Office costs behind BLM relocation to Silt
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. The high cost of office space, and not employee housing, drove a recent decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to relocate its Glenwood Springs office to Silt, a BLM official says.What is now the Glenwood Springs Field Office of the BLM also may be in for a name change, although there’s a good chance it won’t be the Silt Field Office, spokesman David Boyd said.Still, Silt Mayor Dave Moore was happy when told the agency is headed to his town.”If they are coming down we are certainly looking forward to it and think they would make a real sizable contribution to our economy,” he said.The Glenwood office, located in West Glenwood, and an associated energy office on the south side of Glenwood total about 60 employees who will relocate to Silt and all work out of one location. The energy office also includes some Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife and Army Corps of Engineers personnel who will make the move.Boyd said the entire Glenwood operation, including the energy office, has a $4.8 million budget, which covers personnel, operating and other expenses.The agency will move in March 2009 to new facilities to be constructed south of Interstate 70 and north of the Colorado River. It has a 20-year lease for $371,000 a year from Bintzer Equities of Denver.The location will have 14,261 square feet of office space, a 4,000-square-foot warehouse, as well as outside space for parking of employees’ cars, and storage of trailers, cattle guards, fence posts and other items.As it happens, a Silt location will put the BLM closer to where most of its employees live, and also closer to the action when it comes to energy development in western Garfield County. But Boyd said a downvalley move wasn’t the agency’s top preference.”We had hoped to stay in Glenwood because that’s a nice, central location,” he said.The office oversees 567,000 acres stretching as far east as Summit County, and has more land in Eagle County than Garfield County, Boyd said.But finding office space that met the agency’s needs and was properly priced led it to Silt.”The Silt location and proposal were the best,” Boyd said.The agency’s lease was up for its West Glenwood location, and it already had gotten one extension.Boyd said it will be helpful to have everyone working in one office that is built specifically to meet the BLM’s needs.The agency had been at its West Glenwood location since 1978. Its precursor, the General Land Office, had an office in Glenwood more than 100 years ago, but Boyd wasn’t able to determine whether the agency has had an uninterrupted presence in the city since then.Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen was sorry to hear of the BLM’s plans.”Obviously we hate to see anybody leave Glenwood who’s been a good neighbor and part of the community for a long time,” Christensen said.The simple fact is that Glenwood is constricted geographically and its land prices are rising quickly, he said. Although the city must make land-use decisions that benefit the community, “most of the land is held privately, and we don’t have a lot to say about it.”He has seen other Glenwood employers also decide to move to where property is cheaper, and expects to see more of that in the future.Moore said Silt offers room to grow and a more central location than communities farther downvalley. The BLM will benefit from proximity to the I-70 interchange, and the town will benefit by its arrival, he believes.”I think activity and action breeds activity and action. I think that just another rooftop, another business in the town of Silt is always a plus,” he said.Still undecided is just what to call the new office. Boyd said the Glenwood name may very well go, but it may make sense to switch to something more regional. And rather than calling it a field office, perhaps the name should connote the land the BLM manages, and not just a building, he said.The name may be decided in the process of restructuring the BLM in Colorado. The agency is going back to having district offices. Field offices such as Glenwood will answer to them, rather than the state office. Boyd said that should lead to more responsiveness when the public wants to take an issue beyond the field office level, because people won’t have to take matters all the way to the state director.Contact Dennis Webb: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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