Tuesday, February 8, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Bison Visitor Center , 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO
The February 8, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Pro Tem Russ Fruits at 5:45 p.m. The Minutes of the January 11, 2011, meeting were approved.
BOARD MEMBER REPORTS –
Jeffrey Boring presented the Larime County Recreation Map to the Loveland
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
GENERAL INFORMATION: (Questions – 5 min.)
§ Natural Resource Events for January. See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.
The hunting draw for Red Mountain is open until February 28. We’ve already had more applicants than last year.
This year it is an automated process.
Larimer County Natural Resources Recreation Map project overview – Jeffrey Boring, Resource Specialist
- The purpose of the map is to highlight all the recreation opportunities provided by our department. All the trails, trailheads, campgrounds, boat ramps, and everything else we manage will be included.
- The map will include several 3-D inset maps as well as a County wide 2-D map.
- We hope to print in late April or early May. After that it will become available to the public as a marketing tool which will provide brand identity to our department.
- This will not replace the tri-fold brochures at trailheads and park entrances, which will provide larger maps of one area. Folds to the size of our other brochures.
- Dan Rieves explained that the map concept was adopted as more useful and useable than a brochure.
- During a break, Board members had the opportunity to look at the map and offer comments, suggestions, corrections, etc.
- Jeffrey will return for the March meeting with a revised version for final review.
Board and staff comment:
Frank Cada: Will the map be online? Lots of people go online to
plan outings. [Yes. It will replace some of the maps currently online.]
Mark DeGregorio: Posting a PDF on line is a good idea, because
people can zoom in. Does it also include rules and regs? [Yes.]
Tom Miller: We should charge for them – if they cost 60 cents to produce, then charge a $1 and put the funds into a maintenance fund. Taking care of the properties is always a struggle. We could market them that way. Retailers could pay us for the maps, then stamp their logo on it and give them to customers. Tom saw displayed a very nice map of the Big Thompson River which was selling for $6. He thinks if people pay, they take better care of it. The funds could also go toward printing costs for future years.
Steve Schweitzer: Are there any emergency phone numbers or
contacts on the map? If this were to be a revenue-generating source, how would
that be implemented? He’s intrigued by the idea – maybe print on higher
quality paper. The best marketing brochure is a map to tell people how to get
to you. This concept is spot on. Where would the maps be distributed to the
public? Advertising on the maps could limit distribution points, if retailers
don’t want to advertise their competitors.
Jeffrey: We expect them to be widely distributed to the same outlets as Ft. Collins’ map. Ft. Collins has had theirs out for 2 years – people will compare the products and won’t pay for what Fort Collins gives out free.
Gary Buffington: Distribution points are one consideration in
whether to charge a fee for the maps – handling a dollar becomes expensive
Dan Rieves: The City of Ft. Collins has a “sister map” to this and it is free.
Estes Valley Recreation and Park District Campgrounds (Mary’s Lake and East Portal) – Chris Fleming, Blue Mountain District Manager
- 2010 was the first year that we operated the Estes campgrounds. The contract was signed in February, and there were multiple issues to address behind the scenes before opening in May. Major issues included:
- A new accounting system.
- Heavy snow that prevented access until April at Mary’s Lake.
- There was 3 ft. of snow in East Portal until after Memorial Day, which also prevented early season visitation.
- Remodeling and restocking of the store at Mary’s Lake; set-up of an inventory system.
- Major trash removal; we spent thousands of dollars removing junk left on site.
- Over 80 new signs were added of all types.
- Post pad markers were installed at all campsites.
- A tremendous amount of roadwork within the campgrounds – Mary’s Lake was mostly exposed rock, and there was no defined parking.
- Every building had to be repainted – including the historic sign on the Mary’s Lake store which was handpainted by Ranger Cindy Claggett. All the painting was done by staff.
- East Portal required over 80 hazardous beetle-killed trees to be removed plus lots of pruning along roadways and campsites. Spraying for beetles continues.
- At East Portal, there were also extensive roadwork and drainage issues. Improving turning radiuses on the campground roads was a challenge. Then when the snow melted, several springs appeared, which required several sites to be relocated or eliminated.
- In the shower houses, the drains were higher than the floor; plumbing was not commercial grade – it was a challenge to keep them open during the season. There was some retrofitting done to existing shower houses.
- At Mary’s Lake, there were constant challenges throughout the season. The previous concessionaires kept their web pages and phone numbers active, advertising the closure of Mary’s Lake to the public. There were also negative online customer reviews about the previous concessionaire which were a problem.
- The condition of the campgrounds was worse than expected. Geysers erupted everywhere; electrical wiring was not up to code; equipment that was supposed to be left had been taken by the previous vendor.
