Estes Park offices are closed today due to weather. The Town of Estes Park is also closed today. Please plan accordingly. We apologize for any inconvenience. Critical services at Larimer County will not be disrupted by this closure.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Bison Visitor Center , 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO 80537
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair
Linda Knowlton, Chair
The February 10, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Vice-Chair Barry Lewis, at 5:35 p.m. The minutes of the January 13, 2008, meeting were approved.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None
New Board Members –
§ Linda and Gary, along with all three Commissioners, interviewed four candidates for two vacancies.
§ Two individuals have been recommended to the BCC for appointment on February 17.
Aquatic nuisance species inspection and park management plan – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ Dan and Mark met last Monday night with a group of stakeholders, including Tom Miller and Ivan Andrade from the Board, marina concessionaires, members of boating and fishing clubs and the boating public.
§ So far, outreach and education has been the focus of the zebra mussel effort. The boating public has become very savvy on this issue, as all agencies have participated in the public information campaign.
§ The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) is close to finalizing their Aquatic Nuisance Species Statewide Management Plan, which will be implemented consistently across the state. Consistent management is a key demand of the boating public.
§ The Plan conducted a risk assessment of every navigable waterway in the state. Both Carter and Horsetooth have been rated very high risk, due to the transient nature of our boating population and the potential downstream devastation which could result from infestation of these reservoirs.
§ Dan distributed the draft state regulation (Chapter 8 – Aquatic Nuisance Species. Refer to page 3, #803, Inspections, B – All persons transporting conveyances must submit to an inspection when entering or leaving a high risk reservoir.)
§ We will be required to inspect all vessels entering the reservoirs. Steve Newman, retired CDOW fish expert, has agreed to assist us in organizing and running the program.
§ CDOW’s initial proposed schedule and budget earmarked around $400,000 for our reservoirs, but severely limited boating hours. If CDOW performs the inspections, then boating hours would be in their control, which is not acceptable for the Natural Resources Department.
§ The proposed plan which we have developed allows boating access throughout the year. From April through September, the boat ramps would be open 6 am to 10 pm. During March and October, the ramps would be open 7 am to 5 pm, Friday through Sunday. During November to February, one ramp would be open for limited weekend launch times.
§ There is a constituency which would like access at 5 am. The very low demand at that hour makes it difficult to justify staffing.
§ All reservoirs in the state will be facing the same constraints, so we will not be in competition.
§ The state program requires clean boats to be attached to the boat trailer and tagged. Boats which have been tagged may enter these or other reservoirs without re-inspection. Our objective will be to tag as many boats as possible before the season starts to make it easier.
§ Funding of the additional staff required may come from CDOW, in the amount of $385,000. Because we are able to be flexible in hiring staff, we are favored for funding. However, all state funding is currently frozen. They have requested an exception for Larimer County, but the outcome is not yet known. The state plan will not be approved until probably April. If this funding doesn’t come through, we have no alternative source of funding to staff for this. In that event, no one knows what will happen.
§ There is no funding available for future years, 2010 and beyond. We could be required to fund the program, or prohibit boating.
Chad LaChance: Thanked Dan for the
meeting with stakeholders. He applauds the effort to keep the reservoir open
12 months a year. He did extensive interviewing of fishermen around the
state. Lots of reservoirs will not be tagged. He wants the boat ramps
staggered so that at least one ramp is open at 5 am – the fishing experience at
day break is best, so it’s worth it. He also suggests leaving one ramp open
later. He spoke to hundreds of people in the past week, and the majority wants
the ramps open earlier than 5 a.m. Across the board, both pleasure boaters and
fishermen whom he interviewed want earlier start times. Not being tagged
doesn’t mean you can’t come back. You just have to wait in line next time. So
we are trading off extended late hours to no early access – this is a bad
Tom Miller: Fishermen will congregate at
one ramp, which is open early; they will also return to that ramp because their
trailer will be there. He urges the department to try the hours, and adjust if
there is no demand. There are times that can be shaved from the late times.
Ivan Andrade: How will scheduling of
inspectors work if the ramp inspection and tagging times are split?
Russ Fruits: Will we be able to
supplement paid staff with volunteers?
Chad: Could we reduce staffing on
weekdays to increase staffing on weekends when demand is high? Having a plan
that satisfies as many people as possible is important; based on his
experience, 5 am is a popular hour.
§ Russ: Department staff is very responsive to the public. If demand is great, the department can then expand the hours.
§ A simple ramp schedule was one operational concern, to make it easier for the boating public to keep track of the hours. 91% of our boaters are pleasure boaters; only 9% are primarily fishermen. If the earlier start time is necessary to move forward with the plan, we can consider changing the proposal. However, once implemented, it will not be possible to cut back the hours in mid-season. Our schedule was based on experience observing numbers of trailers at the ramp at certain hours of the day. There is simply not that much demand at 5 a.m.
§ Many people come out after work, and stay until the ambient light is gone. A huge percent are coming off the water around 9 pm. All these must be tagged before they leave, so the ramp must stay open later. We will run 3 shifts, throughout the day.
