Friday, December 15, 2006

Downtown subway an urban legend

SECRET SUBWAY?: I have been told about a subway running from under the City Auditorium to various places in town. Can anyone tell me where it went and how long did it exist?
- Mary Dieter

ANSWER: From the mining heyday into the 20th century, Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City had a variety of tunnels between businesses and buildings. One of those was a tunnel that ran between the 1923 City Auditorium at Kiowa and Weber streets and the City Hall at Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue. Tim Scanlon, senior city planner, said the tunnel is no longer in use and “has been collapsed.” The “subway” you heard about is an urban legend about the tunnels and their use.

Loose-dog problem at Taylor park being addressed

QUESTION: I was curious as to when and why the Taylor Elementary School playing field (by Patty Jewett Golf Course) officially became a dog park? It is near impossible to use the field with my daughter for soccer practice, etc., because of the loose dogs and occasional dog land mine that is left there unattended. I thought that most schools limited dog activity on their grounds, especially athletic fields?
- Randy

ANSWER: Someone called the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region about the dogs-running-loose problem there, and officers are now monitoring the park. Some dog owners were ticketed. In addition, this problem is being addressed by the school’s PTA. PTA President Polly Fiedler, who helped coordinate the building of the school’s neighborhood park in 2000, said a committee was formed to draw up guidelines about dogs. “In fact, some dog owners approached us to request guidelines,” she said. “Most dog owners are pretty good about keeping their dogs on leashes and cleaning up after them. There’s a large community of dog owners using the park and a great camaraderie, but when a large group congregates, sometimes there’s a problem. We would hate to ever have to get to the point of having to ban dogs.” For now there is a cooperative, “negotiated” effort to work out the problems but, Fiedler said, “sometimes there is a big brouhaha in the beginning and then people return to their former behavior. We’ll wait and see what the next step will be.”

Fiedler said the park has not become unusable to people without dogs. In the fall, a boys soccer team had its regular practice there and a girls team practiced there four times a week. “There’s always a place in the middle of the park to practice,” she said.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Concrete posts on Academy no longer used

HIGHWAY POSTS: I’ve always wondered, what are those two concrete posts on each side of South Academy between Drennen and Bradley exit? It looks like a bridge was going to be built over the road, and then scrapped.
- S.C. Pickard

Colorado Department of Transportation engineers say the piers apparently date back to when South Academy Boulevard bisected a gravel pit and possibly there was a conveyor belt from one side to the other, according to CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson. However, several readers say it was a water or sewer pipe.

Street-light replacement responsibility split

BURNT OUT STREET LIGHTS: My street light is out, but when I called it in I was told by Utilities that there are hundreds out. When are they going to fix them?
- Carol M.

ANSWER: We have received e-mails from across the city complaining about street-light problems and several poles that have been hit but not repaired.
This has been an ongoing and touchy problem, and there is no immediate answer. Probably the best advice is to contact your City Council representative.
City Council passed the responsibility for street lights from the city to Colorado Springs Utilities, and a street-light fee was added to utilities bills.
There was an outcry and the fee was discontinued. Council directed that the city take the street light program back from Utilities, according to Utilities spokesman Steve Berry. The money for street lights is to come from the city’s general fund with Utilities doing maintenance.

However, Berry said, during this entire procedure there was no money allotted for the backlog of street-light repairs because of "a lack of funding."
He said Utilities is trying to work out a service-level agreement with the city. Meanwhile, Utilities and police and emergency services determine which lights are a public safety requirement and these are added or repaired immediately. Others must wait for city funding.

NFL 'fanny packs' aren't for carrying

QUESTION: I’m baffled by the fanny packs Jay Cutler and other Denver Broncos were wearing during the game against Seattle. The fanny packs were slid around to their backside. I think some of the Seahawks had them too. What do they carry in them?
- Joey J.

ANSWER: They’re hand warmers. When the players are on the field they usually slide them around to the back. Broncos spokesman Paul Kirk said the players would not be allowed to carry items in a fanny pack onto the field.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Concrete and steel demand pushed out a need for Red Rock Canyon quarries

RED ROCK QUARRY: Can you tell me about the old rock quarry located in Red Rocks Open Space? What years was it operational? Where were the rock slabs used?
- James

ANSWER: The city’s Trails and Open Space page offers this history for the quarries and a mill at Red Rock Canyon Open Space:
"During the late 1800s the property provided many building supplies for Old Colorado City and the surrounding communities. Material taken from the quarries included gypsum, building sand and sandstone blocks. The Kenmuir Quarry, mined during this time, was open seven days a week due to demand. Declining demand for stone and increased demand for concrete and steel forced the quarry to close in the early part of the 20th Century. Opening in 1886, the Colorado-Philadelphia Company Mill used the land to refine the ore shipped by train from the gold mines in Cripple Creek. It was the largest mill of its kind in the United States, until the new Golden Cycle Mill (near what is now 21st Street)was built in the early part of the 1900s.”

A history compiled for The Molly Brown House in Denver noted that the quarry produced what the building trades called “Manitou sandstone” and the red-orange stone was sent by the railroad that ran through the canyon to be used for buildings in Denver and nationwide. “These quarries, which date back to the 1870s, were known at one time as the Kenmuir quarries ... and later became known as the Greenlee and Snider quarries.”

In his book “In Red Rock Canyon Land,” John Bock wrote about the busy building boom days and the gold-rush “bubble” that brought $600 million in ore from the gold camps to the canyon’s mill. Then the bubble burst and building stopped. Said Bock, a telegram came into the Greenlee company: “Cancel contract. No demand for stone. Close down.” The owner “let out a sigh, ‘Close down the quarry!’”

Rocky Top Resources takes yard waste but where can river rock be recycled?

RECYCLED LANDSCAPING: I am clearing out the hideous landscaping in my backyard and starting over. I have to get rid of five huge juniper bushes and a few tons of river rock. Is there any place I can take this stuff so it doesn’t end up in the landfill? Will someone turn the bushes into mulch? Will someone take the rocks and reuse them?
- Willie

ANSWER: A major local recycler for wood, organic yard waste and your juniper bushes is Rocky Top Resources, Inc.; see its Web site at It's a year-round program and could also take the river rock, used top soil, sod and fill dirt. El Paso County has a slash/mulch recycling program, but it doesn’t operate in the winter. Readers advised that if Willie and others want to give away landscaping materials they can also go through or post to craigslist: