Downtown design advocate Lisa Newman dies |

Downtown design advocate Lisa Newman dies

Lisa Newman, outspoken community activist and advocate for downtown Glenwood Springs, lost her battle with cancer on Saturday. She was 62.
Rachel Brockey | Rachel Brockey

Lisa Newman, a “mainstay” during the public comments portion of Glenwood Springs City Council meetings in recent years and an outspoken advocate for maintaining the integrity of downtown Glenwood’s historic design, has died.

Newman passed away on Saturday, according to Todd Leahy, city councilman, neighbor, collaborator and good friend of Newman’s for the past several years. She was 62.

A former Hollywood set designer, Newman had been battling cancer in recent years but still found the energy to stay active in city politics, especially as it related to several downtown improvements.

“Her influence is all over the parking garage, just the way she envisioned it and showing people what was possible with a structure like that,” Leahy said of the 3-year-old parking facility at Ninth and Cooper.

Her design ideas also played into the plans for the new Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge and elevator tower on Seventh Street, which is currently under construction as part of the larger Grand Avenue bridge project.

“She was a mainstay at the City Council meetings, always sharing her vision,” Leahy said. “Sure, she had her moments when she could be difficult to deal with. But she kept us honest, and we’re going to miss her and her vision.

“She did make a difference, and she made a difference by participating,” Leahy said.

Newman was a fixture out walking or riding her bike around downtown, often sporting a well-worn sweatshirt and baseball cap, maybe carrying a set of sketches, and never hesitating to stop someone on the street to talk about her ideas.

She moved to Glenwood Springs in 1989 after growing up in Los Angeles, studying landscape architecture and planning at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design, then working for Disney and Universal Studios. She was part of the design team for Disney’s Epcot Center, and her television and movie credits include set design work for “Murder She Wrote,” “Dragnet” and “Back to the Future.”

“I think it does make a difference,” Newman told the Post Independent in an interview for a September 2014 story about her community involvement.

“Things don’t happen by themselves,” she said. “We need people to make things happen.”

Newman, who continued her work as a landscape architect in Glenwood Springs until cancer slowed her, was also asked to help with some of the design work for the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

“Water is the essence of our town … let’s bring that in and celebrate that,” she said in the 2014 interview about her ideas for the public gathering places that are being designed for the Seventh Street area.

No memorial service information was available on Monday.

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