Thursday, May 25, 2006

Smell at Cottonwood Creek not a risk

QUESTION: There is a major project taking place near the restrooms at Cottonwood Park. For weeks the diesel and chemical fumes have overpowered the soccer fields. Is this safe for all the kids and their families? We were told some pipes are being coated with a protective covering.
- Concerned Grandma

ANSWER: The work at Cottonwood Creek has been completed and was part of Colorado Springs Utilities’ wastewater creek-crossing project. It was one of 20 areas identified as “critical” last fall after storm overflows broke pipes and wastewater dumped into creeks. The crossings are being stabilized and reinforced and the smell was probably the materials used to rehab the pipe, according to utilities spokesman Steve Berry. There was odor but no risk. More wastewater creek-crossing improvements will be done in older areas with clay pipes.

When stores ask for personal info, comply or don't buy

QUESTION: A few days ago I was paying for my purchases at a retail (national chain) clothing store in Colorado Springs. The head manager demanded to know my phone number and my home address and insisted that she couldn’t “complete my transaction” nor could she “get out of the system” unless I gave her that information. I've heard of other businesses demanding the same information from their patrons at the checkout counter. What I want to know is, are we customers REQUIRED to give that information before we can pay for our purchases and leave the store?
-J. Moore

ANSWER: Rebecca Herrera, director of operations at the Better Business Bureau, checked with several agencies. The Federal Trade Commission does not have a law enforcing whether companies/businesses can require customers to give this information. In short: it’s store policy. Her advice is that when the person at the point of sale says she can’t complete the transaction without personal information, the consumer must make the decision whether or not to continue with the purchase.

20 mph sign near Circle Drive a "leftover"

QUESTION: Why is there a 20 mph speed limit sign just as you turn off of Circle Drive onto Dale Street? On one side of Dale there is Winslow BMW sales, on the other side there are homes. There is no school close by.
This sign has been here over three years that I know of. I think this area should be at least a 25 mph speed limit area.
- Mel

ANSWER: It appears to be an old, leftover sign, according to head traffic engineer David Krauth. It’s not a school-zone sign because the school on Circle Drive was closed many years ago, and it’s “inappropriate” for this area.
Krauth said the City Council is addressing speed-limit upgrades and, if approved, this could be changed to 25 to match the rest of the street.

Pikes Peak Center stage, ceiling movable

QUESTION: At the Judy Collins concert last Friday night, the stage at the Pikes Peak Center was pulled back so that there were rows of seats in front of Row A. How do they change the configuration of the stage?
- Pat Webb

ANSWER: “That’s a very interesting question,” said general manager Dot Lischick. It’s all hydraulic, and two lifts can raise or lower that area to extend the stage or, as you saw, the seating. On other occasions it is lowered to become the orchestra pit.
Besides the stage, there are other movable, adjustable features in the center’s Great Hall. The floating ceiling canopy is raised or lowered for acoustics, and there are acoustic banners on the side walls. In addition, the tall towers beside the stage can be moved behind performers for different acoustics.

Friday, May 19, 2006

City/D-20 making changes at Eagleview

QUESTION: I am wondering why there is no left-turn arrow at Vindicator and Owl Ridge, the entryway to Eagleview Middle School — it only needs to be functioning when people are taking children to school in the morning and picking them up after school. It is a nightmare trying to get into the school (and very dangerous) because of the heavy traffic on Vindicator at that time. It seems so strange that none of the people in charge of these things don't understand the necessity of this.
- Alicia Puckett

ANSWER: Academy School District 20 and the city have coordinated their efforts on this problem and have had a number of meetings. The district is planning improvements to the parking lots and drop-off/pickup areas at the school. The city will add a left turn.

Why not use pavers instead of sod in AFA medians?

QUESTION: I’ve seen a sod ritual cycle performed for at least the last seven years at the USAF Academy. The cycle seems to be that they replace the dead grass along South Gate, Stadium and North Gate Boulevards just in time for graduation and then use tons of de-icing solution in the winter that kills the grass, which requires replacement just in time for graduation. Has the USAF Academy ever considered replacing the dead sod with decorative pavestone of some kind? I think the water they use to irrigate is recycled or well water.
- Wally Magda

ANSWER: Replacing sod with pavers along these three boulevards, which run for miles, would cost an estimated $4 million, according to Larry Duran, chief for contract services for civil engineering at the Air Force Academy. “Sod is a lot cheaper, a less expensive alternative.” The sod that gets replaced is along curb lines where it is hit by deicer and suffers from dryness in the winter. Duran said officials eventually want to eliminate the need to replace sod and have considered stamped pavers just along the curbs, but the project would have to be done in small segments, such as the completed landscaping with concrete path off Stadium Boulevard in front of the stadium. Irrigation water for the medians is recycled from the wastewater treatment plant which contains “natural fertilizer,” Duran said.