§ We expect to supplement with volunteers. If there is no funding for the program, we may need to staff wholly with volunteers.
§ There is a constituency for every ramp, every time of day. Satanka is one possible ramp which could be closed – but many people who use that ramp would not be happy about it. Operationally, it’s very difficult to close South Bay or Inlet Bay, even during the week. It’s always easier to expand hours than to reduce them later.
§ The proposed schedule is the “bare minimum commitment” to the public – if weather is great, we will supplement with
Dan Rieves requested that the Board approve the recommended plan without changes.
David Coulson: Will 5 a.m. remain an option if we vote for the proposed schedule?
Chad LaChance: To open one ramp at Horsetooth for the entire season will only add $5,000 to the proposal – why not add it now and request the extra funding?
§ 5 a.m. will not remain an option from this funding source if the proposed schedule is approved. We would foot the bill to expand the hours later. Until actual circumstances dictate otherwise, this will be the operational plan. We will adjust to meet demands.
§ Re: Opening one ramp earlier: We don’t want to set a precedent which we can’t afford next year.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ Shower houses should open in mid-April.
§ Building plans submitted to County planning for the eight full-service campsites. The bid should go out in April. Construction should happen in June and July.
§ Working with AVI consultants to design the swim beach on the east side of Horsetooth. Generating revenue from day use is important – it will reduce pressure on South Bay, and be high use. This project is scheduled for next fall/winter. The South Bay swim beach will also be renovated.
§ Water levels at Carter are encouraging – already high. Enough open water to attract fishermen.
§ Reorganization working well.
§ Visitation at Hermit Park is very weather-dependent – cabin rentals go up when it snows; winter hiking is also popular in nice weather.
§ Special Events are on track for the coming season, such as the Carter Lake Regatta.
Monthly update to the Board –Director, Gary Buffington
Department Reorganization Plan
§ Gary reviewed the new organizational plan, which was designed to be more efficient and to capitalize on employees’ strengths, and reduced Gary’s direct supports from seven to four.
§ One employee was laid off; two vacant positions were eliminated.
§ Dan Rieves is now the Visitor Services Program Manager, responsible for over-all park operations.
§ Chris Fleming was promoted to manage all of the Blue Mountain District.
§ Mechanical Services was moved under Dan Rieves, as an operational piece
§ Mark remains the manager of Horsetooth and will also oversee the Construction Program
§ Travis Rollins will manage all open space operations throughout the system
§ Meegan Flenniken has been promoted to Land Stewardship Program Manager, overseeing the Weed District, Forestry and Trails
§ Will Talbot and Cindy Claggett have been promoted to Senior Ranger at each park district, following interviews last week.
Concession Policy update – Request for Proposal, Format and Evaluation – Director Gary Buffington
§ Request for Proposal format and sample of the RFP for the Marina Maintenance building at Carter Lake. (When the Waldburgers’ license at the Carter Lake Marina expires in two years, this is the process that will be used to go out to bid.)
§ Evaluation Procedure
§ Evaluation Guidelines
§ Evaluation Criteria
Big Thompson River Properties: Proposed plan for Hayden Subdivision parcels
Chad LaChance: Fish density is
very high; this is a world class fly fishing stream. Those who purchased after
the County owned these parcels had no basis for expecting to own this
property. As a realtor and a fishing guide, who lives adjacent to County land,
he personally experiences what it is like to live adjacent to public property. He,
too, would love to have exclusive access to the shore by his house; but he
accepts that this is not a realistic expectation. This is public property
being taken out of public ownership. He understands the privacy concerns; but
mountain property owners have no more expectation than a town owner does in
regard to public use of the sidewalk. This needs to be for the good of all
people – not just the 11 people who own parcels there. He hears lots of people
say nobody uses it – that’s because nobody knows it’s public property. This is
a very emotional issue. He hopes the Commissioners will hear all sides, not
just local landowners.
Dave Coulson: On option 3, it
says “to the edge of the water.” Could it be changed to read “to the high
water mark?” This is typical in states where the streambed is public – it goes
to the high water mark. It’s still vague as to the actual location, but is
more consistent with general practice.
Frank Cada: If we try to define
public property right along the river, it’s very difficult to define. To
safely have access to the river, it’s important to have a defined buffer area.
To get across the river, fishermen do want to sit on a rock to change a fly,
etc. So he would like to see us retain some public access on that side.
Tom Miller: They looked at other
models. “To the middle of the river” is difficult to define. If we don’t
retain a defined access strip on the subdivision side, then anyone who steps on
the land there is trespassing. It is very important to retain public access on
both sides of the river.
§ Mark De Gregorio: Are the new County Commissioners of the same mindset as the Board which established these criteria in 2005? These properties were acquired in the floodway. The new Board may feel differently about the issue – we should find out.
Meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
§ Concession Policy Update - continued
Next regular meeting: March 10, 2009, Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse