At a workshop held on Tuesday, May 12, the Winter Park Town Council heard from Winter Park & Fraser Chamber Executive Director Catherine Ross on the outlook for summer events and activities. Members of the Chamber Board were also in attendance virtually as Ross presented the Chamber’s proposal, clarifying a press release would be sent out by the end of the week.
“Things have been changing fast. This proposed work plan is open for discussion,” said Ross. “We have been pivoting so fast we are all really dizzy.” In light of COVID-19 precautions, she told the council their marketing effort was changing from “come and gather” to “come and experience” in Winter Park. “The #1 priority is to strengthen our brand awareness in the marketplace.” Ross noted that while many are not yet ready to travel, “we want them to think of Winter Park when they are ready.”
Due to restrictions related to large gatherings into the foreseeable future, Ross recommended that all large events be canceled or postponed until Summer 2021. Some of the artists they’d booked for this summer, including Trampled by Turtles and Leftover Salmon on Labor Day weekend, confirmed they were available in a similar time frame in 2021. Others, such as Government Mule, were not. All pre-purchased event tickets will be refunded. The popular Thursday night music series would also be canceled.
For the Fourth of July, Ross threw out the idea of having a “Front Porch” Fireworks show, possibly from 3 different locations to ensure everyone would have the ability to watch from their own front porches and yards instead of congregating in large groups. The Run for Independence would be a virtual event that could be run anytime over the 4th of July weekend.
As for the Tacos and Tequila, Uncorked and Beer Festivals, Ross suggested it also be done virtually by creating walking (and transit riding) tours to participating restaurants and breweries, to keep the attendees spread out.
Ross proposed introducing a Passport-style program with itineraries created by and for the guests. The Chamber would connect four districts: the Village at Winter Park Resort, downtown Winter Park, Fraser and Grand County, so that visitors have the opportunity to experience activities across the valley. The visitors create their own individual itineraries online or at a kiosk by selecting activities they’re interested in. The itinerary will include driving instructions, trail maps and a list of local businesses to help the visitor put their package together. Ross confirmed the costs to create the program were relatively low and well worth the investment.
“I have been a part of this program, it is definitely effective,” said Mayor Nick Kutrumbos, also of Deno’s Mountain Bistro. “I would say proceed with it.”
“It does cost money, but not crazy amounts,” said Ross. “We wanted to get your okay and talk to Public Health.”
The Chamber is also looking into hosting a drive-in movie, possibly in the parking lot at the base of Winter Park Resort. The option would be considered, based upon cost and logistics. Any sort of group gathering has the potential to tax our understaffed police department – an important consideration for any undertaking.
Budgetwise, Ross committed to working with Town Manager Keith Riesberg on a 2020 budget amount to return to the Town which had been allocated for the canceled events.
May 19 Regular Meeting
At their second regular meeting of the month, the council approved the second reading of Ordinance 534 unanimously. The ordinance repeals and reenacts Chapter 3 of Title 4 of the town code. Police Chief Glen Trainor had introduced the ordinance in an effort to align the code with current state law.
The second reading and public hearing of Ordinance 536, an ordinance amending Chapter 4 of Title 3 of the town code designating the Municipal Court as the Liquor Licensing Authority to hear all alleged violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code was held next. No public comment was heard and the council approved the ordinance unanimously.
Town Planner Hugh Bell introduced Ordinance 537, an ordinance that amends sections 7-2-3 and 7-5D-2 of town code to allow for Boutique Hotels in the C-1 zoning district. The C-1 district is located in Old Town Winter Park. The code would define Boutique Hotels as a building or group of buildings containing a minimum of five (5) and a maximum of fifty (50) rooms designed for the temporary occupancy of guests for less than thirty (30) days, in exchange for a fee, with all rooms being accessible from a common area. “Boutique hotels could provide a critical mass of activity to support additional commercial functions in this northern area, such as restaurants, bars, and retail establishments. Such smaller hotel types are better suited to coexist with the scale of existing multi-family developments,” said Bell. The first reading of the ordinance passed unanimously and the second reading was set for the June 2, 2020 regular meeting.
Resolution 1773, a resolution that approved waiver of fees for the new Public Works facility had been tabled at the May 5 meeting so that Public Works Director Gerry Vernon could investigate applicable East Grand Fire Protection District #4 fees for new construction. Vernon had determined that, due to the added square footage of the new facility, a total of $4,423.34 would be due to EGFPD#4.
Vernon asked for waiver of the town’s Building Permit Fee ($43,292.55); Plan Review Fee ($28,140.16); and Affordable Housing Fee ($74,715), but recommended payment of $ 4,423.34 to EGFPD#4. The resolution was approved unanimously.
Vernon next presented Resolution 1774, a resolution approving a Change Order (#1) for the Public Works facility. Totalling $61,356.52, the change order included added costs for four items: 1) Xcel application for gas shut off ($1,777.88); 2) Trash Enclosure ($37,422.34); 3) Excess dirt haul off ($13,855.50); and 4) Add washer and dryer hookup ($8,300.80).
Councilor Chris Seemann stated the cost to build a trash enclosure was excessive and suggested using bear proof container(s) and landscaping instead, thus reducing costs significantly.
Town Manager Riesberg clarified this would deviate from town code, but stated that council had the ability to do so. The lot is fenced and screened and not highly visible to the community.
