Garfield County, Glenwood Springs undertake comprehensive plans | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield County, Glenwood Springs undertake comprehensive plans

Willa Kane
Frontier Diary
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical Society/SchutteThis circa 1953 photo shows a portion of Glenwood Springs' downtown business district. In 1966, a proposal was made to remove the existing structures on the east and west side of the 700 block of Grand Avenue. These structures would then be replaced with a large retail/office/recreational/parking structure architecturally similar to the Hotel Denver.
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Progress, if it is to be genuine, requires equal measures of boldness and courage with perhaps a dash of sacrifice thrown in.

– Editorial, Glenwood Springs Sage, Dec. 9, 1966

Planning the future of a healthy community requires data, time, vision and citizen input. In the summer of 1966, Garfield County undertook the monumental task of devising a comprehensive development plan. It was a plan designed to bring balanced urban growth to an expanding county.



“Garfield County is faced with a double-barreled problem,” noted the Glenwood Post newspaper.

“It must protect and enhance its present development, particularly in the sectors of agriculture, commercial service and tourism, which are important segments of the present economic base.” The comprehensive plan sought to balance the issues surrounding transportation, the environment, energy development, population growth and urban economies.



This was not a task tackled solely by the county. The planning commissions of each Garfield County town were required to devise and submit their own comprehensive plan as part of the overall plan. In Glenwood Springs, a six-citizen committee presented its recommendations to the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission in November 1966.

The citizen committee’s report placed a great deal of emphasis on land use, traffic and recreation. Among the recommendations was the construction of an additional bridge at Blake Avenue to accommodate traffic from the soon-to-be built Interstate 70; expansion of the business district to the south and east; increased business density downtown; removal of schools from the business district; construction of condominiums and apartments to create additional housing and cluster subdivisions to create less expensive housing; and the creation of new parks to provide a wider range of recreational opportunities.

Gerald Brown presented two alternate ideas to the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission. Brown’s first plan incorporated some of the same traffic management ideas as proposed by the citizen committee, and included making Colorado and Cooper Avenue one-way streets.

His second recommendation drew a breathtaking pause. Brown proposed initially razing all of the existing buildings on the river front blocks between Colorado Avenue to Grand Avenue, and Grand Avenue to Cooper Avenue southward to the Eighth Street intersection. A temporary parking lot would be constructed on this site. Development in these blocks would then occur to include a building complex architecturally compatible with the Hotel Denver. This structure would contain restaurants, retail shops, offices, and a recreational complex, with indoor parking on the ground level. The Grand Avenue Bridge would be widened to four lanes to accommodate increased traffic.

“The south bank of the Colorado River is the ‘face’ of Glenwood. Something like this would be far more presentable than the existing one,” Brown explained.

Gerald Brown’s recommendation to change the face of downtown Glenwood Springs was discarded. However, many of the recommendations of the citizen’s committee have been implemented within the past 44 years.

“Looking forward not to next week or next year, but to many years in the future creates a sense of unreality in the average person,” wrote the Glenwood Springs Sage. “The committee has avoided this pitfall. It has drawn a picture of a Glenwood Springs garden spot many years in the future.”

Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.


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