Pioneer's top 20 Westside stories of 2018: numbers 15-20 & honorable mentionEditor's note: The article about story numbers 1-7 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 8-14 at this link.
15. Bear Creek Nature Center - new exhibits. Owned by El Paso County, the center at 245 Bear Creek Road unveiled new and refurbished exhibits in January. Other than various nature programs for which fees are charged, the center in Bear Creek Regional Park is free and open to the public. An article about the exhibits is at this link.
16. Mesa water plant. A $37 million reconstruction started in 2018 and is scheduled to continue into late 2020 on Colorado Springs Utilities' water treatment plant on the Mesa, at the northeast corner of Fillmore Street and Mesa Road.
The Utilities website defines the project scope as a “reconfiguration of the solids drying beds; and construction of a new main pretreatment building, two small auxiliary buildings and a new raw water vault.”
Water is piped to the plant from different sources. One of these is snowmelt from Pikes Peak, captured at a diversion on Fountain Creek at 33rd Street.
No project traffic impacts are expected, although motorists can often see tall cranes at work on the site.
Also in 2018, the Mesa plant was renamed after Phil Tollefson, who was the first CEO of Utilities after it changed in 1993 from a city department to a city-owned
17. 30th Street. As announced at a public meeting in June, a 2020 construction start date is planned for a major rebuild of this roadway between Fontanero Street and Mesa Road; however, issues have arisen in terms of accelerated federal/state environmental review and project cost (the previous budget was $8.6 million).
According to project manager Robin Allen, the current level of design is 30 percent - “we will have a better idea of real cost once we hit 60 percent plans, which should be completed in March of 2019.”
As planned, the project will cut into the hillside to widen the two-lane roadway, but not for extra traffic lanes. They will be paved shoulders for cars to pull over or bicycles to use. Another major element is revamped intersections, including 30th at Gateway Road (the main entrance to the Garden of the Gods), which will become a roundabout.
18. Rock Ledge greenhouse. Fundraising to build a greenhouse like the one used by the Chambers family in the late 1800s is continuing in earnest at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. After four years in which Folk Art Festival organizer Kathy Read earmarked profits from her annual event for that purpose, a letter went out to ranch supporters in December, asking for tax-deductible donations to help fulfill the goal. According to the letter, from Ranch Manager Andy Morris and Living History Association President Ron Wright, “the reconstruction of the historic greenhouse (built in 1876) is the final piece needed to
Steam-heated and estimated to cost about $290,000, the building will let the city-owned working ranch off North 30th Street grow “heirloom plants” for the vegetable garden; develop 19th century flower varieties; and offer classes, workshops and demonstrations, the letter states.
19. Westside Community Center changes. Colorado Springs Parks decided in 2018 to start implementing a nine-year-old master plan for the center this spring - plus goats and chickens. The original approval was in 2010, several months before the Woodmen Valley Chapel took over operation of the city-owned facility on the former site of Buena Vista Elementary. Budgeted at $300,000, the work will focus on parking area changes and new landscaping (including several trees), along with interior curbs,
The master-plan effort will also incorporate a new strategy for the community garden, one in which a private group (working with Parks staff) is running the garden as a cooperative, instead of the traditional method of people renting individual plots. According to plans, sheds and yard space for the animals will be developed next to the garden.
Also in 2018… Stu Davis, previously the community liaison for the Springs Rescue Mission, was hired in late 2018 as Community Center director. He replaced Ken Norwood, who had started in 2017 and stepped down midway through 2018.
A fundraiser has started to buy new equipment for the center's fitness room.
20. Kids get outdoors. A program to get students outdoors in an academic way is in its second year at Howbert Elementary.
The Pleasant Valley neighborhood K-5 school is working with the Westside-based Catamount Institute and its “Outdoor School.”
Built into the curriculum with spread-out dates and times, the program's school-year commitment includes trail work and nature projects that make use of the nearby Garden of the Gods.
Howbert Principal Bryan Relich said he is pleased with how the Catamount arrangement is opening up the outdoors to students. With Howbert so close to the Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch, “we need to take advantage of that,” he said.
As one proof of the program's popularity with students, “our attendance is almost perfect” on the Catamount days, Relich cheerfully pointed out.
Westside Pioneer article