At Tuesday’s Workshop, council members resumed discussion on regulation of OHVs on town streets. A citizen request in the fall had prompted the generation of a survey which was conducted by the towns of Fraser and Winter Park in January.
Town Manager Keith Riesberg presented the results, explaining the limitations of the free Survey Monkey software utilized to gather data.
In total, 524 responses were received. 260 responses had been submitted on the first day. 163 responses came from visitors (31%), 14 respondents had never visited the area (3%) and 78 were from residents of Winter Park (15%). The remainder of the responses came from Fraser residents and were not included in the survey results.
Of the responses received by Winter Park residents, 44 opposed allowing OHVs on town streets (56%), 31 were in support (40%), and, 3 were undecided (4%). The majority of responses submitted by non-residents supported allowing OHVs on town streets.
“To me, the most telling was input received via the comments,” said Riesberg. He noted that there were more comments in opposition than in favor. Concerns expressed included environmental impacts, trail degradation, conflicts between trail users and impact to existing activities.
Regulating and enforcing OHV regulations would add to an already stressed workload of the police department, and emergency services could also be impacted by the added traffic.
Council discussed where logical connections could be made. Riesberg pointed out that Vasquez Road will be closed this summer for a water main project and the water board road also has access limitations. OHVs crossing US 40, while allowable, could lead to illegal travel on the highway corridor.
Headwaters Trails Alliance Executive Director Meara McQuain explained that there are no trails accessible for OHVs out of town. “They are treated like every other vehicle, and limited to Class 1 or 2 improved forest service roads, which limits them to about 11 miles in the area.” Mainly Leland Creek, Corona Pass and Meadow Creek Reservoir are the local access points. “People wanting to access have to trailer their UTVs to Forest Service roads and then ride from there.”
McQuain added, “Grand Lake has designated trails for this access type. They have over 100 miles of trail and road access compared to 11 miles. I can’t say it’s not possible here. Looking at the survey results, some indicated they would come here if Winter Park and Fraser opened up all their roads. I question whether that would be worth it to them – if 11 miles is worth it to them. I am not sure we have that Moab model here right now. We advocate for all recreational users of trails. I don’t feel the time is right.” McQuain said logging would continue for another year on Leland Creek and Jim Creek would also be under repair this summer. “The places for people to access are not going to be accessible in summer 2020.”
Another point is that Fraser already has designated snowmobile routes, which could also be potential OHV routes. “Winter Park doesn’t have that,” said McQuain. She added, “This is bigger than just what summer use is going to be. You need to look at this as year-round. Enforcement- wise, we have seen if you don’t provide adequate outlets for people to use, they will go, regardless of posted signs. Motorized or not, it happens all the time.”
Mayor Jimmy Lahrman observed, “For me, the way I look at it is we need to be way out in front of it and I feel we are already behind.”
Councilman Art Ferrari said, “If this is getting bigger, rather than allowing them anywhere in town, larger, more accessible trailheads where they can drive their trailer and park, with some facilities would be a good middle ground.” He added, “Are we doing this because we are trying to be everything to everybody? Are we trying to be Moab?”
Police Chief Glen Trainor said, “You need to look at what other resort communities are doing. There’s not a single one that allows this and many have more accessible trails. They don’t want that negative interaction. There is no question in my mind this would increase calls. We get about 4-5 calls a year right now. I have very big concerns letting this happen in any way is opening Pandora’s box.”
Chamber Executive Director Catherine Ross referred to the Town’s recently adopted Master Plan. “The branding program focused on quiet and natural surroundings. We are a big county. There are places where federal and state dollars have been spent. Grand Lake has been designated for this. We do have maps with routes. We show guests where they can park. We don’t get pushback from guests on this. They’re expecting to have to trailer to access. Right now, we have challenges with bikes on sidewalks. I’d like to see that resolved. I don’t know how much neighbors would appreciate it if you opened it up. We are excited for them to enjoy their sport on our trail system. We spend time educating them. As far as the branding pillars, I’d be hard pressed to fit this in.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Nick Kutrumbos said, “At this time, this is not a type of priority. If advocates come back with a logical route that makes sense, we can reconsider. We are open to discussion, but bring back something that could work.”
