Mixed Opinions Voiced on Housing Historic Display at Woodland Station
~ by Bob Volpe ~
The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board is mulling plans to acquire historic cog railway cars that became available due to the closing of the popular railroad for major repairs.
This subject sparked much discussion during the most recent DDA monthly meeting.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway carried passengers to the top of the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak for 126 years. The closure of the railway for needed repairs has had a big impact on local tourism in the region, according to area officials.
When, and if, the repairs are done, The Pikes Peak Cog Railway will get major upgrades. According to The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, the owner has ordered three new engines, nine passenger cars and snow removal equipment and miles of cog rail track. The equipment is coming from a company in Switzerland, the only country where this type of train is still made. Finding contractors willing to work at high altitude also posed problems. The repairs are estimated to cost from $75-95 million.
There are actually two cars available, and Manitou Springs has dibs on getting them. At the moment the cars are being held at a lot owned by the GE Johnson Construction Company. The DDA is in talks with Broadmoor officials and Manitou Springs to try and acquire at least one of the cars.
According to DDA President Merry Jo Larsen, the DDA can get the car for no cost for the actual car, but must foot the bill for transportation and the set up. The car, if acquired, will sit somewhere on the Woodland Station property.
During the meeting there was much discussion back and forth on the issue. Some DDA board members questioned whether the car fits in with the theme of Woodland Park. DDA Board Member Ellen Carrick wondered where the money was going to come from.
Councilmen Noel Sawyer and Paul Saunier were in attendance and voiced their opinions. Sawyer felt this was not a need by the city, but rather a want that didn’t necessarily meet snuff. Saunier, on the other hand, believes that the car would preserve a 126-year history of the region.
Larsen has been in contact with Mayor Neil Levy and asked if the DDA has the support of the city, and if Woodland Park may supply labor to help with setting the car in place. Larsen said, “He is concerned about the cost.”
So it is still unclear if the city will support the project.
If the car(s) are acquired, transportation will involve two cranes, one to load the car in Manitou Springs and one to unload the car in town.
Despite various opinions, the cog railway car idea is very much on the table. Proponents cite this as a good deal for the DDA.
DDA Treasurer Tanner Coy updated TMJ News in an email on the progress of the issue. He said, “The DDA has been working with a local developer who’s very interested in using whatever cars we acquire. With site prep, transportation, and all that goes into it, the current estimated cost of acquiring one car is between $12,000 – $15,000, and we’re still gathering information about the process. If we acquire multiple cars, the overall cost increases but the cost per car declines as the process becomes more efficient. I’ve been asking citizens for input and, so far, a large majority seems to be in favor of acquiring at least one car.”
In the end, the board agreed to gather more information.