In 2001, Clayanna Killing (above in a 2004 photo) sparked a ruckus in Mountain Shadows when she paid $325,000 for 22 acres at the end of Fieldstone Road and announced plans to build a 14,000-square-foot school building on property.
It would be home to her Renaissance Academy, which she founded in 1993 as a private school that offered a ”gifted education” to preschool through eighth-graders.
The building would sit on five acres at the mouth of property, known for years as the Hole in the Wall Ranch.
The name was a reference to the keyhole in a hogback rock formation — an extension of the Garden of the Gods uplift – where wildlife and people passed back and forth into what is now the Pike National Forest.
Neighbors howled at the idea of a school at the end of Fieldstone Road, a dead-end cul de sac popular among hikers and drug dealers. They rallied, raised $10,000 to hire an attorney and vigorously fought it.
They said it was dangerous to build a school in a rockfall zone at risk to landslides and flooding.
They deemed it a mistake to build a school in a spot with limited access for emergency vehicles in the event of a wildfire or other catastrophe. See it in the FlashEarth.com image below.
And they feared traffic morning and evening as parents rushed to get their children to and from the academy at the same time their own children were walking to nearby Chipeta Elementary School.
Despite their efforts, they failed to stop the project and the $2.4 million school was built, opening in the fall of 2005. Some of the neighbors’ fears became a reality when lines of cars, morning and evening, blocked their streets and made it difficult to come and go. Even to get out of their driveways.
Then, Renaissance Academy declared bankruptcy in October 2008 and abruptly closed. The property was left to rot and quickly became a haunt of drug dealers and others up to no good, neighbors say.
So they were thrilled when the building was leased to St. George’s Anglican Church. No more daily gridlock. And the church has been diligent about cramming as many cars of worshipers on the property, leaving few to spill into the neighborhood.