~ Rick Langenberg ~
Road improvements for major residential thoroughfares aren’t a simple ordeal in Green Mountain Falls.
That reality hit home last week, as town leaders received a detailed, complex synopsis of a nearly $250,000 widening and overlay and pedestrian access project for Belvidere Avenue, considered one of the signature capital improvement projects for 2017. Unlike past years, the fiscal blueprint for this year calls for an ambitious $400,000-plus fund for capital projects, with the lion’s share dealing with Belvidere. This is a key residential thoroughfare that provides connections to many well-known trail ways, such as the route to Catamount Reservoir.
Kevin Diekelman, a representative of the El Paso County Public Works Department, told the trustees at their meeting last week that the project faced major challenges with drainage woes and difficult property alignments. As a result, he said the project probably can’t fulfill its original objective of pursuing a pedestrian walkway or path along the entire route.
He said the three-quarter of a mile road project will be divided into three segments, which each pose definite challenges, especially in doing the work under the budget total. The bulk of the funding for this road improvement and pedestrian enhancement comes from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. A number of years ago, GMF residents approved a tax increase to join PPRT.
“We are going to have to make the most of infrastructure that is there,” said the El Paso County Public Works representative.
According to the initial concept plans, only one section of the project will have a designated pedestrian walkway. Originally, the walkway envisioned conjured up comparisons to what occurred along Ute Pass Avenue.
That assessment didn’t get any arguments from local residents, who appeared to express more support for drainage and utility work along the road than pedestrian improvements.
“Frankly, they walk in the middle of the road,” said long-time resident Mac Pitrone. “You don’t need a pedestrian way.” Pitrone was referring to residents and visitors who use Belvidere to access many of the town’s signature trails.
He cited problems with the narrow width of the road.
Other residents made suggestions of re-routing utility poles to make more room along this narrow roadway.
Diekelman acknowledged these concerns, but maintained that the project is somewhat confined by the grant limitations that designate the monies for a road widening and pedestrian access pursuit.
Most residents, who attended the meeting, were more concerned about the timing of the project. Under a best case scenario, Diekelman indicated the project could get done this summer or fall. He expects the work, including the road resurfacing, will take about four to six weeks to complete.
In other Green Mountain Falls, Karla Penner, the owner of the Blue Moose Tavern, was unanimously granted a renewal of the establishment’s liquor license. “We have had a wonderful year,” said Penner, who has held the reins of the Blue Moose since it started about five years ago. As part of this license approval, the establishment was granted certain days to use an outdoor beer garden for special events during the summer.
City officials stated they haven’t received any complaints regarding the Blue Moose. In addition, the Blue Moose was recently rated as one of the top local hangouts in the region, according to a detailed “Best Of” readers’ poll, conducted by The Mountain Jackpot.