DDA Debates Merits of “Walkability Study” – Bob Volpe


The Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority (DDA) last week debated a study conducted by students from the University of Colorado to make Woodland Park a more pedestrian friendly community.

The plan suggests turning the area behind several downtown businesses into a plaza type space and connecting it with a walking path or trail across highway 24, into the Woodland Station area and beyond.

A powerpoint presentation by Laurie Glauth, a member of the committee that spearheaded the project, showed the major changes that would take place should the plan proceed. It consists of artist drawings of the pedestrian space behind some of the businesses and a conceptual rendering that would deal with issues surrounding crossing highway 24.

The plan would be partially funded by a DOLA grant (Colorado Department of Local Affairs).

The presentation received mixed reviews among DDA board members. While the concept was well received, the details and issues involving parking and impacts on the businesses came into question.

Elijah Murphy, co-owner of the Historic Ute Inn and a DDA board member, said, “They’re putting the cart before the horse. They’re coming up with all these concepts, but nobody is coming here and asking me what my requirements are as a business. I have nine tractor trailer deliveries every week. The way the concept is now, I couldn’t get deliveries anymore because the trucks have no place to turn around.”

Murphy lamented the fact that when the study was done, they didn’t talk to any of the business people who would be most affected by the plan. “I saw the college kids out there walking around, taking pictures and making drawings, but they never talked to anybody.”

The plan would eliminate parking on South Center Street next to the Cowhand and also the current parking area behind the Ute and adjacent businesses.

Darlene Jensen, who is active with the Main Street Design Committee, and a proponent of the plan, suggested the DDA and the Main Street Design Committee get together and combine their thoughts and recommendation on how to move forward with the plan and to address concerns of business.

The plan was presented at a recent city council meeting and received a preliminary thumbs up from council, although no formal vote was taken.

The DDA Lawsuit

There was little discussion on the lawsuit brought by Arden Weatherford, potential Woodland Station land developer and owner of BierWerks, against the DDA for breach of contract.

DDA treasure, Tanner Coy, said the due date to respond to the suit has been moved up to Dec. 29. Board Chairman Merry Jo Larsen expressed her disappointment that Weatherford is using what the DDA considers confidential material they provided Weatherford in a suit against them. However, the lawsuit matter didn’t generate much discussion at last week’s meeting.

Future Special Events

During the general discussion portion of the meeting, there was much ballyhooing and praise for the Lighter Side of Christmas parade and the fireworks.

The cost of the fireworks was reported at $3,500, and was money well spent, according to city leaders. City manager David Buttery chimed in that pursuing the fireworks display for next year’s parade would be reduced to $3,000 if the display were to be repeated next year.

Future events scheduled for the Woodland Station area and the rest of the area include a Colorado Pro Rodeo Association competition on July 7, 8, and 9.

On July 29, the cowboy rodeo with Bronc Days will be in Green Mt Falls, and will include some activity at Woodland Station.

The Western Music Association will be putting on the Pikes Peak Cowboy Gathering on Sept 29, 30 and Oct 1.. The event will include music, arts, and cultural events.

On Oct 27, the Harvest Festival is tentatively scheduled to be held, pending working out the details.

Some future proposed events at Woodland Station, though, may require a stage for performers. Larsen suggested that a large flatbed trailer be purchased and fitted to make an appropriate stage for musical groups in lieu of a permanent structure. She noted the portability of such a stage that could be moved and stored when not in use.

Larsen mentioned she has been in touch with officials from the camp of Michael Martin Murphy to try and bring the national recording artist to Woodland Park for a concert. She did, however, have reservations about the town’s ability to handle such a concert. She said, “We thought we would get our feet wet and see how far we could go and whether we could keep it relatively small but large enough to test this concert. So we are looking into that now and it will probably be in the summer around August if it happens.”

There was also discussion about getting a large flag pole for Woodland Station and the possibility of putting on a veterans’ benefit on the property in conjunction with the VFW, the Special Forces Charitable Trust, and the Green Beret Foundation.