Today’s Episode Of As The Stomach Turns

Tension Grows Between City Council and Main Street

~ by Bob Volpe ~

Main Street board chairman Bob Carlsen

Main Street board chairman Bob Carlsen presented the organizations
report to city council at last Thursday’s regular meeting. Blank
stares outnumbered comments from council.

 

Carlsen outlined Main Street’s accomplishments over the past year in a
Power Point presentation and hard copy hand out to council. He talked
about the Main Street’s success and national recognition the city has
received because of their efforts.

 

Carlsen stressed the importance of work they are doing to network with other agencies around the state, including working with CDOT,
(Colorado Department of Transportation) and grants they are getting
from DOLA (Department of Local Affairs).

 

Darlene Jensen


Among the issues Carlsen said Main Street has done this year is
establish a dialog with CDOT on developing a plan to make the city,
and particularly Highway 24, more pedestrian friendly. He said, “It’s
a vital part of a community to have their downtown look like people
are there shopping, its attractive, it’s pedestrian safe, and that is
basically what Main Street is trying to accomplish.”

He talked about how Main Street brought Woodland Park into the
national spotlight when they were included in the top 8 of over 14,000
nominations for a $500,000 grant competition for small business
support that was sponsored by Small Business Revolution. They did not
win the grant.

Last year Main Street received $56,000 funding from the city. Of that
funding, $29,000 plus $2,000 for withholdings, was spent on a
part-time coordinator.

That part-time position has been a major source of tension between the
city and Main Street, since the coordinator, Darlene Jensen, was
terminated by the city last September.
Jensen was employed by the city of Woodland Park as the Main Street
coordinator, but also held the same role under the Woodland Park Main
Street group, which is its own separate non-profit organization.

Jensen’s termination sparked outrage among some on the Main Street
board. In private conversation, more than one board member told TMJ
News, that the dismissal was an attempt by the city to “stack the
deck” on the board to take control of it.

Since the shakeup on Main Street last September, the chairman of the
board, Vera Egbert, who also serves as the head manager of the Peoples
Bank office in Woodland Park, stepped down and Bob Carlsen was elected
to take her place as chairman. Carlsen’s first duty as chairman was to
oversee a motion to reinstate Jensen as coordinator. The board voted
7-3 to reinstate Jensen as the Main Street coordinator. However, the
decision was just a technical nomination of Jensen to the position.
Jensen will still be paid by the city until the beginning next year.
She is appealing her dismissal to the Woodland Park Personnel Board,
which is in itself has become a soap opera.

There has never been a personnel board in Woodland Park, despite the
fact that the charter allows one to be formed. The charter allows that
a personnel board will consist of three members, who, after submitting
an application, and appearing before, and being approved by city
council, may then arbitrate matters of personnel that come before
them. Their decision in personnel matters is not, however, binding.
They can only recommend action to council, who will make the final
decision.

After Jensen’s dismissal, the city suddenly received 5 applications
for the personnel board positions. Those applicants appeared before
council and were grilled on why they suddenly applied for a board,
that until now had remained vacant. Of those five, one withdrew his
application before appearing before council, one, Bob Carlsen,
withdrew his application during the interview with council, stating he
would not be able to be objective in the case of Jensen’s dismissal.
The remaining three applicants went to a vote of council, and two were
approved.

At last weeks council meeting a third applicant for the personnel
board, Mike Stinner, was interviewed and approved by council, with
little fanfare and grilling from council. So now Woodland Park has a
complete personnel board, and their first case will be to determine if
Jensen’s dismissal was justified. To be continued.

Meanwhile, the purpose of Carlsen’s presentation was to convince
council that Main Street is worthy of being funded again in next
year’s budget. Since council decided to throw the budget back in the
city’s lap at their special workshop meeting last Tuesday, there was
nothing council could say about funding at this time.

Mayor Levy thanked Carlsen for his time and presentation and that, as
they say, was that.