[editor’s note: This information is very much out of date. It goes back to the original founding of this neighborhood organization and needs a rewrite to say more about what the CLRC has evolved into in its five years of existence. –JK 22 Nov ember 2015]
How Are We Organized?
In a couple of words–very informally. We do not plan to register as a corporation, keep bank accounts, charge dues or membership fees, seek tax-exempt status, do mass mailings, form a taxing district, have officers, elections or regular meetings unless we really have to.
Our desire is to be an information service and a voice for the Ralston Road neighborhoods — not a bureaucracy. We hope to start out with just a self-organized steering committee of those who are most interested in local community affairs. If we have to get more organized in the future we will, but that is not our goal.
How Did We Get Started?
There are no secrets here. The idea for a Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community neighborhood association started with a suggestion by Arvada City Councilor Shelley Cook to two local residents, T.O. Owens and John Kiljan. We were two of a number of local residents who thought that the City was moving too fast on its redevelopment plans for the North Jeffco Community Park. Ms Cook’s suggestion was that local community members would have more say in influencing public policy of we could organize, even if it were just a loose organization.
Starting up any neighborhood association is a lot of work. If you don’t believe that, volunteer with us to distribute organizational fliers on a windy day, or write a few articles or news reports on items of neighborhood community interest — not to mention the effort in setting up and maintaining a website.
We did not want to make that kind of effort if it were only to provide feedback on the park. Other community issues are on the horizon including the reconstruction of Ralston Road from Olde Town to Kipling and the integration of AURA’s plans for the renewal of the Triangle shopping district. After some discussion, we decided to make the attempt only if the association were designed to cover broader community-development issues. The suggestion for the name, Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community, came from RTD board member, Lorraine Anderson.
So, What Are Our Issues?
Just about anything that can best be dealt with by a neighborhood association. Briefly, there are three issues that top our list of immediate community concerns. They are:
* The creation of a new Central Park from the existing North Jeffco Community Park and Hoskinson Park. The City has held the last of its two public input sessions, but there is not yet a final list of recreational facilities to be included in the new park. Also yet to come is dealing with the disruption caused by the reconstruction of the Garrison Street bridge in 2011 as well as the park through 2012 — including road closures, detours and haul routes for the needed excavation work.
* The plans for the reconstruction of Ralston Road from Olde Town to Kipling. This section of Ralston Road has been crying out for usable sidewalks and safety improvements for decades. The City is ready to finalize its plans and has a December 20, 2010 deadline for public response to its consultant’s proposals. There will be winners and losers in whatever design concepts are finally approved.
* AURA’s urban renewal plans for the shopping district known variously as The Triangle/Arvada Square/Arvada Plaza and Ralston Fields. That development is only likely to come from the private sector with supporting tax credits by the City. The economy is in a funk right now and development capital is scarce, but when redevelopment offers do come from the private sector, they may also come with a short take-it-or-leave-it fuse.
What Are Not Our Issues?
Those are the issues not unique to this neighborhood and that also require a city-wide solution. For example, creating a trash-hauling franchise to reduce the number of garbage trucks going down our streets each week, or the steady increase in water rates planned for the coming years because we buy our water from Denver, or the completion of the northwest beltway. It’s not that these are not important issues, it’s just that they are probably not best dealt with by a local neighborhood association.
But, city-wide issues that can be dealt with locally are fair game. Those could include such things as graffiti removal, gang activities, sanding and snow removal, improving healthy youth activities and curbing drug dealing. Fortunately, those kinds of things don’t seem to be serious issues for the Ralston Road community right now, but we don’t know what the future will bring.
Also not on our issues agenda is political endorsements. The CLRC will make none. Endorsements and positions on ballot issues would complicate any further organization needed to apply for funding grants.
Does that mean the CLRC will stay out of elections altogether? Not at all. We are also a community information service and website followers may be able to find interviews with those who are running for local public office just like you would in any local newspaper. And, we may become a forum for opinion pieces on just about any ballot issues.
Why Are We A Neighborhood Association and Not a Home Owners Association?
Well, mostly it is a matter of semantics. HOA membership is generally mandatory through rules tied to the ownership of property like deed restrictions. Neighborhood association membership is voluntary or informal. HOA’s often own and maintain common property, such as recreational facilities, parks, and roads, whereas neighborhood associations are focused on general advocacy and community events.
Most large US cities have both neighborhood associations (NA’s) and home owner’s associations (HOA’s). Denver requires both kinds of organizations to register with their city. If you’d like to see a listing of their registered neighborhood organizations (there are dozens), have a look a their website at
What Will We Do If We Do Not Get Enough Participation From the Neighborhood?
Despite getting hundreds of hits on this website since the first informational fliers were handed out in early December, the number of people actually signing up to receive future notices and participate in the association is low. We’ll probably give it a couple of months, but if the interest is not there, the effort to form a neighborhood association will be stopped.
If that happens, our community voice will be diminished and the community organizers who started this board will say, “Well, we tried, but people seem to prefer to express their community needs and concerns as individuals and not as an organization.”
Only you can decide if that happens.