Parking during downtown construction a concern |

Parking during downtown construction a concern

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, Colorado CO

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An interim parking plan for downtown workers is being devised as the Garfield County Library District and Colorado Mountain College gear up to break ground this spring on their new building at the corner of Eighth and Cooper.At the same time that project gets rolling, anticipated by late March or early April, the city of Glenwood Springs expects to start construction on a two-level parking structure on the site of the existing city-owned public parking lot at Ninth and Cooper.Plans for the new 28,000 square-foot building to be shared by the new Glenwood Springs Library and CMC, and the new open-air city parking structure, are both before the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission for formal review tonight.Among the questions that are likely to come up will be how to handle parking for daytime workers and downtown shoppers over the next seven to 12 months during the construction phase.The dual projects will eventually result in a net gain of 112 parking spaces along the two-block stretch of Cooper Avenue, from 181 spaces currently to 293 spaces.That will include a dedicated 63-space underground parking garage for CMC employees beneath the new library building.However, much of the existing parking that’s available now will be off line for several months during the construction period.”We are looking at some different options to lessen the impacts on our neighbors while these structures are being built,” said CMC’s public information officer, Debbie Crawford.”We do have a large number of employees who will be affected, and we definitely want to lessen that impact on the neighborhood,” she said.CMC was provided a 45-space parking lot for its employees when the city of Glenwood Springs purchased the property at the southwest corner of Eighth and Cooper, where the library is to be built.Around the same time, CMC bought the building across the alley at 802 Grand Ave. to house its new administrative offices.One concern is that CMC and other downtown employees who drive to work will be dispersed into the limited number of two-hour parking spaces during construction. Some business owners have had an ongoing concern, since those spaces are intended for shoppers and others doing business downtown.According to Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel, the new city parking structure is expected to be completed by November.The parking beneath the library should also be available for CMC to use at some point before the rest of the library construction is complete in mid-2013, he said.Until then, city officials have been working with the Downtown Development Authority, as well as CMC and the library district, to come up with some interim solutions.”It’s still in the process of being formulated, but is something that we have been looking at,” Hecksel said.One downtown parking lot that will be coming back online by May is the city-owned lot on Seventh Street where the new wastewater lift station has been under construction. The city also developed a parking lot on School Street two years ago to make up for those lost spaces.”We’ve also been in contact with the school district, and they’ve said it would be OK to use the elementary school parking lot during the summer months,” Hecksel said.”We may be able to run some sort of shuttle between those areas and downtown, but that’s not firm,” he said. “We’re also looking at doing some sort of outreach to let everyone know where parking is available.”Meanwhile, the city P&Z Commission gets it first look tonight at the plans for the $6 million library/CMC building, and the parking structure, which is estimated to cost nearly $4 million to build.The library building is to include the 14,000-square-foot library on the main floor, plus a second level with the same floor space to be shared between the library and CMC in the future. There would also be a 6,000-square-foot outdoor public plaza situated to the south of the library building, plus the underground parking area.The new city parking structure would increase the number of available parking spaces from 75 currently to 140. One question to be addressed with the plan is whether to open the 900 block of Cooper Avenue to two-way traffic. That stretch is currently a one-way

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