by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Almost without public comment, the Arvada City Council has finally approved its 2013/2014 operating and capital improvement budget. As we mentioned earlier, Arvada’s sales tax revenues have been surprisingly healthy of late, considering we are only slowly emerging from the last recession. There are lots of good things in the budget for popular things such as road repair and law enforcement, but we’ll concentrate on just a few items of local interest here.
BUDGET — RECREATION CENTER
The big item in the budget for the CLRC neighborhoods is the $3.1 million set aside to build a recreational facility in the Triangle. That facility could possibly have a replacement for the Fisher Pool as well. It’s only a set-aside, since getting that money is contingent upon an acceptable offer to redevelop the Triangle shopping centers as part of an urban renewal program. No redevelopment offer — no rec center — no pool. But, for now, the money is there and waiting.
This kind of tangible support from the City Council increases our chances of getting a viable redevelopment offer. For many of us optimism is running high that 2013 will be the year that something happens in the Triangle that will end its decades of slow decline. Cross your fingers and hope!
BUDGET — PARKING ENFORCEMENT
Get ready for it. Arvada’s plans for the arrival of the Gold Line commuter rail stop in Olde Town include providing a lot more available parking for local businesses as well as for commuters. That is likely to push closer the day when we eventually see meters for paid parking in Olde Town. And it could also affect the availability of on-street parking for the residential neighborhoods near Olde Town.
The recently approved budget provides for a new parking enforcement employee for the area. Currently, parking time limits in Olde Town are enforced sporadically — if at all. That will change with the hiring of a new enforcement officer.
Parking enforcement is expected to start out ‘gently’ at first with courtesy notices and informational flyers on where best to park, followed by more strict enforcement later on. It’s tough to watch a football game in a sports bar when you are parked in a 2-hour-limit space out front. But businesses with short-term parking needs, such as gift shops and bakeries, should benefit from having more close-in spaces available for their customers.
BUDGET — OLDE TOWN PARKING STRUCTURE
But the real crunch is expected to come with the Gold Line opening in 2016. RTD’s environmental impact statement (EIS) says RTD will provide 400 new parking spaces for commuters on opening day and the EIS also says the agency will build a parking structure for those spaces by the year 2030. But most members of the City Council seem to favor having a parking structure built in or near Olde Town before the rail line’s opening day — as does RTD, who is planning cooperatively with the City on parking development.
That may mean building as many as three smaller mixed-use parking structures in or near Olde Town to handle existing parking needs, commuter rail parking and parking for the new business development expected to be generated by the Gold Line. To help make that happen, the 2013/2014 budget allocates $7.5 million to build a parking structure in Olde Town. That’s some serious money.
The bad news is that the City budget allocation itself is not likely to be enough to build a parking structure. Parking structures are expensive. They can make even outdoor swimming pools look inexpensive. A structure can cost $10 million to $15 million to build depending upon land acquisition costs, and they have their own ongoing maintenance and operational costs.
Current law does not allow RTD to charge for commuter parking for periods of less than a day. But private businesses and the City do not have that restriction. What is looking increasingly likely is that there will be some kind of public-private, or public-public, partnership to build at least one parking structure fairly soon. To finance that, it is quite possible that there will have to be a fee, or some other source of revenue (such as metered parking) for at least some of the new parking.
Expect the Council to watch this issue closely. The balance needed will be a delicate one. If Olde Town moves too aggressively on implementing parking enforcement and fees, fewer people will want to visit Olde Town or take the commuter rail from there. On the other hand, if the City is too slow to meet future parking demand, that will also discourage Olde Town visits and new businesses from opening up in the area. And just to state the obvious: few people will want to pay to park when there is free street-side parking only a short walk away.
You can learn a lot about Olde Town’s current and future parking needs by reading the Council-approved Olde Town Parking and Transportation Plan study at this link:
WATER AND SEWER
Along with the new budget, the City also increased its water and sewer rates for 2013 as had been expected. According to Utilities Director Jim Sullivan, average families living in a detached homes will see their bimonthly bills for water, sewer and stormwater combined rise by an average of 4.2%, or $31.20 per year. Of course, your own increase may be more or less than that, and will depend upon how much water you actually use. Stormwater rates themselves are not increasing this year.
The rate rise is almost entirely due to the increased rates being charged the City by Denver Water (who sells us our untreated water) and by the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District (who treats our sewage before it flows into the South Platte River). But Mr Sullivan pointed out that much of the City’s own water and sewer lines that were put in during the City’s growth spurt in 1960’s are now coming due for replacement.
This does not bode well for rate increases in future years, but Arvada still has some of the lowest water and sewer rates in the metro area.
When the District Attorney’s office is saying that DNA and a confession have provided overwhelming evidence that they have Jessica’s killer, it’s tempting to think that the risk to our children is over. But it’s not.
The Denver Post has reported at least six child abduction attempts in Arvada in the last year. The description of the suspects and vehicles in these cases don’t seem to match those of the young man arrested in the Jessica Ridgeway abduction.
