WP Council Wins Race Against the Clock Against Spreading Coronavirus Menace

Local Woodland Park Leaders Conduct Their Final Public Meeting 

 ~ by Bob Volpe ~

The Woodland Park City  Council opted to beat the clock in outpacing the growing and deadly coronavirus by changing their meeting time. 

The elected leaders moved their scheduled meeting up a day and met on Wednesday last week, instead of Thursday. In addition, the meeting was held at 5:30 p.m, rather than the normal 7 p.m. time slot.

The changes were due to fears of the coronavirus (COVID)19) spreading. As of this report, there are no known cases of COVID19 in Teller County, but both the county and the city are taking serious precautions to limit the pandemic.

During the meeting council announced this will be the last meeting that will take place live in council chambers. Councilwoman Hillary LaBarre, Finance Director Emily Katsimpalis, and City Attorney Jason Meyers attended the meeting remotely on Zoom conferencing software.

There were a few glitches in the remote broadcast. LaBarre’s voice transmission was plagued with garbled and unintelligible speech at times, and weird clicks and knocking sounds could be heard from an unknown person who was attending remotely.

During future remote council meetings, public comment will be taken by email, text, or typed in using Zoom conferencing software. The city has provided a link to Zoom on their website for those who would like to download it.

For last week’s meeting, space for the public was limited. At the last regular meeting, City Manager Darrin Tangeman stated that to adhere to the social distancing regulations put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, public attendance at council chambers would be limited to no more than 17 people.

However, this become a moot point as the council announced future meetings will be held only remotely using Zoom conferencing software. There were only about eight people who attended last week’s meeting and chairs were arranged at least 6 feet apart.

Furthermore, as of last Thursday, all city offices will be closed to the public.

And those voters who wish to delivery their ballots in person for the April 7 election can do so by placing their ballot in a secure mail box. The mail boxes will be placed outside the entrance to city hall and inside the police station.

Emergency Declaration Expanded

As far as city business, the council approved an emergency resolution to extend Woodland Park’s  emergency declaration beyond the limit of seven days that currently exists with this type of resolution. The new resolution will remain in place indefinitely until the pandemic threat is passed.

Another  purpose of the resolution is to make the city eligible for federal funds.

There was only one subject scheduled for the public hearings section of last week’s meeting. A liquor license was granted for the Gold Hill Wine and Liquor store.

During new business, Public Works Director Kip Wiley, introduced a resolution establishing water and sewer investment fees. It passed 5-1 with LaBarre being the only member to cast a no vote. As a result, resident could facea 1.92 percent increase in water fees in the near future.

Wiley also noted that due to the coronavirus situation, water disconnects will be suspended pending the end of the crisis.

Another resolution was passed in favor of a reliever route, previously referred to as a bypass. This resolution is simply a formality so the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) understands the city is serious about bringing a bypass. Despite being a simple formality, this resolution garnered much conversation. Some on council feared it was a commitment by the city to proceed with moving forward on the project.

Since the early 1990s, the idea of a bypass to loop Hwy. 24 traffic around the center of town has ignited various opinions and stirred much controversy. A previous route was approved nearly 30 years ago, but no action was taken, causing the project to die. With traffic now reaching a deadlock during peak times, this idea has resurfaced. 

The April 2 regular meeting of the Woodland Park City Council has been canceled.