the variances to allow units to be closer together with more cut and fill was based on the assumption that the town houses were going to be directly adjacent to open space.

Ottino said he felt betrayed by the Walters because the change in direction had not been communicated. He noted that the Walters had not talked to the people in the El Paso County government that have authority for conservation easements for about the past two years.

The WIA has not signed a construction contract with Pulte, the builders. Pulte will need approval from the WIA and the Board of County Commissioners before construction of the initial town house buildings can start. If the conservation easement land were to be developed, WIA would still have some control over what could be constructed there but could not preclude construction in the open space.

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February Weather Wrap

Below: Photo by Woodmoor resident Wesley Boyer shows Lake Woodmoor, rime ice, and fog.

By Bill Kappel

Sunshine was abundant through the first five days of the month, as highs warmed from the upper 20s on the 1st to the mid 40s by the first Saturday of the month. Low clouds and fog moved back in on Sunday, as a cool, moist upslope flow moved in across the Front Range. This airmass was very shallow, leading to the dense fog, flurries, and freezing drizzle we experienced. The fog also gave us the beautiful coating of rime ice, or hoar frost, on the windward side of the trees, while the leeward side remained green.

Cold, foggy, and wintry weather continued through the next few days as highs remained in the 20s Monday and Tuesday. The pattern finally began to break by later Tuesday afternoon, with partial clearing working into the region. This trend continued into the rest of the week as temperatures warmed to above-average. Highs reached into the 40s Thursday and Friday, with 50s over the weekend, giving us a hint of spring. However, anyone familiar with "spring" in the Tri Lakes region knows that many more days of snow and cold are sure to greet us between now and May.

The middle of the month once again witnessed cold, foggy, and wintry weather. Valentine’s Day was quiet enough, with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures as highs reached into the 50s. But cooler air and upslope conditions with snow showers and fog moved in quickly by the morning of the 15th, making for another messy commute. A couple inches of snow fell Tuesday into early Wednesday, along with some freezing drizzle as highs were held in the 20s for the next two afternoons.

Warmer temperatures with windy conditions and mostly sunny skies returned quickly over the next few days. A few springlike convective snow showers did develop on the afternoon of the 20th as a weak system brushed by the area. This is something that will become much more common over the next few months.

Slightly cooler air returned during the last full week of February, but overall the month ended with warmer-than-average temperatures and much-below-normal precipitation.

A Look Ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region. We can see 70 degree temperatures one afternoon and a blizzard the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30-45 inches of snow that shut down the region. March 2004, on the other hand, was mild and dry, so it will be interesting to see what Mother Nature brings us this year.

The official monthly forecast for March 2005, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for a slight chance of above-normal temperatures and a better-than-average chance of above-normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

February 2005 Weather Statistics

Average High 41.9°
Average Low 19.1°
Highest Temperature 55° on the 14th
Lowest Temperature 5° on the 2nd
Monthly Precipitation .12"
Monthly Snowfall 2.7"
Season to Date Snow 69.9"
Season to Date Precip. 13.60"

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

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

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Letters to Our Community

Click here to read OCN's letter guidelines

Wal-Mart will ruin Monument

We heartily agree with Norman and Linda Baker’s letter to the editor about Wal-Mart in the Feb. 5 OCN. We really wish that in fighting the Baptist Road location for Wal-Mart that the Monument Marketplace had not been given as an option. This location is better than the Baptist Road location, but we still will have to endure increased traffic, pollution issues, and increased demands on our small town police department.

Wal-Mart and their developers have no solutions for traffic problems. Their "solution" on Baptist Road was to have people make U-turns on Leather Chaps Road instead of redesigning Baptist Road to accommodate a left-hand turn. The interchange at Baptist Road and 1-25 will become a congested nightmare.

Light pollution is a real issue too. Who wants their nighttime view of the Front Range obscured by a huge 24/7 lighted Super Wal-Mart sign? Will we be replacing the Palmer Lake lighted star at the holidays with a large lighted W?

Wal-Mart is really a symptom of a much larger problem: that of overdevelopment and a severe lack of good community planning for the future. When will we start to see Super Wal-Marts in Palmer Lake, Larkspur, and everywhere else in between? When will it be enough market saturation for Wal-Mart—when they have a store on every single available corner?

Wal-Mart’s monopolistic and anti-employee business practices are disgusting, and they seem determined to drive all other local and national retailers out of business. Competing on price alone is a slippery slope and in doing so, good customer service and quality products fall by the wayside. All we are left with are unhappy employees who are underpaid and overworked, with little or no benefits and cheap imports that fall apart after several uses. Economic growth is usually a good thing but not when employees are blatantly exploited and community resources are abused. The smiling face of Wal-Mart could offer its entire store as "free" and we will still ALWAYS make our way to Target for our shopping.

Glenn and Monica Whiteside

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Ambulance issues

As you may have heard or read, the City of Colorado Springs is taking a look at getting into the ambulance transport business. A quick overview of the ambulance transport business looks something like this: AMR with 26 ambulances, not all of which are staffed at any one time, and during normal business hours could be doing nonemergency transport such as hospital to nursing home, etc., for a total of 33,583 transports in 2004.

Next busiest is the City of Fountain, with one ambulance and 985 transports in 2004. Fountain is backed up by AMR when their unit is in service. Tri-Lakes Fire Protection and Black Forest Fire Protection each have 3 units, with a combined transport of 614 in 2003. Calhan and Ellicott Fire Protection Districts both provide transport from the eastern portion of the county to a designated point where they meet AMR, who provides the remainder of the transport.

An ambulance provider may transport from 1/2 to 2/3 of the calls they respond to and that is the service they are able to bill for. Even in Fountain, with what seems to be a high number of transports for only one unit, the service does not completely pay for itself. With the cost of a fully equipped ambulance plus staffing and operating cost for the first 12 months running over $400,000, it makes for a fairly serious commitment. Furthermore, every 6 years or 250,000 miles, it is recommended these units be replaced.

While the county is responsible by state law to license and inspect each unit, they have limited input over who gets into the transport business. Of course, our concern is that every person in the county have the best possible ambulance service. Growing up in a rural area, we knew if someone got hurt, the fastest way to get help was to throw them in the pickup and head for town.

Things have changed. While we know it is going to take longer to get to the emergency room from Hanover than Village 7, we want everyone to at least have a fighting chance. Large ambulance companies, such as AMR, employ something called Dynamic Dispersion. During the work day, they may have units stationed around the business district, before rush hour they will start moving toward the major roadways, and by evening they could be setting in the parking lot of the neighborhood convenience store.

At this stage of the game I am not advocating for or against changes, but will be keeping an eye on it to be sure the outlying areas do not end up with diminished service.

Dennis Hisey
El Paso County Commissioner

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OCN article criticized

In response to the Feb. 5 OCN article by Jim Kendrick ("Donald Wescott FPD Board, Jan 26") "after the meeting adjourned" comments by Assistant Chief Vinny Burns, first, I must thank the Tribune for printing the complete rebuttal to the article on Feb. 16. Next I must question why the OCN "Reporting on community issues in Monument, Palmer Lake, and the surrounding Tri-Lakes area" would print such erroneous information? Has the OCN no pride in accurately reporting facts. Is there no attempt to verify your information?

Here are the facts:

  1. While a pumper was moved from Woodmoor to the Roller Coaster station for three days, a full crew with a pumper/aerial ladder truck was always available at Woodmoor (under the new Fire Authority, two trucks and an ambulance, from the combined three stations, always respond to 911 fire calls).

  2. The Woodmoor Monument FPD Board has promised our residents that we will keep four, not three, Fire Fighters on duty at all times. In January, there were two instances where only three were on duty (Jan. 18, 8 hours, and Jan. 24, 8 hours); on each of those days a Fire Fighter went home sick. Of 2976 hours, all but 16 were fully covered (however, with the additional resources under the Authority, two additional fully manned stations were at our immediate disposal).

  3. Capt. Dooley did note new personnel policies but those policies had nothing to do with a reduction to three personnel; rather the discussions were in regard to transferring three personnel (who volunteered to make the change) to the other two stations to ensure that every Authority truck responds with four Fire Fighters (to include one Fire Medic (Paramedic/Fire fighter qualified)) and that each ambulance also has a Fire Medic.

Our taxpayers can rest assured that there has not been, nor will there be in the future, any reduction in coverage. Thanks to the Authority, they are better protected now than they have ever been. Woodmoor/Monument response time is within six minutes, with two fully manned trucks and an ambulance at a minimum. Additionally, an ambulance is now permanently assigned at the Woodmoor station.

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection Board would ask that in the future, the OCN more diligently research and verify facts before going to press. Don’t we all owe our residents the truth?

Bill R. Ingram
W/MFPD Public Affairs

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OCN response

We thank Mr. Ingram for revising his letter to comply with our longstanding written policy against printing letters that have appeared in substantially the same form in another publication. The purpose of this policy is to reduce the potential for copyright infringement.

Mr. Ingram objects to certain statements made by Donald Wescott Assistant Chief Vinny Burns being included in OCN. To quote from the Perspective on Our Community "Don’t shoot the messenger" that ran in the October 4, 2003, issue of OCN, "For most of our articles, we go to public meetings and report what happened. Our goal is to give our readers the information they would have gotten if they had gone to the meetings…Within OCN’s role, truth amounts to accurately reporting what was said and done. To omit from our articles statements made at public meetings because the reporter may question the basis for those statements would be biased reporting."

The statements Ingram objects to were made by Burns immediately following a public meeting, in the meeting room, and were made in the context of the meeting.

Blaming the reporter for statements made by Assistant Chief Burns is not confronting the issue. We accurately reported what he said. And we were doing what our banner indeed says: "Reporting on community issues."

As stated in the conclusion of our 2003 Perspective (which can be found at http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v3n10.htm#perspective), "Don’t shoot the messenger just because you do not like the message."

OCN Editorial Board

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To the homeowners of the Forest View Acres Water District

You are now aware there has probably been a six-figure embezzlement within our water district. The water district is owned by the homeowners, and we are all directly affected in many ways. The water is still flowing, but what about our future water rates? This is now the time for all of us to get involved.

This is a district with a tremendous amount of talent. We need to donate our time and talents to establish a new system for this District. The Board of Directors suspended annual independent financial audits to save money. Apparently, there was no regulation requiring an audit, or else they bypassed the regulation. This decision has cost thousands upon thousands of dollars from our pockets.

I do not feel the Board is keeping us apprised of the District’s financial condition. Financial statements were due in February. I know very little about the pending criminal embezzlement investigation. Based upon questionable management and a lack of cooperation, I feel it is time to recall the Board of Directors and call a new election.

It is time for all of us to become involved. We are at the point where we can reorganize this district so it runs like a business. Forest View Acres Water District has 280 members. I would like for each of us to have input into our own future. The next meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for March 9, 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Fire Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 near the bowling alley.

Susan Gates

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Which water committee met on Feb. 18?

The Palmer Lake Independent News (PLIN) is a group of citizens who strive to get the truth of issues out to the public when the Town of Palmer Lake makes a decision impacting a vast majority of its citizens. That is why our inaugural issue sent out in a direct mail newsletter with updates via e-mail, covered the issue of the $10 water rate hike last summer. PLIN also convened a meeting of concerned citizens when the town passed a similar increase in the water rate of $2, as a surtax to fill the lake.

PLIN has learned that the town’s "water committee" led by Water Trustee Chuck Cornell met on Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. to discuss a rate to offer the Awake the Lake Committee when it buys water to fill the lake. This meeting was attended by the mayor and three trustees. (The mayor did not attend the previous water committee meetings.) We understand that the meeting may have been posted, but an e-mail was not sent. E-mail had been the mode of communication to the committee members. The committee met several times last summer and fall and consisted of approximately 10-15 citizens in addition to several trustees.

We believe that Cornell—the self-appointed water committee chairman—convened an illegal public policy meeting as defined by the Colorado Open Meetings Law on the 18th. He did not directly inform the citizen members in the same manner as he informed the Mayor and Trustees. Why is that important? Because the full water committee as sanctioned by the town was formed to protect the interests of the public on water pricing, water enterprise fund accounting, and water rate follow-up.

Whatever rate was discussed for filling the lake, we believe that under the current town pricing policy, it will ultimately place the most financial burden on those who already pay a disproportionate share. By that, we mean those customers who use less than 5,000 gallons per month: They represent about one-half of the total customers in the winter and about one-third of the total customers in the summer. They currently subsidize the water enterprise and the commercial customers by paying more per gallon. Residential customers who use only 1,000 gallons per month must pay $28 per 1,000 gallons. Those who use 5,000 gallons pay $5.60 per 1,000 gallons. Commercial customers have a slightly higher base rate and a substantially lower usage rate.

We strongly recommend that the town revise its water rate structure so that each customer pays a service fee plus a usage fee that reflect the actual cost to provide water. This could be accomplished by convening the complete water committee. It may be the only way to keep the town solvent and manage the increasingly rare and expensive resource that is water. A new policy could easily accommodate a new customer such as the Awake the Lake Committee, which should receive a substantial discount due to volume pricing.

Kim Makower
Palmer Lake Independent News

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Forced vacination, a bad idea

I send you this letter because I am concerned. I care about our local community and Colorado. The bills, SB 05-087 (forced shots, "minimal financial impact") with HB 1161 (to fund bill SB 05-087) recently passed by State Senate. The bill will allow trackers to call/harass families and force vaccinations.

Problems: master lists, incorrect documentation, over-vaccination risks are great, and the financial impact is not minimal: it’s $5 million. Senator Shaffer complains that he doesn’t want to be labeled "Colo-bama" by his fellows in other states. The facts remain that Colorado maxed states’ lists for vaccination compliance, but Colorado is at the bottom for other health issues. We can each at least make an intelligent response to our legislators before they push this kind of thing through, especially based on incorrect information.

Call your senators and representatives and tell him or her we do not have a crisis vaccinating children in Colorado that requires a Big Brother solution. We meet the federal healthy people 2010 goal of 90 percent. The facts are just a click away.

Read about the above errors, and you will understand the issues I have with the bill: the law’s basis is error. I hope our community takes issue with the bill as well as should the legislators, who do not appear to have responsible answers. We live in an intelligent community of persons who can help prevent such problems. I assume that most people have a responsible capacity for their actions and their health choices. We are obliged awareness of our choices; we know better. I hope we will care enough about others to warn them of dangers we see coming in legislation

Janet Sellers

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Morgan responds to Mayor

I want to congratulate your newspaper and reporter Jim Kendrick on a good job of reporting the unsuccessful dissolution action against the Monument Sanitation District (MSD). As such an action was unprecedented, the episode was complicated for the employees and Board of Directors of the MSD and complicated to report upon.

About the time the dissolution effort fizzled out, the episode concerning the town planning commission occurred, as reported in the OCN. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, who took the statements of the MSD petitioners at face value and supported dissolving the sanitation district and having the operation taken over by the town, was quoted as saying about the 2001 recall, "My own opinion was that was a slap in the face to the voters. The same people who served on the board that was recalled are continuing to serve in government and they’re very opinionated."

What an astounding statement! Apparently Mr. Glenn is not himself opinionated. He clearly hasn’t thought through the implications of this. The recall was a political battle. It was orchestrated by Glenn’s good old boy and developer buddies because they didn’t agree with decisions made by the board that I served on. By saying that we cannot continue to serve in local government, he implies that our supporters, those who voted against the recall, should not be allowed voices as well. Apparently Mr. Glenn wants only those who agree with him, especially, judging from other statements that he has been quoted as making, on the pampering of developers, to be allowed to serve in town government.

Since three of us who were involved in the 2001 Monument Board of Trustees recall serve on the board of directors of the MSD, which his friends failed to dissolve, Mr. Glenn is no doubt perturbed, in his own non-opinionated way, of course. I wonder if this is what the dissolution and planning commission fiascos were really about.

Lowell Morgan

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Snuggle Up Travel

By Judith Pettibone

My stepmom in Omaha has tulips popping up. We, on the other hand, have our snowiest two months of the year ahead of us. This can be a daunting period for us Coloradans, especially when the rest of the country celebrates oncoming cherry blossoms and daffodils.

So while we wait for the Rocky Mountain arrival of spring, what better time to travel? And if you can’t get away, how about travel through the pages of a book? Not a "Frommers" or a "Lonely Planet" travel guide, though that can be fun, but a travel memoir. Immersing yourself in a country via these "love letters" is a wonderful way to find places you must visit or to enjoy another’s perspective on a familiar place. If you are like me, Patricia Schultz’s best-selling book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die is a big bite. However, you can "see" some places by just pulling up the hassock.

Under the Tuscan Sun
By Frances Mayes, $15.00

Before this book, I had never read a travel memoir. I can remember where I was while reading it. Though curled up in a mountain cabin in the middle of February, I found myself in the sun-drenched Tuscan landscape, reveling in the villages, the architecture and the food … oh yes, the food! In this sleeper best seller, Mayes transports you with her lyrical writing but down-to-earth adventure of rebuilding her villa, Bramasole, while discovering the joys of Tuscany. I have a friend who created her entire Tuscan travel itinerary based on this book. Mayes’s follow-up, Bella Tuscany is just as wonderful, especially if you like gardens, wines, and olive oil. Note: Please, please, please do not judge the book by the movie of the same name; the only similarities between the two are the title and scenery.

In a Sunburned Country
By Bill Bryson, $14.95

This was my first Bryson but will not be my last. I "read" this book via audiotapes with Bryson narrating. I made quite a picture, walking and laughing out loud! Having been to Australia, I especially enjoyed his thumbnail history and his experiences traveling by train. In fact, I enjoyed his descriptions so much, I would go home from each of my walks and trace his journey in our atlas. Bryson LOVES Australia and its people, and this sentiment oozes from every page. You will revel in his descriptions of the Outback, be amazed at the flora and fauna, and chuckle (or more) at his adventures. From the cover of the book: "Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bryson, the perfect guide." My Bryson-fan friends tell me that A Walk in the Woods must be next on my list.

Catfish and Mandala
By Andrew X. Pham, $14.00

This story will stay with you long after turning the last page. Billed as "a two-wheeled voyage through the landscape and memory of Vietnam," Pham’s book won the Pacific Rim Book Prize in 1999. This is one man’s quest to understand his identity as a transplanted Vietnamese in American society as well as his identity as a "Viet-Kieu" (a Vietnamese-American) in his native Vietnam. As a 30-year-old man who left Vietnam at 8 years of age, Pham pedals across his native land. During this journey, the reader learns the 30-year story of his family since 1967. More than a descriptive travelogue, Catfish is an emotional glimpse into a life that many of its readers will never know. And never forget.

Sometimes the love affair isn’t quite so obvious...

The Sex Lives of Cannibals:
Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
By Maarten Troost, $12.95

Life in Kiribati, a tiny island nation in the south Pacific, could be idyllic if it weren’t so polluted, overpopulated, and skin-cancer-causing sunny. Troost’s wife works for an international nonprofit, and he has typewriter-will-travel. The two-year sojourn on the island of Tarawa initially provides a culture shock of enormous proportion, but with time, both come to have an admiration for I-Kiribati people and an appreciation for how a sense of humor can get you through almost anything. At times incredibly funny and often sarcastically entertaining, this book will give you a peek at a world most will find brand new.

Ciao, America:
An Italian Discovers the U.S.
By Beppe Severgnini, $12.95

Severgnini spends some part of one chapter hilariously relating the many name-related errors he encountered during his year in America. An Italian newspaper columnist, Severgnini chronicles his year with each chapter a calendar month. While he definitely gives full measure to some of the inane (crazy?) aspects of our culture, he does so with charm and genuine affection. We are crazy about air-conditioning, La-Z-Boys, mall shopping, and buying now and paying later, but we also get together each year on the Fourth of July for a giant community picnic. Still he can, at times, equally spar at aspects of his own culture and make us come out looking pretty good. Definitely entertaining and at times, ah-ha illuminating. This was originally published in Italy and then revised and published here.

Escape our spring that takes forever to arrive, either by finding that great airline fare or by pulling up just a little closer to the fire and opening a travel memoir. Until next month, happy adventuring and reading.

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Web site exclusive

High Country Highlights: Gardening in March

By Woody Woodworth

One of the most asked questions this time of year is "When can I start planting?"

Although the timing differs each year, depending on Mother Nature, our general answer is when the soil warms up enough to start working it—sometime between mid-March and mid-April. At lower elevations, you may plant at this time, but keep in mind that new plants will require watering and you must have the ability to water them well. At higher elevations, you should be able to start planting when most of the snow is gone, usually mid-April to mid-May.

What to do now? Contain yourself! That’s right, use containers that can be kept inside on cold days and set out on the patio or deck on nice days. Many herbs, vegetables, and cold hardy annuals are available this time of year. Corsican Violets are an ever-blooming perennial that are also available now.

Use containers that are out of the ordinary. Think creatively. Today’s gardeners have moved away from just putting plants in a dish. Anything can be a container as long as it drains. Pots don’t have to match; in fact, they probably shouldn’t. Think different sizes, styles, and shapes.

If you’re not up for the containers yet, give seedlings a head start indoors now. Sow warm season plants inside because they will need warmth for good germination. Once germinated, plants can be acclimated to cooler growing seasons.

Uncertain weather in the Rockies often makes gardening tricky, with bright sunshine for a week or more, followed by cold, frosty conditions that can be devastating to plants that are not acclimatized. But what the heck—it’s fun to get an early start, and with some planning you can get a longer growing season than you might expect.

Here is a short list of gardening things to do during March:

  • Buy seeds. If you haven’t noticed, all of the garden centers in our area have wonderful displays of seeds to start your year off right.

  • Sow seeds for hardy spring-blooming plants. Be sure to allow enough room indoors for a while. It just snowed on March 2.

  • Remove mulch from early bulbs. Crocus should be appearing now or soon, followed by daffodils and tulips.

  • Cut back on feeding indoor houseplants. They require a little less fertilizer right now – many actually go dormant for a couple of months and quit growing until late April.

  • Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables. Cabbage, broccoli, beets, carrots and radishes are all cool-weather crops, to name a few.

  • Visit your garden center. Find out what’s new and exciting this year. Stimulate your mind and get into the 2005 gardening season.

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

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Art Matters: Art and culture count

By Janet Sellers

After reading all the big national news stories this month about the flamboyant artist pair, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, with their flowing saffron gates in NYC’s Central Park, I took a look at their Web site and discovered their next project is practically in our backyard.

In 1992, Christo and wife Jeanne-Claude investigated 14,000 miles of the Rocky Mountains for their river-wrapping project, and selected the Arkansas River near Royal Gorge. The project, which consists mainly of draping shimmering fabric along the Arkansas River, will likely cost the couple tens of millions of their own dollars to produce, and will be under review from agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management. For two weeks, "Over The River" will join the other recreational activities and the natural life of the Arkansas River.

Christo was drawn to the area because the rivers of America are essentially born in the Rocky Mountains and flow out from here to the rest of the country, and because the height of the canyon walls and the existing roads along the river were best suited to the project. "Over the River" will be viewable from above via roads and bridges, and from below via rafts and kayaks.

Contest deadline approaching

Every year, the U.S. Department of the Interior holds a design contest for K-12 students from all 50 states. While exploring nature and aesthetic qualities is part of the design contest, the deeper learning of wildlife management principles and awareness of natural resources is also an integral part of the program.

The Junior Duck Stamp Design Program integrates art and science and was developed to teach environmental science and habitat conservation. It is sponsored nationally by the U.S. Department of the Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and locally by the Monument School of Fine Arts.

The postmark deadline to submit artwork to the Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest is March 15. Details on the contest are available from the Web site of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Division, Colorado State Coordinator: http://duckstamps.fws.gov/junior/JDprogram/Colorado/Colorado.html and at www.StartMyArt.com on the Jr. Duck stamp link.

An awards ceremony and show of the top award-winning artist’s works will be held in May. Stay tuned: The Tri-Lakes community has students who place with top honors every year.

Quilts on display

The Palmer Divide Quilters will present their annual quilt show at the Monument Library for the month of March, with a celebration planned for National Quilting Day on March 20, 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the library. A presentation at 2 p.m. by Sharon Thompson and a 3 p.m. lecture on judging quilts by Barb Broshous—as well as ongoing quilting demonstrations and a children’s scavenger hunt—will round out the event.

These quilters have started an ongoing exhibit at the Colorado National Bank branch on Highway 105. The shows will feature a different quilter each month. In February, Lynn Lybolt exhibited her quilts, and in March we will see Ruby Hamilton’s quilts.

Tri Lakes Center for the Arts News

The second annual photography show just ended, and the photographers exhibited dozens of images in numerous photographic media from traditional silver gelatin prints, large digital color prints to digitally created imagery, and more. The staff at the TLCA reported it was one of the most popular of recent shows, with a consistent flow of visitors enjoying the exhibit.

A show of art created by children in School District 38 will open March 19. Last year, the walls were covered end to end with the exuberant artwork. Hundreds of artwork from grades K-12 will be represented at this annual show, which is sponsored by Air Academy Federal Credit Union each year. Art teachers from each school in the district submit art from their students.

Know how much culture counts?

There are 548,000 arts-related businesses in the United States—one in 24 U.S. businesses is arts-centric. It’s a formidable industry.

I’ve been poking around for data to bring to you in terms of arts and creative industries, especially with a positive impact for our local economy. Key findings of a Deloitte Consulting study for Denver/Front Range areas show that arts and culture are big business in metro Denver, generating more than $1.3 billion in economic activity. The cultural industry employs well over 9,000 employees, disbursing $86 million in wages and almost $14 million in payroll, seat, and sales tax in 2003.

The cultural industry doesn’t just spend money, it attracts it. A destination for cultural tourists, metro Denver attracted 2.8 million visitors from outside the metro area and 1.4 million from outside Colorado. This cultural tourism created $403 million of economic impact—new money for the metro Denver economy.

Two 1998 studies published by the Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching found that young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours, three days a week for a year are:

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement

  • Three times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools

  • Four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair

  • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance

  • Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem

In addition, young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:

  • Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently

  • Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently

  • Read for pleasure nearly twice as often

  • Perform community service more than four times as often

Janet Sellers is an internationally known and collected artist and is director of the Monument School of Fine Arts. She can be reached at ArtSpa@mac.com.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Woodpeckers

By Elizabeth Hacker

There is tremendous diversity among the over 200 species of woodpeckers, but there are similarities common to all. For instance, all woodpeckers use their sharp-pointed bills to chisel into wood, making that familiar tapping sound. While most other birds have three forward-facing toes and one backward-facing toe, woodpeckers’ feet are unique in that they have two toes facing forward and two facing back. Known as a zygodactyl foot, this enables the woodpecker to move up a tree by grasping the bark with their feet, while using their stiff tail feathers to prop themselves up. In this way, they can work their way up a tree while peering and poking into every nook and cranny.

On the Palmer Divide, there are three common woodpecker species: the downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), the hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus), and the northern flicker (Colaptes aruatus), of which there are two varieties. Both flicker varieties are similar in size (12-14 inches in length, with a 14.5-inch wingspan) and in coloration. However, as its name implies, the red-shafted flicker has salmon-colored feathers under its wings and tail, while its more easterly cousin, the yellow-shafted flicker has yellow feathers under its wings and tail. Although we have spotted the gilded flicker and pileated woodpecker here, they are uncommon.

Woodpeckers live in forests, but within this broad category, certain species have habitat preferences. For instance, the northern flicker, the only ground-feeding woodpecker, often resides in woodlands near developments where the ground has been cleared so they can more easily forage in the soil for ants. While downy and hairy woodpeckers may be found near houses, they generally prefer more natural areas where dead trees have not been removed because they forage for insects as well as build their nests in them.

The range of downy and hairy woodpeckers overlaps, and because they both have sharply contrasting yet similar black-and-white markings, they are often confused. My husband can tell them apart because the downy woodpeckers’ body (6.5 inches in length) is smaller and its bill length is shorter than its head. The hairy woodpecker is larger (9.25 inches in length), its bill is equal to or longer than the width of its head, and it has a black comma extending onto its upper breast, whereas the downy does not.

There are subtle differences between the male and female of each species, but to tell the truth, I have difficulty distinguishing them.

In contrast to the back and white plumage of the hairy and downy woodpeckers, the northern flicker has a subtle brown cap on top of its gray face. The flickers’ back is a light brown with striking bars of black on its upper back and wings, while its belly is tan with black spots. The males and females have a distinctive black bib below their throats, but the males can be distinguished by a mustache beneath their eyes. The male red-shafted flicker generally has a red mustache, while the yellow-shafted has a black mustache and a red-crescent shape on the back of its head.

