Time to revitalize riverfront effort
Thanks to a Colorado Court of Appeals decision, and the refusal of the state Supreme Court last week to re-examine that decision, Grand Junction will have to reconsider the five-year-old dispute regarding Brady Trucking and its property along the Colorado River just east of downtown.
The current members of the Grand Junction City Council could opt to overturn the industrial-use zoning approved for 13 acres of property Brady purchased in 2006, or they could decide to put the question to voters, as some citizens groups have been seeking since 2009.
But either way, this should be an opportunity for city officials and residents to show they want to make the riverfront corridor through the heart of Grand Junction — the place where two of the largest rivers in the state converge — an area of greenery, parks and wildlife. They shouldn’t allow it to re-industrialize, 25 years after the Colorado Riverfront Commission began its effort to clean up the refuse from previous industrial activities along the riverfront.
In saying this, we are by no means trying to portray Brady Trucking as the bad guys in this modern-day Western drama. The company acted entirely within the law, and with reasonable expectations when it purchased the property that the land would eventually be zoned for light industrial use.
More than that, the firm spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning up the remnants of a previous industrial operation on the land, the old rendering plant. And it has successfully operated a part of its business on land adjacent to, but separate from the 13 acres in question.
Brady does not deserve condemnation for its actions. However, the citizens fighting the rezoning are seeking to protect what should be a community treasure through the heart of the city.
This dispute would be moot today if the City Council and Mesa County commissioners had long ago declared that — at least through the main part of the city — industrial development along the riverfront would be off limits.
It will be more difficult to achieve that now. Brady has a substantial investment in the contested land. The good news is that the company has bee approached by the Trust for Public Land, which is reportedly conducting an appraisal of the property. The bad news is that it’s hard to imagine any land in the Grand Valley that would appraise for as much today as it was worth in 2006, when Brady bought this land.
Still, we hold out hope that some agreement can be reached, perhaps with the involvement of other entities, to reach an agreement that preserves the property just to the east of what will one day be Las Colonias Park, and protects Brady’s investment, as well.
More than that, however, we hope the City Council — perhaps with the leadership of Councilman Bennett Boeschenstein, who was deeply involved in the riverfront restoration at its inception — will commit to protecting the Colorado Riverfront as it passes through the heart of the city.