Wing street decision temporarily grounded

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The decision on whether to close the wing street connecting Grand Avenue to 7th Street was delayed Thursday by City Council.

Opposition from property and businesses owners along Grand Avenue convinced council members to delay a vote on whether to close the street until more information can be collected.

“I think it’s a great project, and I love the way it looks, but I’d like to see us get more support for this,” Councilman Dave Merritt said.

Pepponino Dining Room owner and downtown resident Tony Rosa explained his reasons for opposing the wing street closure.

“All I see are a bunch of bricks that are dirty,” he said of the pedestrian area constructed on the west side of Grand Avenue. “I see no benefits at all in closing off the wing street and blocking my business.”

Rosa also said he was never contacted by Downtown Development Authority representatives to give his opinion on the proposed closure.

Others were mixed in their opinions of the wing-street proposal.

Some said that as it sits now, the street poses a safety hazard to pedestrians and those backing vehicles out from parking spaces underneath the bridge.

Others warned that if the plan fails, shop owners could be forced out of business.

“I just don’t think it’s a very good thing to put my business in jeopardy for pretty,” said Doc Holliday’s owner Martha Yoder. “I want profit, not pretty.”

The proposal is being contemplated as the city braces for

the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Grand Avenue Paving Project – or GAPP – set for the summer of 2004.

As part of that project, CDOT tentatively offered to widen the access ramp from Grand Avenue to the pedestrian bridge that spans the Colorado River. And since the streets would already be torn up and contractors will already be on-site, CDOT and city officials figured it would be a great time to make such a change.

But since the original suggestion, CDOT still has not confirmed whether it will supply any of the funding for the bridge. Council members plan to ask CDOT officials about the funding at a meeting between the two entities on Tuesday.

“I support the project,” Councilman Rick Davis said. “I just hope CDOT can come up with the funds.”

The city also will send out questionnaires to business and property owners from the 700 to 900 blocks of Grand Avenue from Cooper to Colorado avenues to get a full sampling of opinions on whether the street should be closed and turned into a pedestrian area.

“We’ve got a whole downtown that’s going to be affected by this, so it should be the whole downtown that’s surveyed,” Councilman Don Gillespie said.

City attorney Karl Hanlon said he’d write a letter to property and business owners explaining the proposal and asking their opinion of it. He said the city will use certified mail to be sure copies are sent to all business owners.

Once the decision was made to delay the vote on closing the wing street, other city improvements – including decorative crosswalks at several downtown intersections and bus pullouts at City Market, True Value and Safeway – were approved separately.

In other business Thursday, Council approved an ordinance outlawing aggressive solicitation.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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