Glenwood property owner weighs protective measures after rockfall
November 27, 2005
The owner of a Glenwood-area apartment building hit by a boulder in early October said he is looking into possible protective measures such as installing a rockfall fence.However, Robert Bowling said he worries about how much something like a fence would cost, and how much good it would do.”It’s been 40 years since a rock came down and hit that property, so I’m also weighing that. It’s a hazard of living in the mountains,” he said.A boulder struck a corner unit of Bowling’s six-unit building on Midland Avenue on Oct. 4, punching holes in two walls as it passed through and hit the ground. The couple renting the apartment, Angelique and Richard Fiorillo, weren’t in it at the time, and no one was hurt.Bowling has since fixed the apartment, but the Fiorillos have moved elsewhere.”I wanted to feel safer when I go to bed and not have to worry if this is my last night,” Angelique Fiorillo said.She said she thinks some kind of action should be taken to protect the property from future rockfall.”Is it going to take a life for them to realize, you better really seriously think about this?” she said.Bowling said he has been looking into what he might be able to do.”Obviously I’m concerned about the welfare of the tenants. But by the same token putting up a sub fence is not an inexpensive proposition. I’m not a wealthy Aspenite that can just say go do it. I have to do research and find out some things,” said Bowling, who lives near Glenwood Springs.By a sub fence, Bowling is referring to heavy-duty fencing originally designed for underwater use to ward off enemy submarines, but now also used to break the fall of rocks on hillsides.Bowling said he doubts that even such a fence would have made a difference in the October incident, in which the rock bounced and launched itself into the air and through the second-story living room.”How do you protect against something like that? You can’t build a fence 50 feet high,” he said.Bowling said a rock previously struck a home that was on the property but later was relocated. He bought the property about five years ago. He said he wasn’t worried about the danger of rockfall.”I just thought it was one of the prettiest views in town,” he said.He had put the apartments up for sale before the rockfall. He isn’t worried that the incident will hurt the property’s marketability.”It’s a good investment property, I feel,” he said.Bowling said his insurance company didn’t pay for the repairs because the incident was an act of nature. The repair quote was high enough that he ended up taking time off from work and doing it himself.”It was something I had to deal with and then move on,” he said. “If Mother Nature singles you out and says, ‘Aha, I’m going to get him today,’ where can you hide?”He said he hasn’t gotten any indication from tenants that they think they’re living in fear.”They understand that we’re living in the mountains and freak things happen occasionally,” he said.Fiorillo said she thinks Bowling and local government should work together to safeguard the tenants there.Bowling said the property is outside Glenwood Springs city limits, and instead part of unincorporated Garfield County. But he said he doesn’t think the county is obligated to protect his property from rockfall.”Then they’d have to pay to protect others’ property,” Bowling said.