Guides help visitors navigate construction
Craig Dean is a retired postal worker, but these days, he says, he feels like a cop — “just without the gun and handcuffs.”
“I wander the streets and look for people who look lost and offer them help,” Dean said, describing his new role helping visitors find their way around downtown Glenwood Springs.
Dean, who has lived here since 1999, is one of the guides for the Grand Avenue bridge wayfinding guide program, which began over Memorial Day weekend. Dean seeks out visitors or answers questions when they approach. He directs them to attractions and makes restaurant recommendations on both the north and south sides of the Colorado River.
“We are not allowed to tell them our favorites,” Dean said of his dining tips. “I usually ask them what type of food they are looking for and then point them in the right direction.”
This guide program was set up to help visitors cope with the fences and blocked routes necessary because of Grand Avenue bridge construction, according to Angie Anderson, vice president of operations of the Glenwood Chamber Resort Association.
“We want to make sure that visitors feel welcome and are able to navigate through the construction,” Anderson said. “It’s also for the local businesses so that people know that they are still open.”
The program has 15 paid guides ranging from high schoolers to retirees. After the program got the nod earlier in May, Anderson was quickly able to fill the need for guides.
“We had some staff already, summer staff, as guides,” Anderson said, “and we had a great response from the community.”
Through Labor Day, two guides will be on duty between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day.
Mindful that the construction will continue next summer, chamber leaders hope the program will help tourists feel good about visiting in the future.
In her short time as a guide, 15-year-old Isabelle Brintnall has found that the program has in fact been utilized by the relatively small crowds of tourists who have visited Glenwood early this season.
“People are open to the idea of asking for directions from us,” Brintnall said.
Based on what she has seen and heard from the visitors, she also believes that the bridge construction will not deter visitors from returning in the future.
“A lot of the tourists that I’ve talked to didn’t seem to mind the construction,” Brintnall said. “They aren’t here just to see that part of town. They are coming for a lot of different reasons. They visit different shops and restaurants.”
With the busy tourist season just around the corner, guides like Dean and Brintnall are preparing for the influx of visitors.
“It’s been slow this week,” Dean said, “but I’ve talked to the shop owners and they expect it to get busy here in the next week or so.”
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.