Councilor Mike Davlin suggested adding a pad with footings so that an enclosure could be added in the future. He estimated that cost to be around $700-800.
Seemann motioned to approve Resolution 1774, with the exclusion of Item #2 – the cost for the Trash Enclosure, for a new total amount of $23,934.18. The motion passed in a 6:1 vote.
Emergency Ordinance to assist business
Manager Riesberg introduced Emergency Ordinance 538. To assist businesses with challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ordinance would temporarily suspend the town’s disposable bag fee, certain sections of the town sign code which relate to banners and sandwich boards, waive design review and associated fees for temporary outdoor patios for restaurants and authorize the town clerk to approve temporary modifications of liquor-licensed premises for temporary outdoor patios for restaurants. The temporary ordinance would be in effect through October 31, 2020, at which time any improvements would need to be brought into compliance with the town code. Council approved the ordinance unanimously.
June 2 Regular Meeting
On second reading, hearing no public comment, Ordinance 537, which amended town code to allow for Boutique Hotels as permitted use in the C-1 Zoning District (Old Town Winter Park) was approved unanimously.
Transit Manager Michael Koch presented Resolution 1775, which approves a grant agreement with the state of Colorado to accept federal CARES Act dollars totalling $378,106. The funds will be utilized for operating expenses, offsetting some of the loss in sales tax revenues. The funds would be applied to transit expenses incurred by the towns of Winter Park, Fraser and Granby; however, monthly management fees would continue to be billed to the towns of Fraser and Granby. Council approved the resolution unanimously.
Resolution 1776, a second amendment to the contract with the Winter Park and Fraser Chamber of Commerce was next discussed. Following up to the first amendment, which was approved in April and resulted in a $100,000 reversal of Chamber budget funds due to a drop in events and activities, the money was utilized to fund the Small Business Assistance Fund. Riesberg and Chamber Executive Director Catherine Ross had further whittled away at the Chamber’s 2020 budget, reducing compensation by an additional $331,100.
With fire restrictions already in place on Forest Service lands and in neighboring counties, Ross recommended canceling 4th of July fireworks. She explained this would also avoid potential confrontation scenarios for local law enforcement. Instead, visitors would be encouraged to come visit and spend time with family, venture out into the outdoors and get away from the stress.
It was noted that, with the recent approval of the county’s variance request from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), it wouldn’t take many new cases of COVID-19 to shut the community back down.
Ross said she had met with Chief Glen Trainor to talk about potential scenarios. The Run for Independence would still take place, only virtually using Strata. Participants would register online and get a custom buff, and awards would also be done virtually. “This helps keep the event alive,” said Ross.
As for the culinary events (Tacos and Tequila, Uncorked and Beer Festival), Ross planned to meet with local restaurants on the events. “If it causes stress then we won’t do it,” she said.
A Drive-in movie option had also been investigated, but the costs were found to be prohibitive. Instead, Ross suggested inviting people to Winter Park with the focus being Colorado Unfiltered, Venture Out, plan an activity.
King’s Crossing Road Open House
On Wednesday evening, June 3, the town hosted a virtual open house to give an overview of the improvements planned for connecting the town to the new Leland Creek Underpass.
Manager Riesberg clarified that the presentation was intended to cover the roadway improvements to be constructed in the coming year; the impacts to trails and future connections; and the plans for the at-grade crossing. Topics that would not be covered during the open house included the Cornerstone Holdings LLC litigation; merits of the underpass vs. at-grade crossing; and detailed financials.
Over 50 interested parties attended the meeting. Some had RSVP’d and attended in person, while most attended virtually. All were requested to email their questions and comments to Assistant Town Manager Alisha Janes.
Riesberg presented an overview of the changes to be made to three roadway segments: King’s Crossing Road, Grand Park Drive and the connection of Lion’s Gate Drive to Old Victory Road.
It is assumed that the Union Pacific Railroad will petition the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to close the at-grade crossing on King’s Crossing Road. With that in mind, the plans account for the closure, with a hammerhead turnaround located just east of the railroad tracks. The town is exploring the potential of keeping a pedestrian crossing over the closure.
Once completed, King’s Crossing Road would connect to Grand Park Drive, run through the underpass and feed into the Grand Park development. Old Victory Road would also be completed, connecting Lion’s Gate Drive with Old Victory Road. Two future access points to connect Hideaway Junction Phases 2&3 to future Grand Park development were roughed in to the overall plan, but would not be completed until the development is approved.
A resident of the Solar Townhomes, located just east of the railroad crossing, expressed concern with buses using their drive to turnaround. Transit Manager Michael Koch said the buses would not use a cul-de-sac or driveway to turn around. Instead, they would retool the transit route to work around the changes.
Another resident asked when the “ugly green gate” leading to Old Victory Road from King’s Crossing Road would be removed. Riesberg confirmed it would be removed upon completion of the roads, occurring simultaneously with the dedication of King’s Crossing Road.
With uncertainty regarding pedestrian access across the railroad crossing, attendees requested a second open house be held once the answer is known.
The town has posted their presentation on their website and encourages residents to send questions and comments to Alisha Janes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winter Park Town Council meets regularly on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 pm. The meetings are open to the public. To find out more, visit wpgov.com.