SILT — If you fill in the wetlands, the grocery store will come.
That’s not exactly the slogan made famous in the movie “Field of Dreams,” but it does pertain to the town of Silt’s situation surrounding its ongoing grocery store saga.
If you ask anyone in town — elected official or citizen — the majority will agree that the town desperately needs its own grocery store, just like its neighbors New Castle and Rifle.
And it’s not for lack of effort. In years past, Silt has come close to getting a grocery store, but it always fell through.
Mayor Dave Moore, who is seeking re-election as a town trustee in the April 1 election, said that before the town can get other businesses to open up, a grocery store is needed as an “anchor store” in town. Once that happens, the rest will follow.
“I’m currently in negotiations with two pharmacies and two banks,” Moore said. “But everyone is waiting until we get a grocery store.”
Alpine Bank has a lot in the Silt Trade Center and Moore said the bank will build on it once there is a large grocery store in town.
“They want to be located next to it,” Moore said.
Moore said he has also been in contact with two pharmacies — Downtown Drug in Glenwood Springs and Meeker Drugs.
“Meeker Drugs is very interested,” Moore said. “And it’s not only banks and drug stores, I also want to bring in an auto parts store. I have one that has expressed interest.”
However, every potential grocery store has said that after doing a Google Earth search online, they all want one particular site — the property east of the Kum & Go convenience store on Main Street.
The site is desirable because of its location near the Interstate 70 exit into Silt.
“When you come off the interstate, they’re looking at what would be most convenient to the citizens,” Moore said. “One-hundred percent of [potential grocery stores] want to go there.”
There’s just one problem.
“The town owns that lot, but it’s in a wetlands area,” Moore said. “We would have to find out what the source of the water and moisture is — whether it’s the Colorado River, the runoff from the town of Silt, from Silt Mesa or from the Cactus Valley ditch.”
Once it’s determined whether the property is jurisdictional or non-jurisdictional, the wetlands would need to be filled in with dirt. Moore said that could be done by using fill dirt from the 230-acre property the town owns on the south side of the Colorado River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires that if the town fills in the wetlands, it must provide an equal-sized area of wetlands in return.
“We could easily dedicate the matching 6 1/2 acres of wetlands,” Moore said.
Moore said he feels the town’s No. 1 choice for a grocery store in Silt would be Safeway, as Kroger/King Soopers already has a large store in Rifle and another store in New Castle.
“The only benefit [Kroger] would have in putting a store in Silt would be to draw from the customers going to Walmart,” Moore said. “But there are people in Silt that will go to Glenwood Springs to shop at Safeway.”
Moore said he has put “feelers” out to more than 40 grocery stores in the state and received 11 responses. Of those, four or five of them were interested.
It will all take a lot of work to attract and bring in a grocery store, but the returns would definitely be worth it, Moore added.
“We could see $50,000 to $100,000 in sales tax revenue in one year,” he said.
But the town is going to have to work for it.
“It’s not that easy — you have to sell yourself, your location and support it all with a feasibility study,” he said. “I think if we had a commitment from a grocery store, it would be enough to get the town going and release some funds. It’s going to be expensive, but the returns are going to be huge. Right now we have to be creative, think outside the box and not be intimidated by it.”