Tuesday, November 10, 2009
, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado
Advisory Board Members:
Dave Coulson, Chair
Mark De Gregorio
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair
Gary Buffington, Natural
Dan Rieves, Visitor Services
Debra Wykoff, Business
Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth
Chris Fleming, Blue Mountain
The, November 10, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was
called to order by Chair Dave Coulson, at 5:40 p.m. The minutes of the October 13, 2009 meeting were approved as amended with the addition of the
following passage concerning proposed park permit fee increases for 2010:
Linda Knowlton made and Frank Cada seconded a motion that the staff
emails the Board their recommendations on permit fee increases, and the Board would
take action on those recommendations at the November meeting. This motion
Linda requested that this fact be noted in the minutes, because
that, in fact, is what had occurred, despite the fact that the motion was
defeated. The staff recommendation was emailed to the Board in advance of this
meeting, and the Board will be taking action at this meeting.
The annual permit for County parks is currently not customer driven. It’s good
from January to January. If you buy it in June, it’s good for 6 months. It
should be good for a full year no matter when you buy it. This is a big thing
among my friends who are big trail users, which we really like. [Staff note:
The annual permits are good from December 1 of the current year through
December 31 of the following year, IF available from the printer early enough
to offer for sale in December.] Also, the annual pass is required to be stuck
to the car windshield. But if you ride your bike to the trail head, you are
required to buy another pass. [Staff Note: The back of the annual permit serves
as a walk-in/bike-in permit which may be carried in the wallet. It is not
necessary to purchase another permit.] If your car breaks down, and you take
another car, then you have to buy a day pass for the other car. A transferable
pass would show your support for the parks and would be an improvement. These
two simple upgrades would help make the pass truly customer driven.
John Vigh: Fort
Collins Trailrunners– 300 users – some of your most avid users – we love the
county park service. We support the trails program. Overall, you guys are
doing a tremendous job. The annual pass is our concern – not the camping pass.
We think more of our annual pass money should be used to maintain trails and
less on building facilities. We don’t care about facilities – we just want
The last time the annual pass was raised was 2004. We polled our
users. Twenty people responded. We asked: Would you support a fee increase
if service would remain the same or be improved? Only 5 of 20 would support
raising it. Of those 20, 50% use an annual pass; 15% use a day pass or ride
with others; 20% enter through Lory State Park; 5% enter illegally; 10% (2
people) don’t use the parks because the fees are too high.
Boulder recently considered raising the fee for nonresidents on
one of their trails. According to their analysis, they spent more on fee
collection than they generated on the fee increase – so none of it went to
improving services. He proposes eliminating the annual fee, at least for
Larimer County residents – it’s a repressive tax. The benefits of getting
outside well outweigh the costs to the county. The national parks pass is $75
and gets you in to all national parks across the country.
Amy Angert: I’m
a trail runner. The parks are great; but the fees are a little out of line
with the services provided. She recently traded in her pickup and bought a
Prius to be ecologically responsible; she’s willing to pay, but our permit
could be more accommodating, She is an assistant professor at CSU, and some of her students are discouraged from buying a permit because of the December
cut-off. We don’t ask for much; we don’t want facilities – we just want
access. [Staff Note: Larimer County also offers many miles of trails on its
open lands which are free to the public – no permit is required. These include
Blue Sky Trail, accessible from Soderberg, Horsetooth, or Coyote Ridge
trailheads, Devils Backbone, Red Mountain, and Eagles Nest open space areas.]
REPORTS / COMMENTS:
went on a hike last Tuesday with second graders, distinguishing between erosion
and weathering, and had a great time.
Requests that the staff revisit the annual permit question raised by the public
during the public comment session.
The County has the S pass for any volunteer who provides 20 hours of service,
good Mon. through Thursday, during the season, and anytime during the
offseason. Perhaps these individuals should be referred to our Volunteer
Program, if they are looking for a cheaper alternative to an annual permit and
are willing to offer their services to the department, which they indicate that
Natural Resource Events for November. See
On 10/30, there was
a mandatory all-staff meeting where all department staff were brought up
to speed on Whole Measures and its potential use in a master plan update,
making our Annual Reports more relevant, etc. Everyone was very engaged
and many ideas on existing and new projects were discussed. Some of these
will be presented at a work session with the County Commissioners on 11/16,
along with proposed next steps for Whole Measures (integrating
"story" in to our Annual Reports, update of the Master Plan, etc.).
