Longmont City Council Approves Open Space Master Plan Update
Longmont’s Open Space Master Plan
City information about Longmont’s Open Space Master plan, including the process that’s been followed to update it and the draft update presented to the City Council Tuesday night, is available at tinyurl.com/y8svzky9
Longmont’s City Council on Tuesday night adopted an update to the 16-year-old master plan that guides the city’s acquisition, preservation, improvement, maintenance and management of open space.
Council members made few changes to the draft revisions of the 2002 plan presented to them — a plan that already had undergone a public comment period and scrutiny by Longmont’s Board of Environmental Affairs and the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
“This is an update. It’s not a new plan,” emphasized Dan Wolford, the city’s land program administrator.
Wolford said the city staff “believe we’ve been doing a great job” on following the goals and policies of the current plan that was adopted in 2002.
He said surveys for the update indicate that the community appears to agree.
“The acquisition of open space remains a high priority for the community,” said Cris Dropinski, a representative of GreenPlay LLC, the consulting firm that helped the city craft its original plan and assisted with the update.
Dropinski, who reviewed a series of recommendations the city staff and GreenPlay had made for revisions to the master plan, said increasing the community’s awareness and education about Longmont’s open space program is “one area that probably could use some beefing up.”
The staff and consultants suggested having the Department of Public Works and Natural Resources’ communications and marketing team come up with strategies for building support for the program and sharing its vision and goals.
That also could include developing programs “to increase user engagement and education” and “communicating the economic value and benefits to public health provided by Longmont’s open space,” according to a presentation made to council.
Under one conceptual amendment the council made to the plan Tuesday night, a revision suggested by Councilman Tim Waters, the city would communicate to the public both the “risks and the benefits” of acquiring open space where the city cannot acquire mineral rights to oil and gas deposits underneath the property.
Under city policies and philosophies already in place, if the city cannot acquire mineral rights as well as surface rights, the city will request agreements stipulating that there be no surface disturbances from drilling. If drilling has already occurred on the property, the city will request an agreement stipulating there be no further surface disturbances.
Mayor Brian Bagley suggested, and the council approved, an amendment that would emphasize how the city should try to have partners in defraying the expense of acquiring open space to preserve the land from commercial or residential development.
Councilwoman Polly Christensen said that while she thought the proposed master plan “is a great plan overall,” she had some questions about the plan’s goals and policies for farming by tenants on city-owned agricultural lands.
Agricultural land “is really kind of an afterthought” in the master plan, she said.
Christensen said she thought it would be prudent to have “a small committee of farmers” to serve as an advisory panel for the city as it deals with agricultural issues on city-owned lands in the future, although she did not move to incorporate that proposal into the master plan update before the vote to adopt it.
Councilwoman Marcia Martin suggested the city work with the St. Vrain Valley School District in working out an “urban agriculture plan” that the draft update suggested could include the promotion of smaller-scale farming operations, local food production and community-supported agriculture within the Longmont Planning Area.
Tuesday’s vote to adopt the updated master plan was 6-0. Councilwoman Joan Peck was absent.
Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jfryartc