Thursday, March 10, 2011
Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
March 10, 2011
1401 Recreation Way
Board Members Present: Kent Obee, Charles Castle, Andy Finn, Jackie Hilaire, Mary Mashburn, Nancy Hobbs, Kira Pasquesi, Richard Stettler
Absent: Carl Reinhardt
Opening: Chair Kent Obee called the meeting to order at 7:33 a.m.
Great Parks - Great Communities: Bill Koerner with the Trails and Open Space Coalition said that he would like to recruit Parks Board members to serve on the subcommittees (i.e. Fundraising, Outreach and Government-Interaction) of the Great Parks - Great Communities initiative. Board members are to contact Mr. Koerner via email if interested.
A meeting is scheduled in the evening of March 10th with government representatives from each of the governments in El Paso County, at which time they will be briefed on the status of the initiative.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mary Mashburn made a motion to approve the minutes from the February 10, 2011 Board meeting. Motion seconded by Kira Pasquesi and carried unanimously.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Chair Obee welcomed Charles Castle, who was appointed as a regular Board member on March 8th by City Council to replace Rich Eastland.
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:
- Robert Moehring (15 years), Skilled Maintenance Technician - Parks Division
- April Moya (15), Maintenance Technician - Parks Division
- Jerry Miller (15), Skilled Maintenance Technician - Golf Division
City Auditorium - Friends Update (Item #2)
Kim King, Parks Administration Manager, said this item will be presented by the members of the Friends of the Historic City Auditorium who will provide an update on the Friends group as well as the proposed plan to renovate the City Auditorium.
Jo Peterson, President of the Friends of the Historic City Auditorium (FoHCA), distributed the following invitations to the Board members:
1. The Friends of the Historic City Auditorium Membership Application.
2. St. Patrick's Day Sack Lunch Serenade on March 17th at 12:00 noon. The Sack Lunch Serenade is scheduled from May 1st to September 1st.
3. "Secret Places and Hidden Spaces", a social event sponsored by the FoHCA and the Pikes Peak Organ Theater Society, which is scheduled on March 27th at 3:00 p.m. The event will include guided tours of the non-public spaces of the City Auditorium, a live band, Tom O'Boyle at the Mighty Wurlitzer, and refreshments.
Tom Webb, former President and current member of the FoHCA, said that the FoHCA has been working cooperatively with the Parks Department and they would like to continue that relationship in order to resolve some of the issues, especially with the budget challenges.
The City Auditorium has been facing budget challenges for the past nine years, including possible closure. During that time, the FoHCA was created, establishing a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status. The FoHCA generates its funds through concession-type service operations (i.e. antique shows, bell ringers, sack lunch serenades, etc.), as well as donations and memberships.
In the past several years, the FoHCA restored and reinstalled approximately ninety of the two hundred seats in the Lon Chaney Theater, which cost over $300 per seat. Approximately $1,500 was spent to replace tiles and refurbish the restrooms by replacing counters, sinks, faucets, tables and others items that were considered semi-safety issues. Additionally they have restored wood work, replaced carpet and mats in the front and side door ways and re-carpeted the Lon Chaney Theater. The FoHCA is currently in negotiation to restore tiles in the Café area and possibly replace the old tables.
Dave Weesner, an architect and Chairman of the Organ Society, said that the City Auditorium was completed in 1923 at a cost of $424,000. The first event held was the Colorado Springs High School graduation. The Auditorium did not have any seats or balcony at that time. The seats were installed after the graduation. Mr. Weesner was one of the people who saved the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ from the Chief theatre in 1973. It cost the City of Colorado Springs $5,500 to rebuild the organ and install at the City Auditorium. The organ is played at least fifty times per year.
The goal of the FoHCA is to preserve and maintain the City Auditorium for future generations. This is a multi-purpose public facility, which offers a variety of events and activities that benefit many in the community.
The FoHCA would like the City of Colorado Springs' and the Parks Board's commitment to keep the Auditorium operating for at least twenty years so the FoHCA may pursue grants and donations to restore, maintain and preserve the facility. Mr. Weesner said that the City Auditorium is nearly self-sustaining at this time.
