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City Council Meeting, December 16, 2013 (Last of the year!)

District 1’s Rachel Zenzinger was absent, as she has been appointed to take over Evie Hudak’s State Senate seat following Hudak’s resignation November 27. All other members were present.

The meeting opened with recognition of 14-year-old Arvada resident Logan Piz. Piz, a student at Ralston Valley H.S., was diagnosed earlier this year with a form of cancer affecting mostly children and adolescents. He has been following a treatment regimen, and has been a support to other patients. Logan has been an avid hockey player since age 3, and through the Make-A-Wish foundation was able to have the Stanley Cup brought to the APEX center for hockey lovers to see. Logan also appeared at center ice with the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center, at the start of a game dedicated to the National Hockey League’s Battle Against Cancer.

Mayor Marc Williams said that Logan has been an inspiration to Arvadans, and presented him with a certificate of recognition on behalf of Arvada.

Logan thanked the council and said that most Make-A-Wish kids ask to go out of state, and don’t get to see the magic that their wish has brought to their community.

Councilmember Bob Dyer said that Logan’s plaque, signed today by all council members, was the last thing Rachel Zenzinger signed as a council member, and that it may be a collector’s item as Zenzinger continues to go on to bigger and better things.

New business consisted of consent agenda surrounding seven items:

R13-174 authorizes an amendment to the city’s retirement plan;

-175 authorizes an approximately $810,000 agreement between the city and Arvada company W.L. Contractors for traffic control equipment maintenance;

-176 amends an agreement between the city and San Jose, CA’s Brocade Communication Systems, Inc. of approximately $57,000, for information networking and storage;

-177 authorizes an agreement between the city and Tukwila, WA’s FileOnQ, Inc., for an evidence management system for the police department, for approximately $75,000;

-178 issues a purchase order to Redwood City, CA’s Oracle America Inc, in the amount of $139,672.99, for software update license and support;

-179 authorizes an agreement between the city and Union Pacific Railroad for improvements at four crossings; and

-180 authorizes an agreement between the city and Tempe, AZ’s Logan Simpson Design, Inc. for updates to the Comprehensive Plan, in the amount of $184,259.

The consent agenda passed, 6-0.

Two resolutions followed: R13-181, adopting the City of Arvada’s Legislative Agenda, and R13-182, which concerns an intergovernmental agreement between Denver and Arvada, concerning the cooperative use by police departments of radio communications equipment. Formerly, Arvada had such an agreement with Westminster; that agreement has expired and Lakewood, Denver, and Arvada have entered into a new partnership.

With respect to the legislative agenda, City Manager Mark Deven said that Arvada’s official position is in favor of home rule/local control; that Federal or State mandates, particularly unfunded mandates, should not be forced on cities; and that local problems call for local solutions. There will be meetings between Deven and other city managers, and state legislators to make clear the intentions of the cities.

The resolutions passed, 6-0.

Next were first readings of four ordinances, all of which will be revisited at a Public Hearing set for January 6, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

CB13-050 would amend the city’s retirement plan regarding provisions of the Colorado Civil Union Act and Self-Directed Brokerage;

CB13-051 restates the city’s retirement plan;

CB13-052 adopts the floodplain map. The new map will be effective February 5, 2014. Approximately 420 parcels were removed and 180 added to the 100-year floodplain. This is separate from the recent work which was done at Garrison Street and Ralston Creek. The process of reevaluating properties in that area is expected to continue until approximately June of 2014.

More information can be found at https://arvada.org/public-works-department/new-floodplain-maps-for-jefferson-county. Also, to see if your property’s status has changed, you can call the city’s Engineering Division at 720-898-7640.

CB13-053 refers to an eminent domain issue at 7500 to 7510 Grandview, a commercial property housing a number of businesses including Colorado Locksmiths, Stella B’s Boutique, and Spellbound Art. The city wishes to acquire the property for use as urban open space and a public transit plaza.

The ordinances were passed, 6-0.

With the departure of Rachel Zenzinger for the State Senate seat, a vacancy was created on the board of DRCOG. Councilmember John Marriott nominated Bob Fifer to serve on that board, and Mayor Williams will be the alternate. This passed, 6-0. Mayor Williams said that Zenzinger did a “very admirable job” at this position, which is a “main conduit for bringing dollars back to Arvada.”

Public hearings followed, regarding eight issues:

CB13-043 concerns the agreement between the city and the cities of Lakewood and Denver, for the sharing of a radio communications police network. Councilmember Bob Fifer, as Vice-chair of the FirstNet governance board, said he is in favor of this agreement.

It passed, 6-0.

CB13-044 regards additional appropriations for 2013. Lisa Yagi, Interim Director of Finance, gave a presentation explaining the $24.7 million appropriation in detail. First, Yagi explained, a budget is passed in the prior year (in this case, in 2012,) and then toward the end of the current year the city needs to make adjustments to ensure that legal budget authority is not exceeded. It is also important to note that reserve funds or revenue funds are used to cover these expenses; in other words, the appropriations are not “new” expenses but have to be accounted for in a double-entry accounting system, as is common to most if not all municipalities.

Appropriations are for projects involving Memorial and Majestic View Parks; for the capital improvement fund; for the police radio system; for water taps and traffic signals; for debt service on 2003 bonds, which are paid with the proceeds of 2013 bonds; for a loan to AURA to purchase a building; for water rights paid by JCMD; for the golf fund, Meyer Pool repairs, carpeting for the Arvada Center, for permitting and inspection, for remodeling of the city council chamber and the expansion of KATV video services; for the sales tax refund program; for emergency traffic control expenditures, probably to be paid by FEMA, as it was flood-related; for sales tax reimbursement incentives; for a jury room and upgrades to the court’s record management; and CIP and Jag grants for the police department.

The sales tax refund program is for low income and senior residents, who can receive reimbursement of part of their sales tax on groceries. It is offered one time per year according to the number of people in a household, and amounts to approximately $70 to $80 for the first person and $50 for each additional person in the household.

CB13-044 passed, 6-0.

CB13-045 is also an eminent domain item, involving land near Grandview between Kipling and Independence. It is for an extension of the Van Bibber Trail, which will have an underpass beneath Kipling Street. There is a DRCOG grant of $1.6 million for the extension, which will extend the trail from Oak Street to Grandview, providing links with the Gold Line and Wheat Ridge’s bike/pedestrian facilities. Completion is expected in 2016.

Councilmember John Marriott, also chairman of the Colorado State Trail Committee, said that the project will provide connectivity between existing trails and is a good solution, particularly given that there is grant money to fund the project.

Mark Deven said that he has been asked why the project was not moved closer to Ralston Road. He said that there were problems with capacity closer to Ralston Road because of Arvada Plaza, and also that the grant was approved near Grandview; the city was then reluctant to make changes in that plan.

The ordinance passed, 6-0.

CB13-046 is to amend penalties for continuing violations of Chapter 1, General Provisions, of the Arvada City Code (Ordinance No. 4415.) City Attorney Chris Daly spoke about the reason for this change. Up until now, a defendant pleading to or proven guilty of these violations faced a maximum fine of $999. This amount had not changed in a number of years, and a group of mayors belonging to the Colorado Municipal League sought to have it indexed to inflation and updated so as to be a sufficient deterrent. Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky presented the continuing problem of overweight trucks and his belief that $999 was not enough to deter continued violations. Colorado’s legislature raised the maximum fine to $2,650, which will be adjusted in accordance with inflation. Arvada, adopting this change now, will need no further city council action to index changes to the state’s maximum fine amount.

This ordinance passed, 6-0.

CB13-048 refers to the cable television agreement between the city and Philadelphia, PA’s Comcast of Colorado. Comcast provides cable television services to Arvada households east of Indiana Street. The original contract began in 1995, was for fifteen years; it was then extended by three years in 2010, and is now undergoing negotiations. This ordinance extends the contract to April 1, 2014, and City Attorney Daly said that negotiations with Comcast are going well.

