Glenwood Springs council debates new round of COVID-19 relief to businesses |

Glenwood Springs council debates new round of COVID-19 relief to businesses

Chrissy Suttles
Post Independent correspondent
City of Glenwood Springs Economic Development Specialist Matt Nunez conducts a Facebook Live video talking about the new dining igloos placed underneath the Grand Avenue Bridge in Bethel Plaza Thursday morning.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Forty local restaurants are set to receive federal COVID-19 relief grants ratified by Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday night.

Restaurants adhering to Colorado’s COVID-19 restrictions in December were given priority for distribution of $165,000 in year-end red-level relief grants. Three dozen establishments were selected, and most of the checks – up to $4,600 each – had been claimed by Wednesday, city staff said.

Council limited the first round of CARES Act relief to sit-down eateries hit hardest by virus mitigation efforts, precluding national chains, fast-food restaurants and businesses adhering to looser county guidelines.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Dec. 10 moved Garfield County to level red amid a growing number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths — limiting restaurants to takeout, delivery or open-air dining options only. Garfield County commissioners later adopted a resolution allowing restaurants to operate at 50% indoor dining capacity.

The state last Monday moved all level-red counties to orange, permitting limited indoor dining, but not before many of the city’s red-level grants had already been dispersed.

Council on Thursday discussed criteria for releasing a second round of $200,000 in recycled CARES Act funding that didn’t expire at year’s end. Four restaurants were offered grants from this pool. While the restaurant at the Hotel Colorado was offered one, it told the city Friday that it would not be taking it. Others, including local ice cream shops, did not meet the group’s grant criteria.

“The spirit of that grant was specifically for traditional sit-down restaurants with table service,” said Councillor Steve Davis.

Councilor Ingrid Wussow made the case for flexibility in second-round grant delivery, and successfully argued that Everest Nepal Restaurant be included.

“I am saying that a handful of these businesses have contacted us, and just the act of contacting us could be an indication of need,” she said. “… I am comfortable bestowing a bit more of this money on a few of these businesses.”

But the remaining funds will stay put — for now. Following a half-hour debate, Council chose to wait and assess city needs moving forward. Mayor Jonathan Godes said some of the cash could be used to assist city operations, including paying for PPE and compensating hardworking employees.

“I’m not saying we should hoard every penny and not put it back into the community, but at the same time our sales tax got hit disproportionately in this community than other communities. We’re projecting being down 10%. Our employees aren’t getting any raises; county employees are getting 1.5% or more raises. Let’s pump the brakes to see where we’re at as a community.”

Council said they’d likely consider new grant requests on a case-by case basis in the future.

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.