A confluence of concerns in Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs residents Richard Todd and Gary Vick say they got wind of City Council’s interviews with three potential confluence development teams through hearsay.
“This is the first time that I have been to any meeting to discuss what’s going on over there,” Todd said as he pointed to where the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers meet, just a short distance away from his home.
“There seem to have been some meetings, but certainly I was never invited to any of them,” he said of development prospects that could have a major impact on his neighborhood.
According to the 2017 Confluence Redevelopment Plan, as part of the community engagement process a Project Advisory Team (PAT) was “established to guide the planning process for the Confluence Redevelopment Plan.”
That Project Advisory Team was comprised of 12 stakeholders that included just one public representative — Dean Gordon, co-founder of the engineering firm SGM.
Its other 11 members included two city councilors, including former Councilor Todd Leahy, two Roaring Fork Transportation Authority representatives, four members from the city’s Planning and Zoning, Transportation and River commissions, two Downtown Development Authority (DDA) representatives, and one member of city staff — all of whom were serving within their official capacities.
On Feb. 21 of this year, City Council approved the Glenwood Springs: Moving Forward Together U.S. EPA Area-Wide Plan. The project consultant team for the plan included Stromberg/Garrigan & Associates, Inc. from Norfolk, Virginia; Gaito & Associates, LLC out of Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Development Research Partners from Littleton and Community Builders, based out of Glenwood Springs.
According to its executive summary, the Moving Forward Together Plan, “… represents the proactive role government can take in working with property owners and developers …”
The plan’s strategy included how to better connect the confluence’s redevelopment, the Sixth Street Corridor Master Plan, the Seventh Street beautification project and Two Rivers Park.
“Why is this the first that we are hearing of a 2019 study? We thought the 2017 [Confluence Redevelopment Plan] was the latest and greatest,” said Vick, who also lives near the confluence.
It’s a question he recently posed to City Council and staff.
“Whatever public outreach they did, for them to claim that it was a public process is disingenuous at best, because nobody in this neighborhood knew about it,” Vick said.
The day after City Council approved the Moving Forward Together Plan, the city moved forward with a Master Developer for Confluence Area Request For Qualifications (RFQ). The process was intended “… to find a qualified, visionary development partner to participate in the city of Glenwood Springs’ efforts to develop approximately 12.2 acres of land …”
The RFQ, which closed on May 22, turned up seven responses that were then vetted by members of the city’s Community Development, Engineering, and Parks and Recreation departments, as well as the DDA.
The search was then narrowed to three development teams — Development Partners, Trail Break Partners and the Confluence Development Group — all of which were interviewed at a special City Council meeting on July 8.
“This has not been a public process, otherwise someone on this street would’ve known it was coming,” Vick said. “They are trying to ram it through.”
At this time, City Council has not selected a development team or laid out a time frame for doing so.
In their RFQs, the three teams proposed, among other developments, multi-family residential housing, 614 parking spaces, 25,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space and a potential Hyatt corporation hotel and conference center on the confluence area site.
“I am not an angry homeowner,” Vick said. “I am a concerned citizen who wants to see a proper, well disseminated public process involving the crown jewel of Glenwood Springs real estate.”
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Robert Shapiro was sentenced to the maximum 25 years in prison for running a $1.3 million real estate Ponzi scheme that claimed more than 7,000 victims.