Land swap OK opens many possibilities
A Glenwood Springs special election that authorized the city to negotiate a land trade next to Glenwood Springs Elementary School served as a sort of precursor for the Roaring Fork School District’s plans overhaul the school building and campus.
Voters, in mail balloting that concluded Tuesday, approved the single question, 829 in favor to 286 opposed, giving the city permission to convey to the school district two parcels just south of GSES, including the existing recycling center property.
In turn, the city would like to obtain what’s now school district-owned land north of the school, including Vogelaar Park.
That area has been eyed by the city for eventual sale to a private developer for a mix of residential and commercial projects that would be part of the larger confluence redevelopment master plan.
Though separate, the city’s ballot question was intricately tied to the school district’s plans for a $29.2 million upgrade to GSES, including a major renovation to parts of the existing building and new additions, and a complete reconfiguring of the school campus.
That project is also part of a larger, $122 million district-wide bond issue that voters from the Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt areas will be deciding in the Nov. 3 election.
“Obviously, we were pleased with the result of the city election, and look forward to what we can do there in that space around Glenwood Springs Elementary and take of some things that are desperately needed,” said Daniel Biggs, president of the RFSD board.
Though the Tuesday vote might be viewed as a “positive indicator” regarding the upcoming bond election, “the real work begins … to help people understand what all is needed in all of our communities,” Biggs said.
“Certainly, a lot of that need is in Glenwood Springs,” he said not only of the proposed GSES project but a proposed new, $35 million pre-K through eighth grade school south of Glenwood to ease the pressure on Glenwood’s existing elementary and middle schools.
The renovation at Glenwood Elementary is bolstered by a $9.1 million state grant award that, if the bond issue fails, would have to be relinquished.
“In any case, something has to happen at Glenwood Elementary,” Biggs said. “We have the grant to help make that happen, but we have to do something with or without that.”
For the city’s part, the outcome of the Tuesday vote serves as another step forward in keeping the downtown area “vibrant and active,” while helping to eventually realize the long-held confluence area redevelopment plan, City Councilwoman Kathryn Trauger said.
“I do think it’s important to keep Glenwood Springs Elementary School in the heart of the downtown, and without this expansion that could be in question,” Trauger said.
“It also opens up the potential for making progress on the confluence plan … providing a connection between downtown and West Glenwood that celebrates our rivers and makes that area very vibrant, active and alive,” she said.
Other aspects of the confluence plan included the relocation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant to West Glenwood three years ago, and new trail connection from the Seventh Street parking lot to the bike path leading into Two Rivers Park that was completed earlier this summer.
According to the City Clerk’s Office, 22.8 percent of the city’s registered, active voters participated in the special mail ballot election.
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Garfield Re-2 School District administrators have spent the past week re-emphasizing safety protocols as they prepare to pivot back to in-person learning beginning Monday, according to the district.