Slated for the month of June, the Mountain Air Music Series will take place on four consecutive Thursday evenings at Ouray’s Fellin Park, and will be sponsored to the tune of $5,000 by the City of Ouray.
The Ouray Chamber Resort Association and the Ouray Parks and Recreation Committee are collaborating to put on the event.
The Ouray City Council unanimously approved the sponsorship at its meeting on Monday, March 19. It comes on the heels of about $2,400 worth of in-kind support the city already pledged earlier this month, including installation of necessary electrical service, portable toilet facilities, and police security for the events.
Council also approved a request from concert series organizers Monica Moran of the Ouray Chamber Resort Association and David Turner of the City’s Parks and Recreation Committee, to waive its park use fee for the concerts.
“We feel strongly that the City of Ouray should be the title sponsor for this music series,” Moran and Turner wrote in a letter to council, urging its support. “Aside from our incredible Fourth of July celebration, the City of Ouray does not have one regular signature event that it sponsors. We realize the desire and need for additional events throughout our season. The beginning of June is still a shoulder season for Ouray and a series like this will get the local community in the summer mood and kick start the season a full month early for our local businesses.”
Council members were universally enthusiastic about the upcoming concert series, and were highly complimentary of the group, which has worked so hard to get it off the ground.
Likewise, concert organizers were appreciative of the city’s willingness to support their efforts.
“I was told it was unprecedented to ask the city for money for an event,” said Moran.
The city’s sponsorship is an unbudgeted expenditure for 2012. The money will come from its General Fund or Tourism Fund, both of which ended 2011 with revenues that well exceeded conservative budgeted projections.
Councilman Gary Hansen stressed that the sponsorship and use fee waiver were for one year only. Mayor Bob Risch agreed. “This doesn’t set a precedent in any way,” he said.
The entire projected cost of the series is $30,000; organizers are still seeking additional sponsorships. Multiple styles of music will be showcased over the course of four weeks.
As outlined by concert series organizers, each concert will be a multi-faceted, family-friendly affair, with fun kids’ entertainment to go along with the music. The collaborative event adds another month of programming to the existing summer music series happening in Ridgway in July and Paonia in August, and offers all three communities a substantial marketing opportunity for a "Western Slope Concert Series."
Black Canyon Land Trust Engages Ouray in Dialogue
The Ouray City Council agreed to meet with representatives of the Black Canyon Regional Land Trust at a joint meeting sometime this coming summer to identify possible areas of collaboration and to discuss conservation priorities within the city.
The BCRLT is working to update its existing Strategic Conservation Plan and has applied for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to implement this effort through an ambitious series of 12 such meetings with the municipalities in its four-county service area throughout the summer. A private donor has also pledged money to fund the project.
Olivia Bartlett, Stewardship Director for BCRLT, attended Monday’s council meeting to discuss BCLT’s efforts and activities in the area.
Within its new Strategic Conservation Plan, she said, the group intends to integrate state and local conservation priorities that align with BCRLT’s mission, as well as outlining goals, strategies and priorities for conservation within its service area, which encompasses Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison and Delta Counties.
BCRLT currently holds 341 conservation easements throughout this service area. Of these, only two are active within the City of Ouray: the North Ouray Corridor and the Oak Creek Conservation Easement.
Among its priorities, BCRLT hopes to support more private land conservation in Ouray and Montrose Counties, Bartlett said. “These two counties only have two to three percent of their private lands conserved,” she noted, compared to 18 percent in Gunnison and Delta Counties.
According to information provided by Bartlett, the mission of BCRLT is to “encourage and assist private landowners in preserving and sustaining the rural heritage, natural, and cultural conservation values in the watersheds of the Uncompahgre, North Fork and Lower Gunnison rivers.” The organization recently shifted its headquarters from Montrose to Ridgway.
“We remain outside of debates (about the politics of conservation),” Bartlett said. “We try to work directly with a land owner interested in conserving property.”
Mayor Bob Risch quizzed Bartlett about BCRLT’s viability over the long term. “Who backs you up if BCRLT goes away?”
Bartlett said that in that case, another land trust would absorb the conservation easements BCRLT currently administers. “We do have a very strong stewardship endowment to ensure the perpetual stewardship of our easements,” she said.
Risch also wondered if there might be a conflict between BCRLT’s mission and that of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Conservation Association.
“Our missions at this point haven’t overlapped a lot,” Bartlett said.
BCRLT is holding a conference in Ridgway in mid-May, at which a statewide tax broker will speak about the tax issues surrounding conservation easements.
Ice Park Purchase deal Almost Sealed
City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli reported that the city anticipates closing on a deal to acquire a 24-acre parcel of USFS land in the Ouray Ice Park sometime during the week of April 2. The deal has been years in the making, and secures the future of the Ice Park under the jurisdiction of the City of Ouray while relieving the Forest Service of that burden.
Key funding for the acquisition came in the form of a $193,000 grant awarded to the city in December 2011 by Great Outdoors Colorado, a Colorado Lottery funded entity.
After the closing, a small celebration will be conducted with members of the City, Forest Service, Ouray Ice Park, Inc., and other dignitaries to celebrate the completion of the project.