In response to Board member Castle's question, John Carricato, Manager of City Auditorium, said that the City Auditorium is a self-sustaining facility. In 2010, the Auditorium spent $120,000, which included salaries, utilities and maintenance cost. In terms of maintenance, $8,000 was from the City's funds with additional funding provided by the Friends group.
Chair Obee expressed appreciation to the Friends group for their support.
Pikes Peak - America's Mountain: Proposed Tollgate Replacement (Item #3)
Jack Glavan, Manager of Pikes Peak - America's Mountain, provided the following presentation:
- Pikes Peak - America's Mountain operates the Pikes Peak Highway and the associated visitor facilities including the Summit House, Glen Cove Inn, Crystal Reservoir Gift Shop, and the recreational corridor (hiking, picnic grounds, and interpretive trail) under a Special Use Permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The Permit was first issued by the USFS in 1948. The current Permit will expire in 2020. The Highway and all structures are owned by the United States under the administration of the USFS (except for the maintenance garage and the Crystal Reservoir Visitors Center).
- Revenue is generated from tollgate and concessionaire fees. These fees provide visitor and ranger services, highway maintenance and construction, facility maintenance and construction, and interpretive and educational services, and special project funding such as the erosion and sedimentation control project.
- The Pikes Peak Highway Recreational Corridor Master Plan was approved by the USFS and the City of Colorado Springs in 1992. The Plan contained five major elements: Erosion and Sedimentation Control, Transportation, Major Site Specific Improvements, which included the tollgate, interpretive programs, and signage.
- 2011 capital projects include:
◦ Erosion and sedimentation control project at Basin 7 ($1.9 million) - Complete 1.5 miles of 3 mile basin.
◦ Repair/replace riprap weirs in switchback ($100,000).
◦ Complete construction of new Tollgate ($150,000 for Phase I).
- The existing gate is over 40 years old. It is 10' x 17' in size and has two entrance gates on either side of the tollgate with a double-gated exit. During summer, three to four rangers are working in the tollgate plus other ranger highway staff check in and out of the tollgate on a daily basis. The current tollgate does not have the functional space needed for efficient Ranger operations, and does not serve as an "aesthetically pleasing" first impression for America's Mountain.
- The proposed tollgate, which is approximately 1,300 sq.ft. (36' x 36'), will follow the Master Plan theme, Rustic American, incorporating heavy timbers with a green metal roof. There will be three entrance gates with one double gate exit.
The new location of the tollgate will address alternate transportation in the future (i.e. mass transportation/buses) and provide increased parking areas, a kiosk for visitors, and restrooms.
- The proposed tollgate floor plan and site plan were explained thru renderings.
- Due to the project size and cost, it will be funded over two years. The 2011 Capital Project request of $150,000 for Phase 1 was approved by City Council during the current year budget cycle. The request for Phase 2 will be made during the 2012 budget process.
- In accordance with the permit, the design was submitted to the USFS for review and approval. The USFS has provided comments on several issues they would like addressed and have approved the initial submittal. Currently, design is proceeding with an anticipated construction start date of late August or early September 2011.
There was a brief discussion between the Board and Mr. Glavan regarding the following:
- Phase I is to complete at least half of the building while keeping the existing tollgate operational until all three gates are in place. The funding is not available to complete the entire tollgate at this time. The project will begin in fall of this year.
- The busiest day at the Pikes Peak Highway is around the July 4th weekend with 4,000 to 5,000 visitors. July is the busiest month with approximately 90,000 visitors.
- Pikes Peak Marathon has approximately 1,000 visitors with almost the same number of vehicles. Parking is an issue at the summit so the people are shuttled to the top. The number of parking spaces on the summit is approximately 150.
- The exit gate, which is double wide, can accommodate oversized (construction) vehicles.
- With the new tollgate, there will be an additional 20 parking spaces for visitors and 8 to 10 spaces behind the tollgate for staff.
- Mt. Evans toll road is owned by the State and it is a voluntary toll road for those who use the facilities such as restrooms and picnic tables. The visitor count from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend is 100,000 to 150,000.
