John Scarffe, Nederland. The Nederland Board of Trustees reached an agreement with Eldora Mountain Resort for parking at Guercio Ballfields during a regular meeting at 7 p.m., October 17, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. Town Administrator Karen Gerrity presented a use agreement between Nederland and Eldora Mountain Resort to use Guercio Field for no more than 129 vehicles.
“The Town would gain revenue that would enable it to achieve its long-term goals,” Gerrity said. Eldora Mountain Resort General Manager Brent Tregaskis addressed the Board on August 15 and requested use of the field at $500 per day. The Nederland Middle/Senior High School lot has been used solely for employee parking.
“Tregaskis took the proposal to the October Parks, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Board (PROSAB) meeting,” Gerrity said. Board members had some concerns about turning the field into a parking lot and wanted the agreement limited to two years.
PROSAB directed the Town attorney to negotiate an agreement, and Town staff recommended moving forward and has $35,500 earmarked for the park development. Staff is presenting a two-year use agreement between the town of Nederland and Eldora Mountain Resort (EMR), which allows EMR to use Guercio Memorial Baseball Field for employee parking for no more than 129 vehicles at one time, according to background information.
This use agreement creates an opportunity to gain revenue for the Town of Nederland to allocate directly to a fund for Guercio Field that would enable the town to meet its long-range planning goals for the area, including implementation of the Barker Reservoir Park.
Historically, Eldora employees have parked off-site at the Nederland Middle/Senior High School and shuttled employees up to the resort to create additional parking for skier guests. To accommodate growth at Eldora, parking employees at Guercio Field would allow guests to park closer to the resort at the school, according to background.
On August 15, Tregaskis told the Board his employees would be bused up to the resort. He also offered to bus locals to the resort. Tregaskis said a lack of onsite parking at the ski resort has caused congestion in Town, according to background.
He said adding additional onsite parking would require a change to the Boulder County special use permit governing the business for more than 20 years, but they hope to complete negotiations with the County in the next two years.
During public comment, Former Trustee Randy Lee said that the Town uses the area around the ballfields as the wrong side of the track. They get the noise from events, odor from the sewer plant and now they’re going to add incredible congestion and it will be a total nightmare.
The Town has destroyed the turf, excavated a sewer and turned that into a construction zone. Lee said, “This is what people see when they come into town. These are immediate impacts. People don’t stop here, and they don’t spend money. It’s totally contrary to the goals of Barker Meadow Park.”
Leslie Armitage said that, as a realtor, “I think this is atrocious that the town would do this to the neighborhood. That’s crazy to have all that parking in and out.”
Trustee Julie Gustafson asked where the $500 a day came from and how it compares to what other ski areas pay. Tregaskis said that the figure came from a rental agreement with Boulder Valley School District as to what they valued spots at the high school.
“We agreed to bring it back to the original,” Tregaskis said. “We will have to rehab it in the spring after Frozen Dead Guy Days.” They will just be using it on the weekends. “This would really help our situation for a couple of years. This is the way to get the ball started and get some grant money to improve that location.”
Employees would be parking there between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eldora would give employee cash as a goodwill gesture so the folks who park there would eat dinner in Nederland and it would feel good to the community. “In the big picture we want to be good stewards.”
Gustafson asked about the demands it would create on the Police Department. Tregaskis said that cars will come in and go during a three-hour window. “You’re not going to notice an onslaught of cars coming in. We hire two deputies per day from the Sheriff’s Department. That’s worked out very, very well.”
Trustee Dallas Masters said that before reseeding it needs to be re-graded. “I’d like to see it regarded.”
Tregaskis said, “That’s fine. Right now, it’s not in great shape, but we want to go in and make it better.”
Masters said, “If we want this to happen, and if you don’t control the traffic well, there is the potential we would terminate the contract. I want to explain when this was brought up to us it was an off-the-cuff proposal. PROSAB talked about getting money for implementing the plan for the park. This proposal would be the seed money for that grant. The thought was, ‘Could we hold our nose for two years and hope this works’.
Put the clause in here that the contract can terminate. I’m willing to move forward with this. They are between a rock and hard place, and I think it’s a win-win for both of us.”
Trustee Alan Apt asked what happens if it turns into a mud pit, and Tregaskis replied that they would pull out of there, but normally it freezes pretty hard until March.
Gustafson said that she wished the Board had heard more feedback from the community but she thinks it’s worth giving it a shot. Trustee Topher Donahue said: “I don’t know that it’s going to make it a whole lot worse, and I’d like to support this, but I have heard one premise that the ground will stay frozen. Only in the shade does it stay frozen. I can dig a hole in my yard anytime of the year. It’s a warm day and it creates the mud pit and we terminate the project and then they don’t have to fix it. That premise is just not true. We don’t get frozen ground all year round.”
“Everything else about this is good. I don’t think that they feel they can handle it. They should rent property from the Evans family. Everywhere we park our cars it ends up being muddy. I’m not worried about the traffic or issues, but it’s just mud. I don’t think I can go for it. The unintended consequences are too much. I’ve lived at this altitude my whole life and it doesn’t stay frozen.” Apt shared those concerns. “We get these thaws and it turns into mud.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Wood, who ran the meeting in the absence of Mayor Kristopher Larsen, agreed with Masters and respects the opinion of advisory boards. Eldora is a class operation and will do the right thing.
Masters moved approving the agreement with changes – re-grading and the termination clause must be restored. Public Works Director Chris Pelletier will be responsible. The motion passed with Donahue voting against it.
(Originally published in the November 16, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)