September marks my first year as Woodland Park’s city manager, and I have taken time to reflect on some of the accomplishments I have led over the last 12 months at the City of Woodland Park. First and foremost, I am honored to have had a chance to establish relationships with Woodland Park residents, the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, Woodland Park Main Street and many other stakeholders. These relationships have been incredibly helpful to me in my role as city manager and personally for me and my family in becoming part of this great community.
In addition to the community relationships, getting to know City staff and operations has been an exceptional experience, and absolutely critical to accomplishing several things in this short amount of time. With the help of City staff, we have identified and implemented increasing efficiencies throughout the city, while also conducting detailed planning for the future with our Pavement and Storm Water Management Plans and comprehensive 10-year Capital Improvement Plan. With these plans in place, we will be able to better ensure that our limited funding is prioritized efficiently to maintain and improve City infrastructure while also allowing us to manage our community’s future growth.
Additionally, our city council gave a critical nod of approval to having a city-wide compensation study completed in 2019. City council’s approval recognized that recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce requires competitive pay and professional development opportunities for current and future employees and is the key to keeping our community safe and providing the best possible city services into the future.
In conjunction with workforce pay and development, I am proud to have brought some new leadership development opportunities to the city. When I first came to Woodland Park the city had just finished hosting three military veteran fellows through the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship program, and we have been able to host additional fellows in various departments since that time. VLGMF provides veterans transitioning from the military with opportunities to explore local government careers while also integrating and connecting them to the community. In addition to continuing work with the VLGMF program, I am proud to have linked City staff with the Colorado Women Leading Government program, which has been important in generating increased interest from women in local government professions, and also providing leadership development skills, resources and networking among other women leaders in Colorado government.
It is always a wonder to me that many municipalities have hidden community gems, and Woodland Park is no exception. The Ute Pass Cultural Center and the Woodland Aquatic Center are two community assets that we are proud of, and are focusing promotional efforts on to get the word out. As many people know, the UPCC’s main room recently had a beautiful renovation making it ideal for community events, private parties, and weddings. A plan has been created to bring additional improvements and enhanced services to the UPCC which will help this event center achieve being a “go-to” event option in the region.
With social media having prime communication platforms, this year Woodland Park has become more involved in using social media and digital marketing as an important element of our communication and promotion efforts. We will continue developing our social media platforms, improving digital voice search-readiness, and using local digital media marketing to promote the city’s community assets and Woodland Park in general.
One of the first things that we accomplished in 2019 was the city’s inaugural Citizens Academy, with 23 participants completing this year’s academy. Academy participants learned a great deal about our city’s history and connected with each department director to learn more about our city’s employees, budgets, services and programs. I am proud that we are now planning for our 2020 Citizens Academy, and will look forward to another class of passionate participants!
Finally, I am really happy to give kudos to our city council for their hard work over the past several months, in collaboration with our community, to establish our city’s strategic plan. This process has provided opportunities for the council to engage in meaningful conversations and to develop priorities which will be instrumental in driving our community’s vision, 2020 comprehensive plan review, and budget decisions over the next three years.
Reflecting on this first year has been a great way to look into the coming months’ activities to expand on our current work and bring new opportunities to Woodland Park.
Darrin Tangeman is city manager for the City of Woodland Park. Following 22 years as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces, Darrin spent three years serving as Pueblo West’s chief administrative officer before coming to Woodland Park. Contact Darrin at firstname.lastname@example.org.