City moves forward with whitewater park plans
Glenwood Springs is moving forward with plans to build a whitewater park despite the threat of a lawsuit from the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool. But rather than shunning the pool board in reaction to the threat, City Council members have initiated talks to try and come up with a mutually acceptable solution. Along with these City Council-pool board member talks, Glenwood Springs city manager Jeff Hecksel penned a letter on Nov. 11 to each of the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool Board members informing them about the city’s plans for the whitewater park. It also explained the scope of the project. “After hearing from members of the City Council about these discussions, it is clear some members of the board do not have complete information about the activities being undertaken by the city,” Hecksel wrote. He wrote that the scope of the project, at this point, includes just one feature located at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers near the pedestrian bridge. “I am concerned that some board members believe the city is pursuing some project much larger in scope,” Hecksel wrote.Balcomb and Green attorney Tim Thulson, who is representing the pool while attorney Scott Balcomb is on vacation, called Hecksel’s letter “an entreaty to share information and see if there is a mutually-satisfactory solution.””I think this is a step back from the clanging of the war bells,” Thulson said. The controversy began Oct. 27 when Scott Balcomb wrote Glenwood Springs city attorney Karl Hanlon a letter on citing concern that if the bed of the Colorado River is disrupted from park construction, the mineral hot springs that supply the pool with its water could be damaged. Pool officials are also concerned that the whitewater feature could cause water to back up into the pool’s drainage pipe, which empties into the Colorado River below the Interstate 70 116 exit. Balcomb also wrote letters to Great Outdoors Colorado, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Division of Water Resources expressing concern about the proposed project. City Council members were mum on the subject during its Nov. 4 meeting, citing the pool’s threat of litigation. But since then, some members apparently have had dialogue with pool board members. Despite these talks, Thulson reaffirmed that the pool board is still strongly against allowing a whitewater park to be built in the Colorado River, “Unless something extraordinary is developed engineering-wise.””We don’t want to turn (the pool) into a skateboard park,” he said.The city’s immediate plan for the park calls for a river feature to be placed in the Colorado River near the Two Rivers Park pedestrian bridge. A spectator area would also be built on the river’s bank.Park supporters say the steady, year-round water flows from the Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant could make Glenwood one of the world’s premier locations for a whitewater park and it has the potential of bringing millions of dollars a year into the city from whitewater events held on the water. Hecksel said that while the city would like to see a park and will move in that direction, “The city has no intent of doing something that will adversely affect the pool.””It means everything we do, we do with due consideration that it could have a very detrimental effect on the pool,” he said. Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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