Mayor wants to develop shopping center on wetland in Silt |

Mayor wants to develop shopping center on wetland in Silt

John Gardner
Rifle Correspondent
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Silt officials are proposing to develop a town-owned commercial center on a parcel of wetland as a way to create jobs, increase tax revenue and bring a much-needed grocery story to town.

Silt Mayor Dave Moore’s conceptual plan, presented to the town board this week, calls for the town of Silt to build a shopping center on 6.5 acres of wetlands just east of the roundabout, on the south side of Highway 6 and 24.

The parcel was donated to the town by Keith Gilstrap. But, as it sits, the property is a “mosquito-infested swamp,” according to Mayor Pro-Tem Rick Aluise.

The proposed “Wet Lands” Shopping Center, as Moore calls it, would include a 20,000-square-foot building that would include a grocery store, liquor store and one fast food establishment. Additional options for the development included a bank, restaurant, retail and commercial space, community center or employee housing.

Moore’s plan to pay for the estimated $3.35 million project is for the town to issue a bond to cover development costs, as well as request funding from Garfield County and “in-kind” donations from local industries and private citizens. The town of Silt could also pitch in lodging tax revenues.

Under the plan, Silt would create an Urban Renewal Authority to oversee the improvements.

Moore estimates that tax revenues would offset bond payments, with excess revenues that could pay for other local improvements.

He said the town could lease or sell retail spaces to commercial tenants.

“This is not going to happen overnight,” Aluise said. “This is only an idea to get the ball rolling, and it’s going to take a long time.”

First, the town will have to do a feasibility study to learn the cost of filling in the wetland and creating a new wetland elsewhere, and if the site is even viable for development. Moore said that a potential site is the Silt River Preserve – a 132,000-acre plot of riparian open space along the Colorado River’s south side – which the town purchased in 2010. Another option would be land in Mesa County, according to Moore.

Relocating the wetland would require approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and from the Aspen Valley Land Trust, which holds a conservation easement on the Silt River Preserve.

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