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City of Colorado Springs / Commissions & Committees / Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

Thursday, February 11, 2010

MINUTES

 

 

Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

February 11, 2010

1401 Recreation Way

 

Board Members Present:  Jim Schwerin, Kent Obee, Richard Eastland, Jill Gaebler, Nancy Hobbs, Mary Mashburn, Kira Pasquesi, Carl Reinhardt, Richard Stettler

 

Opening:  Chair Jim Schwerin called the meeting to order at 7:33 a.m. 

 

CITIZEN DISCUSSION

Chair Schwerin announced that this was the time for any individual to bring before the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board any matter of interest they wish to discuss that is not on the agenda.

 

Rock Ledge Ranch:  Ron Wright, President of the Rock Ledge Ranch Living History Association (LHA), wanted to clarify the response provided by the Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services to Councilmember Hente's question regarding the status of the LHA's fundraising effort for the Rock Ledge Ranch at the February 10, 2010 Council meeting.  It was based on a spreadsheet of information which was not indicative of all activities by the LHA.  Councilmember Hente's question was based on the article by the Westside Pioneer that the LHA had reached their goal. 

 

Mr. Wright said that the LHA is still in the process of raising funds.  Currently, the LHA has raised $31,000 through donations and membership dues and the LHA is planning to utilize all of their available funds, which is $94,660, in order to keep the Ranch open in 2010.  This leaves a shortfall of $41,340.  LHA plans to have 16 events in order to sustain the Ranch as well as to payback themselves.  Mr. Wright mentioned some of the events that are planned.

 

Mr. Butcher acknowledged Mr. Wright for his outstanding effort in raising funds for the Ranch.

 

Friends of Garden of the Gods (FOGG):  John Demmon, President of Friends of Garden of the Gods, said that all City employees, except for those who are funded by the Garden of the Gods Foundation and in cooperation with the Friends of Garden of the Gods, were withdrawn from the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center as of beginning of this year. 

 

FOGG, in cooperation with the Garden of the Gods Foundation are funding a school program (Parks Plus), Big Horn Sheep Day, Earth Day and Children's Pre-School program.  FOGG has also approved funding for City staff for weekends and a staff person for seven days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

 

FOGG has been meeting with City staff, Rocky Mountain Institute and other organizations to coordinate activities on trails and trail maintenance.

 

Sustainable Parks Initiative:  Susan Davies, Executive Director of Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC), said that TOSC was pleased with the Council's decision regarding the homeless camps.  TOSC was concerned about the environment as well as users.  Council had to make a tough decision and they will have to make more tough decisions in the future such as trash can issues, purchasing open space, etc.  It is important to TOSC and the hiking, biking and equestrian groups to look at various park issues and encourage City Council to support park operations.

 

NOTE:  Nancy Hobbs arrived during Citizen Discussion at 7:41 a.m.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Richard Stettler made a motion to approve the minutes from the January 14, 2010Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.  Motion seconded by Nancy Hobbs and carried unanimously.

 

 

DIRECTOR'S REPORT   (Item #1)

 

Community Center Self Sustainability Update:  At the request of Board Member Mashburn, Paul Butcher, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, provided a Community Center update to the Board.  This information was presented to City Council at its February 9th meeting.

 

Highlights of the presentation included:

 

-          The challenge was given that within 90 days and without any support from the City?s General Fund, the Community Centers, Aquatic Centers, Youth and Adult Sports, Therapeutic Recreation and Special Programs were to become self-sufficient.

 

-          Actions taken by the Department included reducing expenditures, FTE reduction, extended staff duties, voluntary demotion and reduced hours of operation.

 

-          Strategies included four community forum meetings, coordinated by Councilmember Paige, and conducted at each full-service center location in January: Deerfield Hills, Hillside, Meadows Park and Westside.

 

-          Help organize the Community Center Task Force, whose mission is to ?develop and implement strategies that will potentially prevent the closures of the Community Centers now and in the future?.

 

-          Request SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) to provide free consultation.

