by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG-The proposed new grocery store in Walsenburg has one big hurdle to moving forward with starting construction. It needs a turn lane built but the cost is prohibitive. Walsenburg City Administrator Alan Hein proposed to the City Finance Committee that the entire paving budget for this fiscal year be reallocated to building the turn lane at Walsen and Pine Streets.
Hein said the money this year was to do chip sealing of city streets to fill in cracks and potholes. However, he feels the economic benefits of the new grocery store outweigh the chip sealing. Most of the finance committee was in agreement with that assessment. The city council will consider the matter. If approved, the City or grocery store would not have to try to borrow money, and the City could do most of the work itself to save additional dollars. The City has a 1% sales tax that goes to the paving fund each year for maintaining of city streets and sidewalks.
Plans are to build a 25,000 square foot grocery store across from the Family Dollar. The improvements would be a retaining wall, sidewalks and turning lane on both sides of the street from the ridge to the bridge on Walsen Avenue. That means sidewalks would also be built in front of the Family Dollar store for added safety. Hugh Brown, the businessman who is developing the store, has told the city that the new store would employ around 20 full time employees as well as part time staff. Brown has told the City that he will hire all of his workers locally.
The turning lane needed would also assist school buses making turns to go to the high school according to Hein.
If the city council moves forward with Hein’s proposal, construction could begin in the near future. Walsenburg could then have a new grocery store ready to operate near the end of this year or early next year.