Tuesday, November 8, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak St, Ft. Collins, CO

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.  


Frank Cada

Russ Fruits

Frank Gillespie

Rob Harris

Ron Kainer

Linda Knowlton

Barry Lewis

Forrest Orswell



Gary Buffington

Chris Fleming

Charlie Johnson

Dan Rieves

Debra Wykoff



Glen Doughty

Mark DeGregorio


The November 8, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Russell Fruits at 5:36 p.m.  The minutes of the October 11, 2011, meeting were approved.





GENERAL INFORMATION:  (Questions – 5 min.)

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

  • Hermit's Hollow Reconstruction project at Hermit Park - Road work in the campgrounds has been completed and the county crew is building the new sites as well as sprucing up the old ones.  The campground should be largely completed by end of the fall season.  Vault toilets are in progress- the bid just went out this week.  This will add 12 new vault restrooms to Hermit in 2012: 4 in the campground and 8 more singles at the cabins.  We anticipate having them installed early spring.  With crews in the area the switchbacks along the main road, which have become very degraded over time, will receive 4" of road base and re-grading.  
  • Other Hermit Park OS updates - Nice weather has kept the property steady on weekends.  We will begin closing the other 2 campgrounds besides Bobcat after this weekend.  Cabins will remain open for reservations.  Plans are to close Hermit mid Dec-Feb again this winter.  The closure worked well for staffing, and we had little to no negative comments from the public regarding the closure last year.
  • All 13 cabins will have vault toilets installed before next season.
  • Hermit Park OS grant projects – staff are working on two potential projects that will further complete the management plan.  One is the Kruger Rock trailhead development and connector trail to Homestead Meadows, and the other the Kruger Equine Campground and trailer parking project.  To date partners include Backcountry Horseman’s Association and the Friends Group.  Grants to GOCO, State Trails and Roundup Riders will be pursued.
  • The perimeter trail route was described by Chris.
  • Submitted the Poudre River Trail concept paper in partnership with Fort Collins, Timnath and Windsor.  It is currently estimated to be a $3.6 million project; for around 4 miles.  It costs $350,000 per mile for a paved trail.  A GOCO decision to move forward with a full application will come on December 13th.  There were $140 million in projects submitted for the available funding.  Negotiations for trail rights of way are ongoing. 
  • Barry Lewis:  What happens if we get the grant and can’t secure the trail easements?  [We have three years after the grant award to finish the project.]
  • Prescribed burns occurred at Horsetooth Mountain OS (21 acres) and slash piles have been burned at Carter Lake.
  • PLEASE HOLD THE DATE!  The date for the Annual Board holiday party has been set for Thursday, December 8.  Grimm Brothers and Russ Fruits will be hosting the event this year at the new Grimm Brothers taproom in Loveland.



Big Thompson Flood Parcels – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent – 30 minutes
Charlie reviewed the slides of each area.  The 60-day public comment period on these two parcels ended at this meeting.

Area 3 (Upstream from Big Thompson Elementary)

§  Staff recommends the retention of all ownership and provide for public access to the center of the river.

§  Surveying will be required to delineate our exact ownership boundaries so that signage can be developed and placed at appropriate locations to advise the public of private property concerns, in particular, the limits of our ownership to the center of the river, at the top of the spillway, and our western boundary upstream.


Board and staff comments:

Barry Lewis:  Who put up the no-parking signs?  [Don’t know yet.]

Frank Gillespie:  Is there a viable place for parking? [In legal access areas on the opposite side of the road from the school, and at the school.] 

Frank Cada:  It’s been used for many years in the same way. It’s a short walk from the school, although you must be careful crossing the highway.

Dan Rieves:  We’ll do what we can by talking to the state highway department and the school.  Even if there was no parking within 5 miles, fishermen would still say that it’s a high quality, historical fishing access worth preserving.  Lack of access is not a deal killer.

Frank Gillespie:  The school has an ongoing relationship with our department for naturalist programs for the students.


Rob Harris:  Was there any public comment during the 60 day period?  [Yes.  See prior minutes.]


No public comment on Area 3.