 

-          So far the Department has:

         Reduced overhead, especially salaries.  Prior to January 2009, there were 17 FTEs and 4 support FTEs.  In January 2010, this was reduced to 10 FTEs and no support FTEs (hourlied).

         Increased partnerships, possibly to include agencies submitting RFP?s

         Increased fundraising: grants, pledges, donations and fundraising events:

          Texas Roadhouse 10% proceeds 2/18

          Gospel Explosion concert 3/28

          Downtown restaurant proceeds: date TBD

          Texas T-Bone (20% month of March)

         Increased revenue in rental and program fees with a goal of reaching $23,000 by Period 1 (March 31) and $36,400 target by end of Period 3 (September 30)

 

Mr. Butcher said that the Pioneers Museum staff has been working on sustainability for the Museum as well.

 

There was a brief discussion between the Board and staff regarding the RFP process and timeline, Mayor's 100 Teens program, Save Our Parks funds, Community Centers as a part of the Sustainable Parks Initiative, timeline for Regional Service Authority and Community Center Task Force meeting dates.

 

Mary Mashburn mentioned a fundraising event (indoor yard sale) at the Hillside Community Center on March 27th from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon as well as T-shirts which are on sale at the community centers.  Ms. Mashburn emphasized the importance of being responsible for the lives of children and future of the City and encouraged everyone to support the Community Centers. 

 

Newspaper Articles: 

-          Colorado Parks and Recreation Association featured an article from Great Outdoors Colorado which included Memorial Park Skate Park as a destination skate park.

 

-          The Detroit News featured an article titled "Detroit plans for alternate use of 92 parks". 

 

Removal of Trash Cans in Parks:  The Department has received a number of emails and phone calls regarding removal of trash can in City parks.  Staff provided a full report to City Council regarding trash removal costs, including staff time and contracted waste hauling services.  This memo was distributed to the Board members.

 

Kurt Schroeder, Manager of Parks Maintenance, Trails and Open Space, said that the Department's initial information of $5,800 for removing trash cans had escalated media attention.  In 2007, the Department spent $76,000 on dumpsters and trash hauling service.  Mr. Schroeder said that if Park Techs remove trash, they dispose of bag at one of 19 dumper sites located within the park system or at the Park Shop.  In 2008, staff negotiated with a various service providers (i.e. Rocky Top, etc.) to dump certain materials (i.e. organic, etc.) thus reducing dumpsters and trash hauling service cost to $58,000.  In 2010, Parks Division's dumpsters and trash hauling service cost was reduced to $28,000, hence the removal of 396 trash cans from the neighborhood parks.  19 dumpster sites were also removed.  In terms of staffing, Park Maintenance is down from 36 to 13 employees.  Signs have been posted in parks, trail corridors and open spaces asking people to remove their own trash.   

 

Currently, the Department is pursuing an Adopt-A-Park program.  At this time, the Department has received interest from approximately 24 individuals/groups who are willing to adopt-a-park in some way.  Of this number, approximately half are interested in adopting the trash cans.

 

In response to Ms. Mashburn and Vice Chair Obee, Mr. Schroeder said that Springs TV Ch. 18 has information regarding trash cans and encourages people to help out.  Also per Council's direction, staff is working with Public Communications to inform the public of the entire cost of the trash service through Ch. 18.

 

City Budget Outlook:  Mr. Butcher briefly explained the budget situation for the City for the next two years.  He said that the projected City budget deficit for 2011 is approximately $28 million $12 million in 2012 and $11 million in 2013.  Mr. Butcher explained the effect from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and ratch down effect by TABOR. 

 

Break:  8:52 a.m.

Reconvened:  9:07 a.m.

 

CONTINUING BUSINESS

 

Dorchester Park Master Plan Amendment for the Addition of a Community Garden  (Item #2)

Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, said that staff has been working diligently with Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (PPUG) to explore the possibility of providing community gardening opportunities at several park sites, including Dorchester Park.  In September of 2009, PPUG identified three general areas within Colorado Springs that appear to have significant interest in community gardening.  Old Farm, the Downtown area and the Westside were each identified by PPUG as having a level of interest to achieve long term success.

