Commissioners OK FedEx facility by Glenwood airport
An approval by Garfield County commissioners Monday for Federal Express to move its package distribution center from Carbondale to an expanded location next to the Glenwood Springs airport comes with some strings attached that could leave the company weighing its options.
The commissioners, meeting in Carbondale, voted 2-1 to allow FedEx Ground to build a 27,000-square-foot sorting and distribution facility on about 9 acres just south of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport.
However, the company still must work with the city of Glenwood Springs on an agreement to pay at least part of the $685,000 estimated cost to bring Airport Road up to acceptable standards to handle the increase in traffic.
FedEx is also being asked to work with the city and county to provide land for the proposed South Bridge across the Roaring Fork River to Highway 82, should it ever be funded and built.
The commissioners’ decision contradicted a recommendation by Glenwood Springs City Council to deny the proposal due to access and safety concerns.
The package sorting and distribution center is expected to add 230 vehicle trips per day to the South Midland Avenue corridor, including between two and four double semi-trailer trucks per day and several smaller delivery trucks and vans.
Until and if South Bridge is built, the city maintains that access to the area via 27th Street, Midland Avenue and Airport Road is inadequate, Glenwood Mayor Leo McKinney told the commissioners in urging them to deny the project.
“Short of having the South Bridge in place, this is not something we can recommend approving,” McKinney said. “The plan itself is not a bad one, but the access and safety issues in that area are huge.”
FedEx had previously asked to annex the property into the city, but withdrew the application in favor of seeking faster approval from the county so it could begin construction on the facility this fall.
According to FedEx representative Kevin Kiernan, the new, larger distribution center is needed to handle the increasing demand for deliveries associated with Internet sales. The existing location in the Carbondale Industrial Park in the center of Carbondale is too small, and the company looked at several available properties in the area before settling on the airport site, he said.
“This facility is essentially for receiving packages purchased over the Internet and distributing them,” he said. “There will be no public access to the site, and no retail component.”
Larger delivery trucks will be limited to two per day, with no more than four per day when the facility reaches full build-out, Kiernan said.
Kiernan and other company representatives also indicated they would be willing to pay their “fair share” for road improvements in the vicinity. But that number is more like $186,000, they said.
Company representatives did hear an appeal from Carbondale businessman John Foulkrod, one of the partners who owns the industrial park, to keep the FedEx facility and its 15 or so jobs in Carbondale, should the Glenwood location not work out.
Foulkrod said the owners have decided to maintain the former Mid-Continent Mine Services site as an industrial park, instead of pursuing a residential and mixed-use development that was envisioned a few years ago.
“I think we can work with you to create a facility here in Carbondale and not lose those jobs,” he said.
FedEx could also be influential in helping the town realize a long-held goal to extend a nearby city street, known as Industry Place, through to state Highway 133, he said.
County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky opposed the plans for the new FedEx facility for the same reasons Glenwood Springs city officials recommended against the proposal.
“From my perspective, it’s just not the right location because of the access concerns,” Jankovsky said.
Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson were reluctant to let opportunity pass to keep FedEx in the area, for fear that the company could decide to move if the plans were denied.
“It’s the price of being successful,” Martin said. “They’ve outgrown their current location. I think we have to accommodate those who are providing these services.”
Martin added, though, that it’s the company’s responsibility to work with the city to come up with an agreeable cost sharing for area road improvements.
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