Green Mountain Falls Residents and Planners Wave Red Flag Over Construction Sites/Safety Hazards

Public Meeting Set for Tuesday Night

Rick Langenberg

Many Green Mountain Falls residents and planners are saying enough is enough regarding ugly construction staging sites downtown and in residential neighborhoods, and are raising questions about  lingering, never-ending infrastructure projects.

Moreover, a growing number of locals are worried that the current construction frenzy is taking away from the aesthetic appeal of the town, known for pristine trails and views. In essence their message is: Don’t use our neighborhoods as dumping grounds for big equipment, work structures and port-a-potties

But for Green Mountain Falls, ongoing problems have escalated with keeping a small town, mountain atmosphere, while dealing with big city concerns, such as road maintenance and significant drainage challenges.

Last week, in a lively discussion, the GMF Board of Trustees overturned a unanimous recommendation by the planning commission to find an alternative from a current site at the corner of Ute Pass Avenue and Olathe, located near the walking entrance to the Mt. Dewey trail.  “The current staging area at Olathe and Ute Pass in not appropriate due to zoning and that a property that is zoned “Mixed Use” would be most suitable. The old town hall site is recommended,” stated the planning commission in their earlier recommendation.

This site is being used on a temporary basis by the Colorado Springs Utilities company for a new expanded water pump station. That project was approved last spring, but the elected leaders did struggle over where equipment could be stored due to the community’s mountain terrain. At the time, this was touted as the best alternative.

That is one issue. Other concerns have been voiced by what some declare as a safety hazard around Hotel Street up from the lake, with one trustee even declaring: What went wrong with this project.  A meeting has been scheduled for May 9 to further evaluate this situation, and to outline plans for a new guard rail.

At last week’s session, the current division among the trustees became apparent as they addressed a series of recommendations by the planning commission.

At an earlier planning commission meeting, the group sought to  put a halt to this current staging area, which has received many complaints, and instead redirected such efforts towards the old town hall site. It would direct the staff to work with CSU to explore other options.

But this resolution got a cold response from the majority members of the GMF boards, who stressed that the current staging of construction equipment is just a temporary fix.

“It was a temporary solution,” said Trustee Sundee King.

Mayor Todd Dixon agreed and stated that the old town hall site would not work, as it is too small and doesn’t fit the zoning requirement.  He also maintained that this subject has been discussed to death. “We have had plenty of discussion,” said Dixon.

Trustee Katharine Guthrie expressed similar views, but believes the town needs to set a firm timeline.

The board also tackled the issue of whether to establish an overall policy for construction staging areas in town, and agreed to table the issue.

The town could not reach a decision on this issue, which also generated mixed views. “I do not feel comfortable with proceeding,” said Trustee Nick Donzello, who wants to see a more amicable solution for residential neighborhood. “I don’t think we are solving anything,” said Trustee Sean Ives.

Dixon said he favors an approach that “spreads the pain” as far as eyesore impacts for construction equipment needed to be stored for key projects.

The pump station was cited by leaders as a definite plus for the community. But several former trustees argued that the board was caving into the demands of CSU.

Another sore spot with many deals with ongoing Still Basin work done across from the lake, creating a dangerous intersection and roadway.

At last week’s meeting, Donzello, in response to citizen complaints, sought to get answers in finding more about what has caused the problem.

Dixon said these concerns will get addressed at the forthcoming public meeting on Tuesday night. Plans for a new guard rail are expected to be presented.

On the upside, the trustees agreed on plans for this summer’s Bronc Day festival and a plan to waive fee to possibly attract more vendors.