CLRC Neighborhood Updates #11: Brooks Drive, Garrison reopening, Wolff Park, Walmart and more


by John Kiljan 

Dear CLRC members and friends,

This update is running a little late because of all the Walmart activity and there is lots to cover. The CLRC is looking for volunteer writers to help cover items of neighborhood interest. Please contact me if you are willing to do writeups for our neighborhood association.

CONSTRUCTION ON BROOKS DRIVE

Brooks Drive construction

Brooks Drive construction

Brooks Drive has been looking pretty bad the last couple of months. Local residents and drivers have been having trouble with tight lanes, dust clouds, mud, utility cuts, barricaded excavations, sidewalk replacements, temporary asphalt patches, even more neighborhood detours and the challenge of navigating past dimly lit traffic-control barrels on snowy nights. All this is on top of the usual construction activities that have heavy equipment going in and out of the adjacent park during the day.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that.

But it’s all for a good cause says project manager, Vicky Reier, who explained that little of the current work on Brooks Drive had been planned at the start of the park’s reconstruction. Instead, the upgrades to the storm sewer pipes crossing the road were supposed to happen after the Garrison Street park work was completed in late 2013.

But that changed when the City realized it would have meant even more months of road work for local residents who are already having to endure two summers of disruptions along the street. Now, the thought is that it is better to extend the current work contract in the park to do everything at one time. If all goes as planned, when the park is finally done, the ongoing work on Brooks Drive will also be finished and residents along Brooks Drive and park visitors can enjoy trouble-free access to the new park without having to undergo yet another round of construction.

Already the street is starting to look better, but there is still more curb and gutter work to take place on the south side of the street. Ms Reier has a nice write up about the added Brooks Drive work on the City’s web page at

http://arvada.org/parks-and-recreation/garrison-street-north-jeffco-park-renovation

Contruction dust on Brookd Drive

Contruction dust on Brooks Drive

In the meantime, drivers, cyclist, pedestrians and joggers are going to have to be a lot more careful when going down the road. At a recent Council meeting, Councilor Bob Dyer asked for more effective traffic enforcement on Brooks Drive citing complaints of a dog being killed, a hit-and-run pedestrian accident and cars running stop signs.

Pavement distress on Brooks Drive

Pavement distress on Brooks Drive

Will Brooks Drive be repaved when all of this is done? Right now, the roadway seems to be made up of patches as much as the original pavement, but no resurfacing for Brooks is yet included in the current City budget. City Director of Public Works, Bob Manwaring, says that the road will be reevaluated this spring using the City’s pavement-management system, which measures the structural condition of the roadway. Only then will a decision be made as to where to put Brooks Drive on the City’s repaving schedule. Nearby Carr Street and Garrison Street are currently in the City’s repaving budget for 2013/2014.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRAFFIC LIGHT PETITION?
In CLRC Neighborhood Updates #10 it was reported that there was a petition being circulated to keep the temporary signal at Carr Street and Brooks Drive in place after construction. The 128-person petition was sent to the City for consideration earlier this month, according to petitioner Dennis Trumm. Mr Trumm reports that he received an email back from the City. Citing liability concerns, the email said that the City would first look to see if the intersection meets the federal warrant requirements needed for installing a traffic signal before deciding what to do.

WHEN WILL GARRISON STREET REOPEN?
This isn’t good news.

The optimism that the good construction weather we’ve had would allow the City to reopen Garrison Street to through traffic a month earlier than planned has rapidly faded. Even the planned reopening at the end of February is now much in doubt. As reported earlier, local businesses in the adjacent parts of the Triangle shopping center have reported a significant drop-off in business during the closure needed to rebuild the Garrison Street bridge over Ralston Creek.

The bridge is now nearly finished and some construction vehicles are already using it.

Privately, City officials are putting the blame for the delay squarely on Xcel Energy, who has fallen far behind in its relocation work schedule to underground their lines on Garrison Street. So when will the newly built bridge be opened to traffic? The end of February is still possible, but no one I talked to was even willing to make a guess until an updated schedule had been received from Xcel. Delays by Xcel also seem to be what has held up the reopening of the school sidewalk on Ralston Road at Carr Street adjacent to the new Wolff Park.

Bridge over Ralston Creek nearing completion

Bridge over Ralston Creek nearing completion

Have you noticed that the new bridge deck on Garrison Street is a few feet higher than the intersection of Brooks and Garrison? No, that’s not a mistake. The surface of the old bridge deck was at a low spot in the road. But it was expected to be covered with three feet of water during each hundred-year flood. The new, and higher, bridge should allow water to safely flow under the bridge during floods. That should also mean a noticeable hump in the road at the creek after the flood-control project is complete.

WHY IS WOLFF PARK NOT YET OPEN?

Nov20120055
“Because it’s not finished,” was the short answer given by the City. The park contractor, Urban Farmer, made good progress getting in the park’s landscaping late last year. But the work is still not expected to be finished until April according to parks manager, Mike Lee, who said that it was too late in the season to plant some of the remaining shrubs and perennial flowers. He said for liability reasons the City can’t open the park up until the work finishes up and is turned over to the City for maintenance. In the meantime, the “Park Closed” signs stay up. Some sort of opening ceremony for the new park will probably be held at the end of April.

Fenced-off play area in Wolff Park

Fenced-off play area in Wolff Park

The park contractor, being a little more pragmatic, was overheard discussing plans to fence off just the parts of the park they still needed to work on — hence the construction fencing now wrapped around some of the play areas. The pedestrian-friendly sidewalk along the north side of the park, which serves the adjacent K-8 school, has also been held up longer than expected because of utility relocation delays.

When the park does finally open, there will be a surprise: a skate “spot.” (The City has asked us not to call it a small skate park.) No, it was not on the preliminary plans made available to the public and shown on this website. Rather, it was an added feature cooperatively designed with a local skateboard group, “Team Pain.” It promises to be a popular attraction.

The McKenzie brothers trying out the new skate spot

The McKenzie brothers trying out the new skate spot

Last month I ran into a couple of young adults ignoring the closed signs and construction debris and who were enjoying the newly hardened concrete at the “spot.” I asked them whether it was as good as the skate facility recently removed from Memorial Park near City Hall. “It’s a lot better!” was the verdict as they ramped up and proceeded to do some amazing maneuvers that seemed to defy the known laws of physics. Lately, it is not uncommon to see a dozen kids on a weekend waiting to take a run through the small facility with their skate boards.

Abe tests out a Wolff Park play area

Abe tests out a Wolff Park play area

Even though the City has a water tap and the park will be using potable City water for the lawns, don’t expect a restroom — or even a drinking fountain — to wash up sticky toddlers after the park opens. Visitors to the park will have to bring their own water. However, there will be a picnic pavilion with an electrical outlet. No Wi-Fi access is planned.

MEYERS POOL REOPENING
Meyers Pool has indeed reopened and Apex has been offering to extend passes for those who regularly used the pool before it was unexpectedly shut down due to a failing roof. What is less clear is what happens to the pool now.

Temporary roof bracing at Meyers Pool

Temporary roof bracing at Meyers Pool

The decayed ceiling rafters are being braced up with temporary “head knocker” supports until they can be repaired later this summer. But those temporary supports may become permanent if Apex’s engineers say they can be, according to information presented at a January 3rd board meeting. The park and recreation district is awaiting an evaluation and cost estimate from its engineering firm before making a decision on whether the temporary repairs are to be left as they are. 

In any event, the district plans to ask the City of Arvada to reimburse it for half of the costs of the temporary repairs already put in place. The intergovernmental agreement between Apex and the City requires Apex to foot the entire bill for routine maintenance and major repairs for the City-owned facility. However the City has the option of contributing more for the pool’s maintenance if it decides to do so.

WHAT HAPPPENED AT THE WALMART MEETING?
Not much additional information was given out at the well-attended meeting on January 16th. Attendee estimates ranged from 135 to over 200 people. Our previous seven-page posting on this development on http://www.RalstonCommunity.org was widely forwarded and seems to have attracted at least 400 individual readers — twice the CLRC’s usual readership.

Very few open-meeting questions were allowed after introductory comments by the City, IRG and Walmart. The meeting was quickly moved to an open-house format afterward, where attendees were encouraged to talk one-on-one with individual representatives standing next to various poster boards. There were complaints about the open-house format. Some wanted instead to object to Walmart’s labor practices in an open forum and asked why a Walmart store was needed at all in this part of Arvada.

Here’s a quick summary of what I was able to pick up listening in on the discussions going on around me:

Concept plan for Walmart

Concept plan for Walmart

Delivery trucks? Although there will also be smaller deliveries, only two of the big 53-foot trailers were expected to arrive at its loading docks every day. Walmart runs its own trucking fleet to supply its stores. Auto? Yes, there will be an auto and lube shop as a part of the building. Hours? They do not yet know if the store will be open 24 hours a day. Security? Lots of energy-efficient low-level low-glare lighting was promised for the parking lots. Ownership? Walmart will buy the IRG land it needs for the building and its parking. IRG will keep the remainder for now. Additional informational meetings? Until they have a chance to look at the meeting’s comment cards, IRG would not commit to any more informational meetings beyond the required public hearing in front of the City of Arvada Planning Commission. So far, that hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The poster boards showing the proposed building footprint and parking in a concept plan were more interesting. They showed the businesses from AutoZone to the east remaining in place. The rest of that strip to the south is razed, as is the entire area in the center of the Plaza. The strip mall from, and including, the Red Lion and north around the corner is turned into a parking lot. The site of the thrift shop, Subway and the bank drive-in are going to become parking as well.