Area 17 – Downstream from Glen Comfort – 8 parcels totaling 10 acres +/-


§  Staff recommends the potential sale or trade a portion of or all of one lot to an adjacent owner that has a water well and gazebo located on a County lot. The County will retain from the center of the river up to a 10 foot wide strip above the top of the river bank for public access.

§  Staff recommends that we sell the large parcel 5.72 acres as a buildable lot. The County will retain the river and land on the south side of the river where the current large parking area is located.

§  In order to properly establish a value of the acreage staff proposes that we contact an engineering firm to assess the feasibility of building on this parcel.

§  Access to this parcel needs to be further evaluated. It appears that the previous owner accessed their home or business from the Hwy 34, not as it is currently is accessed. To sell as a buildable parcel it may require an easement from the Forest Service to obtain access to the proposed building site area.

§  Staff recommends that we offer the sale of this parcel on a sealed bid basis open to the public with a minimum bid to be established after all relevant factors are evaluated.

  • Charlie reviewed the access to the parcel which may be suitable as a building site, and to the large parcel on the south side of the road.  He has contacted County Planning and private engineering firms about the process required to determine whether the site is buildable.  We must go through a “Legal Lot” determination.  If the legal description was created before a specific date in 1972, it is a legal lot description.

Board and staff comment:

Dan Rieves:  Why would we bear the cost of making that determination before selling it?


Charlie:  To get the highest price for it, it needs to be buildable, and we need to make that determination before setting a minimum bid price.  It would be cleaner and more straightforward for the public for us to do the homework first.


There were several questions about the cost of making this determination.


Linda Knowlton:  We could sell it as is.


Mark DeGregorio:  [Written remarks submitted in advance:]  
I support staff's recommendation on Area 3.  For Area 17, I support sale or trade with the owner of the gazebo to settle that issue. For the proposed buildable lot, pending the engineering and easement issues, I will only support such a sale with some specific deed restrictions. If access is settled, I would like to see a building envelop identified in the deed that minimizes visual intrusions from the Highway 34 viewshed. I would also like to see a deed restriction for maximum square footage of a dwelling, and peak roof height to ensure that we don't have another gargantuan mansion looming over the canyon. I don't think this is too much to ask for, given that it was never anyone's intent when these parcels were condemned after the Big Thompson flood to have them built on again, whether or not in the flood plain, nor as a money generator.

Barry Lewis:  Read aloud Mark DeGregorio’s written comments submitted in advance – Mark prefers that the property be sold with deed restrictions on use.  We couldn’t do that if we don’t know the buildable status.


Charlie:  The value would be 5-6 times higher as a buildable lot.


Gary Buffington:  We would put a minimum bid on it.


Frank Cada:  What is the difference in value between “possibly buiildable” and “buildable”?


Rob Harris:  We could invest several thousand getting these answers? [It is possible.]


Russ Fruits:  What are the options – can the Board make a recommendation with a stipulation that the Board may impose additional conditions after the information is obtained by Charlie and reported back to the board? [Yes.]


Charlie:  He thinks he should come back to the Board with the answers before a decision is made.



Big Thompson Flood Parcels – Area 3 and Area 17


Frank Cada moved, and Rob Harris seconded, a moton that the staff recommendation be accepted on Area 3.  There was no discussion. The motion was unanimously approved.


Barry Lewis moved, and Forrest Orswell seconded, a motion that the staff recommendation to move forward be accepted on Area 17.  Following the discussion below, the motion was unanimously approved.













Linda Knowlton:  What will happen next?


Charlie:  He will talk to engineering firms to learn what it would take to develop the property, and to County Planning on the buildable site issue.  On other parcels, our surveyors have been doing surveying again in the Narrows area of our boundaries.  That must be completed before the next step can be taken. The county surveyors have not had time to do any work at Indian Village area.  The one remaining area of interest to the Loveland Fishing Club will be brought to the Board soon. Charlie will come to the Board with a 2012 priority list.


Linda Knowlton:  What about all the other parcels?  We should look at those and identify any high priority areas.


Frank Cada:  Are the revenues generated from sales of these properties set aside for maintenance of these areas?


Gary Buffington:  Yes.


Public comment

_______________, adjacent owner to the Narrows property:  Mr. Normali is more interested in building.  If the whole thing is not buildable and is deed restricted, why go to the expense of surveying?


Charlie:  There are several parties interested in purchasing these parcels, and several parcels which must be clearly identified to sell them.



Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report

  • The Estes campgrounds are officially closed for the season.  Staff is working to increase traffic at Mary’s Lake.

§   All camphosts positions are filled for 2012.

§   The Big Thompson parks closed 11/1, and will reopen in April.

§   Work on the Phase 2 parking lot at Carter Lake Marina started a couple days ago.  There have been minor changes to the design to dovetail with the existing parking lot.  A below-high-water access road was added.  Trees are being removed.

§   Building of additional Horsetooth campsites are waiting on grant approval.  We will try to move some mature trees. 

§   Gary and Dan reviewed the Master Plan projects to prioritize them. 

§  Moving the Carter swim beach involves significant challenges.

§  Exploratory work at South Shore – a utility study will be done.  Utilities are the biggest limitation on improvements at Carter South Shore and Pinewood.  South Shore operates off a small domestic well.  We need to find out what the potential cost of expansion would be.

§  Pinewood Reservoir is the highest priority.  There isn’t a lot of land to work with.  Improvements may require building out into the reservoir.  It’s such a beautiful area, it deserves nice facilities.  This will be primarily a rehab project.  The proposed cabins are not a key component, and were opposed by neighbors, so will not be included in the initial proposal.


Board and staff comments:

Rob Harris:  What does it cost to move a mature tree? [Around $5000 to move all the trees targeted.  We could not buy trees that large to replace them.]


Linda Knowlton:  Will you be proposing major changes to what was included in the Master Plan?


Dan:  Not necessarily.  We will be staying close to the Master Plan, but may move some earth to solve some operational problems.  The Master Plan is a good plan – just not drastically different from what we have there now.  We’d like to preserve or create a more isolated camping experience where the campers don’t hear zippers going up and down all night.

§  Field Manager – department-wide implementation planning process is beginning.  This may involve a new permit system which incorporates features requested by the public and also maximizes the capabilities of Field Manager.  Dan will do a presentation for PAB in January about all the types of permits currently sold by the County.  For 2012, we hope to do some testing at locations at the reservoir, and use 100% of the system’s features at the Estes campgrounds.


Board comments:

Barry Lewis:  Is this an opportunity to look at the bottom line and whether permit prices should be adjusted?


Dan:  The new types of permits may be worth more to the visitor. 


Russ Fruits:  What’s the plan for taking it out to the public, to ensure public input and understanding? It would be nice to get the info out to local sports outlets.


Dan:  In the past we’ve used business cards with the website address for making comments, for example.  We have also been collecting all comments about permits for a long time.  So we already have a lot of information about what people want.  Dan wants to eliminate paper permits, automate the self-serve system with “iron rangers”, eliminate cash and check payments.  Hopes to do a pilot project with one iron ranger next year.


Barry Lewis:  Post the proposed change (no cash) on the current vaults at least 6 mo. in advance.


Linda Knowlton:  Definitely need public input before making such a change.


Frank Gillespie:  What percent of visitors use cash or checks?


Linda Knowlton:  We could direct visitors to a location where they can pay in cash.


Rob Harris:  Best option is to offer a fall-back option for payment by cash or check, although he expects that few will use that option.


§   The County Jail tax renewal did not pass in last week’s election.  $7 – 10 million will be needed to make up the difference. There will definitely be a cut in services in Larimer County over the next several years.  Gary does not think the Commissioners will go back to the voters any time soon on the jail tax.

§   The Parks Program receives $235,000 of General Fund; the Forestry Program receives $140,000.

§   We will survive the loss of these funds, but will need to be prepared to replace them.  There will be difficult  decisions – our volunteer program and education program are funded from General Fund.

§   We have a back-up plan in mind – we have good reserves in Parks Fund and Lottery (around $1 million each) but reserves won’t last forever. 

§   Field Manager will be expensive initially, but over time can save money and improve services to visitors.


The next meeting scheduled for December 13 is cancelled. 


The meeting was adjourned at 6:50 pm.


Respectfully submitted,


Debra Wykoff







Russell Fruits, Chair


Next regular meeting: January 8, 2012, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., in the Boyd Lake Room at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak, Fort Collins, CO

Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks