Grand Lake residents worry about Space to Create’s proposed location as others tout possibilities
Dozens of Grand Lake community members shared concerns about the proposed location for the Space to Create workforce housing next to the Grand Lake Center at a public meeting Wednesday.
Previously, the Grand Lake Board of Trustees got a look at the conceptual site plan for the project in a presentation by ArtSpace identifying the open space around the Grand Lake Center as its location. ArtSpace is the nonprofit developer hired by the state to build and manage the Space to Create projects.
Hearing some concerns about the project, Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron and the board hosted a public meeting to offer more details and garner feedback about the project, its location and how the town should be involved.
“We worked so hard to bring (the Grand Lake Center) back,” Kudron said. “We have a clinic, a fitness center. We have a place for people to meet, and we want so much more for it. This is an opportunity to do that … I believe in this project. I also believe that the Grand Lake Center is the best space for it.”
The majority of residents who spoke said they support the project, but they were not supportive of the proposed location. Residents called the Grand Lake Center the “heart and soul” of the community and raised fears about what would happen if the project were to be built on the same lot.
Kathy Weydert spoke to those concerns, asking whether the activities and clinic at the center would be impacted by the project and who would be responsible for the space.
“Without the town controlling the property, there’s a risk of losing the clinic, relocation of the (MedEvac) helicopter pad … limited use of the building for workout space, pickleball, church services, classes,” Weydert said before listing other uses of the property.
Most speakers echoed the desire to maintain the current amenities at the center, and Kudron told the audience he would do everything in his power to protect the center as a community asset.
“I want to be very specific that the finance package that is done requires a land lease, but that land lease would only exist on the size of the housing unit,” Kudron said, explaining the town’s financial contribution to the project would be covered by the value of the land. “At the end of that lease, all assets revert to the town.”
Another concern raised focused on the potential loss of open space in Grand Lake. The playground, ball field and ice rink were all touted as extremely valuable to the community.
Some neighbors also worried about the project ruining the residential feel of the area, and a handful of residents felt it was inappropriate to limit the housing to artists.
A few people raised concerns about working with ArtSpace, how much money the town would have to commit to the project and how the town would benefit from the project.
Kudron explained that if the town were to go forward with the project, it would have to be in partnership with ArtSpace.
There was also a desire by some residents to keep the space available for a future school in Grand Lake, though former Grand Lake Elementary School principal Phyllis Price explained the building is too small and no longer meets code. Grand Lake would also need a much bigger population to support a school, she said.
Five or six speakers were in favor of the project and its proposed location, saying that it would build on the existing center, not take away from it.
“It seems like a great location to me because I see the field and this huge space as underused,” one community member said.
Although Grand Lake’s town board originally planned to make a decision at its July 27 board meeting, the board will hold another discussion at 6 p.m. Aug. 4 at the center after seeing such public interest.
Previously, a representative of ArtSpace said if the board were to vote down the site, ArtSpace would have to go back to the drawing board and see if there are any other sites in Grand Lake that could be used.
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