- Running event up to the summit has to be discussed with the USFS because that is not a permitted use at this time. Regarding having a running event in conjunction with a bike race, staff was not sure if the bike race would want to include the runners at the same time. The first bike race in 2010 paid a fee to close the entire Highway. The Pikes Peak Highway has exclusive use policies which have been approved by the USFS.
- Concerns from the USFS regarding the Plan included a turn-around area for those who decided not to pay and for buses, and minor adjustments for buildings including Crystal and Glen Cove buildings to have the same theme on the 18" wall borders.
- Erosion control, which essentially includes paving and related drainage improvements will be completed by 2012. The 2011 project includes two sediment basins and replacing 14 culverts.
- There will be an increase in the maintenance and utility costs since the new building is larger than the existing one but in terms of staffing, that will not increase.
- Fishing at the reservoirs will begin on May 1st.
STAFF REPORT (Item #4)
Kim King, Manager of Parks Administration, Kurt Schroeder, Manager of Parks, Trails and Open Space, and Dal Lockwood, Golf Manager, reported on the following items:
Patty Jewett Golf Course Pond: Mr. Lockwood said that Patty Jewett began irrigating in late February. Regarding the new pond's bubble issue, there is a possibility that the bubble is partly from soil-borne gas. Therefore, staff will wait until the ground thaws to see if there will be a natural gas exchange between the soil around the lake and the soil in the key trench where the liner is folded into. Staff had initially noticed the bubble when the grounds were frozen solid. If the natural gas exchange does not work to alleviate the bubble, then staff will use the burping technique, which Mr. Lockwood explained on the white board.
Staff will provide an update at the next Board meeting.
SeeMore the Eagle: In response to Board member Mashburn's question regarding revitalization of the SeeMore the Eagle program from the last meeting, Ms. King said that this was discussed with the staff in charge of the Pikes Peak Youth Council and the Mayor's 100 Teens program. If there is potentially a special event, staff could look into opportunities for an appearance by SeeMore but with lack of staff and timing of youth's availability during the day, the program is not feasible at this time. Initially, the program was coordinated by the Police Department, which supplied some funding for the program.
Colorado Springs Swim School: As a follow up from previous meetings regarding the numbers for Colorado Springs Swim School, Ms. King said that the Department had to pay for the utilities for Wilson Ranch pool through the summer. This was due to leak at the pool, which staff was not aware of until CSSS began operating the site. The agreement with the concessionaire was for the City of Colorado Springs to turn over a fully-functional building, however, that was not the case. Thus the City had paid for the utilities and the amount of reimbursement from CSSS is currently being negotiated. The leak was addressed at the end of the season.
The Aquatics and Fitness Center (AFC) also has had maintenance issues while under the operation of CSSS. Staff is having to negotiate the utilities at this facility as well. Staff is currently in the process of finalizing an agreement for reimbursement with CSSS.
Staff will provide an update to the Board as well as City Council.
Monument Valley and Valley Hi Pools: Staff met with two different groups who have expressed interest in potentially operating the Monument Valley pool and Valley Hi pool during this summer. Staff is anticipating to receive their proposals within the next couple of weeks. The City's contract with the Colorado Spring Swim School included that the CSSS has the first right of refusal on all facilities. Staff does not anticipate that CSSS will want to expand at this time.
If the proposals are to be contracted with the new groups, the City's requirement would be similar to CSSS' contract such as the City would provide the basic facility and the contractor would be required to provide public hours of operation, etc.
Staff will provide updates as the process moves forward.
Trail Tracks e-Newsletter: The Board packet included an article from the Trail Tracks e-Newsletter regarding "American Trail - Ensuring trails for our future".
Mr. Schroeder said that at the last Board meeting, staff mentioned a change in the definition of mobility that the Department of Justice is reviewing. The bottom line is that there is and will be a broadened definition of personal mobility devices that people maybe allowed to use in our parks, trails and open space areas. There will be a number of different types and styles of vehicular devices which could eventually be seen on the trails.
Manitou Incline Site Development and Management Plan: At the February 22nd Council meeting, the Council approved the Manitou Incline Site Development and Management Plan.
