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

Thursday, April 08, 2010



Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

April 8, 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 7:32 a.m. 



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.


Bill Koerner, Advocacy Director of Trails and Open Space Coalition, said that the next Sustainable Parks Initiative (SPI) meeting is scheduled on May 12, 6:00 p.m. at the Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center.  Mr. Koerner said that the Committee is currently looking at the PPRTA (Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority) model.  They have also completed a survey regarding the topic surrounding sustainable parks.


Susan Davies, Executive Director of Trails and Open Space Coalition, provided an update on the result of the survey as follows:

-          To date, 1,150 responses have been received.

-          98% are very aware or somewhat aware of the budget challenges faced by the City and County parks departments.

-          79% have noticed decrease in services.

-          81% are concerned about the current situation.

-          63% believe that a regional solution is needed.

-          79% will support a new dedicated tax to fund a new regional parks solution.


The SPI Committee will be conducting a poll to verify the above numbers in order to move forward with their effort with sustainable parks initiative.



Nancy Hobbs made a motion to approve the minutes from the February 11, 2010 Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.  Motion seconded by Rich Eastland and carried unanimously.


Mary Mashburn made a motion to approve the minutes from the March 11, 2010 Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.  Motion seconded by Jill Gaebler and carried unanimously.




Service Awards   (Item #1)

The City of Colorado Springs annually recognizes those employees who have reached five-year milestones in their career.  The following employees were recognized by their supervisors and presented with certificates:

-    Timothy A. Pluemer (25 years), Skilled Maintenance Supervisor - Parks Division

-    Patrick T. Gentile (15 years), Golf Superintendent - Golf Division

-    Kimberly King (10 years), Parks Administration Manager - Administrative Division


Annual Volunteer Report   (Item #2)

Kim King, Manager of Parks Administration, said that each year, the Board receives a summary of the Department?s volunteer activities and events from the past year as well as what is upcoming.  Ms. King said that volunteerism is a key component of the Department.  Volunteers have such an impact on the Department?s ability to offer opportunities to the community.  Volunteer staff includes Stacy Stang (Adopt-A-Park and Adopt-A-Trashcan programs) and Sonia Park (coach recruitment, CBI records checks and volunteer database management).


Ms. King's presentation included key statistics and highlights of current programs including the Adopt-A-Park and Adopt-A-Trashcan programs.


The Adopt-A-Park program, which was previously managed by Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, came back to the Parks Department in 2004.  The Department currently has 95 parks adopted throughout the community.  One of the key changes implemented last year and continued this year is the requirement for an increased commitment by the volunteers in visiting the adopted sites and helping to maintain these sites.


The Adopt-A-Trashcan program is new this year due to the elimination of trashcans throughout the neighborhood park system.  Since its inception of the program, a total of 83 cans in 37 parks have been adopted.  A citizen-driven effort, "Proud of our Parks", has provided additional media coverage and further spread the word regarding the Department?s adoption opportunities.


With the reduction of staff and the need to continue key functions within the Department, the volunteer program was evaluated to determine what truly had to continue going forward in 2010.  Key considerations included the continuation of supporting the application process by performing background checks on volunteer applicants as well as tracking placement of volunteers; supporting those entities generating revenues; and supporting those areas providing services or programs to the community.  Some programs, such as one-time projects, playground builds, teen programs, the Springs in Bloom program, and support to the Westside Community Center, were eliminated due to a lack of staffing.


Ms. King explained the volunteer trend in terms of hours on an annual basis for the last five years.  In general, the hours have been relatively stable during this time period.  The number of volunteer hours contributed in 2009 equated to 72 full-time employees.  With the reduction in volunteer coordination in 2010, it is anticipated that the number of hours will have a corresponding decline.


Regarding the actual number of volunteers in the last five years, the chart showed that the Department had significant numbers of volunteers in 2005 and 2006.  This was due to an increase in the number of one-time projects, especially in Red Rock Canyon.  In 2008, there was a large one-time project with the Church of Latter Day Saints.  In 2009, the volunteer count dropped slightly due to a conversion to a new volunteer database management system.  It is anticipated that the number of volunteers will decline in 2010 due to an overall reduction in programs requiring volunteers.  The Department's ability to promote and coordinate one-time volunteer projects has been virtually eliminated as well. 


Volunteer opportunities in 2010 include a partnership project with the Phil Long Community Fund and the Wounded Warrior program for the Swing High Universally Accessible Playground in Memorial Park.  The Department staff and Phil Long employees will be laying sod around the playground site on May 16th with the dedication following on May 22nd.  Other groups offering volunteer opportunities include Rocky Mountain Field Institute's projects in Garden of the Gods Park and projects with the Friends of Red Rock Canyon and North Cheyenne Caņon.  The Stewardship Plans developed by the Design, Development and TOPS Division will also be utilized to allow volunteer projects to continue on key sites throughout the community.


