Completion of the river trail will be another promise kept
When I moved to Glenwood Springs 25 years ago, the chamber had just started a “Community on the Move” committee to envision a better Glenwood Springs. Imagine this: Downtown Glenwood and Highway 6 didn’t have street lamps or flowers. The Community Center and river trails were nothing more than an idea, and there was no alternate route on the Midland Avenue corridor. The pedestrian bridge across Grand didn’t exist, and the Seventh Street entrance to downtown was an unattractive homage to the red light district of Glenwood’s bygone days.Community on the Move passed a 12-cent sales tax in 1981 to build the pedestrian bridge and make improvements. In 1990, with the 12-cent tax about to expire, the community realized that citizens had made a difference – the tax was so wildly successful that the mantra “Promises Made. Promises Kept” was born.The chamber surveyed the community to decide where to go next. The 1991 tax expansion (to one penny) used a campaign slogan of “This One’s For You” and promised items that the survey identified: a protected river corridor and trails, a community center and the alternate route on Midland.City government was in tune with their constituents – in 1990 City Council created the River Commission and adopted an ordinance to preserve the riverbanks. The 1991 tax led to another city ordinance, to fund a river trail system. The 1991 master plan was to “create a non-motorized transportation system that is continuous; to create a safe continuous route to schools; to tie parks, commercial and residential areas together.” The trail system was started, and in 1998 the sales tax was extended with the promise to see the rest of the trail completed.Last week, I attended the Transportation Summit in Denver, and I was struck by familiar language in the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel vision for the state – that all communities have safe routes to school in a nonmotorized trail system that ties the commercial and residential cores. It made me think of the foresight our citizens had 17 years ago. They were ahead of their time.We are close to seeing the river trail section from the 27th Street Bridge to Three Mile Creek built. In fact, this Thursday, April 19, City Council decides whether to proceed in the midst of objections from some residents near the proposed trail.The chamber and its Community on the Move committee support this project on many levels, but primarily because we made a promise, and our reputation is at stake. From a chamber perspective, what is good for our citizens is also good for our economy. An estimated 400,000 visitors per year say they bike while on vacation here. As far as business expansion and relocation, people like to live and work in a walkable/bikeable community, and bike/ped trails have been shown to increase property values of properties nearby or adjacent.But like City Councilor Joe O’Donnell, we believe this is primarily a safety issue. As Joe states, “The residents of Glenwood Park, Cardiff Glen, Park East, Park West and Hager Lane do not have a safe off-road method to connect with the schools, river trails, parks and businesses located north of 27th Street. When this corridor is completed, the residents of South Glenwood will be able to access the high school and Two Rivers Park without crossing a street. They will be able to get to the Community Center by crossing only two stop- sign-protected streets. The intersections of 27th and Midland and 27th and South Grand are dangerous intersections to cross on foot or a bike now, and will only get more dangerous as the Four Mile area develops. The city needs a safer route for pedestrians and bike riders to connect with the existing river trails.”If you believe that we deserve to live in a community where adults and children can walk and bike safely, contact your City Councilors or attend the Thursday, April 19, City Council meeting (6:30 p.m., Glenwood Springs City Hall). If you can’t be there in person, e-mail your representatives: Mayor Bruce Christensen, firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris McGovern, email@example.com; Dave Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org; David Merritt, email@example.com; Kris Chadwick, firstname.lastname@example.org; Larry Beckwith, email@example.com.Marianne Virgili is secretary of the Chamber’s Community on the Move, president and CEO of The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and a board member of the New Century Transportation Foundation.
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