Glenwood Springs residents speak up about airport’s future
More than 100 people attended the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport listening session Thursday, leaving a range of comments — mostly in favor of keeping the airport as-is — for the city to review.
Hosted at Sopris Elementary School, the session provided information about an airspace study regarding the feasibility of moving the airport’s runway north to facilitate the South Bridge project, digging a tunnel under the runway, shortening the runway or eliminating the runway.
Attendees were encouraged to present their feedback with sticky notes on several poster boards around the main room as well as talk with city staff and council members, regarding their questions and concerns.
A member of city staff was present with a printed version of the full airspace study in case attendees would like to review whether their properties would be affected by the airspace obstructions identified in the study. In a separate room, attendees could watch a video presentation of the airspace study findings, and the airspace study is available online at http://www.cogs.us.
Many comments left on sticky notes were vehemently opposed to any changes to the airport runway configuration, and numerous comments were opposed to the South Bridge project entirely. One such sticky note suggested that if southern Glenwood Springs residents, about one-third of the city’s 10,000 residents, need to hastily evacuate the city, they should drive south to Dry Park Road, an unpaved route connecting 4-Mile Road to County Road 108.
“I thought we had a really good turnout and received a lot of comments,” council member Shelley Kaup said. “That’s what we were looking for.”
While many of the attendees were airport supporters, Kaup said she talked with some residents with no ties to the airport as well.
“In general, however, people typically show up for the issues they are most passionate about,” Kaup said.
Glenwood Resident Jon Banks attended the meeting and said he felt the information provided by the city was skewed in favor of closing the airport.
“I think most of what’s happening here is the city putting out its own info, rather than listening,” Banks said, adding he was neither a pilot, nor associated with the Save Our Special Airport organization. “I think the airport is good for the town, and I don’t want to see them go away.”
In response to the city’s information board, Banks brought his own signs and posted them around the room. The signs featured leading questions about the city’s intentions and asked attendees if they felt the City Council responded to public feedback. Sticky notes left on the signs expressed negative feelings toward city staff, City Council and the city’s effort to engage the public.
Mayor Jonathan Godes said he would have liked to see increased attendance.
“While I didn’t get to hear from as many Glenwood Springs citizens as I had hoped, there were a large number of attendees from throughout the valley who spoke to me,” Godes wrote in an email. “People had a variety of thoughts, ideas and concerns. Some shared their opinions passionately, and I was glad to be able to listen to them.”
Pilot and part-time Glenwood resident Gary Vick said he was happy with the turnout and optimistic about the meeting.
“I have the impression people are listening, but I don’t know if we’re changing any minds,” Vick said.
On the other hand, he said the information presented about the airport’s economic benefit and airspace study was incomplete. A Colorado Department of Transportation report published in 2020 found the annual economic benefit of Glenwood Springs airport could contribute about $36.6 million to the area’s business revenues.
Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman said he felt the council received high-quality input during the listening session.
“It was good to talk to people one on one,” Willman said. “It was a good mix of people supporting the airport, wanting to shut the airport down and curious about the South Bridge project overall.”
About 30 individuals submitted feedback online, public information officer Bryana Starbuck said. Initially, city staff planned to present City Council with the collated feedback on March 3, but Starbuck said the council agenda item was pushed to March 17. As a result, online comments can be emailed to the city at AirportComments@cogs.us until March 3.
In May, Glenwood Springs voters could decide whether to add the airport as a protected asset to the city’s charter, requiring a vote from the public on all major changes to the airport’s operation and runway configuration in the future.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.