MINUTES

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

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.Carter Lake Room, Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak, Ft. Collins

 

 

Present:

Parks Advisory Board Members:

Linda Knowlton, Chair

Rob Harris

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

Rich Harter

Ivan Andrade

Chad LaChance

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Dave Coulson

 

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

Kathay Rennels

Mark Caughlan

Sam Waldo

Dan Rieves

Drew Stoll, EDAW

Debra Wykoff

 

 

Absent: 

 

 

 

 

 

The first meeting of the newly appointed Parks Advisory Board (PAB) was called to order at 5:30 p.m. on June 26, 2007. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda.

Dick and Carolyn Timmons live at Carter Lake and they are interested in the parks as close neighbors.

 

INFORMATION:

·  The Larimer County Commissioners met on June 4, 2007, to hear public comment and then made a recommendation to the Planning Commission to adopt the proposed Parks Master Plan.  On June 20, 2007, the Planning Commission adopted the Parks Master Plan as a part of the County’s Land Use Plan.

·  Kathay Rennels, County Commissioner, and liaison to the Parks Advisory Board, thanked the Task Force members who attended the BCC hearing on the plan and explained and supported the plan.

·  Christine Fleming, Blue Mountain District Senior Ranger, has been promoted to the position of Hermit Park Manager, effective immediately (although she will do both jobs during the transition!)   

·  The Open Lands Advisory Board (OLAB) Picnic at Hermit Park on Saturday, June 9 was attended by 50 people, including Parks Advisory Board (PAB) members Dave Coulson, Linda Knowlton and Tom Miller. 

·  On June 12, the Town of Berthoud Board of Trustees unanimously voted to provide $25,000 for Hermit Park.  Berthoud’s contribution will be matched with a $25,000 anonymous challenge grant to municipalities.

·  The City of Loveland will contribute $420,000 for Hermit Park over the next three years.

·  The City of Fort Collins contributed the last $90,000, to put the fund raising over the top - $1.2 million in total funds were generated through the combined efforts of Hewlett Packard current and former employees, Larimer County staff, GOCO, Loveland, Fort Collins, and many private donors.

·  Matt Kuehl has been hired as a park ranger, and will be stationed at Red Mountain and Eagles’ Nest Open Space areas.

·  The June 28, 2007, OLAB meeting will be at the Bison Visitor Center at 5:00p.m.  Gary encouraged the PAB members to sit in on a meeting to see how that board functions in evaluating potential land acquisitions.

·  On June 2, the annual CAST (Catch a Special Thrill) Event was held at Horsetooth Reservoir.  This annual event sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation and Northern Water pairs disabled kids with fishermen for a day of fishing on a boat.  This is a national event.  About 30 kids were involved this year.  PAB member Chad LaChance is very involved in this event.

·  Volunteers for Parks and Open Lands are entitled to a special “S” permit in return for a commitment of 20 hours of volunteering during the calendar year.  The “S” permit is valid for entry to the parks, on weekdays and during the offseason, but is not valid for camping or cabins.  Deb Wykoffwill send out instructions for completing the online hours tracking.  S permits will be mailed to all members.

 

BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - None.

 

PRESENTATIONS:  None.

 

DISCUSSION:

1.   Terms of service for Parks Advisory Board members
Parks and Open Lands Director, Gary Buffington, explained that staggered terms must be established so that the entire membership of the Board does not change at the same time.  After the initial rotation is determined, members are eligible to serve one additional term of three years.  By random drawing, the following terms were assigned to the charter members of the Board:
One year:  Ivan Andrade, Linda Knowlton and Tom Miller
Two years:  Rob Harris, Rich Harter, and Barry Lewis
Three years:  Frank Cada, Dave Coulson and Chad LaChance

2.   Status of selection process for additional Parks Advisory Board members
Interviews for additional Board members are scheduled on July 6.  Commissioner Rennels, Gary Buffington, and the new Parks Advisory Board (PAB) Chair will be interviewing five applicants. For functional efficiency, PAB members expressed a preference for 11 total members.  Commissioner Rennels supports this, since it allows the Commissioners to keep open the option to add members later, as needed, up to a maximum of 13.

3.   Election of Officers
Chad LaChance nominated Linda Knowlton to the position of Chair, motion seconded by Rob Harris.  Tom Miller moved that nominations be closed.  Both motions passed unanimously by voice vote.  Chad LaChance then nominated Barry Lewis as Vice Chair; motion seconded by Frank Cada and passed unanimously by voice vote.


4.   Meeting schedule and locations
It was agreed that regular PAB meetings will be scheduled on the fourth Tuesday of each month, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., at the Bison Visitor Center and at the Courthouse Office Building on alternate months. 

5.   Work Plan

§  Parks Advisory Board(PAB) and Open Lands Advisory Board (OLAB) coordination
On the recommendation of Gary Buffington, appointment of a joint sub-committee was approved to synchronize the bylaws of both boards.  The current OLAB bylaws and proposed PAB bylaws were offered for review.  Tom Miller and Rob Harris will serve on the Bylaws Subcommittee, expected to meet at least twice in the next three months.  They will then report back to PAB with recommended Bylaws. 

