Glenwood Springs City Council says farewell to Steve Davis; comprehensive plan update draws criticism from steering committee
While former Glenwood Springs City Council member Steve Davis resigned in January, scheduling conflicts prevented council members from giving Davis a proper sendoff until Thursday.
Following an executive session regarding the Mitchell Cooper Water System and swearing in Davis’ replacement, Marco Dehm, council opened its regular session with a series of farewells.
“When I came on, I learned a lot from you,” Council Member Ingrid Wussow said of Davis. “You are a pillar in our community, and our community is fortunate to have you.”
Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman said it was Davis who convinced him to again run for a seat on the council after losing an election in 2017.
Davis was renowned among his fellow council members for being the last to speak on any given topic, taking every comment into careful consideration.
“You would wait, and you would listen,” Council Member Paula Stepp said, adding she hopes to emulate Davis’ patient approach. “I appreciate that depth. You will be missed.”
Mayor Jonathan Godes recalled being warned about Davis’ guile when Godes first joined the council, but said the warning was unfounded.
“You have vision; you have a true north,” Godes said. “Being able to sit next to you for those first two years was invaluable to me. A lot of the satisfaction I have in this position is largely due to your mentorship.”
For his own role, Davis accepted a plaque from City Manager Debra Figueroa commemorating his years of service as a council member.
“There are aspects of this I will miss, and others that I won’t,” he said, chuckling. “Never have I held a position that was more rewarding than sitting in that seat. It’s a great thing to be able to make changes.”
Comp plan criticism
In other business, council members listened to feedback about the city’s comprehensive plan update, which is slated as a year-long process, costing about $238,000.
In 2021, Glenwood Springs contracted Cushing Terrell, a consulting firm specializing in creating and updating municipal comprehensive plans with an office in Denver and more throughout the West.
To ensure Glenwood Springs residents were at the heart of the update, the council also appointed a project steering committee, comprised of 16 members from within the community.
From among those members, James Fosnaught, also a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, addressed the council Thursday with concerns about the comprehensive plan update process.
So far, Cushing Terrell has met with the steering committee twice, and Fosnaught said he and other members did not feel they were being listened to.
“I think we started in the wrong place,” Fosnaught said. “We were under the impression we were there to give input, and it feels like we’re there to receive direction.”
Data presented at one of the meetings seemed to imply Cushing Terrell’s staff was suggesting the city use the comprehensive plan to put a cap on population growth, he added.
Fosnaught asked the council to provide the steering committee with direction on the update, but after some back and forth about what guidance the council could give without becoming the driving force in the update, council members said they did not feel comfortable with the request.
As part of the council’s agenda, Cushing Terrell representative Keith Walzak was scheduled to present an update on the planning process, but rather than a presentation, Walzak engaged the council in dialogue about Cushing Terrell’s process and how they can improve it.
“I appreciate (Fosnaught’s) comments,” he said. “It challenges me as your consultant to communicate in a better way.”
Cushing Terrell has worked on comprehensive plans for cities and towns across the Western Slope for years, and in doing so, they created a process to ease people, whose careers are not in municipal planning, into the cornucopia of data feeding into a comprehensive plan, Walzak said.
At the last meeting with the steering committee in February, Walzak said Cushing Terrell’s goal was to ensure everyone on the steering committee had a baseline knowledge of the several factors impacting the update, rather than take feedback on what the update should include.
He explained the “population cap” was not a suggestion on how to move forward, but a representation of how one of many forecasting models worked. The model in question was one of at least three the consultants could use to guide the plan update, Walzak said.
The next scheduled meeting with the steering committee is Tuesday. Cushing Terrell is scheduled to receive feedback on the data presented in February, giving the members time to digest and ponder the implications of data presented in February, Walzak said.
Dehm, Willman and Wussow said they’d received a number of emails from steering committee members concerned with not feeling heard during meetings with Cushing Terrell, and asked Walzak if Cushing Terrell’s process could be tailored to include more feedback.
After several discussions about the process in its entirety and the schedule for completing the comprehensive plan, council members voted 4-3, with members Tony Hershey, Shelley Kaup and Willman voting against, to direct staff to discuss the possibilities for increased public engagement in the update process as well as the possibility of extending the timeline and cost impacts of the changes.
Willman said the process was still in the beginning phase, and the council should not be so quick to dictate how the update is conducted.
Kaup said, “I do have confidence in the consultant we’ve hired,” but encouraged Walzak to be careful about how Cushing Terrell presents information in the future.
Visit http://www.visionglenwood.com for more information about the city’s comprehensive update and upcoming public engagement forums.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.