Lengthy closed-door session refuses to resolve fight
~ by Bob Volpe ~
The Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority (DDA) called a special meeting last week to discuss recent developments in the breach of contract lawsuit filed against them by Arden Weatherford, and Colorado Beer Garden LLC (the plaintiff) over a parcel of land on the Woodland Station property.
The meeting started with pizza and salads, provided by DDA Treasurer Tanner Coy, and a brief discussion about a contractor filling a hole on Woodland Station. However, it subsequently went into a lengthy, closed-door executive session.
The executive session lasted over two hours during which time the press and public was barred from the proceedings. At the completion of the executive session, officials reported that there was a very brief discussion and the meeting was adjourned.
It has been a roller coaster ride for both the DDA and Weatherford since the lawsuit was filed in 2016. Both sides have tried to come up with an out of court settlement, but have failed.
To add to the drama, a third judge has been appointed to hear the case. Judge number one was reassigned to another district; judge number two, Lin Billings Vela, recused herself because of a distant and vague association with the plaintiff. Judge number three is a Judge Lyman. It is unclear at this time if this is the same 6th Judicial District Judge Gregory G. Lyman, who recently retired from the bench.
The DDA and Weatherford have been negotiating over the development of Woodland Station since 2011. But six years down the road, Woodland Station remains a vacant lot in the heart of downtown. Weatherford had originally proposed plans for a European-style beer garden area and a multi-use housing development. Weatherford has maintained that he has the right to pursue the project on Woodland Station property, according to an original contract. DDA majority board members, though, have argued that Weatherford missed frequent deadlines.
According to DDA treasurer Tanner Coy, after the executive session, it was said on behalf of DDA General Council Paul Benedetti that the DDA could not accept the settlement agreement proposed by the plaintiff’s council. The reason, according to Coy is that, “The DDA does not have the authority to sign it because it did not comply with statutory requirements in DDA law and other binding documents of the DDA’s such as the agreement for disposition of development of Woodland Station between the city of Woodland Park and the DDA, as well as the bond statement issued through Vectra bank.”
So it would appear that without a last minute settlement, agreeable to both parties and that complies with the law, this lengthy dispute is headed for the courts. It’s unclear how this will impact the future operations of the DDA. The DDA has wanted to use the Woodland Station property for hosting special events, and to take a different direction in dealing with this land from previous DDA and city leaders.