Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How To Follow City Council Meetings Online

Are you wanting to go to city council meetings but are afraid you won’t know enough about what’s going on? Or maybe you wish you could go to city council meetings but can’t because you have a family to feed, kids to put to bed, and work in the morning?

Not to worry: this is for you. Following Manitou Springs city council meetings is not hard to do, especially since you’re reading this post online.

First, start at the city council’s information website or portal:

Now click on a blue, highlighted Agenda link (any will do): this is a brief summary (in pdf file format) of what will be discussed by city council during a meeting. Sometimes, additional information is provided, as with this update about next week’s (November 6) city council meeting being held outside City Hall: “The meeting will be held at the Congregational Church, 103 Pawnee Ave.”

Back on the city council’s information website/portal page, you’ll also notice Minutes and Packets, two fields of information specific to city council meetings. Both links contain pdf files loaded with lots of details; the Packet is a highly detailed version of Minutes and also includes Minutes from previous city council meetings.

Let’s do an example:

May 21, 2013 City Council meeting - Section G. New Business

Agenda: G. New Business - 1. Approve First Amendment to Agreement for Professional Services between Ensign Engineering and Land Surveying, Inc. and the City of Manitou Springs

Minutes: “Roger Miller, Project Manager with Ensign Engineering, explained that he spent 22 hours to correct and validate the County Assessor’s address list along Ruxton Avenue, which was outside the scope of the original agreement. This amendment provides $3,300 in additional compensation for this work.
Councilwoman Toll arrived at this time.
Upon a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Carpenter and a second by Councilwoman Toll, the first amendment to the agreement for professional services was approved with the change that Jack Benson will be the one authorized to sign in behalf of the City. Motion carried 6-1 with Councilman Gerbig voting against. Councilman Gerbig stated that he was opposed because the City underpays many city employees.”

Packet: Beginning on page 30, you can read the email correspondence between Manitou Springs city administrator Jack Benson and Roger Miller regarding Miller’s request for payment.

[Note: Miller was laid off as COO of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce in late October 2012 due to financial difficulties. Source: Colorado Springs Business Journal.]

If you simply can't go to city council meetings but want to, at least you can somewhat keep track of what city council has been doing. And also, there's the possibility of streaming video online of city council meetings, as done in Los Altos, California.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One Wall, Too Many Bricks?

Between the August and September floods in Manitou Springs, a wall was built. And that's not all: the wall may have saved the city from much worse flooding.

The Lofts and Shops had a brick wall built around a section of Fountain Creek that curves away from the property. Flooding in August caused a concern the creek would flood again, and a higher brick wall was built to “mitigate” the danger and possibility of flooding, according to documents posted on the city’s website.

Turns out the wall was illegal and the city issued a "cease and desist order" according to a person who left public comments at a September 17 city council meeting.

Fountain Creek. 9/13/13
Dan Folke, city Planning Director, stated the reason for the cease and desist order was because “regulations require that a hearing be held before the Historic Preservation Committee before this type of construction is permitted.” Folke is a city staff liaison with the same HPC.

According to the same page, the HPC did not meet in June or August. A website link to a HPC September 4 meeting remains down.

The illegal wall may have prevented further flooding and destruction. In a photo taken September 13, the creek’s water levels are clearly above the height of the old wall. One can clearly see water could have rushed over the walls onto the pavement and rushed down towards Canon Avenue, already hit hard by flooding in August.

Fountain Creek. 10/1/13
Folke is also the city’s Flood Recovery Manager.