Woodland Park Mayor Praises Parish

Woodland Park Mayor Steve Randolph spent the majority of his regular council report last week touting the achievements of Mike Parish, a former columnist for the Mountain Jackpot and a Vietnam veteran, who recently passed away following years of difficult health woes.

Randolph described Parish as a person with a “heart of gold” and indicated he was often misunderstood by some people in the community. The mayor admitted that Parish gained quite a reputation for his criticism of certain government actions and politicians. “Unfortunately, some of these people didn’t realize Mike was actually their friend,” said the mayor. Randolph said he got to know Parish quite well personally.

The mayor said Parish will be missed, and mourned the fact that he no longer will be addressing the city council. Randolph said he was surprised to learn about Parish’s extensive military background and his involvement in the community.

Randolph recalled one of Parish’s more unique presentations last winter, when the former columnist criticized the city’s stand against medical marijuana and even verbally attacked District Attorney Dan May, a staunch critic of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Following this exchange, Parish and May maintained an extensive dialogue.

A Mike Parish celebration is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Ute Inn in Woodland Park from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. All local residents are invited. For more details, call the Mountain Jackpot at 687-0803.

In other city news, the Woodland Park City Council had a relatively light agenda last week during which they approved the initial readings of several ordinances. These dealt with proposed re-zoning plans for a mobile home park and adjacent area near the Eagle Fire Lodge that would become transformed into a $20 million, 176-unit, multi-family housing project; a related road vacation request associated with this apartment project; the appropriation of funds for the 2012 budget and other budget housekeeping for the current year. The council set Dec. 1 as the public hearing date to determine these issues. Out of these, the bid for the apartment development project, proposed by developer Eric Smith, who also serves as a member of the city council, prompted the most discussion.

Councilman Dave Turley said he wants to hear more details regarding how future revenue generated from this project will be shared with certain special districts, such as ambulance, fire and library services. Due to the fact that this 9.2-acre property has been included in the WP Downtown Development Authority District, future tax revenue from the development won’t be received by many local tax entities like it would if the property was located in another part of town. With the DDA’s tax increment financing policy, the DDA snags all tax revenue from future projects that occur in a defined area for several decades.

However, with concerns mounting about this arrangement, the DDA recently agreed to share a certain portion of tax monies from future projects and improvements, if these developments impact certain districts. But details still have to be finalized.

Turley and other council members have raised concerns about public safety groups getting the short end of the revenue stick regarding new projects in the DDA district.

The council last week also set the city’s annual property tax rate at 16.249 mills, a figure it has stuck with since the early 1990s. By law, the city can’t raise this levy without a vote, but it can lower the rate.