On 11/20, 5pm – 7 pm, Colorado photographer John Fielder will present his new book Ranches of Colorado at a
place TBD. The book features working ranches throughout Colorado that have
been protected with conservation tools. Event is sponsored by the Open Lands
program, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas and Legacy Land Trust and proceeds
will benefit LLT.
On December 8, the final meeting of the
Parks Advisory Board for 2009 is scheduled in the Boyd Lake Room again, if
required by the press of business. The 2010 meeting schedule will be
On December 9, the campground reservation system transition
to Reserve America will go live.
On December 10, the Natural
Resources citizen boards’ holiday party will be held from 6pm - 9pm in the Champion Executive Club at The Ranch. Email invitations will be sent
out. Please RSVP to Zac (679-4534 or email@example.com)
Park District updates and Parks
Master Plan Implementation Progress report –Dan
Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
inspections: We currently have two launching times – 8 am and noon,
Saturday and Sunday only. We have only a little funding left to pay inspectors
for this year. If various user groups are interested, we are willing to work
with them to train them how to do inspections so that access hours can be
expanded. We had to hire about 60 people to staff a total of 31 inspector
positions. It was very challenging to put the program together on short
notice. We don’t know what to expect for next year. There are inconsistencies
in how the program is being managed, even within Larimer County, which need to
be resolved before next year.
Volunteers planted new trees and
Bids are out on South Bay swim beach
remodel. We hope to start on the new east side swim beach next spring.
retrofitting projects are almost completed.
The South Bay group use shelter
will be removed and donated to Colorado Youth Outdoors for their archery
range. A new group use shelter will be constructed at the swim beach.
Marijuana use is increasing at
At this time of year, we are
updating brochures, signs, etc.
Elk Fest reached over 200 people
in October in Estes Park.
The 2010 Boy Scout Jamboree will
be at Hermit Park next year in September – over 1000 scouts. We are also being
inundated with requests for scout volunteer projects.
The restrooms for Bobcat
campground will be delivered next week.
A rehabilitated mountain lion was
released at Hermit Park, which was a thrill for staff which got to assist.
Big Thompson Public Access – property
The fence is done which separates the
private property from the public access.
Land Agent, Charlie Johnson, has been able
to trade County lots with the two owners who owned to the middle of the river.
We now have public access for 1000 feet,
from US 34 from the bridge at the north end to the fence on the east side.
The Loveland Fishing Club has met with CJ
Cullins, Volunteer Coordinator, about adopting a section of the river in this
Dave Coulson noted that he has observed signs
used by other agencies which are blue on the public side and beige on the
private property side, which are easily recognizable.
Frank Cada asked which parcels will be
addressed next. He suggested the middle parcel at Drake may be a logical
Gary reported that Charlie has been
working on the next group of parcels ever since the Hayden parcels were
resolved. Gary noted that taking the time to do it right, allowing both
landowners and the public to become fully engaged in the process, was very
successful in the Hayden Subdivision; and is far more important than moving
quickly on these properties.
2010 Campground Fee increases
–Final recommendation- Gary
reviewed the final staff recommendation as follows:
hook-up camping fees at Horsetooth Reservoir will increase from $25 to $30
camping fees will increase from $20 to $25 per night.
camping fees will increase from $15 to $20 per night.
camping fees will not increase.
Park camping fees will not increase.
DeGregorio: Reviewed Federal park permit prices for comparison.
He also suggested that magnetic strip cards that can be swiped may be one
solution to eliminate some issues with multiple permit types and prices,
Miller: Transferrable annual permits allow fraud, but should work for us
because we check every permit.
Knowlton: Why has the staff decided to go with the Board’s higher proposed
LaChance: He is of the opinion, as a member of the media, that it’s
better to bite off a big chunk less often, because the negative press is
the same either way.
The day permit should be added to the camping fee for a fair comparison – so
we’re $10 above market.
Some Larimer County residents think non residents should pay more. That’s
one reason I like these fees.
DeGregorio: My concern was about not pricing people out. By not
increasing non-electrical sites, we’re doing that. When people come in
driving expensive RVs, they can afford to pay the fees.
deGregorio: Providing people the opportunity to camp inexpensively is
important, whether they do or not.
