Woodland Park mega dollar projects gearing up for final openings

Tentative Ceremonies set for Memorial Park and Aquatic Center

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

Don’t hold your breath, but two of Woodland Park’s signature projects with a total price tag of close to $20 million are progressing right on track, with no signs of final delays or 11th-hour surprises.

The only pending obstacle is Mother Nature, which always offers a few tricky curve balls this time of year for proponents of multimillion dollar public ventures.   

Memorial Park 4/24/2017

The park was alive with activities today. Looks like they are pouring the last of the sidewalks and putting in some top soil.Anyone up for some #Play in a #Construction Zone anyone!!! Woodland Park, Colorado

Posted by Woodland Park Underground on Monday, April 24, 2017

The Memorial Park facelift, a project that experienced considerable setbacks last year, is still bracing for a June 14 grand opening ceremony. According to Woodland Park Special Projects Director Jane Mannon, only a few remaining construction hurdles remain. She said last week that some landscaping and sodding work, along with a few construction touch-ups, still must get completed. However, she is optimistic that the project will get done in time for the ceremony. “We are keeping our fingers crossed,” added Mannon, who admits the spring weather in Woodland Park can offer some definite challenges.

More details will be announced regarding the grand opening festivities within the next few weeks.   Image result for woodland park Memorial Park

The opening of the park is a well-awaited event, as the city wants to open the facility up to many groups and nonprofits. With major improvements and a much needed facelift, the park is expected to become a main anchor of the downtown core. The Farmer’s Market group hopes to use the park for its weekly produce events, held every Friday morning during the summer and fall, offering a much better site than the last several years. The Market organizers had to use a temporary site behind Vectra Bank.  

More importantly, the park will host two of the city’s prime festivals, its July 4th Celebration and the Cruise Above the Clouds. Both festivals won top honors in a recent “Best Of” Teller County contest, sponsored by TMJ News.

However, the lack of a Memorial Park facility last year provided event-goers and festival organizers with a less than stellar setting.  Mannon conceded that city officials and many residents are looking forward to the hosting of these events at Memorial Park.

And recently, the city council agreed to open up the park to alcoholic beverages for groups through an administrative review process. With the publicity surrounding the new park, Woodland Park officials have received many requests from people wanting to host weddings, reunions and festivities.  

And the city is poised to meet its deadline in opening its dream project, a nearly $15 million aquatic center next to the high school by this fall.

According to Mannon, the city is tentatively planning on opening the new aquatic facility, equipped with several pools, a water slide, locker rooms and other special amenities on Oct. 7.

However, this date could be weather dependent, and isn’t set in stone. Still, officials are fairly optimistic about meeting this deadline. Contrary to the Memorial Park project, the aquatic center has experienced few delays.

“We are right on schedule. The contractors have done a great job,” said Mannon.  

Currently, much work is occurring the along the facility roof area and building exterior.  

Moreover, Mannon said the Aquatic Project group has nearly filled the gap in garnering enough fund-raising to construct a nearly $250,000 slide. This was an amenity that the project proponents couldn’t complete with the bond issue approved by the voters.

However, the project still has some vocal critics who see that facility as way too expensive for what is provided. Some also are worry about future financial impacts on the city, which is operating this year with an extremely low reserve fund. Other concerns have dealt with a rising financial toll for the facility.

Still, the project marks one of the more remarkable community campaigns. Voters in Woodland Park agreed to let the city borrow more than $10 million to construct the facility without any tax increases. A pro-aquatic center ballot issue was approved by a huge majority in the fall of 2014. A separate fund-raising movement, led by leaders of the Woodland Aquatic Project group, has snagged more than $200,000 through donations and other contributions.