DDA column: Defining goals and priorities moves downtown projects forward | PostIndependent.com

DDA column: Defining goals and priorities moves downtown projects forward

Leslie Bethel
Downtown Development Authority

The DDA works with Glenwood Springs City Council to prioritize projects and set specific goals for outcomes each year. We look at available funding, timing, phasing, coordination with other city projects, location, and the community’s desires. All these factors help us establish our priorities and distribute resources at the appropriate time in the right location.

Private investment in downtown follows sound public improvements. It has always been important for the DDA to plan for long-term infrastructure assets that will result in future economic success. Each quarter we look back and see a significant improvement put into place in the DDA taxing boundary. This is because we strive to stay focused on the long game plan of enhancing vitality.

Completing what we’ve started

So, how do we approach identifying our focus for the year? The DDA identifies projects that can improve and enhance existing assets, like prioritizing projects that build on the success of the Grand Avenue Bridge. Improvements under the south end of the bridge, already in its partially completed state, will be completed along with new beautification of Seventh Street between the bridge and Cooper. Illustrative site plans can be found on our website. (www.glenwood springsdda.com). The City/DDA is scheduled to finalize bid documents for remaining construction and build out this fall with construction beginning early next year.

Festival lights along with new banners are planned for Sixth Street between Laurel and Pine to help this section of street make its transformation from a highway to a more pedestrian-oriented street connecting to the Historic Hot Springs District. The project also includes pavement painting which will delineate new vehicular traffic lanes, added parking and bikes lanes. Our team is working to finalize the interim improvements by the end of 2018 and early 2019. Weather conditions predict the timing of striping and paving.

We are excited to announce the Sixth and Laurel roundabout landscaping project is moving forward. In September, the City/DDA will solicit landscaping bids for the roundabout islands at Sixth and Laurel. The landscaping plan plays an important role to the entry experience and will establish a sense of arrival with the installation of natural materials, green sod and a sophisticated color palette. The entry landscaping will reflect the landscaping design along the wing streets to maintain continuity throughout the city.

Visionary improvements like the Seventh Street beautification are challenging and require extensive planning and time to secure funds, but smaller priorities like trash compactors and enclosures in the alleys are also listed as one of the goals into next year.

Restrooms move to forefront

One request we’ve heard strong and clear is the need to find a location for permanent public restrooms downtown. The location of the restrooms will be determined by a systematic site analysis process weighing all the pros and cons of potential restroom locations. The DDA is even investigating a possible public/private partnership on the alley lot (midway on the east wing street between Seventh and Eighth) as an option to create development (possible housing among other ideas) in combination with building restrooms.

Restrooms are a top priority. The DDA and the city will begin a site selection process later this year with a goal of building restrooms as soon as feasible. The criteria for site selection of the restrooms will include building constraints, aesthetics, cost and proximity to commercial areas. The DDA’s focus, as directed by the City Council, will be on the south side of the river. The City is taking the lead on north side of the river, which will include a look at the possibility of restrooms incorporated with other uses on the North Landing site.

We also aim to engage the community in planning for the future through open houses and small group meetings and one on one conversations with residents and business owners. Our board members are actively engaged in the downtown commercial and retail scene and are listening to feedback and suggestions from business owners and front-line employees.

The DDA board meets the third Tuesday of the month, the meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to come and learn about the status of these projects.

Leslie Bethel is executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. You can follow the DDA on Instagram (@downtownglenwoodsprings) and Facebook.