Rieves: We’ve had continuing discussions on the technology issues and the
challenges involved with that. For example, we do not have controlled
access points. Rolling 12 month permits require maintaining 3 years of
annual permit inventory. Also, we do not have the power, connectivity,
and security required at all access points to facility use of magnetic
swipe machines such as the national parks use.
stations and rangers do check vehicles for valid permits; but checking
every permit against every license plate to prevent fraud with transferrable
permits would be far more labor intensive and time consuming and
impractical. A change like this requires broader reconsideration of fee
structures and revenue impacts.
After vigorous debate, staff decided to go with the Board’s recommendation
on most fees for two reasons. First, we wanted to avoid a split
recommendation. We wanted to bring a cohesive proposal and a united front
to the Commissioners. Also, the department has a serious need to increase
revenues. So we decided to accept the Board’s recommendation of a bigger
increase this year. So we’re recommending not increasing Hermit Park or
second units, but going with the higher fees on the others.
- Gary: Our
fees may be higher, but in Larimer County, we offer mountain campsites
compared to State Park Boyd Lake which is an eastern plains flatland
State Parks also charges premium fees for its mountain parks. It’s
an economic issue – we cannot meet the demand for our campsites. The
reason nobody is here to complain about camping fees is that the majority
of our campers are from outside Larimer County.
The non-electric sites are less in demand, no matter what the type of
visitor. It is not based on economic class. It is a user type – people
that like to tent camp do so not because of the price.
Caughlan: Lower income people aren’t camping, period. To say that
non-electrical campers have less money is not necessarily valid.
LaChance made and Barry Lewis seconded a motion to recommend to the Board
of County Commissioners that the staff recommendation on park permit fee
increases for 2010 be approved.
Carter Lake Sail
- Gary Buffington
Dave Locke, representing the Carter Lake Sail Club, expressed
their appreciation for the County’s working with them, and their happiness
with the terms of the proposed license.
Gary reviewed the terms of the new license, which was
distributed to the Board in advance for review.
Board comments and staff responses
are presented together for context:
Tom Miller: How does that compare with the Horsetooth
Sail and Saddle license?
Gary: This is a 10 year license; the Sail & Saddle
Club license is a 5 year term, but the Carter Lake Sail Club already had a
5 year term, and we have had great success with them. This is a
year-by-year renewable term.
Chad LaChance: Hasn’t the Bureau of Reclamation been
pushing for 5 year max on licenses?
Gary: Yes, but they do not approve these licenses.
Linda Knowlton: In the master planning process, this
was a huge issue. I thought we were going to limit all licenses to 5
years. The sense of the task force was that these should be limited. It
bothers me to go back on that.
Linda is absolutely right. But I don’t think we’re going to ask the Sail
Club to leave.
Tom Miller: How does this benefit the public to extend
this license to 10 years?
The Carter Lake Sail Club is also public. Borrowing for improvements is
difficult on shorter term licenses for the club.
Dave Locke: Slips cost $100,000. The club doesn’t have
that much in the bank. To lend, the bank requires a ten year license. We
are an open membership club; we have slips available; we take anyone who
wants to go out for a sail. We used to have a 20 year license, so this
still seems short to us.
Frank Cada: Would it make it more sense to tie the fee
to the Consumer Price Index instead of a fixed 3% fee?
Dave Locke: This was considered. The CPI has been 2.8% on average for the past 20 years, so they don’t really care.
Chad LaChance: The Sail & Saddle Club also wanted a
10 year license to do improvements. How do we justify this to them?
Gary: When their 5-year term is over, we may well also
consider a longer term license with them as well.
Dan Rieves: The Carter Lake Sail Club graduated to the
$15,000 license fee level, and proved they can do that and remain
successful. Whether the Sail & Saddle Club can do the same remains to
be seen. There are a finite number of slips that can be put on Carter
Lake. The real impact of a 10 year license is that 50 slips are managed
by the Carter Lake Sail Club. This will become more of an issue in the
future when we are at capacity, and the value of those slips goes up.
Dave Locke: Carter Lake Sail Club members also pay
permit fees on their vehicles and boats – many are nonresidents, and pay
several hundred dollars a year in permit fees in addition to the license
Barry Lewis: Is the Carter Lake Sail Club committed to
replacing the slips? Is that is why we are giving a 10 year license?
