Development Authority pursues executive director

John Scarffe, Nederland.  During a work session to discuss proceeding after a $2.3 million debt authorization passed, the Nederland Downtown Development Authority Board moved towards hiring an executive director on Monday, December 11, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. The Board also discussed priority projects for downtown Nederland.


On November 7, NDDA District members and Nederland business owners voted 54 to 10 to pass the debt authorization. The associated financial scenario approved for the NDDA includes a request for about $2.3 million in project funding, with an overall 20-year repayment of $3.7 million, conservatively anticipated. All of the projects on these lists are in line with the NDDA’s Plan of Development, a document that governs all expenditures within the district, and further described in its Master Plan.


During the discussion of projects for downtown, Board Member Claudia Schauffler said it feels like we need to move on an executive director. Board Chair Susan Schneider said the NDDA has been without one for six years, and not a whole lot got done.


A critical part of this is hiring an executive director, Schneider said. “If we hire an executive director, that totally changes the time frame on when we could have results.”


It depends on the experience level of the executive director, Schneider said. “All the projects are interconnected, and I don’t want to hog tie an executive director.”


Board Member Katrina Harms said the NDDA does have money in the budget and can include it in the administration line item. Town Administrator Karen Gerrity said they could have the executive director work part time on two major projects, and then they won’t need a project director.


Do a six-to-nine month project. That would give the Board some time to work with that executive director. Gerrity said. NDDA Treasurer Mandy Kneer said he would have to be a Town employee.


Harms said a previous director said it has to be an executive director, and the NDDA can’t hire a project manager with operating funds. Gerrity said it would have to be from TIF funds. That’s cleaner, where it seems like that’s what your job is, and maybe an executive director is down the line.


Board Vice Chair Brent Tregaskis said he likes the idea of several months. The Board can get quotes and planning and can do all that for $125,000, but somebody has to start that process or it’s going to move very slowly.
Kneer said a six-month contract would work because they have $9,000 budgeted. That would get us going. Schauffler said that is the wisest thing to do.


Harms said they can supplement the $9,000 with TIF funds for project management. She suggested having two Board members on the hiring committee and post the job in January. Kneer and Schauffler agreed to serve on the committee.


Resident Cher Rainbolt attended the meeting and expressed interest in the executive director position, explaining that she has all of the qualifications for the job.


Before discussing the executive director, Schneider said the Board is looking at projects tonight now that the debt authorization has passed. The Board will fund a project by borrowing funds from the Town, so the NDDA Board needs to put together project information and take it to the Nederland Board of Trustees.


Trustees Liaison Alan Apt said that we definitely want to see better communication.


Schneider listed the projects in prioritized order from the Master Plan.


Lakeview and Big Springs intersection project, area storm water management and parking improvements for Lakeview, Big Springs, Conger and Chipeta Park.


First Street Pedestrian/ADA walkability, loading zone and parking improvements.


Signage and Wayfinding.


River pathway design and construction, second bridge over Middle Boulder Creek.


Loans, grants, and rebate programs.


Event Support, Entertainment District.


Beautification (public art installations, pocket parks, native planting and landscaping)


Visitor center improvements and operation.


Amphitheater at Guercio Field/Barker Reservoir Park.


Schneider also read from the language accompanying the debt authorization ballot question. Harms said that the Master Plan has been blessed by the public and Board of Trustees so the projects in there are good.


Schneider said that we can’t do everything in this iteration of the NDDA. “We have $2.3 million to work with,” Schneider said. “No one except Katrina is familiar with the process.


“We should do a couple of small projects and do what the town wants to see and what the district has asked by us. We did spend a lot of time with public meetings and asking what they want,” Schneider said.


Apt asked about the Barker Reservoir Park. Harms said that it’s in the Master Plan, and the NDDA is working with other advisory boards and their plans. The Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Advisory Board (PROSAB) is leading on that, and the DDA would have a supporting role in terms of matching grants or funds and they would include us.


Gerrity said that in 2018 it’s going to be part of PROSAB’s main focus, and then going for a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant in November and start something in 2019. I think the DDA would love to work with them.


Kneer said it’s good to know that is more of a 2019 budget item. Tregasksis said:


“We could spend everything we have down there, but we need to think about our core business area and focus on the commercial district and get something done — whatever that’s going to be.”


Schneider said she has heard more about parking and a second bridge. “When the people see the Town parking lot full, they just drive on. We need to have alternatives for locals so they won’t park in the Visitor Center lot.”


Harms said they need to work on the intersections around the shopping center. The Sidewalk phase I project eliminated the turning lane. Would you please finish sidewalks phase I?


Right passed the entrance to the shopping center on Lakeview all the way down to Snyder could be improved for parking, Harms said. You could improve parking along the park and improve the Chipeta Park parking area.


JVA and Public Works Director Chris Pelletier looked at Lakeview If we added 20 parking spots, he wouldn’t mind giving up the four along that area. The green area can’t go away. Err on the side of more green rather than less, Harms said.


In that intersection as it goes down into the hotel parking and path, it is a drainage issue so it could address that as well.


Monica LaSalle with Nederland Public Works said she just wants to make sure that we have a plan for equipment and maintenance. Harms said that none of these things will be done without your involvement.


“We will take this into consideration as we go forward,” Harms said. “We’re not doing this without you. We learned. This can’t happened without Public Works.”


Apt said the Board of Trustees would like to see this done as sustainably as possible. Harms said that, as according to the Master Plan, all things we will do as sustainably as possible.


Schneider asked if the Town is open to someone else besides the Town running the Visitor Center. Harms said that on Visitor Center improvements, for sure, the NDDA would like to help.


Gerrity said, “We are open to that. We are open to a proposal.”


Harms said the income could go into the NDDA fund, which would give more operating budget. Gerrity said, “We’re not making money, but we’re not far off. I think it has potential.”


Harms said she did have a private concessionaire there, and we did make money on it. They managed the maps and did all of that. It paid for itself.


“We paid a percentage of profits one year and paid rent one year. We could fund a staff person to maintain downtown and the Visitor Center — maybe a person and a half,” Harms said.


Tregaskis said: “What are the low hanging fruit the public will notice? Does wayfinding have the most visual impact and finding additional parking – that is very visible and you don’t know where to go.”


Harms said: “In my mind, it was wayfinding and beautification – already on their way — then starting the process for the bigger projects. Wayfinding has been going on, and they would bring the public in to see sign ideas.


Gerrity said that since you already have those two, and not biting off more than you can chew, take these two things and make those the priority: beautification and wayfinding. Schneider said she wants to include parking with wayfinding to some extent. “We heard parking, parking, parking, when we were getting public input.”


Harms said they can let people know there are attractions and parking. There’s a lot of work to be done on wayfinding.
Tregaskis said, “I’ve been through a wayfinding project, and you have to herd the cats. It’s very difficult to spend hours when we’re all volunteering.”


Gerrity said it sounds like you have things on the way you should continue. Those are three big chunks of stuff. The other projects need input from the public and need to have a public meeting, and that’s a different kind of planning.


The next meeting of the Nederland Downtown Development Authority Board will be on January 17, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. in the Nederland Community Center multipurpose room.



(Originally published in the December 21, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)