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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 7 July 2018  

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    Local internet and cell phone options
    D 49 honors the military
    Falcon Park-N-Ride plans move forward
    Dangerous intersections in Falcon – Part 3
    Banning Lewis annexation amendments approved
    Paint Brush holds second water meeting
    Litigation against 4-Way Ranch district
    Big O Tires gearing up for construction
    Building and real estate update
 
  Local internet and cell phone options
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Residents in the Falcon, Colorado, area have local options to choose from for fiber optic internet service and cell phone service. Falcon Broadband and PCI Broadband are both smaller, locally owned service providers with the ability to provide the same quality of services as larger companies.
   
   According to http://highspeedinternet.com, there are 43 different internet provider options in Colorado, not all of which provide fiber optics services.
   
   Fiber optics internet is faster than average broadband speeds, is more reliable than copper-based services and is less patchy than WiFi, according to http://fastmetrics.com. The average internet speed in the United States in 18.7 megabytes per second while fiber optic speed can be up to 50 times faster.
   
   According to the HowStuffWorks website, “a single copper pair conductor can carry six phone calls. A single fiber pair can carry more than 2.5 million phone calls simultaneously.”
   
   Ivan Brown, director of sales for Falcon Broadband, said his company provides fiber optic services for both business and residential customers. “We use the fiber optics as our backbone that goes all through Colorado Springs and Falcon,” he said. “That backbone delivers services into a neighborhood or service area. Other providers often use equipment to take a signal and direct it to your home whereas we extend that fiber optic backbone directly to the home.”
   
   With about 25 employees, Brown said Falcon Broadband is relatively small but typically is quicker to respond to customer service needs than the larger service providers like Century Link and Comcast. “A customer could call us on a Tuesday and we would have their services installed by that Friday,” he said. “It took two weeks for Comcast to install services at the apartment complex in the Springs where I live and where Falcon Broadband does not provide service.”
   
   Brown said Falcon Broadband recently beat out Century Link for a service contract with El Paso County School District 49. “We have been their provider for the past seven years and this year, their contract went up for bid,” he said. “We won that and will continue to serve about 20 different facilities for D 49.”
   
   PCI Broadband started as a dial-up internet provider; and, since then, has branched out to include the faster fiber optics option, home phone, cell phone and voice over internet protocol (VoIP), according to the PCI website.
   
   Dave Wainwright, operations manager for PCI, said the company has 11 employees and has provided services to the Falcon area for about 14 years. “Everybody who works for the company also lives around here,” he said. “It is as local as local can be.
   
   “We have been around a long time and we pride ourselves on good service. We are honest when we think we cannot provide good service to our customers.”
   
   Both PCI and Falcon Broadband have their headquarters in Colorado Springs and have been in business for 22 years and 15 years, respectively.
  
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  D 49 honors the military
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On April 21, El Paso County School District 49 held its second annual Military Appreciation Day at the Creekside Success Center. Guests explored booths from about 36 different groups or organizations, like Freedom Service Dogs of America, the Western Mining Museum, Sky Sox and the High Plains Library. Other booths, like the Military Child Education Coalition were on hand to provide resources for the district’s military families.
   
   Cheyenne Mountain ZOOMobile brought several animals for families to enjoy, including leopard geckos and a tortoise named Timmy; two members of Aerial Aura in Colorado Springs performed a demonstration on a trapeze suspended about 15 feet above the ground.
   
   Lou Fletcher, D 49 director of culture and service, welcomed the attendees and said he hopes this event continues for many years.
   
   “As a retired Air Force officer, the event took me back to the feeling of community and fellowship I shared with other military families on active duty,” he said. “We started this event last year and want to make it a tradition to celebrate our military families.”
  
Chris Wegert and Emily Barber, with Aerial Aura, perform for the crowd at Military Appreciation Day. Photo submitted by D 49
 
Kayla Martinez (left) and Keri Gorman, staff with D 49's Kids' Corner, share information about the after-school program. Photo submitted by D 49
 
Jenn Morris and her son, Calvin, age 2, check out Timmy, the 35-year-old tortoise from the Cheyenne Mountain ZOOMobile. Photo by Lindsey Harrison
 
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  Falcon Park-N-Ride plans move forward
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Funding has been secured for the new 208-parking-space Park-N-Ride facility in Falcon, Colorado, which represents the first such facility owned and maintained by El Paso County. Jennifer Irvine, county engineer with EPC, said although a firm start date for construction has not been set, the county hopes to begin later this year or early 2019.
   
