Ballot question tied to key city street concern

The upper corner of property owned by Don and Angie Parkison
John Stroud/Post Independent |

A possible city land swap that could assist efforts to improve one of Glenwood Springs’ most awkward and dangerous intersections is tied to a question appearing on next week’s municipal election ballot.

Voters are being asked in the April 7 mail ballot election whether to authorize the city to “sell or otherwise convey” approximately one-third of an acre of city-owned land situated between the Roaring Fork River and the Rio Grande Trail, just west of the 23rd Street and South Grand Avenue intersection.

If approved, the city would be allowed to enter negotiations with an adjacent landowner who has proposed trading a piece of land fronting South Grand Avenue for a similar-size section of the city’s property.

“Just because we get the authorization doesn’t mean we have to do it if it doesn’t turn out to be a good deal,” advised City Councilman Mike Gamba, who joined the majority of council members last December in forwarding the question to voters.

But the busy intersection where South Grand takes off almost parallel to Highway 82/South Glen Avenue, and where the Rio Grande Trail also crosses, is a major concern for both safety and functionality reasons, Gamba said.

Improvements at that intersection are included on a long list of possible projects being contemplated as part of the city’s Long Range Transportation Master Plan update.

However, the situation is complicated by provisions of both the recently adopted Highway 82 Access Control Plan and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s access plan, which controls crossings of the railbanked trail corridor.

“The geometry of that whole intersection is just wrong,” he said. “The best way to fix it, since we can’t put in a sweeping right-hand turn, is to push the intersection (west) into the adjacent property.”

That property is owned by Don and Angie Parkison, who approached City Council and city staff last fall about considering a land swap, rather than negotiating a straight sale of their property.

“We consider the proposed swap a win-win for us and for Glenwood residents,” the Parkison’s wrote in a recent letter to the editor. “If the city obtains the land via a trade instead of a sale, a 23rd Street reconfiguration can be achieved at a much lower cost.”

In return, the Parkisons, whose house on Meadowlark Lane butts up against the southwest corner of the city land, are interested in a trade of equal size and value, if possible.

“It would probably be kept as a separate lot, and would be contiguous to our (existing) property,” Don Parkison told the Post Independent, adding access would also be through their existing property.

That section of the city property is largely inaccessible, and does not provide direct access to the river, because the Parkisons also already own the riverfront property below the city’s land, he said.

The city acquired the property in that location several years ago with the idea that it could accommodate a future Highway 82 bypass or other alternate route of some sort. Even if the trade is ultimately approved, it would not preclude using the remainder of the land for transportation needs, Gamba said.

Council voted 6-1 to put the question seeking permission to convey the property to voters, with only Mayor Leo McKinney opposed.

McKinney said at the time that he didn’t see the value to the city in pursuing the trade, but was not opposed to discussing it.

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