Loveland Bike Trail
 

 

Thursday, December 11, 2006 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Larimer County Courthouse Offices Building, Lake Loveland Room

 

The mission of the Larimer County Open Lands Program is to preserve and protect significant open space, natural areas, wildlife habitat, develop parks and trails for present and future generations.  These open lands provide opportunities for leisure, human renewal and protection of our natural and cultural resources.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Present:

Open Lands Board Members:

Brian Hayes

Peter Kast

Jim White

Jean Carpenter

Sue Sparling

Duane Pond

Ted Swanson

Ben Manvel

Bob Streeter

Mark DeGregorio

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

Kerri Rollins

Ernst Strenge

Jerry White

K-Lynn Cameron

Charlie Johnson

Meegan Flenniken

Marc Engemoen

 

Absent: 

Bill Newman

Bill Pinkham

 

 

 

Chair, Peter Kast called the meeting to order at 9:01 a.m.  He apologized for the short notice in regards to the meeting, and cited the rapid paced negotiations of Hermit Park and the meeting with GOCO as reasons for calling this special meeting.

 

Duane motioned to approve the minutes of November 16, 2006.  The motion was seconded by Jim White.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

None.

 

BOARD COMMENTS:

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  The first public meeting for Red Mountain Open Space and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area will be Wednesday, January 24th at the Fort Collins Senior Center from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. 

·  On November 17 the second 10th anniversary celebration at Sylvan Dale Ranch.  Land owners, partners and staff were invited and about 100 people attended.

·  The 2006 Parks and Open Lands visual artist was Jim Disney.  At the 10th anniversary celebration, Jim displayed a phenomenal painting of the Devil’s Babckbone as part of this new program.

 

DISCUSSION:

·  Red Mountain Open Space (RMOS) Management Plan and OLAB involvement. Meegan passed out the planning process for the RMOS project.  The first public meeting will review this process.  Landowners within 1 mile of RMOS will be invited to attend the meeting.  Meegan asked which OLAB members will attend.  Jean, Bob, Ben and Sue volunteered.  Peter said he would try to get there.

 

ACTION:

·  Hermit Park Acquisition Final Review.  Peter said Gary will present a power point presentation, then the public will have a chance to comment, there will be Board discussion.

 

Gary reviewed the project details.  The property is 1,362 acres with a 9-mile road system.  There are 15 cabins, 76 campsites and an outdoor pavilion.  There are 3 miles of trails that connect to forest service lands.  Natural resource values are significant also.  Wetland meadows, and habitat for moose, deer, elk, and bobcat are also present.  Views of Longs Peak and the Rocky Mountains are also significant.  Partners include Estes Valley Land Trust (EVLT) and the Town of Estes. 

 

Jerry said the purchase price is $6.5 million, and the appraised value is $8.7 million.  A $2.2 million price discount is proposed by Agilent.  An easement on the property will be held by the EVLT.  The easement will allow continued recreation use of the property and use of the single family dwelling.  The easement will reserve the right to have 2 building sites on the property.  They will be sited so as not to interfere with views to and from the property.  The project will close on February 15, 2007.

 

K-Lynn said she is very excited about the $6.5 million price, which is a $2.2 million discount from Agilent.  She handed out and reviewed a summary sheet of how Larimer County is putting together the dollars to purchase Hermit Park.  She discussed the homesites in more depth.  Larimer County does not want to sell or develop the sites.  However, since Agilent wanted to move quickly with a closing date of February 15, we had to reserve them while we do other fundraising in the form of asking GOCO for additional dollars, submitting grant applications to other entities, and pursuing a private fundraising campaign.  Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and AMD have all approved an employee contribution match. 

 

Ted clarified that the homesites will be 35-acre sites with a 2-acre building envelope.  Bob asked what the wiggle room is on the number of homesites.  Jerry said discussion with Agilent was for 2-3 sites, but values indicate that we will only need 2 sites to cover our $1.2 million internal loan.  Gary said staff recommended two sites because he feels that is what the property can handle, however no one has been able to get up to the property to really get a feel.  Bob asked why the Open Lands Program acquisition fund is now kicking in $1.6 million instead of the $800,000 originally discussed.  K-Lynn put some figures up on a white board to address this question. 


 

Fund balance before Hermit Park

Hermit Park costs

Fund balance after Hermit Park

Acq. Fund $4.3 m

$1.6 m contribution

$1.2 m loan

$1.9 m

$1.2 m loan repayment

Management Funds $3.9m

$1.75 m

$.577 m

 

Peter asked for public comment.

 

Barry Lewis, Fort Collins – Barry is a resident of Larimer County and a member of the Parks Task force, and a current employee of Hewlett Packard (HP).  When HP employees learned their access to Hermit Park was lost they were upset.  He (and a large contingency of fellow HP employees he represents) are very excited about having access again.  It is a great thing the County is doing.

Tom Miller, Loveland – Tom said this is a turnkey park acquisition and a real opportunity.  It is situated near a worldwide significant park (Rocky Mountain National Park), and hence it will also have worldwide significance.  He is skeptical of the homesites and will work hard to raise money to eliminate them.

Bill Prater, Loveland – Works for IBM and was always jealous of HP employees because of Hermit Park.  He has been worried for over 20 years that it may eventually be developed.

