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LETTERS: Major milestone for summit house project; a better solution is needed

By: Gazette readersGazette readers
May 13, 2018 Updated: May 13, 2018 at 11:07 am
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A rendering of the dining terrace of the new Pikes Peak Summit House. Photo courtesy RTA Architects and GWWO Inc./Architects

Major milestone for summit house

In 2014, we introduced Advocates for Pikes Peak Summit House as a group promoting public involvement in the redesign of the Pikes Peak Summit Complex. In 2015, we outlined our collective vision of restoring the summit to as near its original condition as possible, keeping buildings low profile, maximizing all view possibilities, providing necessary amenities, conserving energy, while providing a strong presence of history and raw grandeur.

Now, on May 3, the U.S. Forest Service has formally approved the legally required environmental assessment for this project. Their finding of "No Significant Impact" gives the go-ahead to begin construction, probably in June of this year.

Thus a major milestone for this project is now completed. For this we are very grateful to our U.S. Forest Service District Ranger, Oscar Martinez, and to his right-hand man, Jeff Hovermale, whose hard work and perseverance pulled all of the required pieces of the environmental assessment together, to the satisfaction of the many, many stakeholders. Quite an accomplishment!

Meanwhile, throughout these four years the city of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department has been actively preparing for the many arrangements required to keep the usual Summit operations functioning as various phases of construction proceed - a period of about three years.

For this we wish to commend the Pikes Peak America's Mountain staff, especially the manager, Jack Glavan, and Parks Operation administrator, Sandy Elliott. The architect/engineer, RTA, has been on board all along, and for the past two years the general contractor, G. E. Johnson, has provided valuable constructibility reviews. They are working out these unique details in parallel instead of sequentially.

Our appreciation to all.

Advocates for Pikes Peak Summit House (APPSH)

Walt Hecox, Colorado Springs Marcy Morrrison, Manitou Springs Bill Ruskin, Colorado Springs

A better solution is needed

As an active member of Friends of Garden of the Gods, volunteer in the Nature Center and frequent visitor to the dog park in Garden of the Gods, I am sympathetic with concerns expressed in a recent letter regarding the looming loss of open space in the Garden.

Few visitors to the park know the history of how the open space in question came to be part of Garden of the Gods. In 1968, a group of developers announced plans to build high-density housing in the area that is now a dog park. Richard Beidleman, professor and chair of Biology at Colorado College, led the opposition to development of this area and wrote the proposal that resulted in Garden of the Gods being designated a national natural landmark.

Professor Beidleman's proposal for a national natural landmark focused on preserving the ecological and scenic values of Garden of the Gods and protecting the park from encroaching commercial development.

His proposal, supported by the Colorado Springs Parks department, called for the inclusion within the park of buffer zones on the east and west side that would "completely and permanently protect the Garden of the Gods and its scenic setting." That was the promise the city made in 1968, and because of it, a few generous benefactors stepped forward and made the purchase of the land in the proposed buffer zones possible.

Now, the promise made by the city in 1968 is about to be broken. The city's Parks Department has approved a plan to allocate 20 acres of parkland north of Gateway road for a stormwater retention dam and sediment basin. A portion of the area south of Gateway Road that is now a dog park will become a parking lot.

The city will argue that these developments impact a very small portion of grassy plain to the south and wild riparian habitat to the north of Gateway. That is the city's newest promise.

What will happen in another four years when traffic in the park increases? We should expect ever-increasing demand for parking.

Visitors from all over the world will use this parking space, few city residents will use it. Millions of visitors come to the Garden of the Gods each year and leave the city's residents with the bill for picking up the trash, maintaining the roads, trails and other facilities that the park generously provides.

Turning over precious open space to accommodate this growing demand seems a high price to pay.

A solution is needed that does not degrade the extraordinary natural setting that visitors come to see and one that recovers at least some of the costs.

Daniel Gaskill, Monument

A message for the Bartlett pears

Driving south on Elbert Road and east on Judge Orr for over 30 years, I am amazed at the self-centered, thoughtless actions of some individuals, whose intellect is only surpassed by a Bartlett pear. In the sunlight, you can see the glass bottles in the pastures lying in wait for someone's livestock to step on, possibly costing an enormous vet bill or even the loss of an animal.

I wish I could catch one of these Bartlett pears and follow them home, which judging by the way they dump their trash along the road, probably looks like a dump . or maybe their home is pristine, since they get rid of their trash along the way.

I would like to load up all that glass and crap they deposit along the road and dump it in their yard.

So if you are lucky enough to catch one of them doing their dirty deed, stop and ask them what they think they're doing. You'll need to tell them not to do that, because I am pretty sure they can't read this.

Ron L. Butler, Ramah

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