The Arvada Police Department has been doing its part by setting up a series of Stranger Awareness classes from now into November. You can see a list of those by clicking on this link:
The City has also been publicizing a series of alternative activities to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. Most of the remaining ones are sponsored by local church groups. Here is a link to a partial list of alternative activities for kids this Halloween:
And here are links to three past Arvada abduction articles from the Denver Post:
The new Wolff Park next to the Arvada K-8 school is coming along nicely. I didn’t think they’d finish by November as planned. But now the sod is in and dozens of trees are ready to be planted. And despite the freezing weather, contractors were seen installing and testing the new sprinkler system over the weekend. It looks like we’ll soon have a new park.
MEYERS POOL UPDATE
The Meyers pool is set to reopen next month — for a while at least. The Arvada City Council was informed that Apex is spending $150 thousand to temporarily shore up the indoor pool’s roof and walls. Apex could have the pool open to the public again as early as mid-November. But permanent repairs for the 33-year old roof and support columns will have to wait till next summer when there are fewer users in the facility. That repair could be much more expensive, but the final cost will not be known for some time yet.
Because of the high humidity, condensation and chlorination, roofs for indoor pools have a reputation for being difficult to maintain and often have a short lifespan. Even stainless steel fittings have been known to give way in an indoor pool’s corrosive atmosphere. And the November repairs are none to soon. Sudden and complete collapses from snow piling up on pool roofs are not unknown.
Apex has been providing regular updates on the status of the pool on its website at
LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS
If you like to follow these CLRC notes and news articles, or if you just want to stay informed about local happenings, things are getting better. The new reporters for both the Arvada Press and the Denver Post’s YourHub (Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Westminster) edition have settled in and are writing an impressive number of articles of local interest. We are also getting a series of informative articles from the City’s Arvada Report. And At-Large Councilor Bob Fifer is producing a quality monthly newsletter. Here’s a quick summary of each of those and where to get copies.
This paper is free and distributed to single-family residences throughout Arvada on Thursday or Friday each week. If you are not on their distribution route, you can pick up a free copy at any of a number of newsstands throughout the City. Here’s a link to their current newsstand locations:
The paper is also available online, but I think they ask for a $25 annual donation for full access. It’s worth it.
Their primary reporter, Sara Van Cleve, is now seen at most Arvada City Council meetings. She has an impressive skill set. In addition to being a prolific writer, she has taken on a number of time-consuming interviews, including one with City Manager Mark Deven in last week’s issue.
But the competing weekly YourHub isn’t ‘chopped liver’ either. That Denver Post supplement is included in each Thursday’s edition. You have to subscribe to the Post or buy a paper to get a copy.
There is a free online version of the supplement called Yourhub.com, but it is hard to recommend. Most of the articles are missing or hard to find in its new format. The old free-wheeling, anything-goes Yourhub.com that was a hold-over from the Rocky Mountain News days ended last year. Now online articles on Yourhub.com are carefully vetted and are far fewer, in keeping with a new management philosophy. Oddly, the paper still has a just-about-anything-goes policy on its regular Denver Post article comments.
YourHub reporter Emilie Rusch is also a high-output writer. She just wrote the best articles I’ve seen yet on the Jeffco Schools tax/bond issues, 3A and 3B. And her articles on Arvada’s budget and Wheat Ridge’s growing budget problems were a short, but eye-opening, comparison of the two cities’ financial health.
Here are some links to the articles I just mentioned,
Wheat Ridge’s budget:
ARVADA REPORT AND CYCLING
The Arvada Report is only published every other month, but it is also getting more informative. The articles carry no bylines, but I think a lot of them are being written by Wendy Forbes, Arvada’s new Communications Manager.
I especially liked the recent article on “Sharrow Markings” for cyclists. Brooks Drive now has a modified version of those. Cycle traffic has increased a lot on Brooks Drive since the Garrison Street parks were closed — as has the car traffic. The article does a good job of explaining why they are there and what motorist’s and cyclist’s responsibilities are when riding in bike lanes.
If you don’t regularly receive a copy of the Arvada Report in the mail, you can download a copy from
BOB FIFER’S MONTHLY EMAILS
I am really getting to look forward to receiving these each month. The newsletter is a knockout and often has links to short videos about the City’s goings on. Counselor Fifer is one of our at-large council members and he reports that he now has over 600 subscribers to his monthly letters.
You can subscribe too by going to his website at
and look for the blue box in the upper right-hand corner that says, “Sign up for my Newsletter.”
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community regularly posts information on its website at http://www.ralstoncommunity.org/ as it becomes available. Or you can friend us on Facebook. Our new Facebook name is now ‘Clrc Arvada’.
Photo credits: The pumpkin picture and photo of Bob Fifer are courtesy of the City of Arvada.
John Kiljan, CLRC Notes: 303-423-9875 or firstname.lastname@example.org
October 29, 2012