Or maybe it makes you envious. Anyway, enjoy the link.
The Friendship-Crescent-Mesa Neighborhood is one of those beautiful little neighborhoods in Colorado Springs where folks with homes on large lots enjoy spectacular views and abundant wildlife.
Many of the homes back up to a valley where the Palmer Land Trust owns a 20-acre open space.
It struct twice in six years. First in 1992, when 25 acres burned and threatened homes.
Then, on April 4, 1998, it struck again. And this time, the effects were not as benign.
The 15-acre inferno produced flames 60 feet high and, this time, houses were not spared. The home of Paul Konecny was destroyed and four others damaged. Here is a Gazette file photo of the Konecny home.
In hopes of averting another tragedy, neighbors have taken steps to mitigate future wildfire. Many have removed bushes and trees from against their homes to create “defensible space” for firefighters.
They’ve laid down perimeters of rock to impede the spread of fire as it moves up the valley. Some have installed sprinkler systems to fight fire.
But the hillsides behind the houses are steep. And it’s expensive to hire crews to whack the weeds and brush and haul it off.
This fall, neighbor Richard Serby had an idea. He read about the goats being used to munch weeds in Bear Creek Regional Park and thought they’d be ideal for his neighborhood.
So he contacted Lani Malmberg, owner of Goats Eat Weeds , also known as Ewe4ic Ecological Services of Cheyenne, Wyo., whose Cashmere goats are used to mow Bear Creek.
Last week, Malmberg brought 400 goats, and Patches, her border collie, to the neighborhood and the munching began.
The goats are all male. They are colorful, have twisting horns. And they are not particularly friendly. But they aren’t loud, either.
They graze the hillsides, eating noxious weeds that would kill other animals. Their hooves soften the soil and work in the manure they produce as they eat.
Portable fence is used to contain the goats on one property at a time.
The goats will take down small trees, if left on one property long enough.
They will stand on their hind legs and eat branches as high as nine feet.
Here’s a link to a story I wrote in 2002 about the 1998 wildfire that roared through the Friendship-Crescent-Mesa neighborhood destroying one house and damaged several others.
Yes. Kind of.
Actually, it’s a computer-generated version of Bernie Herpin, the Colorado Springs City Councilman, dancing in his Fruit of the Looms after eating pot-laced brownies given him by council colleague Sean Paige.
The somewhat crude cartoon is the creation of Ed Billings, 40, who has lived in Colorado Springs since 1987.
Billings is the creative force behind PikesPeakOcean, a “channel” on YouTube.
Billings has created 159 videos and cartoons in the past year. Mostly, they satirize the Colorado Springs City Council.
Some lampoon the city’s image as a national punchline after the council slashed budgets resulting in streetlights being turned off, trash cans removed from city parks and the sale of police helicopters.
Billings says he was inspired to act after attending council meetings at City Hall last November and becoming upset at the proceedings.
At first, he simply videotaped the meetings and posted excerpts on YouTube with commentary.
Then he discovered the Xtranormal.com website and its tool for creating cartoons. Soon, Billings was cranking out two-minute cartoons featuring folks like Herpin, Paige, Mayor Lionel Rivera and other characters.
Billings said he uses the cartoons to expose the dealings of the council. He describes them as classic political satire.
I describe them out sometimes funny, often crude, unsophisticated and occasionally outrageous, over-the-top and even offensive.
In one video, Councilman Scott Hente is depicted trying to stop Billings from making his “trite little videos” in a confrontation at City Hall.
Billings uses the video to declare he won’t be intimidated and encouraging viewers to stand up to government and take control back from the politicians.
In one video, Billings uses the exact transcript of an email from Herpin as his script. In the email, Herpin attacked Billings, saying: “If you had half the sense God gave a turnip, you’d understand how the city budget works.”
Herpin went on to tell Billings:
How would you like to live across the street from this house?
