Tuesday, January 13, 2008, 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.,
Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak, Ft. Collins, CO
Parks Advisory Board Members:
Linda Knowlton, Chair
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair
Stan Gengler, Estes Valley Recreation and Park District
Mike Richardson, Chair, Estes Valley Recreation And Park District Board.
The January 13, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:35 p.m. The minutes of the November 18, 2008, meeting were approved.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None
New County Commissioners
Steve Johnson and Tom Donnelly
were sworn in today as County Commissioners, replacing Randy Eubanks and Glen
Parks Advisory Board vacancies
On January 30, 2009, all three
Commissioners will interview the candidates for the two vacant positions on the
Parks Advisory Board, along with Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director,
and Linda Knowlton, Parks Board Chair. There are four candidates for the
positions vacated by Rob Harris and Rich Harter.
Changes in 2009 Park Regulations – Adopted by County Commissioners January, 2009.
§ The revisions to the Park Regulations for 2009 were not ready for review in November, so were approved by the Commissioners without Parks Advisory Board review. The 2010 changes will be sent to PAB by email in November.
§ Dan reviewed the changes to the regulations, which included mostly wording changes or minor adjustments to the regulations.
1. Flotation devices at the swim beach: The old regulation prohibited any floating device of less than three chambers anywhere. The new wording allows them at the swim beach.
2. Failure to properly store food which may be wildlife attractants has been added to address the situation at Hermit Park. Food must be stored in a hard-sided container or vehicle. Feeding wildlife is also prohibited. These regulations will be enforced in situations where there is an actual wildlife encounter. Education is the primary focus.
3. Horses in campgrounds: Dropped the exception for Hermit Park, since the equestrian facility will not be available for several years.
§ Gary solicited input on other regulation changes for 2010. There were no comments. Linda requested that the proposed changes be sent to the Board when that process begins this summer.
§ Boats should be moored on the outside of the courtesy dock, not the inside, where it may block access by others.
§ There is already such a requirement. It is enforced, although it is an ongoing problem, particularly when a boat won’t start.
§ Current regulations provide that it is prohibited to tie a vessel to a public dock for more than 10 minutes for the purpose of loading and unloading – doesn’t specify which side of dock.
ACTION ITEMS: None
Concession Manual Update – Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director
§ Gary distributed the current concession policy in October. At this meeting, he distributed draft Policy Directives for a new Concession Management Policy, and reviewed the proposed provisions, which establish four categories of concessions:
1. Long-term concessions for more than one year
2. Long-term concessions sub-contracts
3. Short term concession for one year or less
4. Recreation Club license agreements for more than one year.
§ Our reservoir park areas are also subject to BOR policies and procedures.
Don Waldburger: This document is very general – will there be more specific guidelines on terms of licenses, etc.? When will this be put to the Commissioners for discussion? (Hopefully sometime this year, per Gary.) Commercial uses should be regulated, like guide services, selling firewood, jetski rentals, etc. (This is already prohibited and enforced by regulation.)
§ Should the BOR requirements be incorporated or referenced?
§ One Board member has seen the type of “business” venture Don refers to – vendors providing ski equipment to people on the lake, under the guise of testing equipment.
Estes Valley Park & Recreation District Partnership – Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director, and Dan Rieves, Park District Manager
§ Stan Gengler, Director, and Mike Richardson, Board Chair of Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, described the organization and facilities managed by Estes Valley Recreation and Park District.
§ These include two campground concessions. They have current concessionaires, whose contract expires in July 2009. A committee, including 3 staff and 2 Board members, is reviewing the options when these contracts expire.
§ One option would be for Larimer County to partner with Estes Valley Recreation and Park District to manage the campgrounds.
§ The packet Stan distributed includes campground maps and a fee schedule, as well as information about revenues generated by these campgrounds.
§ The combined campground numbers are 209 campsites with $553,599 in revenue for 2008.
§ Gary: The facilities do need improvements.
§ Stan: The facilities are not pristine – they need a lot of work.
§ Mike: Their objective is to improve the facilities, and to contribute to cost of those improvements.
§ Dan: EVRPD has recent plans for the “Cadillac version” of possible improvements. These are BOR-owned properties, like the reservoirs managed by the County.
§ Gary: We haven’t crunched the numbers yet; at this point we seek the Board’s approval to continue investigating this opportunity.
§ Stan: The contract will be extended through the end of the 2009 season.
§ Dan: The improvements won’t happen for the first 2 years of management. And long term improvements which are grant or Lottery funded are not expected to be recouped from operating revenues.
§ Gary: He expects that additional management costs would be minimized by economies of scale – since we’re at Hermit Park, with staff already providing similar services.
§ Dan: These campgrounds are always full – a totally different experience than Hermit Park – it’s primarily an RV parking lot. It will help our portfolio of options for visitors.
