Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Residents look at three options to prevent flooding on Colorado Springs' west side

By Matt Steiner Updated: February 26, 2014 at 10:07 am 0

A project to rebuild Camp Creek from Garden Of The Gods south to Fountain Creek will carry a price tag of more than $30 million, no matter which of three potential plans Colorado Springs officials decide to use.

Camp Creek spilled over its banks during multiple flash floods that came raging out of the Waldo Canyon burn scar in the summer of 2013. The more than 18,000 ash-laden acres from the blaze have left steep slopes in the mountains west of the city unwilling to soak up heavy rainwaters.

The three possible solutions for Camp Creek were presented at a public meeting Tuesday night at Coronado High School. City representatives, including project engineer Mike Chaves, joined designers from Wilson & Co. Engineers to share the plans with more than 100 curious residents.

Aesthetic value of the proposals and the high costs were among the main topics discussed among the residents that took part in the hands-on assessment of the project.

"The price isn't making any one option fall out artificially," Chaves said, noting that there is only a $6 million difference between the most and least expensive.

Chaves added that Colorado Springs does not have the money to attack a $30 million project, but he said the city has already begun looking into federal, state and local grants to help.

"We'll probably do this in phases," he said, adding that "critical elements" would be worked on in the next few months with bigger phases beginning as early as 2015.

Those at the meeting took part in a small-group format in which they reviewed maps and engineers' renderings of the plans and shared their assessments, which will be considered in the coming weeks by city officials.

The least expensive option would reconstruct the creek in the middle of 31st Street, making it deeper and wider. The channel would look similar to how it looks now. The second option, and most expensive, would also include a rebuilt, open channel, but would add vegetation and a bike path next to the creek.

The third plan is the most radical change: The city would construct an underground box culvert along 31st Street from Rock Ledge Ranch to Fountain Creek and build a greenway with a bike path on top.

Jim McGrady, 55, whose family has owned property in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood since 1967, and Dustin and Jaime Beitz, who live close to Rock Ledge Ranch, said they liked the "greener" proposals.

"I've watched that ditch for many years," McGrady said. "I've always envisioned a parkway down the middle of the street."

All three options will have up to 32 stream stabilization structures, such as large rocks through Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch, to slow stream flows before they reach 31st Street. The two more expensive plans also would include large sediment detention ponds either at the north end of the park or on the south end of the ranch.

Chaves and Vance Fossinger of Wilson & Co. stressed that each of the three proposals would take all 224 residential properties and 11 businesses out of the 100-year floodplain. Concerned residents asked if the Federal Emergency Management Agency would agree with the assessment and remove the property from the flood zone and make acquiring flood insurance more affordable.

"Until FEMA gives its final approval, we can't be 100 percent certain," said Fossinger. "But I'm pretty comfortable with it."

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