Better signs seen as a good (and cheap) first upgrade for downtown |

Better signs seen as a good (and cheap) first upgrade for downtown

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. One of the first improvements Glenwood Springs should be making downtown also is one of the cheapest, according to recommendations to City Council.Members of the public and the Downtown Development Authority board are urging the city to improve signs downtown to help pedestrians and motorists get around.Sign upgrades could be a cheap first step in addressing what many consider to be a big problem downtown – parking. That subject came up again during a Jan. 17 meeting to gain public input into ways the city might spend newly available money to improve downtown.”A lot of people mentioned parking as a major problem in the downtown, and so one great first step is to identify for the drivers exactly where the parking is, so they’ll know if they go a half a block more there will be parking there,” said Rebecca Leonard, an associate with Design Workshop, a consulting firm working with the city.Longer-term, a lot of people still want to see the city add more parking downtown. However, that could prove pricey, with a three-level parking structure potentially using up all of the money the city’s tax increment financing tax might generate for downtown. City finance director Mike Harman’s latest tentative estimate is that the tax may bring in $8.6 million.While the tax remains in effect, growth in property tax base will go to the city’s Downtown Development Authority, at the expense of other tax-collecting entities. Colorado Mountain College and Garfield County had sued over the plan, but the city prevailed in the case in 2005, and the county and city reached an agreement late last year for the release of nearly $600,000 the tax had collected to date.The city wants to begin moving forward on some projects this year, and City Council is expected to consider the DDA’s recommendations at its next meeting, on Feb. 15. Leonard said the DDA has recommended $1.3 million in projects, including the sign improvements, and upgrades to Seventh Street, and to the area under the Grand Avenue Bridge just off Seventh Street.Besides helping with parking, Leonard said signs could help people find their way to places such as bus stops and historic buildings. Design Workshop has proposed redesigning Seventh Street to give it a more plaza-like feel. The DDA also has endorsed adding a fountain or other water feature on Seventh. In addition, it has backed the consultants’ recommendations for adding lighting, kiosks, tables and chairs and other amenities to make the area under the bridge more appealing, and moving the restrooms there southward under the bridge to open up views of the Colorado River.The DDA’s recommendations mirror the top priorities identified by some 40 people who attended the Jan. 17 open house on downtown.Open house participants also recommended obtaining land for parking as a top priority for the long term. Leonard said land is at a premium downtown and the idea is to at least acquire the property needed to possibly build a parking structure later. She said many people also suggested looking into using available money to bond or leverage additional funding.Some other longer-term priorities identified by the public include making improvements to Centennial Park and adding more pedestrian amenities on Grand Avenue.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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