§ If these campgrounds are revenue generators, why does Estes Valley Recreation and Park District want to turn them over to Larimer County? (Stan: They lack the expertise on staff to manage campgrounds; and they are tired of managing concessions.)
§ Why aren’t the concessionaires continuing? (Stan: The concessionnaires have invested little in facility improvements for many years, resulting in deteriorating facilities. This is a problem.)
§ Who provides law enforcement? (Sheriff)
§ Is there a reservation system? (Yes.)
§ What kind of plumbing do the facilities have? (2 flush restrooms, not ADA-compliant.)
§ If these are Federal properties, why aren’t they ADA-compliant? (Stan: A bond issue failed in November; they have no source of funding for the required improvements.)
§ The handout does not address expenses. Do these campgrounds make any money, or are all revenues eaten up to manage the facilities? (Stan: Estes Valley Recreation and Park District does not track expenses, since that is the responsibility of the concessionaire. But if the campgrounds were managed in-house, they should generate some revenue.)
§ There will be some significant costs involved: enforcement staffing; old plumbing upgrades; required improvements; licensing, etc. Given the state of the department’s finances, this is not the time to take on another expensive improvement project.
§ Board members are curious to see the operational expenses for the past several years.
§ What is the investment required to bring facilities up to the level of standard – how much, and do we have the money? And how long will it take to recoup that investment?
§ Board members emphasized that much more information is needed before the Board will be prepared to make a recommendation; however, they see no downside to continued discussion.
§ A field trip in the spring to see the campgrounds is suggested for the Board to gain a better understanding.
§ It is okay for staff to go forward with exploration of the possibility – but Board members would like to see the numbers soon.
§ It would be good to see the master plan developed by Estes Valley to determine whether it fits with what is possible for Larimer County. (Stan: It’s an aggressive 10-year plan, on the recommendation of Reclamation that the plan include every possible option so as to avoid future changes. The plan is available on the EVRPD website.
§ Chair, Linda Knowlton concluded that there is a consensus among the Board to continue discussions.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves
§ Water levels will be better than average this year.
§ Construction of shower houses continues; should be open by mid-April.
§ New full-hook-up campground construction will begin when the shower houses are completed, probably in late April or early May.
§ Carter Lake Marina suffered damage to roof fans in the high winds.
Control of aquatic nuisance species:
§ A new state law will soon be passed which requires all trailered motorized water craft to be inspected before entry into high-risk water bodies.
§ Horsetooth and Carter reservoirs are classified as very high-risk water bodies, so all vessels must be inspected.
§ This will apply to all Colorado reservoirs, so we will all be the same boat.
§ We have been tasked with developing an inspection plan. This will be an agenda item at the February meeting.
§ It will not be economically feasible to have the reservoirs open 24/7, 365 days a year. There will be limitations on the boating season.
§ The plan we are working on may allow year-round boating for vessels which meet specified criteria.
§ Next month the Board will review hours of operation, which boat ramps will be in use, etc.
§ The big question is: Who pays for the 16 additional staff required for inspections? For 2009, the Colorado Division of Wildlife will pay for seasonal staff only (not for benefits, management, administration or operational expenses.)
§ For the future, the assumption is that the boating public will pay for the program through increased boating fees.
§ The primary mode of transport for the mussels is on boats moving between bodies of water.
§ Water management agencies would prefer to ban all boating; but they also recognize the value of recreation to the local population.
§ There will be a boat-tagging program that attaches a clean boat to the trailer. Boats so tagged may launch without inspection, and re-tagged when removed from the water.
§ The boating community is one of the biggest proponents of the plan, to prevent the loss of boating opportunities.
§ Dan may ask for a subcommittee of the Board to review the proposed plan before it is presented to the public.
§ What is the plan to prevent the mussels from moving via the Adams tunnel from the west slope reservoirs? (There is no plan, because knowledge of the species is so limited.)
§ Does the program apply motorized only? (Yes.)
§ What is the potential for significant loss of visitation and revenue?
§ Chad LaChance noted that he’ll be talking to the boating public at the boat show next weekend, and will report back what he hears.
Don Waldburger: Hours? (Dan: To be determined – the marina operators will be on the subcommittee to review the plan.)
Monthly update to the Board – Natural Resources Director, Gary Buffington
Budget: Gary implemented a budget freeze in December, and a 10% budget reduction for 2009 operations. His concerns include the impact of the zebra mussels, flat revenues, etc. He wants to be proactive in addressing potential future concerns, by instituting gradual austerity.
§ What are the details of the departmental reorganization? (Gary will discuss this next month, when all the details have been solidified.)
§ When will the Board see the 2010 proposed budget? (Deb explained that staff will begin budget preparation next month, and this will continue through the summer. A draft budget will not be ready for Board review until later in the summer.)
Big Thompson Properties –
Proposed plan for Drake area parcels – Charlie Johnson, Land Agent
Public meeting planned at Drake in January to talk with landowners regarding the land parcel disposition.
