Loveland Bike Trail
 

LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

Thursday, April 22, 2004 – 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Loveland Library MP 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

Mark DeGregorio

Jean Carpenter

Peter Kast

Sue Sparling

Nancy Wallace

 

Staff

Jerry White

Kerri Rollins

Meegan Flenniken

Charlie Johnson

K-Lynn Cameron

Charlie Gindler

Gary Buffington

 

 

Absent: 

Duane Pond

Bob Streeter

Wendell Amos

Eric Hamrick

Jim White

Lori Jeffrey-Clark

 

Chair, Nancy Wallace called the meeting to order at 5:15 p.m.

 

The minutes of March 25, 2004 were not approved due to lack of a quorum.  Approval of these meeting minutes was postponed until the May meeting.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  2003 Open Lands Program Annual Report is now available!

·  Kraft Conservation Easement closed on April 6, 2004.

·  Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space:

o  Sublease with City of Fort Collins approved by Commissioners;

o  Thissen Construction of Greeley was the low bid at $965,000 – almost $500,000 less than budgeted.

·  Picnic Rock Fire did not reach as far north as E agle’s Nest Open Space.

·  Open Lands Board Annual Picnic at Chimney Hollow on Saturday, June 19, July 17 or July 31?  Peter indicated he was not available in June, everyone else indicated any of the proposed dates would work.

·  Field trip to Parks facilities at Carter Lake, Flatiron Reservoir and Pinewood/Ramsay Shockey – ˝ day on Friday, May 21 or Saturday, May 22?  The Board indicated Friday afternoons are better for most.

·  Guided Hikes for May – See handout

·  City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Program received approval from their City Council to move forward on the Soapstone Ranch fee simple acquisition at the cost of $7.7 million for approximately 12,000 acres in northern Colorado.

 

Discussion Items

·  Devil’s Backbone Management Plan – Meegan discussed how the Devil’s Backbone Open Space will now include Hidden Valley and Indian Creek, making a 2,198-acre open space.  She distributed maps of the area and reviewed the management plan process.  The first public meeting will be held May 26th .  Neighbors living within 1-mile of the open space will receive an invitation to the meeting.  Additionally, Meegan has assembled a large Technical Advisory committee (consisting of stakeholders, users and professionals) and has hosted many field trips for these committee members as well as interested OLAB members.  The role of the Technical Advisory committee is to identify constraints and opportunities at the open space, allowing Meegan to draft a management plan to present for public comment at the May 26th meeting. 

 

Meegan reviewed the cultural and natural resources of the area, as displayed on the map she provided.  The Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) inventoried the site for natural resources.

 

The draft plan will propose connecting the Devil's Backbone Open Space through Indian Creek to Rimrock Open Space and Horsetooth Reservoir.  A loop trail on Indian Creek will also be proposed.  A future trailhead on the west side of Indian Creek to disperse use and allow for a shorter trip through this large property will be considered as "Phase II" in this plan.

 

Meegan and K-Lynn have also been meeting with neighborhood groups in Sprenger Valley and Muley Park.  Emergency contact information was a concern of the neighbors.  There is mixed interest in neighborhood access points to the open spaces, and there are pro’s and con’s on this issue.  The Board will discuss neighborhood access points in the near future.  Capacity issues (number of people) at the Devil's Backbone will also be researched, explored and addressed in the plan.  Discussion on this subject will also come back to the Board in the near future.

 

Jean enjoyed the field trip and said the various issues facing the open space make a lot more sense now.  Kathy Hartman, Loveland citizen, asked where the future trailheads might be located.  Meegan pointed them out on the map.  They include access from the future Soderberg trailhead, the Coyote Ridge trailhead, and the proposed phase II future trailhead located on the western tail of Indian Creek, near the Moffet Park subdivision.  The draft plan proposes a total of 80 vehicle and 20 horse trailers access to this entire area.  This does not include the future phase II western access.  Tom Miller, Loveland citizen, said he walks the existing trail every Sunday.  When the lot is full, he observes 90-115 people on the first loop - a continual stream of people.  Tom says he feels that a 35 car lot is definitely capacity.  Loren Friesen, Loveland citizen, says access from Highway 34 is sometimes difficult, but acknowledged that since the road has been re-striped to allow for a turning lane it is much better. 

 

Meegan will continue to work on developing the plan and is open to comments at any time.  She is willing to do more field trips if anyone is interested.  Sue said she was.

 

§  Proposed User Fee Policy Schedule – K-Lynn introduced the discussion by saying this is the beginning of a process to introduce the Board to the many facets of this topic.  She distributed a user fee packet to Board members.  She reviewed the public process for this proposal.  She encouraged Board members to attend at least one of two public scheduled public meetings, dates and locations listed in the packet.  She proceeded to review the entire packet.

 

K-Lynn reviewed a pie chart depicting the current allocation of Help Preserve Open Spaces (HPOS) dollars according to the ballot language.  Currently, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) have allocated the discretionary 15% of funds towards management and maintenance of open spaces, meaning the maximum amount allowed by law is already being set aside for these uses.  In the calculation of longterm management (LTM) cost predictions, previous OLAB members decided to include user fees to offset costs.  Sue said it is important for the public to know that the ballot language mandates 70% of HPOS dollars go toward acquisition.

