Text Box: The mission of the Larimer County Parks and Open Lands Department is to establish, protect, and manage significant regional parks and open lands, providing quality outdoor recreational opportunities and stewardship of natural resource values.  We are committed to fostering a sense of community and appreciation for the natural and agricultural heritage of Larimer County for present and future generations.Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins



Board members:

Frank Cada

Dave Coulson

Mark DeGregorio

Russ Fruits

Frank Gillespie

Linda Knowlton

Barry Lewis

Tom Miller

Forrest Orswell

Vickie Traxler



Commissioner Steve Johnson

Gary Buffington

Dan Rieves

Mark Caughlan

Charlie Johnson

Deb Wykoff



Chad LaChance


The May 11, 2010, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Dave Coulson, at 5:35 p.m.  The Minutes of the April 13, 2010, meeting were approved.



  • Linda Knowlton:  CJ Cullins, our Volunteer Coordinator, was highlighted in the Coloradoan, and her accomplishments are even more impressive than Linda previously knew.  Please give her compliments to CJ.  We have quite a remarkable staff in the Natural Resources Department.

  • Russ Fruits:  He completed the Park Ranger Assistant training, with CJ and Education Coordinator Rob Novak, last week.  The training was well done and educational.


  • Dee Hansen:  Lives near Narrows Park.  They’ve been taking care of two parcels to the north of the park, and would like to be considered to buy them, so they can plant more trees, etc.



§  Natural Resource Events for April. See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.

§  In April, we again hosted the annual COSA ranger training.  There were 45 rangers in attendance, from 11 agencies around the state.  Fees for the training generated $2000 over costs.  These funds will be used to put on a high-level training at the fall COSA conference.

§  There will be a public open house for neighbors on May 7, to present the proposed Eagle Camper Services Building. Design work continues on the project.

§  CJ Cullins, Volunteer Coordinator for the department, has developed a newsletter to communicate with volunteers, who don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the department.  It is called the Gabby Grebe, and will be produced several times a year.  The initial audience is non-staff members, volunteers, and other agencies.  will be sent to Board and other constituents as it is expanded

§  Barbara Moore has been selected as the Open Lands Artist of the Year.

§  The Horsetooth Mountain Open Space firewood program will be re-started, now that we have received the OK from Larimer County Risk Management for volunteers to buck the wood.

§  Resource Specialist, Jeffrey Boring, met with the Friends Group – it will not be pursuing a strategic plan at this time.  They want to increase their membership by leading special hikes monthly on our parks and open spaces, bringing as many people as they can. 

§  Staff completed a GOCO survey for large-scale legacy projects.  A partnership proposal with the City of Fort Collins to complete the Poudre River Trail was submitted as a potential idea.

§  Staff has been invited to attend a wellness fair at Rocky Mountain High School to talk to kids about outdoor activities on our parks and open spaces.

  • Eagle Campground shower house public open house was held on 5/7/10.  150 postcards were mailed to neighbors; 15 people attended.  There was no controversy expressed.  Gary noted that we have follow up open houses as we initiate Master Plan projects.



Big Thompson properties update

  • Charlie Johnson reported on property dispositions so far.  37 parcels have been sold to date, generating a total of $70,237.  There are approximately 39 parcels remaining to be considered. 
  • Signing for public access will begin with Phase 1, which includes seven areas, per attached. 
  • A sign design is being developed and will be brought to the Board for review.


Board comment:

  • Tom Miller:  Questioned whether boundaries should be signed at Glade Park as well.
  • Forrest Orswell:  By posting signs, is the County committing to keep these properties?  (Yes – these have been identified as areas in use for fishing.)

  • Frank Cada:  Has the database been updated?  (Yes.)



Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress Report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager; Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager

  • Dan has been busy setting up the store at Mary’s Lake.  The Estes campgrounds open on Saturday.  Reservations are light, which is helpful, since work continues on both campgrounds.  Jacob Wells, ranger, was reassigned to assist with the point of sale and Field Manager systems.  There was a lot of work to do up there, from painting, to road grading, to reconstruction, etc. 
  • ANS inspection program:  There was a meeting with State Parks, including program administrators and Boyd Lake State Park staff.  The big sticking point is the pre-inspection program the State does.  If you receive a wire seal at one State Park, you can clip it off and leave it in a drop box at another state park.  This is not in compliance with State Division of Wildlife regulations.  Our program is in compliance.  State Parks will not agree to comply. This forces us to operate at a disadvantage with the public, who do not understand why we cannot be as accommodating as State Park.  But there is agreement with Boyd Lake staff to be in closer contact between State and County facilities, to facilitate direct and accurate communication on this issue as well as other management topics.
  • Another boat was found last week which came from out of state with zebra mussels on board.  So the program is working. 
  • Water levels are expected to be high all year.  Many of the lower water storage facilities already have water from last year.  The cool, wet spring and slow start to run-off will also help.  Carter Lake is almost full.  Two pumps at Flatiron are being rebuilt.  The penstocks will be shut down to be painted.
  • Seasonal hiring and training for 60 employees, with 60 hours of training, is very time-consuming.  Seasonal ranger training will be completed next week.
  • Construction on the S. Bay swim beach will be completed by mid-August.
  • Legalization of medical marijuana has had an impact, making it easy for anyone to get marijuana.  Related penalty assessments are up as a result – 19 tickets in one day on April 20. 
  • Blue Sky trailhead is underway, but slowed by rain.  It should be open by mid-June if weather cooperates.  The issue of charging a fee at that trailhead is under discussion.  The Open Lands Advisory Board has authorized fees at open space areas which are immediately adjacent to a fee park area.  The roadside will also be signed to prevent parking on the curve. 
  • Lairmer County Fishing Expo had 3000 attendants.  About 500 kids used the fishing pond.
  • Youth mentoring fishing contest was also successful, with 25? attendees.
  • Mark and the Fort Collins Rowing Association met with the Inlet Bay Marina, and identified a location for a floating boat house which would work, and would be next to the boat ramp.  Glenn would build it, so that it would be properly anchored, and service it through the Marina.  The Rowing Association likes it because it is protected, easily accessible to the water, and there is a shower building there.  The Rowing Association would have a concessionaire license with the County as well, and would own the building.
  • The Blue Mountain District Sr. Ranger quit without notice last week; and another ranger suffered a serious knee injury on the job and will be out for an extended time.
  • One camp host at the Estes campgrounds withdrew due to health issues, but CJ was able to replace them quickly.
  • Field Manager is being implemented as a pilot project at the Estes and Hermit Park campgrounds.  It is an additional module of the Reserve America reservation software, which allows for the sale of miscellaneous items such as park permits, firewood, ice, etc., through the reservation system.
  • Planning for the 2010 Scout Camporee at Hermit Park has become a hugely complex event to accommodate. It takes place the last weekend in September, the 24-26th.
  • Five vault restrooms will arrive in August to replace the portalets at Hermit Park.



  • The Weed District met with County Commissioners recently to re-designate the Pest Supervisor, as required by state statute.
  • The Weed District Board was redefined as the Land Stewardship Board, and now includes Forestry.
  • There is a 5-year extension from the EVLT on the deadline to move the cabins.
  • The last reserved building site at Hermit Park was eliminated today with a payment from the City of Loveland.
  • Dan and Gary met with the US Forest Service about the possibility of managing the campsites in the Poudre Canyon.  They want to have only one concessionaire, so want all 1800 campsites in 5 counties to be managed by one agency.  We are looking at the possibility of subcontracting out the out-of-county sites.  There would be no capital improvement piece involved.  Any funds invested in improvements may be deducted from the concession payment to the US Forest Service.



Carter Lake Marina subcommittee report and recommendation – Russ Fruits and Dan Rieves

  • Russ Fruits summarized the actions taken by the committee to prepare for making this recommendation.
  • The committee presented three options:
    • Option A:  Open Bid to the Public
    • Option B:  Department of Natural Resources hires a professional marina manager and staffs the store
    • Option C:  Separate store from waterfront; bid out marina separately; County manages the store.


