PI editorial: Vogelaar Park questions highlight pandemic’s impact on Confluence plans

Back in 2019, the future of the Glenwood Springs confluence area was a flashpoint in the debate on what the city’s future should be — whether and how to develop it, how much should or could be open space and more were some of the questions residents tangled with following the 2017 confluence redevelopment plan.

Then the pandemic happened, which seemingly derailed the conversation for the past few years. Yet Glenwood Springs’ housing shortage remained — and actually grew as the pandemic drove a surge in work from homebodies moving to Colorado’s majestic mountain towns.

So, as city council and city staff begin to renew conversations about the future of Vogelaar Park, we can’t help but wonder if it’s better to hit a refresh on not just that specific parcel of land but for the confluence as a whole.

Right now, the city is seeking to learn more about the possibility of residential development on the nearly 5-acre parcel the city received from Roaring Fork School District in 2016 in a land swap. 

But does it make sense to consider that parcel’s future separate from the broader confluence area? And if discussion about Vogelaar Park broadens to include the entire confluence, should the city forge ahead with the 2017 plans or update them and — most importantly — re-engage the public in discussion about future possibilities for the area?

It’s likely unnecessary to start from scratch but updating the plans developed in 2017 is something we’d definitely support. It would give both current city council members and residents a chance to check in, see what parts of the 2017 plan would work and what could be improved upon. It would also help bring a refreshed consensus to the vision, and that’s something we think is much needed. Already some residents are skeptical of what housing development might look like on the Vogelaar Park property, let alone the broader confluence. While we will always advocate for further development of attainable workforce housing, the path to success is to establish support and buy-in from residents. This will only make a project stronger and more likely to bear fruit.

A fresh look on the Confluence could help accomplish just that.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher/Editor Peter Baumann and community representatives John Stroud, Mark Fishbein and Amy Connerton.

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