Okay, let me get this straight. …Steve and Jeanne Beckley and their associates are proposing to spend a great deal of money to install a tram on Iron Mountain, with a hotel/retail complex at the base and a restaurant/gift shop/observation deck at the top. They are seeking permission for the project so that Glenwood Caverns can stay open all year, thus providing much-needed tourism activity (and dollars) to the community, and the City staff is FIGHTING them???It seems to me that any tourist town would fight FOR such an attraction, rather than against it. Our economy is soft, our downtown has vacant storefronts, we need additional tourist dollars during the winter and the “shoulder” seasons, and yet the City Manager is appealing the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended approval of the project. If the City staff is to appeal those decisions of the P&Z that don’t happen to please them, then why do we have a Planning & Zoning Board? Seems like a silly arrangement.If this project was being proposed by the Acme Tram Company out of Topeka, I too would have reservations. That, thankfully, is not the case. The people involved in the tram project live here, work here, and depend on the economy of the valley just like the rest of us. They are trying to provide an attraction the likes of which Glenwood Springs has not seen since the days of Walter Devereux, so why is the City staff placing obstacles in their path?The tram project would provide additional parking at the base complex. Also, the cave office will be moved out of the Hotel Colorado/Hot Springs Pool area, thus alleviating a great deal of the parking demand in that area. I would think that the city staff would be delighted by that potential, but instead they are demanding even more parking spaces.There is concern about the visibility of the building on top of Iron Mountain. Honestly, when was the last time you looked at the top of Iron Mountain? How long has the light at the top of the mountain been out? Or is it still burning? Do you know? Can anyone who has seen Glenwood Caverns, who has seen the care with which they have been developed, really believe that Steve and Jeanne Beckley would create an eyesore at the top of the hill? Please. What about the precedent of approving a hilltop building? Would this approval mean that all other such applications would be approved? Of course not. Any other commercial development would have to prove its worth to even warrant consideration. Any proposed residential development that would impact our hillsides would be an entirely different type of animal, so where is the danger of setting a precedent?The tram question is on the City Council agenda for June 6. If you believe, as I do, that the tram and the attendant buildings will be a welcome addition to Glenwood Springs, please contact your City Council Person prior to then. If you can, come to the meeting to show your support for our economy. Jim Nelson is co-owner of Numbers Inc. in Glenwood Springs.
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