by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Last month marked the end of the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community (CLRC) as a neighborhood association. Hopefully, the CLRC will continue as an intermittent neighborhood news service as long as it is needed. But article postings – especially those about upcoming community events – will become a lot less frequent.
And, except for a few possible ad-hoc gatherings, our annual meetings and steering committee meetings will also go away. As it is, the CLRC hasn’t needed to have a general meeting for a couple years, and our steering committee meetings, although more frequent, have been almost as limited.
SO WHY ARE WE GOING AWAY?
The short answer is that this neighborhood association no longer seems to be needed. But before going into why that is true, and what will remain of the organization, we should quickly review why our organization was formed in the first place.
A LITTLE HISTORY
The CLRC was organized in late 2010 at the suggestion of then Arvada Councilor Shelley Cook. Councilor Cook had noticed how effective neighborhood associations were in providing public input on development issues in other metro-area neighborhoods. In a nutshell, elected officials and those who establish policy are more interested in hearing feedback from organizations than they are in dealing with individual feedback that may not represent the community at large.
And there were a lot of issues facing the neighborhoods near the central Ralston Road corridor at that time. Those, in no particular order, included
- the pending redevelopment of what was to become Ralston Central Park,
- the need to redevelop the growing eyesore that the Triangle shopping centers had become,
- where to park cars in an Olde Town that was becoming an increasingly popular place to visit,
- the loss of the North Jeffco community swimming pool (aka, the Fisher Pool) at Garrison Street,
- the possible loss of the community gardens at 57th and Garrison,
- the unusable sidewalks and narrow lanes on Ralston Road, and
- the decline of opportunities for healthy activities for young people in the neighborhood,
These were most of the important issues identified by participants during the first couple of neighborhood association meetings held by the CLRC. But a lot has changed in five years. Not all of those issues have been resolved, but many have, and there are now well-defined plans to deal with the rest of them.
However, in the following years, many new issues came up. Those included Walmart’s offer to move into the Triangle, the development of Wolff Park, the closing of the Safeway, the potential closing of the UC Health emergency room, the redesign of Memorial Park, rising house prices and rental rates, the lack of new owner-occupied housing and the reasons why, flood remediation, City Council elections, a bizarre proposal to take space from businesses along Ralston Road to put in parallel parking, legislation to restrict urban renewal, higher density apartments near Olde Town, what appears to be a growing homeless problem in the City, the increasing use of the Lutz/Stenger sports complex, development plans for Arvada Square, scrape-offs in historic residential areas, the failure of prominent businesses in Olde Town, changing the management of the Arvada center, designing and building a modern hotel in Olde Town, street maintenance issues, and a variety of other issues related to the coming of the Gold Line commuter rail line to Olde Town and to Arvada Ridge. Keeping our neighborhoods informed about all those issues took far more effort than first anticipated.
RALSTONCOMMUNITY.ORG TO REMAIN
When formed, one of the purposes of the CLRC was to keep people informed about what was happening in central Arvada. In 2010 the need was definitely there. YourHub and the Arvada Press could only touch on local news events, and the abundant number of Arvada Facebook and Nextdoor social media groups we have now had not yet come about. The City of Arvada also greatly improved its social media outreach during that time. These days it is easy to find out what is happening in Arvada through a variety of sources, and Arvada citizens seem to have become much more socially aware of what is happening in the City during the last decade.
In the last five-and-a-half years the CLRC has posted 340 articles and received 293 feedback comments on our RalstonCommunity.org website, receiving tens of thousands of views with hundreds of regular readers. All of those posting and comments are still available for anyone to view in our archives dating back to the end of 2010. We have also run a Facebook page that often contains shorter items of interest, but I’m not sure if that will stay. It is set up in a “Community” Facebook format that does not encourage interactive discussions, but it automatically links to RalstonCommunity.org postings, so it is still a good way to become aware of them.
The RalstonCommunity.org website is no longer owned by T.O. Owens, our former president. It has been taken over by Preston Branaugh who was the CLRC’s treasurer. T.O. resigned from the neighborhood association on the advice of a City of Arvada attorney when he was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on the City’s Planning Commission. The Planning Commission reviews plans for future development projects and is often required to conduct quasi-judicial reviews to advise the Arvada City Council. Apparently, those kinds of reviews may be compromised by a leadership or ownership position in a neighborhood association.
WILL WE EVER COME BACK AS A NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION?
Possibly. But I suspect any future CLRC will have more to do with ad hoc development issues that may pop up from time to time rather than continuing with an ongoing neighborhood association.
And for me personally, as the primary contributor to the CLRC’s website, it is time to move on to other things I’d like to accomplish during my life. It’s also an opportunity to take the time to research more thoroughly the articles that I do continue to write and to cover a larger geographic area than just central Arvada.
For those readers who are on the iContact recreational information list that was put together when the CLRC and the City did the recreational needs surveys during the spring and summer of 2013, we’ll keep up those email lists and let you know of any important developments that come up as the Fitzmorris pool and rec facility, approved by the voters in the May bond issue, actually gets built.
And on another personal note: Thanks to all of you who have spoken to me or emailed me over the years thanking me and the CLRC for keeping you informed about what has been happening in Arvada. Feedback comments have generally run about 4-to-1 positive – even during controversial times such as the approval of Walmart as the Triangle’s new redevelopment anchor and Council member elections. The most common compliment was for being impartial and presenting both sides of each issue. But I found the negative comments to be just as valuable. They told me much about what citizens’ fears and concerns were. Hopefully, those who write for whatever the CLRC becomes in the future can continue a tradition of presenting both sides of every issue, while concentrating on providing relevant information and fewer personal opinions on what citizens should think.
Eventually, when I get some time, I will update the static information on RalstonCommunity.org to reflect the change to what I expect will primarily be an intermittent information service to the community.
And anyone who wants to post moderated articles is welcome to write to me and submit guest articles for review, formatting and posting on the RalstonCommunity.org website. The future of Arvada really lies with its youth, and young people who want to write about Arvada community issues and how it affects them are particularly welcome to submit articles for posting.
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE:
If you want to read our 2014 submittal to the City of Arvada to become a recognized neighborhood group, here is the link for that:
For other CLRC information, feel free to contact me at
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
Have a happy and safe 4th of July everyone!
4 July 2016