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Spring cleaning stirs up dust for some homeowners


The Castle Pines North Metropolitan District is clearing public land of landscaping, play structures, fencing and other items built by homeowners.  This “fort,” adjacent to Griggs Road on the northwest side of the city, was cleared last month.

Resident Claire Kadlecek sent in this photo of the “fort” that once stood in the open space behind her home.  “It was magical to watch local children and passers by trek to the fort to make up stories, look at the view, and to have Nerf wars and snowball fights,” she reminisced.

By Lisa Crockett; photos courtesy of the Castle Pines North Metropolitan District and resident Claire Kadlecek

The Castle Pines North Metropolitan District (District) is doing some spring cleaning around town, removing “encroachments” to publicly-owned land.   Encroachment is the legal term referring to modifications or additions made to land without the owner’s permission.  Metro District maintenance workers have found a variety of unauthorized structures on its property, including play forts and landscape modifications made by adjacent property owners.

“We don’t want to be perceived as ‘anti-play’ or ‘anti-beautification,’ but in a number of instances, what a neighbor might think adds utility or beauty to this District property causes us even more problems, such as erosion.  That creates a liability for the District,” said District Manager Jim Nikkel.

As the District begins the process of clearing the land, some homeowners are disappointed to see structures and plants removed.  One such homeowner is Castle Pines resident Claire Kadlecek, who contacted The Connection regarding her concerns.

“There was a hand constructed stone fort in view from my deck.  The fort was made from rocks hauled from the ridge and blended perfectly with the bison paddock that leads to the Native American land,” stated Kadlecek. “The fort has been in our community for seven years and has become an icon, so much so, that we used it as a landmark to describe where we lived.”

Nikkel pointed out that the District carefully plans the amenities it provides adjacent to trails and in the parks it manages, not only for convenience and ease of maintenance, but also to assure that problems don’t arise from rainfall or heavy use.

According to Kadlecek, the fort issue has brought out a lot of emotions in her neighborhood.  “We all knew that the fort wasn’t going to be there forever (we were unsure up until last week who even owned that land), but the lack of communication about tearing it down has now left scars of insecurity for the community and our children,”  she stated.

The District Board is reviewing the more extensive cases of unauthorized improvements, and is expected to set a policy requiring removal or modification.  Metro District employees will visit with these impacted homeowners and neighbors to explain the District’s long-standing policies about the use of public land.  Additionally, homeowners are invited to attend any of the District’s monthly board meetings, generally held the third Monday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Community Center, located at 7404 Yorkshire Drive.

For additional information about these policies or to confirm a meeting date, visit www.cpnmd.org.

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