Council willing to reconsider FedEx road impact money
Glenwood Springs City Council members who voted against taking money from FedEx to cover at least some of the road impacts for its planned new package distribution center in south Glenwood near the city airport didn’t show much willingness Thursday night to change their minds.
But there was at least enough sentiment at a joint meeting with the Garfield County commissioners to formally reconsider the question prior to a continued public hearing Monday where commissioners are expected to decide whether to allow the package shipping company to proceed with its development plans.
Council agreed to schedule a special meeting of its own at noon Monday to weigh the offer of $585,000, which was the city’s estimated cost to repave the portion of Airport Road leading to the site.
The meeting could also serve as a final opportunity to convince FedEx to take another look at other locations, but only if company representatives decide to show up.
“I have their number, and I will call them,” Councilman Dave Sturges said.
Meanwhile, county commissioners are scheduled to resume their own deliberations Monday afternoon on whether to let FedEx off the hook for the road impact money, and let the facility be built as previously approved.
City Councilman Mike Gamba tried to convince at least one of the four council members who voted against the money at an Oct. 16 meeting to change their mind.
“We have a situation here where we are getting an impact whether we like it or not,” Gamba said. “I believe we should revisit this. It’s an irresponsible decision for the citizens of Glenwood Springs … when there is some mitigation on the table and we choose to ignore it.
“This is a meaningful amount of money, and it does address at least some of the impact,” he said.
But those who voted against the deal in protest to the county’s approval of the project against the city’s objections are still reluctant to change their mind.
“This is an impact you decided to impose on the city despite our concerns,” Councilman Matt Steckler said, directing his comments to the county commissioners and reiterating city concerns that the roads leading to the site, including the 27th Street bridge, Midland Avenue and Airport Road, are inadequate to handle the extra car and delivery truck traffic.
Mayor Leo McKinney agreed, even though he has indicated he had a hard time voting to reject the money.
“You guys are trying to serve us a crap sandwich here,” McKinney said in frustration over the situation.
The issue goes back to FedEx’s original plans last winter to work with the city to annex the nine-acre site located just outside city limits where it plans to build a new, 27,000-square-foot regional distribution center. City officials expressed concerns about the impacts to roads from an estimated 230 new vehicles trips per day on the already compromised road system, and said that would need to be addressed in any annexation agreements.
FedEx then decided to take its development plans to the county. County commissioners approved the project in September, but asked FedEx to work with the city to pay for the road improvements and also dedicated a piece of land for the future South Bridge project. That project, which is several years away from being funded and built, would ultimately provide more direct access to the site from Highway 82 and avoid Midland Avenue.
Without the new bridge connection in place, Councilman Sturges said it’s incumbent on FedEx to look at other sites in the Glenwood Springs area for the facility.
“Maybe we should be providing them with some other alternatives, but the city of Glenwood Springs is not a real estate broker,” said Sturges, who was also among the council members who voted to turn down the money for the south Glenwood impacts.
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