Glenwood Springs Council scraps residents’ request for private fence replacement
Post Independent correspondent
A handful of Glenwood Springs residents asking the city to erect a security fence near their property will likely have to look elsewhere for help.
Glenwood Springs City Council on Thursday denied a proposal asking that two private fence replacements be included in existing public projects, at partial or total cost to the city.
First, two Hagar Lane residents asked the city to consider building a 300-foot-long fence on the east side of a planned sidewalk near their subdivision off of Midland Avenue. Pedestrians regularly cross through their yards for access to the Atkinson Trail and Roaring Fork River, they said, causing security concerns.
Lynn Aliya and her neighbor, Natalie Kellum, said the lack of barrier invites vandalism, burglary and other safety risks. They’re also worried about liabilities if a pedestrian should be injured cutting through their property.
“We had a situation where someone was cutting through (from) the river and came in our home,” said Kellum. “It may seem like a relatively benign thing, but knowing that it has already happened to me — I was actually in my home, when the gentleman broke in, with my 2-year-old daughter.”
Council debated the possibility of increasing the height of an existing retaining wall near their subdivision to prevent onlookers from scaling it, but some members said it was the responsibility of landowners to erect a “private property” or “no access to river” sign deterring intruders.
If the city did build the fence, it would remain the city’s responsibility to maintain it.
“It’s kind of a slippery slope,” said Councilor Steve Davis. “Once you start doing that, then do you offer a fence to everybody that lives down the river?”
City staff recommended the project — as well as another requested by Mayor Jonathan Godes as a resident of the south Glenwood area — be denied.
“The concern is using public dollars for private benefit,” said City Engineer Terri Partch. “When we do public projects, there are times when we have to negotiate with private property owners. But they are associated with right of way.”
Partch said these easement acquisition talks usually include a trade of cost by adding trees, fences or beautification.
“Outside of that, we don’t … because we are limited in public dollars,,” she said.
Staff, too, said paying for private improvements adjacent to public projects will lead to an influx of requests and inflated public project costs.
Councilor Ingrid Wussow made the initial motion to deny both fences, suggesting Aliya and Kellum discuss their options with the city’s planning department instead.
Additionally, Godes had requested council members consider partnering with residents living between the northern and southern entrances of Park West Drive along Midland Avenue to replace an unsightly fence that runs adjacent to the road.
Godes gave several examples of Glenwood Springs providing visual enhancements between public and private properties at city cost.
Costs would be split with the neighborhoods’ residents, he said, arguing there’s public benefit given a third of the city’s population commutes using the road.
“Midland Avenue is one of the most heavily trafficked city streets in the entire city,” he said. “To not allocate, I don’t know, $10,000 or $20,000 out of a $14 million project for beatification … the fact that it benefits some private individuals is not, I don’t think, germane to the conversation at all.”
Because there were no associated costs provided to council, “it’s just not thorough enough” to move forward at this time, Wussow said.
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