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South Bridge suspended for now

The so-called South Bridge, a proposed span that would cross the Roaring Fork River south of Glenwood Springs as part of a Midland Avenue extension, could be a bridge too far. At their regular meeting Thursday night, Glenwood Springs City Council members contemplated newfound opposition to the road, the cost of a bridge, land acquisition needed for the road and the cost of building an intersection. When all was said and done, most on council agreed that the project was more than the city could handle right now. “There’s too much on our plate we need to take care of right now to worry about a bridge south of town,” Councilman Rick Davis said. While agreeing that the project has “hurdles,” Councilman Dan Richardson wouldn’t give up on the idea completely. The discussion began with a request from the Colorado Department of Transportation for city leaders to decide where the planned extension of Midland Avenue would intersect with Highway 82. CDOT needed to know this, it said, so it could decide where to locate the Red Canyon intersection on the east side of Highway 82. But when Councilman Dave Merritt reminded council that CDOT had no plans to pay for the intersection on the west side of the highway, the whole idea of a south bypass began to crumble. Also, for the first time, a representative from Holy Cross Energy expressed fierce opposition to the road because it would take nearly two of the three acres bought in 1996 to expand their facilities. “Today we strongly oppose this bypass going through our property,” said John McClenahan of Holy Cross.At first, Holy Cross officials agreed to the road, as long as it cut through the boundary line of Holy Cross Energy’s property and next door neighbor Dr. Carter Jackson’s property. But when Holy Cross officials found that the road would take nearly two-thirds of their land, they changed their stance. And while members of the Jackson family said they’d “reluctantly agree” to allow such a road, they too resisted the whole idea. In light of the newfound opposition, Councilman Don Gillespie and Davis suggested scrapping the whole project immediately before the city spends any more money.The city already invested in a design study for the project in partnership with Garfield County.”Do we as council have the political will to fight Holy Cross and do a land condemnation?” Davis asked. Instead of scrapping it right then, council decided to include a discussion about south bridge and the Midland Avenue extension on their Jan. 16 meeting agenda and decide on its fate then.In other City Council business:-Council told Colorado West Mental Health Center’s new assistant executive director Tom Updike that they would have to seriously consider whether to pay $37,000 for detox center services rendered by Colorado West during the first half of 2002. Updike earlier warned leaders from several municipalities throughout the area that without funding, the detox center would be closed. So, without any contract or agreement, he handed Glenwood Springs officials a bill for $37,000 at a meeting Dec. 10 and said the second half of the year would likely cost them about the same. “I was shocked to open up my packet to see that we were being billed for something we did not agree to,” Councilwoman Jean Martensen said. Mayor Don Vanderhoof agreed. “We have never made any commitment to pay anything but the $17,000,” Mayor Don Vanderhoof told Updike, referring to a $17,000 payment promised in December 2001. Vanderhoof and other council members also were concerned about paying $75,000 and then having the center close. “I’d like to see that payment spread out over the year, rather than pay them the $75,000 and something happens and the taxpayers get all over us,” Councilman Don Gillespie said. So it looks unlikely that Colorado West will get any money from Glenwood Springs by Dec. 30, the deadline set by Updike. “We’re talking a very substantial bill that the city has not budgeted,” city manager Mike Copp said. “Seventy-five thousand dollars is something we don’t have.””We’ll certainly do the best we can,” Vanderhoof told Updike. -WestStar Bank received an approval from City Council to build a bank and a drive-thru at 1901 Grand Ave., the current location of a house owned by Jim Rose. Despite two appeals by neighbors to the north who asked that the bank modify the drive-thru, City Council approved the bank as recommended by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. P&Z stipulated that the bank must build an eight-foot masonry wall between the drive-thru and the homes, and limited the hours of operation to 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday.


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