City awarded federal grant for downtown, parks
A $200,000 federal grant announced Thursday will help Glenwood Springs in its efforts to come up with a strategy to tie together four key sections of downtown, including redevelopment of the river confluence area.
Glenwood was named as one of 19 recipients of an EPA Brownfield Area-Wide Planning Grant.
The grant will be used to develop a plan to revitalize so-called “brownfields” located in the area where the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers come together, including the city’s 5-acre former sewer plant property that was decommissioned several years ago.
Also included in the planning area is the Colorado Department of Transportation 5-acre facility across Devereux Road from Two Rivers Park, and the 27.4-acre Holly Quarry site below the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park that has been eyed by the Caverns owners for a hotel development.
The grant is intended to help the city create a strategy to tie together the confluence redevelopment, Two Rivers Park, the Sixth Street corridor master plan and the Seventh Street beautification project following the completion of the new Grand Avenue bridge.
Consultants will be hired to work with civic and business leaders to develop the plan, and to assess existing infrastructure for upgrades to support new public spaces, mixed-use commercial development, housing and parking.
“Bringing together our planning efforts into a focused plan for the whole downtown and confluence area opens up tremendous economic opportunities for the city,” Mayor Michael Gamba said in a news release announcing the grant.
The grant “will further our efforts to create a vibrant, sustainable, regional destination along our two rivers and in our downtown,” he said.
Also participating in the planning process will be the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Glenwood Chamber Resort Association, the nonprofit Community Builders, Colorado Brownfields Partnership, Colorado Mountain College, GlenX and Super School, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and other stakeholders.
“The grant provides the kick-off for the ‘Glenwood Springs Riverfront’ as discussed and passed with the A&I tax,” DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel said.
She was referring to voter approval in November to extend the city’s 1-cent acquisitions and improvements fund tax for another 30 years, plus $54 million in bonding authority to help carry out a variety of redevelopment and transportation infrastructure projects.
The confluence redevelopment plan was first written in 2003, identifying underutilized sites in the area where the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers meet, according to the city news release. The desire then, and still today, is to redevelop the area with new housing, improved access to the river and better recreational opportunities.
Earlier this year, the DDA received a grant for a Targeted Brownfields Assessment to assess the decommissioned wastewater treatment plant site for new uses.
The Sixth Street master plan has been ongoing since early 2016 when a task force was appointed to work with a consultant to create a redevelopment plan for the corridor after Colorado 82 traffic is taken off of it when the new Grand Avenue bridge is completed later this year.
“Over the next two years, Sixth Street is expected to change dramatically as a result of the multi-million dollar project to demolish and realign the state Highway 82 Bridge over the Colorado River,” the city’s news release explained.
A variety of streetscape improvements, bike facilities, public parking, and neighborhood gathering areas are envisioned in the draft plan.
Meanwhile, the city has been the beneficiary of state Energy Impact and Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District grants, totaling $800,000, to turn Seventh Street between Colorado and Blake avenues into a “festival street” that can be closed off for special events.
A public open house to discuss the Seventh Street site design is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in the City Council chambers at City Hall.
Finally, the EPA grant will also help the city carry out its plan to restore the Colorado River shoreline at Two Rivers Park. Plans include interpretive signs, gathering spaces and landscaping.
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