More grant funding sought for 7th Street plaza construction
Glenwood Springs will go after a second, even larger grant associated with energy development impacts to help pay for what’s now estimated to be a $3.3 million project to build the first phase of the Seventh Street plaza in conjunction with the new Grand Avenue bridge.
City Council on Thursday OK’d an application seeking $1 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund for the work being planned between the new bridge and Blake Avenue.
The state grant application is in addition to a recent $500,000 request from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District through its fall grant cycle.
If the state grant is successful, DOLA would require a 50 percent match, or $500,000, from the city, said City Manager Debra Figueroa.
Altogether, if both grants are awarded, the city would have to pick up $1.8 million of the tab to pay for the improvements.
The Seventh Street plaza project is intended as an extension of the sidewalk expansion and outdoor dining areas on the south side of Seventh Street between Blake and Grand that were completed two years ago.
Most of the next round of construction would be focused on the north side of Seventh where the new Seventh Street Station elevator tower and stairway up to the new pedestrian bridge is being built as part of the larger Grand Avenue bridge project.
There, a landscaped, pedestrian-friendly plaza would extend from the highway and pedestrian bridge east to Blake Avenue, and about a half block south on Cooper. The project also involves an extensive pedestrian mall beneath the new highway bridge extending about halfway up the 700 block of Grand Avenue.
The project has been designed utilizing some $300,000 in Downtown Development Authority funds.
“We really looked at the historic conditions of that area and tried to mimic that as much as possible,” DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel said at the Thursday council meeting.
Bethel said the DDA has also received a letter of support from Amtrak, and has been working with the passenger rail agency to do some sidewalk, landscaping and ADA-access improvements on and near the train station that sits at the eastern end of the project area.
Amtrak would be responsible for paying for any improvements on its property, she said.
With the plaza construction, Seventh Street itself would remain open to two-way traffic but could be closed to vehicles for occasional events, Bethel said.
Phase two of the work would focus on the portion of Seventh Street west of the Grand Avenue bridge toward Colorado Avenue, and eventually extending to the confluence area where more redevelopment is in the works.
New public restrooms for the area, replacing the ones that were removed to make way for the new bridge, would be part of that second phase.
“We do have to take this one step, and one bite at a time and just keep looking at it that way,” Figueroa said. “And keep applying for grants.”
In addition to Amtrak, letters of support for the state grant have come from Colorado Mountain College, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Garfield County Library District.
On a related note, City Council recently revised its plan in applying for a Garfield FMLD mini grant.
Originally, the city was to ask for funding to begin preliminary design and engineering for a new bridge span over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks just east of the rail yard, connecting Devereux Road to Midland Avenue.
Instead, the city now seeks a mini grant to pay for improvements to the shooting range at South Canyon, which is used by the Glenwood Springs Police Department for training purposes.
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