 

Staff reviewed all of the park sites within a three-mile radius of each of these three general areas.  This review included 37 potential sites.  Staff's assessment was based upon the physical attributes and management considerations for each site.  The assessment identified two or three sites within each area as potential garden locations.  After touring the sites with PPUG representatives, PPUG indicated a preference for the following sites:  Dorchester Park, West Community Center (Buena Vista Site), Vermijo Park, Coleman Park, and the Michelson Property.

 

In December of 2009, staff presented these potential sites for community gardens to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.  The Board supported a staff recommendation to proceed with a public process and master plan amendment for each of the park sites, including Dorchester Park.

 

On December 10, 2009 staff and PPUG hosted a public meeting at the City Administration Building to gather input from the neighborhood to determine the feasibility of implementing a community garden at Dorchester Park.

 

Invitations were sent to all adjacent property owners and PPUG contacted several key stakeholders.  Despite this effort, no one attended the public meeting.  Staff did receive several phone calls from an adjacent property owner, as well as several other parties interested in the proposed community garden.  All comments received to date have been supportive of the concept, except for reservations regarding the park?s current user groups and current propensity for vandalism and criminal behavior.  While little in the way of interest has been generated for individual garden plots, PPUG has been working closely with Springs Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities on an alternative operational model.  These organizations have each expressed interest in collaboratively staffing, managing, and operating the garden to grow food for the Marion House Soup Kitchen and to support other food programs that provide for the homeless and less fortunate in the community.

 

A site plan depicting the site location and improvements was presented.  The proposed community garden is to be located on the southeast quadrant of Dorchester Park, within an area that is not programmed and is currently under-utilized.  The proposed garden will provide space for up to 20 garden plots, approximately 20 ft. x 20 ft. in size.  Improvements required for the site included modifying the existing irrigation system, installation of a separate water meter and construction of a fence to control vehicular traffic and reduce vandalism.  PPUG has secured the funding necessary to implement the garden, including a donation from a local fence contractor to furnish and install a decorative fence around the garden.

 

A formal agreement with PPUG that establishes the specific operational and financial requirements will be prepared subject to the Park and Recreation Advisory Board?s consideration and approval of a master plan amendment for Dorchester Park.  Revenue to carry the ongoing operational expenses of the garden will be provided by PPUG through its partner entities, Springs Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities.  PPUG will be required to pay all capital and operational costs related to establishing, maintaining, and managing the community garden at Dorchester Park.

 

Potential partners for Dorchester Park Community Garden include Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Catholic Charities, Marian House, Urban Peak, Springs Rescue Mission, Julian Garcia, Designer Columns and Piers, Colorado Home and Garden grant partner with Care and Share and Colorado Springs Utilities. 

 

Staff recommended an amendment to the Dorchester Park master plan to include a community garden as presented.

 

In response to Richard Stettler's questions, Larry Stebbins from PPUG said that PPUG will be maintaining all the boundaries within the garden fence.  PPUG will also pay for the water.  The Community Focus Fund provided a $1,000 grant, which will be used for a portable outdoor kitchen.  Mr. Stebbins said that this is not a typical community garden.  This is taking an area which is under-utilized and turning it into a gem.

 

Kira Pasquesi made a motion to amend the Dorchester Park Master Plan to include a community garden as presented.  Motion seconded by Nancy Hobbs and carried unanimously.

 

Vermijo Park Master Plan Amendment for the Addition of a Community Garden  (Item #3)

Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, said on December 14, 2009 staff and PPUG hosted a public meeting at the Westside Community Center to gather input from the neighborhood to determine the feasibility of implementing a community garden at Vermijo Park.  

 

The public meeting was well attended and significant interest in community gardening was indicated by the participants.  A site plan depicting the site location and improvements was presented to the meeting participants.  The proposed community garden is to be located on the north end of Vermijo Park, within an area that is not programmed and is currently under-utilized.  The proposed garden will provide space for up to 20 garden plots, approximately 20 ft. x 20 ft. in size.  Improvements required for the site include: extension of water to the garden via the existing irrigation system, installation of a separate water meter and construction of a fence to control vehicular traffic and reduce vandalism. 

 

A formal agreement with PPUG that establishes the specific operational and financial requirements will be prepared subject to the Park and Recreation Advisory Board?s consideration and approval of a master plan amendment for Vermijo Park.  Revenue to carry the ongoing operational expenses of the garden will be generated through the leasing of garden plots to individuals in the neighborhood and surrounding community.  PPUG will be required to pay all capital and operational costs related to establishing and maintaining and managing the community garden at Vermijo Park.

 

Potential partners for Vermijo Park Community Garden include Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Colorado Home and Garden grant partner with Care and Share and area residents (pending approval from 16 people who signed up).  PPUG will operate and manage the community garden at Vermijo Park.

 

Staff recommended an amendment to the Vermijo Park Master Plan to include a community garden as presented.

 

In response to Richard Stettler's questions, Larry Stebbins with PPUG provided the following responses:

 

-          There will be an extended fence near the garden where vehicles currently drive through into the park to access an informal parking area.  PPUG will be paying for the fence, while seeking sponsors from a fencing company.

 

Chair Schwerin suggested that boulders might work as well.  Mr. Stebbins will consider that as it would be a more natural setting.

 

-          The utilities bill is in the name of the Parks Department.  The partners will contribute money necessary to pay for the water bill.  PPUG has never been late with its bill in the past 12 years working with the Department.  Besides, PPUG is backed by the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which will guarantee the payments.  PPUG currently has a complete funding to pay for the project; building, maintenance and water for the entire season.

 

Mary Mashburn made a motion to amend the Vermijo Park Master Plan to include a community garden as presented.  Motion seconded by Carl Reinhardt and carried unanimously.

 

Presentation and Update on a Community Garden Proposal for Westside Community Center   (Item #4)

In December of 2009, staff presented these potential sites for community gardens to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.  The Board supported a staff recommendation to proceed with a public process and Master Plan Amendment for each of the park sites, including Westside Community Center.

 

Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, said that on January 11, 2010 staff hosted a public meeting at the Westside Community Center to discuss the proposed community garden.  This meeting was held in conjunction with a neighborhood meeting to discuss the proposed change in existing zoning from Residential (R-2) to Public Facility (PF) and associated Development Plan Modification.  The meeting was well attended and included representatives from the Westside Agricultural Learning Center (WALC).  WALC is a recently formed, grassroots organization associated with the Westside Community Center whose sole purpose is the creation of a community garden.  Participants at the January 11, 2010 meeting unanimously supported the proposed garden. 

 

The Westside Community Center Development Plan and Zone Change process requires formal consideration by the City Planning Commission.  The proposed community garden has been incorporated into the development plan and will be formally considered as part of the land-use review submittal.  Given that this future of the community center is uncertain due to budget constraints and continuance of operation is contingent upon a community fundraising campaign, WALC has requested support from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for the implementation of a community garden at the Westside Community Center site.  WALC has agreed to cover all costs associated with the garden and will manage the garden in partnership with the Westside Community Center or any other entity future entity that occupies the facility.  Support from the Parks Board would also enable WALC to move forward with preparing the garden for spring planting season independent of the Development Review process.

 

Potential partners for the community garden at Westside Community Center site include West Agricultural Learning Center, Westside Community Center, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, Secret Gardens, Sherry Bennett - Art Instructor and Pikes Peak Community Foundation (approval pending).  West Agricultural Learning Center will operate and manage the community garden at Westside Community Center site.

 

WALC has applied for funds through the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. 

 

The Department's direct partner on this project will be WALC.  However, depending on the future of the Westside Community Center, the relationship with WALC could be directly with the Community Center or through the Parks Department. 

 

Staff supports continuing efforts to partner with WALC to develop a community garden at Westside Community Center.  No formal action required by the Board at this time.

 

Karen Flemming, one of the partners with WALC, began her presentation with the West Agricultural Learning Center's mission:

 

"It is our mission, our passion and our vision to encourage inclusion, to inspire, to educate, to preserve, to promote artistic talents, to nurture nature and humanity?s  spirit -- one person, one urban organic garden, one neighborhood and one community at a time by promoting the universal well-being of all."

 

Highlights of Ms. Flemming's presentation is as follows:

-          The proposed garden plots will be 4 ft. x 8 ft. and 20 ft. x 20 ft.  The smaller plots will be used as training area and the larger plot will be for a family of four.  There will be approximately 25 raised beds with drip irrigation system.  There will be an outdoor kitchen.

-          Planters will be pots with mosaic on them. 

-          The garden will be therapeutic and universal; all ages and all stages.  Classes will be offered.

-          There will be a variety of vegetables and fruit trees.

-          WALC will request gardeners 20% of their harvest to Pikes Peak Community Action Agency: Billie Spielman Center.

-          Budget:

Category

Item

Quantity

Unit Cost

Cost

Insurance

 

1

$250.00

$250.00

Irrigation

Water Meter (inside Crock), 2 water hydrants and 500' of pipe, with fixings

1

$1,000.00

$1,000.00

Fences and Gates

Chain link - 4'

442

$16.05

$7,094.10

Access Gate

Access Gate 3' - Pedestrian - Chain Link

1

$300.00

$300.00

Lumber

Each 20' x 20' bed is build from 82x6x10 at $7 each

21

$$56.00

$1,176.00

Nails

10lb box of nail approx 250 nails.  250 nails for 8 20x20

4

$14.00

$$56.00

 

 

 

TOTAL COST

$8,644.10

 

-          Timeline:

         Teens, childhood and adult classes are currently working on mosaic stepping stones for the Garden/Event Center

         Early childhood classes are planting heirloom tomatoes to sell seedlings and plant some in the garden.

         Complete details on the designs of Garden/Cross Cultural Event Center

         Find/utilize sponsored garden materials - build raised garden

         Gardeners fill out forms and questionnaires to better fulfill their individual needs

         Make then start filling compost bins

         Continuing the Childhood-Adult Mosaic Classes

-          WALC Team consists of Sherry Bennett - gardener, artist and teacher; William Halliburton - gardener and technology expert; Karen Fleming - gardener, alternate format and assistive technology specialist and teacher

 

Vice Chair Obee said that he supported the project in concept and the Board members agreed.

 

Chair Schwerin suggested sending a letter of support from the Board regarding the efforts of the WALC to construct a community garden at the Westside Community Center site.

 

Ron Wright, representing the Living History Association (LHA), said that LHA has been working with WALC and that they will be providing sweet-smelling stuff that goes well with gardening as well as partnering in creating 501(c)(3) status with them.

 

 

Presentation and Update on a Community Garden Proposal for Michaelson Property  (Item #5)

Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, said that on December 8, 2009 staff hosted a public meeting to discuss the proposed community garden at the Michaelson Property.  This meeting was well attended despite difficult weather conditions.  Participants at the meeting provided valuable feedback on the proposed community garden.  While the participants generally supported the concept of a community garden, numerous concerns and questions were raised including lack of participation at the meeting due to weather conditions, historical aspects of the property and concerns that the current approved master plan should not be abandoned.  There was a support for the general idea of a community garden but the participants at the meeting did not reach consensus on the proposed community garden at that time.  An adjacent property owner requested additional time to lead an effort to raise private funds to implement the approved Master Plan for the property before the community garden.  All participants at the meeting expressed an interest in continuing discussions.

 

Given these concerns, staff will revisit the proposal with the neighborhood in late 2010. 

 

Mr. Lieber said that Ben Carlson, an intern from Kansas State University, prepared the PowerPoint presentation and said that this item is information only at this time.  Staff wanted to provide an update to the Board regarding the results of the neighborhood meeting.

 

In response to Chair Schwerin's question regarding the neighborhood meeting, Mr. Lieber said that there was a consensus regarding a community garden being a good idea for the neighborhood but no one stepped up to volunteer to make this happen.  There was some concern regarding the homeless situation in this area.  Also, there was some discussion regarding raising vegetables for the Marian House but that idea was a significant concern to a number of people.  At that point, a consensus could not be reached.  This item will be revisited with the neighbors with a possible garden being created in Spring of 2011.

