Some question, why no American flags at Glenwood’s Grand entry? |

Some question, why no American flags at Glenwood’s Grand entry?

The hangers on the light poles along the Grand Avenue Bridge remain empty more than two years after the new bridge opened in November of 2017 in Glenwood Springs. The city cites safety concerns for not using it or the adjacent pedestrian bridge to fly American flags or other types of banners.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent

An area nonprofit and residents continue to ask why the city does not fly more American Flags in Glenwood Springs, particularly on patriotic holidays.

Ahead of the Fourth of July, local Rotary Club member Glenn Vawter stated in a letter to City Council, “There are very few American Flags flying during holidays in our city, and those few are flown by businesses and individuals, and not by the city.”

The U.S. veteran went on to write, “Flags were flown on the old bridge. The new bridge is equipped to fly banners. Why are American Flags not flown on them?”

The overarching reason, according to city staff — safety.

In 2017, the Rotary Club received a $5,000 grant from the city’s Financial Advisory Board (FAB) to display American Flags on wooden poles placed in core-drilled holes along downtown sidewalks. At the time, Rotary’s members volunteered to install the American Flags on the mornings of Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, and to remove them before sundown, on the same day.

However, that idea was abandoned due to right-of-way concerns, door swings related to parking areas adjacent to the sidewalk and the ability to follow “proper flag display etiquette,” according to a city staff report.

Earlier this year, the Rotary Club then asked the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) about placing 34 flag pole brackets on the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.

However, the DDA, before considering pulling from its budget to foot the engineering costs, wanted the proposal presented to and reviewed by City Council.

“City staff has some concerns that if the flags are placed in those brackets by volunteers that there is a danger that they could fall into the railroad or into the river or onto I-70,” Assistant City Manager Jennifer Ooton said to councilors. “We just really would not like to have that happen.”

City staff was not opposed to flying additional American Flags on holidays and even called the idea “great,” just not along the city’s pedestrian bridge. The adjacent traffic bridge also is equipped with hangers for banners of various sorts, but they are currently not used.

Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions estimated that the cost of an “aesthetically pleasing, architectural bracket” would carry with it a price tag of close to $16,000. Oddo Engineering estimated the structural engineering and design at a little less than $5,000.

In his letter, Vawter contended that the “pedestrian bridge has sturdy light poles that could support flags, but because of a ridiculously expensive bracket design that alternative has reportedly been turned down by the city.”

At Thursday night’s City Council meeting, councilors — like city staff — wanted to fly the stars and stripes, just in a safer location.

“My view is, I really think it is up to [city staff],” Councilor Charlie Willman said, citing how he wanted staff to find a safer appropriate place to fly flags. “I think we should have them and accommodate Rotary. I really appreciate what they are doing.”

Ultimately, Council directed staff to recommend options, other than the pedestrian bridge, for Rotary to fly American Flags on in the future.

Possible alternatives included the city’s numerous parks, or the north-landing site where the old Grand Avenue bridge touched down.

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