Mayor Williams asked that Daly and his people “keep the heat on, for this ordinance and the next one, to make sure we’re getting these two issues addressed.”

The ordinance passed, 6-0.

CB13-049 refers to the agreement between the city and Alamogordo, NM’s TDS Baja Broadband, Inc. In one of the more animated discussions of the night, Daly and Mayor WIlliams made clear their disappointment with the service now being provided by Baja. Councilmember Fifer pointed out that citizens on the west side of Indiana can’t receive local channel 4, despite its being a free over-the-air channel. Councilmember Dyer wondered what might happen if the city turned down the extension; Daly said the current agreement expires at the end of December and Baja might not operate without an agreement. Williams said that he had previously voted against the transfer and that the 4 to 2 vote should have sent a message to Baja; that the sticking point appeared to be costs of about $300K which is “small potatoes” for Baja, and that there definitely needs to be a resolution to the problems currently existing. Williams added that he hopes Baja will be watching the evening’s proceedings on KATV.

The ordinance passed 5 to 1, with Councilmember Dyer dissenting.

The next item was in regard to the Arvada Ridge FasTracks Station at the southwest corner of Kipling Street and Ridge Road. Present were representatives of RTD and of the architect, Fluor HDR, who gave presentations showing the project.

It became evident during discussion that there is a high potential for access problems and for unacceptable noise levels for the residents of the Arvada Station apartments. The plans for the FasTracks station were made before the apartments were built, but were approved by the owner and developer of those apartments. Councilmember Fifer raised concerns, saying he has lived in downtown Denver and is familiar with the noise levels from buses making it difficult to sleep at night. He asked the RTD representative how many buses would be going through the area per day, but that information was not available. Councilmember Dyer also expressed concerns about the traffic levels at Kipling and 51st causing problems which would lead to heavier traffic flow from Lee Street to 52nd Avenue and on to Miller Street; he said that he hopes the traffic engineers think hard about the timing of that 51st Avenue light so as to ease congestion.

Councilmember Marriott wondered why no additional public hearings were required for this development plan. Director of Community Development Mike Elms said that the project has been on the Comprehensive Plan, which has been the subject of many public meetings by the city and RTD.

Councilmember Mark McGoff said that the landscaping looks well done.

Mayor Williams acknowledged that the design of traffic flow and the buses’ direction through Arvada Station is not ideal, and he hopes, with additional development on the north side of Ridge Road, that a solution may be found in the future.

The ordinance passed 6-0.

CB13-047 vacates access easements at the Leyden Rock Project Site. Mark Deven said he will be happy to answer any questions.

The ordinance passed 6-0.

There was no public comment.

Reports from City Manager: Mark Deven asked for two special city council meetings: one on Friday, January 3 at 3:30 p.m., to name the finalists for the vacancy left by Councilmember Rachel Zenzinger, now Senator Zenzinger; the other on Friday, January 10 at 8:00 a.m., to interview the finalists and make a decision. Both meetings will be open to the public. The requests were approved, 6-0.

City Attorney Chris Daly requested the help of attorneys from the Denver firm Sherman and Howard to assist with the city’s change of health insurance status to self-insurance. Daly said that the amount should not exceed $10,000, but if it does he will request the additional funds. The request was approved, 6-0.

Mayor Williams brought the meeting to a close, reminding everyone that it was the last Council meeting of the year.

 

City Council Meeting, December 2, 2013

All members were present except Mayor Marc Williams.
The Arvada Housing Authority began their meeting at 6 p.m.  Speaking on behalf of the AHA was Executive Director Ed Talbot, who opened with a description of the 2013 License to Dream Thanksgiving Dinner giveaway. Seventy-one low-income Arvada families received dinners through this event, which is a joint partnership between Arvada residents Joe and Barb Eberle and over one hundred volunteers and donors.
Talbot went on to discuss the AHA budget for 2014. The amount anticipated for Section 8 assistance will be $3.4 million. Administration will cost an additional $493,000, for a total of approximately $3.9 million, providing assistance for almost five hundred Arvada households. Most of that money is expected to be paid by HUD; however, there are serious problems stemming from the sequestration and subsequent Federal government budget issues.
One casualty of the current budget cuts, Talbot said, is the Stride self-sufficiency program. Formed in 1991, Stride focuses on individually tailored programs to help families reduce reliance on public assistance. The amount HUD would pay for Arvada families to participate in Stride is $25,000. That money is unavailable for 2014 from HUD; therefore, Arvada will not be supporting the program in 2014 unless other funding is found.
At this point, Councilmembers Bob Fifer, Bob Dyer, and Rachel Zenzinger expressed concern about leaving this program unfunded. Fifer shared his belief that many people have not recovered from the recession, and that $25,000 contributes “a big impact for a little money.” Dyer agreed and said that the council should explore other alternatives to HUD. Zenzinger asked if Arvada has any other resources for homeless people. The answer is that the Jeffco Action Center and other county programs are available, including “211” phone listings of help for low income needs; there is nothing else directly from Arvada.
Director of Community Development Mike Elms interjected that his department has had a number of “operational issues” with Stride, which they have tried repeatedly to have corrected. Elms said he does not believe it is in the best interest of the Housing Authority or of the City to continue a relationship with Stride. He offered to send Council a memo giving a more in-depth description of the issues he mentioned.
After that input from Elms, city council members’ general consensus was to continue looking for other options which could be more acceptable.  Zenzinger asked Talbot if AHA has communicated with Congress about the impact of the budget cuts. Talbot affirmed that there has been extensive communication on both the state and national levels.

The Arvada Housing Authority meeting concluded, and the City Council meeting began.

The minutes of the November 18 meeting were unanimously approved.

Public Comment: Judith Denham of the Arvada Festivals Commission introduced Jessica Johnson and Mark Atwater, co-chairs of the Scarecrow Festival and the Wines for the Holiday Wine Tasting. They said that the Scarecrow Festival was very successful, perhaps largely because of the excellent weather; estimated attendance was 2,000 to 2,500. Pumpkin sales raised $430 for the Arvada Community Food Bank.

The wine tasting was enjoyed by about 425 people at Standley Lake Library. Featured was an auction of 156 items donated by 125 businesses and individuals, and music by two bands and a DJ. Six wineries and seven caterers donated food and wine, and forty-two volunteers donated about 350 hours of time. The event raised a whopping $14,686.

Denham presented a check to Rachel Capra, business manager of Carin’ Clinic, for $4,686, and a check to Brad Rupert, board chair of the Arvada Community Food Bank, for $10,000. Capra said that Carin’ Clinic has so far this year provided over 1,400 uninsured Arvada children with medical, dental, and mental health services, and was thankful for the unexpected donation from the Festivals Commission. Rupert echoed those thanks and said that the Arvada festivals raise the quality of life for Arvadans, and reminded citizens to remember Colorado Gives Day, December 10.

New Business consisted of a consent agenda, R13-161 through R13-170:

R13-161 authorizes the purchase of water treatment chemicals in an amount not to exceed $723,967 annually.

R13-162 and R13-163 are for easements for the Goodwill Store to be built at 6340 McIntyre Street.

R13-164 adopts the 2014 pay plan.

R13-165, -166, -167, and -168 renew the employment agreements for the following relief municipal judges: George M. Graber, Michael S. Matassa, Ralph C. Turano, and George W. Boyle, II. A brief check on the website AVVO found that all four of these attorneys have a “good” rating and no professional misconduct on their records; they have between 28 and 42 years of practice.

R13-169 authorizes the purchase of police uniforms and equipment, for up to $175,000 per year.

R13-170 approves a 2014 operating plan for the Indiana Marketplace Business Improvement District.

All resolutions passed, 6-0.

R13-171 refers to an agreement between the city and BKD, LLP, for auditing, accounting, and financial management services. These services are provided to a variety of city departments and entities, including city government, AURA, the Arvada Center, Ralston House, and Arvada Economic Development.