   Sources for the funds include the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and a local match from EPC and the bridge fund with money provided by the federal government, Irvine said. “The federal funding we received is also designated for adjacent road improvements,” she said.
   
   According to the county’s project design map, the Falcon Park-N-Ride will run adjacent to Old Meridian Road, south of Highway 24. The northern-most boundary will be alongside a newly constructed extension of Swingline Road, from where it intersects with Old Meridian Road to where Swingline will intersect with a newly constructed New Meridian Road. New Meridian Road will extend from Highway 24 to Falcon Highway and provide the western-most boundary for the Park-N-Ride.
   
   “There has been a lot of good planning in this area,” Irvine said. “It started with an overall realignment plan of Meridian Road between Woodmen and Falcon Highway that emerged in the late 1990s. That was approved by the (El Paso County) Board of County Commissioners, who then adopted a sketch plan for the area in 2001; and a master plan was completed in 2004.”
   
   The plans and location for the Park-N-Ride emerged in 2003, through a joint effort that included the City of Colorado Springs, EPC and the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Irvine said.
   
   As part of the Park-N-Ride project, Irvine said the county will also undertake improvements to nearby intersections, including removal of the traffic signal at Highway 24 and Old Meridian Road. That intersection will be a right-in, right-out from Highway 24 onto Old Meridian Road; and a new traffic signal will be placed at the intersection of New Meridian Road and Highway 24, she said.
   
   “Moving the signal puts a greater distance between the existing signal at Woodmen and the new one at New Meridian,” Irvine said. “It will provide a higher level of safety.”
   
   Safety at the Park-N-Ride facility is also a priority, Irvine said. There will be lighting and additional accommodations are planned in the event a bus service ever comes back out to Falcon, she said. The EPC sheriff’s office and the Colorado Springs police department are required to provide support for the facility because the site is part of Colorado Springs and also surrounded by unincorporated EPC land.
   
   “I told the Colorado Springs City Council that I would be following up with law enforcement to make sure that everybody is on the same page regarding this location,” Irvine said. “I have not done that yet but we still have plenty of time to make sure that happens. I am confident that we can use our relationships (with the EPCSO and CSPD) to make sure the right things happen here.”
   
   Once the Park-N-Ride is built, Irvine said the county hopes that people who are currently parking in various business parking lots to carpool with other residents will use the new Park-N-Ride instead.
   
   “This is a good example of collaboration and coordination between our jurisdictions for a project that will really benefit the community overall,” she said. “Growth out in Falcon is really high so we are trying to make sure we are planning for the future.”
   
   But some residents aren’t so keen on the Park-N-Ride.
   
   Carrie Bauer is the president of the Falcon Vista Homeowners Association, and she said her community has been concerned about the project from the start. Falcon Vista is located east of Old Meridian Road, adjacent to the Park-N-Ride site.
   
   Bauer said the two main concerns, aside from thinking the project is not a good fit for the area, are adequate lighting of the facility and concerns about which law enforcement agency will be responsible to respond in an emergency situation. Bauer said she was glad to hear the county had addressed the lighting concern based on Irvine's statements, but she has been waiting for almost three months to hear about the law enforcement issue.
   
   "The law enforcement agency that is responsible needs to be nailed down now," she said. "If they (city or county law enforcement) do not know that it is their responsibility, they are not going to show up. I want something in writing about who is going to respond, with contact information so I can pass that on to the community. They need to know who to contact when something happens.”
  
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  Dangerous intersections in Falcon – Part 3
  By Lindsey Harrison

   In March, The New Falcon Herald began a series on dangerous intersections in the Falcon area. The first in the series focused on the intersection of Meridian Road and Londonderry Drive; the second focused on the intersection of Flower Road and Meridian Road and the intersection of Bent Grass Meadows Drive and Meridian Road.
   
   According to those articles, failure to yield right-of-way and inattentive driving were the leading causes of accidents at each of those intersections.
   
   This month, the NFH focused on the intersection of Highway 24 and Garrett Road. According to the Colorado State Patrol’s statistics team, inattentive driving was a leading cause of crashes at this intersection; following cars too closely came in second.
   
   Michelle Peulen, Colorado Department of Transportation communication manager for southeast Colorado, said CDOT completed a project at the intersection in October 2017 that included adding a raised median so drivers turning left from Garrett Road onto westbound Highway 24 have a designated acceleration lane. The right-hand lane of westbound Highway 24 no longer has a red-yellow-green traffic signal; rather, it is a steady green signal, so traffic does not need to stop if they are traveling west beyond Garrett Road. The project also included the addition of a turn lane from westbound Highway 24 onto Garrett Road, with a signal indicating drivers must yield to oncoming traffic prior to turning. Construction at that intersection, which began in May 2017, could have played a part in some of the accidents as drivers were acclimating to the new road configuration and navigating construction zones, she said.
   
