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August 4, 2016

Study Session:

The Study Session was devoted to reviewing the staff recommended budget for 2017. The final recommended budget will presented to OSAC in September for approval and submission to the County Commissioners. In August, 2105 OSAC held a retreat and discussed the financial and management strategies for the next five years. The session started with Director Hoby reviewing the application of these strategies during the past 12 months and in the proposed budget.

The strategies included:

Focus on stewardship on the existing Open Space lands and other assets

Evaluate and pursue grants

Prioritize capital projects

Revise the categories of land classification

Align the education programs to be more nature-based

Revise the park hours, extending winter hours, and gating some trailheads

Use technology to help manage parking at the heavily used parks

Evaluate the acquisition priorities

Work on a county-wide trails Master Plan

The staff budget priorities were to pay the bond debt, sustain the current operating budget, meet all prior contractual agreements, fund grants to cities and districts, acquire more land, enhance nature-based opportunities, fund additional operating and capital items, and maintain a fund reserve of at least $2 million.

Acquisitions in the future will be more targeted at sensitive areas and increasing the area of existing parks. Few large properties are available, but if the opportunity arises can shift budget items or borrow from the General Fund. Open Space is working with land acquisition partners (land trusts, etc.) and will be seeking grants for capital projects.

The budget assumes 3% revenue growth in 2017 and 2% each year thereafter. The revenue so far in 2016 is showing over 5% growth. Main items in the budget are bond debt service of $12.9 million, capital projects of $8.9 million, and operations of $14 million. An additional $1.6 million will be requested for increasing the stewardship and ranger staff, altering the some of the summer temporary positions, and increased supplies. Capital projects include at $220,000 contribution for the Rocky Mountain Greenway Trail to cross Indiana Street and 120th Avenue. Complete the phase of the Peaks to Plains Trail that is under construction, replace the diversion headgate at Pine Valley, look to solutions for the pedestrian/dog crossing of Stagecoach between Elk Meadow and the Dog-Off-Leash-Park, complete the Black Bear Trail between Deer Creek Park and Hildebrand Ranch Park. Note that a line item for non-lease acquisitions is not included in the budget. As requested by the Commissioners, the acquisitions are funded from the fund balance.

Regular Session:

Joy Lucisano reviewed the quarterly real estate status. The 26 active acquisitions for Open Space (meaning that staff is maintaining contact with the owners) total almost 8,000 acres. The 16 inactive (owners are not interested in selling) total 2,800 acres. Open Space is patient with owners and have acquired a number of stalled properties when ownership changed generations. There are no active acquisitions for cities or districts. There are 44 active projects relating to leases, easements, and licenses.

Seven of the acquisitions are anticipated to be closed in 2016 and 2017. These total about 811 acres.

OSAC approved subordination of the reverter on 0.6 acres of Arvadas Moore Farm at 72nd and Ward Road to allow easements for a sanitary sewer line and a storm water channel.

OSAC approved participation in the acquisition of a 110-acre parcel in Clear Creek County north of I-70 and slightly west of the county line. The property is contiguous to Clear Creek County Open Space and a Jeffco conservation easement. The property is suitable for a trailhead and would provide access to over 7,000 acres of preserved land including the Clear Creek Corridor through Jeffco. The Trust for Public Land is handling the purchase with Clear Creek and Jeffco paying one-half and submitting a grant application to GOCO for the other one-half. If acquired, the Mountain Area Land Trust would hold a conservation easement that would allow for public trail access.

Directors Report:

Tom Hoby introduced the new Stewardship Manager, Zhanna Yermakov, who comes from the Chicago Park District. Under the revised organization Stewardship includes all of the activities of the previous Natural Resources group.

The eight-map series of Jeffco Outdoors Maps won national Esri award. Esri is the producer of the most widely used GIS software.

Open Space helped negotiate a new contract with the zip-line operator at Beaver Ranch. The contract significantly increases the income to Beaver Ranch and offers a 33% discount to Jeffco residents.

Open Space will be closing the campground at Reynolds Park and the Sourdough campground at White Ranch during the winter as the limited use does not justify the cost of servicing the two. The Sawmill campground at White Ranch will remain open.

Grant applications were submitted to GOCO and the Federal Highway Administration for assisting in the cost for a 1.5 mile Peaks to Plains Trail segment at the mouth of Clear Creek.

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