Frustrations Continue Over Woodland Station Development

~ by Bob Volpe ~

This month’s regular meeting of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was dominated again by a discussion of the proposed Woodland Station development, once regarded as the prized anchor of  future commercial activity,

However, in reality, this 10-plus acre area in the middle of town has mostly sat idle for 15 years.

But before the discussion began, there was a surprise apology from Robert Zuluaga, City Council Liaison to the DDA, for how council has handled appointing applicants to three open seats on the DDA Board.

Zuluaga said, “I’d like to apologize for the charade I’ve seen personally as the council representative to the DDA, I feel like I haven’t communicated well enough or there is a bunch of tension with what is going on.”

Zuluaga went on to question what could be done to help the image of the DD to convince critics that the organization is not operating with a business as usual style. He said, “I don’t have the answer. I’ve just seen what happened at the last council meetings and it didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t make sense that the city should stand in the way of the DDA doing what the DDA is supposed to do.”

He continued, “I’m disappointed that council is making good citizens on this board look like they have some other agenda. That bothers me.”

Zuluaga was referring to the fact that for two consecutive meetings, council has not approved three applicants for three open seats on the DDA board. Both Councilwoman Kellie Case and Mayor Pro Tem Hilary LaBarre both refused to vote for any of the applicants at the last two meetings of the council . They were joined by Councilman Rusty Neal who also refused to vote for any of the applicants.

Woodland Station Development Blues

When discussion turned to the Woodland Station proposal, the board once again continued to express much frustration over the direction of a proposed multi-use project. The board talked about the drawings they have seen so far from the developers, and how incomplete they are.

Questioner were raised about where the cog car will sit in regards to the development. The board wants the cog car to remain where it is. They want the proposed development to be located at least 60-feet south of the car’s location.

DDA Board Member Al Born, was frustrated with the time it was taking for the developers to present a plan, and further lamented the fact that so many other plans to develop Woodland Station have progressed initially, and then petered out to nothing.

Born suggested having the property subdivided so that the developer and the DDA know the exact location of the boundaries before a valid proposal could be presented. 

The board then got into a minor bickering match over the size of the development on the property. According to the present proposal from the developers, the height of the main building will be around 30-35 feet tall. Given the slope of the property from where the cog car sits now, that height when viewed from the road will be mitigated somewhat by the downward slope of the land,

But DDA Board Chairperson Merry Jo Larsen said flatly, “I don’t want a three story building.”

The board did approve $500 funding to weed whack Woodland Station and discussed funding to put a deck around the cog car. However, no funding was approved for that project.