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Foundation Sows Seeds For Fountain Project

 

 David Struthers, president of the Fountain Creek Foundation, stands atop the Pinon Bridge as he announces the foundation's intention to build an Environmental Stewardship Center north of the Pinon Bridge over Fountain Creek.

(Chieftain Photo: Mike Sweeney)

 

Chris Woodka for The Pueblo Chieftain

May 11, 2008

 

Some board members of a newly formed foundation took time out Saturday to spend a windy afternoon on the bridge overlooking their first project.

The Fountain Creek Foundation, formed earlier this year, is trying to raise $4.75 million to develop an Environmental Stewardship Center on Fountain Creek north of the Pinon Bridge over Fountain Creek.

"We believe this facility will inspire us all to focus on contributing to the good of all, both for present and future generations," said David Struthers, president of the foundation. Struthers is a Denver lawyer who grew up in Pueblo and in his early career worked in Colorado Springs.

Struthers was joined by two other board members, Dr. Richard Lawrence of Pueblo and Rachael Wallace of La Junta, at Saturday’s event, which was held to formally announce the formation of the foundation. A public celebration, featuring food and live entertainment, is being planned for July.

Standing on the bridge Struthers gestured first to Interstate 25, half-mile to the east, and then to a bird soaring above the flowing creek. "On my first visit here, there was a wild turkey right on the corner of the bridge over there," Struthers said. "This is a great location and we hope to draw people off the freeway to see it."

Struthers’ vision is to have a series of park-like activities along the length of Fountain Creek from Pueblo to Colorado Springs.

The foundation plans to build the stewardship center on land being donated by developers of the Pueblo Springs Ranch, a 24,000-acre housing and business development northeast of Pueblo along the Fountain Creek corridor.

"Victor Merrill and the owners of the Pueblo Springs Ranch are contributing about 300 acres," said Jim Munch of LDM Development, the local partner with Merrill and other Las Vegas investors. "They are committed to sustainable development with particular attention to preserving water resources and land."

Munch, a former planner for the city of Pueblo, said the Fountain Creek corridor is an important connection between Pueblo and Colorado Springs, both because of transportation - Interstate 25 and the railroad line - and because it is the path for development in both communities.

The center also doubles as an amenity for the developers, who are planning a park with a lake nearby as a focal point for the residential portion of the Pueblo Springs Ranch project, Munch said.

The foundation was formed and the land donated because of the Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan project jointly developed by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Colorado Springs Utilities. The two-year, $600,000 project will produce a master plan for Fountain Creek, which is close to completion, and a pair of Environmental
Stewardship Center.

The Environmental Stewardship Center will be the first of the projects, said Kevin Shanks, a landscape architect hired as a consultant for the master plan project.

The center is anticipated to have several observation towers, from which wildlife and their habitat can be viewed, walking trails, bike paths and other outdoor attractions. It also will serve as a way to provide education about the ecosystems on the creek function and how they are affected by people, and there will be a companion Web site to provide information on the Internet.

"This will look at how man has been relating to the creek and how man should be relating to it," Shanks said. "This is an excellent place to start, but it will be a long view."

Shanks said construction on the center could begin within a year, depending on how fundraising progresses. At a recent meeting, Struthers said the goal is to open the center sometime in 2010.

The second project envisioned by the master plan is an Eco-Fitness Center south of Colorado Springs. Plans are not as far along for that project.

Also on hand Saturday was Priscilla Lucero, president of Wells Fargo Bank, which will be handling financial duties for the foundation.

"We’re in this for the education aspect, for the kids particularly," Lucero said. "What’s most exciting for us are the environmental aspects. All our these things fit in with our vision for the community."