 

Kerri then reviewed results pertaining to user fees in the Open Lands Master Plan public survey that was conducted in 2001.  A one-page summary of these results are in the user fee packet.  Kate Martin, Loveland Reporter Herald, noted an error in a summary statement at the bottom of the second page.  Kerri will correct the error.

 

K-Lynn then reviewed in more detail the LTM spreadsheet and estimates of management costs per acre for various types of open spaces.  K-Lynn drew attention to the highlighted line on the spreadsheet, showing the assumption of previous Board that one day we would have a user fee to offset management costs.  She pointed out that income from user fees would make a difference in the bottom line figure at the end of 2018 (when the sales tax sunsets).  This is evident by comparing the total user fees contributed at the end of 2018 ($7,641,501) and the ending total revenue balance in 2018 ($646,273). 

 

Gene McCarthy, Loveland citizen, asked if administrative costs, such as building fees, janitorial services etc. were factored in to these costs. K-Lynn said yes and for more specifics he should call our accountant Lori Smith for the exact categories of costs that are factored in.  User fees projected include revenue from the Devil's Backbone, Eagle's Nest, and Fossil Creek open spaces only.  The spreadsheet needs refined to include future revenue from future open spaces.  Mark asked if the spreadsheet takes into consideration that over time we project that visitor use will increase, thus increasing fees as population increases.  K-Lynn said expenses have been projected at an increase of 6% but not an increase of visitor use and revenue from fees.  She will make that adjustment also.  Tom asked how much per car we are projecting in this spreadsheet.  K-Lynn reviewed the proposed fee options included in the packet.  She is estimating that 80% of visitors will buy daily fees and 20% will buy annual permits. 

 

K-Lynn also reviewed the current Parks Program fee.  She asked if there should be a different fee system for parks and open lands.  Staff recommends there should not be due to administration costs. 

 

Tom Miller, Loveland, asked if a $6 parks permit could be valid at the Devil's Backbone on the same day and vice versa if he bought a $5 fee at an open space could he pay $1 to visit Horsetooth Mountain Park on the same day.  K-Lynn said these are administrative issues that are being considered if there are different fees for parks and open lands.

 

There was a suggestion to do annual passes similar to the National Parks, for example April to April or November to November - depending on when the pass is bought.  Gary said it poses a large fiscal reduction in our revenue but we could look at it again.  Sue said it makes the users happier.  K-Lynn pointed out that on open lands the user fees will be a subsidy to the management fund, where on parks they are the only financial income.  Nancy thinks we need to be consistent between the parks and open space programs because we are one department sharing services and staff making us intertwined.  She said there is a difference in use at these areas as controlled by management plans, but we can still have the same user fees.  Jean asked if they are not the same uses how can they fit in to the same financial mold - Open Lands Program should be separate from the Parks Program in the public eye.  She said it is a philosophical piece we need to think about.  Peter said that in the future, if the sales tax is extended beyond 2018, we would like the longterm management of open space to be paid from tax revenue.  For example, the ballot language could be changed to allocate  40% instead of 15% to longterm management.  That would solve the problem and we would only have a short term cashflow problem.  He recognized the citizens would need to vote on any changes to the current tax.  He would prefer not to have user fees if this were possible.  K-Lynn noted that in this scenario it would be the people of today paying for the managment and care of land in the future and the people living in the future would not have the investment in it.  User fees ensure those using the resource now pay for it now. 

 

Kathy Hartman, Loveland, asked if get an overwhelming NO on user fees is received at the public meetings, then what would happen?  K-Lynn said the ultimate decision is made by the BOCC.  She noted that we also need to correct the spreadsheet with the comments received today and considered the possibility it may alter revenue projections proving user fees to be unnecessary at this time.  If that were the case, then perhaps Peter's suggestion could be an alternative.  Tom Miller, Loveland, urged the Board to protect the goose laying the golden egg - meaning user fees could sour citizens who need to vote to extend the tax in the future.

 

§  Visitor Services on Parks and Open Lands

Gary takes citizen complaints very seriously and will respond to them in a timely manner.  He and staff are reviewing guidelines in ticket writing.  He stated violations, such as visitor safety, is a critical concern and warrants penalty assessments.  Gary said he would like to use this Board somewhat as a Parks Board to bounce ideas and issues off of.  Nancy said to be cognizant of the ripple effect of what happens when customers are disgruntled. 

 

Director’s Report

·  Gary presented the Marina Services at parks reservoirs.  He reviewed the letter from Bureau of Reclamation in the Boards packet regarding the current vendor license at the Carter Lake marina. Improving services at the marina is being discussed in the parks program.  Currently there are two active marinas at our reservoirs and they pay 5% - 10% of revenue  per year to the Parks Program.  Inlet Bay Marina generates $500,000-$600,000 per year.

 

At Carter Lake Gary and staff have been discussing how the marina could operate within the Parks & Open Lands Department.  The situation at Carter Lake is slightly different because it also incorporates the sail club.  The Bureau of Reclamation has  categorized them as exclusive use on public lands.  Because of this, Gary would like to increase the license fee back to the county and make it more of an inclusive use, such as renovating the clubhouse to allow for community use.  Gary hopes it will be a win-win situation for all involved.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Peter moved to go into Executive Session.  The motion was seconded by Mark.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Peter.  The motion was seconded by Sue and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:20.

 

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