Martin to represent Garfield County on Glenwood Urban Renewal Authority
The newly formed Glenwood Springs Urban Renewal Authority, which aims to revitalize the near-vacant Glenwood Springs Mall property, went shopping for a Garfield County representative Monday and found a well-known one.
“I would like to see Commissioner [John Martin] as the member of the Board of County Commissioners that participates on this urban renewal committee,” fellow Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting.
“This is your district, and you probably have the most knowledge going all the way back to when The Meadows was put in and there was a TIF [tax increment financing], and so forth,” Jankovsky said of the method used to fund public infrastructure at the Glenwood Meadows development.
The suggested TIF this go round, however, involves the current West Glenwood mall’s anchor tenant, Ross Dress For Less, Inc., and its 2011 lease agreement that city officials say has essentially tied the hands of mall owner Frank Woods as it relates to what businesses can move in and do business at the property located at 51027 Highway 6 and 24.
Some on City Council, like West Glenwood Councilor Rick Voorhees, have questioned the urban renewal authority (URA) and tax remedy for what he called “a bad business decision.” At a December City Council meeting, Voorhees said he couldn’t help but wonder why Woods did not use a “modicum of common sense” when the lease was signed in the first place.
“That ship has sailed. We now need to let the URA process unfold,” Voorhees said in an interview Tuesday.
“I hope that the public, especially those living in West Glenwood, will participate and share their ideas with the URA when it begins to function,” he said. “We need to ensure that any redevelopment does not result in the city taking ownership of the property. That would be a black financial hole. Much remains to be seen and tested.”
According to Voorhees, the URA consists of the Glenwood Springs City Council, in addition to representatives from Garfield County, the Roaring Fork School District and one member representing the collective interests of the planned special district.
“The final composition will be an odd number,” Voorhees said of the authority’s members.
Once the authority does come together, what it can and cannot do with respect to power has remained a good question.
“Similar to the work of other public bodies, the authority will be responsible for transparently sifting through ideas and for judging written proposals for the property on their merits,” Voorhees said. “Obviously, getting the authority up and running will take some time. I’m also unaware of any specific proposals for this property that have been submitted to the city at this time.”
Following Jankovsky’s motion at the Monday meeting to make Martin the county’s representative on the authority, fellow Commissioner Mike Samson quickly seconded, giving Martin a seat at the authority’s eventual table.
Sitting across from Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa, who presented at the meeting, Martin offered, “We will be a participant and not a disruption.”
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It’s the summer cone-zone time in Basalt. Major projects are planned next week on Midland Avenue and Willits Lane. Drivers can expect detours for a few days.