Glenwood Springs coke ovens could receive historic landmark treatment with commitment from City Council, Garfield County commission

Two of the Cardiff Coke Ovens located in south Glenwood Springs near the Airport.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

With support from Glenwood Springs City Council and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, the Cardiff coke ovens could be preserved as a historical attraction for years to come.

During the council’s regular meeting Thursday, council members approved a motion to write a letter of intent to donate up to $50,000 for grant match funding to the Glenwood Springs Historical Society.

Bill Kight, the historical society’s executive director, said the organization was applying for a Save America’s Treasures Grant, which is available through the National Park Service for preservation projects on the National Register of Historic Places. Through the grant, the historical society could access up to $500,000 for preserving the coke ovens, 50 of which are on the National Register, but the grant is available only on a one-to-one basis, meaning for every grant dollar received, the historical society has to provide a dollar of its own.

Garfield County commissioners on Monday are set to formally consider contributing $50,000 to the historical society from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund for match funding, Kight said, adding the historical society would be dedicating about $10,000 of its own funds for matching the grant.

While Kight emphasized the importance of the coke ovens and discussed some of the challenges presented by maintaining the historic site, including recent vandalism, he did not present a plan for spending the grant monies should they be awarded to the historical society.

The request was a last minute addition to the council’s agenda and was not accompanied by a proposed budget for the requested funds, a factor that drew criticism from some council members.

“I can’t support an ask like this without seeing a budget of how the funds would be spent,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said.

Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman said he would support the donation only if the historical society provided city staff with a budget for spending the funds prior to receiving money from the city.

Council member Steve Davis said historical sites drive tourism and preserve the area’s cultural heritage, so he supported donating city funds at a one-to-one match of the county’s donation, capping the city’s potential commitment at $50,000.

A self-described history buff, council member Paula Stepp said she would like to see the city focus more on preserving history.

The Cardiff Coke Ovens are located in south Glenwood Springs near the airport.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent file

“These are the kind of values that are really important to us,” Stepp said. “I think we should support these kinds of things.”

Davis made a motion to draft the letter of intent, dictating the funding would be pulled from the account of City Manager Debra Figueroa’s discretion if the historical society received the Save America’s Treasures grant. Council Member Tony Hershey seconded the motion, which passed 6-1, with Godes voting against.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

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