Gold Hill gains ground
Filing 1 grading done; community center start seen this fall

       As rough grading finishes up for Filing 1, utilities are starting to go in and plans are taking sharper focus for the Gold Hill Mesa development.
       Robert Wil-lard, manager of an investment group named Gold Hill Mesa Township LLC, said foundation work will start this fall on the $3.3 million community center that will be a centerpiece of Filing 1 and the project as a whole. By early 2006, construction is to commence on Filing 1's model homes - 12 models in 9 buildings by John Laing Homes - with a grand opening anticipated next spring for those buildings and the center, he said.
       “I think people will get really excited when they see those coming out of the ground,” commented project construction manager Barry Brinton. “We're going to create some real nice-looking streetscapes.”
       Also slated to get underway this fall will be drainage work to clean up the old “rills” - erosion scars - along Highway 24, as well as grading that will mark the start of developing Filing 2.
       Grading on Filing 1 had started in mid-March. During the Filing 2 grading, Lower Gold Camp Road will be widened just east of 21st Street, Brinton said.
       The development's concept plan calls for a mix of homes and businesses on 214 acres southeast of Highway 24 and 21st Street, which have lain dormant since gold-milling ended there in 1949. The LLC plans to eventually build at least 1,000 homes and numerous businesses.
       Construction is to take place in five phases. Phase 1 consists of 168 homes in Filing 1 and 138 in Filing 2. The filings are side by side, north of Lower Gold Camp Road, on a total of about 52 acres. Filing 1 abuts the nearly finished Crown Hill Mesa subdivision just to the east off Lower Gold Camp.
       The Gold Hill Mesa style will differ from Crown Hill's by being “traditional neighborhood,” in which homes are smaller and closer together and present a variety of historic-style facades.
       A conscious effort will be made to fit the homes' appearance with that of the older Westside residential area, which neighbors Gold Hill Mesa to the north and west. “We're integrating the fabric of the Westside into the development,” Willard said.
       The grading has changed the Phase 1 area from an undulating sea of weeds and grass to a relatively flat, scraped-dirt area that is starting to take the shape of streets and housing lots. The lots are being roughed in about 3 feet lower than the streets, because of the health requirement that the developer cover the old, gold-milled ground with fresh topsoil.
       Viewers from 21st Street may have noticed some additional digging activity north of the Phase 1 area. This is part of running a new, 1,500-foot-long, 8-inch-wide sewer main from the north up to Phase 1, Brinton said. Water and storm sewer lines will come in afterward, followed by electrical and gas lines.
       With the trench for the sewer main as deep as 20 feet in places, workers who get down into it are required to wear masks and protective clothing. This is part of the air-quality effort that is intended to prevent workers or the general public from being exposed to health-threatening amounts of arsenic or lead from the tailings, Willard said.
       Results of the first three months of monitoring the air quality during grading operations are discussed in a separate article starting on Page 1.
       Willard mentioned one recent occasion when a dirt biker broke through the security fence and started riding around the graded area. Employees forced him to go through a cleaning process before he was allowed to leave the property.
       While preparation for houses is taking place at the south side of Gold Hill Mesa, the drainage work will be in the north/northeast area, where the rills are prominent. Although no development is planned in that area right away, Willard and the Colorado Health Department have agreed that drainage upgrades there have a high priority.
       According to Willard, the LLC expects to spend up to $2 million in this area. For many years, water has run freely downhill into Fountain Creek, deepening the erosion scars and dumping unknown quantities of mill tailings into the water. LLC crews will build two new water-quality ponds near the creek and channel runoff to them. This will have the dual effect of curtailing the erosion and greatly limiting the chances of tailings materials getting into the creek. Restoration of the scarred hillside will also take place, Willard said.
       Final details on the drainage plan, including a loan application to the federal Environmental Protec-tion Agency, are being worked out at present. “My guess is that the earliest we will be able to start is October and more realistically in November,” Willard said.

Westside Pioneer article