County to city: Take FedEx money or project goes on without it
Garfield County commissioners will give the Glenwood Springs City Council one more chance to accept a financial contribution from FedEx to pay for at least some street improvements in the south Glenwood area where a new package distribution center has been approved, or get nothing.
City and county elected leaders were already scheduled to meet for a joint work session this Thursday evening to discuss a laundry list of issues, including how the two entities can work together to improve the South Midland corridor and eventually get the proposed South Bridge project built.
The highly contentious issue involving the county’s recent approval of a 27,000-square-foot FedEx distribution center next to the city airport will now be added to the agenda.
It’s a last-ditch effort by the county to honor two conditions of approval for the project requiring FedEx to pay the city $585,000 for upgrades to Airport Road and/or Midland Avenue, and to dedicate a piece of land that could be used at the time the South Bridge is built.
The move comes after FedEx representatives reported to county commissioners Monday that they were unable to make any headway in finding an alternative location for the facility.
If the city cannot be persuaded to take the money, the commissioners are likely to grant FedEx permission at their Nov. 17 meeting to proceed with the project, sans any money for street upgrades.
“I’m a little aggravated that it’s come down to this,” said Commissioner Mike Samson, who pushed for the conditions related to city street impacts when the project was approved on a 2-1 vote by the commissioners in September.
“I am against us becoming a mediary in this,” Samson said in opposing a suggestion by FedEx for the county to take the money and work with the city on how best to use it. “What I am for is the city sitting down with FedEx and trying to work this out.”
But FedEx representatives said they’ve exhausted other possible locations in the Glenwood Springs area to locate what will ultimately replace its existing Carbondale distribution center, and would prefer to start construction at the approved site as soon as possible.
Glenwood council members have expressed their displeasure with the county for approving the facility against the city’s recommendations.
City leaders are concerned about the impacts from a projected 230 new vehicle trips per day, including package delivery vans and no more than four larger transport truck trips per day, according to FedEx officials, on an already-compromised street system extending from the 27th Street bridge south along Midland and Airport Road.
In response, City Council decided on a 4-3 vote last month to reject the $585,000 and the land dedication, saying the contribution doesn’t go nearly far enough to address the infrastructure needs.
“It’s a problem for anyone trying to move around on that end of town,” Councilman Dave Sturges reiterated at the Monday county commissioner meeting. “It is a big problem for us and for the whole region.
“City Council is not against FedEx, we just find this location to be inappropriate for all the reasons we have cited,” Sturges said.
County commissioners are hoping to persuade the city’s elected officials to reconsider the monetary contribution to at least begin to address the inadequate streets serving the area.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.