Security, cost force trimming of trees from plaza plan
Glenwood Springs City Councilman Dan Richardson says the latest plan for the new city-county courtyard in downtown Glenwood Springs will look like “a broken door to a beautiful house.”
Councilman Rick Davis said the simpler plan is fine for now and he maintains that new features can be added later.
At a bimonthly meeting Tuesday of city and county elected officials, officials decided to eliminate trees, planter boxes and some concrete features from the layout for the Glenwood Springs and Garfield County government complex courtyard.
It’s in front of the Garfield County Detention Center and between the County Courthouse and the new City Hall on Eighth Street.
Security concerns were cited by the county commissioners as the main grounds for the change.
According to the commissioners, the courtyard’s proximity to the new Garfield County Jail rules out large trees. They said the area must remain open to avoid blocking security cameras and to protect employees of the sheriff’s department and the county and district courts.
“I think the quantity of the trees is mostly our concern,” Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown said.
Commissioner John Martin said he was miffed because the city had a courtyard design created without consulting county officials, and he griped about the cost.
“We saw $405,000 and we said, `Wait a minute.’ What we’re looking at is how to trim it. We also have to understand it’s not a bottomless pit, it’s taxpayer money,” Martin said.
Members of City Council, frustrated over the county’s stance, proposed scaling back the courtyard as a whole.
“It was obvious to me that we weren’t going to get too far,” Councilman Rick Davis said. “We were going to stalemate if we didn’t come up with something.”
Davis suggested that if the bulk of the trees are eliminated, many of the other features should be scrapped as well because it would be too hot to enjoy the area in the summertime.
“I would suggest doing the bare minimum for now,” Davis said.
Utility conduits and other infrastructure will still be installed to service future additions to the courtyard.
The new plan retains a grouping of six trees just outside City Hall, but the plans for most of the other trees were ditched.
Davis insists that in the end, everything will look first-class.
Mayor Don Vanderhoof voiced a differing opinion.
“I’m very disappointed that we’re not going to do this,” said.
City Councilwoman Jean Martensen also conveyed irritation, calling the plan “an ode to disagreement.”
“That’s a travesty to all three buildings,” she added.
Despite Tuesday’s spat over the trees, McCown said he thinks everything will work out in the end.
“I think they’ll all come back,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a big deal, I think you’ll see some trees in there.”
The plan is now in the hands of OZ Architecture and Etkin-Skanska, the architect and builder hired to plan and construct the courtyard.
“It looks like we’re going to have them come back with the cost for the patio outside the council chambers,” Councilman Don Gillespie said.
The design will now include a simple set of sidewalks surrounded by grass.
In the future, that design likely will change, but for the time being, commissioners McCown, Martin and Walt Stowe said they want to keep the courtyard open and simple.
“Since we’re dealing with the county and they don’t want to do it the right way, I don’t think we have much of an alternative,” Gillespie said.
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