Guest Opinion: Confluence offers long-term community value
Thank you for raising awareness in your editorial of July 27 about the development of the water treatment plant at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers.
Your editorial included a 2014 illustration of the proposed development that made clear the size and extent of the development proposed by the City Council and how it would change Glenwood. The artist’s impression indicates three Soviet-style apartment blocks, six stories high, with penthouses on top, standing sentinel on a large concrete underground car park extending almost to the river, the remaining narrow strip of land next to the river is withered to a no-man’s land with concrete park benches overlooked by the apartments.
In 2003, community planning published its Strategy for the Confluence, the product of extensive research culminating in the city making a clear and unequivocal recommendation that the best and highest use of this land was as a riverside park for the people of Glenwood. This was voted on and adopted.
Water and in particular the confluences of major rivers have for millennia held deep and significant meaning to people of all ages and from every race and culture. Therefore it’s no surprise that all around the country, including Denver and Grand Junction, confluences are being recovered to create people-focused parks and unique places of recreation.
Glenwood has a very special confluence, two of our greatest rivers merging to water and sustain America’s Desert Southwest. These rivers are beautiful and dramatic; no wonder developers want to cash in. The winning developer will be able to build and sell luxury apartments and penthouses overlooking both rivers. No doubt they will sell for a premium price — we might even see Glenwood’s first million-dollar penthouse.
Is the short-term dollar value more important than the long-term community value? Once sold it will be gone forever, and this at a time when the trend is to prioritize people ahead of buildings and where the long-term benefits of getting away from built-up areas to open space is recognized and proving to be of greater benefit and value than shops and apartments.
The key parts of Confluence Park:
• Owned by the people and run as a nonprofit.
• The Glenwood Historical Museum moves to the park, expands and includes exhibits telling the story of water in the West and bringing to life the hard-learned lessons of the dryland ranchers.
• The Water Exploratory will demonstrate and educate in the science and properties of water through hands-on, fun experiments for all ages. The old water tanks will be repurposed into a planetarium and virtual reality sphere demonstrating threatened habitats.
The botanic gardens, will be a tapestry of parkland and wildlife habitats laced with flowing water. The rich landscaping will create small intimate coves where friends can meet.
The buildings will be landscaped into the park, and a new remembrance garden will be dedicated to the Storm King firefighters, creating a place where anyone can pay their respects.
Confluence Park connects with Iron Mountain Hot Springs, the Hot Springs Pool and downtown using pedestrian and bike trails.
The choice is a stark one, on the one hand a large-scale urban development focused on short-term profit and consumerism, and on the other a natural and wild park focused on science and the long-term values of conservation and ecology. Does the public really want this land is to be built out? It will be there for the rest of our lives; perhaps we should ask our children what they want.
Jonathon Dunn is project manager for confluencepark.org.
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