Councilmember John Marriott asked if the amount being paid is in line with past fees to other accounting firms; Lisa Yagi confirmed that it is.

R13-172 authorizes an agreement between the city and the Seniors’ Resource Center. Speaking on behalf of the SRC was Karen Brady, board member and 23-year resident of Arvada.

SRC, in its thirty-sixth year of operation, serves  a 1,200 square mile area ranging from the foothills to Tower Road, and from 160th Avenue south to C-470. SRC provided transportation services worth over $400,000 to more than 21,800 people in the last year. Also, in Arvada alone, SRC provided 21 residents with day care and respite aid, 65 residents with in-home care; 120 residents received care management assistance, and 18 took part in SRC’s volunteer match program, which links seniors to volunteers for such things as home repairs and tax help.

Arvada will be providing money, fuel and maintenance services amounting to approximately $146,867. This works out to about $1.50 per mile driven.

Councilmember Marriott asked how this stacks up next to the cost paid by comparable programs. The answer given was that costs to the SRC are about $20 per ride, and the lowest in the Denver metro area; RTD and other programs pay significantly more per ride.

R13-173 refers to an agreement between the city and the State of Colorado pertaining to Ridge Road bike/pedestrian improvements. This intergovernmental agreement was approved in the March 4, 2013 city council meeting, project no. 13-TR-20. It will result in a widened sidewalk, modified bridge, and bike lanes.

All resolutions were approved, 6-0.

Seven ordinances were set for public hearings to be held on December 16 at 6:30 p.m:

CB13-043 would authorize an agreement between Arvada, Lakewood, and the City and County of Denver to share a radio communications network.

CB13-044 would allow additional appropriations for fiscal year 2013.

CB13-045 would allow acquisition of property near the Arvada Cemetary for Van Bibber Trail extension.

CB13-046 would amend section 1-5 of Chapter 1 of the Arvada City Code.

CB13-047 would vacate access easements at the Leyden Rock site.

CB13-048 and -049 would extend the franchises of Comcast and Baja Cable Services.

All ordinances were approved, 6-0, to be set for public hearing, December 16.

Councilmember Dyer announced appointments to the Arvada Economic Development Association. Terms are for two years, and the city council appoints a total of four members, including two this year. Arvada is re-appointing Steve Camins, who has served on the AEDA since 1997, and Paul Duncan, a new member. Councilmember Fifer asked if there are term limits for AEDA members; Director Hazel Hartbarger responded that there are not. Some other members of the AEDA are Shawn Olson of Sundyne Corp., Janet Steinkamp, Associate Vice President of Red Rocks Arvada Campus; Fred Baker of United Properties; Maro Dimmer of Rheinlander Bakery; Dave Doherty of Piper Electric, and Mike Litzau of the Sooper Credit Union.

There was no public to speak of, at this point, therefore no public comment.

Reports from City Council:

Councilmember Zenzinger pointed out a sticker she was wearing, which is for the Bone Marrow Donor Registry. She said that it is painless to register, requiring only a cheek swab, and is a great opportunity to help. Registering does not create any future commitment to donate.

Zenzinger also said that DRCOG and Metrovision are working to simplify criteria for TIF, and that DRCOG considers Arvada Director of Public Works Bob Manwaring a “good, expert resource.”

Councilmember Fifer said that he has been appointed as a representative to the Colorado governance board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet,) which will have its first meeting next week at City Hall.

Councilmember Marriott said that, as the owner of a small local business, he is happy to report that business has been great lately. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday were both very good. Marriott encouraged the support of local businesses, saying, “If you can find it here, buy it here!”

Councilmember Fifer followed by describing shopping Thanksgiving evening at Kohl’s on 64th Ave. He said that, one hour into the evening, the line to check out stretched the length of the store, and it took two hours to get to the cashiers.

Councilmember Dyer said that he and his wife spent part of Small Business Saturday in Olde Town, and were amazed at how packed the downtown was. He also reminded citizens that tomorrow is the tree lighting in Olde Town, as well as the kickoff to Lagniappe, beginning at 5:30.

City Manager Mark Deven said that next Monday’s meeting will include a report from Arvada’s Sister Cities program, as well as a request to consider a Golf Advisory Committee.

A motion was made to cancel the December 23 meeting. This passed 5-1, with Councilmember Don Allard dissenting. There will be no City Council meeting or workshop on December 23.

There was no report from the City Attorney, and the meeting was adjourned.

City Council Meeting, November 18, 2013

All Councilmembers were present, including John Marriott, representing District 3. The current Mayor Pro Tem is Mark McGoff.

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Public Comment: Nancy Young asked, Does Arvada listen? She gave as an example, the recent Trammel Crow TOD meeting, which was well-attended, but as Nancy pointed out, included only one member of Arvada’s City Council. Young asserted that the Council seems to lack interest in what the citizens think and what they want. She said, “If you are not present, you are not listening…[and] in effect, ignoring the citizens who elected you.”

Additional public comment concerned the Rocky Mountain Greenway Trail, which will eventually comprise hundreds of miles of trails in a network linking open space, wildlife refuges, national parks and community trail systems. Arvada and Westminster will be receiving a grant.

New Business:
Consent Agenda

R13-143 transfers Tower Site lease rights and responsibilities from the City of Westminster to the City of Arvada.

R13-144 allows an increase of $200,000 for chemicals for Water Treatment Plant operations.

R13-145 authorizes paying RTD $355,633 for replacement, relocation, and modification of wastewater lines in the Gold Line Corridor.

R13-146 authorizes Fidelity Management Trust Company to provide portfolio advisory services to police retirement plan participants.

R13-147 authorizes up to $250,000 for office furnishings for the community police stations opening in February at 64th and Kendrick and 81st and Vance. These stations will base police operations out of three sectors, including the present Ralston Road location.

R13-148 allows an increase for purchases of sand/salt material, from $45,000 to $125,000.

R13-149 is for VTI Security Integrators, for video and access control systems at the Arvada Center.

R13-150 amends a July agreement between Arvada and Eagle Software, Inc.

R13-151 relates to potable water system infrastructure improvements for the Leyden Rock Subdivision.

R13-152 accepts sidewalk easements from Cyrus Mfg. Co. and Jamie G. Peth and Janet G. Wright, co-trustees of the Betty Jean Cole Living Trust, pertaining to the West 56th Avenue Sidewalk Completion Project, Project #13-ST-15.

R13-153 authorizes submission of a 2014 Local Park and Recreation Grant to Jefferson County Open Space for Griffith Station Park, which will be near 52nd and Carr streets, across the street from a planned group of nine two-story townhomes.

R13-154 allows a change in contract between the city and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., for $225,553.75 for milling and overlay on Project No. 13-ST-01.

R13-155 accepts a General Warranty Deed and Utility Easement from Elizabeth D. Wieland, pertaining to 16595 W. 82nd Avenue (near Leyden Rock Subdivision.)

R13-156 ratifies a grant agreement between the city and the Colorado Health Foundation for an expected $1 million the city will receive. The Colorado Health Foundation, founded in 1995, provides grants for organizations that focus on encouraging healthy living.

All resolutions passed, 7 to 0.

R13-157 is for a construction contract to T&M Construction for $243,354 for the Garrison Street Trail, West 57th Avenue to Ralston Road, Project # 13-ST-18. This is part of the CDOT Safe Routes to School program (SRTS.) City Manager Mark Deven recommended approval.

This resolution passed, 7 to 0.

R13-158 approved an agreement between Arvada and Paladina Health, LLC, for a wellness clinic for city employees. The clinic will take the place of a primary physician for those employees who want that option. This plan is expected to save the city approximately $1 million annually, as a self-funded medical model. Discussions have begun with city employees, and feedback has been positive.

This resolution passed, 7 to 0.