The Plan was also presented to the Manitou Springs Planning Commission on March 9th, at which time they approved the Plan unanimously. The Plan is scheduled to be presented to Manitou Springs City Council on March 29th.
Springs in Bloom: With the return of the Springs in Bloom flowerbed adoption program, the Department sent notices to the previous adopters regarding the program as well as publishing information in the Gazette and the Colorado Springs Independent. The flowers will be purchased by the City from a private contractor. At this time, the Department is still looking for adopters.
Election Related: Mayoral Candidate, Steve Bach, is planning to visit the Department this morning at 10:00 a.m.
Union Meadows Social Trail Issue: There is a City property in the vicinity of Union Meadows Open Space that is under the responsibility of Public Works. This property, used by the residents in that area, has a well-established social trail which goes to Union Meadows. There has been a significant erosion gully created which recently collapsed. The residents requested the City's assistance regarding the situation. With a cooperative effort between City Departments, City Engineering created the design; Public Works provided the materials; and Parks Department staff repaired the gully by extending the culvert pipe to 100 feet and rehabilitating the surrounding area.
Daddy Daughter Dance: The Daddy Daughter Dance program is still taking reservations for both evenings; April 8th and 9th.
Mayor's 100 Teens: The Department is accepting nominations for the Mayor's 100 Teens program. This is open to teens in grades 9, 10 or 11. The deadline for the applications is April 1st but the Department will extend that to mid April.
Staff would like Board members to pass the information on to those who might be eligible. Additional information and the application are on the Department's website.
Update on Handball Court: In response to Board member Castle, Sarah Bryarly, Interim Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, provided an update regarding the handball court.
Staff met with the architect during the week of February 28th. The architect provided three proposals regarding what the handball courts might look like. Staff held a preliminary discussion with the Downtown Partnership and plans on meeting with the Police Department as well. The Friends group is in the process of raising the necessary funds. A neighborhood meeting will be scheduled towards the end of March or early April. After that, the item will be brought back to the Board for review and approval.
Approval Placement of White Acres In a Conservation Easement (#5)
Sarah Bryarly, Interim Manager of Design, Development and TOPS presented this item.
In terms of background, the TOPS Working Committee approved the purchase of White Acres on March 4, 2009. White Acres is an important property in the preservation of the City's backdrop, which includes Red Rock Canyon and Section 16. With the assistance of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon, the TOPS Program was able to purchase the property over the course of three years, beginning in 2009 and ending in 2011. At that time, Proverbs 3:5 LLC, the owner of White Acres, did not require a conservation easement to complete the transaction.
Red Rock Canyon currently is located within a conservation easement. The Palmer Land Trust is currently in the process of placing Manitou Section 16 within a conservation easement.
Members of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon have asked both the Palmer Land Trust and the TOPS Program if White Acres can be included in a conservation easement, providing it with further protection. After initial discussion with both organizations, it was determined a conservation easement can be sought at the same time the conservation easement is being completed for Section 16. The Palmer Land Trust is currently leading the effort for Section 16 and is willing to fold in White Acres resulting in a significant cost savings.
The Friends of Red Rock Canyon felt that by placing this property within a conservation easement, it will allow White Acres to follow similar criteria as Red Rock Canyon and Section 16 for consistency (i.e. maintenance requirements, conservation easement requirements, etc.). It will also provide a second level of protection on the property, in addition to the requirements and regulations of the TOPS Ordinance.
There is a private contributor who has stepped forward and offered to assist with the cost of the conservation easement for White Acres.
The TOPS Working Committee recommended moving forward with placing White Acres in a conservation easement; although before the easement is finalized, they would like the opportunity to review the document.
Staff recommended approval to continue to move forward with the Palmer Land Trust and the Friends of Red Rock Canyon to place White Acres within a conservation easement.
Don Ellis, representing the Friends of Red Rock Canyon, said that Ms. Bryarly mentioned that GOCO was a funding partner for both Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Section 16. Mr. Ellis wanted to remind the Board that White Acres also had a funding partner, the Friends of Red Rock Canyon, who contributed $77,000.
The Friends of Red Rock Canyon cannot impose a conservation easement as GOCO can but the Friends group can encourage the placement of a conservation easement on White Acres. It is an appropriate step in integrating all three properties (White Acres, Red Rock Canyon and Section 16) into one open space.
