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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MINUTES

 

 

Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

March 11, 2010

1401 Recreation Way

 

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

 

Absent:  Nancy Hobbs

 

Opening:  Chair Jim Schwerin called the meeting to order at 7:32 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.

 

There were no items presented by citizens for discussion.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Approval of the February 11, 2010 minutes were postponed to the March meeting.

 

PRESENTATION

 

Water Rates Presentation   (Item #1)

Kurt Schroeder, Manager of Parks, Trails and Open Space, said that the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services pays the commercial rate for water to irrigate over 900 acres of turf throughout the park system.  The rates for water have increased 56.9% the past two years and are forecasted to increase 10-12% annually for the next 8 to 10 years.  The Department budget for utility costs has not kept pace with the rate increases and the budget for irrigation was actually decreased in 2007 and 2008.  Due to concern for the impact reduced watering would have on the condition of the turf and trees in parks, City Council directed Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to recommend a modified water rate structure for the Parks Department.  Park staff and CSU staff have been working on a revised rate structure that would fit within their administrative guidelines and provide relief to the Parks Department?s cost of irrigating.

 

Rate Comparison ($/kGal)

% of Allocation Used

Seasonal Inches Applied

Current Summer Rate

Current Winter Rate

Current Military Rate

Average Rate (Pilot Program)

% of Current Summer Rate

40%

10.2

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$3.32

60%

60%

15.3

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$3.69

67%

80%

20.4

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$3.87

70%

100%

25.5

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$4.21

76%

120%

30.6

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$5.35

97%

140%

35.7

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$6.17

111%

160%

40.8

$5.53

$2.95

$4.08

$7.13

129%

 

On February 17th CSU staff presented to the Utilities Board a pilot program to be implemented at 19 parks.  The program featured a tiered rate structure that would encourage conservation through rate reductions if certain watering thresholds were not exceeded.  Exceeding the thresholds would mean increased rates

 

Utilities Board instructed CSU staff to revisit the original proposal to see if additional savings for the Parks Department could be realized.  Additional meetings have occurred between CSU and Park staff to assess the next steps to be included within the pilot project.  CSU will file their rate case before City Council on March 23, 2010, with a public hearing on the rates and approval by Council scheduled for April 27, 2010.

 

CSU has also indicated that through their conservation plan, they will commit $300,000~$500,000 to assist the Parks Department with conservation methods.  The Department currently has at least 30 systems which are 30 years or older.  The Department began replacing these systems two years ago but the project ceased due to lack of funding. 

 

There was a brief discussion between the Board members and Mr. Schroeder after the presentation, which included use of non-potable and raw water, watering 11" vs. 15", discussion with CSU regarding a possibility of expanding the pilot project to the entire parks system, word out to neighborhoods regarding no water for their medians and trees in medians, parks and neighborhoods (Colorado College and BID have expressed interest in caring for their areas) and Special Improvements Maintenance Districts (SIMDs), especially in the newer areas, are maintained by SIMD mill levy revenue.  SIMD maintenance includes parkways and trees.  The cost of a lost tree can range from $700~$10,000 per tree.

 

Adopt-a-Park Update   (Item #2)

Kurt Schroeder, Manager of Parks, Trails and Open Space, said that Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services has always relied heavily on the efforts of volunteers and adopters.  This reliance has become all the more important with the 80% reduction in the Parks Department budget for 2010.  Parks staff has been working with a number of individuals and groups in a variety of ways to facilitate the adoptive role they would like to play to help with the care and maintenance of parks.

 

The announcement of the removal of trash cans from the neighborhood parks spurred a renewed interest in the Adopt-A-Park program.  Many have contacted the Department inquiring how they may pitch in to help.  The adoption of trash cans has garnered significant interest although there have been a variety of inquiries with several levels of adoptions implemented (i.e. provide liners and dispose trash).  Calls and/or e-mails are received daily with the completed number of adoption agreements changing almost daily. 

 

Steve Immel, a citizen, has created a website called "Proud of Our Parks" is generating a lot of interests in Adopt-A-Park program.

 

Mr. Schroeder has been visiting HOAs seeking their assistance at their parks.  There has been a positive feedback from the community.  There is considerable interest in the community wanting to help the Department both financially and through volunteerism.

 

As of March 11, 2010 thirty two adoptions have been formalized, ranging from trash cans to full maintenance services.

Nancy Lewis Park? Full maintenance

2.      Thorndale Park - Trim mowing, weed control, dumpster, trash cans

3.      Acacia Park ? Mowing, trimming, edging

4.      Henry Park ? Trash cans

5.      Otero Park - Trash cans

6.      Woodstone Park - Trash cans

7.      Mid Shooks Run - Trash cans

8.      Broadmoor Valley Park ? Trash cans

9.      Stetson Park- Trash cans

10.  Oak Meadows Park- Trash cans

11.  Mary Kyer Park - Trash cans

12.  John Stone Park - Trash cans

13.  Judge Lunt Park - Trash cans

14.  Heathercrest Park - Trash cans

15.  N. Douglas Creek Trail - Trash cans

16.  Pulpit Rock - Trash cans

17.  Mountain Shadows - Trash cans

18.  Bristol Park - Trash cans

19.  Antlers Park - Trash cans

20.  Ken Jordan Park - $1,000 toward maintenance

21.  Jared Jensen Park - $1,000 toward maintenance

22.  Quail Lake Park ? Port-a-let

23.  Discovery Park ? Trash cans

24.  Westcreek Park ? Water above 11?, fertilization, weed control, trash cans

25.  Villa Loma Park ? Trash cans

26.  Oak Valley Ranch Park ? Trash cans

27.  Cottonwood Park ? Trash cans

28.  Lunar Park ? Trash cans

29.  Remington Park ? Trash cans

30.  Snowy River Park ? Trash cans

31.  Stratton Open Space ? Trash cans

32.  Memorial Skateboard Park ? Port-a-let

 

A brief discussion ensued following the presentation, which included monetary donations going into a Gift Trust account, the Adopt-A-Park program and Volunteer Stewardship Plan, utilizing contract mowers versus staff if financially viable and the importance of recognizing volunteers through adopter signage.

 

Ms. Mashburn asked for a copy of the list of parks which have been adopted.

 

 Mr. Schroeder explained the vandalism which occurs in parks, especially in the playground areas and the cost to replace equipment.

 

Annual Forestry Report   (Item #3

Paul Smith, Forestry Manager, provided a brief history and a status of the Forestry Division.

Mr. Smith began his presentation by recognizing the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Paul Butcher for his leadership, half time staff forester Becky Lamphear, who is putting in a full time effort and the tireless Forestry Division crew who takes the job to their heart.

Mr. Smith also introduced City Fire Marshall Brett Lacey and said that the Forestry Division, which has been under the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department has moved their operations under the Fire Marshall in the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

 

Mr. Smith provided a brief history of the beginning of the Forestry program, which began with General Palmer?s vision of wide tree line streets and the construction of the El Paso Canal.  The General brought 600 cottonwood trees from the Arkansas Valley to Colorado Springs.  General Palmer was the second President of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) following J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day.

 

In 1910, Ordinance #818 was approved, establishing the position of City Forester and the Department of Forestry.  This was the first such Department west of the Mississippi.  Fred McKown became the first City Forester.

 

The duties of the Department and the City Forester as laid out in the ordinance were much the same as they are today;  inspecting trees for disease, removal of dead and diseased trees and the planting and maintenance of trees. 

 

Mr. McKown's first report to City officials indicated that he had inventoried 1,229 street trees.  The current inventory lists approximately 100,000 plus street trees and 20,000 park trees.  This does not include hundreds of acres of wooded open spaces.  Although the numbers are larger and the equipment and the techniques for carrying out the work have changed and improved over the years, the duties and responsibilities of the Forestry Division have not changed.  Staff still inspects for diseases, removes the dead and diseased trees and plants and maintains the trees.

 

In 2009, the Forestry Division had 14 full-time employees and 4 hourly employees (1 City Forester, 3 Staff Foresters, 10 Forestry Techs, 1 administrator).  The Division received 6,300 calls for service, pruned 1,110 trees, removed 973 trees, planted 632 trees and treated 82 acres in open spaces.

 

In 2010, the Division is operating with 1 City Forester, 1/2 time Staff Forester, 4 Forestry Techs, and 1 to 3 hourly employees.  The responsibilities have not changed but only the ability to respond.  The Division is currently concentrating on hazard tree identification and mitigation, traffic visibility issues and sign clearance and insect and disease management

 

As mentioned earlier, Forestry has now moved under the Fire Marshall but the essential duties and responsibilities still remain the same, with a focus on responding to tree-related emergencies and mitigating hazardous tree situations that could pose a liability to the City and the Urban Forest.

 

An area of concern is the older aging and declining forest.  After a number of tree failures over the last couple of years staff began a hazard tree assessment on maple trees in the older parts of the City and began to address hazardous trees by monitoring and removing those which show significant signs of rot and decay.  Another area of emphasis in 2010 will be to mitigate the Cities liability with blocked signage and visibility obstructions.  In 2009, 441 blocked or obscured street signs were cleared.

 

Mr. Smith invited the Board members to the Arbor Day event on April 30th at Colorado College.  Mr. Smith said that the City fell short of being a Tree City U.S.A. for 33rd consecutive year due to lack of funds.

 

In response to Rich Eastland's suggestion regarding hazardous elimination study grant, especially regards to the signage, Mr. Smith said that the Department has worked with PPRTA and SWENT in the past and it will continue to work with PPRTA on removal projects.

 

Mary Mashburn and Vice Chair Obee said that this presentation is great information for the public.  Mr. Smith said that this information will be accessible through the Forestry website.

Mr. Smith said that staff is working with the Fire Department on getting the word out for the Arbor Day event.

In response to Carl Reinhardt's question regarding Tree City USA, Mr. Smith said that one of the requirement for Tree City USA is the expenditure of $2.00 per capita for care of the urban forest, which equals to approximately $900,000.  The City has a shortfall of approximately $500,000.

 

DIRECTOR'S REPORT   (Item #4)

Paul Butcher, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, provided the following report:

 

Update on Cultural Services Division

 

-    North Cheyenne Caņon, Starsmore Discovery Center, Helen Hunt Falls:  Reached self-sustainability through successful fundraising effort by the Friends of North Cheyenne Caņon for 2010 operations ($77,000).

 

-    Rock Ledge Ranch:  Reached self-sustainability through private funding and fundraising by the Living History Association for 2010 operations.  ($185,000)

 

-    Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum:  To date, the Museum received $97,255.  The Museum will bid out a contract to conduct a sustainability planning study.

 

Update on Recreation Services Division

-    Community Centers:  Staff from each center have been working very hard to raise funds and/or find partners.  RFPs have been received for potential operators/partnerships and are currently under review.  A number of options are being considered for the centers. 

-         Senior Center:  Will be self-sustaining in 2010 through Endowment Fund and donations.

-    Aquatics Program:  There is an interest from a private group operate the aquatics program.  Some funds have been raised.  Discussions are currently underway.

-    Youth and Adult Sports Programs, City Auditorium and Sertich Ice Center:  All programs are doing well.  Revenues generated are currently matching expenditures.

At this point, there is a shortfall of approximately $550,000 in order to keep all the facilities open for the remainder of 2010.

 

On March 22, 2010, staff will provide the full report to City Council regarding the status of the Recreation and Cultural Services.

 

Distribution Items

-     Universally Accessible Playground:  Public Service Announcement informing the public regarding the project.

-     The Gazette Article on South Slope:  Featured an article titled "Utilities to Begin Building Trails" on March 10, 2010.  There is an accelerated effort in development of South Slope.  Utilities Board will be discussing this item at their next meeting.  There is some direction to move forward with the project.  The Parks Department will be involved in the process.

 

 

Alegria "Living" Magazine:  Featured an article titled "The Palmers" in the Winter 2010 Issue.  The article includes history of the Rock Ledge Ranch.

Fundraising for Fourth of July Event:  There is an effort in raising $80,000 for the 4th of July event by a group.  The Department will be assisting the group with logistics but the group will be responsible for raising the funds.

 

Joint City/County Parks Board Meeting:  The meeting will be held after the Parks Board meeting at 11:00 a.m. at the Bear Creek Nature Center (245 Bear Creek Road).  Bill Koerner with the Trails and Open Space Coalition will be making a presentation regarding Sustainable Parks Initiative.

 

Break:  8:57 a.m.

Reconvened:  9:19 a.m.

 

CONTINUING BUSINESS

 

Request on Behalf of the Garden of the Gods Trading Post to Improve Wayfinding Signage in Garden of the Gods Park   (Item #4)

Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, provided the Board with a presentation outlining opportunities to improve the wayfinding signage within Garden of the Gods Park.  Specifically, staff is pursuing the relocation of existing signage, increasing sign visibility by selectively pruning vegetation and creating a hierarchy of information on directional signs.  These proposed changes to the signage are consistent with the specific guidelines established in the Garden of the Gods Master Plan.  No changes or amendments to the master plan are necessary to implement these proposed signage improvements. 

 

There are a number of tiers of signage in the Garden of the Gods:

-     Tier 1  -  This is generally entry signs and there will be no changes to these signs.

-     Tier 2  -  Directional signs - How to get to destination areas. (i.e. Visitor & Nature Center, Rock Ledge Historic Site, Trading Post, etc.) (Signs to be modified)

-     Tier 3  -  Directional signs at destination areas (i.e. parking area, RV park, picnic area, etc.) (No modifications)

-     Street Signs  -  (i.e. Juniper Way Loop, Ridge Road, Garden Drive, etc.)  (No modifications)

 

Staff focused on changes to the Tier 2 signage only.

 

There are eight locations within the Park which have been identified for changes in signage.  Currently there are ten signs but six additional wayfinding signs will be added.

