Loveland Bike Trail
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, November 18, 2008,

Bison Visitor Center , 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO 80537

 

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.

Present:

Parks Advisory Board Members:

Linda Knowlton, Chair

Russell Fruits

Ivan Andrade

Rob Harris

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Mark DeGregorio

Chad LaChance

Dave Coulson

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

Chris Fleming

Mark Caughlan

Sue Burke

Dan Rieves

Charlie Johnson

Debra Wykoff

 

 

 

Absent: 

Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner

 

Rich Harter

 

 

 

 

 

The November 18, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the October 14, 2008, meeting were approved.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – 5 min.

Bob Towry spoke on behalf of Friends of the Big Thompson.  Walt Graul and another member of the group also attended.  They urge the Board to act with transparency on this issue.  Since the Board directed the staff in June to act expeditiously, the status of a significant number of the parcels in question have been resolved, and they thank the Board for that.  However, on the remaining parcels, action has been delayed until 2009.  This delay suggests that proceeding isn’t a priority.  They request a clear statement of process and timeline so that interested parties can plan how they need to address this.  Membership in the group continues to grow.

 

Linda:  She speaks for the Board in looking forward to working with the group to reach an expeditious conclusion.  No action will be taken during the executive session at this meeting.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

In appreciation for your continuing service to the Department, Parks Advisory Board members are invited to join Gary for an Eagles hockey game at the Budweiser Event Center on, December 17, 2008. 


INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: 

Horsetooth camper services building plansMark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager

§   Park Manager Mark Caughlan displayed the plans for the new shower buildings. 

§   There were 17 bidders; the low bid came in at $478,000 for both buildings. 

§   Construction will start in early December and be ready for use next season. 

§   The Commissioners approved a shower fee of $2 for 5 minutes.  Tom Miller reports that is on the high side from what he’s seen.  Mark said in National Parks, the fee is $3 for 10 minutes.  Nebraska  charges 50 cents per minute. 

§   Mark explained how the utility lines will be placed, 4 ft. below ground, for year-round use, with constant hot water.

 

ACTION ITEMS:  None

 

PRESENTATIONS:

Park Implementation update on Hermit Park Management Plan – Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager

§   $1.4 million was spent on capital construction projects at Hermit Park this year.

§   Demolition projects included four existing structures that were unsafe for public use.  Parking was added for group use and the Kruger Rock trail.  Repairs were made to the picnic shelter.

§   An ADA-compliant vault restroom replaced portapotties at the Group Use area.  The new restroom cost $28,000, but the 27 portapotties were rented for $20,000 per year, so a cost saving will be realized.

§   Road work and parking areas were improved at a total cost of $665,000.  Improvements and continuing maintenance included grading, roadbase, horse trailer parking, etc.

§   Two camphost sites with full hook-ups were constructed for $12,000.  These sites are located behind the maintenance garage, with full hookups.  A complete well upgrade for water quality was also done.  The camphosts performed much of the campground maintenance, permit sales, greeting visitors, etc.

§   A modular building was installed for a visitor center and office space, at a cost of $155,000.  Staff are still moving in.

§   US Highway 36 turn lanes were required, and were completed just before Labor Day, at a cost of $328,000.  Highway signage resulted in increased visitation of 20%.

§   Homestead Meadows trail is multi-use, providing access to over 12 miles of trails on USFS land.

§   The Kruger Rock Trail was completed the first week in August.  It is four miles, round trip, at a total cost of $40,000.  It is a really beautiful trail, which is about 2 hours round trip, and is extremely popular.  We allow dogs, unlike NPS trails.

§   New signage totaling $13,000, includes the information kiosk at the entrance, with self serve vault and brochure boxes, directional and regulatory signs, campsite markers, and informational signs.

§   Getting the campsites and camper cabins ready for use required campsite hardening, writing reservation profiles, site markers and maps, cleaning and repairs, and fire mitigation.

§   Borrow pit reclamation has been completed for $10,000, per a reclamation plan developed in coordination with Estes Valley Land Trust.

§   A grant of $40,000, was obtained to address over-all forest health.  The grant was from the Colorado State Forest Service, and future funding will be available. The work was done by Larimer County fire crews.  Work has been completed in Campgrounds 1 and 2, as well as along the main roadway.  Mistletoe and pine beetle infected trees were targeted this year.  There is pine beetle infestation on the property.  Work will continue next year.  The wood was removed before the beetles flew.  25 high profile “character” trees were sprayed.  Protocol was followed to kill the beetle larvae on all cut wood.

§   Doghair stands of lodgepole pines on the west side of Carter Lake have been cleared out with similar funding.

§   The overall forest health at Hermit Park is excellent because of species diversity and good management by the previous owners.  Very few properties are managed to that level. 

§   Revenues of $100,000 included $64,000 in cabin and campsite reservations, and $33,000 in day passes.

§   We will be adding a regulation to address feeding wildlife.  Mark DeGregorio recommended consistency between our regulations and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Chris explained that she used the RMNP regulation as a template for the proposed County regulation.  It will be required that food be stored in hard sided storage containers or vehicles.

§   There were weekly bear sightings.

§   There were six special events, which generated $4300 in revenue, including weddings, family reunions, and company picnics.

§   Campground 2 will have work done with grant funding next spring; we hope to have it at least partially open next summer.

