Meeting to discuss Glenwood Springs homeless concerns postponed | PostIndependent.com

Meeting to discuss Glenwood Springs homeless concerns postponed

A tent sits in one of the homeless camps on the hillside above Walmart in south Glenwood Springs.

A meeting that had been set for Thursday to discuss issues around Glenwood Springs' homeless and transient populations has been postponed, with no reschedule date, at least at this point.

And there are indications from some quarters that the meeting arranged at the direction of Garfield County Commissioner John Martin following an April City Council discussion was never meant to be public, at least from the city's perspective, but rather a staff-level meeting not involving a quorum of elected officials.

On Tuesday, two days before the meeting was to have taken place, City Manager Debra Figueroa told the Post Independent, "The city requested that the public meeting scheduled this Thursday evening at the (Board of County Commissioners) Chambers be postponed.

"We are reaching out to our homeless service providers to better understand how we can work together to resolve fire threats, while continuing to care for vulnerable populations," she said.

The idea of a broader meeting to address the concerns grew out of an April 19 City Council discussion, led by Police Chief Terry Wilson and Fire Chief Gary Tillotson, and attended by Commissioner Martin as well as members of the public.

Among the main concerns expressed at that meeting was the threat of wildfire due to the many homeless camps that can be found scattered in the hills just above Glenwood Springs, and other safety issues.

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The discussion prompted Mayor Michael Gamba to observe, "There's been a lot of people who have suggested that some of the charitable organizations that provide services for these transient groups are part of the problem."

Martin suggested at that same meeting that those groups should be involved in the discussion.

"All those stakeholders will be at the table, we want to work together to do it, but you're right, it is the providers of service that are the problem and we need to go ahead and alert them and find a different solution than what we have right now," Martin said.

So the idea was to bring representatives from organizations such as Feed My Sheep, LIFT-UP and Salvation Army to the table to discuss ways to address the concerns.

However, while the Thursday meeting was tentatively scheduled, evidently it was never meant to be a public meeting, according to a source, and never showed up as an official meeting on either the county's or the city's websites.

Currently there is no rescheduled date.

At the April 19 Glenwood Springs City Council meeting, Martin indicated that the county would be more than happy to host a public work session inviting the various organizations to participate in the dialogue.

"Let's put it together. Let's do it soon, and we'll do it in the evening, and I'll set it all up, and then we'll advertise as it gets there," Martin said.

"I think that would be great," City Councilor Shelly Kaup replied.

City Manager Figueroa updated council at its May 3 meeting, noting that Martin wanted to have a meeting the following week to discuss "fire, slash, homeless" issues.

"It's a community meeting, and I think we are invited," she said. "I haven't heard back from them that it's a go, but I figured I should let you guys know."

Councilor Kaup then stated, "I guess I was hoping we'd have a little more time to prepare and get all the stakeholders in the room."

The meeting was then tentatively scheduled at Martin's direction for the later date. Martin indicated to the Post Independent at the time that the meeting was to be open to the public.

"Sure it is. You betcha, everybody is welcome to see a BOCC meeting. We don't hold meetings in the dark," Martin said.