The Boulder City Council adopted a set of "guiding principles" Tuesday night to govern the city's relationship with the Colorado Chautauqua Association, the nonprofit corporation that manages the historic landmark.

The approval of the guiding principles sets the stage for future discussions about capital and infrastructure improvements at Chautauqua and the renegotiation of the association's lease with the city, which expires in 2017.

The guiding principles were developed by a committee made up of two City Council members -- George Karakehian, a former Chautauqua board member, and Tim Plass, a former Landmarks Board member -- and representatives of Chautauqua, as well as city staff members. The principles emphasize that Chautauqua is a shared community resource and that decisions about its future should be made in a collaborative way.

Earlier this year, a proposal to build a 7,000-square-foot building where the picnic shelter now stands north of the auditorium met with public concern, which eventually led to the development of the guiding principles. 

The new building would have allowed the association to offer bathrooms near the auditorium that are accessible to people with disabilities and to consolidate its offices, which would, in turn, allow the Primrose Building to be restored and returned to its historic use as a lodge.


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Those changes also would have generated more revenue for additional improvements. The Colorado Chautauqua Association also wants underground utilities and to make other upgrades.

While the city pays for landscaping and other maintenance on the Chautauqua Green and plows streets in the park through its Parks and Recreation Department, the existing lease does not require the city to pay for larger infrastructure improvements.

City officials say they will work with Chautauqua to find a way to build the disability-accessible bathrooms as a test of future collaboration on capital improvements and funding.

Some members of the public said they worried the guiding principles would still allow Chautauqua to add major new buildings without a public process or make other changes that would violate the historic character of the area.

Several City Council members said that would not happen.

"There will be lots of discussion in this community because everyone thinks they own Chautauqua," Karakehian said, adding that the association has been trying to be financially responsible.

Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said she would like to see some sort of citizen oversight or advisory board in addition to the board that governs the association, though other council members said additional layers of bureaucracy would not be helpful.

City officials said the lease with Chautauqua may change considerably or be replaced with a property management agreement moving forward. That may result in more taxpayer dollars going to infrastructure projects there.