Third Quarter Financial Report: Lisa Yagi, Interim Director of Finance, gave a Power Point presentation. The full report can be seen on the city’s website at Arvada.org. Yagi said that the expenditures have been about as expected, although there were challenges relating to the Arvada Center. Flood related expenses are expected to be covered by FEMA and the State of Colorado, but Arvada has a reserve fund, if needed.

The city’s General Fund contained about $23 million at the beginning of 2013; revenues are expected to be about $500,000 above projections, while expenditures may fall $500,000 below projections. The excess can be applied to one-time expenditures for the 2014 budget.

Sales tax is up about 5.7% over 2012. Use tax is also growing, faster than expected. Intergovernmental revenues, however, fell short.

Funds are being set aside for capital improvements, including the Gold Line, Ralston Central Park, the Kipling Underpass, and traffic signs and signals.

Controller Bryan Archer spoke about tax increment funds, which are up $100,000 for the year, and the Golf Fund, which is down from 2012. Archer said that the mild weather in 2012 allowed the golf courses to open early, which was not the case in 2013. In addition, the flood caused lost revenue, as did restaurant remodeling.

Archer closed with remarks on the Hospitality Fund, which also suffered a loss through the third quarter, but is expected to rebound in November and December.

Public Hearing: State Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp made announcements regarding resolutions R13-159 and R13-160, which authorize assistance funds to various agencies in the Arvada area. Among the many recipients under R13-159 are Arapahoe House, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Archway Housing, Catholic Charities, Angel Heart, the Senior Center, Family Tree, Glass Hearts, Hope House, and Interchurch ARMS.

R13-160 approves a Block Grant for Volunteers of America for Meals on Wheels, Ralston House, Food Bank of the Rockies, Caring Clinic, and the Arvada Community Food Bank.

There was no public comment. Mayor Williams disclosed that he provides legal services for Volunteers of America, but that he does not believe there is a conflict of interest. Councilmember Rachel Zenzinger stated that she is on the board of directors of Ralston House, but also does not see a conflict of interest. Councilmember Bob Fifer, likewise, said that he is on the board of directors of the Arvada Food Bank, but that he had no input as to which organizations would be receiving funds.

Councilmember Mark McGoff asked if Catholic Charities and Glass Hearts were new applicants. Kraft-Tharp said this was the first time they have applied; Catholic Charities was faced with a larger than usual need and decided to apply to the city for funds, while Glass Hearts is new to Arvada. It is a mentoring program for new, young fathers, who are partnered with more experienced fathers.

Both resolutions passed, 7 to 0.

Kraft-Tharp then acknowledged, thanked, and commended Vicky Reier, Assistant to the City Manager. Reier is retiring after eighteen years of service to the city.

Reports from City Council:
Councilmember Zenzinger thanked the citizens who participated in last week’s meeting about the Pomona Parcel. She acknowledged a scheduling conflict between that meeting and the TOD meeting with Trammel Crow; she opted to attend the meeting about her own district. Over 100 Arvada residents attended. However, feedback is still being sought, and Zenzinger made a strong point of saying that those who were unable to attend are still welcome to provide comments for several weeks and possibly into 2014. The Arvada city website has a community news article on its front page; at the bottom of that is contact information and also a place to sign up for notifications. No final decisions have been made at this point.

New Councilmember John Marriott had three points to make. He moved to appoint Eddie Lyons the interim chair of the Board of Adjustments until spring of 2014. This seat was held by Marriott and vacated when he took his current seat on the Arvada City Council. The motion was approved, 7 to 0.

Marriott next thanked the citizens and staff of Arvada for making his entry onto the City Council as pleasant as possible.

Finally, Marriott said that he had attended last week’s TOD meeting, and said that it was a good meeting with attendance between 85 and 90 residents. He mentioned that it was well-done, vigorous, and that there were some great comments.

Councilmember Bob Fifer reported on his weeklong meeting in Seattle, WA, as the Colorado delegate to the National League of Cities. One area of particular interest, Fifer said, is digital inclusivity, meaning that lack of access to computers and the internet creates a class disadvantage by disallowing equal opportunity for such things as jobs, education, etc. He said that some cities have non-profit technology centers where residents can receive training on the use of technology. He believes this might be something for Arvada to look into.

Fifer also reported that in some areas, internet providers offer drastic cost reductions to students who receive free or low-cost school lunches. He would like to try to obtain such a program for Arvada.

Fifer then alluded to the problems of cyberbullying and failures in access to emergency 911 services.

Councilmember Zenzinger asked what jurisdiction would prosecute cyberbullying. The city attorney said that Arvada does not currently have an ordinance against that so it would be prosecuted elsewhere.

Councilmember McGoff spoke about his attendance at a Denver University course by the Land Use Leadership Alliance. A main subject of that course was how to reconcile water use needs with water scarcity, when planning land uses. McGoff will be providing thoughts to staff.

Councilmember Bob Dyer said that he attended ten meetings last week. He mentioned that there has been a problem lately with meetings being scheduled in conflict with other meetings. City Manager Mark Deven said that he is working with the city clerk’s office to find solutions, and that efforts will be made to coordinate with Jean at the Visitors Center, in getting meetings on the calendar.

Report from City Manager:
Mark Deven thanked Vicky Reier for eighteen years of “incredible service” to the city.

He also said that there will be a parking enforcement workshop next week, along with recommendations of the Arvada Center Task Force.

Retiring Assistant Vicky Reier expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work for this amazing city and its staff.

Mayor Williams adjourned the meeting.

Update

Just an update…I have heard (not yet confirmed) that Walmart is buying the old grocery store at 38th and Kipling to build a neighborhood market. I’ll post an further info as I get it. Let’s all remember the upcoming SAW rally on November 20, details on SAW Facebook.

We also need to keep up our efforts. There are development issues in Arvada including Walmart and PPOT and many others that we need to keep an “eye” on. It’s up to us to do our best to preserve our city’s heritage and personality. So continue to attend meetings of all kinds, watch the arvada.org website, read the newspapers and the Arvada Report and be sure to write our representatives any time you have a question or concern. We want them to remember we are not going away. Thanks to all of you who work so hard every single day doing a tough job that (unlike city officials) you don’t get a paycheck for. You do it because you love your hometown!

Consulting Parties Meeting, Masonic Lodge Proposed Demolition, November 6, 2013

For anyone who hasn’t been following the saga of the Masonic Lodge at Ralston Road and the Wadsworth bypass, it’s currently undergoing a review to see if it can be demolished, as is the wish of the developer working in that part of Arvada, or if it should instead be repurposed. The Lodge was built in 1947, but is located at the site of a planned five-story, 153-unit modern-design apartment building (PPOT) scheduled to be placed next to McIlvoy Park.Here’s the text of the original CBA invitation to participate. Some juggling was required to finalize the date of the actual meeting, as the first invitation allowed very little time for preparation. The originally proposed October meeting did not take place.

You are invited to a meeting to discuss the proposed demolition of the Arvada Masonic Lodge
DATE: Thursday, October 17, 2013
TIME: 6:00-8:00 pm
LOCATION: Olde School House
ADDRESS: 5660 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, CO 80002
RSVP: Invitees should respond by Tuesday, October 15, 2013, to Mary Therese Anstey

BACKGROUND:Park Place Old Town, LLC has proposed a redevelopment project to build multi-family housing at 7212 Ralston Road in Arvada, Colorado. This project meets the City of Arvada Land Development Code and complies with the City of Arvada Comprehensive Plan, the Arvada Transit Station Framework Plan, the Olde Town Station Urban Renewal Plan, and has been issued a Certificate of Compliance with the Olde Town Arvada Design Guidelines. The proposed project includes demolishing the Arvada Masonic Lodge, an historic property. Since this project includes mortgage insurance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), citizens are invited to provide comments and join the discussion before any action is taken.

PURPOSE:
The meeting will bring together Arvada stakeholders including citizens, the property developer, the project architect, community planners, and historic preservation specialists to discuss the proposed redevelopment project on the Masonic Lodge site. Representatives from HUD and the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) both have been invited to this session. Dr. Mary Therese Anstey, an architectural historian with the Denver-based preservation planning firm Historitecture, LLC, will facilitate the meeting.

As a registered consulting party, you are invited (but not required) to make a five-minute PowerPoint presentation highlighting your interests in the Arvada Masonic Lodge. Your presentation should focus on possible alternatives to demolition. All PowerPoint presentations should be provided to Dr. Anstey by 8:00 AM on Wednesday, October 16, 2013, so the individual pieces from the various consulting parties can be incorporated into a single meeting program.

The meeting also will feature an opportunity for attendees to provide written comments to HUD and OAHP. Both agencies will receive minutes from this meeting as well.

This meeting represents part of the public participation process for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). This regulation requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties.

Dr. Mary Therese Anstey
Historitecture, LLC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *So, essentially, our purpose here was to “focus on possible alternatives to demolition.” Dr. Anstey added at the meeting’s beginning that the pertinent section of the law concerning the proposed demolition, is known as 24 CFR 58.1.

There were ten consulting parties, each allotted five minutes for a presentation, to be followed by discussion and dialogue.The facilitator, Dr. Anstey, is the Historitecture consultant hired by Mark Goldberg, the PPOT developer, to work with them during the Section 106 process.

Opening the presentation part of the meeting was Renee Nelson representing the Arvada Junior Chamber Foundation. Ms. Nelson, a lifelong Arvadan, offered various alternative uses for the Masonic Lodge, including offices, convenience lofts for small retail and other uses, a community, teen, or event center, possibly to include a Boys’ and Girls’ club facility; museums and facilities for revolving exhibits; photo or art galleries, small medical mixed use, a marketplace incubator for small business entrepreneurs and shops, class facilities, workshops, and private parties. She stated that small businesses are and have been great contributors to our community, and as good stewards of our historic assets we need to strive to find compatible contemporary uses for the building while at the same time protecting its historic value.

In addition, Ms. Nelson pointed out the importance of not letting our decisions be driven solely by marketplace profits. She pointed out information packets she had brought, showing samples of buildings which have been retrofitted or repurposed. Also, she said that it would be important to tie in as many considerations as possible with the Renaissance Plan for Olde Town.

Cindi Kreutzer spoke for the group Arvadans for Better Community Development. She said that after the Walmart plans were revealed many of us then became more aware of other plans for Arvada. She contended that our historic buildings contribute greatly to Arvada’s charm and character. Arvada has been a safe and attractive place for families to live, and it is possible to retain its historic qualities while at the same time encouraging vitality. It was chosen by Rand McNally as one of the “Most Beautiful Small Towns in America” in 2011.

Ms. Kreutzer pointed out that her home was built in 1947, the same year as the Masonic Lodge, and that the exterior of the Lodge is solid; that she and her husband would never demolish their home on the basis of its age, if it was structurally sound.

Some alternate uses proposed by Cindi were restaurants, a community center, reception hall, brew pub, antique mall, or Arvada history museum.

She wondered why the original plans for the PPOT development did not show demolition of the Masonic Lodge, and also pointed out that it appears there has been some interior demolition already, yet there does not seem to have been a permit taken out for asbestos removal, which requires a certified and licensed asbestos removal contractor.

Next was Susan Shirley, speaking on behalf of Citizens for a Better Arvada. She listed thirty US cities and towns which have repurposed their Masonic Lodges as museums, and went on to describe four of those museums, including the one currently in the works in Boulder. Although those buildings initially appeared to some people as white elephants, impossible to find a use for, once they were made into museums they turned out to be perfect for that use.

Ms. Shirley also said that, although the citizens of Arvada have been told by various members of city government that public involvement is vitally important, the reality often fails to reflect that ideal, and frequently the citizens feel they are left out of the loop, disregarded, or even met with hostility. She went on to say that CBA recommends that processes now be put in place to support maximum levels of community participation at all stages; that the consulting parties should have input into the types of meetings that are held and also the means by which outcomes are negotiated. Finally, since a decision of this magnitude should not be entered into lightly, today’s meeting should be only the initial introduction to further collaboration on the part of all the parties.

A representative of the group Colorado Preservation, Inc., said that the Lodge is a significant part of the city, and offered whatever assistance the group can give toward finding a resolution.

The next speaker was Tim Steinhaus, representing the Historic Olde Town Association. Mr. Steinhaus is the former executive director of AURA, who left AURA in 2011 after a 13-year tenure as director. He presided over such projects as the Water Tower Project, the redevelopment of the Ridge Home area, and the beginnings of the Candelas project.

Mr. Steinhaus said that the Masonic Lodge has been underutilized for decades. He went on to assert that PPOT will add to the vitality of Olde Town; that it will bring new residents to shop at Olde Town, and help with the continuing revitalization of Olde Town. The 150 new households at PPOT will spend thousands of dollars in the Olde Town Area.

Harriet Hall and Nancy Young, representing Save Arvada Now, spoke next. Ms. Young said that SAN favors development that enhances the Olde Town Historic District. SAN does not favor a 5-story cement wall which, Ms. Young said, will look like eight stories because of the way the bypass is sloped.

She went on to say that the community is angry about the project and the process that led to it; that Arvada has survived for 145 years, having kept many of its original structures because Arvadans have always been frugal and not torn down buildings simply because they were old. She related the story of the very building everyone was meeting in right then–that A.L. Davis had the option to demolish the old schoolhouse but chose, instead, to add his own facade to blend it in with the rest of the block, allowing the space to continue to be used.

Ms. Young questioned why, if the city can offer $3.4 million in incentives to a 153-unit apartment building, why cannot there be $3.4 million applied to the preservation and protection of the Masonic Lodge?
She then described the findings of the group which toured the Lodge recently. She said that it is solid as a rock, with no structural defects, settling, or cracks evident; that the ceilings are high enough that floors could possibly be added to make it a four-story building.

She next expressed the need for any alternative uses for the Lodge to include considerations for their impact on all three of the historic districts of Arvada, which include the Olde Town Historic District as well as Stocke-Walter and Reno Park Districts. There are few places in Colorado, she said, where original historic districts and the original surrounding residential districts are still intact. They are intact here because our progenitors did not destroy, they built.

Harriet Hall said that in 2011, a local non-profit approached the Lodge’s owner about purchasing the Lodge for offices for that non-profit. She said she knows that because she is the director of that non-profit and she was the person who attempted the purchase, working through a broker, but without success. She said that the owner of Arvada’s D-Note also attempted to purchase the Lodge for a restaurant, an entertainment venue, and a rooftop martini bar. That offer was rejected as well.

Ms. Hall then showed photos of a good example of the repurposing of a building: The Source, a huge indoor marketplace in Denver’s River North (RiNO), housed in a former iron foundry. It incorporates a variety of uses, such as restaurants, a bakery, coffee market, and brewery. As the Masonic building is smaller, it could house a smaller number of similar businesses.

Speaking next on behalf of the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) was Arvada Mayor Marc Williams. He briefly discussed the many hats he wears in service to the city. He expressed the opinion that the citizens of Arvada owe a debt of gratitude to AURA and the City Council, that they are civic minded and do consider citizen input; that there has been a great deal of success in revitalizing Arvada, and there is expected to be more success related to the Gold Line.

Mayor Williams said that the job of AURA is to take tired areas and rebuild them, and that maintaining the vibrancy of an area such as Olde Town is an ongoing process. He cited the Angelo Study, showing the need to attract younger people who can take the Gold Line to work in downtown Denver, and return to Arvada to live. He said that higher population density is mandatory to keep areas such as Arvada’s downtown, vibrant and alive; that Olde Town’s merchants are clamoring for more customers.

