It’s a rocky road for idea to remove Blake Avenue gate
It hasn’t been labeled “gategate” just yet, but initial plans by the city of Glenwood Springs to improve a small section of south Blake Avenue and remove a gate that has blocked through vehicle access for more than 30 years has met with some neighborhood opposition.
City Council last week sent out a call for residents and property owners from the area to serve on a committee that will study the issue and make recommendations on whether the city should open the gate between 27th and 29th streets near the Wal-Mart store.
Also, a new group called Imagine Glenwood plans a wide-ranging discussion about ways to ease traffic in residential areas when it hosts a community meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Glenwood Springs Library. Among the topics will be the Blake Avenue proposal.
City Council this year budgeted about $100,000 to plan for and carry out improvements for the approximately 190-foot section of Blake behind the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s South Glenwood bus station at 27th Street and Highway 82.
The existing 50-space park-and-ride lot is regularly full during most weekdays, forcing some bus riders to park their cars on the street and in the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot.
Removing the gate would be one way to allow better vehicle access for bus commuters, some council members suggested when the subject was broached early last year.
However, opening the gate and improving that part of Blake is a “shining example” of how the city’s actions can harm residential neighborhoods, Diane Reynolds, one of the organizers of the Imagine Glenwood effort, told City Council recently.
As it is now, the gate serves as a way to direct local traffic headed to Wal-Mart and the other Roaring Fork Marketplace businesses to Grand Avenue/Highway 82, rather than using neighborhood streets to the east, she said.
Another organizer of the effort, Sumner Schachter, also addressed the issue in a guest opinion that appeared in the Post Independent over the weekend.
Among the suggestions offered by Schachter was for the city to consider relocating the gate farther to the north. That would open access on Blake from 27th Street to the Roaring Fork Marketplace, but disallow through traffic from the neighborhoods to the north. Similar business “access loops” elsewhere around town could also be considered, he suggested.
The city’s study committee regarding the gate issue will include three representatives from the area south of 23rd Street and east of Highway 82. It will be asked to look at the issue and make recommendations to City Council.
Meanwhile, RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said parking overflow at the South Glenwood park-and-ride continues to be a problem that the transit agency is addressing.
RFTA has permission for bus riders to use spaces in Wal-Mart’s employee parking lot west of Blake Avenue, and has discussed leasing spaces in the north customer parking lot nearest the bus station. However, no formal agreements have been reached, Blankenship said.
“Having the gate open could be a bit more convenient, because people who can’t find a space in our parking lot could proceed to the other parking areas without getting back on 82,” he said, adding he also understands the neighborhood concerns.
RFTA has also considered possible acquiring more parking in the vicinity to expand the park-and-ride lot on the other side of Blake, Blankenship said.
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