City May Take Over Maintenance of Future Tourist Attraction
~ by Bob Volpe ~
Last Wednesday evening, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) held a special work session to discuss uses for the recently acquired historic cog railroad car, now sitting on Woodland Station property.
The car was an integral part of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which has been shut down for repairs. The attraction, the highest cog train in the world, has run for 126 years. The temporary closure of the train, though, opened the door for other entities to obtain the old rail cars.
The work session was held at the Woodland Country Lodge and was attended by members of the community, the DDA board, and Dwain Carter. Carter is responsible for donating over $12,600 to bring the car to the city. In return for his donation, the DDA agreed to name the car after Carter’s late wife Myrna. During the meeting, Carter also said he would foot the bill for information plaques that will be installed near the car in the future.
There were four topics discussed at the meeting. The first was who would be doing maintenance and management of the car. Discussion was vigorous and several options were proposed. DDA Chairwoman Merry Jo Larsen suggested one of the first projects that needs to be done is to install a platform near the door of the car for people to access the interior.
Two of the options for maintenance kicked around were, hiring a contractor, and/or recruiting volunteers. City Manager Darrin Tangeman, who was in attendance said, “Move the car 100 feet and it’s on city property.”
With the car on city property, city crews would do all the maintenance. Tangeman went on, “Consider the city as a potential resource for the future.” DDA Treasurer Tanner Coy pointed out that when the DDA expires, the land will revert back to the city, but that is 12 years down the road.
DDA Board Member Jerry Good suggested the DDA could deed the property the car sits on to the city. He said, “It should belong to the city.”
The discussion turned to possibly leasing out the car to private entities who would ultimately be responsible for the maintenance. This led to a heated debate as to who should be using the car. Many in the room believed private use of the car would be an insult to Carter, who helped fund the car coming to the city. After considerable debate, consensus was reached that the car is there for the public, and private use is off the table.
The meeting also focused on four other details regarding the use of the historic car. The first is that the DDA will research options for maintenance of the car. The second was that the DDA will research installing informational plaques near the car. The third was the DDA will work with developers of Woodland Station to optimize the visibility of the car and the theme of western heritage.
The final subject of discussion was that the car will be reserved as a public attraction, and will not be leased to private entities.