Sink or swim for Woodland Aquatic Project

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They’re used to it, their feelings not hurt at all. “People ask us what we’re doing,” said Gerry Simon, president of the board of the Woodland Aquatic Project.

Granted, after three years, the project is still not off the ground. “We’ve been very busy,” Simon said.

In addition to raising $8,000 to conduct the professional survey of Woodland Park residents, the WAP committee has been granted nonprofit status as a 501 ©(3) organization.

However, while a majority of residents want a swimming pool the question of funding is still up in the air.

In a chronology of events leading up to rubber-meets-the road, Simon goes through the good, the bad and the ugly. “We developed our own amateur business plan, which wasn’t well-received,” he said.

Undaunted, the board asked for help from the city of Woodland Park. “We were rebuffed,” he said.

“So we raised money, $10,000, for a professional business plan, thanks to the Holiday Home Tour (WAP was a beneficiary of the tour in December) and the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co.”

Armed with funds, the board hired Ballard*King and Associates of Pueblo to design the business plan. “The design team looked at our community, the size and relative affluence and was surprised that we don’t have any kind of recreational facility yet,” Simon said.

In the past three years, the board has changed, with members resigning for one reason or another. Today, Simon leads the current board that includes Bob Carlson (city councilor), Jackson Peters (retired Teller County judge), Nancy Sells and Steve Jeroslow as well as Daniel Carr, student advisor.

“We are still very driven, still see this as a great need in terms of health and wellness, economic vitality, civic responsibility and public safety,” Simon said. “We’ve been talking to various community groups and clubs.”

But now it’s time for the final push. “We’ve gone as far as we can go without city support,” Simon said.

Next month, the board expects to present a resolution asking the city to authorize a Woodland aquatic center to be approved by a vote of the people in April.

“We think the money is in the budget right now,” Simon said. “If you look at the sales-revenue increase for the last year - and I’m projecting right now - it’s enough to fund what it would take to service the debt and cover the difference between operating revenue and use fees.”

For Simon and the board, seeking a tax increase in April is worse-case scenario. “If the city can’t find a nickel in the city budget to fund the project, the additional revenue required would cost our citizens six cents a day per person,” he added.

The resolution, if passed, would ask the city to work with the WAP to finalize a location, select a design-build team, commission a concept design, identify the right funding mix and develop ballot wording, if it comes to, Simon said.

As far as location is concerned, the board is focusing on the north side of Memorial Park, at the intersection of Lake and Park streets.

“We’re at a turning point here; we either proceed with city support or we may shut down for awhile,” he said.