Goals of Downtown Development Authority on the way

Pedestrains walk along the east wing street near the downtown businesses and Seventh Street.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The City of Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has a lot of goals they would like to accomplish before the end of the year, and this evening will present those goals, as well as their 2019 priorities before council.

“The [DDA] prepares what their priorities are for projects and then we go to council and discuss it, and council decides what our priorities should be,” DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel said. “I actually think it’s really important not to guess what city council is going to do before they do it. I think it’s important to give them the opportunity to review the information and make a decision.”

The DDA hopes to complete numerous tasks before ringing in the new year. However, with the clock ticking and the pool of money to pull from dwindling reserves like the Valley’s river stages, the 6th and Laurel roundabout, as well as cleaning up the downtown alleys prove as critical as shipping out the town’s porta-johns in favor of permanent, public restrooms.

“The 6th and Laurel area does set the precedent of quality for the rest of 6th street,” Bethel said. “It’s a nice connection with the rest of our downtown.”

That’s a sentiment Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba shared.

“On both the on and off ramps eastbound and westbound it’s dead brush, weeds and it looks horrible,” Gamba said. “The 6th and Laurel roundabout is something within our control to go ahead and cleanup and provide that landscaping. It was intended as part of the Grand Avenue Bridge project, and I believe that it is very important for us to have an aesthetic entrance into the city.”

Regardless of the project, according to Bethel, preserving the town formerly known as Defiance, particularly its historical aesthetics, often sits at the forefront of every development the DDA takes on.

“How do you fit into a historical setting? You look at the materials used, the colors used, the spacing and form of things,” Bethel said. “If you ask yourself, ‘why does the Grand Avenue Bridge look good?’ Well, we were very involved in creating aesthetics that made that bridge feel like it grew out of Glenwood Springs.”

Crossing the gateway to Glenwood and landing in the heart of downtown, the DDA also hopes to clean up the city’s alleys, which has also been on council’s radar for as long as a one-term United States senator.

“It’s been a goal of the city council for six years, I would say. As far as why it’s important to us, it’s another way for us to improve the overall character of Downtown Glenwood,” Gamba said.

Citing aesthetic and safety concerns, the mayor noted the potential value, which lies within the city’s alleyways.

“If there’s not a bunch of dumpsters and dark alleys that people can hide in, you actually activate it with more pedestrians, because they’re places you don’t mind walking – they don’t smell terrible because of rotting trash in a dumpster or grease spilled all over the place – by putting more people there, I believe, improves the safety of them as well,” Gamba said.

Along with the 6th and Laurel roundabout as well as the downtown’s alleys, the DDA will also round out 2018 with Grand Avenue Bridge related improvements, Seventh Street enhancements and more.

At the top of the list for the DDA in 2019, you guessed it – permanent restrooms.

“I have to just be really clear that this is what the DDA board is recommending as their top project, but the city council will make that decisions, that’s not the [DDA] Board’s decision,” Bethel explained.

A recommendation that council, without question, will also prioritize.

While the City’s relationship with CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) at times demonstrates contention, its partnership with the DDA – not so much.

“I think it’s great,” Gamba said of the city council’s past with the DDA. “They have their ideas, goals and desires and we talk with them about what ours are and I don’t think we’ve ever had a major disagreement at the end of they day.”

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.