Glenwood may close its rodeo grounds
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Cowboys may have braved their last bull rides at Glenwood Springs’ rodeo grounds.
The City Council on Thursday voted 6-1 to support a city Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation to remove most remaining structures from the grounds and begin looking into possibly using the land for other purposes.
The decision reflects the increased urbanization of the city, and was bemoaned by council member Dave Merritt, who argued for preserving the facility.
“We don’t have many horses within city limits anymore, but it does represent part of our heritage,” Merritt said.
But other council members cited the poor condition of the rodeo grounds and said one or two events a year didn’t justify keeping it. They also cited the lack of any public support for the grounds during surveys conducted in conjunction with a recent city parks master planning process.
“I think times change and community needs change, and we’re elected to try to make the decisions … that reflect that,” said council member Russ Arensman.
In June, the Strawberry Days Rodeo — a tradition going back the better part of a century and linked to the city’s Strawberry Days festival — was canceled in part because of the grounds’ deteriorating conditions. Problems such as old, collapsing livestock gates posed a threat to contestants, animals and the public, and raised liability concerns.
Council member Dave Johnson said the city has limited park space and it’s important to maximize use of existing space.
The parks master plan has suggested possible creation of ball fields at the site.
Johnson said the council’s vote doesn’t necessarily preclude use of the grounds for rodeos in the future if people speak up in favor of that during the ongoing parks planning process. The facility probably would need to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch even if it were to continue to be used for rodeos, he said. But Merritt called it disingenuous to suggest the rodeo grounds might survive after council’s vote Thursday.
Said Mayor Bruce Christensen, “I just think the values and priorities of the community have changed.”