Mayor Lahrman said, “We don’t want to message that motorized vehicles are not welcome.”
Maire Sullivan, with HTA, offered, “With the Trails Smart Sizing project, part of Phase 2 is signage, trailheads and parking enhancements. It is slated 2.5 years out, but could happen sooner, depending on funding.”
“Parking issues, trash issues, waste issues all trickle down from parking issues. We need to plan for all types of user groups,” said Lahrman.
Riesberg said, “The consensus I am seeing, as of today, we are not looking to make changes to our regulations. At a staff level, we can continue conversations and will continue those discussions. I would recommend Grand Places 2050 gives a strong venue. It brings all of the partners to the table. We will continue researching this, see what others are doing and recommend we use Grand Places 2050 as the venue.”
East Grand Fire Impact Fees
East Grand Fire Protection District No. 4 Chief Todd Holzwarth presented the council with the results of the Impact Fee Nexus Study. The town and the district operate under an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and the study is conducted to quantify the reasonable impacts of proposed development on existing capital facilities.
In 2000, when the first study was conducted, the residential impact fee was set at $254 per residential unit or commercial equivalent. Most recently, the study conducted in 2014 resulted in a residential impact fee of $483 and $268 per 1,000 s.f. of non-residential development.
The study, completed December 20, 2019, calculated the maximum justifiable impact fee at $632 per residential unit, a 31% increase, and $280 per 1,000 s.f. of non-residential development, a 4.5% increase.
Holzwarth told the council he had a good conversation with Steve Jensen of the Grand County Builders Association regarding the study results. He said Jensen had no concerns with the rates proposed, as they are part of the cost of new development, and less than most other expenses such as water, sewer and utilities.
“We are a very capital intensive district,” said Holzwarth. He clarified that impact fees can only be used for capital expenses.
East Grand Fire Protection District No. 4 provides service to the towns of Fraser and Winter Park and unincorporated Grand County to Tabernash. Holzwarth told the council he would be presenting the rates to the county planning commission next week and the BOCC following the commission’s recommendation for approval. The Town of Fraser has him on their agenda for the first meeting in March. Holzwarth clarified the new fees would not take effect until all three entities approve them.
Town Manager Riesberg said he would bring an Ordinance to the council in a future meeting for their consideration. “We want to be consistent with other entities,” he said.
Police Officers commended for life-saving efforts
Chief Glen Trainor and Commander Donnie Ransom presented Officer Johnnie Stensvad, Sergeant Paul Finley and Officer Tyler Kupser with the department’s Lifesaving Award. Trainor explained, when the officers responded to a call on August 17, they found an unconscious 71 year old female. The officers removed the woman from her vehicle and performed CPR until EMS arrived, transporting her to Middle Park Health where she was helicoptered to a Denver hospital. “They showed exceptional strength of character during a chaotic time by doing the right thing at the right time. It is a great honor to present them with the Lifesaving Award,” said Chief Trainor.
Special Event Permits
Council approved two Special Event Permits submitted by Winter Park Resort for their Mardi Gras celebration to be held on February 22 and St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 14. Both events will be held in the Village Plaza and will feature live music, crafts and face painting.
Transit receives more grant funding
Transit Manager Michael Koch presented Resolution 1749, a resolution approving a grant agreement with the State of Colorado to accept State Bill 267 grant dollars to council. Koch explained that he had responded to a consolidated call for capital projects from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in late-fall of 2018 and completed a grant application to help fund the creation of design and engineering documents for the new transit storage, maintenance, and administration facility to be located on CR 5.
