Last year, Glenwood Springs, was one of the hardest-hit rural Colorado communities in 2020. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the region faced the economically devastating Grizzly Creek Fire which closed I-70 between Glenwood Springs and the urban centers of the front range for an unprecedented two-weeks.
Despite all this, Glenwood Springs is poised for a resilient comeback. According to city officials, an irreplaceable part of this positioning has been the ability to leverage $50,000 in grant funds from CDOT’s Revitalizing Main Streets Program to activate our community-focused, downtown.
To respond to worsening COVID-19 case levels and tighter restrictions, Glenwood Springs was able to expand and winterize outdoor dining options and initiate programs that will improve safety and yield long-term benefits to the community. City leaders acted quickly, hand-in-hand with the business community, because of the urgency of safeguarding our local economy, but also because the ripple effects of further economic distress would cripple the regional economy and workforce. Many of CDOT’s investments went into place in December, just before Garfield County was moved to red-level dial restrictions, the severest seen in the county.
By activating this core public space, Glenwood Springs was able to provide a windfall for their small businesses and local economy with critical and inventive economic opportunity while helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even on chilly Colorado winter days, patrons took advantage of winterized structures allowing for crucial expanded capacity for the business community. For quality of life, these dollars supported a memorable and joyful experience amongst the relentless pressure of COVID-19.
This space reinforced community ties and helped save businesses and the livelihoods of our neighbors. And there is still more opportunity and smart investments to come. If available, additional investments from the Main Street program this year will improve equity and access to Glenwood Springs through bilingual signage, repairs to degraded walkways, an ADA compliant seating enclosure, and new bicycle racks. This program is helping to provide amenities for community members and visitors of all ages and abilities.