Glenwood’s future in eye of beholder
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Glenwood Springs will either be a haven for big-box stores, or, perhaps, great town with a great new street. The vision of Glenwood’s future depends, of course, on who is talking.
The Colorado Department of Transportation “is going to have a wonderfully paved highway through an empty downtown,” said Sandy Boyd, owner of Glenwood Sewing Center – The Quilt Shop..
Boyd and some other business owners are concerned that the department of transportation’s decision to spend months repaving Grand Avenue in concrete, which was announced Tuesday, will hurt their businesses. The plan calls for removing all the asphalt and pouring 10 inches of concrete for a paved surface that will last 30 years or longer with little maintenance.
“I hope they understand they are putting downtown on the line,” said Cheryl Guay, owner of Jewels and Gems.
If Grand Avenue is shut down for four months for paving, said Guay, “it could bankrupt me.”
“With those big machines in front of your store and making noise, no one is going to come in,” she said. “I still have to pay my rent those four months.”
“Business is not good anyway,” added Boyd, noting that in the last few years, Glenwood Springs retailers have had to deal with fires, road work on Grand Avenue and a sluggish national economy resulting from terrorist attacks and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
All of those events have driven customers away from shops in downtown Glenwood Springs, said Boyd.
Even though most retailers agree the paving will disrtupt business, many are going in with a positive attitude.
“We’ve done all we could,” said Sharon Graves of the retailers’ fight against doing the concrete. Graves is the owner of Through the Looking Glass bookstore.
“It’s here, you make the best of it,” she said.
Every retailer seems to think that downtown Glenwood will be a different place after the paving. But they do differ in how they think downtown will change. For Guay and Boyd, downtown is part of what gives Glenwood Springs its character and charm.
“Tourists don’t come to town for big boxes and nice pavement,” said Boyd.
Other retailers say they don’t know what the project will do to downtown.
“What it’s going to do to us, it’s too soon to tell,” said Graves. “Until the project starts, we just don’t know,” she said.
And while some think downtown will change for the worst, some business owners think the paving will change Glenwood for the best.
“I’m all for capital improvements in the community,” said Larry Gruber, owner of Glenwood Music. “I’ve been walking across (Grand Avenue) for nine years. It’s dangerous.”
Gruber also said he’s seen people trip in potholes and bumps in Grand Avenue’s asphalt.
“Let’s not fight it,” said Gruber. “Let’s celebrate our new road and do something to pull people in.”