This month my office organized a tour that brought colleagues and city officials to sites downtown, in RiNo, and off South Broadway where hazardous railroad freight passes near existing or planned high-density residential developments. A few years ago I noticed a long line of tank cars on the Central Main Line below me as I drove over the Speer Boulevard bridge into downtown. This string of tank cars stretched from Coors Field to the west end of the Pepsi Center parking lot. This sight brought back awareness from emergency management training I’ve done as a current and previous member of Denver’s Office of Emergency Management’s Local Emergency Planning Committee. It caused me to consider the potential consequences of moving these materials through our city’s dense urban corridor, particularly given the massive increases in fuel ethanol and crude oil transported by rail.
Two years ago, I worked with Mayor Hancock to convene a railroad safety working group consisting of internal and external partners from local, state, and federal emergency management and public safety officials, as well as the railroads, to understand the scope of the threat posed to critical infrastructure such as Union Station, several thousand high-rise commercial and residential buildings, RTD’s parallel commuter rail lines, and entertainment venues of Coors Field, Pepsi Center and Six Flags Elitch Gardens. This work group focused on quickly determining which aspects of rail were preempted by federal transportation law and beyond local or state control.
We found two major aspects firmly within local control – emergency management and land-use regulation of sites near rail. Denver Planning and Development has now implemented a change to the application form used for planning and development review that indicates if a project is within 200 feet of a rail corridor. It is hoped this will trigger a discussion between staff and developers to determine how to best plan a specific site. It will also alert safety agencies of the proximity to rail when they are asked to review a development. Denver safety agencies are also working on enhancements to emergency management related to rail corridors, including training and communication, coordination between first responders and railroads, and developing disaster plans specific to rail.
The May 31 fire on I-25 involving a truck carrying flammable liquids was an important reminder of the risks associated with moving hazardous materials through urban areas.
The essential feature of preventative action is planning. Whether it involves evacuation planning, how you operate machinery, or moving rail cars through urban high-traffic areas such as downtown Denver; a plan makes all the difference in preventing a crisis, and mitigating impact should one occur.
This month is National Safety Awareness month, and I have sponsored a proclamation that will go before Council to draw attention to the need for greater safety awareness.
This June, I encourage everyone to keep an eye out on issues of safety in their community and in their own lives. Log onto the Office of Emergency Management web link to sign up for Community Emergency Response Training. Before planting a tree, make sure there are no gas lines in your digging area by calling 811. Ensure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are charged and properly situated. Consider putting the police non-emergency line in your phone (Denver: 720-913-2000). Look out for your neighbors, and please contact local public officials, including my office, with city safety concerns. Have a safe and wonderful start to your summer.
Denver Community Emergency Response Training
Emergency Preparedness for the Aging Population
June 29, 9 a.m. - noon
Southwest Improvement Council
1000 South Lowell Blvd.
Entrenamiento De Respuesta Comunitaria
July 8 & 15, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Globeville Community Church
5039 Lincoln St.
CERT - Disaster Ready Teen Club
July 11, 12 and 13, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Montbello Recreation Center
15555 E. 53rd Ave.
Face 2 Face Resliency Program
August 8, 6 - 8 p.m.
Cook Park Recreation Center
7100 Cherry Creek Dr.
For information on these and other classes contact the Office of Emergency Management.
Trump Budget Proclamation
On June 5, the Denver City Council unanimously adopted a resolution asking Colorado’s congressional delegation to oppose President Donald Trump’s budget proposal. His proposed budget calls for drastic cuts that would have a devastating impact on Denver — on our social programs, environment, workforce and more. If Congress approves this budget, the implications to Denver residents will be severe, particularly if you rely on any of these services. A copy of this proclamation was distributed to Colorado’s representatives and senators. If you’d like to make your voice heard on this issue, contact information for these elected officials can be found here.
Denver Animal Shelter
The Denver Animal Shelter is offering extended vaccination clinics through June every Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 1241 W Bayaud Avenue. More here : www.denveranimalshelter.org
Washington Street Community Center
Happy 50th anniversary to the Washington Street Community Center, 809 S. Washington Street. Founded in 1967, the WCSS provides a wonderful community center through the support of a tireless volunteer network. It is a place for residents in Wash Park and surrounding communities to meet, learn, and socialize. We build stronger communities because of places such as Washington Street Community Center. Visit their website to see what great things WSCC is doing www.wscc-denver.org.
GO Bond Update
This month the executive committee sent their 2017 general obligation bond (GO-Bond) project recommendations to Mayor Michael Hancock. The committee recommended $749 million in citywide projects, half of which are dedicated for transportation and mobility, the other half for infrastructure. The mayor is currently reviewing these recommendations and is expected to submit his proposal to City Council in the next few weeks. The GO-Bond projects are expected to be finalized in August, after which they will be put to voters on the November ballot. The tentative schedule is for City Council to review the proposal on July 17 with action on July 24 with official action in August. Public hearings are tentatively scheduled for August 7 and 14.