Tuesday, September 9, 2008
, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse
Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Ft. Collins, CO
Advisory Board Members:
Linda Knowlton, Chair
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair
Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner
The September 9, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was
called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:35 p.m. The minutes of the August 12, 2008, meeting were approved.
COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – NONE
- Hermit Park Open Space
Inaugural Year Celebration tentative date -September 13, 2008. Mark, Russell, David, Barry, Linda indicated they will attend.
- The 9th
Annual COSA conference is in Estes Park this year September 15 - 17.
Registration is posted on-line at www.coloradoopenspace.org.
This year’s keynote speakers are: Author and Professor at the University
of Idaho, Sam Ham and co-founder and President of Conservation Impact,
- The 4th
Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional
Open Space is scheduled for Saturday, September 27.
Kelley is leaving her position to pursue her Masters degree at CSU. Sue
Burke will replace Windy as the department representative on the Division
of Public Works Leadership Team, The first project, Picture Public
Works, is nearing completion. Upcoming projects include finalizing a
promise for the division, updating department websites, and creating an
annual report for each department. One of the goals for the team is to
develop continuity between the division’s different departments’
River Bluffs Open Space & Poudre
River Trail – Update from Jeffrey
Boring, Open Lands Resource Specialist
the Open Lands Advisory Board identified their highest priorities this
year, the Poudre River Trail was number one. (From 392, Carpenter Road , to the CSU Environmental Learning Center.
is a lot of pressure from Windsor, Timnath and Greeley for this section to
be built to connect to existing trails in Weld County and Larimer County.
project will achieve three primary goals:
Habitat protection for the
riparian area along the Poudre River, which is rich in biodiversity.
Protection of irrigated agricultural
Completion of the regional trail
connecting these communities.
trail extension will go under Highway 392, with a 10-ft. wide concrete
path through River Bluffs OS.
trailhead will have vault toilet, parking area, information kiosk, etc.
Collins is working on a trail
easement from the Environmental Learning Center, along the south side of
the river to the Strauss Cabin, and then under I-25.
has an agreement to extend the trail from I-25 to Harmony Road (with
Wal-Mart, which is building there at I-25.)
responsible for the section from Harmony Road to 392. We are currently
working with willing landowners to acquire the necessary trail easements.
goal is for the underpass to be built in 2010 or 2011, and have the
trailhead open at that time.
$494,000 GOCO grant is committed for the trail and trailhead construction
on River Bluffs; the total cost of the underpass under 392 may be $1.5
million. Additional grants will be pursued for construction of the underpass
and the remainder of the trail from River Bluffs to Harmony Road.
Draft Educational Plan for Natural
Resources – Update from Rob Novak,
Education Program Coordinator
distributed draft copies of the plan for comment, which will be received
at the next meeting.
reviewed the planning process, which included a core team of stakeholders
and a larger group.
niches were identified which will be the focus of our educational efforts,
as appropriate on each property: Natural Resources, Agriculture, Cultural
Resources, and Safety/Recreation.
Volunteer Ranger Assistant program has been combined with Fort Collins’
program, and is now operated jointly to expand volunteer opportunities,
and maximize use of available resources. This has proven quite successful
so far, and has been welcomed by volunteers.
programs are done at 4 areas during the season for a total of 64
programs. Each district will have a staff contact to work with Rob on
will do more presenting programs, leading hikes, etc.
Jr. Ranger pilot program will be developed for implementation in 2010, and
used to assess the interest in the program and its success.
School Field Trip program will be improved from “B” level to “A” level,
with more options and resources invested. (TEN programs make up about 50%
of the school programs.)
programs to be targeted include Art in the Parks, “How to” programs (e.g.,
how to pitch a tent, build a campfire, do other outdoor activities, etc.)
reviewed the planned investment of staff time for 2009, by program, by
level, and by area (parks and open spaces.)
should be on track for adoption of the plan will be an action item on the
Election of officers
Barry Lewis nominated Linda Knowlton
for a second term as Chair; Chad LaChance seconded the nomination. Linda
was re-elected by unanimous voice vote.
LaChance nominated Barry Lewis for a second term as
Vice-Chair; Russell Fruits seconded the nomination. Barry was re-elected
by unanimous voice vote.
Linda expressed her thanks to the Board members for their
confidence in her.
2009 Fee Structure
Gary Buffington presented one proposed change to
park permit fees for 2009: A camping fee of $25 per site for the 12 new
full hook-up campsites at South Bay campground, at Horsetooth Reservoir.
- Boyd Lake
doesn’t have any full hook-up sites. Dan Rieves
explained that staff preferred the clear-cut structure of $5 increments
($15 for non-electric, $20 for electric, and $25 for full-service.)
Did the department look at other park
systems to compare fees? (Yes.)
What is the profit margin on that fee? (Hard to
quantify; but this is what people want, and has been one service area in
which our campgrounds have not been competitive. This is a design that
will be used throughout our park areas.)
Are there additional maintenance costs to these
sites? (There will be sewer and water hook-ups, which are more complex to
maintain, but these campers usually have their own bathroom and cooking
facilities, so don’t tend to use our facilities as much.)
Does it include use of the showers? (No – the
showers will be charged per minute. The shower fee is primarily intended
to conserve water, not to generate significant additional funds.)
What will the shower fee be? ($3 for 5 min.)
Several Board members think that is too high.
Did we check shower fees elsewhere? (Not yet.)
It is important to control how long people stay
in the shower, for line control.
Will the showers have flow control heads? (Yes.)
This is the first shower facility we’ve had, and
was the #1 request of visitors surveyed for the Parks Master Plan.
Gary Buffington explained that these are the only
changes proposed for 2009. The Board’s recommendation will go the County Commissioners, who will hold a public hearing before approving or denying the fee.
Russell Fruits made, and Tom Miller seconded, a motion
that the Board approve the recommendation of a $25 fee for the full-service
campsites at South Bay. The motion passed.
Tom Miller made, and Chad LaChance seconded, a motion
to approve the use of shower fees, with the specific fee to be determined
after the department conducts further market research. The motion passed.
2009 Budget Review
– Debra Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager
Deb presented the 2008 revised budget and 2009
proposed budget for Park Operations, as well as the Park Improvement
Project budget for 2008-2010, showing expenses year-to-date for the Carter Lake Marina and other planned projects.
She explained that the budget preparation and
revision is a year-round process for the department. The County operates
on a calendar-year fiscal year, and the next year’s budget is submitted
around September 1 each year. Because the County budget system has
numerous required components, and because the department’s budgets are
quite complex, it is necessary to begin preparation for the following
year’s budget as early as April of the current year, to meet the September
The Natural Resources Department is unusual among
county departments because we are primarily funded by park-generated
revenues, and other revenue sources. (Most County departments are entirely
funded by the County General Fund – less than 10% of our budget is covered
by General Fund.)
This means that budget projections must be
developed and submitted before the recreation season has begun and/or before
the total revenues generated during the season are known. For this
reason, revenue budgets are based on prior-year actual revenues, modified
by anticipated factors that may affect revenue next year.
The “Original Estimated Budget” is submitted in
September as required; then in about February of the following year, the
budget is revised to reflect actual revenues for the prior year. (The
County’s books are not closed until early February, to allow a “13th
month” in which to pay invoices for December expenses, etc.)
What attributed to the increase in permit
revenues this year to date versus last year – any trend? (Fee increases
and hotter weather were among the factors.)
Why are 2009 revenue projections so different
from 2008? (These budget projections were developed several months ago,
before revenues had surged. At that time, revenues YTD were actually down
What impact does a recession have on park
revenues? (Recreation is a discretionary expense, but it is also a less
expensive way for people to recreate. Also people stay closer to home,
which may increase visitation at our parks.)
This should be designated as a “draft” budget to
make it clear that the numbers will change dramatically next year, when
2008 actual revenues and expenses are known.
What about the impact of weather and shoulder
season visitation? (Hot weather boosts visitation. Other factors like
fire bans and water levels, which are beyond our control, also have an
impact on visitation.)
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Park
District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves
Mark Caughlan and his wife have a
new baby, born today, Grady Charles, who weighed in at 6 lb., 14 oz.! Word is
that Mark is ecstatic – Congratulations, Dad!
Labor Day weekend was busy, with
good crowds and mostly good weather.
The Park Districts will begin to
scale back operations by closing some campgrounds to reduce staffing required
during the off-season.
We hosted training by the Coast
Guard Auxiliary at our reservoirs.
Campground Host Appreciation
dinner was last week. We had a phenomenal group of people this year. (A big
thank-you to our dedicated camp hosts!)
COSA conference offerings will
include a ranger breakout session which Park Manager Travis Rollins and his
staff will be leading.
Birding Fair at Fossil Creek
Reservoir will take place on Sept. 27.
Dan is serving on the County
Vehicle Cost Containment Committee, because this department has 74 vehicles
plus heavy equipment. This committee is addressing several aspects of how the
County manages its fleet.
is serving on the Personnel Cost Containment
Committee, addressing issues such as telecommuting, four-day work weeks, etc.,
which might reduce costs and increase employee satisfaction.
There are several issues being
addressed on the new Carter Lake Marina Store, including insulation problems
with the walk-in cooler, ambient light from exterior lighting, use of the
restroom by the public, etc. The grand opening has been postponed until these
issues can be resolved.
An insulated floor will be
installed under the cooler. But this would not be an additional cost, since it
was a design flaw.
Monthly update to the Board by Natural
Resources Director, Gary Buffington
asked whether there is a volunteer who would like to serve as the
liaison from this Board to the Open Lands Advisory Board.
Russell Fruits may be interested, but does
not want to be formally designated.
It was requested that Deb send the OLAB
agenda out to the PAB members each month so they can attend if there is an item
would like to combine the two boards sometime in the next few
years, to reduce costs and staff time involved in supporting both boards. He
solicited feedback on that idea.
Tom Miller volunteered to forego dinner to
save costs, after seeing the annual budget for this board (around $5000.)
NOTE: The PAB support budget includes
monthly meals and refreshments for other Board activities like field trips,
etc.; but the primary cost involved is for the semi-annual Board Appreciation
events which are hosted by the department. The budget does not include
allocated personnel costs for staff support or time.
Department expansion exploration
Gary Buffington solicited Board input on
whether to pursue future opportunities to expand recreational opportunities in
Dan Rieves noted that future opportunities
might include submitting a bid to provide services for other park agencies and
The Open Lands Advisory Board has specific
criteria for assessing what opportunities should be a priority – should this
Board consider creating a similar set of criteria?
Some anticipated opportunities may require
staff to submit a bid by a short deadline or otherwise to move quickly. There
may not be time to confer with this Board in advance. Gary is asking for the
Board’s support and acquiescence in such circumstances.
Would this be for public access recreation
and revenue generation – not open space? (Yes.)
Situations which have been discussed in
the past have been good discussions of the pros and cons.
Is it perceived that recreational needs
will expand to the point that there will be a demand and a market for other
types of recreation?
What types of opportunities are we talking
about? (Camping along rivers and at reservoirs, but not identical to what we
are currently providing.)
Would this meet a projected future need?
Before we get into it, can we be assured that the demand will really be there?
(Economies of scale make it easier to add more of the same. Boomers will
continue to recreate as they retire.)
Previous opportunities like Watson Lake or Lon Hagler have been discussed based on the specifics of each situation. It
is difficult to respond without specifics.
As a parks group, it would be foolish not
to look at such opportunities.
Staff should bring these opportunities as
early as possible, before it’s too far along.
If there isn’t break-even revenue
potential, some Board members are not interested in going further.
