Colorado Springs City Council, citizens express preference for one of two options to aerate, circulate water in Prospect Lake
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City Council and several residents voiced support this week for one of two systems recommended by the Department of Parks & Recreation to prevent toxic algae blooms and high bacterial levels that forced the temporary closure of Prospect Lake in 2019. 2020 and 2022.
The system in question would cost $23,000 and increase the oxygen level and recirculate the lake water in half a day -- and allow boating to continue because equipment would be installed on the lake bottom.
Officials said that the second option would cost $153,500 and provide better aeration and recirculation, but take twice as long and would require a ban on boating because equipment would be placed on the lake surface.
The second option also is more high-tech, using sonic waves to prevent blue-green algae formation; both systems would allow for the continued use of enzymes to control water quality.
Councilman Bill Murray prefers the second option, saying that it would be the best way to protect water quality and public health over the long haul.
"It's not just a problem with algae in the summer when the water gets stagnant," he said. "It's also bacteria in the water from bird droppings, it's dead birds, it's oil or gas that leaks from boats. The (sonic) system is the best way to address all of that."
However, other Council members said that they want to try the less-expensive system first, and -- if it doesn't work well -- have the choice of upgrading to the sonic system.
The Council heard the presentation during Monday's work session, and six people spoke in favor of the least-expensive system during public comments at the regular Council meeting Tuesday.
A final decision is expected within a few weeks by the mayor's office, with installation likely to begin in May.
"We'd like to get started on that before Memorial Day weekend," said Kim King, a Parks & Recreation manager. "We want to minimize any disruption to people using the lake."
The project will be funded by pandemic recovery funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
"Without those funds, it would have been harder for us to do this project," she said.
In another lake project this spring, workers will repair shoreline edges of a plastic liner that was installed on the lake bottom in 2005, after officials discovered water seeping out.
In other Council matters business this week, the Council and El Paso County commissioners Tuesday passed resolutions honoring Jim Reid, the executive director of the Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management, who announced his retirement at the end of the week.
Reid's career in local government spanned 20 years after leaving the Air Force, starting with serving as Monument's fire marshal in 2003 and later appointed deputy fire marshal for El Paso County; in 2013, he became executive director of county public works and then head of the PPOEM when the city and county emergency management offices merged in 2019.
During the Council's Monday work session, the attorney representing a developer planning an apartment project at the intersection of 30th Street and Garden of the Gods Road formally withdrew the application.
The developer initially asked for a delay but decided withdraw for several reasons: Some Council members would have been absent from a decision on granting a delay at Tuesday's full meeting; the developer needed more time to study questions about emergency evacuations in the area; and the developer cited concern about not getting a fair hearing due to politics of the city's mayoral race.
The withdrawal angered opponents who spent months preparing to appeal the city planning commission's recent approval of the project; the developer was making a second attempt at gaining Council approval after the Council rejected it in 2021 -- a vote that the led the developer to sue for reversal, lose and appeal the decision in court.
"This is clearly an attempt by the developer to wait until after the April election and get a more favorable outcome under a new Council," Murray said. "We didn't receive the letter until Monday, with no other background documentation."
The withdrawal means that the developer -- 2424 GOTG LLC -- must wait until August, at the earliest, to reapply for the project; there's no indication whether the original application, or one with changes, will be submitted.