September 24, 2011
by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Curious about the Arvada City Council candidates’ views on the Triangle? Pedestrian safety and the widening of Ralston Road? Local recreational needs? Independence Street traffic? Stabilizing older neighborhoods? The CLRC is too. We offered each of the eight candidates running for the four open City Council seats an opportunity to meet with us at their convenience and comment on these subjects and more.
Each candidate was given a list of issues and concerns our membership has identified as being most important to the neighborhoods along the central Ralston Road corridor from Olde Town to Kipling. The list was taken mostly from our February 8th general meeting and is copied below. Almost all of the candidates accepted our offer and we expect to finish up the last interview in the week of September 25th.
The interviews were done by T.O. Owens with some follow-up questions and the writeups being done by myself. We’ll begin posting our interviews on our website early next week. Look for them. They should provide new insights into how the candidates feel about community issues in our neighborhood.
This is an all mail-in election and there are no polling places. Ballots are expected to arrive in the mail the second week in October and the deadline to have your ballot in is November 1st. Ballot drop-off boxes will be located at City Hall and at Jeffco motor vehicles at 65th and Wadsworth. If you are not registered and you want to vote, the deadline for getting registered is October 3rd.
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CLRC Issues and Concerns
A Guide for Candidates for the Arvada City Council
John Kiljan, August 25, 2011 (updated September 17, 2011)
First, a quick introduction: The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association organized by T.O. Owens and John Kiljan and a small steering committee. The association is informal and is mostly web based. It began in December of 2010 at the suggestion of Councilor Shelley Cook to deal with a series of development projects being proposed for the central Ralston Road corridor. Its members have only had two general meetings since then.
The association tries to be an advocate for the neighborhoods within about a half a mile of Ralston Road between Wadsworth and Kipling. The CLRC has about 80 registered users who get regular information feeds from our website at www.RalstonCommunity.org . The CLRC also has about a hundred Facebook friends [now over 200] who pick up our information articles and member notes. Our Facebook name is “Ralston Arvada” and anyone is welcome to friend us.
Because of the diverse views held by our membership, the CLRC does not endorse candidates for public office. However, we do want to provide information about the views held by our public officials. Our candidate interview invitations are intended to be an opportunity to do that.
Here is a short list of the issues that have most frequently been presented by our members and friends:
Pedestrian Safety and Accident Rates along Ralston Road
This is a hot topic for many members. Narrow lanes, sidewalks close to the traveled lanes and bus benches that are unusable in winter top the list. There are many anecdotal stories of how unsafe the sidewalks are along the central part of Ralston Road — both for pedestrians and drivers. Yet plans for upgrading those walks are wrapped into a $15 million project with an eight-year timeline that calls for substantial commercial development next to residential neighborhoods. Those plans also call for cutting off some left-turn movements that could affect existing local businesses and residential access.
The Triangle Redevelopment
From what we’ve heard, local residents almost universally want to see the Triangle shopping district (from Kipling to Garrison Street) redeveloped. The failing businesses and empty storefronts are the area’s biggest eyesore and they depress local property values. Yet AURA’s ODP was controversial because it left open the possibility of relocating the Arvada Community Gardens. The ODP also raised concerns of increased residential traffic and the introduction of higher density housing (up to 900 units) without a corresponding increase in local recreational facilities for a growing youth population.
The New North Jeffco Community Park Design
The final design is 90% complete, but is not yet available to the public. Many local residents are looking for replacement recreational facilities and are concerned about the extensive tree removals in the new park. Others have concerns about the impacts of construction (road closures, detours, pedestrian access, haul routes, etc) and security in the park after it opens.
Parking along Ralston Road and Adjacent to Olde Town
This is mostly a concern about future spillover parking into adjacent residential neighborhoods caused by the arrival of the Gold Line and the proposed multi-use development along Ralston Road between the two urban renewal areas. Plans for paid parking and stricter enforcement in Olde Town may drive long-term parking onto nearby residential neighborhoods. The proposed widening of Ralston Road will take available parking from local businesses. That and the proposed development that goes with the plan also seems likely to push parking onto adjacent residential streets.
The Role of Neighborhood Associations
A frequent complaint of members is that they don’t hear about the City’s development plans until they have pretty well been decided beforehand. Others say that the City has become much better in public outreach to explain the plans they have developed. But what role should neighborhood associations such as ours should play in development issues is still an open question.
Increasing Traffic Flows on Independence Street
The section south of Ralston Road has a steep hill. Speeding and run-off-the-road accidents are common. Some residences have had multiple hits on their fences. The concern is that this will become an access route for the developments around the new Arvada Ridge station and traffic on the road will increase still further. Another concern is that the redevelopment of the Triangle and restricted access along Ralston Road will increase turning movements at the bottom of the hill.
Local Recreational Facilities
The City is investing a lot in the redevelopment of the new Garrison Street park, but many facilities have been lost over the years. Apparently gone forever are the swimming pool, the ice skating rink, gym facilities and even the sledding hill in the park. This and the prospect of nearby higher-density housing is a frequent concern of members. They wonder whether there be enough recreational opportunities in our neighborhoods to safely raise families in a healthy environment.
Stabilizing Declining Neighborhoods
While some of the neighborhoods along the central Ralston Road corridor are healthy, others have been in a slow state of decline. They often have a high percentage of rental units and bank-owned properties. Individual properties that are not kept up tend to drag down property values in the surrounding neighborhood. The City has initiated a number of programs to deal with declining neighborhoods but their eventual success is not certain.
During the CLRC’s first general meeting in February, the attendees were asked to identify the neighborhood issues that were most important to them. T.O. Owens was taking notes during that meeting. Here are the issues that he logged on the flipchart during that session:
Park Issues (7 times)
Ralston Road Redevelopment (8 times)
Park and Neighborhood Integrity (2 times)
Economics (2 times)
Parking (5 times)
Trees in the Park (4 times)
Light Rail Changes (Commuter Rail Impacts) (2 times)
Restoring the Glenn Ellen HOA
Ralston Sidewalks (2 times)
Independence Street Traffic
Recreation Center Needs
Candidates are encouraged to read the actual meeting notes for that event. They can be found by following this link from our www.RalstonCommunity.org web page:
Thank you for your time and consideration,
— Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community