INDEPENDENCE STREET NEIGHBORHOOD GROUP MEETS


January 23, 2011

by John Kiljan

A larger-than-expected group of forty people attended a recent meeting of the Independence Street Neighborhood Group last Saturday morning at the Arvada Presbyterian Church. The neighborhood association is not a part of the CLRC and it is primarily concerned with traffic and safety issues along and near the Independence Street corridor from Ralston Road to Wheat Ridge.

Pastor John O’Lane, who hosted the meeting, started out by complimenting the City of Arvada on its speed enforcement activities on Independence Street. The road has a 30 MPH speed limit and a steep downhill grade that encourages speeding through the residential neighborhood. He reported that the number of cars going faster than 40 MPH on Independence Street had decreased from one-in-four vehicles to one-in-12 vehicles since enhanced enforcement began. Other residents whose driveways back out onto the street were similarly pleased with the City’s enforcement efforts. Because of the hill, parts of the road have limited sight distances that add to safety concerns.

The invited speaker was Maureen Phair, Deputy Director of the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA). The Authority was created by the City of Arvada to help with the commercial development of the area eight years ago. She spoke to the group about AURA’s most recent plans for the redevelopment of the shopping districts adjacent to the intersection of Independence and Ralston Road and the impacts it might have on neighborhood traffic.

Ms Phair presented updated poster board plans for four new plans for the development area. She cautioned that these were only concept plans and were designed to encourage developers to invest in the reconstruction of the area commonly known as the “Triangle.” What actually gets built will depend upon what private development offers the Authority receives after the economy recovers and capital funding becomes more readily available on the financial markets.

She described the Triangle as a grocery-store-anchored district and that any hopes for redevelopment had to accommodate that concept. Major high-end retailers are unlikely to locate in the Triangle. This will probably rule out stores like Kohls, but may include a Wal-Mart or other super-sized grocery retailers. Other possibilities include a hotel nearer to the Lutz/Stenger complex which is now hosting 1.2 million visitors a year. The concept plans also include a mix of town homes, plazas, apartments and multi-story commercial developments.

All four concept plans call for pushing Garrison Street through to 57th Avenue on its current alignment and replacing the Arvada Garden Club plots with multi-story residences. The planned access to the new park from the Triangle — for both pedestrians and cars — will be at the same mid-block location being used now. The development plans do not include any park expansion or recreational facilities on the west side Garrison Street.

Ms Phair also summarized the need for the flood control project that is removing all of the remaining facilities in the park and many of its trees. Without the new bridge and rechannelization, the eastern part of the Triangle will remain in the flood plain and cannot be redeveloped. Additionally, 70 private residences will have their flood-plain designation removed. That will substantially lower those homes’ insurance costs.

The questions and comments that followed the presentation were nearly as interesting.

Councilor Shelley Cook (Council District 3) pointed out that a short summary of this presentation and other presentations on the Ralston Road corridor study, the bridge and park reconstruction and a new park next to the K-8 school at Carr Street will be discussed by the City Council in an open study session at City Hall at 6:30 pm this Monday evening. That study session will be televised.

Keith Sorci, the president of the Arvada Community Garden Club, gave a short and heartfelt “Don’t move us!” speech. He said that the garden club members thought that punching Garrison Street through to 57th Avenue and replacing the community garden with high-rise residences was a poor investment for the community. He pointed out that the garden had been in existence for 36 years and offered many intangible benefits to all the neighborhood’s residents. He suggested that the City instead build a walkway down the Garrison Street alignment to provide better pedestrian access to the park and the Triangle.

Others at the meeting asked for more citizen input into the park’s design. Council Cook said that there will be more opportunity to provide input in the near future. She said that she was working the City Manager, Craig Kocian, to do that. One proposal being discussed is to reestablish the diverse citizens’ advisory committee that was used for AURA’s plan development several years ago.

Several attendees expressed a variety of concerns about the flood control project. The need to destroy the park and its facilities, whether the project was being done just to help commercial interests, why there were not alternative flood-control methods, the effect on downstream residences east of Carr, doubts about whether the project was being designed for a large enough flood, and whether the Carr Street bridge could handle the extra flow without overtopping Brooks and Carr rounded out the list of concerns.

Others were concerned that the development of the nearby Ridge Road Gold Line station and its high-rise residential development would increase demand for access along Independence Street since there was no easy access to the station and new residential developments from Kipling Street. A developer is planning two eight-story apartment blocks with 376 units next to the station. Councilor Cook reported that City engineers were considering a number of “traffic calming” measures if increased traffic along residential routes became a problem.

Several attendees thought that the traffic problems that would be created by a large retail outlet such as Wal-Mart locating in the Triangle would be unacceptable to the neighborhood.

The hour-and-a-half meeting was this group’s third general meeting. Meeting coordinators, Lindi Sinton and Kelly Robinson, have not yet announced their next general meeting plans, but the CLRC plans to post that information on its http://www.RalstonCommunity.org website when the information becomes available.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE

These four concept plans can be found on-line at AURA’s website at

http://arvadaurbanrenewal.org/about-aura/our-triangle-area-concept-plan-completed

or in the current City Council meeting packet at

http://www.arvadarecords.org/councilpacket/currentweek1.asp

click on the link for item 8A. This file also contains the Ralston Road corridor study’s four final concept plans.

A high-resolution final concept plan for the new park at Garrison Street is not available on the City’s website, but it is available on http://www.RalstonCommunity.org ‘s home page by clicking on the park plan image.

All the images on these sites can be enlarged as much as needed to see details of what is being proposed.

Maureen Phair invites comments and can be reached by email or telephone at mphair@arvada.org and 720-898-7062.

An on-line video of the City Council’s January 24th study session should be available on Arvada.org a couple of days after the meeting. Or, if you have cable television, you may be able to view the meeting live on Channel 8 (KATV-8). The Council will not be taking questions or comments from the public during the session, but there will be a public comment period afterward.

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