   Trooper Josh Lewis with the CSP said the frequency of crashes at that intersection has increased every year since 2015. “There was a massive spike in 2017, as crashes rose 333.33 percent from 2016,” he said. “Fortunately, all of these crashes have resulted in property damage only; there were no injuries or fatalities.”
   
   Accidents at this intersection occurred most frequently on Mondays and Fridays, he said.
   
   Peulen said taking away the traffic signal at Garrett and Highway 24 has greatly improved the traffic flow; she anticipates fewer accidents at the intersection now that construction is complete. “Taking away the light improves traffic flow so there are not backups but (the absence of the traffic light) also increases capacity,” she said. “It basically increases the flow of traffic while decreasing congestion.”
   
   CDOT has $1 billion in unmet needs throughout Colorado for projects like this one, which Peulen said the department hopes to address in the next few years if funding becomes available. “We are playing catch-up throughout the state,” she said. “Our biggest push for potential projects is traveler safety and reduced traffic crashes by reducing congestion.”
   
   One way that drivers can improve their chances of safely getting from one place to another is to “know before you go,” Peulen said. “We always say, no matter what the time of year is, check out our website to see road conditions, lane closures and construction areas. Know what you are getting into before you leave your house.
   
   “It is up to all of us as drivers to make good choices, no matter where you are going, including wearing your seat belt and avoiding distracted or impaired driving.”
  
This month, the NFH focused on the intersection of Highway 24 and Garrett Road in the ongoing series on dangerous intersections in Falcon. According to the Colorado State Patrol's statistics team, inattentive driving was a leading cause of crashes at this intersection. Photo by Lindsey Harrison
 
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  Banning Lewis annexation amendments approved
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On April 23, the Colorado Springs City Council voted 7-2 to approve modifications to the annexation agreement that made Banning Lewis Ranch part of the city in 1988; council members Bill Murray and Yoland Avila opposed the amendments. The property is located on the city’s east side and spans about 24,000 acres, with 40 different property owners.
   
   According to the February issue of The New Falcon Herald, City Councilman Andy Pico said the amended agreement puts more realistic requirements on the developers. Current population projections are about one-third of the 1988 projections.
   
   TischlerBise Inc., a national fiscal, economic and planning consultant, conducted an analysis of the potential financial impacts that development in BLR could have on the rest of Colorado Springs. The report, which they presented to the City Council in November 2017, states that development could generate $49 million in net revenue to the city over the next 30 years.
   
   In a separate interview with The New Falcon Herald, Pico said the opposition to the amendments existed but was not widespread. “We received a number of comments through email and at the town hall meetings,” he said. “Some of the issues that were brought up were actually rolled into the changes we voted to approve. The comments were taken to heart; and, where appropriate, we made changes to the amendments.”
   
   Pico said a key point to remember is that development has and will continue to pay for itself, including development in BLR. Current taxpayers and utility customers will not pay for the new development; the developers will pay for everything and they will make their money when they sell the homes they build, he said.
   
   “This is a 30-year-old agreement that has obviously failed to perform so we are modifying it, using the same standards and processes so development in Colorado Springs gets equal treatment across the board,” Pico said.
   
   Both the original annexation agreement from 1988 and the newly amended agreement are posted on the city’s website for anyone to access, Pico said.
   
   “This is really going to benefit everyone,” he said.
  
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  Paint Brush holds second water meeting
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On April 5, the Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District, in coordination with the Colorado Rural Water Association, hosted the second in a series of stakeholder meetings at the district office in Falcon, Colorado, to continue the process of developing a source water protection plan.
   
   According to the April issue of The New Falcon Herald, the purpose of the SWPP (source water protection plan) is to determine what risks exist for the district’s source of water. Leon Gomes, district manager for PBHMD, said in the article that those risks could be anything from hazardous material spills and vandalism to well heads or acts of terrorism.
   
   Gomes said one goal of the meeting was to more thoroughly educate attendees about the district’s water system, including well sites and pump houses. “We wanted to make sure they understand both geographically and physically what we are talking about in terms of our source water infrastructure,” he said.
   
   The other goal was to address each well site individually to identify the potential risks for that particular site, he said.
   
   Through the work on the SWPP, Gomes said the district will also construct a working emergency response plan, developed by Paul Hempel, source water specialist with the Colorado Rural Water Association.
   
