Loveland Bike Trail
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Bison Visitor Center , 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO

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.

Please call Deb at 619-4567 if you are unable to attend a meeting.  Votes require a quorum.  Thanks!

 

Present:

Vickie Traxler

Frank Gillespie

Mark DeGregorio

Linda Knowlton

Barry Lewis

Tom Miller

Chad LaChance

 

Staff:

Gary Buffington

Dan Rieves

Mark Caughlan

Deb Wykoff

 

Absent:

Frank Cada

Russ Fruits

Forrest Orswell

Steve Schweitzer

 

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:  (Questions – 5 min.)

§  Natural Resource Events for August. See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.

§  At this meeting, we will honor outgoing board member, Dave Coulson, who was unable to attend the Board picnic.  Dave was presented with a framed photo of Horsetooth Reservoir as a gesture of appreciation for his years of service as a member of the Parks Master Plan Task Force and the Parks Advisory Board.

§  Department of Natural Resources had interactive and informational booths at the New West Fest (8/21-22) and the Corn Roast Fest (8/27-28). 

§  COSA registration is open and Board members are encouraged to attend.  The conference will be in Westminster this year, 9/13-15.  Please go to www.coloradoopenspace.org for a full agenda and online registration. 

§  The 6th Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair will take place at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space on 9/25 from 7am – 3pm.  A multitude of agencies are hosting, and it promises to be the biggest year ever with new birding clinics, speakers and activities for all ages.  Detailed information is on the website.

§  The Small Grants for Community Partnering grant applications have been posted and are due 9/24.  Interested parties can view the criteria and download an application from the website.

§  Staff toured nature centers/office buildings looking at the feasibility of such a structure at Horsetooth Reservoir.  Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth Manager, explained that the Horsetooth offices are in very poor condition and need to be replaced.  The department is looking at the possibility of combining a new office space with a nature center.  We will apply for a GOCO planning grant next spring.  The staff team toured a range of facilities from extremely modest to deluxe.

Linda Knowlton questioned whether this facility was included in the Master Plan.  The Master Plan provided that there would be a separate public process if an event center or similar facility should be proposed in the future.  The Master Plan did include new offices and shop for Horsetooth staff, but at the existing location of those facilities, which is not large enough to accommodate both facilities.

Chad LaChance noted that the concept was rejected during the Master Planning process because there was no room for parking at that location without displacing boat trailer parking.  This appears to be the same concept with a different name. 

§  Tom Miller reported that the Loveland Fishing Club received a $20,000 Fishing is Fun grant to construct pathways down to the waters’ edge at Flatiron Reservoir.

 

5:50     PRESENTATIONS:

  • Larimer County Employee Survey – Gary Buffington, Director
    Larimer County conducted an online employee survey in December 2009 and again in June 2010.  Survey results were presented, showing overall very positive results within the Natural Resources Department. 

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

§  Reservoir Road Fire –Our crews were the first to respond to the fire, and assisted with evacuations.  The visitor center was the initial location of the evacuation center, and continues to be a focal point for the community, including the press.  The incident command center is centered at Flatiron campground, where all sites are occupied by firefighters.  Our staff has continued to be involved to assist incident command wherever and however required.  Today, residents are being allowed to return to their homes in groups to retrieve belongings, etc.  Rangers are leading some of those groups.

Because of the Boulder fire, there were substantial resources immediately available, which probably served to reduce the extent of losses on the Reservoir Road fire. 

Flatiron and Pinewood campgrounds are both closed to camping.

Mark Caughlan commended seasonal ranger Mike Burtnett for his professional handling of the initial communications with emergency response agencies.

§  Fuel site study – was briefly described.

§  Ranger Program review –Gary, Dan and other managers are reviewing all Ranger Program rules, regulations and procedures with the help of a law enforcement consultant. 

§  BOR recreation planning meeting –Dan attended this meeting today, and reported that the definition of exclusive use has changed since our Master Plan was written.  Dan will provide a detailed report at the next PAB meeting.

§  Cedar Cove, Big Thompson canyon – Dan and Charlie Johnson met with a concerned landowner about a particular parcel.  A community clean-up day will be scheduled.

§  Boy Scout Camporee at Hermit Park – Happening September 24-26.  Several small service projects are planned, but are not the primary focus of the gathering. 

§  Senior Ranger position filled – Current employee, Jim Hawkins, has been promoted to the Senior Ranger position at Horsetooth District.  Will Talbott, currently Horsetooth Sr. Ranger, will move to the Blue Mountain District.  The vacant ranger position will also be refilled.

§  Estes Campgrounds –The Estes Valley Recreation and Parks District is constructing a new shower building at Mary’s Lake Campground.  Unfortunately, all the utility lines run through the existing shower facility.  So most campsites must be closed during the demolition and construction process.