Board and Staff Comment:

  • Linda Knowlton:  What is the marina revenue from Option C?  (Same as Option A with store revenue deducted)  Is that higher total revenue to the County?  (Hard to say)

  • Frank Cada:  The way the revenue is stated for each is different – why is there such a difference?  (Option A is a percent of gross; Option B is net revenue after expenses.)  Why can’t the 8% be adjusted to be apples to apples?

  • Dan Rieves:  The difference is that the County is required to invest $850,000 in capital improvements if we operate the marina, to replace all of Don’s facilities.

  • Gary Buffington:  Under the public option, the County does not have to buy insurance and there is no license payment.  That’s why the public revenue is higher.

  • Frank Cada:  The revenue under Option A could be higher or lower, right?

  • Dave Coulson:  His calculations suggest the County’s revenue would be about the same under Option C.

  • Gary:  It would be difficult to spend $850,000 to replace the current marina facilities.  To do that, we would have to postpone all other capital improvements for several years, because the marina facilities would have to be replaced by next boating season.


Public Comment:

  • Bob Mulvihill:  He’s been coming to Carter Lake for several years.  Money has taken 100% of the discussion tonight; he knows nothing about that.  But with the Carter Lake Marina concessionaires, Don and John, every time when he has had an interaction with them about any issue, he has been more than delighted.  He is very grateful to them; they have treated him as well as he can imagine being treated as a customer.


  • Dick Timmons:  His concern is if the County runs it, is the safety issue of the boats – this week we had winds over 100 mph.  Would the County have the manpower to deal with that, and to be onsite 24/7?


  • Don Waldburger:  He would be surprised if the County could make $110,000, as shown in these projections.  The downside is the impact of low water, the economy, etc.  They lost money for 4 years due to low water.  When the lake is full, there are plenty of customers; in low water, you can’t fill the slips.  The service they provide is what keeps people coming.  They have 23 years experience and expertise in running a marina.


Board Discussion, continued:

  • Linda Knowlton:  Under Option A, how many bidders might apply?


  • Dan Rieves:  Not sure.  There are always some marinas changing hands; there are always entrepreneurs and expert marina operators out there.  We will advertise it nation-wide in marina publications.  He thinks there will be enough to ensure a competitive process. 


  • Frank Cada:  The $850,000 investment – do we expect to recoup it over the years?  What is the payback on that?
  • Gary Buffington:  To recoup that size investment, would take several years.  It would take as much or more staff for the County to run it, as Don has.


  • Forrest Orswell:  He calculates that it would take 11 years at the revenue projections in the options, at no interest – so maybe 15 years – to recoup the capital investment.


  • Mark DeGregorio:  What return is projected on the marina store?  What did we calculate as the cost of renting the store?  What about 2 concessions – one for the store, and one for the marina?

  • Gary:  The 5% return on the store was before the new Marina Store building was built; we estimated 8% return in the new building.


  • Tom Miller:  The 10 year license isn’t very attractive, given the cost involved.  Could that be expanded?
  • Dan:  We would try to address this through structuring the bid solicitation.  The Bureau of Reclamation is not open to longer term contracts.

  • Linda Knowlton:  Longer contracts also may lead to a sense of entitlement.


  • Russ Fruits:  How do you view the capital investment?  If we view it as an investment in infrastructure, not as a cost to be recouped, then it looks better.


  • Barry Lewis:  What about future replacement of facilities like docks, etc.?  Would that come out of operating revenues?  Or will it have to be funded again in 10 years?  If this calculation covers long term replacement of facilities, then after the initial investment, the County’s position is much better.


  • Dan:  Routine expenses are figured in; but not major improvements or replacements, which would have to be funded from other sources, like Lottery and grants, as is our current practice.


  • Frank Cada:  It’s difficult to assess these options without more facts.


  • Tom Miller:  It appears that Option C gives the most flexibility to the County; but bidding the store and the marina separately, more bidders will be attracted, and the County has more possible options.

  • Dan:  One consideration is how many people are we discouraging from bidding on the marina, if we remove the store? 


  • Frank Gillespie:  He is confused about Option C, which only talks about the store.  It ignores the marina.
  • Russ Fruits:  Under Option C, the county runs the store.  We would bid out the marina.