Dave Locke: They have to be replaced – it’s a safety
Tom Miller: We went through a lot of agony during the Master
Plan process, and now we’re subverting the original work of the Master Plan
Task Force - for what? The policy on Exclusive Uses which was adopted in
the Master Plan also requires all improvements by exclusive uses to be
owned or transition to ownership by the County. Who will own the slips at
the end of the 10 year period? The club will, not Larimer County; and in
10 years, will those docks still be usable? Probably not. So that is not
an incentive for the County to grant a longer license. Why are we dong
Dave Coulson: For that matter, the marinas are also
private businesses operating on public property, and the marinas operate
under longer licenses.
Linda Knowlton: The difference is that the Carter Lake
Sail Club is a private club. A marina is a public facility. The 5-year
rule applies to private uses on public property.
Dave Locke: The club is non-profit. The money we take
in goes to take care of club facilities.
Linda Knowlton: The BOR really discourages private
exclusive uses on public property; the Master Plan Task Force approved
specific limitations on exclusive uses.
Vickie Traxler: What is the significance of exclusive
Frank Cada: Have we run this by the Bureau of
Reclamation lately? Are there any unusual circumstances here?
Gary: No, this has not been discussed with the Bureau,
and there are no unusual circumstances.
Dave Coulson: When you consider a marina, it’s public
only in the sense that it is open to public use, but otherwise it’s a
private business as much as any other and you cannot trespass – it’s very
exclusive use. A concessionaire does have exclusive use as much as any
Dan: The only thing exclusionary about Carter Lake Sail
Club use is that if you want to put a boat on the lake, you must have the
size of boat that can be accommodated by their slips.
Dave Locke: The Carter Lake Sail Club contracts with
the Carter Lake Marina owner to maintain their slips.
Dave Coulson: Is the Carter Lake Sail Club legally
nonprofit? (Yes – it’s a 501c organization.)
Linda Knowlton: The County has had a couple of
functions at the Sail & Saddle Club facility. Do we do the same at
the Carter Lake Sail Club? (We could if we asked.)
Frank Gillespie: There hasn’t been any public outcry
about this exclusive use.
Chad LaChance: Has anyone from the public asked about using
Tom Miller: Is it likely that Sail & Saddle Club will
be asking to extend their license – no competitors for the site?
Frank Gillespie: He is not too concerned about the
issue of a 5 or 10 year term; the increase per year seems reasonable.
Vickie Traxler: Could the County reopen use of the Club
property for bids if someone else expressed interest?
Gary: This would be a difficult issue – it’s never been
approached that way. The club has been here for 50 years.
Dave Locke: This is actually a 1-year agreement that
rolls over annually for 10 years, so the County has ample opportunities to
reconsider. It’s a big deal to many club members because it’s been part
of their lives for many years.
Frank Gillespie made
and Vickie Traxler seconded a motion that the license be recommended to the
commissioners for approval as presented.
Frank Cada: For 5
Response: No, for 10
years as written.
Chad LaChance: Has
the Club’s lender approved this arrangement, before we go forward?
Linda Knowlton: I’ll
be voting against this because it is an abrogation of what we agreed to in
the master planning process and I think it is a mistake.
Frank Cada: I’m
concerned that the Bureau of Reclamation has not seen the contract, and
initially they requested a 5-year limitation.
The motion passed,
with Dave Coulson, Mark DeGregorio, Frank Gillespie, Barry Lewis and Vickie
Traxler voting yea; and Frank Cada, Linda Knowlton, Chad LaChance and Tom
Miller voting nay.
Estes Valley Campground
Partnership-Final Contract approval and recommendation
– Gary Buffington
Gary explained that this was
changed to a discussion item, because the contract still needs some work. Dan
Rieves stated that the core of the agreement would remain the same as the
document which the Board is viewing at this meeting; only additional language
pertaining to indemnifications, etc., would be added. He assured the Board
that they had worked hard to be sure the terms of the agreement pertaining to
capital improvements gave the County a strong role in determining what, when,
and how improvements are made to protect the County’s investment in this
Board comments and staff
responses are presented together for context:
Vickie Traxler: She is having trouble with the concept
of jumping jurisdictions to manage another facility for profit.