Rick Bachand, Larimer County. – Rick works for the City, but is here as a private citizen.  He worked in Estes Park for several years.  He urges this board to recommend the project to the Commissioners.  It is a gem and will help preserve elk habitat outside of Estes Park.  He thanked staff for their work.

Frank Kata, Larimer County – worked for HP for 25 years and left in 1991.  He misses not having access to the park and looks forward to going up there again.  He thanked staff for their work.

Jim White, Estes Park – EVLT has been in Estes Park since 1987.  Their first purchase was Meadowdale Ranch where they have 1200-acre easement on it and is adjacent to Hermit Park.  They have been interested in preserving it since then.  He thinks the price is an absolute steal.  The lots we have set aside could be sold tomorrow for $600k each.  He gave some additional background as to why the EVLT is so interested and more than happy to contribute $700,000.  EVLT volunteers are already working with Jerry on easement language.  This is the best acquisition they have participated in, besides the Meadowdale easement (which they didn’t have to pay for).

Mike Mosehauer, Loveland – Moved here from New York because of the open space and environment.  Hermit Park is a tremendous value and should be preserved as open space.  He is also part of the Friends of Larimer County group, which supports this project and is looking forward to contributing to this project. 

 

Peter commented on a number of emails that have come in support of the project since the publication of the newspaper articles, particularly from current and former HP and Agilent employees.

 

Peter addressed the Board regarding the funding proposal and if the proposal short changes any future plans.  Bob asked about the homesites and, if we were moving towards selling them, if the Board would have a chance to permanently commit open space dollars.  K-Lynn said yes, the Board will always have the option to cover those costs.  Sue asked when they would be sold.  K-Lynn said the sites are reserved but there is no intent to put them on the market after the closing.  We will pursue the fund raising campaign diligently before exercising that option.  We will know on some fundraising items sooner, but others, such as a hunting lease from Division of Wildlife may take longer.  We will raise funds and extinguish sites as quickly as we can.  Ted asked if GOCO dollars are guaranteed.  K-Lynn said we are 99% sure they will give us $200,000 but we won’t know until tomorrow for sure.  If those dollars do not come through we are prepared to cover it.  Jim said he’s hearing reluctance on the homesites, and he agrees but understands that they were necessary to be able to close the deal now per the sellers request.  Jean asked if the easement allows for improvements to existing structures.  Jerry said the ability to manage the property, including the cabins and house is in the easement.  We will also be looking to move 2 cabins out of the wetland area.  Peter asked if we’re still on board for the Parks Program to manage the property.  Gary said that staff see this as a tremendous opportunity.  A spreadsheet has already been set up and indicates the park will be self sufficient.  Peter verified that open space tax dollars will not be used for management since the facility will be operated as a park, with campsites, cabin rentals etc.. Gary said the park will be self sufficient and revenues will cover all management costs.

 

Bob moved to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to accept the proposal that has been presented, with the flexibility of raising the number of homesites from 2 to 3, and moving $600,000 from the acquisition fund to the loan category, making the loan $1.8.  Ben seconded the motion to move it in to discussion.

 

Jerry said we have to get up to the property and figure out where the homesites might go but three could be possible.  Mark E. asked from a staff perspective if the OLAB is making a precedence and direction for Open Lands to reserve developable homesites on a property to help pay for it.  Peter responded that it is not a precedence as it was done on Red Mountain Open Space.  He added that it provides more flexibility to protect unforseen opportunties (like Hermit Park).  K-Lynn said Chimney Hollow Open Space also had reserved homesites on the long skinny tail to the south of the property, and another one on Spring Canyon Ranch Open Space. 

 

Peter brought up some contingencies that the Town of Estes has put on their $400,000 contribution.  The Town would like a first right of refusal to manage the property if Larimer County cannot proceed for some reason.  They would also like an interest payment on their contribution.  They want a 4% per year in perpetuity on net revenue of Hermit Park.  Peter said he does not want to set this precedence.  K-Lynn said that Bill P is on the town board and is working with the Town Board to recend the request.  Gary said the 4% amounts to an estimated $13,000 per year.  Ben said by having this property in Estes, they will already be making some money from it.  K-Lynn said they get about $240,000 from the open space sales tax every year, which they spend on trails.  Duane said the third homesite could replace the Towns contribution.  Marc said staff gave considerable thought to the 2 versus 3 homesites and staff will likely make this recommendation to the BOCC.  Ted said it is just security.  If we only raise $1.2 we can forgive ourselves $600,000 to not build the additional homesite.  Jim supports the 3 sites as it gives flexibility.

 

Bob amended his movement to include the Town of Estes’ conditions.  The movement now reads:

 

Bob moved to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners to accept the proposal that has been presented by staff on the Hermit Park project with the following modifications.  1) raising the number of reserved homesites from 2 to 3, thus moving $600,000 from the acquisition fund in to the loan category, making the total loan $1.8 million.  2) accepting the Town of Estes’ condition that they receive first right of refusal from Larimer County on management rights on the property.  3) denying their condition of returning 4% per year of net operating revenue back to the Town.  Ben seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Duane moved to go in to Executive Session at 10:07am.  Jim seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  (24-6-402(4) (a)C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest.

 

Duane moved to exit Executive Session and adjourn the meeting at 10:21am.  The motion was seconded by Jim and passed unanimously.

 

 

 

 

Background Image: Loveland Bike Trail by Sharon Veit. All rights reserved.