The Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch Library at West Colfax Avenue and Irving Street was built using 2007 Better Denver Bonds money approved by voters. City officials are preparing a 2017 bond package.
The Denver City Council on Monday considered just one amendment to a $937 million bond package that its members could vote to send to the November ballot next week.
Several streets in northwest and west Denver — Central Street, Morrison Road and West Colfax Avenue — would share in money for pedestrian-oriented improvements from a reshuffling of $9.8 million that had been earmarked for a Federal Boulevard transit project, under a modification suggested by the two councilmen who represent those areas, Paul López and Rafael Espinoza. The council approved that change, which wouldn’t increase the bond package’s overall total, on a unanimous vote.
“Our amendment is not a critique of the process or anything like that,” López said. “(But) we know that on the westside, there’s just a lack of connectivity to the rest of the city.”
The council considered the amendment after hearing from more than two dozen speakers during a public hearing Monday night.
They included leaders from cultural institutions with projects on the bond list, Westwood residents who have fought for a new recreation center that’s listed and East Colfax Avenue advocates who are excited about $75 million pegged for a bus rapid transit plan and street improvements in the corridor.
Other speakers lamented perceived shortcomings — such as the lack of money for affordable housing and an insufficient number of sidewalk-building projects, beyond included items that total $37 million, according to WalkDenver. That group’s Jill Locantore urged council members to work out more funding solutions outside the bond for the citywide problem.
The proposed bond package contains Denver’s first citywide projects list in 10 years and would make use of the existing property tax rate. It’s broken into seven categories, each of which would get a separate vote on the Nov. 7 ballot: transportation and mobility; parks and recreation; public-safety-related projects, including for police and fire stations; cultural facilities including the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Art Museum; renovations of the Central Library and several branch libraries; fixes for public facilities; and $75 million for the Denver Health and Hospital Authority’s planned outpatient Ambulatory Care Center, the largest single project on the list.
Council members still could debate further changes before voting on the package Aug. 14.
As we make final push to amend Westside pedestrian projects in GO bond, I realize how much I love my Westside leaders who never give up. pic.twitter.com/kqmUM5B5zd
For the one change made Monday, the council diverted $9.8 million that had been earmarked for transit improvements on Federal Boulevard between 38th and Evans avenues, including upgrading of traffic signals to give buses priority and improvements of bus stops.
López suggested it would take much more money to speed up transit there and said the money would be better spent on pedestrian improvements in several areas instead. The money would be split between some elements of the plan on Federal ($2.9 million), the Central Street Promenade in Lower Highland ($850,000), transit access enhancements on West Colfax ($1.9 million) and a reconstruction of Morrison Road (adding $4.2 million to $8 million already included on the bond list).
Those are unfinished, longstanding projects that are in need of money, López said.
Lopez points out the worst stretch was addressed, safety-wise, with $100m+ project previously.
Several speakers supported the amendment during the hearing, but Transit Alliance program manager Jamie Perkins urged the council against cutting money from the Federal transit improvements.
“The city has to take the lead on supporting more reliable transit service,” she said, adding: “It’s imperative that the city of Denver prioritize projects such as the Federal Boulevard” transit improvements.
Here is the project list recommended last month by Mayor Michael Hancock, after consultation with council members. It remains largely intact: