View of Quincy Farm from the back door of the main house where Cat Anderson lived on the property. Photo by Freda Miklin
At the study session preceding its regular city council meeting on May 22, and again at its retreat the following day, the Cherry Hills Village City Council struggled with how to proceed to open Quincy Farm to its residents. The 17.5-acre property at 4400 E. Quincy Avenue is the bequest of storied resident Catherine (Cat) Anderson to her beloved city.
The property is controlled by a conservation easement Anderson granted to Colorado Open Lands, Inc. (COL) in 2007 with specific instructions and restrictions. Anderson died in 2016. In addition to abiding by specific instructions contained in the conservation easement (e.g., Anderson specified that there be no bicycles ridden on the property) there are still residents in two homes who were Anderson’s tenants. The total expenditure budget for Quincy Farm for 2019 is $509,475, of which $364,475 comes from the city’s Catherine H. Anderson Land Donation Fund and $145,000 comes from the city’s Arapahoe County Open Space Fund. None of the money is from CHV’s general fund.
The question perplexing the city is the extent and manner in which the property should be open to the public. While it is important that this treasured asset be enjoyed by the community to whom it was donated, it is also important that it be opened carefully, respecting the people who still reside there as well as the spirit of the terms of the conservation easement. While some provisions are quite specific, others require interpretation. Cat Anderson’s vision was that her property be a place where children could learn about plants and animals in their natural habitat and get a sense of what life was like in the early years of our state.
The Quincy Farm Committee (QFC), has been working on a master plan for the property as its infrastructure, including water and sewer, has been improved by the city. Some of the questions facing the QFC, in addition to the hours the property should be open to the public, are whether an attendant need be present for information as well as security purposes, how to address the lack of designated parking at the property, and how to ensure the peace and security of the on-site residents as well as the surrounding neighbors.
In November, the QFC recommended that the property be open only on Saturdays on a trial basis, with a volunteer present. The accessible areas would be the nature trail and gardens, as well as the main house. After much discussion, on February 5, the city council voted to ask COL for permission to provide public access to Quincy Farm, excluding the inside of the main house, daily without an attendant, and the nature trail daily from dawn to dusk, for a trial period of four months. It was understood that the actual plan was to open it for more limited hours, but city council hoped to have leeway to finalize specific times. That request was not approved by COL. Rather, the city received a letter asking for additional information and clarification of its plans. Staff is preparing a detailed response to COL.
At the May 23 retreat, Jim Thorsen, city manager, presented a draft of an ordinance that had been prepared by Mayor Stewart for discussion. Stewart served as chair of the QFC until his election in November. The draft ordinance proposed replacing the QFC with a new entity to be called the Quincy Farm Advisory Board (QFAB) which would have seven members, each serving six-year staggered terms. The QFAB would “be responsible for overall governance of Quincy Farm, including recommending “partnerships with government and non-governmental organizations to provide staffing, educational programming and other activities” at QF, subject to oversight and approval of the city council. The current QFC has seven members, whose terms are three years each. Accompanying the proposal to create the QFAB was a proposed resolution drafted by the mayor to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to partner with the Cherry Hills Land Preserve (CHLP) regarding Quincy Farm. CHLP first proposed a strategic partnership with the city to “provide staffing for Quincy Farm and seek partnering with schools, museums, botanical gardens, historic societies and other governmental and non-governmental organizations, and provide financial support for Quincy Farm,” in April 2017.
The MOU would be non-
binding, without financial cost, and cancellable at any time. Its purpose would be to formalize CHLP’s role with the city vis-à-vis Quincy Farm. The proposed resolution noted that CHLP has in place “a memorialized relationship with Colorado Open Lands, Inc., and an appreciation for the unique and detailed use restrictions in the (Quincy Farm) conservation easement.”
Mayor Pro Tem Katy Brown said that Quincy Farm is not an independent entity, but rather a city asset that should be managed like any other city park, with the seven-member QFC continuing to work through and with the Parks and Trail Committee, making recommendations to city council. She questioned the idea of commissioners having six-year terms, which exceeded those of other commissioners, as well as city council and the mayor.
Earl Hoellen, a member of the QFC, pointed out that there is still a lack of unanimity between the QFC and city council on certain basic questions, primarily the rules regarding access to the property. Hoellen recommended that the city council and the QFC get fully aligned on the city’s position on all such questions before finalizing an agreement with the OLC, who is aware there are still differing opinions. He also pointed out that the QFC has yet to finalize a master plan for the property.
City council decided to defer the proposal to create the QFAB at least until the current QFC has adopted a final master plan for the property, but will take steps to formalize the city’s partnership with the CHLP with terms to be decided Fmiklin.email@example.com
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