April 18, 2011
by John Kiljan
Attendees heard plenty of “No’s” at the first of three City-sponsored park presentations held April 6th in the Arvada K-8 school auditorium. Billed as an open-house “We Need to Hear From You!” meeting, the initial presentation consisted of a formal PowerPoint presentation showing three similar design concepts, with questions and comments allowed from the attendees afterward.
City Staff representatives and the park’s design consultants (mostly Mike Lee and Bill Neumann) repeatedly made the point that this was to be a neighborhood park. The new park was not to be used to compliment or replace the neighborhood recreational facilities that have been removed from the nearby Garrison Street community park over the years. The list of no’s was pretty long: no restrooms, no sports fields (except for a baseball diamond), no pool, no additional parking, no ice or hockey rink, no community garden, no youth facilities, and so on.
The three sparse concept plans presented at the meeting reflected that philosophy. But that position disappointed many of the attendees who kept commenting on the need to use the park to bring youth activities back to the central Ralston corridor neighborhoods to help replace those lost over the years.
“Why can’t a pool be located in the new park?” several asked. Because the Jeffco school district won’t allow it. An attending Jeffco schools representative, whose name wasn’t given, said that it was a school district policy not to allow pools on its property because they were too expensive to build and too hard to maintain.
“Why not a new community garden?” a couple of other attendees asked. “There’s an irrigation ditch running by that the City may have water rights to.” Because the adjacent Arvada Community Food Bank will not sponsor one and take care of it. “Why the ACFB and not the school who has been working their own garden, or the Arvada Garden Club?” The question was left unanswered.
“Why not close off the east side of the ‘horseshoe’ around the old library and use it for parking?” Because there is no need for additional parking if there are not to be field sports or other facilities.
“Any chance of bringing much-needed little league football back to the site?” None.
“Why not an ice rink or other winter activities so the park gets year-round use?” Too expensive. An ice rink would have to be covered or the ice would melt.
“The City has been running a surplus. If we can find the money, would an ice rink then be acceptable?” No, it still would not be allowed. If we brought back field sports, we’d have to add parking and there is no room for that.
“Basketball courts?” Nope. The school already has them and the public is free to use them when classes are not in session.
“Even a volleyball court?” We’ll consider that.
Apart from the planned baseball diamond, the only City concession was for tennis. But that was far from a commitment. Mr Elms was concerned that the City would build courts and then no one would use them. Because tennis courts are often underused in other City parks, it wouldn’t be added to the design unless there was proof that it would be used. The attending K-8 principal said that she’d poll her students about their interest in tennis.
Other public comments did not relate to recreational facilities.
The K-8 principal also brought up the issue of student safety since at least some grades are expected to be using the park during recess periods. She wanted to be able to see what was going on in the park from her office window in the adjacent school. Even though the new park is to be school district property, no restrictions on public access to the park during school hours are planned.
COORDINATION WITH THE RECONSTRUCTION OF RALSTON ROAD
The ongoing Ralston Road corridor study is expected to recommend closing off the left turn lanes along westbound Ralston Road. That will create a demand to extend Carr Street through to 57th Avenue to allow for neighborhood access for the homes south of Ralston Road. This reporter asked why there was no contingency in the concept plans for that future extension. The reply was that Carr Street cannot be extended because the school district owns the land.
A couple of attendees brought up the issue of park ownership, citing Mayor Frie’s comments at the City Council’s Ralston Road Complex study session in January which said that if the City is going to be paying for most of the cost of the park, it should at least own it. According to budget figures presented to the Arvada City Council at that session, Jeffco schools will only be contributing 11% toward the cost of the construction of the new $900,000 park with the City contributing nearly 60%. The City will also contribute all the ongoing costs of maintaining the park for the indefinite future. Someone in the room said they thought the proposed funding, ownership and maintenance arrangement had the four votes on the Council needed for approval.
Public attendance during the presentation was light (about 15) with people coming and going — possibly because it had been advertised as an open house. There were no sign-in sheets. Because of a concurrent AURA board meeting, Councilor McGoff was the only Council member attending. The next two public comment meetings for the park are expected to be similarly conflicted with AURA’s schedule.
Several attendees complained that the meeting wasn’t advertised very well and that they had only heard about it at the last minute from other sources. One person complained that she had a job to get to and, even though the meeting was supposed to be an open house, she couldn’t get to see the poster boards or make comments until after the presentations had ended.
Based upon the seven straw votes favoring Concept Plan B over the others, the consultant said that he’d come back at the next public meeting with an expansion of that concept for further comment.
Acoustics and lighting in the school auditorium were poor with many people complaining that they could not hear or see the presentation material very well. Still, the City said it does not plan to release copies of its updated concept plans in advance of its next meeting.
The Arvada K-8 Park’s design is expected to be complete later this year and funding for park’s construction is already in the City’s budget. No construction is planned before October when material from the Garrison Street channel reconstruction becomes available to build earthen berms in the new park.
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE AND PROVIDE INPUT
Visit the web page the City has now opened up that allows viewing of the three original concept plans. The site does not yet show the bird’s-eye views presented at the April 6th meeting, but viewers can see the plan views in detail. Visit the web page by clicking on
Meeting notes and public comments have not yet been included on that page.
Or, attend the next two meetings. The remaining public meeting dates are April 20, 2011 and May 18, 2011 (both on Wednesdays). The meetings will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Arvada K-8 School auditorium located at 5751 Balsam Street Arvada, CO 80002.
If you can’t attend and still want to comment, call or email Mike Lee at the City of Arvada, 720-898-7390, Mike-L@arvada.org to provide input. You may cc: your comments to the park design consultant, Bill Neumann of DHM Design, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community (CLRC) will post more information online on its website at http://www.ralstoncommunity.org/ as it becomes available. To see a summary of the park’s funding sources and to read the Council’s comments on the facility, click on this link to the Council’s January 28th study session:
John Kiljan, CLRC News: 303-423-9875 or email@example.com
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