Drainage plan: Gold Hill fill will kill mill rills

       After scores of years sporting drainage scars, 2005 is to be the year that Gold Hill gets a facelift. Not only will the time-honored “rills” on the hillsides above Highway 24 go away, retention ponds will be created to end nearly a century of contaminated gold tailings washing down the hill and into Fountain Creek, according to Robert Willard, manager of Gold Hill Mesa Township LLC. The rills on the hill (as seen looking south from Promontory 
Point Park) represent years of uncontrolled run-off from the
old Golden Cycle gold-milling property. The old mill’s 
smokestack is at the far right. The drainage problem was 
inherited by Gold Hill Mesa Township LLC, the current 
property owners who are planning the Gold Hill Mesa 
residential/commercial development. The LLC’s engineers 
are planning a type of terracing in place of the rills to help in
slowing stormwater flow and preventing any contaminants 
from reaching Fountain Creek. The LLC has also submitted
 a grading plan for the upper part of the property, which, if 
approved, would allow leveling to start in January in the 
Phase 1 area of the project. Click to see story and project 
concept plan.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Fountain Creek itself will be cleaned up - though not with as austere an appearance as in the Colorado Springs Engineering's Springs Community Improvements Program (SCIP) project west and east of Gold Hill's section of the creek between Eighth and 21st street. Willard told the Westside Pioneer he wants to preserve as many trees as possible, much like Angler's Covey is doing with its new store being built next to Fountain Creek northeast of Highway 24 and 21st Street.
       The LLC, a consortium of project investors, has received City Council approvals for a residential/commercial development on the 214-acre property, which housed the Golden Cycle gold-milling operation during the first half of the 20th century.
       In-depth designs for the work is still being worked out by the LLC's engineers. However, as part of the LLC's agreement with the Colorado Health Department, Willard said the drainage work will include channels and retention ponds, thus eliminating the current situation where water with tailings washes down the rills - and other places on the property - and into the creek.
       Contaminant and stormwater control “are the issues people are most concerned about,” he said.
       The LLC worked with Colorado Springs on its recently completed drainage project in Fountain Creek, ensuring that dirt dredged up in the work was trucked back to the upper areas of the Gold Hill property.
       Willard is not critical of the city's Fountain Creek project, which removed nearly all the trees and replanted new ones afterward. However, he wants to leave things closer to their present appearance on the Gold Hill section. “It's real pretty down there,” he said, adding that his goal is to “remove tailings from the flood plain without destroying trees and the riparian area.”
       Like the city project, the Gold Hill work will address storm-drainage erosion by stabilizing the creek banks and installing intermittent “drop structures” - 1 to 2-foot rock waterfalls that slow the water's flow. “We have to have a place to catch rising water, so we'll be widening the channel and providing a place for the water to sit,” Willard said. “We also need to slow down the velocity; that's what drop structures do.”
       The rills above the creek will be replaced with terraces to help ease the water down into the ponds, he said.
       He hopes that all or at least most of this work can be completed in 2005. Eventually, “I want to see that as a nice park area,” he said.
       However, an actual park along the creek, with trails and benches and other such niceties, will not be created until Gold Hill Mesa Township LLC develops houses and commercial buildings nearby, he said. That phase of the development is not anticipated for a few years. “We want to solve the functional problems from an environmental perspective without limiting our options to resolve future access issues,” Willard said.

Westside Pioneer article