Ms. King thanked the Board for the time and effort they contribute to the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department and its programs.




Paul Butcher, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, said that the Department received a request from City Engineering to provide a brief presentation regarding a bridge rehabilitation project on Nevada Avenue along the Union Pacific Railroad property/Van Buren Ditch.  This is an information-only item and action was not required by the Board.


Dan Krueger, Civil Engineer from City Engineering, explained a bridge rehabilitation project on Nevada Avenue over Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) property/Van Buren Ditch, 1/2 mile south of Fillmore Street.  During the project development process, the City of Colorado Springs requested an exception to the normal eight-foot-high fencing that is typically required by UPRR.  The railroad agreed to this exception with the condition that City Engineering assist them with the trespassing issue along the railroad.  UPRR had expressed concern regarding the number of people trespassing on their property along the spur tracks and Van Buren Ditch by using it as an informal trail. 


At the request of UPRR, the City recently installed eight "No Trespassing" signs along the corridor between Monument Creek and Templeton Gap Road.  City Engineering wanted to inform the Parks Board of the overall project as many people who are actually trespassing on UPRR's property believing they are on a City trail. 


This item was an information-only item and action was not required by the Board.


Mr. Butcher provided the following report:


Closure of Aquatics and Fitness Center (AFC):  AFC is closed as of March 31, 2010.  However, the Department is currently working with a private group to operate the aquatics program under a contract.  The private group will operate the outdoor pools, Wilson Ranch and Portal, which is projected to be open at the end of May.  The group will work on re-marketing before the Aquatics and Fitness Center opens, targeted for the beginning of September.  Currently, the AFC is being used for the Springs Boxing program managed by the Department's community programs. 


The City will continue to operate the Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center.  However, Monument Valley and Valley Hi pools, as well as the Prospect Lake Beach area will be closed this summer. 


Prospect Lake:  The adaptive waterskiing program will continue.  Also, watercraft will be allowed on the Lake.


Therapeutic Program:  The Therapeutic program has moved from the Aquatics and Fitness Center in Memorial Park to the Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center. 


Senior Center:  The Senior Center will be self-sustained in 2010 through their Endowment fund, Gift Trust accounts and donations.  However, they will have exhausted their funds at the end of this year.  The Housing Authority has expressed an interest in keeping the Center open in the future.


Youth and Adult Sports Programs, City Auditorium and Sertich Ice Center:  These programs are doing well by generating revenues to match expenditures.


USOC Grant:  The USOC provided a grant in the amount of $225,000, specifically for youth and is being used for sports programs and summer camps offered through the community centers.


Community Centers:   Despite numerous efforts to raise funds to continue the operation of the community centers, only a very small percentage of the overall financial goal was raised.  On March 23, 2010, City Council approved $450,000 to keep three of the four centers open (Hillside, Deerfield Hills and Meadows).  $450,000 is three quarters of year funding.  The Department is still working on $125,000 which will close the gap for full funding in 2010.


Westside Community Center:  Through an RFP process the Westside Community Center has a new operator, the Westside Community Center LLC.  They are very close to signing a contract.


Dick Siever, representing the Westside Community Center LLC, is planning to provide a presentation to City Council in April regarding their plans and services provided through their organization.


North Cheyenne Caņon (Starsmore Discovery Center and Helen Hunt Falls):  Fundraising by the Friends of North Cheyenne Caņon was successful and these facilities will remain open in 2010.


Rock Ledge Ranch:  Fundraising by the Living History Association was successful and the Ranch will remain open in 2010.  However, the Rock Ledge Ranch Early Childhood Program (Preschool) was closed as of March 31, 2010.  This was a heavily subsidized program. 


Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum:  The Museum finalized a contract with Durel Consulting Partners of Baltimore, Maryland, who will lead the Museum through a sustainable business planning project over the next few months.  The funding for the project will come from donations and grants.


The consultants are planning to visit Colorado Springs in mid-April to familiarize themselves with the Museum and the community with additional visits in May to meet with a steering committee made up of stakeholders, citizens, business leaders and elected officials.  A summary of their findings and recommended strategies is expected to be completed in July including a presentation to City Council. 


Park Adoption List:  Per Boardmember Mashburn's request from the last meeting, a Park Adoption List was distributed to the Board members.  As of April 8th, 95 parks, trails and open spaces have been adopted, with the majority being park adoptions.  To date, 75 parks have been adopted.  Out of the 75, 32 are trash can adoptions. 


The Department is currently working with Lowes regarding mower discounts.


CSU Connections:  An article in the CSU newsletter mentioned CSU working together with the Parks Department regarding water conservation.  CSU will conduct a public hearing on April 20th to discuss water rates.


