Council approves $10M for flood safety

       City Council April 23 approved the $10 million requested by the Mayor's Office for flood safety improvements.

Fire Chief Rich Brown (who just announced his retirement, effective April 30), led a well-attended meeting on fire preparedness in the Cheyenne Mountain High School auditorium in January. An ordinance that City Council approved on first reading April 23 would budget $1 million for "forest management/fuel mitigation" (chiefly removing dead brush and trees) on open public lands near neighborhoods.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The vote included $8.8 million in expenditures for two major Westside drainages - Camp Creek and South Douglas Creek - plus North Douglas Creek coming into the northwest part of the city.
       Camp Creek is seen as having the biggest need and its upgrades will probably get more than three-fourths of the funds, estimated City Stormwater Manager Tim Mitros. However, he predicted in an interview that because of the planning and public process required, no infrastructure work will likely occur until next winter.
       South Douglas's main problem is its concrete channel east of 30th Street, Mitros said, and those repairs will occur this summer.
       The concern is the potential for accelerated runoff because of the Waldo Canyon Fire's burn areas on both those drainages, Mayor's Chief of Staff Laura Neumann told council.
       As a supplemental appropriation from city reserves to the general fund, the action takes the form of an ordinance, which needs to be approved on second reading May 13.
       The other $1.2 million in the vote covers roughly anticipated costs for a “comprehensive review” of the Waldo Canyon fire ($100,000), beefed-up “emergency preparedness” facilities for the city ($100,000) and forest management/fuel mitigation ($1 million, chiefly removing dead brush and trees on public lands in and near the city).
       The latter expense would include a focus on two Westside natural attractions: the Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
       The ordinance vote was 8-1. The only “no” was cast by Councilmember Helen Collins, who criticized the “round numbers” the mayor was proposing, saying this showed a lack of research into actual costs.
       A similar critique came from long-time city spending opponent Douglas Bruce during the citizen-comment opportunity. “The mayor unfortunately got it backwards,” he said. “You must establish the cost and then determine how much revenue you need to pay for them.”
       One of the votes in favor was from Don Knight, who believes at least some of the forest management cost should be covered from the maintenance share of Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales tax revenues. He said he will look into that further before second reading.
       Laura Neumann, the mayor's chief of staff, told council that the $10 million is being requested because of the “urgent situation” related to flooding potential.
       Camp Creek flows through Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site and the Pleasant Valley neighborhood on its way to Fountain Creek; while South Douglas passes near businesses and homes, including the Holland Park neighborhood, south of Garden of the Gods Road en route to Monument Creek.

Westside Pioneer article