Glenwood debate reveals gulf over golf
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – City Council candidates are split over how to fund a city golf course and whether it should be built.
Their positions came out during an election forum Tuesday evening at Glenwood Springs City Hall moderated by Jim Nelson.
Incumbent councilmen Don Gillespie, running for his second term as an at-large candidate, and Rick Davis, running for his second term in Ward 1, adamantly support building a municipal golf course and funding that course with certificates of participation.
The COPs can be approved by City Council without voter approval.
Their opponents, at-large candidate Joe O’Donnell and Ward 1 challenger Larry Beckwith, stand firmly opposed to using the COPs without a vote of the people.
The four candidates appeared with write-in candidate Chris McGovern for Ward 3 and unopposed candidate Bruce Christensen for Ward 4. They will fill seats now held by Jean Martensen and Mayor Don Vanderhoof.
Gillespie said he favors using the COPs without a vote because he’s afraid the city will miss out on low interest rates if time is taken for a vote. He also said the golf course is needed immediately.
“I think it’s needed now and not a year from now,” Gillespie said.
His opponent, O’Donnell, said the issue of the COPs and the golf course was one of the main reasons he decided to run for City Council.
“The voters have a right to vote on this,” he said.
The arguments from the two Ward 1 candidates were similar.
“COPs is a hot issue, but I hope it won’t be the only issue in this campaign,” Davis said.
He pointed out that COPs have been used all over the state and he feels it’s a legitimate way to borrow money without raising taxes.
“They are a legitimate way of financing needed projects,” he said of COPs. “The problem I have with them in this case is that it’s in an area that’s already been overturned by the public and that’s why they need to go to a vote of the people.”
Christensen and McGovern both said they support using COPs to fund recreational amenities.
“The city has many wants and at some point in time, all of these things have to be funded,” McGovern said.
“I support COPs to get things completed for the good of the community,” Christensen said.
Nelson asked candidates their views on building a municipal golf course.
Beckwith said it’s not one of the city’s immediate needs.
“I don’t know that we should be mortgaging our future for a golf course,” he said. “It’s a matter of priorities . I see a golf course as No. 3 or 4 on the list.”
Davis said the golf course will be integral to funding the city’s recreation in the future. He said it will help keep the city “strong and sustainable.”
O’Donnell said a golf course would be nice to have, but it is being planned for the wrong location.
“It’s bad to build on that alluvial fan. If we tear up that alluvial fan we’ll have mudslides,” he said.
Gillespie said the golf course will provide a much-needed future revenue stream.
“I look at it as a very good investment for the city,” he said.
Both Christensen and McGovern expressed support for the golf course.
“I think the golf course would be good for the city, but I have some concerns about excluding trails through it,” Christensen said.
“If it’s built right, it could be a great asset to Glenwood Springs,” McGovern said.
Mail-in ballots for the election will be sent out to registered voters on Oct. 15 and the votes will be tallied and released on Election Day, Nov. 4.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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