February 11, 2016 Vol. 15 No. 12
City Hall, Creative District focus of Council meeting
Written by Jeanne Davant   

Lady Mustang swimmers take league title


Above, Lady Mustang Kaitlyn Davidson focuses intently during the 100-yard backstroke preliminary on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Photo by Frank McKiel


Going into last weekend’s Tri-Peaks League swim meet at Colorado College’s pool, coach Roy Chaney made no secret of the fact that he wanted the Manitou Mustangs to come away with the league title.

His wish was granted as the Mustangs amassed 450 points, good enough for first place by a dominating margin. They also set two meet records in the process.

Samantha White took the 100-breaststroke record, finishing in 1:06.17, and then the 200-medley relay team of White, Kethrys Buffa, Emily Dollof-Holt and Veronica Morin finished in 1:46.96.

Overall, the Mustangs won six events, giving them the easy path to the league championship.

Morin took home the 50 and 100 freestyle races, Buffa took the 100 backstroke and the Mustangs also took the 200-freestyle relay.

Up next for Manitou: the Class 4A state tournament to be held at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton beginning Friday, Feb. 12.


Manitou Springs City Council heard a proposal Tuesday to stabilize the back of City Hall, which is still sinking in the aftermath of flood damage.

The building sustained considerable damage during the 2013 floods, which caused the north side to subside. The hall was raised and repairs, including installation of an I-beam and concrete and steel supports, were completed in the summer of 2014. Then a concrete block flood wall was built to protect the new columns.

Until installation of the flood wall, there had been only about a half-inch of resettlement, said Morgan Fay, structural project manager at Quality Engineering of Fort Collins. But now the back of the hall has sunk 3 inches.

“For a building this size, that’s not surprising,” Fay said during a Council work session. “Our observation was that the weight of the stones in the flood wall compacted the ground, causing the northernmost columns to sink about 3 inches.”

Fay presented three alternatives for further repairs to stabilize the building and stop cracking that’s occurring inside. The preferred alternative was to install helical piers next to the support columns.

These 3-inch-diameter piers would be screwed into the ground to a depth of 17 to 20 feet, Fay said. The hall would need 11 of them to be installed at a cost of about $67,000.

A test pier would be installed and additional testing done before the final installation.

Asked about the urgency of the repairs, Fay said, “You’re not going to see another drop all of a sudden. The initial settlement tapered off over time. It may continue to settle, but incrementally. It’s not something where you have to drop everything right now.”

City Administrator Jason Wells said he thought going ahead with the repairs quickly was the best thing to do, before the start of another high-water season.

It is expected that Council will review a contract for the work at an upcoming regular meeting.


Creative District

Also Tuesday, Council discussed the city’s relationship with the Creative District and the Housing Task Force.

Manitou is working to develop a creative district that would make the city eligible for state funds to promote growth and stability of art and other creative enterprises. In passing a 2011 law authorizing the formation of creative districts, the state Legislature intended that the funds be used to attract artists and creative entrepreneurs, which in turn would stimulate economic activity, attract visitors, and revitalize and beautify communities.

Among the partners in Manitou’s Creative District would be the Manitou Springs Arts Council, the Manitou Springs Chamber and the Manitou Art Center.

MAC Executive Director Natalie Johnson asked Council to consider how the city would participate in the process.

Mayor Nicole Nicoletta suggested that one avenue would be opened by a relationship with Casas Grandes, Mexico, which has asked Manitou Springs to be its sister city. The small town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua is famous for the pottery that has been made there since pre-Columbian times.

“They called me Thursday and were here the next day,” Nicoletta said, adding that she met with officials from the city.

Nicoletta said artists from Casas Grandes could come to Manitou to conduct workshops, and artists from Manitou could go there.

“They’re looking for economic support as well,” Nicoletta said.

For the Creative District to be sustainable, “I think the city has to have some participation,” said Chamber of Commerce board member Farley McDonough.

Details about the district are still being worked out.

“We’re a couple of months away from having a board and bylaws,” Johnson said.

“We feel supportive of the Creative Arts District, and are happy to support it when we know what that support will look like,” Nicoletta said.


Housing Task Force

A discussion of whether the Housing Task Force should become an official advisory board to the city centered on the task force involvement of councilors Coreen Toll and Becky Elder.

Toll was a driving force behind the task force’s formation, and Elder has attended several meetings.

The task force was formed to consider how to meet Manitou’s need for affordable housing. It has explored potential ways the city could encourage development of affordable housing through code revisions, and has heard a proposal to build a mixed-use development on Higginbotham Flats.

Nicoletta said she had discussed the task force with Planning Director Wade Burkholder, who cautioned against Council members initiating any major projects through the task force, since a Council member who championed a major project could face a conflict of interest if the project came before Council on appeal.

“I would have no trouble recusing myself,” Toll said.

“Your team has a lot of really creative ideas,” Councilman Bob Todd said. “There are many ways to go without another official body.”

Wells said the city has learned of grant opportunities that would allow acquisition of property and utility installation and perhaps raising lower-rent properties out of the flood plain.

“Do we want to do that, and if so, is it up to the task force to advise Council?” Wells asked.

“There are different perspectives about how to do affordable housing,” Nicoletta said.

“If Council would like to give direction about grants in areas we haven’t gone into yet, we could talk about this later.”