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Plans for park prompt meeting

Dennis Webb

Whitewater park enthusiasts and Hot Springs Pool officials plan to meet with the Glenwood Springs City Council to see if they can’t smooth the waters over park plans.Kjell Mitchell, the pool’s chief executive officer and general manager, said pool representatives are willing to meet with whitewater park backers but continue to have serious concerns that the park could harm the pool’s hot spring source.”It’s a wonderful resource that we have to protect,” he said.Pool officials have threatened legal action, fearing construction of the park and scouring of the riverbed by the park’s wave features could puncture the top of the shallow aquifer containing the hot springs that supply the pool.Joe Mollica, chairman of the city’s whitewater park task force, told City Council members last week that he believes the pool’s concerns can be addressed.”We believe that for sure we’re going to have a whitewater park here in Glenwood Springs,” Mollica said.He hopes to have a pool representative join the task force “so they know exactly every step we’re going through.”He said the task force would have engineers study any plans before work occurs.”We’re not going to do anything on the river that’s going to damage the aquifer,” he said.Mollica said task force members first would like to focus on making improvements along the river’s edge in the Two Rivers Park area, and building a water feature in the area of the Devereux Road bridge.Engineers for the pool believe the hot springs aquifer in the Colorado River runs from the entrance of Glenwood Canyon to the area of the Coors building in West Glenwood. Mitchell said the pool supports the concept of a whitewater park, but not at the locations currently under consideration.Council member Bruce Christensen said he would like to see the city move forward on building a park, but added, “We do have a lot of unknowns here.”He said the pool’s concerns are legitimate, and suggested that the city first look at building some whitewater features farther to the west, “and let the thing run for three years, five years, whatever it takes, and see what it does.”The work could serve as a pilot project to determine the possible impacts of a whitewater park, Christensen said.Mollica said a small park with perhaps one water feature probably wouldn’t be a problem further downstream, but a bigger one would create more demands for parking, put-in and takeout areas, restrooms and other public facilities.Park supporter Bob Guska said parking could be a big issue if the city ever sought to host a big event like a world kayaking championship or Teva Mountain Games.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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