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Upcoming meetings may play key role in creek bank decision

 

Last updated 7/10/2020 at 11:27am

News Photo by Karin Hill

The edge of Southmoor Drive above Fountain Creek is precariously close to the shoulder and concrete barriers that have crumbled down the creek bank in recent months.

Although officials have been continually discussing possible solutions to the erosion of creek bank along Fountain Creek and Southmoor Drive recently, one Fountain City Council member says he is concerned about getting enough support for the final decision.

To that end, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Lauer is hoping to inform the public about the severity of the situation in hopes that citizens will voice their own concerns directly to the decision-makers.

While the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District Board will, indeed, consider many factors when deciding on a project, Lauer believes it will be very important to have public support during the next three District-related Zoom tele-meetings:

Citizens Advisory Group, Friday, July 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Monetary Mitigation Fund Advisory Committee, Wednesday, July 15, at 10 a.m.

Board of Directors, Friday, July 24, at 2 p.m.

Individuals will need to email [email protected] to get a link to the virtual meeting before attending.

"These three meetings are the last three major steps along the way to getting a project on Southmoor Drive to make the area safer for residents and businesses in that corridor, as well as making the creek safer and better for all our downstream neighbors," Lauer said.

In April, safety concerns prompted the city of Fountain to close a small portion of Southmoor Drive just north of the American Legion building. Concrete barriers near the roadway have fallen down the creekbank, and officials feared further damage could occur in the near future, especially when heavy rains hit.

Lauer estimates the creek bank has moved another foot or so toward the road at the closest edge, and drone footage suggests the shoulder of the road at that point is essentially a shelf, which will likely fall into the creek in the near future.

Lauer has said that recent Fountain Creek Watershed District committee meetings have been mostly positive, as members seemed truly concerned about the situation. Although he knew funding would be a big hurdle, he has continued to be "cautiously optimistic" that the needed work would be approved.

However, the most recent discussions have been less positive, and he worries that stakeholders from Pueblo might sway necessary votes away from approval.

"For years, people in Pueblo County have insisted that the best way to protect them from Fountain Creek floods is to do something about the water up in El Paso County," he said. "But, over the last three years, they have changed the evaluation criteria, and even attempted to change the wording of their own SDS 1041 permit to make it more and more difficult for the Fountain Creek Watershed District to approve and fund projects in El Paso County."

Lauer noted that three years ago, two projects along Southmoor Drive were the No. 2 and No. 3 highest priority projects being considered by the Monetary Mitigation Fund Advisory Committee, based on criteria the committee all agreed should be used to evaluate projects they would recommend to the Board of Directors.

"But, just before those projects could be considered for action, several committee members proposed re-evaluating the top 10 projects by removing one of the more heavily weighted criteria, and our Southmoor projects dropped further down the list," he said. "That move cleared the way for other projects in Pueblo County to be approved and funded."

And then, at last month's Monetary Mitigation Fund Advisory Committee, several people representing Pueblo County informed people attending the Zoom call that Pueblo County representatives are developing their own criteria to ensure that projects "provide substantial benefit to Pueblo County," Lauer said.

In point of fact, the SDS 1041 permit requires that projects provide "substantial and not merely incidental benefits to Fountain Creek within Pueblo County" (Pueblo County SDS 1041 Permit, as quoted at https://www.fountain-crk.org/about/monetary-mitigation-fund/, emphasis added).

 

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