§   Programs included 6 guided hikes, and 11 campground programs, which averaged 33 people per event!  This was much higher than at the reservoir campgrounds.

§   Volunteers included 4 ASU crews for 285 hours; 16 HP staff for 128 hours, 2 campground host couples for 2800 hours, for a total value of $63,300.

§   There are 2 fulltime staff – the manager and a maintenance worker.  All other staff were seasonal hires.  Staff assisted with community events.

§   Budgeted revenue for 2009 is at $125,000.

§   Visitors were allowed to drive through without paying this year to increase exposure and knowledge of the property. 

§   Marketing efforts included many articles, interviews, a spot on Colorado Getaways, brochures at RMNP and Estes Park visitor centers, and our website.  Our focus is more on outreach, rather than marketing, per se, except for yellow pages and online advertising.  Networking is a focus – ensuring that every outlet which is in contact with the public has the information to spread the word.  We are working on a targeted marketing plan for special events.

§   We were only open weekends from Memorial Day through July 4, and were 80% full.  After that, we were open full time, and occupancy rates dropped to above 50%.  RMNP was referring overflow camping customers to us. 

 

Board comments:

§   Perhaps the department should consider selling naming rights to the roads, cabins and campgrounds.

§   Such a top-tier, multi-species management example could be displayed and sold as a marketable example of good management.

§   Grant funds are available for Leave No Trace programs.

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves

§  70% of 1000 cords of firewood have been given away to volunteers. 

§  Inlet Bay campground closed October 1.

§  Utilities are completed for the shower houses to within 5 ft. of the building sites.  Contracts must be completed by April 30.

§  Building permit process for the new campsites at South Bay is underway.  Water quality approval from Ft. Collins is pending.  Should be done by May.

§  Swim beach construction will begin in the fall of 2009 on both locations.

§  Still assessing impact of zebra and quagga mussels on our reservoirs.  The state is still working on how to expedite inspections and control.

§  Marketing is being targeted to encourage people to stay locally in response to the economy.

§  Social trails at South Shore campground have been replaced with better access.

§  20 loads of dirt was trucked up to Carter Knolls to renovate the campsites by laying down top soil over the rocky terrain.

§  Certificate of Occupancy has been issued on the Carter Lake Marina shop building, and will be soon on the cabin. 

§  A controlled burn for cheatgrass today at Devils Backbone went well.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

      Monthly update to the Board – Natural Resources Director, Gary Buffington

·   Horsetooth improvements for 2009, new fees for showers, and Master Plan implemention were reviewed with the BCC today, and they are enthused.

·   Weed District was reauthorized today for another 5 years.

·   Restructuring plans for the department are under consideration, in an effort to capitalize on staff strengths and be prepared for austerity budgets of the future.

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

Park Operations & Revenue Sources – Discussion of park permit revenue data and other financial reports provided to Board members. This discussion was requested by Board member, Ivan Andrade.

  • Ivan reported that he had reviewed the masses of financial information distributed to the Board over the past six months (which covers two 8-ft. tables,) looking for trends.  He also looked at the Master Plan data about trends and finances for comparison.  His interest is what this means for the future of the department.  Although the department is primarily internally funded, we also receive General Fund and some other funding which may be lost or cut in future.  What impact will that have on the financial health of the department?
  • Ivan’s concern is whether we have the resources to maintain these improvements long term.
  • The apparently large increase in the revised budget is due to the rolling of multi-year capital improvement projects from one year to the next.
  • The department borrowed $1.2 million from Solid Waste, which will not be spent until 2009 and 2010.
  • Sr. Accountant, Lori Smith, distributed pie charts illustrating revenues and expenses for the original budget, the revised budget, and year-to-date (YTD) actuals.  Lori will email the numbers that go with the pie charts.
  • The pie charts do not include Hermit Park, which is accounted for under Open Lands.
  • When will Hermit Park become self-sufficient?  It will be difficult.  Operating expenses for 2009 are budgeted at $400,000;  but revenues are projected at $125,000.  It may never become fully self-sufficient.  The subsidy will be split between Open Lands sales tax and Lottery.
  • Linda thanked Ivan for his interest and in-depth analysis.  Russ Fruits thanked Lori and Deb for their work on it.

 

Board membership changes

·  Rob Harris will be resigning to go on an 18 month mission trip in January. 

·  Rich Harter has missed 4 meeting in 2008; the Bylaws provide that if a member misses 3 meetings, the member may be replaced.  Gary has talked to him about his teaching commitment.  Rich understands that the Board may ask him to resign, since he can’t ensure that his teaching obligation will change next semester.  The Board encouraged Gary to follow the Bylaws and replace Rich.

 

7:30     EXECUTIVE SESSION:  

  • ­­­­Chad LaChance moved that pursuant to (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest, the Board enter into executive session to discuss County-owned properties in the Big Thompson canyon.  Russ Fruits seconded the motion, which was approved by a voice vote.  In compliance with Larimer County Administrative Procedure 100.4H (V) - Executive Session, an electronic recording of the discussion will be made and retained for 90 days.
  • Chad LaChance moved that the Board come out of Executive Session at 8:35 p.m.  Barry Lewis seconded the motion, which passed on unanimous voice vote.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

December:

§   There is no meeting scheduled in December. 

January 2009:

 

Next regular meeting: January 13, 2009, Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

 

__________________________________

Linda Knowlton, Chair

 

 

 

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