All flickers have white feathers on their rump that are most noticeable when they take flight. Flickers are easily identified in flight even at great distances. They appear as a sort of white fluff-ball between two wings.

Woodpeckers are generally monogamous and form long-term pair bonds. They excavate cavities in dead or living wood. If they choose a living tree, it will generally be a soft wood like aspen. A pair may have two cavities, one for breeding and one for roosting in the fall. Woodpeckers annually chisel out a new cavity in which to nest, but old cavities often provide homes for other species such as bluebirds, starlings, or small owls.

Woodpecker clutch size typically ranges from four to six white eggs, however, the flicker is more prodigious and averages eight eggs per clutch. Incubation ranges from 11 to 14 days, and fledging time varies from 25 to 30 days.

In late March and April, woodpeckers begin their seasonal drumming, which usually lasts a few weeks. When we first moved here, we had no idea what was causing our house to vibrate with this very loud drum roll early every morning until we saw a flicker on our chimney. Drumming is a seasonal activity and the woodpecker’s way of marking its territory and attracting a mate. Because the flicker’s territory can be as large as one-half square mile, they need to effectively communicate their locations. So they look for a surface that will make the loudest noise, like a hollow metal chimney flue.

Contrary to popular belief, woodpeckers do not get headaches from banging on trees or hard metal surfaces. Their thick skulls and powerful neck muscles enable them to peck away without damaging their brain or other organs.

Their sharp chisel-like bills allow them to bore into wood, but it is their long tongues (up to 3 inches) that dislodge insects from deep crevices in the tree. The tip of a woodpecker’s tongue is covered with barbs and sticky saliva to help the birds bring the insects to the surface and into their mouths. Because the flicker is a ground feeder, its bill is slightly rounded and its tongue is flat, with sharp tips along the side to scour ant holes.

The diet of woodpeckers consists mainly of insects, berries, nuts, and seeds collected from trees and shrubs. Though woodpeckers can perform a great service by eating insects harmful to trees, such as woodborers like the ips beetle, they can become a pest when they chisel holes in houses, buildings, and utility poles.

My husband and I have tried a number of different methods to deter woodpeckers from making holes in our cedar siding. The least effective method was putting a plastic owl on the roof. Our most successful method has been to consistently fill in the holes and paint over them. Our theory is that the woodpeckers (and nuthatches) don’t like the smell of fresh paint or stain, but we really aren’t sure. I’ve read that natural colored stains are more attractive to woodpeckers than painted siding. However, our friends with painted siding do not agree.

We have recently experimented with hanging mobiles made with a reflective metallic material that move in the wind, but the jury is still out because we painted our home before hanging the mobiles.

Sticky repellents are commercially available and can be applied to areas where damage is occurring, but I can’t in good conscious recommend using them. These products can get on a bird’s plumage, impairing its ability to fly and stay warm. Moreover, they can darken and stain wood siding and cause dirt to adhere to the surface where they’re applied.


March and April are transition months when winter migrants begin to leave and summer birds begin to arrive. Because of our mild winter, migration may begin earlier than normal. Ruth Ann Steele, director of Black Forest Slash and Mulch program, called to say she had spotted a flock of western bluebirds east of Meridian Road in February, which is way too early. We hope they will survive the spring snowstorms we always have.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and free-lance writer. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at editor@ourcommunitynews.org.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Weekend bike rides

Balanced Rock Bike shop will be holding road rides on Saturdays, leaving the shop (279 J Beacon Lite, at 3rd Street) at 10:30 a.m. Mountain bike rides will be held Sundays, leaving the shop at 1 p.m. For more information, call 488-9007.

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"It’s a Small World" winter festival at Monument Branch Library

Come join the festivities on March 12, 1:30-4:30 p.m. "Tourists" will receive a "Passport to the World" and visit each continent at the Monument Library to celebrate our diverse and delightful small world. Events for the afternoon include the Black Hands Drum Ensemble, St. Brendan’s School of Irish Dance, alpacas and parrots, the Fun & Fancy Folktale Theatrical Troupe, face painting, crafts, and refreshments. Children are invited to dress in an international costume to join the "It’s a Small World" parade at 3:15 p.m. Keep your passport and visit the Palmer Lake Library on or before March 19 and get a prize. Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370.

The international fun continues at the Palmer Lake Library on March 19 from noon-1:30 p.m. with Asian crafts, book binding with chopsticks and origami, and refreshments. Local teens of the Fun and Fancy Folktale Theatrical Troop will present skits based on folktales from India, China, Africa, and Mexico at 1 p.m. Palmer Lake Branch Library, 66 Lower Glenway. Info: 481-2587.

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Places in the Heart concert at TLCA

Combining song and spoken word in a celebration of music and places of natural wonder, "Places In the Heart" will be presented at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) on March 12. The Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble, comprised of 23 vocalists, along with renowned author and storyteller, John Stansfield, will entertain and enlighten in the TLCA and The Wine Seller Concert Series’ second concert of the year. The doors will open at 7 p.m., with the performance beginning at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served and beverages available. Tickets should be purchased in advance due to limited seating and are $10 for TLCA members, $12 for nonmembers. and $5 for students/children and are available at The Wine Seller in Monument, SpeedTrap in Palmer Lake, or at the TLCA located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon until 5. For more information call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.com.

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Friends of Monument Preserve elections

Last open space? Keep the area around Monument Rock open. Friends of Monument Preserve works with the U.S. Forest Service to maintain trails and preserve this 1,200-acre tract. The annual meeting for elections will be March 16 at 7 p.m. in the classroom at the Monument Work Center. Take Mount Herman Road west until the pavement ends, then take the first dirt road on the left. If you are interested in the proposed drilling on Mt. Herman, using the trails, or just ensuring that some open space remains on the Front Range, please attend! Contact Chip Fleming at 481-3894 or chipfle@aol.com for more information.

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Lewis-Palmer students show off talent at art show

The annual District 38 Student Art Show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts opens March 19 and runs through April 13. Each year, the art teachers in D-38 select work from their students to be entered and exhibited at the center. Representatives of the Air Academy Federal Credit Union will judge the artwork for each grade level and choose overall winners, who receive scholarships and recognition at the awards ceremony on April 12. The Palmer Lake Art Group also has a separate judging and awards that provide scholarships to several students in the district. The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon until 5. The show is free and open to the public. For information call 481-0475 or visit the center’s Web site www.trilakesarts.com.

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Imagination Celebration events at local libraries

  • Monument Branch Library, Monday, March 21 at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.–Johnny Appleseed’s Day Off. Suppose that for one day Johnny rested his shovel and his pot. What do you suppose he would do? Leroy Leonard is Johnny Appleseed in this play about playing. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370.

  • Monument Branch Library, March 22 at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.–Chicken Little and the Bubbicous Sky with Patti Smithsonian. A very proper English Tea Party is interrupted when the puppeteer’s bubble gum gets out of hand! Featuring marionette rod puppets, giant inflatable puppets, music, and audience participation. This show is suitable for the whole family. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370.

  • Palmer Lake Branch Library, March 23 at 10:30 a.m.–Runaway Imagination with Inspector Magic. "Knowledge is Power," says Sir Isaac Newton, but "Imagination is more important than knowledge," says Albert Einstein. In this entertaining magic show, you will learn what these famous men said and meant and why imagination is so important. 66 Lower Glenway. Info: 481-2587.

  • Monument Branch Library, March 24 at 10:30 a.m.–Art from Square One: A Hands-on Art Workshop for Children. Start with a simple square and see what you can create. For children ages 7 and older. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370. Space is limited, so registration is required.

  • Monument Branch Library, March 24 at 4 p.m. Funky Fairytales 15: Funky Fairytales Spaces Out! For the 15th straight year, the Library Players, directed by Stacy Smith, present fractured versions of favorite fairy tales, like Goldilocks and the Three Martians and other wacky stories! Recommended for elementary ages. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370.

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Free tax assistance

Free income tax filing assistance is offered by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Trained AARP volunteers will be available every Monday and Thursday through April 14 from noon until 3 p.m. to answer questions and to assist in completing federal and state income tax returns. On Mondays, they will be at the Monument Town Hall; on Thursdays, they will be at Tri-Lakes Cares’ new location near the Presbyterian Church in Monument.

Volunteers will assist taxpayers in preparing their Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ, and will assist in claiming any Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, and/or Education Credits to which the taxpayer might be entitled. They will also assist in preparing the following forms: Schedules 1, 2, 3, A, B, C-EZ, EIC, D, R, and SE, as well as forms 2441, 8812, and 8863. Taxpayers with more complicated returns should seek the advice of a paid professional. Filers are asked to bring their W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc., needed to complete their 2004 return, plus a copy of last year’s (2003) tax return. For more information, call Jim Taylor at 488-1317.

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Junior’s tennis team forming

Palmer Lake Tennis Club is going to form some teams for participation in a USTA junior league this spring. For kids who want to try out for a high school tennis team, here is a chance to develop their tennis skills. The prerequisite for this team is a little tennis experience by having taken a PLTC group lesson or knowing how to keep score. The emphasis is on having fun and improving kid’s tennis skills. Instruction on playing tactics and techniques will be included during play. For more information, e-mail info@palmerlaketennis.com. Or visit with the coaches at the courts each Wednesday and Saturday 3:30-4:30 p.m. See you there! Cost: suggested donation of $7 per class.

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The 29th annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale

Mark your calendars for this special event coming to Monument April 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April 17, 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School. The show will feature antiques from more than 60 dealers, as well as a delicious Country Café and homemade bake sale.

The major fund-raising event of the year for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, the antiques show and sale proceeds benefit local nonprofit groups. In the past 29 years, more than $415,000 has been awarded to District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organizations that provide services to residents within the community. For more information, visit their Web site at www.tlwc.net.

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