Confluence plan takes shape
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A park, a transit station and a riverside restaurant could be part of the redevelopment plan at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.
These ideas are among the recommendations made in the draft Glenwood Springs Confluence Study.
“One reason why downtown is such a great place to live is because of the single-family houses,” said planning consultant Leslie Bethel, who presented the draft study to the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday night.
“And we’ve got a great site right along the river for a restaurant. It overlooks the Roaring Fork,” she added.
The centerpiece of the plan to redevelop the land, Bethel explained, would be a park at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, built where the city’s wastewater treatment plant now sits.
“It comes down to having really good access to the rivers,” Bethel said, “and preserving it rather than densifying it.”
Planning and Zoning Commissioner and City Councilman Dave Merritt questioned if it would be worthwhile for the city to spend up to $25 million moving the wastewater treatment plant to build a park.
Community development director Andrew McGregor said the financial analysis predicts that the space would be a poor choice for commercial uses.
“Retail or active commercial use needs a lot of parking,” he said. “So we keep coming back to this idea of really creating a showcase park.”
McGregor said aside from looking at the plan in purely financial terms, moving the treatment plant – which will someday need to be expanded anyway – will bring both tangible and intangible benefits.
Bethel admitted some people may be disappointed with the plan, but she said market economics drove the process.
The plan also takes into account the need to build more housing and offices, keep the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority railroad corridor open and leaves some room for a future Highway 82 relocation onto the rail corridor.
The planning commission made no formal recommendations or decisions on the plan.
“The town has a lot of strong feelings about this area,” Planning Commissioner Dave Sturges said.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.