Glenwood Springs Council returns to drawing board for North Landing
Glenwood Springs City Council has not decided exactly what the northern entrance to the downtown pedestrian bridge will look like, but they are committed to keeping it as open as possible.
“I think we all generally want the same thing,” Mayor Michael Gamba said at a special session Monday where the council took public comment on the area known as North Landing, where the old Grand Avenue Bridge used to land.
At the council’s direction, the city will be reaching out to a designer to develop a few scenarios for the site, including options for small, medium or larger buildings.
The smallest size of building the council wants to consider would be no more than bathrooms and a kiosk for welcome materials, and the largest would have a footprint no larger than 3,000 square feet, Assistant City Manager Jennifer Ooton told the Post Independent.
Each option would leave “room for hardscape and landscaping,” Ooton said.
One obstacle to building a structure was concern that the lot is home to a high-pressure gas line, but a further survey of the site revealed it was only a medium-pressure line.
Previous ideas for development of the site attracted intense interest from the North Glenwood Caucus, an organization of area residents and business owners concerned that the council was going beyond what the Sixth Street Corridor Master Plan, adopted in 2017, envisioned for the area.
The council solicited proposals for a possible public-private partnership, the goal of which, Councilor Rick Voorhees said, was to induce a developer to come in and “figure out how to make money if we were to build a building.”
But the town didn’t receive many proposals for buildings, and one that they did receive appeared to take up more land than available, according to Voorhees.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk about making this private. I don’t think any of that talk about making it private has meant that we don’t want it to be a public space,” Gamba said.
A recent call for artwork, to be paid for in part with a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, further reignited fears that the council would not keep the space an open park.
The request for proposals for that project, released in July read, in part: “Eventually this property will be redeveloped to include a privately owned outdoor plaza that is open to the public, where the art will permanently reside.”
At its Oct. 18 meeting, council approved the selection of marble sculptor Madeline Wiener, who owns a home in the town of Marble, to design the North Landing art installation.
At the Monday meeting, the city staff asked the council to decide what they wanted to see on the site. The options included public restrooms, a visitor’s center, office space for the Chamber of Commerce, a museum for the Glenwood Springs Historical Society, and parks and recreation space.
Putting all of those options on a 16,300-square-foot lot did strike the council as feasible, but the city still wants to find a way to “activate” the space. The area master plan made various suggestions for ways to do that, like adjacent ice cream or coffee shops, or event space.
Most residents of North Glenwood who spoke Monday want the space to be as open as possible, and see chances for future open areas rapidly diminishing north of the river.
“I personally would like to see the openness preserved and utilized,” Dean Gordon, co-founder of engineering firm SGM and a Sixth Street property owner, said during the public comment period.
As far as activating the space, and avoiding what he considers inactivity at the Grand Avenue parks, Gordon said the park needs two things: kids and coffee.
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The city of Glenwood Springs has proposed investing $5.76 million for street improvements in the 2020 budget.