Garfield County proceeds with $87,250 bid to clean up Glenwood-area homeless camps, illegal dump site

A pile of trash located in the homeless camp on the hillside behind Walmart in south Glenwood.

Garfield County will move ahead with an $87,250 contract to clean up a privately owned hillside property east of Walmart in Glenwood Springs that for multiple years has served as a homeless encampment.

However, county commissioners hope to line up other funding partners, including perhaps the property owner, to help defray some of that cost.

Commissioner Mike Samson was hesitant to have the county commit to the contract with ECOS Environmental of Glenwood Springs without lining up some of those outside commitments first.

“I’d like to know if the property owner is willing to help for some of this,” he said. “We haven’t had those conversations.”

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said he would reach out to property owner David Forenza to gauge those prospects. But the commissioner didn’t want to lose any more time before moving the handful of illegal encampments out and starting the clean-up work ahead of the wildfire season.

“We’ve gotten to this point, and I think we have a responsibility (to proceed),” Jankovsky said.

The county obtained bids from two contractors after a required May 10 site visit.

In addition to ECOS’ $87,250 bid, a higher bid of $160,000 came from Helpers Disaster Recovery out of Basalt, but with a $107,000 option, explained Jamaica Watts, chief procurement officer for the county.

ECOS’ new bid was somewhat higher than an initial bid of $25,000 provided last year for the clean-up work. However, the scope of work was much more intensive this time around, she said.

“They expect to have eight people out there for 30 days straight to get this done,” Watts said.

The city of Glenwood Springs also has verbally agreed to provide $15,000 toward the clean-up effort. In addition, the city has identified about $200,000 in costs to clean up similar illegal camp sites around town.

A site assessment last month by county Environmental Health Manager Josh Williams identified piles of refuse, including biohazards and other hazardous materials, in the various ravines that line the hillside. Besides the handful of illegal encampments, the property is otherwise vacant.

Once the county and ECOS are ready to proceed, anyone living on the site will be given seven to 10 days to vacate before the clean-up commences.

The Sheriff’s Office has been contacted to be on standby in case anyone refuses to leave, Williams said.

A bigger question is what will happen to the property once the clean-up is completed, and keeping it that way, commissioners said.

“We cannot let it go back to where it is now, we just can’t,” Jankovsky said.

The owner has indicated a willingness to part with the property, and possibly even deed it over to the county or another entity, he said.

The county is not interested in owning it, he said, though other individuals have indicated they may like to own it afterward.