He went on to say that the Masonic building has been vacant for a long time, that it has to be demolished. It’s a white elephant and cannot be repurposed well, due to the secretive nature of its intended original design. We can’t, he said, just wish and make the wish come true; we have to recognize the reality that saving the Lodge would be cost prohibitive. He cited reasons such as asbestos, the placement of windows, and the environment. It is, he said, simply not practical to keep.

Mike Elms followed, representing The City of Arvada’s Community Development department. (An excerpt directly from their web page states: “The purpose of the Arvada Community Development Department is to sustain a planned and balanced community that provides affordable housing while preserving existing neighborhoods and the related housing stock, enhance the image of the community, and provides quality jobs for citizens, generates additional revenue and insures the economic health and financial stability for the City of Arvada.”)

Mr. Elms maintained that fourteen public meetings have been held with respect to the planned PPOT development; that 4,000 letters, invitations and notices were sent out.
He said that the Masonic Lodge is not located in the Olde Town Historic District, but in the Olde Town East district, formerly known as the Conservation District.
With respect to the large number of waivers which have been granted, Mr. Elms said that those were based on findings that the proposed use (meaning PPOT) will not conflict with the distinctive character of the downtown historic district.
Mr. Elms said that the economic hardship which would occur with any attempt to repurpose the Lodge would make it impossible for the developer to make a reasonable return on his investment.

The next speaker was Clark Walker, speaking on behalf of the Design Review Advisory Committee. Again, from their web page:     “The Design Review Advisory Committee consists of 5 members appointed by City Council. The Committee’s role is to make recommendations to the Director of Community Development regarding compliance with the Design Guidelines for Olde Town Arvada.

Current members of the Committee are:

Debbie Pearson, Olde Town Residents Representative
Dennis Culligan, Historical Society Representative
Roger Direnka, Olde Town Businesses Representative
Clark Walker, Arvada Urban Renewal Authority Representative”

(Note: Only these four members are currently serving.)

Mr. Walker began by saying it is regrettable that in what should be a public process, people often get involved only when it is too late for them to have an impact. There have been numerous plans, including the Arvada Comprehensive Plan, the Transit Framework Plan, and others, all providing opportunities for public input.

A large part of the extreme unsuitability of the Masonic Lodge for repurposing, said Mr. Walker, has to do with its location. Situated near Ralston Road and the Wadsworth Bypass (7 lanes and 10 lanes of traffic, respectively,) there are 70,000 cars passing that intersection daily. Mr. Walker asserted that the levels of traffic make the Lodge unsuitable for redevelopment, because of the challenges posed by poor access in and out of the building’s lot. Any reuse would need to address those physical constraints. No reuse would be feasible without public assistance or a well-capitalized owner. He said that the owner has tried since 2008 to find a tenant, without success. In addition, the property has been available to lease or buy, for years, with no takers. Finally, the highest office rents commanded by any building in the immediate area, are on the second floor of Grandview Plaza, which units rent for $14 per square foot. The developer of PPOT would need to realize $18 per square foot in order for an office use of the Lodge to be feasible. This supposes a purchase price of $1.2 million, $1 million for renovations, and an 8 percent return on investment. The building’s area is 9,779 square feet.

Mr. Jackson, an architect representing Park Place Olde Town, said that his firm is very dedicated to sustainable development, and that there always needs to be a balance between the three P’s of people, planet, and profit. Accordingly, an exhaustive study was undertaken to see whether the Lodge would be suitable as a site for residential units. Despite all sorts of redesign attempts, he said, there were too many problems involving the electrical, plumbing, roof, ingress/egress, asbestos, and security. It could not be economically repurposed as apartments. In addition, the exterior would require extensive modification to allow for windows, and that modification would have destroyed the integrity of the building. He said that many, many different designs for housing were studied and none worked.

Also, the level of density needed to be attained by the PPOT development, could not be reached if the Masonic building remained standing.

In short, said Mr. Jackson, the building is obsolete.

At that, the presentation portion of the meeting concluded, and the discussion portion began.

The following is a condensed summary of the comments voiced.

Geoff Bruce of Save Arvada Now said that there is no warning as to when public meetings will occur, and wondered if the city’s marketing department is so poor they are unable to let the citizens know what is happening. He went on to say that in Europe, the effort is toward preservation, but in Arvada we go for the bulldozer.

Mark Goldberg said that developers fill a unique role; that this community was, in fact, built by developers who also, no doubt, met with resistance. He said that when dealing with historic buildings there’s a fine line between what should be kept and what not. The first thing his group did was to look at repurposing the Masonic Lodge into office, retail, or multi-family. There are such massive challenges that those uses were excluded. With respect to housing a museum, the structure is sound but the roof leaks, the plumbing is bad, and the mechanical is bad. But, he said, “we were not cavalier about it.”

Harriet Hall cited her involvement in the placement of the Grandview bridge, which links the Stocke Walter and Olde Town Historic Districts. This linkage is a key element in the continuity of the districts, and PPOT sits directly between them, yet is contemporary in design.

Mr. Goldberg responded that it is OK for the PPOT building to be contemporary, because the surrounding buildings were also contemporary, when they were built.

Harriet reiterated that it’s very unusual to find three historic districts sited contiguously, as is the case in Arvada, and that a lack of continuity between them ruins that aspect of Arvada’s historic integrity.

Cindi Kreutzer asked for clarification of which plans were submitted, and when; that it was her impression that the three-story walkup with surface parking was the original proposal. She was told that the official submission to the City was the five-story, 153-unit building. Cindi then asked if it was true that the initial plans did not include demolition of the Masonic Lodge. The answer was given that some did, some did not.

Renee Nelson asked about the apparent partial demolition of the inside of the building. Clark Walker said that it was the current owner who started demolition but the city has since demanded he stop, because of concerns about asbestos.

Betty Araya questioned the statements that the residents have not been paying attention. She has lived nearby since 2006 and was never notified.

The response forthcoming from Mr. Walker was that notices were definitely given, in a 400-foot radius of the property. Rob Hoge of Citizens for a Better Arvada asserted that the 400-foot figure is a “floor, not a ceiling” and that sometimes, more is required.

Mike Elms insisted that the information has been on the city’s website, and in flyers. The question was asked if any information had been given to residents of the other two historic districts.

Rob Hoge wondered, if single family residences were not an appropriate use right next to the Wadsworth bypass and Ralston Road, how would Mr. Walker explain the large number of single family homes on the east side of that intersection? Mr. Walker said that it would be tough to build those now and that they really don’t belong there.

Mr. Hoge voiced concerns that the plans for development continually change without public input. In addition, he firmly stated his belief that the design of PPOT does not fit within the Olde Town ambiance.

Betty Araya said that 400 feet is definitely not within the acceptable range for notification. She also observed that there is potential for a conflict of interest when our Mayor, who is elected as the representative of the citizens, is also part of the Urban Renewal Authority.

Mayor Williams replied that his doing so is consistent with the best interests of Arvada.

Clark Walker said that more people need to attend AURA meetings and, if they did, they would get all the information they need.

Ascenzo DiGiacomo asked if the Lodge is on the historic survey for the historic district. The answer, from Joseph Saldibar of the Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, was that it is not on the registry but it is eligible to be. If the owner wrote a nomination, the building would be approved both on the grounds of its historic value and of the building’s architecture. Mr. Saldibar went on to say that eligible buildings must be treated in exactly the same way as those in the Historic District. While the Parks Service is the ultimate decider, a building cannot be listed if its current owner objects. In that case, the building exists in a sort of limbo, because at any time a future owner could reapply, assuming there had been no significant external changes to the building.

Dan Gardner, the current owner of the Masonic Lodge, said that he is very attached to Olde Town. He bought the Lodge in 2008 and has talked to many people about alternative uses. The building has been for sale, he said, for many years, and “no one came to say they wanted to buy it.” He emphatically stated that he had not had a single offer for the building.

Mayor Williams mentioned the benefits he believes Olde Town will realize from having more residents and access to the Gold Line. Rob Hoge asked when the people who already live here, will get equal consideration.

