Woodland Park Memorial Park Renovation Nearing Completion Critics Worry about Costs for Aquatic Facility – By Beth Dodd

A major facelift and revamping of Woodland’s Memorial Park should be substantially completed by the end of November if the weather cooperates, while the new Aquatic Center is progressing on schedule.
Both projects are within budget, according to city officials. However, some critics, including at least one member of the city council, are questioning these claims and are favoring the formation of a special review committee.
According to Woodland Park’s Parks and Recreation Director, Cindy Keating, the major components of the park should all be done by the end of this month. The park was originally expected to be completed by the end of June, but construction was delayed by an early winter and a wet spring. Some of the things that are still being finished include the striping of the basketball courts and parking lot, the playground, the restrooms, and the landscaping. Winter weather could delay the installation of the last of the sod.
Although the Memorial Park project has now run five months longer than expected, Keating says it is still within the projected budget. The $2.9 million rebuild of the park is being paid for in part with a $350,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and a $40,000 Fishing Is Fun grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It’s surely an exciting time for Woodland Park and the folks that live in Teller County and the surrounding areas. We’re going to have a lot of great things to offer,” said Keating.
However, it is still uncertain when the park will be open for business. The city needs to negotiate with the construction contractor to decide upon an opening date. Right now the park is still officially a construction site and covered by the contractor’s insurance. Insurance coverage needs to be transferred back to the city before the public can enjoy the new amenities. If the city determines it is safe, all or part of the park could be open by the end of November. If not, it may be spring before the public is allowed in.
The new and improved Memorial Park will have a bigger pond with a fishing pier. The pond will be kept stocked with fish by Colorado Parks & Wildlife. There are also a large pavilion and gazebo, a new basketball court, bigger lawns, a band stand, and more picnic tables. The park will be totally handicapped accessible, and includes paved walkways and lighting for evening strolls. New sidewalk borders the park on the east side.
In the meantime, the new Aquatic Center in front of Woodland Park High School is progressing on schedule. Keating says the opening date is still expected to be October 2017. All of the underground work on things like the plumbing and the foundation is completed, and the masonry walls are starting to rise. The concrete for the competitive swimming pool has been poured.
The Aquatic Center is projected to cost $10.1 million, which was approved for a bond by voters in November 2015. The pool is expected to be completed within its budget even though the cost of construction went up during the time between when the planning was done and when construction started. The city is now reaching out to local philanthropists to raise funds for additional amenities. Donations can be made through the Woodland Park Aquatic Board website at www.woodlandaquaticproject.org, or at the Parks and Recreation office

Still, overall costs for this project are raising concerns by some elected leaders, with projections that the pool facility could reach the $12 million level (see related story). At last week’s council meeting, Councilman Val Carr requested that a peer review committee be established to further review costs for the aquatic center. City Manager David Buttery didn’t believe such a committee is necessary, and maintained that the facility is a long-term project, and not something intended to last until tomorrow. He attributed the extra costs to infrastructure expenses.