City may turn to tourism fund to clean up downtown
Doing more to tidy up downtown this summer would cost Glenwood Springs about $26,500, city officials estimate.They suggest tapping the city’s tourism promotion fund as one means of paying for better maintaining an area that is a chief tourist attraction in town.The estimate and suggestion are included in a memo prepared by city manager Jeff Hecksel, parks and recreation director Leon Kuhn and parks superintendent Al Laurette. They were responding to concerns raised by downtown merchants about overflowing trash bins, filthy restrooms and dirty sidewalks downtown.The $26,500 would allow restrooms to be cleaned three times a day, and sidewalks to be swept once a week with litter patrol or twice a week with limited litter patrol.Funding for the work this year would best come from the tourism promotion fund or the downtown General Improvement District (GID) fund, the memo contends. The tourism promotion fund is derived from a city lodging tax and generates more than $500,000 a year to market the city. The GID fund comes from a downtown property tax that yields $40,000 a year for parking, beautification, landscaping and pedestrian improvements.The city contracts with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association to do its tourism marketing. Stephanie Keister, tourism marketing director for the chamber, is uneasy about using the tourism funds as proposed.She said the city’s tourism board has discussed holding more special events downtown, and paying for beautification projects such as lighting and flowers. But she questions whether the city’s code governing use of the funds allows for paying for maintenance-type operations.The tourism fund has reserve funds available, Keister said.”I think City Council and the tourism board need to sit down and discuss how we should be moving forward in terms of using these reserves,” she said.City staff members contend the use of the funds for maintenance would be legal, and recommended it as a short-term solution to deal with this summer’s needs. But they agree that council needs to develop a policy on the use of tourism funds, and also come to agreement on what services the city should be expected to provide downtown.City general fund dollars are used to do maintenance downtown that isn’t done in other business areas in town, which has raised questions about fairness among some city officials.But downtown representatives, including Main Street Gallery & The Framer manager Nancy Sprick, thinks it’s reasonable to ask the city to spend more downtown.”I feel that downtown is a tourist attraction and has to be clean and attractive. … It is the heart and soul of the city, and it is what visitors come to see,” Page said. She said she also understands that the city has financial constraints. One cost-reducing compromise she could live with would be to see the bathrooms cleaned about 10 times a week, rather than the 21 proposed in the city memo. Now, they are cleaned just five times a week, she said.Council is scheduled to discuss the matter at its meeting Thursday night at City Hall. It starts at 6 p.m.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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