   “Each district vehicle is equipped with our emergency response protocols, like what to do if we have a water-main break or a sewer event,” Gomes said. “We will see if the new emergency response plan covers what we are already doing or if it will be a bit broader.”
   
   The next stakeholder meeting is May 24 at 2 p.m. at the PBHMD district office.
  
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  Litigation against 4-Way Ranch district
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On April 11, Brian Matise, an attorney with Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C., filed a complaint on behalf of 30 residents of 4-Way Ranch Metropolitan District 1 against the district itself, the five board members and 4-Way Ranch Joint Venture LLC. The board members include Peter Martz, Robert Elliott, Deborah Elliott, W. Tracy Lee and Linda Johnson-Conne.
   
   Matise said the complaint is basically a legal proceeding that challenges the actions taken by the 4-Way board at their March 14 meeting, when they voted on the following: to exclude an undeveloped portion of the 4-Way Ranch property, commonly known as Waterbury, from District 1; and then include that same property as part of 4-Way Ranch Metropolitan District 2; along with conveying the services provided by District 1 to District 2.
   
   As of the March 14 meeting, the board for District 1 is also the board for District 2.
   
   District 2 was created in 2005 but did not include the 321 acres known as Waterbury at the time, Matise said. Currently, the proposed exclusion of Waterbury from District 1 means that any development and associated revenue like tap fees or operation and maintenance taxes will not go to District 1, he said.
   
   “The developers of this area, including all of the board members, have various and complicated dealings with each other so when this property (Waterbury) was transferred to the other district (District 2), it gave the board the ability to control everything, and (it) also prevents District 1 from being able to financially survive,” Matise said.
   
   The complaint asserts that both the exclusion and the transfer of services constitutes a material change to the 4-Way Ranch financial plan, which is also part of the service plan — and any material changes to the service plan must be approved by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, Matise said.
   
   Colin Mielke, attorney with Seter & Wander Wall, P.C., represents 4-Way Ranch Metro District 1 and the individual defendants in the complaint. He said he filed a motion April 23 to dismiss the complaint. Because the litigation is ongoing, Mielke said he was not able to further comment at this time.
   
   “We just want to restore the status quo before this board decision,” Matise said. “We want to restore District 1 to the condition it was in and contemplated under the service plan.”
  
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  Big O Tires gearing up for construction
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Although construction on the Big O Tires facility in Falcon, Colorado, is still a couple months away, Dustin Roberts, owner and operator, said preliminary work to get the property secured and the building designed is well underway.
   
   “The 6,500-square-foot facility will be at 6985 North Meridian Road,” he said. “I am pretty familiar with the area and with the combination of Big O’s blessing and some research on our end, I think it is a pretty good spot.”
   
   According to the March issue of The New Falcon Herald, the facility will specialize in many things, including tires, lift kits, tire rotations, brakes, struts, fluids — anything a full-service auto and tire repair facility would offer, from passenger cars to commercial vehicles.
   
   Roberts said he and his business partner, David Largent, own the entire corner property where the facility will be constructed. “We have certain landscaping requirements with the (El Paso County Regional) building department and will have about 30 parking spaces in addition to the building,” he said.
   
   Because of the nature of the business, Big O Tires will not be able to use the well that is already on the property; instead, they have established a tie-in with Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District to provide the required gallons-per-minute needed for fire suppression, he said.
   
   Roberts said construction on the facility will take about five months from the time they break ground, and he is excited to get things up and running. “The building is all designed,” he said. “I think it is tasteful and that everyone will like it.”
  
 
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Settlers View
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a request by Gary and Brenda Brinkman to rezone 40.61 acres from residential rural 5 to residential rural 2.5. Residential rural 5 zoning allows for no more than one parcel for every 5 acres, while residential rural 2.5 allows for no more than one parcel for every 2.5 acres. The BOCC also approved the preliminary plan for this property, which includes the development of 14 single-family lots.
   
   The property is located north of Hodgen Road, south of Silver Nell Drive, east of the Walden Development and west of Steppler Road, and is included within the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   Black Forest Regional Park
   The commissioners approved a construction contract and purchase order to RMC Consultants Inc. for construction of the Black Forest Regional Park drainage improvements for $147,190. The project includes ditch grading, installation of non-engineered erosion control log structures, construction of three pedestrian boardwalks and associated trail realignments.
   
   El Paso County Fairgrounds
   The BOCC approved a construction contract and purchase order to Ed Green Construction for construction of the county fairgrounds south gate and playground improvements for $213,000. The project includes concrete installation, fencing upgrades and landscape improvements for the south gate and playground.
  
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