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CITY COUNCIL

CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION MINUTES


DURANGO CITY HALL
COUNCIL CHAMBERS
 
April 27, 2010
 
 
Present were Mayor Michael Rendon, Mayor pro-tem Christina Thompson, Councilor Doug Lyon, Councilor
Leigh Meigs, and Councilor Paul Broderick. Also present were City Manager Ron LeBlanc, Open Lands
Administrator Kevin Hall, and Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz.
 
 
Present for the discussion regarding chemical free parks, were Katrina Blair of the Turtle Lake Refuge, and
Scott and Cece Sallee, owners of Scott’s Pro Lawn.
 
The meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m.
 
Discussion Regarding Granting an Administrative Easement to the Bureau of Land Management
 
Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz opened the discussion regarding granting an administrative
easement to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
 
The BLM has requested an administrative easement through the Twin Buttes development to access BLM
property adjacent to Perins Peak. The proposed easement would be across land that currently planned for
dedication to the City as open space in 2011. The easement would follow an existing road and is requested
to facilitate BLM’s coordinated fuel reduction efforts in the Perins Peak area.
 
The project encompasses approximately 295 acres of BLM land and its purpose is to accomplish an
immediate change in fire behavior, reduce fire rate of spread and intensity, maintain vegetative condition
classes that support desirable fire behavior, and increase forest and ecosystem diversity and resilience to
disturbance. Any vegetation removed as a result of the fuel reduction efforts would be reduced for use as
mulch. The project is anticipated to begin summer 2010.
 
The City Attorney and City Staff have specified additional conditions to protect the City’s interest as
Grantor’s Assignee. Those conditions include retaining the right to relocate the easement pending final
platting, prohibitions on commercial use, gates and signage, and retention of the primitive two-track nature
of the easement.
 
Councilor Lyon asked if any of the affected parties had any particular concerns. In response Mr. LeBlanc
answered that unless there were concerns expressed by the City Council, all parties, including adjacent
property owners McIntyre and Pauls, were in agreement.
 
 
Discussion Regarding Chemical Free Parks
 
Parks and Recreation Director Metz opened the discussion. It was noted that the majority of high-use City
parks are treated with fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides by licensed applicators in an effort to maintain
healthy turf grass. Ms. Metz said that, in response to complaints about the condition of the parks’ turf, the
Parks and Recreation Department developed an incremental program with Scott’s Pro-Lawn to provide
contracted applications of a commercial fertilizer and herbicide product that has been effective in
improvement the health of the turf.
 
As background, she said that in 2008 Katrina Blair and the Turtle Lake Refuge asked the City to designated
Brookside Park as the City’s first chemical-free park. Turtle Lake Refuge sponsored volunteer work efforts to
manually pull weeds and apply an organic locally brewed compost tea for fertilizer. She said that there has
been an increase in the number of weeds at Brookside in the subsequent years, but the City has received

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CITY COUNCIL

positive community support for the project.


 
Katrina Blair and Turtle Lake Refuge have requested additional chemical-free parks and specifically
recommend making parks adjacent to schools chemical-free parks. Fanto Park is specifically recommended
for such designation. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board would like to see more analysis and public
input before making any recommendation to City Council. They plan a site walk of Brookside Park with Ms.
Blair in the near future.
 
Ms. Blair explained the use and application of compost tea at Brookside Park. She said the tea is available
as a finished project from a local source. She said weed-pulling efforts were also used to help control
weeds.
 
Ms. Metz said that there several area parks being considered for the project if current efforts proved
successful. Mayor Rendon considers Brookside Park to be a successful endeavor, based on usage.
 
Ms. Blair said that by creating chemical-free parks, the City was offering a choice. She suggested that using
hardier grasses in chemical-free parks might be helpful. Council discussion ensued. Bluegrass was
suggested as a possible choice. Ms. Blair said that current thinking is that all pesticides are toxic to some
degree and is a growing environmental concern.
 
Councilor Broderick stated his appreciation for the work done by Turtle Lake Refuge volunteers.
 
Mr. LeBlanc called the City Council’s attention to a chart prepared by City Staff and provided in the packet,
titled “City of Durango Stewardship and Best Management Practices/parks, Open space, Trails and
Recreation Facilities” (April 2010). In it is described the timing, types, and levels of maintenance for parks
and parks facilities within the City and includes system-wide standards, sustainable practices, stewardship
goals, wildland fire management, trails, and recreation facilities. There was discussion on whether any
standards existed for products like “compost tea,” with Councilor Lyon asking if a standard could be defined
to determine the quality of the turf.
 
Mrs. Sallee stated that once a person decides that chemicals are bad, it’s very difficult for them to come to
agreement about any chemical, whether the danger is to the environment or to humans. She stated that
the product used by Scott’s Lawn was not classified as a carcinogen, does not runoff and is absorbed by the
turf differently than water. She feels there are many misconceptions about their product.
 
Mr. Sallee also provided information about the herbicides and the pesticides used by his company. He noted
that the company flags the area to warn people an area has been treated. Ms. Sallee said she disagrees
with Ms. Blair about the level of exposure created by the Scott’s Lawn product. She did agree that people
should be kept off the turf immediately after treatment.
 
Ms. Blair said her efforts were to decrease exposures at all levels, not just from lawn chemicals, but she
feels anything that decreases general exposure is helpful. She said she appreciated the Sallee’s commitment
to low exposure rates.
 
Mayor Rendon acknowledged that there were very disparate opinions about chemicals and it was challenge
to decide how to proceed, especially when there are indications that chemical exposures may harm the
immune system. He liked having the option of using a chemical-free park. Councilor Lyon thought the
argument of having an option was fair.
 
Councilor Meigs expressed her concern that the chemical-free parks might become weedy and thought
current management was moderate and conservative. She thought there could be chemical-free parks, but
they should meet current citywide park standards. Ms. Blair suggested an integrated approach as an option.
It was also suggested the grass could be left to go dormant during the summer, rather than fertilizing and
watering.
 
Ms. Metz noted that with regard to Brookside Park, its success was in large part due to volunteers. She
stated that the City does not have the resources to hand-weeding and removal on a large scale. She did

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CITY COUNCIL

not know if demand required the entire system to be chemical-free. It was noted that many people seek
out chemical-free parks.
 
Mayor Rendon said he agreed that chemical-free parks should not be the “jokes” of the park system, and
agreed that things should be unsightly. Mayor noted that because there were efforts towards chemical-free
parks being made and because summer maintenance had been determined, perhaps it was best to proceed
as planned.
 
Mayor Rendon thanked those in attendance.
 
Discussion Regarding Council Liaisons to Boards and Commissions.
 
There was discussion regarding council liaisons to board and commissions.
 
Review of the Preliminary Agenda for Council Meeting
 
The City Council discussed the agenda for the next Council meeting with Mr. LeBlanc.
 
Discussion and Review of the City Council’s Future Calendar
 
The future calendar was discussed and reviewed with Mr. LeBlanc.
 
 
 
Mayor Rendon adjourned the meeting.
 

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