Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dutch Wedding Rocks are on private property

QUESTION: I noticed an interesting note in The Gazette's “Back Pages” section under “50 Years Ago” on Oct. 15. It mentions a unique rock formation then known as the Dutch Wedding Rocks. The article locates the formation north of Woodmen Road. Do you know if this formation is still there and if it is accessible to the public? I would love to have directions if possible.
- Karen Adams

DUTCH WEDDING ROCKS: The much-photographed rocks, described over the years as resembling a wedding scene with a couple, a minister and guests, are on private property beside a home.

Multiple manholes were from the past

QUESTION: Why are there so many manhole covers on Cheyenne Road? Between 8th Street and Nevada Avenue I’ve counted 23, which must set a record for such a short stretch (about a mile) of road.
- Marty Steiner
In the 1950s when that main was put in, the equipment was much less sophisticated than it is today and it was difficult to adjust to fluctuations in depth as they were trenching, said Utilities spokesman Steve Berry. “As they were excavating the hole for the line, the depth would drop off and they would do drop-manhole access to accommodate the stairstepping in those mains.” In addition, there were lateral mains coming into the main line as well as areas with two mains running down a street, which required extra manholes. The pipe used then — clay or steel — was less flexible than the PVC pipe used today. “They had to install more manholes because they were doing more connections because of this lack of flexibility,” Berry said.
Today, he said, sophisticated excavation techniques and flexible pipe adapt to changes in depth and require fewer manholes.

Widefield and Security two separate communities

QUESTION: I live in the Widefield/Security area and was wondering, why does it have two names and where did the names come from?
- Tracey Hughes
They’re two different communities. Unincorporated Security was developed by American Builders in 1955 on what had been the Mel Anderson Dairy Farm and agricultural land. The Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce said the developer designed it as a community with “a sense of security.” Cottonwood trees from the banks of Fountain Creek were transplanted along Security Boulevard.

A few years later, Security’s neighbor was developed. Builder Jules Watson began constructing brick, ranch-style homes in 1958 in the unincorporated part of El Paso County that by the mid-‘60s became Widefield. The area next to Security was chosen because of the influx of soldiers and families to nearby Camp (now Fort)Carson.
The name Widefield came from the Widefield School District that dated back to 1874. A junior high school in that district was named for the builder Jules Watson.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It was in the plans for Briargate and other developments to have well-maintained public areas

PUBLIC AREAS 1: We live on the southeast side of town, in a residential area not far from the airport. The public sidewalks and foliage areas are full of weeds and there are overgrown trees that cover most or all of the sidewalks in areas. There is no nice grass or trees and the city neglects caring for it. However, going to the north side of town, or other areas in Colorado Springs, (i.e. Briargate), there is beautiful landscaping. We pay the same rate of taxes here on the south end of town as do homeowners on the north end of town. Why do we not get the same kinds of landscaping and care for our public areas?
- Joni Brandom
PUBLIC AREAS 2: I live along Barnes Road with the back of my property facing Barnes just east of Peterson Road. This section of Barnes is mostly unlandscaped, not well maintained and an eyesore. I see new developments with beautifully landscaped streets occurring all over this city and wonder why this street is treated much like an orphan.
- Gordon Olson
PUBLIC AREAS 3: We live in Stetson Hills near Barnes and Marksheffel. The center island on Barnes is overrun with weeds from Peterson to Marksheffel. Trees fall over and die and are not replaced. Further west on Barnes, the center strip is well cared for. Why is our section left to go to pieces?
- Andrea Buehner

ANSWER: Developers in several northeastern areas of the city, including Briargate, Nor’wood, etc., wanted “improved streetscapes” for rights of way and medians, and there are seven special improvement maintenance districts set up for this purpose, according to Rick Geiman, SIMD administrator for the parks department. The developers installed the landscaping and other improvements and residents of those areas pay a tax levy for maintenance, which is done by the homeowners associations or the SIMD.

Not all developers did this. Developers did not put together resident-supported special districts in the southeast area referred to in the first letter, but, nevertheless, the proper city department should be notified if public parks and medians are in poor repair. Keeping sidewalks clear of obstructions is the responsibility of the owner or occupant.

It’s covered in city code 3.4.103: “Responsibility of real property owners and occupants,” which says the owner and occupant of property have a responsibility to keep sidewalks clean and clear of projections and obstructions, debris, litter or dangerous conditions. The city engineer’s office should be notified about structural damage to sidewalks. Property owners must remove weeds on their property. On the area of Barnes Road discussed, the developer did not complete the promised landscaping and the situation was such that “there was no leverage for the city to require the developer to finish it,” said Geiman said.
There’s a similar situation on Peterson Road south of Barnes, and Geiman must determine what can be done.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Speeding vehicles, not an influential resident, brought change to Peregrine street

PEREGRINE SPEED HUMPS: I have a question regarding the three speed humps placed in Orchard Valley Road in the Peregrine area. This is a major thoroughfare (double yellow lines no less) and this summer the speed limit was reduced to 20 mph and three large speed humps placed. My question is: Why? Rumor in the neighborhood is that an influential city employee moved onto this street and pulled strings.
— Shane Millburn

ANSWER: Speed-reduction devices” such as the speed humps — and the planned medians and curb bump outs — were installed because speeding vehicles going eastbound lost control in this residential area, according to principal city traffic engineer David Krauth. “This road, while it is an arterial, doesn’t act like an arterial,” Krauth said. “The speed humps to slow traffic down were installed as part of a pretty extensive public process, which involved the people in the neighborhood.”
In addition, there is a school-safety project at nearby Woodmen Roberts Elementary School on Orchard Path to “keep people at an appropriate speed in that long school zone,” Krauth said.

