New construction may be putting strain on emergency services

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The sound of construction echoes on the northeast side of town. As Colorado Springs grows, new housing developments are popping up quickly, but this is adding an extra strain to local resources.

Those who are buying the home are locals just re-locating or new people coming into the state.  

“We expected the growth, I think, but not so fast,” said Stefan Oboriski, who moved to Colorado Springs from San Diego in Dec. 2015. “In the past year, they have been really just cranking these houses out.” 

Oboriski lives in the new neighborhood off Old Ranch Road on the northwest side of Colorado Springs.  

“Two years ago there was a lot of empty lots, stuff like that. We came and chose this lot, and it just kind of filled in around us. When we moved in here there was a few houses, but not many,” said Billy Ager, a Colorado Springs Native whose seen southern Colorado’s population explode. Ager moved to the northeast side hoping to get a better resale value on his house. 

Many plots of land that are still just dirt are already spoken for and marked with a sold signs.

Some homeowners who live across the street from the new development and have for decades are not happy with all the unwelcome noise and company. 

With all this dirt being developed it begs the question, are first responders being stretched thin with the added population? 

The El Paso County Sheriff said he’s made adjustments when it comes to districting, so all areas of the county are covered. 

“We’ve seen a fairly significant jump in calls for service,” said El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. “We look at that and how we deploy manpower. How the sheriff’s office fills into how the areas are unincorporated. We look at the call load that each deputy has and we will adjust our districting accordingly.”

He said funding from the public safety tax that passed in the 2012 election has helped. 

He also noted they’ve created a rural enforcement team to handle eastern El Paso County and added more manpower. 

“We are anticipating that the growth is going to continue to push us. We believe we can manage for a number of years, with the public safety tax the way its written,” said Sheriff Elder. “We’ve grown even since I took office in 2015 from 507 sworn [deputies] to 535.”  

Elder said since the public safety tax passed in 2012, by 2017 they were able to decrease response times by 35 minutes even with a 4,985 call increase. 

The Sheriff also said with more of the surrounding cities taking responsible of a greater area, they are able to focus on the unincorporated areas. 

“We’re running the largest sheriff’s office in the state we’re running the largest jail in the state,” said Elder. “By deputizing all of those other agencies, they are available for cover. so we get cover from Fountain on the southern districts, we get cover from the city of Colorado Springs just about everywhere, from Monument, Manitou, Calhan. we get a lot of cover from other agencies, as well as us covering them.”

But homeowners in the new developments say they public safety isn’t something that’s top of mind, at least not yet.  

“I don’t see any problems with that,” said Oboriski.  

“Right now we haven’t had any trouble around the neighborhood, it’s not really something I think about,” said Ager.  

They feel the neighborhood has other challenges.

“Everyone thinks they got the view now, they don’t think about future building. They think it will be what it is,” Ager said.

“Just the traffic, I would hope that they thought about that, they just added a light and that’s probably because they have a lot more traffic there,” Oboriski said. “We love this neighborhood, this was the best move we’ve ever made.”

Additionally, often navigation applications on mobile phones have difficulty navigating to new addresses in the area, but Sheriff Elder said that they have technology that is advanced enough to not have that issue. 

“Our computer-aided dispatch data is updated routinely, through GIS mapping through county GIS mapping. So every time the county adds streets and operations; those streets are added to our maps systems. That gives us the ability to respond quickly and easily,” Elder said.  

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