Pinery Recollections

The lure of gold brought the first settlers to our immediate area. In fact, gold was first discovered in Colorado just down the road by Levi, Oliver and William Russell, after whom Russellville is named. Their discovery was heralded in the Kansas City Journal of Commerce in 1858 and sparked the stampede of one hundred fifty thousand 59'ers along the Smoky Hill Trail (Hilltop Road), the Overland Trail, and the Cherokee Trail (Parker Road) to the Pikes Peak Gold Region. Russellville has often been called the "Birthplace of Colorado". Lack of water caused the miners to quickly vacate the Russellville site and move on to more promising finds along Little Dry Creek, Cherry Creek and the South Platte Rivers, from whence Auraria and Denver were born, and to the Pikes Peak Region.

As the miners moved on to the gold-rich mountains to the west, farming, ranching, cattle, and timber industries sprang up in their wake. It was from the vast "pineries" of the Cherry Creek and Plum Creek Valleys that the first homes in Denver were built. Some of the lumber came from our "Pinery" and the Black Forest Pinery immediately to the south. If one looks closely at our surrounding land, it appears that only the largest ponderosas were harvested back in the 1860's and 70's. Most of our largest trees in the Pinery today are about 170 to 180 years old. These trees were only about 60 years old back in the 1860's and apparently were not considered worthy of harvesting. The majestic ponderosas within our "Pinery" today were spared the axe of the settlers and stand in tribute to our neighborhood's name.


Don and Ann Andersen moved to the Pinery in August, 1973. They recalled that there was no school bus; the children were picked up in a Pinery van by early resident Pat Thomas, and taken to Northeast Elementary, the only school in the Pinery. Older children, if any, would have gone to Douglas County High School in Castle Rock; there was no middle school at that time.

The unpaved roads in the Pinery were very slippery when wet, so there was little speeding during rain or snow storms. The Andersen's had no phone service for several months after their arrival; then they had an 8-party line, which later improved to become a 4-party line. When the few residents had a get-together, everyone came. On New Year's Eve parents took children to one home and hired a babysitter for them all so the adults could go out to celebrate the holiday.

In July, 1974, Helen and Charlie Kendall became residents - They said the homeowners' group had no dues or office at that date. They met in the gym at Northeast Elementary, taking up a collection at each meeting to cover the cost of gym rental and incidentals.

No mail was delivered to individual houses. Mailboxes were set up at the intersection of Hillside and Hillpark Roads. Newspapers were delivered there each evening as well. About 1976, there was a grasshopper invasion. The insects ate holes in screens and devoured young spruce the homeowners had planted. Everyone organized a control program, spreading poison in their yards and in vacant lots.

It took three months to get phone service when the Kendalls moved to the Pinery, and then only part of the area had phones. To make calls, the unlucky ones had to go to the Clubhouse or the Pinery Maintenance Office on the west side of Rte. 83.

Betty and John Robbins were among the earliest to select a lot in the Pinery. When they bought their lot on Lakepoint Place in 1969, there was no lake; prairie, foothills, and mountains supplied the view. Terracor, the first developer, loaned motor bikes to prospective buyers so they could ride around the dirt roads and choose a lot. When their house was finished in 1976, the Robbins moved to it from their temporary home in the townhouses on Pinery Parkway. They recalled that there was only one traffic light in Douglas County - in Castle Rock. Everyone shopped at Hills', the only grocery store in the Parker area. By the time they moved in, party phone lines were gone and private lines were available. Mailboxes in front of homes were allowed only after a street had at least six houses.

What's A Pinery?

"While Colorado was still a territory, prospectors and settlers arrived in search of gold. Soon metropolitan Denver became the home for those who found the locality to be valuable as a supply depot for miners seeking their fortune in the foothills west of Denver."

"To build the homesteads and businesses of pioneer Denver, it was necessary to import all the materials. Wood became a very precious commodity. Settlers arriving on the stagecoach lines southeast of the townsite remembered traveling past forests of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine, ideal wood for building the houses of Denver City, Montana City, Auraria, and Highlands."

"These forested areas were called 'Pineries' and were found along the Cherry Creek. Some of those closest to present-day Parker became the main source of lumber for Denver City. The hillsides of 'The Pinery" were cleared of all but the youngest saplings in the 1860's."

Terracor and Senior Corp

"Nearly a century later Terracor, a Utah development corporation, announced plans to build a premier housing development on the site of once forested land. To bring people to the homesites, Terracor staged hot-air balloon races in 1976-77 on the knoll where Mountain View Elementary School now stands. Other community events included a bicycle race that challenged contestants on the hills throughout the Pinery."

"The Pinery development was begun in 1971 but Denver's soft real estate market forced the developer, Terracor, to declare bankruptcy on November 4, 1982. At that time, the acreage comprising Pinery I was segregated from the undeveloped and unplatted areas of the Pinery."

"'Terracor's successor in interest, Senior Corp., took title to the undeveloped acreage and became the Master Developer for the area."

"During this period, there was little public or private money available for development of amenities promised by Terracor. However, a hard-working and dedicated group of residents, organized by Steve and Luanne Unks, raised about $10,000 for materials and developed the Pinery Park that is available for group sports and individual use."