Sherry Stroh: Just wants to make her concerns known to the Board. She lives at Drake. Some residents are opposed to the proposed buffer zone. It does not address their concerns about privacy, safety, trespass, etc. They have seen one fisherman on their side of the river in the past year. This area is not accessible. Who is responsible for maintenance and liability if injuries or damages occur?
Gib Dunning: Lives at Drake. He wants to state that he has a lifetime fishing license, and has always had access to any and all of the area up and down the river. He sees no real necessity for a fishing access easement in their subdivision.
Barb Anderson: What happened to the original plan? Under that plan, the properties were supposed to be offered for sale to previous landowners, current neighbors, etc. The buffer zone will create more problems, not less. The fishermen had lots of property to fish both before and after the flood. Why do the fishermen have a bigger voice on this issue than the people who live there? Residents live there and pay taxes. It would be good to come up with a solution – there must be signing of where people can fish. Those signs will attract others who aren’t fishing. It’s good to keep the land on the other side of the river open – she agrees with that. But why is a buffer needed. She thought the County wanted to get rid of the liability – but under this plan, the County is keeping the liability. We’ve gotten off-direction, and should return to the original intent. Only a handful of people have wanted their properties back. The County should proceed to sell the properties as originally planned.
Walt Graul: There are several members of fishing clubs present (9 people.) They want to thank the Board for addressing the needs of the anglers. Since the last meeting discussion was done in executive session, they haven’t seen the plan. They support retaining fee simple ownership of fishing access. They appreciate the proposal and think it is a reasonable compromise. They understand the road issues on parcel 12c. There will be other issues in other areas, so this isn’t a template for every situation. It will be important for these areas to be clearly signed as to permissible uses. Volunteers may be useful to help with posting, and to be “eyes and ears”, perform clean-up regularly, etc. There are some people have raised the issue of a walk-in access through the CDOT property, if it can be done without creating significant difficulties. They understand that it’s a sensitive issue. They expect to see a real proposal with a 60 day public comment period. They thank the Board for listening to all the public on this, and for responding.
Diane Honstein: She is the third generation to live in the Canyon. She sees a common concern in the Canyon, as President of the Big Thompson Canyon Association. There will be an open public meeting on January 20, at the chapel in the canyon. The Association has an interest in the chapel. The approved plan established an order of priority among interested parties – that did not include a fishing easement, and should not be changed to include that. We must look at the personality of potential fishermen – sexual predators cannot be distinguished from fishermen. Fishing has always been permitted in the Canyon. Now we’re talking about signing postage stamp properties all along the river. This will be an attractive nuisance – lots of people will come there. Who is allowed to be there? Living in an isolated area, residents feel vulnerable. The trash they see is very distasteful. It’s not the fishermen about whom residents object. It’s the character of the others. We are exposing the residents in higher numbers to the public, some of undesirable character. To summarize her position, she objects to the new proposal for these reasons:
1. In conflict with original proposal
2. Prejudiced in favor of fishermen.
3. Raises issues about the costs of surveying, etc.
4. Raises issues about the location of boundaries. Residents do not want to see fences and signs everywhere.
In conclusion, she urges the Board to abort this plan and go back to the original plan. Residents are happy to work with the County and the fishermen on a solution.
Char Wamsley: She owns property along the river. The river banks move – do the 10 ft..easement boundaries move, too? Fishermen do have access up the middle of the river. A good project for the County to take on would be mapping of public access points instead of signs.
Board and staff comments:
§ Gary Buffington explained that there will be a meeting at the Big Thompson Canyon chapel to discuss the plan on January 20, at 6:30 p.m.
§ Chair Linda Knowlton stated that this topic will return to the Board next month as a discussion item. Then the 60 day public notice period will begin. Board members may attend the public meeting at Drake.
§ Rob Harris: The Board hasn’t yet seen the plan. At the executive session at the last meeting, it was just ideas being expressed – not a plan. (Gary: The Board comments were incorporated into the proposal.) He understands the concerns of the homeowners. The public will have to walk in, which will make it more difficult. We shouldn’t be taking public property which has public value and selling it into private ownership. It’s difficult to imagine that homeowners would be paying fair market value for direct access to the river. This is very valuable, and the County would likely not get fair market value for it.
§ Dan Rieves: In executive session, the Board asked staff to get public input from Canyon residents and fisherman about the plan – re: is it a viable plan – before the Board is asked to consider it. That is why a public meeting was scheduled prior to presenting options to the Board.
This is Rob Harris’ last meeting. The Board and the Department appreciate his service and wish him well.
Meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
§ Concession Management Policy
§ Aquatic nuisance inspection and park management plan
§ Department Reorganization Plan
§ Big Thompson River properties – Hayden Subdivision Proposal
Next regular meeting: February 10, 2009, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO