Affordable housing is highest, best use for airport land
Editor’s Note: The following is the third of three guest columns written by members of the Glenwood Springs Ad Hoc Airport Committee. The group was charged with envisioning future uses for the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport. Three ideas resulted: leaving the airport open, using the land for affordable housing and a park, or using the land for a new high school.
The Glenwood Springs City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposals at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Glenwood Springs City Hall.
A second alternate use proposed by the Airport Ad Hoc Committee for the 60 acres owned by the city of Glenwood Springs is affordable housing and regional athletic fields. The Glenwood Springs Land Use Plan inspires this alternate.
Under this proposal, the athletic fields would be located at the north end of the property and connected to the proposed ballfield of the elementary school and across the road from the existing soccer field. The rodeo grounds would also be moved to this area and the whole complex done first rate, sharing access, parking facilities, and grandstands.
All high school outdoor practices and games could be held here, Carbondale’s as well as Glenwood’s. This would also be good centrally located open space that would help separate the existing residential developments from the new affordable housing, lowering the density of the entire area and creating a unifying element for the area.
This development would be designed with the access to the “South Bridge” in place for future use, and we hope that the city fathers would go ahead with the purchase of the property on the east side of the river for the connection to Highway 82. The relocation of Highway 82 through the core of our downtown is of pre-eminent importance to Glenwood’s transportation needs, but the South Bridge is still an important long-range goal.
This community has long been in need of housing that the middle-income family can afford, the teachers, policemen, city and county employees. Only 20 percent of the people who work for our city government can afford to own homes here!
The median family income in Garfield County is now about $52,000. If 30 percent of this is spent on housing, such a family could afford a $200,000 home. The average home in Glenwood is going for over $300,000, with the least expensive two-bedroom going at $225,000. We need affordable housing now.
This city-owned land within our Urban Growth Boundary is the only property that meets these needs. With the city’s donation of the land, we can get other grants that will further bring down the cost of new deed-restricted homes.
Local small homebuilders could develop individual properties, staying away from the mass, cookie-cutter development.
The development would be a mix of clustered townhomes, condominiums and rentals, surrounding open space and individual family lots. With medium density, not including the large open space and athletic fields, the property could easily hold 250 homes.
I would not recommend any commercial in this area, as there is already a commercial area developed close by at Mountain Market.
This city-owned property should be used for the direct benefit of a greater portion of the residents of Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area than is now benefited by the small airport.
Doug Harr is an architect, and a member of the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority board and the Airport Ad Hoc Committee.
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