Glenwood Springs looking to sell off ‘North Landing’ site
The recently formed North Glenwood Caucus will petition Glenwood Springs City Council tonight not to move forward with a resolution that could allow the city to sell off the former Grand Avenue Bridge “North Landing” site.
A resolution on the table for council consideration would apply “temporary, aesthetic appeal” to the area west of where the new pedestrian bridge lands at Sixth Street, by way of some minor landscaping and installation of benches.
It would also allow the city to sell the land off to a private developer in the future, and declares that the site was never intended to be designated as a park or used for “governmental purposes” after it was acquired from the state when the new Grand Avenue Bridge was realigned.
The new caucus, made up of business owners and residents of the North Glenwood area along Sixth Street between Laurel Street and the Glenwood Vapor Caves, says that selling off that area of land to a private developer goes against the city’s Sixth Street Corridor Master Plan, which City Council adopted on June 15, 2017.
“I think people want to see what was presented to them by the city when we had this big PR program to move the bridge, which was this beautiful streetscape with a public space there that would enhance the retail all around here plus accommodate the tourist element as well as the neighborhood,” caucus member Anthony Durrett said.
“Right now, you got a space that just sits there vacant,” he said of the vacant, dirt-covered site where the bridge used to land. “They [the city] don’t know how to use it, they don’t know who is going to use it, and they don’t want to claim any responsibility for it.”
A portion of the Sixth Street Corridor Master Plan titled, “Parks & Open Space,” illustrates and states that, “The bridge should blend into the park/plaza and then into the street. New mixed use buildings should activate the park.”
If the city adopts the resolution and sells it to a private developer, they could then do any number of things with that parcel of land.
The North Glenwood Caucus is pushing for City Council to table the resolution, for now.
“We have two concerns, one is that we don’t think there’s been public input into this process as to what happens with this property,” said Carl Moak, caucus member and owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering on Sixth Street.
“And, two, is we are just concerned that this forecloses an option for this property and what this resolution says is that it won’t be a park and it won’t be used for governmental purposes, and we don’t think that’s right,” Moak said. “We think it’s way too early to make that decision.”
One particular aspect of the drafted resolution, which was sent from Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon to Mayor Mike Gamba and Council members last Friday. reads, “the City Council wants to clarify and confirm that it did not acquire the North Landing for park or governmental purposes, and the improvements and landscaping described herein are for temporary, aesthetic purposes only and in no way reflect an intention or action on the part of the city of Glenwood Springs to convert the North Landing to a park or otherwise use or hold the North Landing for park or governmental purposes.”
It’s a clarification the North Glenwood Caucus believes, again, contradicts what was presented in the original Sixth Street Master Plan.
If passed, the resolution would permit the city to “plant grass, install benches and complete other minor landscaping … pending approval of a development plan for the site,” but only for temporary use in that manner.
“Until the City Council approves a development plan, it wants to ensure the North Landing site is aesthetically pleasing, due to its proximity to the downtown area, the Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge, the Glenwood Hot Springs, and other nearby attractions,” the resolution states.
The Sixth Street master plan also portrays the conceptual plan for a 16,300-square-foot area, which would include a park plaza, an informal stage, a children’s play area, an art walk and other amenities.
“The resolution says that it will not be used for park or for governmental purposes, which means it can’t be public open space,” Moak said.
That also raises the question of whether city voters would have an opportunity to vote on a future property sale, since it’s not designated for such public purposes.
“I guess at some point it could be reversed, but I doubt if it ever would be,” he said. “Once something like this is cast in stone, it usually doesn’t change.”
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