Nancy Young then described problems between the Masons and the City of Arvada. It seems that one of the main problems they encountered with the Lodge was that of the cost of utilities. They asked the city for a permit to install solar panels, but were denied.

They also asked the city for permission to build an apartment building on their property. That request was also denied. So, in effect, the city may have been culpable for the fact that the Masons were not able to use their own property in an economically sound way.

Rob Hoge asked again about why a museum would not be an acceptable alternative use. Clark Walker said it is because a museum would not generate a TIF. Mr. Hoge said that TIF’s are not the only way to generate money; that Goldberg could generate tax to finance a museum. Mr. Walker said that AURA doesn’t have the money for stand-alone redevelopment.

Mayor Williams offered his opinion that there is not sufficient demand for a museum; that the Cold War Museum did not do well.

Cindi Kreutzer asked about a community center. Mayor Williams again stated that the demand is not there, and that what funds there are for those types of uses are already going to such uses as parks and trails.

Betty Shreeve, a retired Contract Specialist for the National Park Service, warned of the need to look very closely into any ramifications of the Historic Register. She said destroying this building could get someone into trouble later.

Jayme Gaines asked why, if accessibility is an issue for the Lodge, why is it not an issue for a 153-unit residential building? Clark Walker offered that residential uses are different. Mr. Goldberg followed with his view that in order for retail to work you need good traffic, and that retail is very much an impulse sort of destination, as opposed to residential, in which access is far less critical a concern.

Harriet Hall alluded to the fact that SAN had come up with an initial list of twelve uses for the property, but wondered how it would be possible to have a meaningful dialogue in a five-minute period. She asked what the process will be from here on, to talk about alternatives.

Joseph Saldibar said that his position is that demolition is an adverse effect on a property which is eligible for official status as an historic landmark. He said that the section 106 process is designed to gather as many opinions as possible. Decisions are to be based on many factors. He said interested parties should present their proposals in writing, and the developer is required to make a good-faith consideration of those proposals.

David Rigirozzi of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said that HUD wants to make sure that alternatives are considered; however, HUD does not have the power to supercede planning and zoning. He also said that alternatives should be submitted in writing to the developer and the city.

Ascenzo DiGiacomo said that there needs to be the political will to save the building, but that AURA and the city don’t seem to have that will in evidence. Private development almost never has the funds to preserve buildings, he said, because of the amount of funding required. So the city, along with historical groups and citizens’ groups, band together and decide as a group whether or not the building can be saved. The process needs to happen in a public forum; and the way things have proceeded up to now has placed the chicken before the egg. He asked if the schematic designs showing the development with and without the Masonic Lodge, have been presented to the public.

Clark Walker said that those pro formas had been included in some CORA requests.

At this point, Dr. Anstey concluded the meeting, saying that consulting parties should submit written proposals to her.

Want more information on this and other planned projects for Arvada? Save Arvada Now has a facebook page by the same name, as well as the website http://www.savearvadanow.info.

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City Council Meeting, October 21, 2013

All council members were in attendance: Bob Fifer, Mark McGoff, Rachel Zenzinger, Mayor Marc Williams, Bob Dyer, Shelley Cook, and Don Allard.

Minutes from October 7 meeting were approved.

This was Shelley Cook’s last business meeting, and the city staff put together a video in her honor. Shelley had two different stints on the council, from 1995 to 2001, and again from 2009 to 2013.

In the video, Mayor Williams introduced Shelley as a “tenacious advocate for the citizens of her district” and said she has been very responsive to the concerns of those citizens.

Shelley outlined ten things to know about being on city council: They are sometimes as frustrated as the citizens are; Arvada’s form of government is comprised of a city council which hires and supervises a city manager; local government is for providing services directly to the citizens, it’s responsive and can provide remedies for all sorts of problems; that Arvada is required by charter to pass a balanced annual budget, and that there is supposed to be a 19% surplus for exigencies; that the council’s decisions are not made arbitrarily and that they would prefer earlier citizen involvement, and that the principles of accountability, fairness, openness and transparency continue to be important; that council is non-partisan; that being on the council allows one to see their plans ripple through generations–for example, the Gold Line has been in the works for over 20 years and is starting to come to fruition; that local governments focus on density with good reason, including help for the air quality, infrastructure, health benefits, limiting sprawl, and allowing space for more rural areas in the surrounding parts of town; and, finally, that anyone can get involved–there are many ways to make a difference including volunteering on boards. Running for office is a life altering experience which is both terrifying and rewarding.

CLRC members gathered at the podium to thank Shelley and said that they hope she will continue being involved in this community.

A representative of the Gold Corridor Stakeholder’s Committee, representing eight stations (including Union Station) invited citizens and council to attend a forum to be held October 30 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Wheat Ridge Rec Center, 4005 Kipling. For more info, go to drcog.org. This forum is intended to bring together all Gold Corridor stake holders and find common goals. The representative said that Arvada is considered a leader in the area for all the work that’s been done on the stations. The forum will be an open house, with lots of activities.

Judith Denham from the Festivals Commission invited everyone to the 7th annual Wines For the Holiday, November 15, 2013 from 6 to 8:30 at the Standley Lake Library. There will be 100 different wines from seven front range wineries, hors d’oeuvres from six local caterers, a silent auction which features a getaway and some sports items, and live entertainment including the Mile High Jazz Combo. The event is a fundraiser for the Arvada Community Food Bank and the Caring Clinic. Reservations are $35 apiece. The event raised $17,000 in 2012 and the goal this year is to do at least that well.

Dot Wright, President of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, spoke about a personal friend and local businessman, Danny Cheyer, co-owner of the Silver Vines Winery in Olde Town. Mr. Cheyer has been diagnosed with an extremely rare disease called NMO or Devic’s disease. There will be a fundraiser on November 16 at 5 p.m. at the winery and proceeds will go to the Devic’s disease foundation. For more information, see silvervineswinery.com.

Mayor Williams and Bob Dyer both endorsed Silver Vines and said that it would be good to make the effort to stop in to the winery and see if there is anything a volunteer could do; that we need to be supportive of the winery and not just attend this event.

Next were resolutions:

13-135, Church Ditch Water Authority Licensing Agreement
13-136, Non-Exclusive Utility Easement to Public Service Company at Westwoods
13-137, Non-Exclusive Utility Easement, Public Service Company, Lake Arbor Community Station
13-138, Agreement between City of Arvada and CTM, Inc., for Leyden Creek Park Revitalization Project, approximately $367,000.

All resolutions passed, 7 to 0.

The next resolution was about an agreement (memorandum of understanding, or MOU) between the City of Arvada, Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District, and Wanco, Inc.

Wanco is an Arvada manufacturer of traffic signs, one of only three major companies in the world which manufacture variable message boards. This 200-employee family company has been in existence since 1984, and in Arvada since 1998 in their facility at 59th and Tennyson. Their 165,000 square foot facility has become too small and the question became how to stay in Arvada but be able to expand substantially to meet their requirements.
This agreement will make partners of Hyland Hills, Wanco, and Arvada by creating a new regional park plus a 100,000 square foot expansion for Wanco. They will be able to add 75 to 100 new employees, making them one of Arvada’s largest employers. Deputy City Manager Bill Ray said that the first phase will begin immediately after the master plan is adopted, and should be completed just as the Gold Line is finished.

Bob Fifer asked if the park will be annexed into Arvada. Mr. Ray said that, although the matter at hand is a memorandum of understanding and not decisive of those sorts of details, that annexation makes sense. Bob Fifer agreed. Don Allard commended the staff for completing a complicated negotiation. Shelley Cooke called it an “elegant solution” and said that the jobs provided will be very high-quality, well-paying jobs. Mayor Williams said that it was of great importance not to lose a major employer, and that the plan also meets the needs of the recreation district.

This resolution, #13-139, passed 7 to 0.