Gary: Explained Estes Valley Recreation and Park
District’s (EVRPD) motivation in approaching us to manage their
campgrounds instead of a commercial vendor. In these challenging economic
times, we need to be open to new opportunities to generate revenues.
Vickie Traxler: What kind of profits are we expecting
Gary: We project gross revenues round the $600,000
mark. These are just projections. We think we can come away with net
profits of around $100,000 by year 3 or 4.
Deb Wykoff: Note that budget projections which included
the $100,000, were done on the assumption that the profits would be
available immediately in year 1, as previously projected. If this is not
the case, then the financial picture is significantly different at the
reservoirs as well.
Frank Cada: Are we competing with other private
entities who want to bid to provide the services?
We left that up to EVRPD. Their Board chose not to put it out to bid.
They decided not to use another concessionaire, regardless of the outcome.
Linda Knowlton: Why would they bring us in and share
the resources? Why not run it themselves?
Dan Rieves: They want to implement their master plan.
They don’t have a ranger program. They aren’t prepared to do either of
those things. We are experienced at both. They want some of the profits
put back into the properties. The concessionaires have not done that.
Tom Miller: The role of government is to provide for people
what they cannot do for themselves. The County needs the money; but we
also have an advantage. We don’t pay taxes. We have an operations center
already there. That can be interpreted as an unfair advantage
Dan: We had a similar concern with Hermit Park. Dillon Reservoir marina is another example of a government agency providing a
service traditionally offered by the private sector. There is not a
private concessionaire that is going to put dollars back into the
properties the way we will because we are managing public funds for public
benefit – not for private gain.
Tom Miller: There’s more to a park than a campground.
A park is a special place that ensures a quality experience. A company
(HP) couldn’t afford to do that at Hermit Park. They dumped it. The
County can do that. That is in the public interest. This is not
comparable. The recreational opportunity isn’t there. It’s a trailer
park. It’s not appropriate for the County to be operating a trailer park.
There’s profit in this. Private enterprise should be doing this.
It was all Federal dollars that went into the Poudre Canyon campgrounds.
Then the private concessionaire came in to manage them. We’d be doing the
same thing with these – making the improvements which the private
concessionaires have failed to do.
Dave Coulson: The same argument could apply to the 4
reservoirs we manage for Reclamation – that private enterprise should
manage them for profit for the Bureau.
Mark DeGregorio: He doesn’t have a problem with the
County managing another public property. But the long and short term
costs are his concern – both start-up and long term. The start-up costs
have been stated as $75,000, plus $50,000 per year, as well as the 60% set
aside for capital improvements. When he talked to the Bureau of
Reclamation about improvements that need to be done, they did not yet know
the total cost. But if you look at the management plan cost projections
for capital improvements, it’s $10 million over 10 years. If improvements
similar to our shower houses are required, it will be very expensive. He
wonders whether this is their underlying motive in wanting to get out from
under the requirements of their master plan improvements.
Frank Cada: Is it possible that EVRPD has sources of
funding in mind?
Dan: Stan Gengler says their plan contains everything
they could possibly want – not what they realistically expect to do.
Mark DeGregorio: If it is the County’s intention to
take over the license with the Bureau of Reclamation in several years, it would
significantly change this.
This is not on the table at this time.
Mark DeGregorio: The County will not be managing the
day use areas which are also part of Reclamation’s management agreement
with EVRPD? (No, just the campgrounds.)
Linda Knowlton: What is the current concessionaires’
status? If we do not go through with this, will the concessionaires
continue next season?
No – it’s us or nobody.
Frank Gillespie: What was the email from Stan Gengler
about paint and carpet, etc?
Dan: We’ve been giving EVRPD a lot of advice about how
to proceed in negotiating with the concessionaires.
thanked the Board for all their comments and input on
the many difficult issues addressed at this meeting.
Linda asked about annual
permits for 2010. Deb will have those at the December meeting if they have
been received by then. The December meeting will also be in this room.
adjourned at approximately 8:20 p.m.
Marina concession @ Carter Lake
Commercial Use of DNR Lands –
Whole Measures –
regular meeting: December 8, 2009, Boyd Lake Room at the Larimer County
Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak, Fort Collins, CO.