Friday, April 28, 2006

Trees in Monument Valley Park cut down for flood control

QUESTION: I live along Monument Park in downtown Colorado Springs and noticed that all of the 20-plus-year-old trees on the west side of the trail, down to the creek, have been cut down. I stopped and asked a worker and he said it was for “flooding” and “lifting of the flagstone terracing.” This was supposedly a Forest Service decision. It is such a shame, changed the entire look of the park, and the view to the creek is barren. Why are such decisions made, and does the Forest Service consult with the city on these types of ridiculous acts?
- Laura

ANSWER: The city did the work, which was annual flood-control maintenance. Because all water in the creeks is controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency monitored the work. Some of the large, hardwood trees were cut down because during flooding they can fall and block streams, causing heavy property damage and problems downstream. The crews also repaired what are called “drop structures,” the little waterfalls that trap silt before it flows downstream.
This work is being done in city-owned ditches and waterways throughout the city, not just in Monument Valley Park.

All city streets open to bicycles

QUESTION: Are there any streets in Colorado Springs designated “no bicycles”? If not, how can we get some designated as such? There are three areas I’m thinking of in particular: Woodmen Road from Interstate 25 west to the Woodmen Road/Rockrimmon split; from Woodmen Valley Chapel west to Orchard Valley Road and on 30th Street by Garden of the Gods. These are a few areas (and I’m sure there are many others) where there is clearly not enough room for a biker nor is it safe. And was there a law passed that indicates bikers can ride side-by-side? Another unsafe practice.
- Janelle

ANSWER: Under state law, bicycles are allowed to use all city streets, according to David Krauth, principal city traffic engineer. In fact, they’re encouraged. “A street could be designated ‘no bicycles,’ but there would have to be a darn good reason,” Krauth said. Bicycles are not allowed on Interstate 25, but they can be ridden on Colorado Highway 94 and U.S. Highway 24. Bicycles and motorcycles can be ridden two abreast in a single lane but bicycles go to single file when cars need to get around.

Razed doctors' offices make way for cancer residence

QUESTION: After Penrose Hospital completed construction on its new medical tower, it demolished a building being used for doctors’ offices at the corner of Tejon and Madison. Now, it seems to be a storage area for a huge mound of dirt. Who is using that property? How long will the dirt pile be there? What is going to happen with the property in the long run?
- Dean Myers

ANSWER: Penrose-St. Francis Health Services spokesperson Tanya Dantzler had an answer for you about what was referred to as the 2131 Building (2131 N. Tejon St.).
“Last fall, the Penrose-owned brick building was demolished to make room for a new Family Temporary Residence for the Penrose Cancer Center. It would replace the Steven Stearman House near the parking garage on the Penrose Hospital Campus.
Originally built as physician offices, the building had also acted the G.E. Johnson Construction Headquarters, Auditors Office and a Focus Group Center.
Currently the lot is storage for excess dirt from other improvement projects taking place on the Penrose Hospital Campus.”

Fire-pit appliances not regulated by city code

QUESTION: I now see wood-burning fire pits for sale everywhere. It seems an open fire, our recurring high winds and dryness is just asking for trouble.
Plus it is likely they will be placed on wood decks and adjacent to wood houses.
With the recent articles from the fire department about the extreme fire dangers and how people should clear out brush and trees near their home, will there be regulations about using these in the city?
- Linda Bowman

ANSWER: Burning in fire-pit units such as the ones you’re describing, grills and chimineas isn’t regulated by the city fire code, according to Kris Cooper, deputy fire marshal. He said that if the city “gets into burn bans we will look into these appliances but generally only when they’re on public properties, not private.” His advice: “Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines for use." If the fire department gets a call from a concerned neighbor who feels there is a dangerous situation, firefighters will check it out. Recreational fires such as outdoor campfires and bonfires have specific regulations such as from clearance to combustibles. Open bonfires require permits.