- The new reservation system did not go into effect until May, so that hurt reservations. 211 campsite profiles were written listing every single detail of every campsite, and the campgrounds could not go live on the reservation system until this work was completed.
- The swimming pool wasn’t opened until July 4 weekend. It turned out to be a huge draw for visitors – people come to Mary’s Lake specifically for that reason. The pool pump and furnace both had to be replaced. It took a lot of work to get them up and running. The Estes Valley Recreation and Park District dedicated a pool staffer to help us get the pool up and running. She worked 2 weeks on the filtration system. The water had been in the pool for 10 years. It was drained and replaced. 22,000 gal. Our maintenance guys were kept busy keeping it running. It took until mid-August to get the heating unit to work.
- Service interruptions were an ongoing problem – the lower shower house at Mary’s Lake had collapsed lines and constant clogs. Nobody knows what the utilities look like underground. One of the main lines to the sewer system to the lower shower house collapsed, so the building had to be closed. A new shower house will replace it for 2011.
- Four sets of camp hosts donated 9157 hours; ASU provided 162 hours of labor. The camp hosts did everything from collecting fees, to selling firewood, plumbers, store clerks, tour guides, you name it. They helped us survive the season.
- Gross Revenue: $373,089
- Paid to Estes Valley Recreation and Park District: $19,635
- Operating Expense: $349,956
- Start-up costs: $78,444
- Net loss: $35,704
- We expect to make money in 2011, considering how well we did in 2010, given the overwhelming problems we faced.
- New technology will allow online check-in of reservations onsite.
- There will be a new shower house at Mary’s Lake by April
- There will be an additional volunteer camp host position at Mary’s Lake – 141 sites requires more camp hosts.
- There will be a dedicated store manager – Richard Bensen, who has been a seasonal ranger with us for 7 years, and previous retail ownership experience.
- Operation hours on the store at Mary’s Lake will be expanded.
- We have gone to a 180 day reservation window.
- There will be increased ranger patrol – East Portal and Mary’s Lake are too far apart to be patrolled by 1 ranger.
- We have re-designed the water system at East Portal.
- There will be a new fee structure: Day use fee has been incorporated into the camping fee – camping fees were increased accordingly, which is comparable that other camping options in the area.
- A new brochure for these campgrounds will be distributed at standard outlets throughout Estes Park.
Board and staff comments:
Mark deGregorio: He remembers very specifically making a point
that there was going to be some major, major infrastructure work to be done –
you could see that electrical didn’t meet code, etc. It was not unexpected.
Everyone was very skeptical about it. These campgrounds had been in very poor
condition for years.
Russ Fruits: He said we’d spend $150-200,000 in start-up costs,
so he’s not surprised. What were we down last year?
Dan Rieves: 20-30%. Based on occupancy projections, we think we can generate over $600,000 in revenues. We also allocated costs to these campgrounds, like administrative costs, that were previously paid from other locations. So other areas did better financially. We didn’t hire 4 FT employees to do this – we spread existing staff much thinner – stretched people to the limit – to make it happen. This cost center absorbed a lot of cost from other cost centers. The situation we faced was even bleaker than Mark anticipated. Estes Valley Recreation and Park District saw this same presentation, and were ecstatic.
Chris: Reservations weren’t available until May – it took that long to get all these sites onto the reservation system with the very late start.
Steve Schweitzer: Any positive comments online after last year? [Yes, some.] If we can turn it around in 2-3 years, we’ll be heros. A lot of good work has been done.
Dan: Some people who had been customers in the past are not thrilled about the transition – they liked it the way it was. Other people are really happy – who never had a chance to stay there before or were disgusted by conditions at Mary’s Lake. He expects a couple years before we completely turn things around.
Mark deGregorio: What is the relationship with the Sheriff? [Good.] To meet state standards for the water system – what will the costs be?
Chris: We didn’t redo the system, just the shut-off system, which was converted to a zone system so that the whole system doesn’t have to be drained to address a problem anywhere in the system.
Dan: We met all state standards.
Gary: Glacier Basin campground will be closed this year, so we expect increased visitation from that.
Chris: The Estes CVB sent a lot of business our way; and people who didn’t have early plans had an opportunity in our campground.
Tom Miller: When we reviewed it, there was supposed to be no cost to the County to take this over. Did the Recreation District reimburse the County?
Dan; The reimbursement is handled through revenue distribution. After Estes Valley Recreation and Park District gets their cut, the next cut goes to reimburse start-up costs. Estes Valley Recreation and Park District had to buy-out the prior concessionaires for any equipment that was kept. But inventory was not documented by the District, so some of the equipment that was supposed to be there wasn’t – there weren’t enough tables or grates for every site. So we had to make do to meet the crisis, since opening was just 2 weeks away.
Tom: We did not get reimbursed per agreement?
