South Canyon groups want to let the people vote
Whichever direction the city of Glenwood Springs goes with regard to the future of city-owned land and potential new recreational amenities in South Canyon, there’s some public consensus on one thing.
Any large-scale plans for developing the natural hot springs and other amenities in the area should ultimately go to a public vote, according to polls taken by both proponents and opponents of entrepreneur Steve Beckley’s now-abandoned effort to develop the hot springs site.
Last week, Beckley announced he was backing away from his offer to lease the site and conduct a feasibility study to determine if his proposal to develop the springs along with a pair of campground sites made sense.
Earlier this spring, Glenwood Springs resident Craig Amichaux and a group of people with an interest in what happens at the South Canyon site formed the South Canyon Coalition.
“Our number one priority is that this has to go to a public vote,” Amichaux said at a March City Council meeting. “We’re going to demand that.”
The coalition opposed Beckley’s pursuit of an 18-month lease agreement with the city relating to a parcel of land that includes the South Canyon Hot Springs.
The proposed lease-option agreement between the city and Canyon Hot Springs Inc., presented to City Council in February, stated that, “Upon completion of the feasibility study for the property, CHS may, at its election, submit a development proposal to the city for the property, the approval of which shall be at the sole discretion of the Glenwood Springs City Council.”
For the time being, Beckley has backed away from the proposal, citing in a previous interview with the Post Independent, “I don’t have the energy to run a campaign to get this passed.”
Independent surveys were conducted by Beckley and his adversaries to take the public’s temperature regarding the South Canyon debate.
Beckley’s questionnaire received 513 responses between the dates of March 28 and April 7, whereas the South Canyon Coalitions’ survey polled 266 participants from May 1-14.
While the two surveys asked different questions and saw varying results, one area where the data mirrored that of the other’s was who the respondents believed should get the ultimate say on South Canyon’s development, or lack thereof.
The common ground — let the people vote, not City Council.
According to Beckley’s survey, when asked, “How do you feel this project should be decided?,” 43.99 percent favored a Glenwood Springs’ resident vote, 33.81 percent deemed it a council decision, 15.27 had no preference, and 6.92 percent needed more information.
Conversely, according to the South Canyon Coalition’s survey, when questioned “would you be willing to allow City Council to give the land to a local developer?” 93 percent responded “no,” and when posed the question, “Would you be willing to sign a petition to take the development of South Canyon to a citywide vote of the people?” 94 percent of participants voted “yes.”
In the same prior interview, Beckley also stated, “It’s not worth the effort to fight with people over this, so if the City Council wants to continue it, we would be more than happy to work in conjunction with them.”
Another coalition member, Jennifer Vanian, said development of fee-based recreation amenities in South Canyon isn’t a good idea.
Moving forward, she said, “We don’t want development in South Canyon. We want it to be a city park — days only, no alcohol and open space.”