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Condemnation a possibility for RFTA to acquire BRT site

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Glenwood Springs City Council is being asked to support the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s efforts to acquire a south Glenwood property where it wants to build the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station.If good-faith negotiations to buy the 1.5-acre site owned by Wayne Rudd are unsuccessful, the city would support acquisition under RFTA’s eminent domain, or condemnation, powers, a proposed resolution states.If approved, the resolution would effectively halt competing plans for a Kum & Go convenience store on the former Honda dealership property at 27th Street and South Glen Avenue (Highway 82), according to Glenwood Springs Mayor Matt Steckler.The matter is on the agenda for consideration at tonight’s regular city council meeting.Though it’s unclear whether the city, as a member of RFTA, is required to be a partner in condemnation actions for transit facilities, the resolution would serve to bolster RFTA’s position, Steckler said.”It demonstrates our support for providing property for a public amenity,” Steckler said. “The law is somewhat ambiguous on the matter, but RFTA probably has the authority to do it on their own.”RFTA has identified the former auto dealership site as its preferred location for the main downvalley transit hub that would serve BRT expansion.The $46.2 million BRT project, scheduled for completion in August of 2013, will feature direct bus service at regular intervals along Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.Angela Kincade, RFTA’s deputy project manager in charge of property acquisitions, said Wednesday that negotiations so far with Rudd have been positive. Condemnation would be a last resort, and may not be needed, she said.But, if it does come to that, Kincade said RFTA would want the city government’s backing.”RFTA has eight member governments, and any time we go into one of those jurisdictions with something like this, we prefer to go in as partners,” she said.Kincade said the BRT planning process, including identifying station locations, has been in the works since 2009.Complicating matters with the preferred Glenwood site, however, has been a dueling land-use application for a Kum & Go convenience store. That proposal is tentatively scheduled before the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission later this month.”This action will basically instruct our legal department to terminate work on that application,” Steckler said of the resolution before council tonight.Councilman Ted Edmonds, who is city’s council’s representative on the RFTA governing board, said he supports the resolution, though a little reluctantly.”I feel that it is important, and it’s a good idea to have the BRT station in that location,” Edmonds said. “It maybe could have been handled better, though.”Rudd could not be reached for comment for this story.RFTA also had to pursue condemnation proceedings for a piece of property in Basalt where it plans to build the BRT station for that area. The town of Basalt joined in that effort, just as Glenwood Springs is being asked to do.The Glenwood Springs facility would serve BRT vehicles, which will have fewer stops between Glenwood and Aspen, as well as regular RFTA buses that will still loop through Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt. The city’s Ride Glenwood buses would also likely use the new station.jstroud@postindependent.com


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