§  Eagle Campground Camper Services Building – Construction will begin soon, and be complete by spring.

Board comments and staff responses:

Vickie Traxler:  Are the scouts doing any service projects? [Yes – some small ones.  It would be too difficult to coordinate a major project with so many kids at once.]

Linda Knowlton:  Is there a financial impact to the department for the shower facility at Mary’s Lake?  [No. EVRPD will fund it with BOR funding.]

Tom Miller:  Did the expectation of increased revenue from the extended season due to full hook-up campsites?  [That has not yet  been determined, since the season isn’t over yet.]  Also, is the revenue generated at the Estes campgrounds matching projections?  [Revenue projections were too optimistic for the first year.  However, we anticipate meeting that potential in the future, once all the infrastructure issues have been corrected.]

 

Linda Knowlton:  Where is the Cedar Cove property?  Does this have fishing access?  [Yes]  Is this a property we intend to keep? [Not on the “top 3” list]

§  Mark will schedule a tour of HT improvements for the board in October.

§  Construction will begin on Sunrise swim beach in October. 

§  Mark discussed the phenomenon experienced nation-wide that the outdoors is irrelevant to a large percentage of the population.  He plans to stage more public events to attract people to the parks, like concerts, competitions, etc.

6:10      DIRECTOR’S REPORT - Gary Buffington

§   Park-generated revenues – Revenue numbers through September 9 were distributed, showing revenues up significantly from 2009.  Revenues from merchandise, showers, laundry and game room are all up compared to initial budget estimates.

Board comments and staff response:
Linda Knowlton:  When will Hermit Park break even? 
Gary:  Never. 
Dan:  There is room to grow the use of most of our campgrounds – weekdays, even some weekends, etc.  Better marketing is planned to increase public awareness.

§   US Forest Service Prospectus for Campground Concessions on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, and Pawnee National Grassland – Update
The board had directed Gary to see whether the Larimer County properties could be separated for management.  The answer was no.  Gary and Dan have toured the properties.  115 employees, over 1400 campsites, in 5 counties.  $1.5 million revenues; $1.2 million operating costs.  We would not have authority to do law enforcement.  It’s primarily campground hosting and maintenance of campgrounds.

Board comments and staff response:

Mark De Gregorio:  Would this fly politically with the other counties, for Larimer County to manage their properties?  Doing the heavier maintenance will require staffing and making long drives to get there.

Dan:  This is a professional camp host placement service.  All staff are full-time, retired RV-ers who are living in campgrounds.  It took 3 nine-hour days to visit all the primary campgrounds.  Some are phenomenal; others are not.

Deb Wykoff, Business Operations Manager:  This operation would involve more than twice the number of campsites, twice the number of employees, and about the same budget as our entire existing park operations.  Even though these areas involve much less intense recreation management, and a 4-month season, that will not reduce the management, maintenance, administrative and accounting workload involved, which will require up to 12 months a year to manage. 

 

        It will require an initial investment of $1 million to $2 million, for start-up costs plus the first 6-12 mo. operating costs.  Because these campgrounds are only open 4 months per year, revenues will not start coming in until almost halfway through the year, so we need those funds in the bank before we start.  There is no existing revenue source which can be used for these purposes.  Lottery and General Fund, already fully committed to support our existing programs, cannot be used outside Larimer County.  Park revenues and fund balance may only be used at the reservoirs.  Open Lands sales tax is also restricted to specific uses. 

 

        We cannot risk taking this on and underestimating costs or overestimating revenues, because there is no revenue source which can be used to subsidize these operations if we miscalculate.  At our other new park areas, Hermit Park and the Estes campgrounds, we are subsidizing with Lottery funds, etc. when revenues fail to cover expenses.  We do not have that option with the USFS campgrounds.  For all these reasons, we need to be extremely cautious and conservative in assessing whether this opportunity makes sense for the County.

 

Gary:  Unless projections show that we could clear at least $300,000 in revenues over and above our costs, it would probably not be worth it to undertake such a venture.  However, he is still looking at how it could be feasible, including another loan from the Solid Waste Department.  This venture would be set up as an entirely separate legal entity – as an enterprise fund. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION – To consider the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal or other property interest; and/or to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiators, as provided by CRS 24-6-402(4).

 

Vickie Traxler made and Barry Lewis seconded a motion to go into executive session to consider the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal or other property interest; and/or to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations.  The Board entered executive session at 7:45 pm to discuss the Carter Lake Marina concession license.  Tom Miller made, and Chad LaChance seconded, a motion to exit executive session.  The motion passed and the Board exited executive session at 8:20 p.m.

 

Meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

___________________________________________

Linda Knowlton, Chair

 

 

 

Next regular meeting:  October 12, 2010, Bison Visitor Center

Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks

 

 

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