 

The consultants on the signage include representatives from the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, Traffic Engineering, Parks Department Sign Shop, Matrix Design Group, and Design and Development Division.

 

This item is information only at this time and no formal action is required by the Parks Board.

 

Example of changes to signage:

 

Signage on Juniper Way & Garden Drive Southbound:

The existing sign has too much information for one sign, it is too close to the intersection and some information is not needed at this location.

 

Sign 1 & 2    The proposed signage will divide information between two signs.  The first sign refers to information about the park while the second sign refers to adjacent park features.  Both signs are moved further away from the intersection and spaced 140 feet apart.

 

Sign 3           The proposed signage will be directional signage and located in the median.  It will act as a reminder of critical information to the motorist.

 

Signage on Garden Drive & Garden Lane Westbound

The existing signage has too much information on one sign, it is too close to the intersection and some information is not needed.

 

Sign 1           The proposed signage will only include relevant upcoming features and the sign is moved further away from the intersection

Sign 2           Proposed signage will be located in the median and it will act as a reminder of critical information to the motorist

 

The cost estimate for the amended signage is as follows:

                                     Materials         $2,200.00

                                     Installation       $4,500.00

                                     TOTAL          $6,700.00

 

In response to Rich Eastland's question regarding the fonts on the signage, Mr. Lieber said that the master plan specifically identifies font size.  If that was to change then a public meeting needs to be conducted for a master plan amendment.

 

Terry Haas with the Trading Post thanked the staff for their time on this project and said that he was pleased with the outcome.

 

In response to Mr. Eastland's question regarding roundabouts, Mr. Lieber said that staff had initially explored the idea in a couple of different locations but they are not being considering at this time.

 

TOPS BUSINESS

 

TOPS Update   (Item #6)

Chris Lieber, Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, showed pictures of the construction in progress for the Swing High Universally Accessible Playground.

 

Funding sources for the project are as follows:

General Fund                                   $        - 0 -

TOPS                                             $  400,000

GOCO                                            $  200,000

PLDO                                             $  150,000

Phil Long Community Fund              $  110,000

Gates Family Foundation                 $    25,000

El Pomar                                         $    10,000

King Soopers                                  $    10,000

Aerial Gymnastics                            $    10,000

Donations                                        $    22,000

 

 

 

In response to Rich Eastland's concern regarding skateboard users, Mr. Lieber said that staff is considering adding skateboard cleats on one side.  The other side has rubberized play surface.

 

TOPS Committee continues to meet on a monthly basis.  The Committee is looking at strategic planning effort (i.e. expanding the role of the committee members, etc.)

 

BOARD BUSINESS

 

Board Committee Reports

 

Museum Board:  At the request of Mary Mashburn, Matt Mayberry, Manager of Cultural Services, said that the Museum is one of the five finalists for the Arts Art Creates Community grant for the Hearts, Hands and History program which kicked off on February 6, 2010.  The grant is sponsored by the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado and The Gazette.  In order to receive the grant, the program has to receive the most votes through the Gazette's website.  Hearts, Hands and History program is designed to engage children and families in an effort to bring awareness, education and historical relevance about philanthropy to the community.

 

Manitou Incline Task Force:  Kira Pasquesi said that the next meeting for the Task Force is scheduled on March 11, 6:00 p.m. at the Manitou Springs City Council Chambers.  The Task Force is still in the early stage of planning public process.

 

Art Commission:  Mary Mashburn will continue as the Board representative to the Art Commission. 

 

Board Committee Concerns

 

Fundraising Events for Community Center:  Ms. Mashburn announced the following events for raising funds for the community centers:

 

-          Hillside and Deerfield Hills Community Centers: - Indoor Yard Sale - March 27, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at Hillside Community Center.

-          Westside Community Center:  Sunflower Springtime Festival, March 20, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

-          T-shirts for Community Centers on sale for $10.00.

 

Sustainable Parks Initiative (SPI):  Chair Schwerin suggested having Parks Board representatives at the Sustainable Parks Initiative process.  Carl Reinhardt and Kent Obee volunteered as representatives of the Board and Rich Eastland as an alternate.  The next SPI meeting is scheduled on March 14, 2010.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

 

Negotiations Pertaining to a Land Matter   (Item #5)

Jill Gaeble made a motion to hold a closed Executive Session to discuss ?Negotiations Pertaining to a Land Matter?.  Motion seconded by Carl Reinhardt and carried unanimously.

 

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

 

The Board went into a Closed Executive Session at 9:51 a.m. and finished at 9:55 a.m.

 

 

Being no further business, the Board adjourned at 9:55 a.m. to continue with a joint City/County Parks Board meeting at the Bear Creek Nature Center at 11:00 a.m.