Glenwood Springs’ South Canyon public engagement mired in broad dissent |

Glenwood Springs’ South Canyon public engagement mired in broad dissent

The months-long South Canyon management plan public engagement process was inundated with “shallow, simplistic, angry” comments for and against development throughout Glenwood Springs, an independent summary of the engagement campaign reported.

“You have some individuals who like their thing,” said Mike Hughes, who assisted the city’s public engagement process. “And they want you to continue doing their thing, and they’re perfectly amenable if that squeezes out other people’s things.”

Hughes’ company, Hughes Collaboration, was contracted by Glenwood Springs to assist with collecting data and public feedback on the potential future of South Canyon.

During the Glenwood Springs City Council’s regular session Thursday, Hughes presented council members with his findings and a recommendation based on the data collected.

During meetings with stakeholders, a South Canyon open house in October and through a survey with more than 800 responses, the public primarily voiced concerns about Glenwood Springs in general.

“The comments had a great deal to do with the future of your town, and not so much about the South Canyon,” Hughes reported to the council. “People who think you need more housing want you to build more housing there. People who think you have enough housing don’t want you to build housing there.”

Several interest groups applied the weight of their specific interest to the process, but few — if any — were interested in discussing how to coexist with other South Canyon users, he said.

Hughes suggested council focus on finishing the city’s comprehensive plan update, which is slated for completion this fall, before moving forward with a South Canyon management plan, because many of the residents’ concerns about the area could be answered by the guiding document.

While working on the comprehensive plan, Hughes said the city could also collect data on the compatibility of potentially adjacent South Canyon uses.

“Having a gun range next to an archery range next to a landfill next to a mountain bike track across from a hot springs might work perfectly fine,” he said. “But I think the city needs to take a serious look at what uses are compatible with each other and what is safe.”

Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith said city staff supported the council following the Parks and Recreation Commission recommendations for creating a South Canyon management plan.

Those recommendations include completing the city’s comprehensive plan update, collecting baseline information about South Canyon’s current conditions and creating images of possible future scenarios before moving forward with creating a management plan.

Mayor Jonathan Godes made a motion to follow the commission’s recommendations, and Council Member Shelley Kaup seconded the motion, which passed 6-1, with Council Member Tony Hershey voting against.

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

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