This house at 715 N. 24th St., on the corner of Dale Street on Colorado Springs‘ west side is owned by Joseph O’Brien of O’Brien Printing. It has been sitting and rotting since it was condemned since 1973.
You read that correctly. The house was condemned when Richard Nixon was still in the White House. It has been a blight on the neighborhood ever since. That’s 37 years and counting.
It was built in 1905 by O’Brien’s grandmother. His son, Glen, has promised the city repeatedly to repair the house. And he has done considerable work, at times, on the structure.
In this photo, you can see the concrete basement he poured after jacking the structure up. Then he built a large addition on the back with the long, slanting roof that overhangs the original peak of the house.
You can also see, through the shoulder-high weeds, the rusting scaffolding that has stood for a decade or more since activity lurched to a halt.
For the past three years, neighbor Kevin Sutherland has had a front-porch view of the mess. He’s called the city, like many neighbors, wondering why something isn’t done to enforce the city’s 2006 blight ordinance and require O’Brien to repair the house.
The south side of the house is not much different. A hand-built ladder leans against the wall.
Inside the house, Glen O’Brien has amassed building materials such as doors and wood for his project. But mostly they’ve just sat, gathering dust. O’Brien did upgrade the electrical service to the house. But much more work remains.
In 2005, the O’Brien house became “exhibit A” in efforts to get a blight ordinance written into city codes. Those efforts finally succeeded in 2006.
But Ken Lewis, code enforcement administrator, said he’s been frustrated in his efforts to get the courts to take seriously the criminal summons his officers write for blight violations.
The O’Briens are an old Colorado Springs family. Joseph O’Brien’s father, William P. O’Brien, operated O’Brien Typesetting and Printing and amassed many properties in the city.
His holdings included a 10-acre parcel he bought in 1962 on South 21st Street now known as the Gold Hill Mesa subdivision.
The property included the old Golden Cycle Mill office building, the mill smokestack – a westside landmark – and a crusher building.
The printing business is on 19th Street, not far from Uintah Gardens Shopping Center. It has suffered the same fate at the house on 24th Street. It is overgrown with weeds and its 10 acres or so includes a collection of junk cars and other things.
If this house sounds familiar, you are a longtime Side Streets reader.
Not the greens, tees, fairways or sand traps.
It has died of neglect. The sign on Marksheffel Road tells the story.
There are a few hints that the weedy pasture once was a Lee Trevino-designed golf course. Concrete cart paths betray its past. Also the ghostly, abandoned clubhouse atop the hill overlooking the 156-acre property.
The place is in foreclosure. It’s owner, Morley Golf, owes $14.2 million on an $18.2 million loan used to buy the closed course in 2006 and renovate it.
Look past the weeds, willows and thistle and you can see where the money went.
Miles of concrete was poured for cart paths and curbs. A new sprinkler system and pumps were installed. The clubhouse was under renovation and expansion. Five holes had been built on a new 220-acre southern expansion of the property.
But in 2008, the bank that made the loan failed and was bought by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The money dried up and the developer, Jim Morley of Colorado Springs, had to abandon the project.
Folks who live along the edges of the golf course couldn’t understand why one day the course was poised to reopen and the next it was empty again.
Neighbors like George and Leta Gatchel had bought their house on the 14th tee in 2001 because they loved the location. George golfs and has a cart he used to buzz around the property serving as a marshal on the course.
Gatchel fears the closure and abandonment of Appletree has cost him upwards of $100,000 off the value of his home.
Others, like Michael and Donna Leischner, are learning the hard truth about the damage it is doing to property values.
They bought their home in 2005 when the course was will operating.
They were capivated by the view of Pikes Peak over the lake, seen here on the Appletree web site in its glory days.
Today, the lake is drying and receding.
The water has left behind caked mud and collecting trash and tumbleweeds.
Here’s a look at Appletree from FlashEarth.com before it was abandoned.
Here it is today, as George Gatchel sits in his golf cart amid the fairways of the old course. It looks more like the pastureland it used to be than a golf course.