Mr. Ellis said there is no cost to the City for the conservation easement. The Palmer Land Trust is raising the money for the Section 16 conservation easement and a donor will pay for the White Acres conservation easement.
Mr. Ellis distributed copies of the resolution that the Friends of Red Rock Canyon Board of Directors approved on February 22, 2011 which stated as follows:
The Friends of Red Rock Canyon Board of Directors requests that the City of Colorado Springs Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services approve the granting of a conservation easement for White Acres, to be combined with the Section 16 conservation easement.
Amanda Hill, with the Palmer Land Trust, said that she agreed with Mr. Ellis, especially regarding permanent protection which the conservation easement provides on this property. Ms. Hill said that a cost to put a conservation easement on a property is very high for the Palmer Land Trust as well as the cost of stewarding it into the future. However, the cost is lower for private properties if there are additional phases. The Palmer Land Trust is treating White Acres as a phased deal concurrent with Section 16. Therefore, this is a good opportunity to put White Acres under a conservation easement.
In response to Richard Stettler's question, Ms. Hill said that it is difficult to overturn a conservation easement. The extra protection provided in this case is in the fact that a third party holds the development rights. She said that Federal and State requirements for what the Land Trust must do and how it must treat the property are very high standards.
Mr. Stettler asked if this has been done in the past, putting a conservation easement on a property which is already owned, and said that his concern was that if we would be in trouble with the voters for just giving up valuable assets without anything in return.
Ms. Hill said her personal opinion was that the voters voted for the TOPS program and wished to have the City purchase White Acres so that it would be protected for their benefit, and this way (putting conservation easement) the property would remain in public benefit.
Ms. Bryarly said that the City has never put a property in a conservation easement unless the funding required it to be in a conservation easement. The value of the property is through its natural resources and that is what is being preserved. The City/TOPS has no interest in selling this property. Therefore, having an extra layer of protection would not hurt the City or the tax payers.
Mr. Stettler said that we have a stewardship responsibility to maintain the value of assets which we hold for the public and we are intentionally and purposely decreasing the value of an asset, though that would depend on the point of view. From an open space view it is increasing the value in perpetuity but it would be different from the real estate viewpoint.
Ms. Bryarly said that looking at it from open space and natural resource value, a conservation easement would put a higher value on the property, which means that the property will not be developed. When a property is purchased with TOPS funds, we are increasing its value by preserving natural resources and protecting them from any future development.
Mr. Stettler said that we are over-reaching beyond what has been given through the TOPS Ordinance. We are setting precedence with this, which could be an issue.
Kim King, Manager of Parks Administration, said that if the taxpayers would have to pay to place a conservation easement then that would be more of an issue. They may not feel that it is necessary. In this case, the funding has been raised and the taxpayers do not have to pay for it. There could be an argument that for consistency sake and the fact that we were able to have these funds raised for this purpose, if the property were ever sold the donation would have be returned to the donor.
Mr. Stettler said that is a good argument which leads him to support this item. We are putting a betterment on what we intend to do with this property and it is not costing us anything. He said that this was a good solution but we need to be prepared to answer future concerns that may be brought up.
Chair Obee said that the State Land Board did not receive any tax benefits for having an easement put on Section 16. GOCO required the conservation easements because their money was put into it. The reason GOCO insists on conservation easements is precisely for that additional degree of protection. Likewise, the Friends of Red Rock Canyon who made a substantial donation is of the idea that they were protecting the land in perpetuity. Chair Obee said that the spirit of doing this is very much in line and even in term of economics with the spirit of protecting Section 16 with an easement.
Mr. Stettler said that he agreed with Chair Obee. However, he wanted the record to show that we are doing this in order to be consistent with what is being done with Section 16. If we have this in the record than we have a better platform to stand on.
Charles Castle said that it is setting a precedence but the public is asking for a conservation easement on this property.
Richard Stettler made a motion to approve staff to continue moving forward with the placement of White Acres within a conservation easement. Jackie Hilaire seconded the motion.