Monday, April 24, 2006

KOAA/5/30 difficult to receive in Manitou Springs

QUESTION: I’ve lived at two different locations in Manitou Springs and in both places I was able to get good reception for the local CBS and ABC affiliate stations but not the NBC affiliate. I do have an indoor antenna but often don’t need it for ABC or CBS; it does not help NBC reception at all. Is there a solution that does not involve an outdoor antenna or cable/satellite service?
- Ken Burrows

ANSWER: The engineers at KOAA, Channels 5/30 (NBC) recommended you try Channel 9 if you’re watching off an antenna. That doesn’t work for people with cable because Channel 9 is KOAA’s weather channel. Other than that, they said, you would have to use an outdoor antenna to pick up the signal on Channel 30.

Stone ruins outside Penrose

QUESTION: About five miles east of Penrose is an abandoned stone structure. Some call it the old rail station and some call it an old stagecoach station. Can you find anything about it?
- Carlton Gosnell, Penrose

ANSWER: There were two different structures and the remains are nearly identical, according to Sue Cochran of the Royal Gorge Regional Museum in Cañon City.
She says the stone building south of Highway 50 that can be seen from the highway is the old McClure homestead. If you’re referring to the ruins north of Highway 50, which can’t be seen from the road, it’s the Glendale stage stop.

Towers at D-11 schools have a variety of uses

QUESTION: I’ve noticed that many, if not all, of the Colorado Springs schools now have tall (75 feet?) masts on their property that appear to be communications or data antennas. What are these structures and what is their purpose?
- Warren McDermott

ANSWER: School District 11 has 60 sites and some of them have poles or towers similar to what you’re describing. Frank Bernhard, D-11 executive director of facilities, operations and transportation, said the tall light poles that are being replaced at Garry Berry stadium will serve a dual purpose as cell towers. Two schools have radio-type communication towers that support the district’s transportation operation: Coronado High School and Rudy Elementary School. One is a repeater for contact with the school buses and the other is a GPS system to help track buses, according to Bernhard. They are 25-30 feet tall. Other schools have smaller 8-10 foot antennas that serve as weather stations. If you have more questions you can contact Bernhard at 477-6004.

Why no restrooms in city parks?

QUESTION: Why are there no restrooms at Chipeta Park in Mountain Shadows? My children have to go to the bathroom in the bushes.
- Connie

ANSWER: Permanent restrooms aren’t typically built in neighborhood parks like Mountain Shadows because of the expense, according to Kurt Schroeder, parks maintenance, trails and open space manager. Vandalism is one of the problems.
Portable toilets are in place only at parks with fields reserved for games.

Sky Sox: an 0-7 count and lights on all night

QUESTION: What’s wrong with the Sky Sox scoreboard and when will it be fixed? "7 balls?"
- T.J. Olson

ANSWER: Sure enough, on opening weekend there was a strange count on the scoreboard: 0-7. Mike Hobson, director of public relations, says that although there was regular maintenance work on the board during off-season, it is aging and they’re “applying Band-Aids” as things happen. This is one of those Band-Aid situations until a specialist who knows how to work on the scoreboard can be brought in. “It’s not like a light bulb,” Hobson said. “It might be an electrical problem, it might be a circuit problem. We’re trying to get it fixed as quickly as possible.” It will cost several hundred thousand dollars for a new scoreboard, which was not part of the major renovation the Sox just completed.

QUESTION: Why do the Sky Sox leave their lights on all night? We live near the stadium and when they have an evening game and a game the next day, they leave the entire set of lights on all night. It seems to me that they could do their maintenance of the field with half the amount of lights and save the city some money on their electric bill. I would suggest they could turn off the east and west banks of lights and still get their job done.
- Tom Callaghan

ANSWER: Thousands of people leave behind a lot of trash and it takes hours to clean up after a game, according to Mike Hobson, director of public relations. As you said, the lights are left on when there’s an evening game followed by a game the next day. He says for the most part they try to turn off the outfield lights but leave on the infield lights for the cleaning crew so they can get their work done.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Street-parked "For Sale" vehicles are illegal

QUESTION: Why are individuals allowed to park their cars that are “For Sale” on both sides of the street at Pace Drive and South Academy Boulevard? This is an ugly eyesore.
- Richard Young

ANSWER: We have had complaints from all across the city about “For Sale” vehicles parked on streets in residential areas. It’s against the law. Ken Lewis of code enforcement says the city code does not allow anyone to park a vehicle on the street and advertise it for sale.

You’ll need to make a complaint. There’s a code enforcement form on the city’s Web page: Scroll down to "Hot Topics."

Dublin will be widened when area's developed

QUESTION: I’m wondering when Dublin, just west of Powers, will be completely four lanes with dual turn lanes onto westbound Dublin.
Dublin eastbound is four lanes until just after Oakwood and before Powers, and then goes back to four lanes east of Powers, where it is less travelled. With so many new homes having been built west of Powers, the traffic backs up constantly during drive times, and turning west onto Dublin from northbound Powers takes three or four light changes during peak times.
- Jim Veldhuis

ANSWER: Part of this area is in the county, part in the city. The widening of Dublin, expected to be four and possibly even six lanes in part of this area, is tied to development. There’s no timeline. Expect announcements of new developments and annexation requests before the road work goes forward.

Vickers/Academy buildings could come down

QUESTION: What is going on with the buildings on the northwest side of the Vickers and Academy intersection? These include Army and Marine Recruiting and the former Aurelio’s restaurant. The paint is peeling badly and I never see cars in the parking lot. Are they going to be fixed up for new tenants, or are they going to remain abandoned?
- Marian

ANSWER: There are negotiations under way for a new retail development on this property, according to Brad Hartman of Bradford & Co. The buildings will probably be torn down.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What's with the funny-looking pretend tree?

QUESTION: Going north on Colorado Highway 83, just north of North Gate Road, is a tall dark thing going up above the trees.
It has what looks like imitation pine tree limbs on it to camouflage it and make it look somewhat like a very tall tree.
The limbs and needles sway in the wind but look like plastic. What is that thing?
- John Harrington

ANSWER: It’s a stealth cell tower designed to blend into its surroundings.

Searching for Rocky Mountain Oysters

QUESTION: Ever since the Hungry Farmer closed, I haven’t been able to find any place in Colorado Springs that serves Rocky Mountain Oysters. Do you or any of your readers know of any restaurant that serves this yummy dish, preferably deep fried? I know there are plenty of places in Denver that have them.
- Raymond

ANSWER: You’ll find them on the menu at The Broiler Room on Colorado Highway 105 at Monument. Briarhurst Manor in Manitou Springs serves them on occasion but needs advance notice. They're also on the menu at Kelly O'Brians, 239 N. Academy Blvd.

Powers/Academy ownership changing

QUESTION: Some time ago there was an announcement that the state of Colorado and the city of Colorado Springs had agreed to exchange “ownership” of Academy Boulevard and Powers Boulevard — i.e, the city would become responsible for Academy and the state would take over Powers. This might have included Powers becoming a numbered highway, such as State 83. What is the status of this arrangement?
- James S.

ANSWER: Maintenance agreements detailing such specifics as who will plow which street must be worked out before the switch, which could occur by late summer or early fall.

The city will assume responsibility for Academy Boulevard, Nevada Avenue, Fillmore Street from Nevada to I-25, Circle Drive and Sinton Road.
The state will have Powers Boulevard from Research Parkway to Platte Avenue. The state already has Powers Boulevard from Platte Avenue south, and the county has responsibility for Powers Boulevard south of Drennan Road.

Powers will be a numbered highway, but the number has not yet been assigned. It will be an odd number because it’s a north/south highway, according to Bob Wilson of Colorado Department of Transportation.

What is that bright spot in the sky?

QUESTION: A friend of mine recently pointed out an extremely bright star-like object in the eastern sky that is most visible at 5 a.m. when it is at its highest point. It’s much too bright to be a star. We have some ideas as to what it is, but would like to know what you can find out.
- Lori Managlia

ANSWER: It’s the planet Venus, according to Alan Gorski of the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, which shares its monthly nighttime sky-viewing sessions with the public. The next one is from 8-11 p.m. May 5 in Palmer Park. For more information about the society, go to

Jack Carlson says Jupiter is in the southwest sky at dawn; Venus is the very, very bright object in the eastern sky at dawn. Mercury is also near Venus right now, but not very easy to see. There are free online skycharts, here is one:

From Levi R. Knox: “The bright object in the east around 5 a.m. is Venus. Check”

For planet information, James West recommended “a screen capture from a program called ‘Distant Suns’, which is available for download at

Another reader was concerned that the object is not a planet at all but a UFO with a bright light that shines into her window. She has contacted NORAD and Space Command to have it checked out.