Dan: We did not have an agreement that we’d get reimbursed for stuff we bought, except through the formula above.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ We will begin renting group pavilions online through the online reservation system.
§ Justin Smith is the new Sheriff, and is encouraging his staff to work more closely with our department, which is a very positive development.
§ New office building at Horsetooth in March, a triple-wide modular, to eliminate the rodent problem.
§ Training ongoing – Wilderness First Responder and First Aid recertification,
§ Fishing Expo will be April 2 & 3 at the Budweiser Event Center.
§ Ongoing maintenance is underway.
§ Hermit Park cabin that was damaged has been replaced.
§ Regional ranger training program – combining seasonal ranger and COSA ranger training – at the Ranch for 100 participants from throughout Colorado.
§ Presented a program to Estes Valley Recreation and Park District board last month.
§ Field Manager being implemented this season – onsite check-ins at the Estes and Hermit campgrounds.
§ Buoy tender frame-off restoration completed.
§ Final draft of Carter Lake marina license done today. Will be signed by end of March.
§ Eagle flush restroom and shower building will be completed by summer.
§ Hosted a meeting with new Boyd Lake manager to foster improved collaboration.
Annual meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation to
review our license went well.
Big Thompson Fishing Access – Gary Buffington and Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent
NOTE: Maps of these areas are available on the County website at http://larimer.org/bigthompson/ . Handout is included at the end of this document.
§ Today begins the 60 day public comment period for these three properties.
§ There is a county database for interested parties on each property. Charlie begins by contacting those individuals.
§ Charlie distributed maps of each area, with ownerships and county parcels highlighted.
§ Area 5 – Narrows
§ Here we face the predicament of what to do where there are 2 or more people with equal rights both/all interested.
§ The Hansons have maintained the whole property owned by the County for 25 years and want to buy it. They have buildings which encroach on County property.
§ The heirs of the previous owner of the smaller turquoise parcel want to buy it back.
§ The previous owners of the red have no interest.
§ The owners to the east and north have not yet been contacted to ascertain interest.
§ AGREED: Charlie will contact all parties and continue working toward a mutually acceptable resolution.
Board and staff comments:
Problem noted in the wording of the Action Plan #3.a., which says that parcels would be offered to previous landowners and/or adjacent landowners.
Frank Cada: Instead of selling all the red, County
could retain ownership of part of the parcel – up to the green.
Will subsequent owners be able to overcome a deed restriction? [No. It is legally binding.] Has a decision be made? [No.] Can the Board still recommend no sale or other solution? [Yes.]
Tom Miller: It is not possible to retain public ownership past the yellow. The private owner on the south side of the river has posted it “do not pass.” What kind of access will County retain? [The same public access as in all deeds so far.]
- Area 7 - Indian Village
§ It cost $17,000 to survey Hayden. A caution about defining boundaries: The costs to nail it down can add up fast.
§ All the money received from sales goes toward management in perpetuity – there is no other source of funds for this purpose. If we don’t have these funds to maintain, we’ll have to close them.
§ County owns to top of the bank. Loveland owns half the parking area and the entire river. This was surveyed in the 90’s. Haven’t talked to Loveland about it yet.
§ The yellow parcel is separated by a ditch from the rest. The owner of the Indian Village has parked his camper there for 10 years. He wants to purchase the yellow portion. He has a legal access through this area. He has no problem with fishing access, but is fearful of burglary. He wants to put up a fence between the parking area and his property.
§ AGREED: Charlie will talk to the City of Loveland about river access, and the property owner about fishing access.
Board and staff comments:
Frank Cada: If the river is worth $1 million per mile, maybe we could lease it to fly fishing companies.
§ Area 23 – Bartels Parcel
- County will not retain public access, due to terrain, lack of access. Adjoining owner will purchase.
- Steve Schweitzer: How does the owner feel about fishing access?
- Charlie: It is so overgrown, trespass is problematic. There is no parking. Not a good fishing area.
- AGREED: Charlie will arrange a visit for Board members.
day public comment period on these 3 parcels will begin today. These will
be considered at the April meeting.
- There is another small parcel (1 ac.) where 2 people died. County agreed to keep it in perpetuity. There is a memorial rock there. The previous owner requests a letter that County will not sell it. Glen Gibson promised her it would never be sold.
- Commissioner Johnson notes that 1 commissioner cannot bind the county. The family maintains it. Staff recommendation is that no action be taken on this parcel.
Tom Miller: Is there any trespass issue? [No.]
DIRECTOR’S REPORT - Gary Buffington
Gary recognized retiring Board member, Vickie Traxler, for her service to the Board. She has brought a refreshing, balanced view to the board, and thanked her for it. This is her last meeting. She will be presented with a framed photo.