We have already committed all our funding
to do what we’re doing now – but there isn’t a penny more available for
expansion of facilities or services.
There is an opportunity for the Board to
get involved in where we go from here, which may be exciting. But some Board
members are not willing to give a carte blanche to look at anything, without
stating what it is.
Staff should abide by the guidelines
Concern about whether a financial
investment is required.
We have a Parks Master Plan which provides
the model. We should look at that; not reinvent the wheel each time.
Our season is limited. To expand
revenues, we need more campgrounds.
Every opportunity should be investigated.
Without taking a vote,
the Board members generally agreed that Gary is encouraged to investigate
future opportunities to expand recreational opportunities in Larimer
County, provided that:
The new opportunity
meets the criteria adopted in the Parks Master Plan, and
The opportunity is
brought to the Board for discussion early in the process, before a
commitment or a financial investment has been made.
Management Policy – General Overview – Gary
distributed information about revenues generated
from concessions; the current Inlet Bay Marina license was also e-mailed
to members as an example of our concession licenses.
Department’s current Concession Policy was written in 1997 and needs to be
updated. The Board will be asked to work on this over several months.
are Inlet Bay Marina payments the same each quarter, but Carter Lake Marina’s payments are different each quarter? (Depends on how the license was
the policy on going out to public bid? (Concessionaires have a large
investment in the business; however, the Bureau of Reclamation prefers for
concession licenses to be limited to 5 years.)
the County have a policy on how the bidding process should be conducted,
etc.? (Yes, we have a Concession Policy from 1997 – it is time to write a
does the Inlet Bay Marina pay a flat 5% from year-to-year; while the Carter Lake Marina license fee increases over time? (The Carter Lake Marina operates out of a County-owned building. The improvements at Inlet Bay Marina are
privately owned. Both marinas own their own docks. The Bureau of
Reclamation wants the County to own all fixed improvements on Federal
and Maggie Waldburger, Carter Lake Marina concessionaires: Don was here
in 1997 and worked on the current policy. He hopes that as the new policy
is developed, the concessionaires will be involved so that the policy
protects both the concessionaires and the County. Don said the new
building is very nice and they are enjoying it, despite a few problems,
which Dan mentioned earlier.
S___: The Carter Lake Sail Club license is up at the end of 2009. They
have substantial investment in the clubhouse, slips, etc., and in the
maintenance of those facilities. Five years is not long enough; 10 years
would be better.
Andrews: As a consumer, he wants to be kept in the loop and have the
opportunity to comment.
Pfister: The Marina building is beautiful! She worked on the last
license for the Sail Club. Will there be a different policy for the sail
clubs, or will they be included in the same policy? Also the
restroom at North Pines is in terrible condition, virtually unusable. A
new restroom was promised several years ago – when will that happen? (Dan
will get in touch with her.)
Bach?: The flush restrooms were closed this year; Dan brought in portapotties,
which was good. Flush toilets are important to the Sail Club. Park
visitors need access to restrooms after hours when the marina is closed.
The boat ranger at Carter was excellent this year (Eric.) Very
reasonable, very safe. Part of the concessionaire’s job is to make it
feel safe to put your boat in the water. If the license were up for grabs
every 5 years, he wouldn’t have confidence in an inexperienced operator.
He lives in Denver, but comes to Carter Lake for the quality of the
Long term resident of the Carter area. He requests that the concession
management policy be posted on the County website. (As well as the drafts
in the future.)
Waldburger: Five years makes it very difficult to get loans, etc. Ten
years is more reasonable.
should go forward with the policy review, bring it up to date, and make it
the best possible for everyone’s benefit.
is an advantage to a longer term contract.
isn’t a given that the concession operator will change every 5 years; just
that the terms of the license will be readdressed every 5 years.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Education Plan – Recommendation for
Implementation update on Hermit Park Management Plan –
Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager
To be scheduled:
Park Ranger program overview – Mark and Dan (October?)
regular meeting: October 14, 2008, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO