Past DDA Chairperson Raises Issues Over Removal of Historic Cog Railway Car from Bergstrom Park

Editor’s Note: The following letter, submitted by long-time business owner Merry Jo Larsen, a former chairperson of the DDA, deals with a recent article in a local newspaper concerning the removal of the Cog (Railway) Car and outlines her stance on the situation.

The Transfer Agreement to the Ute Pass Historical Society is NOT approval for the cog car to be removed. It is the “transfer of ownership of the Myrna Cog Rail Car.”

The Ute Pass Historical Society Board voted unanimously, twice, that they would like the cog car to stay where it is. I signed this agreement. As a member of the DDA Board from conception and chairman for more than 15 years, I have the FACTS and understanding of DDA actions.

The former DDA Board was trained by one of the attorneys that created DDA and Urban Renewals for the State of Colorado. He was our attorney. His contracts and advice made us one of the better DDA in the state. The DDA is coming to closure in 2032.

The Ute Pass Historical Society was a logical choice to manage the use and care of the cog car. Bergstrom Park has always been the home for the cog car as agreed to by the DDA and the City Council of 2019.

This was the location of the Midland Railroad and Depot. The Train History Museum will be there. It’s a Rest Area which draws visitors that love the car. Tava Group knew this when they visited the property with the past DDA Board.

There were conversations with them about this fact and there was no choice on moving the car. This is the permanent home. This new DDA Board that has no history, is now changing the story. They made promises they have no right to make.

The Tava Group is taking advantage of this. The Transfer Agreement to the Historical Society was worded to protect the Historical Society because they are nonprofit. The past DDA Board had a developer that would have paid $1.2 million more for the property as well as incorporate the cog car in their development.

They (current DDA group) sold the property for under market value. That Cog Car was a gift to the people of Woodland Park free of charge. Duane Carter gave a gift to this town of the money to move it. What this DDA Board and City Council are doing is disrespectful to the past DDA board, the Carter family, the City Council of 2019, as well as the citizens of Woodland Park.

Don’t disrespect the legacy of the citizens that built this Woodland Park you want to live in.

Merry Jo Larsen

Former Chairperson of the DDA