Vickie responded that it has been a great pleasure to serve, and knows so much more about the county parks than she did before, and knows they are in good hands.
Park Regulation changes for 2011 – Gary Buffington and Dan Rieves
- These changes are primarily semantic in nature, not substantive.
- See copy :
- B. 1. adds: “to relocate grill to an unsafe area”
- C.2. Deletes some outdated language.
- B.4. adds “or fire restriction”
- F.12. adds “land or touch down” a hot air balloon without prior written approval.
- W.15 adds “wade or beach any watercraft” from boat docks or ramp areas. Rangers need to be able to keep ramp area open to get boats on and off. Have considered more courtesy docks farther away from the ramp, but docks are expensive.
Board and staff comments:
Frank Cada: Can we set a distance, rather than prohibiting access to the dock area?
Miller: Biggest problem is people sitting on the dock with their feet hanging
over when boats are trying to come in.
Fleming: During peak use this becomes a problem for rangers trying to keep
things moving and keep people safe.
Orswell: Suggests “shall not impede boat traffic…”
deGregorio: P. 4, B.4. – is that in addition to any state violation fine? Who
sets the fine amounts?
Dan: Our rangers can only cite these regulations – not state statute. So these often mirror other authority. Fine amounts are recommended by us and set by the commissioners.
Mark Caughlan: It would be double jeopardy to write for both. A Class 2 offense cannot exceed $100.
Tom Miller: Has wading versus swimming been defined? Volunteers were taught if you can’t see their belly button, they’re swimming.
Steve Schweitzer: How often are tickets issued against these regulations?
Dan: He can provide the data for 2010 by next month.
Gary: As a general rule, less than 1% of ranger contacts with visitors result in tickets.
The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
Russ Fruits, Chair Pro Tem
Next regular meeting: March 8, 2011, in the Boyd Lake Room at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, CO.
Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks
PAB 2-8-11 – First 3 Areas for County Land Agent as per Approved PAB 2011 Timeline
60 Day Public Comment Period Begins Tonight
Area 5 – Narrows – fishing access will be retained
County Database of Interested parties – There are four previous owners plus one adjacent owner that have an interest. I have contacted all interested parties.
Surrounding Ownership – Private ownership to the west, north and east.
Size – Approximately 10.7 acres. The County owns to the center of the river to the south (Existing Narrows Park)
Circumstances and Issues
We have a situation where both adjacent and previous landowners want to acquire the same property. How is this dilemma resolved in an equitable fashion?
The adjacent owner to the west has building encroachments on the County property. This owner has been tending to the County property for many years and wants to buy the land with fishing access retained by County.
Need to have more discussions with previous and adjacent owners. I have met with one and spoken with the other.
Value – Some of the property on the north side of the river may be buildable which will result in a higher value. It is very steep terrain and needs more evaluation. There will be less value due to County retention of river rights.
Area 7 – Indian Village – County does not own river – City of Loveland Ownership
County Database of Interested Parties – only one on database but one other person has expressed an interest. I have had discussions with both parties.
Surrounding Ownership – City of Loveland across river. City of Loveland the entire river and a portion of what we thought was ours. Indian Village shop adjacent to the east.
Size – Approximately .30ac potential sale along river and approx 2.7ac north of Hwy 34. County owns to the north bank of river.
Circumstances and Issues
Sell the small portion with the parked camper to the adjacent owner?
Adjacent owner is concerned about trespass and jeopardy to his business and wants a fence separating the land we may sell to him and our retained parking area lands.
Either way the camper should be removed. The owner of the camper understands.
Coordinate with the City of Loveland as an adjacent owner (parking area and river corridor)
Value – Non Buildable
Area 23 – Bartels North Fork BT – *fishing access will not be retained
County Database of Interested parties – There is one previous owner that has an interest. I have contacted this owner.
Surrounding Ownership – Private ownership to the west, north and east. The county owns another 1-ac parcel to the east.
Size – Approximately .7 acres – center of the river.
Circumstances and Issues
* River is very narrow at between 8 and 15 feet and overgrown with trees and bushes.
*Non-public road access, steep banks from roadway and lack of safe parking.
Value – Non-buildable – additional value with sale of fishing rights.
Valuation of all BT Properties - Our valuation of the Big Thompson flood parcels will require more analysis. We have the updated BT Basic Data Report that includes current sales. After discussions with the appraiser, the value of fishing rights and river frontage has a value that should be considered in the sales prices along the Big Thompson and the North Fork rivers.
- Fishing resource values along the BT are approximately 1 million per mile or $200 per foot.
- Fishing resource values along the North Fork are approximately $50 per foot.
We will be developing a formula that considers size, river frontage, fishing rights and the potential for building rights. This formula will be used in all future sales throughout the BT project.