Freedom School site just a memory

QUESTION: Your newspaper at one time was a sponsor of Freedom School in the mountains north of Colorado Springs. Robert LeFevre from California was the instructor. The lodge had accommodations for 10 or more, I think. When I was in high school in 1958, a lady sent myself and a friend to the school. It left an impression until today of what freedom means. I am coming to Colorado Springs this summer and would like to show my grandsons the old school if it is still there. Or, if it has been sold maybe to a lodge that accepts guests, we might like to stay there a few days.
Pat McShan, Montgomery, Texas

ANSWER: Freedom School, with a predominantly libertarian course of study, was started in 1957 by Robert LeFevre. Later named Rampart College Freedom School, it was a pastoral setting on Perry Park Road near Larkspur. It took a hit during the 1965 flood when more than eight feet of gravel and mud filled Reno Sales Lodge, where the school’s records had been stored and Pine Tree Press was located.
Dick Wallace, vice president of corporate affairs for Freedom Communications Inc. and a Freedom School graduate, recalls that several years after the flood, “a tornado came down the mountain and destroyed most of the school.” The campus was officially closed in 1968. LeFevre died in 1986. A Freedom School curriculum is still being taught, this summer in Dallas. Although you won’t be able to show your grandsons the Larkspur campus, it’s still a beautiful area to visit, and the Renaissance Festival is nearby.

Friday, May 12, 2006

How about a parade for Olympians?

QUESTION: With the amount of publicity — and I am sure revenue — the Olympic Training Center brings to Colorado Springs, I do not understand why the city seems to ignore the center and the athletes. My expectation is the city at minimum have an annual parade for the great athletes that train here.
- Bob A.

RESPONSE: Reader Roy Hetzel responded: “I agree that the Olympic athletes deserve more regular recognition than once every four years. Perhaps The Gazette could do a weekly feature of a sport/athletes and syndicate the feature to other papers to spread the word. How about an annual festival centered around the Fourth of July that involves youths of our community who are sports enthusiasts interested in pursuing Olympic dreams? There could be minicamps put on by the athletes to demonstrate what training is required to achieve world-class results, and the kids could meet the athletes at the same time. It could be promoted statewide to bring in more revenue. At the very least, a parade is a good idea.”

Another reader thought a parade could be tied to the Rocky Mountain State Games. We’ll pass along your ideas to the Colorado Sports Corp.

Ramp metering still in the future

QUESTION: Denver onramps during rush hour have red/green lights that pace the cars merging onto the interstate. Why doesn’t the Woodmen Road southbound onramp to Interstate 25 and the Garden of the Gods Road southbound onramp to I-25 have this type of light? It would ease the congestion on I-25 and enable cars to merge one at a time onto the interstate instead of the steady lane of cars that is currently merging.
- Marie H.

ANSWER: Ramp metering is coming — but not until COSMIX is complete and it’s determined it’s needed. Bob Wilson of the Colorado Department of Transportation said that once the third lane is open through COSMIX and there are acceleration lanes in use, a lot of the bunching up of cars off the ramps could be eliminated. Wilson said they are putting in the infrastructure for Intelligent Transportation Systems along COSMIX and that would include future congestion-management measures such as ramp metering.

Pikes Peak Parent available at regular sites

QUESTION: How can I get a regular issue of the Pikes Peak Parent? I have picked them up here and there. When does it come out?
- Lori

ANSWER: It’s a free monthly publication and you can pick up copies at Albertsons, King Soopers, Blockbuster, the library branches and the YMCAs. They’re also available at some pediatricians’ offices.

Company building duplexes near Falcon went bankrupt

QUESTION: Several years ago, a housing tract of duplexes started being built just west of Falcon Elementary School. Now it sits untouched, undone, tarps being destroyed by wind and weather and seems to be going nowhere. What is the story behind this mess and what is the future?
- K. Voss

ANSWER: It was being developed by Mile High Capital Group, and the company is now in bankruptcy. Complaints were filed in Denver District Court in February and two executives of the company were ordered to stop business operations after being accused of selling securities without a license and being in violation of Colorado’s anti-fraud laws. No further development is possible until this is cleared up.

Archeology of Red Rock Canyon Open Space "disturbed" over years

QUESTION: I was hiking on a trail in Red Rock Canyon Open Space near the house and pond and found a shard of Indian pottery. It is black stripe on white, the same type of shards you find around Mesa Verde. What can you tell us about the Indians who would have been in that area and could there be other archeological finds in the park? Is it illegal to pick them up?
- Hiker

ANSWER: According to Matt Mayberry, director of the Pioneers Museum, there was an archeological survey of the site done several years ago but it was difficult to determine much from it because “the whole site has been very disturbed over the years with quarrying, pond building and other activities.” In addition, part of the land could have signs of its use as a family’s ranch. If the pottery shard you found is connected to early Indian tribes, it could have been from those that traveled through the area such as the Utes and Cheyenne.

Is it illegal to pick up items such as pottery shards in parks? Yes. “It is illegal to take plants, minerals and objects from park sites because it is public property and, from an archaeological perspective, if you remove them from the site it destroys their value because it takes everything out of context,” Mayberry said. “We ask that people who find things in parks not remove them.” Instead, call the city parks department: 385-5940.


Friday, May 05, 2006

County Line Road governed by two counties

QUESTION: I wonder about the discrepancy in the speed limit on County Line Road (north between El Paso and Douglas counties in the Tri-lakes area). It is different on each side of I-25 and it is only 35 mph going west on County Line into Palmer Lake in an area of open fields. Everyone questions why it is so ridiculously slow in that area.
- Lindsay Clewe

ANSWER: Two sides of the highway, two counties. There’s an intergovernmental agency agreement; Douglas County is responsible for part of County Line Road and El Paso County handles the rest. Speed-limit requests usually go through the Douglas County traffic engineer, 1-303-660-7490. He’ll determine which county you should contact. The El Paso County number is 520-6460.

Reader complains about west side speed limits

QUESTION: I live on the west side and everything here is old and outdated. When are they going to raise the speed limits over here? Particularly, going east on Uintah is 30 mph and coming west is 35 mph. Galley is 40 mph and in Briargate the speed limits are also much higher. I am tired of this side of town being “forgotten.” Is the city planning to revise and update things over here?
- Sherri

ANSWER: Speed limits across town are being re-evaluated. Make city traffic engineers aware of your complaints: 385-5908.

New grass in I-25 medians is natural seeding

QUESTION: Why are the slopes and medians along I-25/COSMIX being planted with grass, which requires regular mowing and maintenance, instead of something like self-sowing native Colorado wildflowers or ground cover, such as crown vetch? This would not only enhance the beauty, but would save on the mowing and maintenance costs in the long run.
- Linda K.

ANSWER: It’s all natural seeding, not Kentucky bluegrass, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. It won’t need sprinklers or mowing. The only median maintenance will be litter pickup or fence repair and some occasional weeding. No more “pristine green lawns” like they once had in the medians, says CDOT’s Bob Wilson.

What's the new building at Woodmen/Marksheffel?

QUESTION: What is the building being built on the Banning Lewis property near the corner of Woodmen and Marksheffel roads?
- Pat Mork

ANSWER: It’s a K-8 charter school, Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, on an eight-acre site at Banning Lewis Ranch Village. It’s expected to open next fall. The design follows the ranch-house theme of the area, according to Terry Schooler, manager for the Marksheffel Road Special District.

Strange roundabout slows traffic down

QUESTION: Could you please tell me why there is a roundabout (or should I say oblongabout?) just short of the intersection of Prospect Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to the west? I never saw one short of an intersection.
- S. Fallis

ANSWER: As part of a traffic-calming program to slow things down through a neighborhood, this roundabout was put in on a temporary basis, according to the city’s principal traffic engineer, David Krauth.“We test the traffic-calming devices and that was a test location. Speeding and cut-through traffic to get to the commercial area near Fillmore were a problem.”

Vehicle storage in yards must follow city code

QUESTION: Are there any city laws that limit the number of vehicles, boats, trailers and RVs that a person can have stored in their backyard within the city limits? These items have tarps over them and are behind the neighbor’s 6-foot-tall property-border fence, but are still visible to all the neighbors on every side. If so, who is in charge of complaints and how do we contact them? I am just tired of looking out my windows across my well-maintained yard and into a junkyard.
- Nancy

ANSWER: Code enforcement officer Ken Lewis said that as long as the vehicles are licensed, behind a 6-foot fence and covered, they’re legal. City code says they can be “enclosed by an opaque screen with a minimum height of 6 feet” and can also be screened by natural vegetation or structures. Your neighbor seems to be following the code.

RVs have to be licensed and stored on a driveway surface. If there are regular vehicles or light trucks they must be licensed and if there is more than one in the backyard all others must be screened from view. There are rules for so-called “classic” vehicles and for trailers. If you have a complaint or question, call code enforcement: 444-7891. Be aware that Lewis addressed the issue of vehicles here, which is entirely different from yards filled with junk.