Evergreen Lake bridge replacement on EPRD’s 2019 budget

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By Corinne Westeman

The Evergreen Park & Recreation District is again budgeting for the Lake House to be closed next fall, as it draws up its initial draft of its 2019 budget.

The lake bridge replacement project, which was originally planned for 2015, has been continually pushed back, including in 2016 when stakeholders had to ensure the power lines near the bridge were moved. That, alone, took a year, according to Denver Mountain Parks.

Last September, Denver, EPRD and other stakeholders were planning the bridge replacement to be in spring 2018 before it was again pushed back.

Now, the project is being budgeted for mid-August to November 2019, as it was announced during the EPRD Board of Directors’ meeting Sept. 18 at Buchanan Recreation Center.

Financial controller Jason Leslie presented the board with the staff’s first draft of the 2019 budget, explaining that ERPD is expecting about a $300,000 loss in revenue, in part, because of the projected Lake House closure next fall.

“We’re at the mercy of another agency on that (bridge replacement),” Leslie said. “And that closure will leave us limited times for concession revenue. … We’d be closing summer a few weeks earlier and not knowing exactly when you’d be able to open in December for skating.”

Executive Director Ellen O’Connor also noted that EPRD won’t have any rentals or boating at the lake during the first few weeks of September because of the bridge replacement and Lake House closure.

Drafted 2019 budget

Overall, for 2019, the district is currently projecting $6.4 million in revenues, which is down from 2018’s projected $6.7 million in revenues.

Leslie explained that another reason for the estimated decrease in revenue is that the assessment rate is expected to adjust down in 2019, which will also impact EPRD’s revenues.

Additionally, the district is also projecting a 2.45 percent increase in expenses for 2019. This year, EPRD has budgeted $6.19 million in expenses; but for 2019, Leslie said current projections are $6.345 million.

Among the budgeted expenses are capital improvement projects, which may have to be redrafted depending on the results of the district’s bond/mill levy questions this November, he said.

But, for now, EPRD is planning to do multiple CIPs at both recreation centers, such as exterior painting at Wulf Recreation Center and updating the Buchanan pool with new play features.

Also, Leslie said, the district will complete $660,000 worth of CIPs at the Lake House, including replacing boats and lifejackets, replacing decks and logs, redoing wood floors and updating the parking lot.

The grand total for CIPs district-wide is budgeted for $2.29 million in 2019.

Leslie told the board that the second draft of the 2019 budget will be presented to the board at its Oct. 23 meeting, and staff will have a formal draft of the budget for the Nov. 13 board meeting and public hearing.

Possible changes discussed for Evergreen Lake concerts

President Bill May told his fellow board members and staff that he and O’Connor have discussed charging money for EPRD’s annual lake concerts, he said, “Because of all the destruction and babysitting facilities they’ve become.”

O’Connor clarified that the district might have to reduce the number of summer concerts next year anyway — from seven concerts to five — because of the bridge replacement and Lake House closure.

The event is revenue-neutral, she explained, as sponsors pay for the bands and the food truck revenues pay for staff costs.

“We can’t control how many people are coming,” she told the board. “ … “We have to figure out if we’re going to say, ‘Sorry we’re full.’ There’s not much space in that park.”

May said he didn’t know how to solve the issue other than by not making the concerts free anymore.

Board member Peter Lindquist said that he didn’t believe there would be an outcry if the district asked for a nominal $5 fee. The events would still be affordable and it would help EPRD recoup some of the costs. However, he pointed out, because of the venue layout, it would be impossible to have 100 percent fee collection.

O’Connor said she would gather more data, such as how many people used EPRD’s shuttle service to and from the concert, and would bring together a group of stakeholders to evaluate the concerts to make sure they’re a quality experience.