Jan. 1 moving day looms for store owners
Post Independent Staff
The deadline to move out and make way for the Glenwood Springs High School expansion is still months away, but times are already slow for some affected businesses.
The Roaring Fork School District has told businesses they can operate at least until Jan. 1, but that guarantee hasn’t helped business.
“People don’t sign up for gymnastics because they don’t think I’m going to be here,” said Rob Jones, owner of Glenwood Gymnastics Academy.
The gymnastics academy isn’t alone.
“I’m beginning to see it affect business,” said Wayne Pleasant, a manager at True Value.
“We’re spending a lot of business time … answering questions that should be answered by this board,” Pleasant told the Roaring Fork School District board of education last week.
Pleasant and other True Value managers were frustrated with what they perceive as a lack of information from the district.
“It’s hard to run a business under these circumstances,” said Tom Maher, manager of True Value.
The store doesn’t know when to stop buying for the next season, and customers ask when the store will have its closeout sale, he said.
But the district has done all it can, superintendent Fred Wall said. The district sent a letter to businesses on May 10, telling them they wouldn’t have to vacate their buildings at least until Jan. 1. The district sympathizes with the businesses being forced to move, but the district can legally only deal with the owners of the properties, not the tenants, he said.
“The tenants really need to be responded to by the owners,” Wall said.
Not only are customers wavering, “We’ve got (employees) abandoning ship,” Maher said.
“As an employee I’m not sure whether I’ll have a job in six months or not,” Pleasant told the board.
For its part, the district formed a relocation committee that might be able help affected businesses. Already, the district has helped pay relocation expenses for Valley Refrigeration, which moved from the building behind True Value to Silt.
Valley Refrigeration owner Curtis Swango had hoped the district would pay the difference in rent between his old location ($350) and his new ($800) for one year, but the district paid only about $1,000 to help with moving expenses, Swango said.
But businesses have criticized even the committee.
“We’d take any help from anybody,” Maher said. But, “I don’t know if it’s worthwhile or not as far as what skills (the committee) would bring to the table.”
Maher noted that the committee consists of Wall, the district’s finance director and school board president, and Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Marianne Virgili, whom the district invited to the committee. So far there are no real estate professionals. Virgili and Wall said the committee is looking for real estate and other business professionals.
Professionals or not, the committee does offer some hope.
“Hopefully, if we can get enough people together we can find a solution,” Virgili said.
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.