In 1982, the Pinery Homeowners' Association entered into an agreement with Terracor and Senior Corp. Under the Assumption Agreement, Senior Corp. agreed to assume the liabilities of Terracor to homeowners in the area. In satisfaction of some of those obligations, Senior Corp. agreed to transfer certain properties to the association or a proposed Pinery Metropolitan District to assist in maintaining the quality of the Pinery development.

The residents of the Pinery began to notice new amenities developing. A year after Senior Corp. took over, a new storage area across Parker Road was completed, providing 80 storage spaces for boats, trailers and campers.

The next year, the Lake Committee, a volunteer group of homeowners, assumed full responsibility for maintaining Bingham Lake and the surrounding area. The committee stocked the lake, patrolled it to see that unauthorized persons and vehicles did not violate the owners' rights, and maintained the area. An annual fishing derby for children became a popular summer event.

With development of the Pinery, a new fire station was added to the Parker Fire Protection District. The grand Opening of Station #3 was held on June 23, 1984. At the same time, the fire department contributed $5,000 to The Pinery Homeowners' Association Park Committee for the construction of a toilet facility for the adjacent playground and park.

Through the joint efforts of The Pinery Homeowners' association, the Parker Fire Protection district, Don Andersen and The Pinery Property Protection Committee, the Denver Southeast Water & Sanitation District, and the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department, new permanent facilities for separate toilets for men and women, plus locked storage space were built.

With the assistance of Douglas County and Senior Corp., $710,000 was dedicated to the replacement and / or repair of major arterial and secondary roads during the summer of 1985. The following year the county provided an additional $120,000 to the road repair program. As a result, the entire length of Pinery Parkway was resurfaced with a three-inch overlay of asphalt.

The Lake Committee stocked 700 large mouth bass, several hundred Kamloops rainbow trout, and white amur and exotic species of grass carp to feed on the weeds in the lake. Funds were used to repair the dock, remount signs, and construct road barriers and fences. New picnic tables were added on the dam, assembled by Andrew Rapley, a Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout award.

As houses filled the hillside, the water pressure began to dwindle. Thanks to the Denver Southeast Suburban Water and Sanitation District, the residents of Filing 7 benefited from Pump Station No. 4, improving the water pressure for 400 homes in the eastern area of the Pinery and greatly improved fire protection for the entire area.

Pinery Residents Support Firefighters

A fire district short-fall resulted in cutting back community services. The staffing of Station 3 of the Parker Fire Protection District was reduced to two out of every three days. The Pinery Homeowners' Association felt very strongly that the Pinery must have full-time service to protect the life and property of our residents and students at the three schools that are located within the Pinery. The funds were raised and the Parker Fire Protection District returned to full staff shortly afterward.

Assumption Agreement Resolution

Since 1986, The Pinery Homeowners' Association and Senior Corp. had difficulty in reaching accord over the assumption agreement. The agreement assumed certain responsibilities to The Pinery Homeowners' Association made by Terracor.

Three years later, the litigation came to a close with the following benefits transferred to the homeowners:

$25,000 to finish the walk-out basement of Fire Station 3 to be used as The Pinery Homeowners' Association office space and as a public meeting facility.
The existing 1.5 acre recreational vehicle storage facility plus 4.5 additional adjacent acres; 1.5 of the 4.5 acres will be improved at Senior Corp's expense, doubling the storage capacity and doubling the rental revenue for the homeowners' association.
The 7.7 acre community-use parcel behind Northeast Elementary School along Pinery Parkway and 11.5 acre parcel at the northwest corner of Bingham Lake, currently zoned as multi-family, with restrictions limiting its use to parks and/or open space.
Two new playground/picnic areas would be built; improvement to be paid by Senior Corp., not to exceed $161,000.
Perpetual use of Bingham Lake and the park sites for all Pinery residents.

Cherry Creek Trail

Construction of the highly anticipated Cherry Creek Greenway Trail in the Spring of 1990 was welcomed by residents throughout Douglas County. Pinery resident Merle Grimes, Cherry Creek Trails Coordinator, is helping The Pinery Homeowners' Association and Senior Corp. link the residents of the Pinery and High Prairie Farms to the southern end of the trail via a tunnel under Parker Road. Editor's Note: The Pinery Connector Trail was dedicated on June 4, 1994.

Metro District Service Plan

In 1988, an attempt to create a Metropolitan District in the Pinery was voted down by the residents of the development. Two-and-a-half years later a new Metro District service Plan was introduced. The plan provided for enhanced park and recreation services, enhanced safety protection services, and would generate funds for improved covenant enforcement. A community survey, conducted by The Pinery Long-Range Planning Committee, found that the majority of homeowners wanted greater enforcement of the covenants, increased safety protection, and improved park and recreation in the Pinery.

Other benefits of the Service Plan would provide assistance in linking the Pinery to the Cherry Creek Trail, improve the aesthetics and fire safety of the open space land, promote community sporting events and other public activities.

The District would receive conveyance from the Homeowners' Association of the land obtained in the assumption agreement resolution with Senior Corp. and other open-space properties owned by the Homeowners' Association.

Additionally, the District proposed to supplement safety protection facilities within the Pinery for pedestrian and vehicular safety. Editor's Note: The second Metro District proposal failed to pass by 34 votes out of a total 862 votes cast on December 4, 1990. Since Mr. Kania's "History of The Pinery" was completed, former developer Senior Corp. sold its Pinery holdings to several other builders and developers, including Great Gulf Group which is developing The Timbers.

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