 

Mr. Stebbins said that this area was looked at by the neighbors some years ago even before PPUG was formed.  However, the project was put on hold due to funding.  PPUG is capable of establishing a garden it is willing to work with the neighbors to develop this area as a multi-use community garden (i.e. for the neighborhood, Marion Soup Kitchen, Boulder Crescent, etc.).  Marion Soup Kitchen has looked at that area as well.  PPUG can fund the project if the community is willing.  Mr. Stebbins will keep the Board informed of the progress.

 

TOPS BUSINESS

 

TOPS Update   (Item #6)

Chris Lieber, Design, Development and TOPS Manager, reported on the following:

 

Volunteer Steward Plan:  The Committee will be meeting with potential partners (i.e. TOSC, RMI, etc.) in the next two weeks to discuss how to implement the plan.

 

Trail Projects:  A number of trail projects are moving forward.  These projects have received Federal funds which are matched by TOPS funds (i.e. Midland trails, Sand Creek corridor, etc.)

 

Universally Accessible Playground:  The Department continues to make a progress on the project.  The shade structure has been installed and the playground structure will be installed the week of February 15th. 

 

Section 16:  A legislation which is proposed by Representative Merrifield to change the process of which the State Land Board disposes its property.  Essentially, it would allow the State Land Board to work directly with local governments to be able to negotiate a sale of the property.  This is in contrast to going through a seal bid process.  That was passed through a committee on February 2, 2010.  This would an affect on the Department's activities.

 

Acquisitions:  The second phase of the White Acres (Hogback portion) property closed recently as well as the second parcel of the fourth phase of the Rock Island Trail closed.  There is one more phase remaining in 2011.  White Acres has two more years of acquisitions before the project is complete.

 

BOARD BUSINESS

 

Board Committee Reports

 

Art Commission:  In response to Mary Mashburn, Jay Miller, a member of the Arts Commission, said that on February 16 the Art Commission will discuss the future of the Art Commission as the City Administration can no longer provide support to the Art Commission. 

 

Mary Mashburn will replace Rich Eastland as the Board representative to the Art Commission.

 

Manitou Incline Task Force:  Kira Pasquesi provided a brief report on the Task Force's first planning meeting.  Discussions included the role of the Task Force during a year-long planning process, scope of services, hiring a consultant who will draft a planning document and aiding in research. 

 

Sustainable Parks Initiative:  Mr. Butcher said that Bill Koerner from the Trails and Open Space Coalition will be making a first time presentation on Sustainable Parks Initiative to City Council at their February 22nd Informal meeting.  The meeting is open to the public.

 

Joint City/County Parks Board Meeting:  Mr. Butcher said that he was contacted by Tim Wolken, Director of El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services, who said that the County Parks Board has requested to meet with the City Parks Board. 

 

The Board decided to meet after the March 11th Board meeting at the Bear Creek Nature Center at 11:30 a.m., brown bag lunch. 1

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

 

Negotiations Pertaining to a Land Matter   (Item #7)

In reference to the below statement Chair Schwerin polled the Board members and there was consensus by the Board to hold a Closed Executive Session to discuss ?Negotiations Pertaining to a Land Matter?.

 

In accord with the City Charter Art. III, 3-60(d) and the Colorado Open Meetings Act, C.R.S. 24-6-402(4)(a, b and e), the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, in Open Session, is to determine whether it will hold a Closed Executive Session.  The issues to be discussed involve receipt of legal advice and determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategy for negotiations and instructing negotiators regarding a land acquisition matter. The Chair shall poll the Park and Recreation Advisory Board members, and, upon consent of two-thirds of the members present, may hold a closed executive session.  If consent to the closed executive session is not given, the item may be discussed in open session or withdrawn from consideration.

 

Chair Schwerin declared that this item was in a Closed Executive Session.

 

The Board went into a Closed Executive Session at 10:22 a.m. and finished at 11:06 a.m.

 

 

There being no further business, the Board adjourned at 11:06 a.m.