Woodward resigns over Motorway flak

ALAMOSA — Early Iron is not out of the Rio Grande Motorway picture, but Jeff Woodward is off of the Alamosa Marketing District Board.

Woodward resigned from the board during its meeting Thursday night, with his resignation effective at midnight so he could give input on some of the other agenda topics. Board members thanked Woodward for his 24 years on the board.

Woodward said he did not want the integrity of the marketing board to be questioned because of him, and all he wanted to do in serving on this board was to better the community he was raised in and had raised his children in.

“They won’t have to ask for my resignation in the paper. You got it,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to say ‘you are giving that building to Jeff Woodward’.”

He added, “I am not gaining anything financially. In fact you can bet it’s going to cost me money if it ever happens, but that’s OK, because I love this community.”

He said he was angry over some of the “diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain” that was going on in the community over this issue, coming from people who did not understand what the marketing district was trying to do for the community.

“We did not do anything wrong,” he said.

A good share of the meeting was consumed with discussion over the Motorway building and how the district should proceed at this point, given the controversy surrounding last month’s decision to donate the building to the Early Iron Club.

The board decided to meet with Alamosa County commissioners in a work session to receive input from the county officials. Alamosa County Administrator Gigi Dennis, who attended the portion of the meeting dealing with the Motorway building, said she would be glad to set up a meeting between the marketing board and county commissioners.

“I think we need to get some guidance from the commissioners,” said Marketing Board President Rob Oringdulph.

The marketing district owns the Motorway building, which lies just east of the train depot/welcome center on Sixth Street, but the county appoints the marketing district board members.

Marketing Board Vice President Cathy Simpson said maybe the district could have gone about this in a different way, and she wanted to make sure the board conducted its business in the proper manner.

“We have got to do it right.”

Board member Matt Abbey said when he served on the city’s recreation advisory board, the board had a handbook with procedures about how to operate, and the marketing board needs something like that too.

Matt Beckner, who headed the Early Iron Club’s building committee that requested the Motorway building, told the marketing district board Thursday night that the club did not want to “throw the towel in” on its idea for the Motorway building. However, the club members want to concentrate on the Early Iron Festival they have coming up in six weeks and then revisit the Motorway issue with the marketing board.

Beckner said the club feels passionate about its vision for this building and wants to be a part of its future.

Dennis said it was unfortunate how this issue exploded, and she had no doubt Early Iron’s intentions were “pure of heart.”

“They wanted to do something very proactive for the community,” she said.

She added that although the district had the legal right to give the building away, and the commissioners have control over the district just by appointing its board, it would be a wise decision to run the idea by the commissioners. She said the commissioners probably would not have approved of the building donation without first putting request for proposals out into the community to see if there might be others interested in this property.

She recommended that the board write its vision down and then seek requests for proposals fitting that vision.

Dennis said Early Iron presented a proposal for the building that fit that vision. “They had the inside scoop from Jeff in some ways by knowing what you guys were looking for in that building, but you haven’t expressed that to the rest of the community. I think you guys just need to back up. You need to be more transparent with the community.”

Oringdulph said, “I think we would have entertained anything from anybody, but nobody was willing to come forward.”

Dennis said, “but you didn’t tell everybody you would take proposals.”

Woodward said the board wasn’t thinking about the Motorway building right now, but the Early Iron Club came up with a proposal to use it.

Simpson said when Early Iron showed interest in the building, the marketing board should have gone to the community to see if there was other interest as well.

Oringdulph said whatever goes into that building needs to fit with the tourism campus already in place at the welcome center and depot.

He added that the Early Iron proposal was in the early stages of development, with nothing in writing yet.

“I think we have got to get the blessing from the commissioners that what we are doing is OK, and if it is not, then it’s not and we stop,” he said.

Alamosa City Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley, who serves as the city’s nonvoting representative to the marketing board, said she had received many phone calls, and folks were not so much against Early Iron’s proposal as they were concerned that policies are properly followed.

“It was just the way it came about,” she said.

Marketing Board Member Jeff Owsley said no one had any underhanded intentions with this.

“We were wanting to do something that would be profitable and something that would be positive and bring life and energy and economic value,” he said.

“We’ve got to move forward,” Oringdulph added, “because something positive needs to be done with that building.”

Caption: Clockwise from left at the Alamosa Marketing District Board meeting Thursday evening are Matt Abbey, Gigi Dennis, Jeff Woodward, Jamie Greeman, Fred Bunch, Rob Oringdulph, Cathy Simpson, Jeff Owsley and Liz Thomas Hensley.