Universally Accessible Playground:  There will be a volunteer project (laying sod), on May 16th with Swing High, Phil Long Ford and Wounded Warriors.  The dedication for the playground is scheduled for May 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Arbor Day Event:  An Arbor Day event, coordinated by Colorado College, is scheduled for April 30th at 10:00 a.m. at Cutler Hall (Colorado College).


South Slope:  After more than a decade of planning and talking, Colorado Springs Utilities would like to build trails in the South Slope Watershed Access Area.  CSU will design and provide funds for the project and the Parks Department will take a lead role with the construction and implementation of the access plan.


Resignation of City Manager and New Acting City Manager:  Dr. Penelope Culbreth-Graft submitted a letter of resignation indicating April 16, 2010 to be her last day.  On March 25, 2010, City Council appointed Fire Chief Steve Cox as the Interim City Manager.  Chief Cox has been with the City of Colorado Springs for 29 years, and in 2008, served as an Acting Assistant City Manager.


Staff Resignation:  Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, will resign from the City effective May 21, 2010 and Clay Shuck, Aquatics Supervisor, on April 16, 2010.



Break:  8:55 a.m.

Reconvened:  9:09 a.m.






Land Exchange Between the City of Colorado Springs and the Laura Janell Butlin Revocable Trust   (Item #4)

Aimee Cox, Senior Analyst, said that this item is a request of a land exchange between the City of Colorado Springs with a private property owner adjacent to Monument Valley Park.  The land exchange will cure the private property owner?s existing encroachment on to park land and allow the City to acquire a portion of the owner?s private property for park and trail purposes.


In 2009, the Laura Janell Butlin Revocable Trust, property owner (Owner) at 1932 El Parque Street, made the Department aware of a possible encroachment of a corner of the Owner?s garage onto City property at Monument Valley Park, a Palmer-deeded property.  The garage was constructed by a previous owner.  City surveyors surveyed the area to establish the park boundary and determined that the Owner?s garage encroached 1.25 square feet onto City park property.  At the same time, City staff discovered that a City trail access to Monument Valley Park encroached on to approximately 3.2 square feet of the Owner?s private property.


To resolve each party?s land related issues, the Department proposes to convey a 1.25 square foot piece of park property to the Laura Janell Butlin Revocable Trust to cure their existing encroachment on to park property.  In exchange, the Laura Janell Butlin Revocable Trust will convey approximately 3.2 square feet of property to the City to accommodate the existing trail access.


Because the Owner?s encroachment is on Palmer-deeded property, the City must comply with the 1971 Stipulation in Kyer v. City of Colorado Springs, Civil Action No. 66897.  The Kyer Stipulation prohibits the City from doing or attempting ?to do anything which would cause loss of or diminished use of the park land solely as parks? and is required to ?seek legal counsel before taking an action whatever in connection with said park lands.?  It is the opinion of the City Attorney?s Office that the land exchange will not cause loss of or diminished use of the park lands solely as parks and is in compliance with the Stipulation.  The City's Real Estate Services is handling the land exchange transaction.  This item will be presented to City Council on April 13, 2010.  Staff recommended approval of the land exchange proposal.


Kent Obee made a motion to recommend Council approval of the land exchange proposal between the City and the Laura Janell Butlin Revocable Trust.  Motion seconded by Carl Reinhardt and carried unanimously.




TOPS Update   (Item #5)

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


-          The Committee met on April 7th and discussed priority areas for future land acquisitions (i.e. Section 16 area, Corral Bluffs area, etc.).

-          A bid for a section of Cottonwood trail, west of Cottonwood Park and Union, came back at 50% less than estimated, mainly due to the economy.  The work will include construction of a pedestrian bridge and trail surfacing.

-          The Midland trail project between Manitou Springs and 31Street will begin soon.

-          The Committee received a presentation on new water conservation rate and South Slope.





Board Committee Report


Manitou Incline Task Force:  Kira Pasquesi said that the Task Force met with consultants on April 29th.


Pikes Peak South Slope:  Chair Schwerin said that the committee is working on the details and continues to move forward with the project.


Board Committee Concerns


Flowerbed Retaining Wall:  Rich Eastland said that one of the retaining walls around the Springs In Bloom flowerbeds in the downtown area, on Platte Avenue, was knocked over. 


Thank You Note:  Nancy Hobbs said that Brian Kates sent a nice thank you note for assisting with the Community Centers' fundraising.


Chris Lieber:  Vice Chair Obee said that Mr. Lieber has been one of the finest public employees that he has known during his years of working in public service.  On behalf of the Board, he wished Mr. Lieber well.


Community Center Yard Sale:  Mary Mashburn said that the Hillside Community Center raised $900 through a yard sale. 



Being no further business, the Board adjourned at 9:19 a.m.