A parking garage for Glenwood? | AspenTimes.com

A parking garage for Glenwood?

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Don’t expect construction to start this year, but Glenwood Springs City Council isn’t giving up on the idea of building a downtown parking garage.

In a work session Thursday, council members and city officials expressed hope that the city can take advantage of the large amount of property it owns downtown to help make a parking structure feasible.

With property prices high and little land left to develop downtown, city officials think it may be possible to work with a private developer on a project that could include parking.

Mayor Bruce Christensen said it’s possible a developer would pay the city for the opportunity to build a mixed-use development that would include a parking garage.

“We need to be looking at using our land for multiple uses,” he said.

The city long has discussed building a downtown parking garage, and has envisioned paying for it with newly available Downtown Development Authority tax revenues. However, city officials have become worried about what they say would be the high cost of building and operating a garage.

Council recently decided to spend more than $1 million in DDA tax revenues on redesigning part of Seventh Street and the pedestrian area beneath the Grand Avenue Bridge, and installing more signs downtown. Although council required more parking spaces as part of the redesign, council members Larry Beckwith and Dave Johnson opposed spending the money. They said it should be saved for its original purpose, the eventual construction of a parking garage.

On the top of council’s list of 2006-07 goals had been starting construction on a parking structure by the end of the year.

“Shall we strike that one?” Beckwith asked Thursday as council reviewed its progress on those goals.

No, council members ended up agreeing – at least when it comes to the part about getting a garage built. They’re just no longer expecting to see any dirt dug on it this year.

City manager Jeff Hecksel said city-owned properties are valuable assets that can be used as leverage to get a parking structure built. City officials are hoping for some kind of public-private partnership that could entail some form of development agreement, and possibly involve swapping or selling land.

One of the city’s downtown properties is the current Glenwood Springs Library site. Garfield County owns the building but a newly created countywide library district is planning to build a larger library elsewhere in town. Some of the other city properties include land by the downtown fire station and a parking lot near the White River National Forest headquarters.

Council member Chris McGovern said the city needs to make better use of its currently available parking resources. She said the Forest Service uses some of the spots in the nearby parking lot as storage parking. She hopes to see more two-hour parking made available in that lot for downtown visitors.

She also wants diagonal parking to replace parallel parking in more areas because it requires less space per car.