Pole position 

Homeowner says Utilities has snuffed his view and his love of the Springs

click to enlarge Four new 55-foot towers bisect homeowner Jack Kennedys - view of Pikes Peak and the Front Range. - BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Brienne Boortz
  • Four new 55-foot towers bisect homeowner Jack Kennedys view of Pikes Peak and the Front Range.

With a window framing Pikes Peak and downtown Colorado Springs, the second bedroom of Jack Kennedy's home serves as a kind of "viewing room."

In the winter, Kennedy uses it to photograph sunsets without needing a coat or shoes.

When the 38-year-old drummer, producer and sound engineer invites clients or friends to his house at 616 Santa Fe St., they can chat in the room with the mountain looming serenely outside.

If the view inspired a certain harmony, its recent disruption has done the opposite. Kennedy oscillates between rage and dark humor when he describes the sight of a giant pole from a new electricity substation that has sliced his view in half.

"The visual of it is not cool, I don't think," Kennedy says.

The pole is actually one of four "masts" positioned around the Colorado Springs Utilities substation to draw lightning away from the sensitive equipment. Days after it went up, Kennedy met with two Utilities officials in his front yard, bemoaning the 55-foot tower and pointing to pristine photographs of the view he once knew.

"That's why I bought this property," he told the officials.

Robert Stoughton, a Utilities managing engineer, explained the masts are standard equipment at power substations in a city that sees more lightning strikes than almost any other city in the country.

"It's a $6 or $7 million investment," Stoughton said.

"What about my investment?" Kennedy replied.

When Kennedy bought the house southeast of downtown Colorado Springs three years ago, it was bordered to the west by a steep hill and an industrial lot that sat more or less empty.

From his window, Kennedy watched while row upon row of new condominiums bulged toward him. He says he went to a meeting at which Utilities officials described those developments, and ones planned for the future, as driving the need for a new substation.

They said the substation would be cut into the hillside so as to be almost underground, Kennedy remembers. Officials asked what kind of landscaping he would like to see around it, and Kennedy said his main concern was that any trees be short enough so he could keep his view.

"They said, "Oh yeah, no problem,'" Kennedy says.

Lisa Rosintoski, a Utilities spokeswoman, acknowledges that residents should be given a better idea of what to expect with projects like the substation. While the poles appeared on drawings, the drawings didn't reveal how the poles would look from Kennedy's home.

Kennedy's options now appear limited. Stoughton looked at a drawing showing the property lines at the substation and said it would be tough to move the pole. Kennedy could block it with trees, or paint it. (Stoughton suggested dark brown.)

Utilities officials suggested they could have a landscaping expert meet with Kennedy to figure out if trees and shrubs might make things better.

Kennedy did not seem satisfied.

"If I was affluent, I would have lawyers here," he told the Utilities officials. "Since this was put up, I've lost my love of Colorado Springs."



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