Don’t smoke in organically treated park?

Council gives parks boost, but Cameron-Sterk needs a name

The city wants to apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help pay for mountain-biking improvements at Chapman Hill. Enlargephoto

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald file photo

The city wants to apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help pay for mountain-biking improvements at Chapman Hill.

Thank you for not smoking in a city park, such as an upgraded Chapman Hill for mountain biking, a new conservation area in need of a name and perhaps parks that are treated organically because grass-roots donors have come up with $51,000 to buy lawn-care equipment.

An agenda full of parks and recreation issues did not make for a leisurely meeting Tuesday as the Durango City Council accepted $5,000 from the San Juan Basin Health Department for no-smoking signs in city parks and gave the go-ahead for the city to apply for a $268,800 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to make improvements for a mountain-bike park at Chapman Hill with jumps and berms, an uphill-only pedestrian trail and a pump track.

Mayor Doug Lyon said the full agenda showed “there’s something for everyone in Durango.”

In a surprise announcement, Katrina Blair, an advocate for organic treatment for city parks, said local fundraising – including small donations, a Valentine’s Day dinner, a Snowdown dance and a round-up-to-the-nearest-dollar program at Durango Natural Foods – have generated $51,000 to pay for half of the estimated cost of the equipment needed to implement a new organic program, such as a tractor and a sprayer.

Blair said the city should treat the donation as a matching fund and go ahead with the consultant-recommended organic program this spring, but the council did not take action on this suggestion Tuesday.

Councilor Christina Rinderle did call Blair a “phenomenal community organizer.”

“You literally put your money where your mouth is,” Rinderle said. “I thank you.”

In some disappointing news, Cathy Metz, the parks and recreation director, said the Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area would not be ready until 2014 because of ongoing issues concerning annexation, a lease agreement and an environmental assessment.

Councilor Sweetie Marbury said she was “hoping for 2013. I have my rubber boat ready to go. Hang on, Durango.”

In other parks news, the council was to rename the 44-acre conservation area north of town formerly known as Cameron-Sterk as Animas View River Park, but the motion was remanded at the request of Councilor Dick White.

White said some people thought the name should have some emphasis or connotation on conservation. The issue will go back to boards for natural lands and parks and recreation.

In the same meeting, councilors formerly adopted the Animas River Corridor Management Plan for a 16-mile stretch of the river from Glider Park in the north to Basin Creek in the south.

The plan was developed after months of input from various interest groups, such as anglers, riverfront homeowners, rafters and inner-tubers.

“Many, many city residents participated in this management plan,” White said.

The city also formally accepted $33,370 in reimbursement from Colorado State Forest Service for thinning dense brush at Twin Buttes to reduce the wildfire hazard and a $162,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to help pay for the $345,000 cost of extending the Animas River Trail through Animas City Park to Bennett Street later this year.

The council also approved allocation of a $25,000 surplus from the city’s Recreation Complex/Trails Fund as an operating subsidy for the Durango Community Recreation Fund. Last year, the recreation center overspent its budget by $6,000 because revenue was less than expected, but utility expenses are contributing to its operating shortfall, too, according to a city memo.

Officials have asked an engineer to increase the efficiency of its heating-and-cooling system.

The center, which opened in 2000, serves more than 1,000 people daily.

jhaug@durangoherald.com