The ongoing controversy over the prospects of a new $10.1 million-plus aquatic center in Woodland Park has taken another bizarre twist, with a surprising funding source.
The city of Woodland Park has announced tentative plans to purchase the Shining Mountain Golf Club and clubhouse, with plans for transforming the popular links to alternative fields of green. Within the next year, golfers will no longer have to worry about losing stray shots in the multi-varied wetlands areas surrounding Loy Gulch. And for that matter, many Woodland Park town home owners won’t have to deal with shattered glass windows from lousy t-shots delivered by local linksters.
Although plans still are getting finalized, city officials recently encountered another significant funding hurdle in their push for the aqua center, and learned that future projections of sales tax revenue aren’t sufficient to cover the bond payments, unless the city can raise taxes.
“The numbers just don’t add up,” stated a frustrated WP City Manager David Butterie. “We just can’t take any more financial chances and can’t expect our taxpayers to pay the tab and bail us out. We must think outside the box.”
And outside the box will mean turning a large portion, at least nine or possibly 12 holes of the current Shining Mountain links, into a blossoming marijuana farm, with plans for the clubhouse to become Teller County’s first designated private pot club. Several sections of Shining Mountain are considered a prime cannabis growing area, according to Doctor Johnathan Joness, a Pikes Peak area cannabis growing consultant. A few regular holes will remain, but these plans are still under review.
The city has scheduled a public hearing on April 7 to reverse a previous decision to outlaw retail marijuana outlets. This ban was rendered in the summer of 2013, following a close vote. Preliminary estimates indicate that the city council will rule in favor of doing away with the ban. An executive session was held on the matter at the close of a recent council meeting, according to sources.
The course could become the nation’s sole links located inside a marijuana farm. It also will rank as one of the largest cannabis farms in an open area in Colorado. “This could provide some of our players a few challenges,” said Jodie Hallie, the director of golf maintenance for Shining Mountain. “This way too, our good friends from the Mountain Crackpot won’t continue their creative score-keeping antics, when they play out here. In other words, they can’t cheat anymore.”
Supreme Court Decision Sets Stage for Pot Farm
This surprising turn of events was a by-product of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week that many are interpreting as a victory lap for proponents of the marijuana industry. In essence, the Supreme Court ruled that the situation surrounding medical and retail marijuana in Colorado and other states amounts to a political decision and not a legal one. The high court, even with several powerful conservative judges, opted to reject a case filed by neighboring states that challenges Colorado’s pro-marijuana laws. This has become a clear signal that states are free to legalize marijuana, if they wish, with no interference from the feds.
“States have every right to regulate the cultivation and sales of marijuana, just as Nebraska and Oklahoma have the right to maintain their failed prohibition policies,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, according to a recent Associated Press article. “Colorado will continue to set an example for other states that are considering similar laws in legislatures and at the ballot box.”
“As I have said before, Marijuana is here to stay. It is just the way it is,” said WP Mayor Woodland Park Mayor Neil Lavy.
“We need to make this work to our advantage,” said Economic Development Director Brian Flear. “We plan on holding tours of the Woodland Park marijuana farm by the middle of 2017.”
“This certainly isn’t the alternative I would have preferred,” admitted Butterie. “But after seriously reviewing the cannabis-related revenue stream generated by the city of Manitou Springs and several municipalities outside Denver, this is our best course,” said the city manager, who has tried to spearhead the effort to make the aqua center a reality in Woodland Park for the last two years. “It really comes to this choice: Do we want an aqua center in our community or not,” added the Butterie.
“The city has gotten beaten up over where to put the center, and I’m sure we will now face criticism over the funding source for this project. But making this project happen has become a vital mission for us and the community. How can you deny the financial success of an industry with $1 billion in sales on an annual basis?”
For golfing buffs, at least six holes will remain unaltered, and plans are under consideration for allowing linksters to try their skills in-between marijuana plants.
In fact, the term “Marijuana Slice” could become a familiar golfing curse at Shining Mountain.