With an estimated total project cost of $400,000, he submitted an application requesting the
reimbursement of $200,000 of the total funds. In February 2019, the Transit Department was notified it had received an award for the amount requested. After successful correspondence and scoping of work with the Grants Unit in the Division of Transit and Rail (DTR), town staff received a grant agreement so the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) may establish a grant account on behalf of the Town of Winter Park in which the Town may take advantage of the awarded funding.
Koch explained that by approving the agreement, the Transit Department will be able to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the design of a new transit storage, maintenance, and administration facility.
Council approved Resolution 1749 unanimously.
ROW Easement for Mountain Parks Electric
Community Development Director James Shockey presented Resolution 1750, a resolution granting an easement to MPEI to install conduit for electric within town-owned right-of-way (ROW). Mountain Parks Electric (MPE) had requested the easement from the Town for underground electric along a short section of Rendezvous Way. The easement is required to get electric from the existing underground conduit to the Rendezvous Center, currently under construction.
Shockey explained that, as part of the project, MPEI will also be removing a transformer in the Rendezvous Way right-of-way. This will allow for easier installation of a sidewalk along the south side of Rendezvous Way in the future.
“This is a win: win,” said Mayor Lahrman.
Council approved Resolution 1750 unanimously.
Fraser River Trail Interpretive Trail proposal
Manager Riesberg told council that, at the workshop held on January 21, representatives from the Headwaters River Journey and Fraser River Development Company presented a proposal to install interpretive signage and play features along the Fraser River Trail. The improvements would be placed from CR 804 in Fraser (replacement of existing signage) to Winter Park Resort. The presentation submitted showed a proposed budget of $536,000.
The majority of the funding ($350,000) could come from a GOCO grant from the State, and the Town would have to be the applicant. GOCO requires a match of 10%, which is not in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) or staff work plan. The funding sources for the balance of the project are yet to be determined. “We took this to a workshop to get direction on how to proceed,” said Riesberg.
Jeff Vogel with Fraser River Development Company clarified, “What we are requesting is approval to move forward with the GOCO grant. It is roughly $50K in match. Our intent is reaching out to a variety of stakeholders to participate financially on the match and shortfall.” He told council their authorization to proceed with the grant would give them more leverage to move forward with stakeholders. The GOGO application is due in October. He told them the Town of Fraser is supportive and are pursuing a GOCO grant for the Cozens Ranch Open Space project which includes provisions for signage and would collaborate with them on the project. “Without the application for the grant, it pretty much goes nowhere,” said Vogel. He added that the project could be phased as gap funding is secured.
“There’s funds for paving the trail, but as I understand, there are no provisions for signage. This would make for a better experience. We’d like to start somewhere – I think we have good stakeholder support,” said Vogel.
“What’s the downside?”, asked Councilman Jim Myers.
“The downside is we need a clear understanding,” said Riesberg. “As the project moves forward, short term maintenance, construction, picnic, trash, maintaining and also long term liability replacing assets. None of this has been identified in our plans. As a staff, we adopt the budget and work into our plans.”
“I think the scope of the project, it looks like a cohesive plan. It joins the ski area to Fraser. I guess my question is, if we support the GOCO grant, we need to establish our responsibilities. I don’t want to get into a situation where it costs more. We need to establish responsibility. The paving of the trail is our #1 priority,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Kutrumbos.
“This is where we are looking for direction,” said Riesberg. “We have an obligation for paving the trail. Does council want to direct staff to figure out working logistics and start building this into our scope of work?”
“In my opinion, everything they are proposing, there are boxes we need to check. We need to invest in that,” said Kutrumbos.
“To summarize, similar to what staff felt, it’s a great project, but there are still some things we have to work through. We will continue the dialogue, formalize structure, budget and phasing,” said Riesberg.
Mayor Lahrman said to Vogel, “Give us another month for staff to review.”
Vogel replied, “I think that’s fair. We’ve got a little bit of time here. I’d like to keep it moving forward.”
Winter Park Town Council meetings are held the first and third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 pm and are open to the public. To learn more, visit wpgov.com.