Award of Glenwood Springs’ 7th Street beautification contract an emotional affair | PostIndependent.com

Award of Glenwood Springs’ 7th Street beautification contract an emotional affair

An early rendering shows the concept for a redesigned "festival street" on Glenwood Springs' Seventh Street between Cooper and the new Grand Avenue Bridge.
DDA/file

Leslie Timbel Bethel celebration of life

1-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5The Temporary, 360 Market Street (Willits), Basalt

When Glenwood Springs City Clerk Catherine Fletcher announced, “motion passes unanimously,” in awarding Gould Construction the contract to complete the first three phases of the Seventh Street Beautification Project, City Councilor Steve Davis started clapping.

Those in attendance at the emotional council meeting Thursday night joined, as the bid award marked the start of a project long envisioned by longtime Downtown Development Authority director Leslie Bethel, who died in December.

Bids for the combined first three phases of work on the Seventh Street Beautification Project came in roughly $1.48 million less than the city’s engineering estimates.

Last year, those estimates had caused controversy after councilors emphatically debated the merits of releasing the numbers to potential contractors ahead of the formal bidding process.

Some, like Councilor Shelley Kaup, argued in favor of releasing the estimates, citing government transparency, while Davis and others believed that by showing the city’s hand, as far as what it was willing to spend, it could taint the bidding process and increase costs.

Following the filing of two Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests, though, council eventually agreed to release the estimates, publicly, ahead of the formal bidding process.

Here’s the breakdown:

• Phase 1 Sanitary Sewer: Gould’s bid $655,116 / Engineer’s estimate $650,000

• Phase 2 Beautification: Gould’s bid $876,766 / Engineer’s estimate $1,475,300

• Phase 3 Beautification: Gould’s bid $750,992 / Engineer’s estimate $1,642,600

“It’s taken a lot of work to get here, but it is going to be great and beautiful,” Kaup said.

Despite those strong differences of opinions throughout the 2018 discussions, council’s first meeting of 2019 regarding the envisioned “festival street” steered clear of any back-and-forth.

Rather, it honed in on finally getting the job done not only for the businesses but also in honor of Bethel’s work. She had worked extensively on the project before her retirement in September of last year, and her death from cancer last month.

The project aims to create a pedestrian-oriented streetscape along the two blocks of Seventh Street stretching beneath the new Grand Avenue Bridge, informally known as Glenwood’s “restaurant row.” It is to include bricked plaza areas, landscaping, places to sit, water features, and a venue for events under the bridge, with the ability to close off the area to traffic during festivals.

DDA Chairman Steve Carver said at the meeting he was very pleased that Bethel’s vision for Seventh Street was not far off from becoming a reality for Glenwood.

“We are very excited about [Gould Construction] and the local people coming in and getting it done,” Carver added.

Construction will begin on the first three phases of the project closer to summer. And, because Gould’s bids were significantly lower than the earlier estimates, council agreed to also spend an extra $134,000 for an accelerated timeline, which will allow one lane of traffic to open on Seventh Street from July 2 through Aug. 29.

According to Councilor Jim Ingraham, keeping one lane of traffic open in the heat of the summer season, in addition to construction fencing being kept as far away as possible from businesses, were two key caveats for Seventh Street stakeholders. They were stipulations Gould Construction was more than willing to adhere to, a representative said at the Thursday meeting.

Bidding packages for phases four, five, and six of the beautification project, which are to include landscaping and outdoor public furniture, in addition to three water features and a splash pad, will go out soon and see possible construction in the fall. No contract has been awarded for those phases yet.

“I am jumping up and down for Leslie,” Davis delivered, before pausing at the meeting.

Davis was a close friend to Bethel and serves as the council liaison to the DDA.

“I am proud for Leslie to have gotten to this point … I would love to see this finished, not good enough for Glenwood, but good enough for Leslie Bethel,” Davis added.

mabennett@postindependent.com