Mr. Stettler asked if this would concern the parcels 1 through 4 and not the parcels 5 and 6?
Ms. Bryarly said that parcel 5 is where the extension of the 31st Street is planned. This was a donation because it could not purchase with TOPS funds. The City does not own the parcel 6. It is privately owned.
The Board voted on the above motion and carried unanimously.
Sarah Bryarly, Interim Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, reported on the following:
White Acres, Section 16 and Red Rock Canyon Master Plan: A Request For Proposal for White Acres, Section 16 and Red Rock Canyon Master Plan went out on March 9th. The bids are due back on April 12th.
Midland Trail Phase 3: The project is underway with concrete work.
Volunteer Steward Program: A meeting with all the Friends groups was held in mid February. This program is spearheaded by the Trails and Open Space Coalition. Currently, the Friends groups are working on a project list for the summer. There will be three Crew Leadership trainings, with the first scheduled this evening (March 10th) from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Palmer Room. In late March, a crew training, which includes a class session and outdoor field training is scheduled. In April, there will be a class on how to maintain the existing trails. These classes will be taught by the Friends of the Peak.
Manitou Incline Task Force: The meeting on March 9th lasted until 9:40 p.m. Ms. Bryarly thanked Board member Pasquesi for her participation in the Task Force.
Board Committee Report
Pioneers Museum Board: In response to Mary Mashburn, Matt Mayberry, Manager of Cultural Services, provided the following information:
- The Museum implemented the "Museum Experience" program in late February. Staff is training the community curators to help develop Museum exhibits. A total of ten people registered for this program. The first exhibit is scheduled on March 26th. Board members are welcome to attend.
- The Museum rolled out a unified museum membership. In the past, the Friends of the Museum has been the membership organization. The Museum learned from the transition last year that the Museum needs to brand membership in itself. Therefore, this is a part of the governance transition. The Museum rolled out the program a week ago and to date received seventy-five memberships back which is approximately $4,000. The Unified Museum Membership will be sent to other groups, including the Parks Board.
- In partnership with the World Affairs Council, and in conjunction with the POW exhibit, the Museum will host Roxanne Saberi, a Persian American from North Dakota who was held prisoner for six month in Iran. Ms. Saberi has recently released a book and she will be at the Museum on March 16th to sign the books. The cost is $20.00 per person.
Ms. Mashburn said that a Resolution of Appreciation is scheduled for the March 22nd City Council meeting for Brian Kates and the committee that is working on the Meadows Park Community Center. They will be recognized for the amount of money they have raised, the new preschool, the food pantry, etc.
TOPS Working Committee: Richard Stettler said that the Committee is putting together a list of the unfinished trail projects. Mr. Stettler felt that it is important to make the connections and start utilizing the trails. Mr. Stettler said that he was concerned with the new ADA regulations.
Council Candidate Forum: Chair Obee expressed compliments to Susan Davies and Bill Koerner of the Trails and Open Space Coalition for the Council candidate forum which they conducted. One of the issues which was brought up frequently was the trail connectivity issue.
Great Parks - Great Communities Subcommittee: Charles Castle said that he will participate in one of the subcommittees mentioned by Mr. Koerner during Citizen Discussion.
Jackie Hilaire said that many people are interested in this project and that the funding will be met via various resources.
Board Vacancy in July: Chair Obee said that the Board will need two new Board members in July. One to replace Chair Obee since he will be term limited and Kira Pasquesi who will be leaving in July to pursue higher education.
Chair Obee said the process of appointing new Board members should begin as soon as the election is over.
Kurt Schroeder, Manager of Parks, Trails and Open Space, said that he will speak to the Assistant City Manager, Nancy Johnson, for the expedited process.
Re-routing of Trail in Stratton Open Space: Chair Obee complemented on the trail re-routing at Stratton Open Space. He said that he was very pleased and that it was a sensible re-routing.
One Hour Volunteers: Andy Finn said that he and Board member Pasquesi attended one of the One Hour Volunteer projects which occurred in his neighborhood and complemented the project. Mr. Finn said that he was amazed at what could be accomplished in one hour with motivated and energetic group of people.
Being no further business, the Board adjourned at 9:40 a.m.