Where Santiago’s patrons will park is a mystery to me. The access alley to the back of Walmart runs just a few feet outside of Santiago’s front door. Customers may have to park along 57th Avenue unless other arrangements are made.

The Plaza should look very nice when it’s redone. The landscaping plan shows lots of trees, and the architectural elements compare favorably with Target’s on Kipling Street.

Concept plan overlay

Concept plan overlay

The concept plan sheets are not yet up on the AURA website at ArvadaTriangle.org, and it was emphasized that the poster board plans are only preliminary. However, more information is starting to appear on that website and it is worth checking from time to time. An official development plan has not yet been filed with the City. The photos I took of those displays were not good enough to see much detail, but CLRC member T.O. Owens says he’ll try to post at least some of what we have on our website.

During the meeting there was no discussion at all of the potential for the co-development of adjacent properties — a strong selling point for having Walmart be the Triangle’s big-box anchor. But both newspapers had reporters covering the event and they might have more information than I was able to pick up when their Thursday editions come out

NEIGHBORHOOD GRANTS MEETING
The January 16th Walmart/IRG meeting conflicted with the neighborhood improvement grant informational meeting scheduled for the same evening. Fortunately, the City has now scheduled one additional meeting on January 30 – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Arvada City Hall (Anne Campbell Room), 8101 Ralston Road.

This year’s program emphasizes applications from neighborhood associations versus homeowners’ associations. If you don’t have a neighborhood association and are thinking of applying for a grant, don’t forget that the CLRC neighborhood association covers the neighborhoods approximately a half a mile on each side Ralston Road from Kipling to Wadsworth. Here’s the City’s link for the coming information session and application forms:

http://arvada.org/about-arvada/arvada-launches-2013-neighborhood-grants/

WORKSHOP UPDATE
The Arvada City Council workshop held on December 10th didn’t find much benefit to adding a Kipling Street off ramp to feed the new commuter rail line at Arvada Ridge. The concern is that the new station will draw southbound traffic onto nearby residential streets such as Miller and Independence Streets and through the new apartments blocks being built near the station.

The station’s access problems are largely due to a Public Utilities Commission ruling not to allow a hoped-for crossing to be put in at Lee Street next to the station. Apart from being expensive to build and maintain, it seems that having a southbound off ramp feeding onto Ridge Road will do little to encourage commuters not to use nearby residential streets.

However, that might change if there were further development and available parking on the north side of Ridge Road. Currently, little development is being planned in the area next to the community college campus, although there has been talk of expanding the college to include a medical campus. Several Council members said that the City should first come up with a master plan for the further development of the area north of Ridge Road before investing in a new Kipling Parkway off ramp.

As for the chicken-keeping ordinance, it is to be left unchanged for another year. Arvada’s animal control staff said it was working well enough with very few violations. They would like to come back with another year’s worth of data on problems and complaints before the Council reconsiders the matter. The Council members seemed to agree.

There was no indication whether the Council would support the developer’s $3.6 million request to help build a parking structure for Arvada Ridge commuters and residents. If the Council doesn’t do that, the default plan is have RTD put in surface-only parking by opening day in 2016.

UPCOMING MEETINGS
The Council’s workshop on January 28th should be interesting. On the agenda are changes to parking management in Olde Town, policies for communicating with outside agencies and residents, once again changing the City’s Council district boundaries, and setting up performance measures for allocating City funds in future years.

In February, Apex will have three public meetings on its efforts to go to the voters to fund a regional recreation center at the Arvada Center that will cost $25 to $30 million to build, and for other improvements in the recreation district.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The growing ArvadaTriangle.org website has plenty of files and links to the Walmart, IRG, City, AEDA and AURA websites. Flyers were also handed out during the meeting inviting people to go to the Walmart protest group’s website at http://www.makingchangeatwalmart.org/ .

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 Facebook name is “CLRC Arvada”.

John Kiljan, CLRC Notes: 303-423-9875 or jpkiljan@yahoo.com
January 22, 2013

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2 Responses to CLRC Neighborhood Updates #11: Brooks Drive, Garrison reopening, Wolff Park, Walmart and more

  1. charles ault says:

    There really needs to be a push to resurface Brooks Drive.

  2. Barrett says:

    Walmart does nothing for livable codevelopment. The whole point is to suck all traffic within its big box walls. The plan shown, though perhaps it compares favorably to the Target on Kipling, continues to feature an asphalt parking lot along Ralston rather than walkable businesses that would fuel the local economy. CLRC should be up in arms about WalMart flexing its muscles in our neighborhood.

    CLRC Note: Our neihborhood association website is also a forum for discussions. Opinions both for and against Walmart are welcome here as are those for and against development in the Triangle. However, it is a moderated website and the site’s owner, T.O. Owens, reserves the right not to post comments that contain things like profanity, possible libel, or excessive hyperbole. –JK

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