2013: Denver City Council’s Year in Review
1/14/2014 3:19 PM
To celebrate 2013 and the accomplishments made on behalf of the 660,000 residents of this great City, the Denver City Council invites you to review highlights of several citywide initiatives launched or completed during the year as well as particular achievements that Denver City Councilmembers were involved in the communities they represent:
· 2A funding passed by voters in November 2012 allows the Denver Police Department and the Denver Fire Department to hire new cadets in 2013.
· Denver convenes a Housing Taskforce to examine the state of housing and homelessness in Denver. This resulted in Council passing amendments to the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which gives homeowners greater flexibility when facing challenging housing markets.
· City Council passes a 2014 City budget that sets aside $3 million to seed an affordable housing fund.
· Denver Public Works completes Phase 1 of the 15th Street protected bike lane, which reorganized traffic on the main thoroughfare through downtown. The completion of Phase 2 – vertical separation is expected in spring 2014.
· Completes the 100th mile of bike lane outlined in Denver Moves.
· The Denver MyCard program grants Denver youth access to Denver Recreation Centers free of charge.
· The Denver International Airport begins direct flight service to Tokyo, Japan.
· Denver celebrates the Inaugural Denver Days (August 3 -11, 2013) with 150+ community centered events.
· The West Light Rail Line opens connecting downtown Denver with the western suburbs of Lakewood and Golden.
· The East Line Commuter Rail and station at the Denver International Airport (DIA) reaches midpoint in construction. The East Line Commuter Rail from Union Station to DIA is expected to begin operations in spring 2016.
· The North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative is formed to advise and coordiante the development of the National West Stock Show site, the East Commuter Rail and associated Transit Oriented Developments, and the redevelopment of the 1-70 corridor.
· The Denver City Council creates and adopts regulations for the recreational marijuana industry in Denver, made legal by voters in November 2012 (for Q&A about recreational marijuana in Denver, see last month's blog post).
Councilwoman Susan Shepherd’s office collaborated with neighborhood leaders to organize Cultivating Communities, a daylong event that brought people together to discuss community-level solutions to neighborhood policy problems. The group took a focus on bicycling and pedestrian issues, education, affordable and senior housing, and marijuana and had the opportunity to exchange ideas with their neighbors and to make the connections that will be needed to move forward with solutions.
Councilmember Jeanne Faatz’s office contributed $40,000 to the construction of new pedestrian/bike bridge along the Bear Creek regional bike trail. This bridge improves the safety and convenience of the bike trail by connecting the new south side trail with the Sheridan Blvd. underpass, while providing access to the new grocery store that is replacing the long-vacant Albertson’s store at Dartmouth Ave. and Sheridan Blvd.
Councilmember Paul Lopez worked with community members, Denver Parks and Recreation, and outdoor recreation non-profits to break ground on Cuatro Vientos/Four Winds Park in the Westwood neighborhood. It has been nearly 30 years since a new park was built in District 3.
Councilmember Peggy Lehmann collaborated with Denver Public Works to make several key infrastructure improvements in 2013. Thanks to Better Denver Bond funds and Wastewater funds, sidewalk construction and storm water drainage upgrades were made that improved the safety and connectivity of neighbors to the Dayton Light Rail Station.
Council President Mary Beth Susman worked on responsible redevelopment at the former University of Colorado Health Science Campus located on 9th and Colorado Blvd, the Buckley Annex at Lowry, and on East Colfax Ave.
In 2013, Council District 7 celebrated the completion of the South Broadway streetscape improvements – a milestone revitalization project along South Broadway from Yale to Arizona funded through the Better Denver Bond Program. The revitalization of the “Spine of South Denver” included major capital improvements such as median enhancements, drainage improvements, sidewalk widening, signal improvements, street lighting enhancements, public art, and multi-modal travel components. As the City’s premiere southern gateway, South Broadway is now an inviting and welcoming entrance that celebrates everything great about the Mile High City.
Councilman Albus Brooks’ office initiated a neighborhood listening tour when he first came into office that involved meeting with over 800 residents and 10 neighborhoods. One of the key priorities for most residents was the need for healthy and affordable grocery stores within their neighborhoods. Councilman Brooks began to meet with potential grocers and developers in order to get the ball rolling, and in 2013 two new grocery stores opened in Council District 8: Sprouts Farmers Market on Colfax and Garfield, and Walgreens on 35th and Colorado Boulevard. This Sprouts location is now the number one revenue producing Sprouts in the Country. The Walgreens on 35th & Colorado Boulevard is the first of its kind in Colorado, bringing a selection of fresh produce, sandwiches and salads.
Councilmember Judy Montero’s office collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to host former President Jimmy Carter. During “President Carter Build Week,” Denverites came together to build many homes in the Globeville and Elyria Swansa Neighborhoods
Councilmember Jeanne Robb’s office worked with community leaders, business owners, and city agencies in 2013 to plan for development in District 10. This included new zoning in the Cherry Creek North business district and the Golden Triangle Neighborhood. Additionally, Councilwoman Robb’s office was involved in the Colfax Corridor Connections Study, which is currently examining transportation improvements that will make traveling on the Colfax corridor more pleasant and faster.
2013 marked the third year of the Northeast Denver Leadership Week, Councilmember Chris Herndons’s week-long leadership program for high school students in Northeast Denver. The program offers students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to connect with civic and industry leaders throughout Denver. The goal is to grow the next generation of leaders by educating students about careers in leadership and inspiring them to pursue such roles in their own careers. Nearly 50 students participated in the program in 2013.
Councilmember Robin Kniech’s office made significant progress on big projects that will ensure a strong, sustainable future for Denver. The Councilwoman began modernizing Denver’s affordable housing policy and expanding resources for the creation of new affordable homes starting in 2014. We are pleased that Denver is now in negotiations with Xcel Energy to convert a Globeville brownfield into a short grass prairie open space, in partnership with the community and Groundwork Denver. Councilwoman Kniech is also very active in the Regional Council of Government’s development of goals for the Denver Metro Region and transportation funding criteria that will shape the region for decades to come.
Councilmember Debbie Ortega’s office introduced legislation that would create a fee on paper and plastic bags used in grocery stores. To date this legislation has not been adopted, but the Councilwoman believes this effort elevated the conversation about the need to address bag waste as part of Denver’s overall waste stream, moving the implementation of Denver’s Solid Waste Master Plan forward. Additionally, the 2014 budget funds the conversion of nine trash route from dumpsters to roll out barrels; an effort for which the Councilwoman advocated.
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