WP Aqua Center may receive additional perks

imagesWP Aqua Center may receive additional perks

A proposed $10 million-plus aquatic center in Woodland Park may receive additional enhancements, thanks to a state grant for another unrelated project.

However, the city’s overall debt for the aqua facility may not get reduced that much, according to City Manager David Buttery. Instead, he said that more amenities may get completed for both the aquatic center and the Memorial Park facelift. Although the amount hasn’t been finalized, he roughly estimated that the city is looking at an approximate $900,000 annual payment to finance the aquatic center and help pay for Memorial Park improvements, over the next decade or so. The bulk of these payments will begin next year.

Last week, the Woodland Park City Council approved the initial reading of a new ordinance that sets the stage for issuing $3.6 million in certificate of participation funds (often known as lease-purchase financing) for footing the bill for improvements at Memorial Park. This measure would cancel a previous additional funding plan for a new maintenance facility. With a recent grant by the state Department of Local Affairs, the city can pay for this capital project, estimated at close to $1 million, in cash. As a result, the city’s COP lease bill is lower than anticipated, a development that could lead the way to additional enhancements for both the Memorial Park renovation project and the aquatic center

Through the COP financing, the city will pay annual payments to the newly formed Woodland Park Municipal Building Corporation, using certain city properties as collateral. A similar funding system was used by Teller County to finance the jail in Divide. Although this is a common way of financing government projects in Colorado, COP funds have raised many questions locally, with some critics viewing this funding method as a sneaky way to bypass the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

As for the aquatic center project, a series of public meetings will be held on April 30 in the WP Council Chambers. Forums are scheduled for 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. During these forums, detailed plans will be unveiled for the design of the facility. According to Mayor Neil Levy, this is a good opportunity for residents to voice their opinions regarding the project, expected to break ground later this year.