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Paonia sets rules on commercial park use

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At its July 28 meeting the Paonia Board of Trustees adopted a resolution establishing policy for commercial uses of the town's four parks, with trustee Susanne Watson casting the sole nay vote.

The resolution requires that authorization for commercial use be approved by the town manager, that each commercial user who charges for an activity acquire a commercial use permit, and sets a $10/hour minimum fee and damage deposit of $100. Commercial users must also provide proof of a minimum of $1 million in commercial general liability insurance and indemnify the town of all liability.

While the resolution has been discussed at the last two board meetings, staff attempts at posting the draft resolution to the town website failed. "We apologize for any inconvenience," said Mayor Neal Schwieterman.

Mary Bachran of Paonia requested that the town table the vote, post the draft on the website, and give the public more time to comment, due to the omission on the website.

Trustees Ross King and Dave Bradford urged the board to vote on the resolution, which was discussed at the last two meetings. "I think people have had plenty of opportunity, quite frankly," said Bradford.

Watson said there was no urgency to pass the resolution, since there were no commercial use requests on the table. A motion by Watson to require each request to come before the board rather than go through the town manager, and limit commercial use from May 1 to Oct. 31 "to respect the seasonal nature of the parks" and to "give the park six months to rest," failed.

Trustee Amber Kleinman said that six months is "a long time for a park to rest," and noted that the resolution calls for a damage deposit.

Mayor Neal Schwieterman said there have been no more than two requests in the past year for commercial use of a town park.

Trustees also voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the town and NFRIA-WSERC Conservation Center, (dba Western Slope Conservation Center), acknowledging the town as the fiscal agent for a $45,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant for installation of educational signs at Paonia River Park. The town and WSCC are joint owners of the 24-acre park, located on the North Fork of the Gunnison northwest of town. Trustees also voted unanimously to approve a related grant agreement between the town and the state board of the GOCO Trust Fund, which outlines the rules for implementing the grant.

The project will include installation of a new park entrance sign on Grand Avenue, new park rules signage, river rules and etiquette, interpretive signs, and replacement of three existing kiosk panels.

The project is slated for completion in 2017, with most of the signage expected to be in place by the end of next year. Signage will help direct visitors to hiking, swimming and fishing areas, and "create environmental education learning opportunities for children visiting the park," according to the GOCO website.

Trustee Stewart noted that he saw no provision in the IGA for the grantees to report to the town on how the money is being spent. " My only concern is that the town is not left holding the bag," said Stewart.

WSCC board and river park committee member Ralph D'Alessandro said that any money paid out by the town will be reimbursed by GOCO, and WSCC will assume "responsibility for implementing and executing the terms and conditions of the agreement." Installation of the signage is a continuation of a project that began in 2004 when the WSCC's predecessors gained title to the land and made an agreement with the town to operate a river park, said D'Allesandro. "We've continued to make improvements through the years."

Alex Johnson, the new executive director for WSCC, said he welcomes input from the town on the project and will keep everyone informed of related meetings.

Town manager Jane Berry reported that she has filed with the state for a 60-day extension of the fiscal year 2014 audit review. "It has taken an extensive amount of time, review, research," said Berry.

Community audits are required to be submitted to the state by July 31; the extension gives the town until Sept. 30 to submit the review.

Berry advised trustees that the audit review will most likely warrant a special public meeting, solely "for the presentation of the 2014 audit report," to be held no later than the third week of August. Representatives from RubinBrown, which the town hired to complete audits in 2014, 2015 and 2016, are also expected to attend the meeting.

At the meeting, the board also:

Approved a liquor license application for Thomas Waldos, 240 Grand Avenue. The application also requests that the establishment be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks on a newly-constructed patio area located on the northwest side of the building. Licensee Aaron Papke assured trustees the area will be monitored. Trustees added a stipulation that no outside music be played, due to the bar's late-night hours and proximity to businesses and homes.

Voted to allow the public works department to direct up to $18,000 to be used for additional sidewalk construction this year. The 2015 budget calls for spending $50,000, of which roughly $27,000 was spent on construction of 300 feet of sidewalk on Fourth Street, which was nearing completion.

The meeting was convened and trustees, town attorney David Marek and Berry went into executive session to discuss matters involving former town clerk Barb Peterson. Trustee Goold boycotted the meeting.

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