WOODLAND PARK • With a new law firm for the Downtown Development Authority and revised bylaws to include collaboration with the city of Woodland Park, 2022 signals a time to regroup.
“I’d like to hear what your backgrounds are and why you decided to get involved,” said Marcus McAskin, partner with the firm Michow, Cox and McAskin, at his first DDA meeting last week.
The DDA board responded:
Arden Weatherford: Owner of Bierwerks brewery, in addition to other properties in town, Weatherford has lived in Woodland Park since 1999. Weatherford sued the former board over breach of contract about a proposed beer garden and won the lawsuit. He subsequently was appointed to the board by the city council, two members of which were part of the former board, Merry Jo Larsen and Jerry Good.
Tony Perry: President and CEO of Park State Bank & Trust, Perry is a 21-year resident of Woodland Park. “I have railed against the DDA since 2001, so I thought it was time to step up and be part of the solution and not the problem,” he said.
Last year, Perry recommended that the board fire its previous DDA attorney, Paul Benedetti, mainly for losing the Weatherford case against the DDA. The board approved the motion to sign on with another law firm. Larsen and Good voted no, in an effort to retain Benedetti.
David Mijares: A civil engineer and president of Catamount Engineering, Mijares has been a Woodland Park resident since 2000.
Merry Jo Larsen, chair: Larsen owns The Cowhand, a business founded by her parents more than 50 years ago.
Al Born: Born is a member of the Board of Directors for Park State Bank and has been a city resident since 1968.
Jon Gemelke: He owns two downtown buildings to include the location of Java Haus.
Matt McCracken: He owns McCracken Construction in Woodland Park.
Jerry Good: Good is co-owner of Williams Log Cabin Furniture and a 27-year city resident.
Rusty Neal: Neal, who is retired, serves as the city council liaison to the DDA board. He’s lived in Woodland Park since 2018.
For his part, McAskin said he and the firm’s nine attorneys represent government entities only, to include the cities of Lone Tree, Castle Pines, Central City and Fort Collins.
“I helped form and organize DDAs in Colorado Springs and Golden, he said. “I look forward to getting to know the board and together we’ll figure out what the goals are and move forward.”
Larsen highlighted several successful projects in the downtown, each of which receives tax rebates through tax-increment financing as the result of an agreement with the DDA: the Dinosaur Resource Center, Trail Ridge Apartments, Big O Tires, Taylor Enterprises car wash, the Microtel, Dollar Tree and Auto Parts stores.
On the issue of collaborating with the city, which includes adding DDA agendas and announcements on the city website, Good was opposed.
Perry said, “We actually exist at the pleasure of the city of Woodland Park and are overseen by the city; in fact, the council is the body that appoints us to the board. I think it’s been lost over time that the relationship is synergistic, that the DDA cannot work outside of the city.”
In other business, at the request of Larsen, former DDA treasurer Tanner Coy pointed to what he viewed as errors in the proposed DDA budget and requested a fee to help the board reconcile the books. As a result, the board requested that Coy present a proposal for his fees at the April 5 meeting.