Glenwood’s Ward 3 candidates tackle downtown issues
Several downtown issues topped the list of questions at Monday’s Issues and Answers Forum for three candidates seeking the open Ward 3 Glenwood Springs City Council seat in next month’s election.
Vying for the seat are local attorney Charlie Willman, longtime resident and community activist Jennifer Vanian, and Ksana Oglesby, finance officer for the nonprofit Mountain Valley Developmental Services.
Only voters residing within Ward 3 — covering the area east of Grand Avenue from Seventh to 14th streets, and the neighborhoods immediately north of the Colorado River and Interstate 70 — can vote for the seat in the April 2 mail ballot election.
Oglesby and Willman both touted their volunteer work on the city’s Financial Advisory Board, past and present, in qualifying them for a City Council seat.
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“There needs to be more financial knowledge on City Council, which is the reason that I’m running,” Oglesby said.
Willman, a current member of the FAB and past volunteer on the city’s Downtown Development Authority board and Transportation Commission, said that background is important in understanding city issues.
Vanian, meanwhile, spoke to some of the concerns downtown residents have with the city’s focus on recent downtown improvements aimed at boosting tourism. Among them, she said, is the ongoing investment into Seventh Street beautification, which was one of the questions asked of the ward candidates.
“While that does need to be finished, I have felt like there could have been a little more balance in looking at the community as a whole,” Vanian said.
Willman and Oglesby agreed that Seventh Street and other downtown beautification projects shouldn’t be done to the detriment of other city infrastructure needs.
But, “the completion of the Seventh Street project is very important to the city,” Willman added. “It sounds like a big cost, but the return on the investment, I think, will be many fold.”
Added Oglesby, “We are, at heart, a tourist town. And I think it’s important to make our downtown an area where tourists want to come.”
That goes for future improvements along Sixth Street as that area begins to see similar beautification efforts, the three candidates agreed.
The Sixth Street corridor has “huge potential,” Vanian said.
“I see Sixth Street as the best opportunity to create a healing community … where we can rebuild and make a beautiful gem over there,” Vanian said.
Oglesby and Willman said they would like to see the area become more walkable and bikeable.
“My vision would be to make it into an extension of the current downtown,” Oglesby said.
Said Willman, “We need to make sure the people staying in the hotels in that area and living in north Glenwood have the ability to move through the neighborhood in a pedestrian-friendly way.”
Each of the Ward 3 candidates said they disagree with a recent City Council decision to impose a downtown resident parking permit application fee of $50. Council has since backed away from that plan, and may rescind the fee.
The candidates also touched on issues ranging from ways the city can address the worker housing shortage, concerns about the city homeless population, and the recently introduced SB 181 in the state Legislature.
The bill proposes sweeping changes to the way oil and gas operations are regulated in Colorado. All three of the ward candidates said they support local control over such operations.
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When asked if his decision to run was influenced by Rocky Mountain Industrials, Inc.’s desire to drastically expand its mining operation at the Transfer Trail limestone quarry just north of Glenwood Springs, Karl Hanlon replied “absolutely, yes.”