Glenwood , DDA look into solutions for downtown parking, library | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood , DDA look into solutions for downtown parking, library

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Four downtown sites are being eyed for possible redevelopment in an attempt to keep the new Glenwood Springs branch library in the downtown core and address another long-desired amenity – more public parking.

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA), in partnership with the city, the Garfield County Public Library District and Colorado Mountain College, issued a request for qualifications last week seeking a consultant to come up with various development scenarios.

In addition to helping determine the best location for a parking structure and new branch library, the plans could also result in new classroom and office space for CMC, and possibly even some new commercial and housing opportunities.

Consultants will be asked to evaluate four primary sites, including:

• The old Holy Cross building, located on the east side of Grand Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets;

• The city-owned parking lot on Cooper Avenue between the fire station and the Methodist Church;

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• The private parking lot at Eighth and Cooper behind the U.S. Bank building; and,

• City-owned parking lots at Ninth and Cooper (behind the Forest Service building), as well as the property immediately to the south of that location.

Also to be evaluated as part of the study would be the existing library site at Ninth and Blake, where the city owns the land but the library district owns the building.

“It’s important to keep the library downtown, which is why we became involved in the discussions,” said Leslie Bethel, executive director for the DDA. “Anything we can do to bring more people into the downtown is so important, and as we see more vacancies the easiest way to fill that space is to create more demand.”

Library district officials have been in negotiations with the city to find a location to replace the existing Glenwood library, using funds from a districtwide mill levy approved by voters four years ago.

The district is in the process of upgrading libraries and building new facilities countywide, and intends to build a new 14,000-square-foot Glenwood library to replace the existing 4,500-square-foot library at Ninth and Blake. The library district has a $6 million budget to build the new Glenwood library.

“We have been talking to the city about staying downtown, but in order for us to stay downtown we really need more parking,” library district director Amelia Shelley said. “We have looked extensively to say the least, and we’re just trying at this point to be open-minded about it.

“We also continue to come back to our criteria that we want the library to be on one level to keep staffing and management costs down,” she said. “We recognize that Glenwood is our busiest library, and we want to create a nice facility that will last a long time.”

The site on Cooper Avenue between the church and the fire station has emerged as the district’s preferred downtown site. However, the study will also look at the potential re-development of the old Holy Cross property as a potential library location.

Another site being considered by the library is at Glenwood Meadows. However, the potential for land trades with the city downtown, as well as a potential partnership with CMC, make staying downtown an appealing option, Shelley said.

The study could open up some possibilities for CMC in terms of enhancing its presence downtown. CMC’s administration building on the northwest corner of Ninth and Grand, as well as some rented office space on Colorado Avenue next to the post office, house about 112 employees.

As with a lot of downtown businesses, its workers who must use the city’s two-hour public parking are often forced to move their cars every two hours.

The opportunity to create more public parking is also one of the primary reasons the college decided to get involved, CMC President Stan Jensen said.

“We would love to see the problem of parking addressed,” Jensen said. “It’s a problem that doesn’t help with tourism, and it cuts into the productivity of our employees when they have to go out and move their cars every two hours.”

CMC has only two dedicated spaces in the parking lot behind its office building, and rents two other spots in the parking lot behind the Springs Theater. Like the current library, it primarily uses on-street parking.

In addition, CMC is also interested in partnering with the library to possibly share some space in the new library building.

“We’re just gathering data for our phase three facilities planning, so no decisions have been made,” Jensen said. “But we can’t make those decisions until we gather that data, but it could be a really good way to benefit the community and the library, and help solve the parking problem.”

Depending on what the consultants come up with, the city and DDA would likely jointly fund future construction of the parking structure. The DDA currently has about $1.2 million set aside for projects, and also draws from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) mechanism that was put in place in 2001.

The library district and CMC would be separately in charge of any design and construction costs that come out of the study.

Responses from consultants to the request for qualifications are due by Aug. 9, after which a committee of library, CMC, city, DDA and one of the private landowners involved will review the applications and select a consultant.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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