Next item: Rezoning for Panera Bread Cafe at 64th and Yank.

The main discussion about this was between the management of Springwood Retirement Community, which will border the plot of land to be used for not only a Panera Bread Cafe, but also a proposed Noodles & Co. Restaurant, and the representatives of those two businesses. Springwood’s concerns include light shining into the retirement cottages, noise and disruption relating to drive-throughs, and the manner in which trash and cleaning of grease traps are handled.

Sean Kaiser of the Colorado Restaurant Assn. and Arvada Chamber of Commerce gave some statistics about the restaurant industry. Restaurant job growth outpaces other industries across the board, in the U. S. workforce. There are expected to be 1.3 million new restaurant jobs added in the next decade. For every $1 spent in restaurants, there is $1.15 in additional sales in the state’s economy. Colorado has over 239,000 restaurant jobs, which is expected to grow substantially by the year 2023. Congressman Perlmutter’s district, including the Arvada area, is second to last in the number of restaurants in Colorado. Last, Mr. Kaiser said that Panera Bread is a very good community citizen, giving back and committed to combating hunger. It is, he said, an excellent fit for the location.

The site is 1.65 acres, with Panera expected to use 4,620 square feet for a 240-seat facility, and Noodles & Co 2,010 square feet for an 80 seat facility. The Noodles & Co. restaurant is still being negotiated.

Matters between Springwood and Panera’s representatives were tentatively settled, with boundaries being set for the hours of operation, plus landscaping and fencing to block light.

This resolution was approved 7 to 0.

The following items, CB-13-029, 040, 041, and 042, concerned appropriating funds for the 2014 fiscal year budget. The city is changing from a formatted budget to a performance based budget, which will be discussed in more detail later in the meeting.

Some new positions are being added, bringing staffing levels to 694 positions in 2014. It is worth noting that in 2009, there were 707 positions authorized and levels have been lower than that, during the recession.

Line items in the budget were discussed. An item of particular interest to Councilman Dyer was the condition of Arvada’s outdoor art. Funding for maintenance of the art, most of which is at the Arvada Center, has not been available for about two years. Mr. Dyer expressed a desire to have a budget allocated in the approximate amount of $55,000 next year, to catch up, and then about $50,000 following that until the maintenance is caught up. The budget may need to be amended to include such maintenance.

There was discussion about greens fees at Lake Arbor and West Woods. Councilman Dyer said that if the costs to users increase, it will be important to make sure the people are happy with the conditions; for example, not to raise the cost of carts but remove the GPS in those carts.

There was a presentation by Edward Stafford of the City Manager’s Office, regarding the implications of the change to a performance based budget. All city departments are expected to have the change completed by March of 2014. Essentially, he said, it requires a series of actions to be completed by each department: coming up with a mission statement for each department stating what they do, and for whom, and what results are expected as the result of their labors; then, a set of strategies to achieve those results, and by the 2015-2016 budget cycle, all departments’ budgets will be performance-based. There will be quarterly performance updates starting in 2014.

Mark McGoff asked if the budget will be longer next year due to some restructuring of the way it is written as a performance based budget utilizing “lines of business” and individual “programs”. For example, the Utilities Department will have nine lines of business and 25 programs. Mr. Stafford said the budget will indeed be longer. “I can’t wait to read it,” said Mr. McGoff.

CB13-038, 140, 141, and 142 all passed 7 to 0.

CB13-039 regards the Arvada Mill Levy. It will not be increasing. There were no public comments. It passed 7 to 0.

CB 13-040, 041, and 042 pertain to Water User Rates, Wastewater Rates, and Utilities (Water Fees.) Jim Sullivan, Director of Utilities, presented graphs showing the relative costs of those items here in Arvada, compared to the surrounding areas. There is an increase expected, which would add approximately $2.00 per month to each customer’s bill.

There was discussion about flood damage. FEMA is expected to contribute 75% of the $350,000 costs for repairs, and Colorado the remaining 25%. This is not certain, however.

CB-13-040, 041, and 042 were all approved, 7 to 0.

Reports from city council included Bob Fifer’s rundown on the Scarecrow Festival. He said it was well-attended. He begged off judging the pumpkin-related food next time, however, as it was a lot of food and too much for one person to digest happily at one time.

Rachel Zenzinger discussed the Child and Youth Leadership Committee’s workshop. The topic was child prostitution and trafficking, which is on the increase in Jefferson County. This needs to be a focus area. Rachel said she was “stunned by the prevalence” of this problem, and that it is sobering to see the extent of it. She believes our municipal judges would benefit from special training in the problem. She said that research shows that children who run away and are gone from home longer than a week have a 90% chance of falling victim to sex trafficking.

Shelley Cook thanked her constituents, the other council members, and the city staff.

Mayor Williams said that AURA has agreed to purchase the vacant Safeway building for much less than its appraised value. They also have an option to purchase the neighboring building which houses, among other businesses, the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant. AURA does not own, nor intend to own, the former Blockbuster building, which is now going to be home to an emergency medical facility. Mayor Williams said the question for now is how to repurpose the Safeway building between now and when the major projects go in on that side of Ralston Road.

The City Council next voted on the proposal to cancel the November 4 City Council meeting, the night before the election. Mr. Allard said that if the workshop was going to be long and complicated he’d prefer to split it into two meetings and have the second one on the 4th as a substitute for the regular business meeting of the council. He said that, as “the only candidate” in the election, he wouldn’t have much to do the night before the election anyway, and that going too long in a workshop means that the last one or two items don’t get the attention they deserve.

Bob Dyer said that he will be absent. Shelley Cook said the clerk might be busy the night before the election. Bob Dyer said that the traditional reason for not having a meeting the night before elections, is so that the outgoing members can’t pass questionable items that the new members have to live with.

Mr. Ray said the workshop won’t be that intensive and there would be no need to split them. Mayor Williams said he prefers to keep the workshop all in one meeting and that all members be able to attend. Mark McGoff agreed that Bob Dyer’s presence at the workshop would be very valuable.

The motion to cancel the November 4 city council meeting passed 6 to 1 with Mr. Allard dissenting.

Finally, Mr. Ray said there are many citizen opportunities with the RTD advisory committee. Applications are being accepted through October 25.

Who Does City Council Represent?

In a recent interview with Emilie Rusch in Your Hub, Councilman Allard made the following statement: “Councilmen are elected to make decisions, not simply to sit at the meeting and see how many people come down and say, ‘Ive got more signatures than they did and you should do what I tell you because you’re my representative’.”

“It will generate a service that will be available to the Arvada citizens,” he said of the Walmart project. “It will keep the expenditure of money and the sales tax in the city of Arvada instead of going somewhere else outside the city.”

That entire statement should tell us everything we need to know about Councilman Allard. He does not believe he has an obligation to represent the citizens of Arvada and he obviously does not understand where the city sales tax would normally be spent, if it weren’t being given to the developer and AURA instead of to the city’s general fund.

Although the council voted to approve the AURA Executive Director’s 10% raise, the mayor specifically stated that AURA is not part of the city government. So how can the councilman say he knows where that sales tax money will go? We know where the developer and AURA say it will be spent but the city itself is not in control of those funds. 

We don’t know how trustworthy the developer is, but we do know a few things about AURA. We know they sold a valuable piece of property to a different developer for $10. We know they promised a pedestrian friendly, multi-use project and gave us a Walmart supercenter instead. We know that the person who made those questionable decisions pays herself $125,000 a year and adds a bonus of $6000 a year as a “car allowance”. And we know that our mayor appointed himself to the board of AURA and yet believes he can be impartial making a decision about a project he, himself, was instrumental in bringing about.

Councilmembers and the mayor believe that as our “elected representatives”, they should make important decisions for us. But they must also make decisions that are both fiscally responsible and in accordance with the needs and wants of the majority of the people those decisions most greatly affect.

These are just a few reasons why there is a need to keep an “Eye on Arvada”.