Woodland Park Elected Leaders Clash Over Mundane Subjects

Coworking meeting room interior with office accessories on table. 3D Rendering

Meeting Minutes and Master Plan Recordings Ignite Heated Debate

Bob Volpe

Verbal sparks continue to ignite at  Woodland Park City Council meetings, even over the most mundane subjects.

Right off the bat at last week’s regular meeting, the simple approval of the consent calendar, which consists of approving the minutes of a previous session, turned into a fierce debate.

Councilman Robert Zuluaga was not satisfied with what is included in the minutes.

Zuluaga had complained that some of his discussion comments were not reflected in the minutes at times. City Clerk, Suzanne Leclercq read from the council procedures that were adopted by council last May. She outlined the procedures, emphasizing the meeting  minutes are, “very basic” notes. Leclercq said, “In these minutes we don’t reflect every single comment that is made.” Leclercq made a recommendation that in the future, a time stamp would be added to the meeting recordings, so that anyone could easily refer to an item they are interested in.

Mayor Pro Tem Hilary LaBarre agreed that adding the time stamp to the recordings is a good idea.

Council member Kellie Case asked how much of a time burden doing that would add to Leclercq’s work load.

Leclercq responded that assistant to council Rob Felts would mark the time of each discussion on the agenda so no additional time would be needed. Leclercq said, “It will actually lesson the burden.”

Councilwoman Stephanie Alfieri noted that the recording of meetings has greatly improved, but that at times they were totally inaudible.

Zuluaga chimed in with his concern that written minutes are what people seem and they have been incomplete. Leclercq asked

He what is asked what is problem with recording complete comments.  He responded, “A comment was made at a previous meeting and his response was not recorded in the record.”

LaBarre asked for an opinion from the city attorney, who responded, “Having recorded minutes leaves no doubt as to who said what when and that this would alleviate any perception of bias, whether intended or not.”

Case, though, noted that the city currently features four redundant recordings of the meetings. She said, “We have it on Facebook, we have it on YouTube, we have it on Zoom, we have on what Rob is doing now which will be included in the new software.”

LaBarre stated, “It is not the clerk’s job to record verbatim minutes. If you want to spend money and hire a transcriber because you want every word typed, because you don’t trust the audio/video recordings, then that is something council can consider.”

Most government bodies in the region just record action minutes, based on TMJ’s review of local meetings.

Ultimately, after 37-minutes of debate on the subject, council voted to have the previous meeting minutes sent back and recorded verbatim. Councilman Rusty Neal was the only no vote.

After that debacle, council moved on to public comment not on the agenda. During this portion of the meeting, several citizens spoke in regards to the 180-day limit on people staying in RV parks.

The Woodland Park Council session wasn’t short on bizarre disputes.

The meeting, in fact, ended with a heated discussion between LaBarre and Alfieri over the touchy subject of the city’s new updated master plan.

Alfieri requested that meetings of the subcommittees of the comprehensive plan review (often referred to as the master plan) be recorded.

This is a project that the city undertakes every 10 years. The current council has had mixed opinions on this project, and especially the contract for the plan.

LaBarre stated that if Alfieri wants recordings of those meetings, she can have someone record them for her or she can do it herself. LaBarre said, “That’s going to be on you. I’m not going to require the city to record every single subcommittee meeting for legal purposes and if someone genuinely wants to know what every single thing is said at every single meeting, on every single issue that’s going to be on you.”