§  Introduction of 2008 Proposed Park Permit Fees.  (Reference enclosure.)
Gary explained the rationale for proposed increases, which are tied to improved services, and which address concerns of County residents about non-resident use.  An off-season camping fee would reflect the reduced services available during the winter (no dump station or water), and would cover the cost of electrical service.  The off-season rate for all campsites would be the same as the in-season non-electric camping fee.  The proposed fee changes do not apply to Hermit Park or Horsetooth Mountain Park.

Fees at Colorado State parks are also going up for 2008.  Ivan Andrade noted that National Parks are experiencing declining visitation and increasing fees.

The proposed changes will generate an estimated $65,000 in additional revenue.  By comparison, the department receives approximately $250,000 per year in General Funds, which may be subject to reduction or elimination in future years.  Commissioner Rennels talked about the new budgeting prioritization process, for allocating funding based on priority of services.  Funding the detention center and the justice center are looming major issues.  Larimer County retains a comfortable 12% reserves, but does not want to fall below 10%.  She noted that slow change is necessary to make it politically palatable.  She urged looking at moderate alternatives now before the County “hits a cliff”. 

Frank Cada requested a budget overview to gain an understanding of the big picture.  Tom Miller stated that the board should have regular work sessions on budget issues.  Linda Knowlton requested a budget briefing at the July meeting.  Gary and Kathay agreed.

§  Rich Harter suggested taking action on the proposed 2008 fee increases immediately rather than waiting until the next meeting, since major changes are not contemplated.  Harter suggested creating a subcommittee to address this issue for 2009, instead of rushing to implement significant changes for 2008; and urged the Board to ascertain whether there is a critical mass of interest before changing the fee structure.

Rich Harter made a motion, seconded by Frank Cada, to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners approval of the proposed 2008 park permit fee changes.  Motion passed with 8 in favor, 1 opposed.


§  Parks Master Plan Implementation Priorities.  (Reference enclosure.)
Gary Buffington reviewed the priorities identified in the Parks Master Plan, and announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will be providing up to $1.2 million in matching funds to be used on all projects with an ADA component.  Camper services buildings are a top priority in the major campground areas.  Pay showers will be incorporated to encourage water conservation while generating a little revenue.  Pay showers have been shown to reduce water consumption by up to 80%.  Dan Rieves noted that utility issues related to building construction are significant at Carter Lake:  Infrastructure, waste water disposal, etc. will drive up the costs. Board opinions expressed were in support of pursuing the Priority 1 projects over the next 2 years.  Dan suggests a standing agenda item update on Master Plan implementation progress.


Gary reviewed possible scheduling of the priority projects:

§  Field of Dreams conversion to trailhead for the Blue Sky Trail:  Spring of 2008

§  Horsetooth camper services buildings:  Spring of 2008

§  Horsetooth new east side swimbeach:  Fall of 2008

§  Improved boat-in campsites:  Boating is Fun grant

§  Carter Lake camper services buildings:  Depends on infrastructure issues.

§  Carter Lake Marina:  2007 Fall and Winter, to be ready by April 2008, while the lake is low.  The current concessionaires have 2 more years on their contract before it is bid out again.

§  Division / Department Organizational Structure.  (Reference enclosed organizational chart.)  A detailed organizational chart for the Parks and Open Lands Department will be available for the next meeting.

§  Department Name Change Request 
Gary discussed a proposal to change the name of the department from Parks and Open Lands Department to the Department of Natural Resources, to encompass all the programs within the department.  Program names (Parks, Open Lands, Land Stewardship) will be retained and used in conjunction with the department name.  The Open Lands Advisory Board general consensus is in support of the name change; and the Parks Advisory Board concurs.  Gary noted that this proposal must next be submitted to the County Commissioners for consideration, before being implemented.

In conjunction with the name change, a new marketing tagline will be also be introduced: “It’s a natural attraction.”  Rich Harter suggests changing it to “We’re a natural attraction.”  He’d like to have further discussion about the marketing impact of taglines and other strategies, if Gary is interested. 

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

§  Watson Lake is currently managed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, as is Lon Hagler Reservoir.  Due to problems at Watson Lake, the State has closed the east half of Watson to the public.  Gary asked for Board approval, which was granted, to discuss with the State the possibility of Larimer County managing these areas, with camping fees. 

During discussion, it was asked whether we are inheriting a problem, or an opportunity; and what level of management would be required.  These areas would be managed at the same level as other park areas.  It was suggested that Larimer County should receive part of the fees collected by CDOW; and the caution was urged about taking on more management areas without a revenue stream from the State.  

Commissioner Rennels suggested that cleaning up crime and drug problems at Watson Lake will weigh in the County’s favor – but cautioned that negotiating a management agreement with a state agency will be a very slow process.

§  Commissioner Rennels recommends scheduling discussion items several meetings ahead, to allow time for Board members to formulate their opinions. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT:  Items on the agenda.  None.

 

Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Debra Wykoff                                     

 

 

 

Approved: ____________________________                     ______________________

                 Chair, Parks Advisory Board                             (Date)

 

 

Next regular meeting: Bison Visitor Center on July 24.