Opinion: Shakespeare Would Love Woodland Park

Macbeth saga relived at local council meetings

 ~ by Bob Volpe ~


2017 has been a busy year for our once little town.
After decades of talk, Woodland Park now has a new aquatic center. The aquatic center cost $10.1 million. The plan was approved for a bond by  voters in November 2015.

The pool saga was like a bad movie that combined the plots of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Macbeth.”
 The story begins many, many years ago, with a group of people who want to make Woodland Park a happier place by building a swimming pool for the masses. Enter the Scrooge contingent, who thinks borrowing money for a frivolous pool is completely BAH HUMBUG.
 Eventually, a general enters the fray and acting on a prophecy for witchy voters, slays King Scrooge and becomes King of the city, only to be set upon by a group of ambitious power seekers and thus beheaded. In the end only the pool survives.
Then there is the story of Memorial Park. Long neglected, Memorial Park wasn’t much more than a dusty lot with a mysterious fire place chimney sticking out of it.
 As with the aquatic center, once again the city had to dip into its precious reserve fund to finance the renovation of the park. Again the fiscally responsible raised a fuss and a holler. There ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues. The $2.9 million rebuild of the park was also 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.
Months behind schedule, the park finally opened. Now it is a beautiful area for families to gather and a prime spot for community events.

This past Fourth of July party was an excellent affair and I look forward to many more such events there. Now even teen age kids have place to go hang out, socialize, fish, and play basketball. There really wasn’t much for a teen kid to do in this town before the park was renovated.
And now we come to that curiously distasteful subject of the city’s yearly budget.
Last year at this time there was much angst among the fiscal conservative branch of council, like minded former officials, and residents. They feared the city would go bankrupt. The hysteria went so far as to predict the city would not meet its monetary responsibilities, or even meet payroll. Somehow by the grace of the all-consuming consumer, sale tax revenues and tourism kept the city alive for another year.
Once again the past becomes present. The same group of people are back with the sky is falling predictions. They argue that without at least a 10 percent emergency reserve in the general fund, the city will suffer a catastrophic meltdown should bears and mountain lions suddenly unionize and assault the town and eat all the Texas tourists.
 I’m not arguing that it is not a great idea to have some extra cash stashed in a mattress or buried in coffee can in the yard for a rainy day, but, come on. The residents of this town are accustomed to certain services, like streets, drainage mitigation, sewerage treatment, snow plowing, and the maintenance of vehicles and personnel to carry out those services.

When I moved into town, my street wasn’t paved and I had to buy a mailbox at the post office to get my mail. OK the postal service is responsible for the corner boxes we have now. What I’m saying is, for Woodland Park to survive, the city has got to provide exceptional service. The caliber of people moving here will insist upon it. Those services include reliable internet, good roads, safe homes, and a Starbucks within walking distance of anywhere in town.
In 2104, city council passed a resolution which stated the budget must maintain a balance of not less than 10 percent of the general fund’s total operating expenditures as an emergency reserve. Currently the reserve is at about 5 percent, or $400,000, as a result of dipping into the fund to help finance the aquatic center, Memorial Park renovation, and the new city maintenance facility.
A couple of weeks ago, city council threw the budget back into the lap of the city manager. Council feels the city must get back to that 10 percent rule this year. Personally, I think council should have begun negotiating the budget then, instead of kicking the can into the city’s court.
A special meeting will be held Dec. 5 in the council chambers to go over the revised budget at 8 am. So now we wait to see whose sacred cows get gored, what planned city projects don’t get done next year, who and how many city employees possibly lose their jobs or benefits, what public services are eliminated or cut back, and what other public amenities are curtailed.
Council had the chance to negotiate the budget with the city during the last month’s special and regular council meetings, yet they didn’t do it. Now time is critical for the budget to get passed, and you can bet there will be some on council screaming bloody murder over special projects they like getting cut or under-funded.