What to do when a deer is hit

HITTING A DEER: I wonder what to do if my car should hit or be hit by a deer. Is there a telephone number I can call? I’d like the information to keep in my car at all times.
— Sal

ANSWER: Call 911 and the local authorities will write a report. The Division of Wildlife will be contacted if the animal was hit but not killed.
Another reader, Fred, asked if the person who hits a deer can keep it. The answer is yes, but you must go to the Division of Wildlife office for a roadkill permit.

Developed areas in Cheyenne Mountain State Park will be open to dogs, but not the trails

DOGS IN THE PARK: My friends and I eagerly awaited the opening of the new Cheyenne Mountain (State Park), only to find out dogs are not allowed. Why do some state parks allow dogs and others do not?
— Sherry Hower

ANSWER: Dogs can’t go there now because the park is still being developed. However, as more areas are completed, dogs will be allowed to go with their humans to the developed areas — the parking lots (which will have doggie cleanup stations), the picnic areas, campgrounds and on the roads. Dogs won’t be allowed, now or then, on the trails or in the backcountry. For now, only a parking lot that leads to the trails is open, so, no dogs.

The wildlife in the park is a major factor in that decision, in addition to the safety of visitors and safety of the dogs, who are hunters by nature, said senior ranger Monique Mullis. Park rangers don’t want dogs to be killed by bears, or small animals to be killed by dogs.

Mullis said park officials are following an extensive stewardship plan that inventoried the park, the wildlife, the soil, the vegetation and what is needed “to make sure this amazing property is around for future generations."

"There is an amazing diversity of wildlife in the park and that had a lot to do with the decision (about dogs),” Mullis said. “Even a dog on a leash urinating on a tree causes stress to the wildlife.” There are black bears, elk, mountain lions, roadrunners, prairie dogs, coyotes, foxes and bobcats. “The oven bird is here, a ground nesting bird that is not common in the area. There’s an amazing population of breeding turkeys, and their nests must be protected,” she said.

Mullis said the staff can offer suggestions to visitors about dog parks in the area. “There are a lot of other opportunities,” she said. “The majority of state parks allow dogs on their trails. It’s a park-by-park basis.”

For those who asked about horses, Cheyenne Mountain State Park is not a horse park, but for a very different reason. Horses eat hay and when they poop in the park, they bring in noxious weeds, Mullis explained. “This park is one of the best in the system for lack of noxious weeds. In addition, the soils are particularly erosive, fragile. These trails were not designed to be sustainable for horses.”

Friday, November 03, 2006

CSPD officers ask permission to park on private property

POLICE ACTION: I often see Colorado Springs Police trying to catch speeders while they are sitting on private property. Have the property owners given the Colorado Springs Police written permission to conduct city business on their property? I think that these officers are trespassing on private property.
- Michael W. Kopta

ANSWER:Officers, for the most part, park on public property, according to CSPD spokesman Lt. Rafael Cintron. When they park on private property, “we touch base with the business for approval. We do ask permission.” If a business owner says no, “we won’t park there,” Cintron said

Tahoma Springs plaques and memorabilia sought for anniversary

TAHOMA SPRINGS: What became of Tahoma Springs? In honor of the 50th anniversary of Colorado statehood in 1926, the citizens of Colorado Springs erected a pavilion over one of the springs in Monument Valley Park. The structure was damaged in the 1935 flood but was still standing when it was further damaged in a later 1965 flood. Sometime after 1965 it was torn down.

In the gazebo-like structure were four bronze plaques: one honoring Pike, one General Palmer, one an Indian scout, and a general one about the event. Does anyone know what became of the bronze plaques? Next year is the 100th anniversary of General Palmer’s gift of Monument Valley Park to the citizens of Colorado Springs. Nomination of the park to the National Register of Historic Places is in process. For the centenary event we would love to know what became of the plaques.
We are also interested in any historical photos and would love to see them either donated to the Pioneers Museum or at least offered to the museum to copy for the archives.
- Judith Rice-Jones, archivist, Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs

Readers, can you help?

Semi drivers will receive warnings about parking on Drennan

DRENNAN ROAD REDUX: Earlier we were asked about the proliferation of trucks parked on Drennan Road. We were told by the police department that because this is a truck route, truck parking is permitted. In most cases the drivers park there because they're not allowed to park near their homes. A reader responded that he didn't believe it was legal for trucks to park along Drennan Road.

We spoke with the city attorney’s office and city code enforcement, and indeed there have been some changes. City code enforcement officer Ken Lewis said the original maps showed the city limits running down the center of Drennan, which would allow semis to park on the south side. “Now we’ve learned the city limits are 20 feet south of Drennan, it’s a residential zone and commercial vehicles cannot park in a residential zone,” Lewis said.

Truckers have parked here for years when they’re home, and the city is now giving them warnings. The city traffic engineer will place “No Parking” signs in this area, and Lewis’ office will work with the truckers to find alternatives. “We’ll continue with verbal warnings for a while because this has been going on for so long,” he said.

Lewis said some trucking companies have parking lots available for drivers. Other drivers leave their vehicles at truck stops. His office and city officials have received similar complaints about trucks on North Nevada Avenue and South Powers Boulevard which that will be investigated.