Public wants regional stormwater solution

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The 50 people who attended a public stormwater meeting Thursday unequivocally endorsed a regional–not city-wide–approach to the stormwater problem in El Paso County.

The Pikes Peak Regional Stormwater Task Force, the Colorado Springs City Council and the El Paso County Board of Commissioners hosted the meeting to gather citizen feedback on stormwater solutions.

Mayor Steve Bach did not attend.

Colorado Springs City Council President Keith King said the mayor and the council are “starting to come together.

“I think he’ll come around,” King said.

Mayor Bach has spoken about a stormwater solution that involves only the city.

Residents, engineers, students and professionals Thursday broke up into small groups to discuss the problem and offer opinions and solutions.

Resident Ray Perkins said storm water is a “big problem,” and he suggested a fee or a tax should be started to pay for the solution. Regardless, “they’ll need to sell it to the public.”

“Water doesn’t respect municipal limits,” said Will Landin, a civil engineer. “The community will need to know how future development will pay its own way.”

A developer, Kevin Walker said there needs to be a regional approach and “everyone should play with the same rules.”

Walker called Colorado Springs a “middle-aged city. We haven’t maintained what we have.” Much of the current stormwater infrastructure is 50 years old and crumbling.

Dave Meyer works for Colorado Springs Utilities, but he spoke as a private citizen, he said.

“Acrimony and lack of cooperation between entities is a concern,” Meyer said, advocating a regional solution. He spoke in favor of a dedicated source of funding.

“What is it going to cost if we don’t do anything?” Meyer asked.

Colorado Springs shouldn’t “reinvent the wheel,” to devise a solution, said James Long.

Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed and Greenway District, said there needs to be a well thought-out master plan, and the solution needs to withstand the TABOR, or Taxpayers Bill of Rights law.

The next two public meetings will be held: Nov. 6, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Cheyenne Mountain High School Cafeteria, 1200 Cresta Road, and  Nov. 19, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Leon Young Service Center, 1521 S. Hancock Expressway.

The meetings include a focus-group discussion led by a moderator to ensure accurate and in-depth data from attendees. Representatives of all three city and county groups will be in attendance.

One Response to Public wants regional stormwater solution

  1. Some interesting and relevant quotes in this article I would think:

    “We are a middle-aged city”. There are times when people speaking out with a realistic observation as did Mr. Walker – - is what it takes to produce real action out of conversation. Middle age is when we all start needing new teeth, knees and hips! And once we get them, life is good! Right now, dealing with storm water is our ‘knees and hips’.

    There is an ‘economic development component’ to addressing this critical need and that is major firms tend to avoid those cities who are not keeping up with infrastructure. Jobs !!

    “Acrimony and lack of cooperation between entities is a concern,”

    Again – people speaking out with realistic observations – this one the need to realize things work better when people work together. The most interesting thing about the first town-hall meeting, with politicians listening instead of talking – - is the degree of cordiality that was present! This is a positive sign giving a real clue as to how best deal with the public on critical issues! Let specialists talk – let people respond – then let politicians craft measures the people indicate they want – - as opposed to what elected officials tell us we need ! People respond when led, not pushed.

    Rick Wehner
    October 28, 2013 at 9:47 am