  • Mark DeGregorio:  What are the pros and cons of separate concessionaires?  He has seen a huge improvement in revenues at the Trail Ridge store under an effective retail operator.

  • Dan:  If both are great at their respective operations, it could be beneficial.  But it could also require more refereeing between the two.  We may also find a more competent operator for each part separately.  There has been tremendous interest in just the store.


  • Vickie Traxler:  Explain the layout of the facilities.

  • Dan:  The marina store is a glorified convenience store with a $1.3 million view of Carter Lake.  Separated from that is the shop building and a small residence for the marina operator.


  • Forrest Orswell:  If you separate the building, have you removed the crown jewel and reduced the attraction to bidders?

  • Dan:  The crown jewel is really the waterfront operation – that’s where you will make the money.  The revenue potential of the slips far outweighs the revenue potential of the store, compared to the time investment required.  The county owns the store, so there is no building cost to a retail operator, and concessionaire would have no off-season investment when the store and marina are closed – no building rental.


  • Tom Miller:  Can we modify Option C?  The marina store will be separated from the marina services and offered separately for bid, or the Department may manage either.  Tom moved that Option C be modified accordingly, but there was no second.  Motion withdrawn.


  • Option D would be that each piece is bid separately, and the County may retain the option to manage either or both.


  • Dan:  He prefers to commit one way or the other – to bid it out, period, or decide that County will manage one or the other, period. 


  • Frank Cada:  Can the licensee subcontract part of it?

  • Dave Coulson:  Yes, but the County can’t subcontract a part.


  • Barry Lewis:  If the County doesn’t have the $850,000 to invest, then Option B is dead.

  • Gary:  He agrees - the funding is not currently available, so we can eliminate Option B.


  • Frank Gillespie:  He doesn’t see how we can go with Option B, until we find out whether our bids are attractive.  We always have B available if no acceptable bids are received. 


Linda Knowlton made, and Barry Lewis seconded, a motion that the Board support Option A, to go out for bid on the whole package.  After the discussion, following, the vote was taken, with 8 in favor, 1 opposed.  Motion passed.







  • Frank Cada:  The County should have the right to accept none of the bids.  (Correct.)


  • Mark DeGregorio:  The options should have the flexibility to bid both, or to bid only one separately.  He would prefer to have a private entity run both.


  • Vickie Traxler:  She agrees with Mark – there is more flexibility if we separate the marina from the store.  Even if parties are allowed to bid on both.


  • Russ Fruits:  He thinks there is strength to bidding them together.  From their conversations with other marina operations, he thinks that if we separate them, it makes it harder for bidders to bid competitively if they may be risking the loss of one facet of the operation to another bidder.


  • Linda Knowlton:  Option A is the fairest option for the bidders on such a long term commitment.


  • Barry Lewis:  Someone who operates both has more flexibility.


  • Tom Miller:  If someone wants the store bad enough, they might up the ante.


  • Gary requests that the subcommittee work with him to develop the bid package.


Election of officers

  • Because the June meeting may be cancelled, and because Chair Dave Coulson will be leaving the Board in June, the election of officers was moved up to the May meeting.

  • Chair Dave Coulson opened the floor to nominations.

  • Barry Lewis nominated Linda Knowlton as Chair.  She is willing to serve, noting that it is her last year on the board.

  • Tom Miller moved that nominations close for Chair.  Motion approved.


  • Frank Cada nominated, and Tom Miller seconded the nomination for Barry Lewis to continue as vice chair.  Nominations closed.


  • Nominations approved by acclamation.















  • Big Thompson properties update – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent

Frank Gillespie made, and Barry Lewis seconded, a motion that the Board enter into executive session, pursuant to CRS 24-6-402(4)(a) for discussion pertaining to the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest.  Motion approved.  The Board entered Executive Session at 7:55 p.m.


Russ Fruits made, and Mark DeGregorio seconded, a motion that the Board exit from Executive Session.  Motion approved.  The Board exited executive session at 8:15 p.m.










The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Debra Wykoff






Dave Coulson, Chair



Next regular meeting: [June meeting canceled.]  July 13, 2010, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO