Week in Review
A whitewater park proposed for Glenwood Springs got a boost Tuesday from the Garfield County commissioners. Backers of the park asked for $200,000. The commissioners, without budgeting for the expense, gave $100,000.The commissioners did attach a condition to the gift, however.”We want the city to have all the liability,” said assistant county attorney Carolyn Dahlgren. “We’re not designing or building or maintaining (the park).”Glenwood Springs has committed $300,000 to the project and the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool, $20,000. The group will also apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for $200,000, to meet the estimated $800,000 cost of building the water feature in West Glenwood.County manager Ed Green cautioned the commissioners that significant funds have already been committed to several trail projects. “We have almost $1 million of potential obligation,” he said.Commissioner Trési Houpt also questioned Carey about the need for water rights to secure adequate flows for the park.”We don’t anticipate any challenge on water rights,” Carey said, since the water flowing through the features would not be depleted in any way.Houpt disagreed, saying, “You may have to look very seriously at water rights. … What happens when you build and suddenly you have no protection over the flow?” she asked, when calls for water are made by other users.Other whitewater parks in the state have gotten caught up in controversy over recreational water rights. The state legislature has looked at laws to resolve those disputes between people seeking recreational water rights and those worried about preserving water for agricultural and municipal uses.”Water rights are not precluded in the future,” Carey said. “It’s a tightrope walk … at best.”
The opening of the Glenwood Meadows helped push Glenwood Springs’ taxable sales to $401 million last year, about $75 million more than the prior year.The massive commercial development yielded a sales tax bonanza for the city, which took in a record $14.8 million in sales taxes last year, almost one-third more than the year before.Last year’s tax revenues also benefited from a 0.25 percent street tax boost approved by voters in November 2005.However, Glenwood Meadows, a 400,000-square-foot development with anchor stores including Lowe’s Home Improvement and Target, can take much of the credit for the city’s 2006 results. It opened in late 2005.A breakdown of sales tax by category shows that building materials and supplies recorded the biggest growth last year, at 110 percent. That growth, apparently largely due to the opening of Lowe’s, comes despite the closing of True Value Hardware at the start of last year to make room for the expansion of Glenwood Springs High School. The category generated $1.7 million in sales tax revenues last year.The second-highest growth by category occurred among general merchandisers, which now include Target, along with pre-existing stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart. The category showed 42 percent growth and is by far the largest in terms of sales tax revenues, at $3.3 million.The city also has wound up a banner year for the lodging sector. The city’s accommodations tax, used to promote tourism, generated about $678,000 last year, up nearly 19 percent from the prior year. The lodging industry finished the year with a strong December, with almost 25 percent growth over December 2005.The city’s lodging industry also generated more than $1.1 million in sales taxes last year, up 23 percent from 2005.
Richard Todd and Bridget Lantz are worried about the Roaring Fork Lodge hotel, condo and conference center project blocking their winter sunlight, and about plans that would result in a proposed spa deck being located near their living room and motorists driving by their bedroom to get to the lodge’s underground parking.The massiveness of the proposed project on Midland Avenue also has surprised others in Glenwood. During a conceptual review in mid-February, some City Council members warned developer Terry Claassen that the lodge’s size probably will become a point of controversy.City community development director Andrew McGregor said he has heard from others who are concerned about the building’s size, and the zoning that allows it. He said there was a similar reaction several years ago when a big residential development was proposed for the same site.”We sort of had that same sense of shock and awe at the project,” he said.But the fact remains that with the zoning that is in place, the city may have little say over the development that occurs there. Claassen’s proposal is in keeping with the property’s resort commercial development zoning. It’s one of few parcels in town with that zoning.Claassen said the zoning allows even a bigger development than the 150,000-square-foot structure he is proposing. He could build nearly 190,000 square feet, he said.
Smoking is no longer allowed in local watering holes or any other indoor establishments within our state’s borders.When the smoking ban snuffed out smoking in indoor public places including bars, the residual effects have become a force to be reckoned with. Smokers have lined the sides of Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, just like other towns across the state, since last July.When morning comes, gutters and sidewalks are cluttered with cigarette butts.According to Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel, it’s the business owners’ responsibility to maintain the sidewalks.”It’s just really unfortunate,” Hecksel said. “It’s frustrating because when the law was passed I don’t think anyone thought we would be feeling the effects that we have. And now we have to deal with it.”Hecksel said that according to state statute it is up to the individual business owner to clean the sidewalks; however that is something that can be changed, and the city could be called upon to do something.
The tradition of holding Burning Mountain Festival the third week in July will continue this year, thanks to a volunteer who has stepped up to the plate and agreed to take it on.Three weeks ago, the New Castle Area Chamber of Commerce had proposed moving the 34-year-old festival to September, citing reasons of the hot temperatures in July and that the previous coordinator was unavailable in July.But longtime New Castle resident Patti Payne has volunteered to coordinate the event, according to chamber vice president Maureen Maznio.”I made it perfectly clear to her how much work it is,” Maznio said. “But I think she can pull it off.”The idea of breaking the tradition of the summer festival and moving it to September was met with approval by some residents and opposition by others.”Moving Burning Mountain Festival from July because of the heat is like moving Christmas from December because of the cold,” wrote Becky Rippy in a letter to the Post Independent.The New Castle Town Council also did not favor the idea, according to Mayor Frank Breslin.But Maznio had stressed that if someone didn’t volunteer to coordinate it, the chamber had no choice but to move the event.Even with Payne, volunteers are still needed to help with the numerous activities held during the week-long festival, including the parade, the pageant, kids’ activities, pancake breakfast, car show, beer garden, entertainment, food booths, street vendors, Hogback Hustle and cleanup.
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