Parallel walls along alley sign of frustrations in West Kiowa project
In years to come, people may wonder about the alley with side-by-side walls.
One wall has been there for many years, built with concrete blocks by longtime residents Richard and Shirley White at the rear of their property that faces onto the 3300 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue.
The second wall was being built this week with stay-in-place forms by developer Jeff Shada as a drainage-control element of his duplex project that faces onto the 3300 block of West Kiowa Street. He has a city permit to build his wall as close as possible to the White wall, in city right of way along the south side of the alley, which goes east from Red Rock Avenue.
Completion of the wall, followed by paving of the alley, is planned in conjunction with a grand opening of the two duplex buildings April 5. The site's plat allows 11 units in all, but Shada said he is waiting on the market before seeking additional building permits.
David Lethbridge of City Engineering estimated that the gap between the two walls will be a foot or less, with a vertical drop of up to four feet. Asked what might happen if someone were to drop something small (such as a wedding ring) down that narrow space, Lethbridge advised not taking such chances with so valuable an object.
Why two walls? The reasons chiefly appear to be personal. Already unhappy with the size of the project - the duplexes under construction are being built to the maximum lot size and height allowed under an 1880s-approved plat - the Whites have accused Shada at different times of damaging an apple tree of theirs that extends into the alley, causing flood damage to their property (which is on the low side of the alley) and damaging their wall while building the new one.
Shada responded this week that he has offered to make amends for all of those problems, but the Whites have not reciprocated. One issue is that Shada, who admits being currently stretched on cash, has wanted to do the payback through in-kind work (such as replacing the tree or giving the Whites a new driveway over the flooding impacts), whereas the Whites wanted money.
“He and I don't get along,” summarized Richard White, who has hired an attorney and claims Shada owes him $12,000.
Initially, the alley wall was intended to ease relations between the developer, the Whites and others in the older neighborhood who have been concerned about the project's impacts (one of which has been bulldozing the sides of a red rock formation to make room for a future lot).
A longstanding problem had been that the alley was high at either end and low in the middle, resulting in water pooling and even seeping through the Whites' wall. The city plan was to raise the alley several feet so that virtually all the future run-off would drain through a new stormwater pipe onto Kiowa Street. To make this plan work, a retaining wall was needed on the south side of the alley. The initial plan was for Shada to build it in place of the Whites' wall, at no cost to them.
However, despite several informal meetings with staff and developer since last summer, the Whites never OK'd a plan. One of the problems was that Shada crews would have had to go onto the Whites' property to do the work. “I wouldn't let him on my property because he wouldn't pay for my damage from the flood,” White explained.
Lethbridge admitted some frustration. “It's short of what we'd hoped,” he said. But he's happy about the fact that with the wall and new alley design, the water coming onto the White property from the property above “will be way less than before.”
He also noted that when the work is finished and the alley raised the necessary amount, most of the new wall will be covered up, leaving just 6 to 18 inches above the pavement. “It will appear more like a curb when it's done,” he said.
Just don't go near it with a loose wedding ring.
Westside Pioneer article