Archive for September, 2006

Northwest Corridor Update

September 28, 2006

Yesterday, I and a number of other Golden City Councilors met with the county commissioners, Transporation Commissioner Joe Jehn, and several CDOT staffers to look for areas of agreement.

My view on the proposed superhighway through Golden is straightforward:  No six- or eight-lane superhighway.  I support transporation improvements in the Northwest Quadrant but only under seven conditions:

  1. No more than four lanes through Golden.
  2. No tolling through Golden.
  3. A speed limit of 45 mph by design (i.e., the roadway must rely on a “serpentine” parkway design, or something comparable, that keeps vehicle speeds low).
  4. Substantial noise mitigation, with a noise limit of 55 db through Golden.
  5. Grade-separated intersections (i.e., on and off ramps instead of traffic lights).
  6. Improved connections between neighborhoods on both sides of the highway (along 93 and Highway 6).
  7. A commitment, with funding, to make appropriate improvements on other north-south arterials in the region, like Indiana and McIntyre.

County Commissioner Kevin McCasky made clear that he (and presumably the entire County Commission) was willing to settle on four lanes so long as we reserve the rights of way for two additional lanes should the need ever arise, and he seemed open to all of the other concerns.  A small step, to be sure, but it is movement in the right direction.  As the funding picture becomes bleaker, and as new revelations about the sorry financial state of the existing Northwest Parkway come to light almost weekly, I think we’ll see an increasing interest on the part of the county and state to make something work.  I’m in no rush at all to make a deal . . . we’ll take a deal when it offers us everything we need.

I also want to be clear that I think a new, large superhighway through what is now largely open space in northern Jefferson County is a terrible idea, especially given that the traffic numbers don’t support it, but my first obligation is to ensuring that whatever happen in Golden be done in a way that improves traffic flow and improves the quality of life here through reduced noise, air pollution, and traffic congestion.

The Denver Post ran a story this morning (“Golden: Toll road won’t fly”) about yesterday’s meeting, and I found a YourHub post entitled Demand Accountability for Foibles of NW Parkway” that might be of interest as well.

City Council Retreat Update

September 19, 2006

Back in February, City Council began a retreat process intended to do two things:  1) establish a structure for governance in Golden that clarifies the authority, roles, and responsibilities of City Council, the city manager, and other city staff; and 2) figure out Council’s vision and goals for the coming year.  I strongly supported our undertaking this process.

Why?

If our goal is an effective and efficient city government, then in my view the City Council must clearly define the role and performance expectations of the city manager, city attorney, and municipal judge (which are the only three positions that Council has the authority to hire and manage).  In the time I’ve been on Council we have never done this.

If we don’t clearly define the role and performance expectations of the city manager, we don’t have any reasonable way to evaluate his performance.  I know there are folks in the community who dislike the city manager and have wanted to fire him for a long time, but I won’t support firing somebody unless we’ve clearly spelled out what we expect, fairly evaluated his performance, and determined that he hasn’t met our expectations.  Anything else is unfair and irresponsible.

These same folks in the community often accuse the city manager of having “the wrong vision” for our community, and cite this as the reason for wanting to replace him.  In my view, the responsibility for having a vision falls on the City Council.  If we fail to have a vision, or fail to clearly communicate it to the city manager, the city manager has no choice but to use his judgment in guiding the city.  The failure is ours, not the city manager’s.  Our retreat process was designed to fix exactly this problem.  By clearly identifying our expectations, the city manager and the community will know exactly what City Council expects, and as a result our evaluation of his performance can be fair and transparent.  To this end, the Board Policy Manual we’ve been crafting over the past three months includes a very clear, rigorous, and fair system of assessing the city manager’s performance (as well as the performance of the city attorney and the municipal judge).  It also clearly spells out our expectations for ourselves.  The next step, if we continue the process, will be to prioritize our goals for the coming year.

Yet after all this City Council is now considering throwing the entire thing away.  Why?  I’m not sure I can answer that.  One of the reasons offered by a fellow councilor is that we haven’t yet prioritized our goals.  While I agree that it would have been nice to be there by now, we are well on the way, and I don’t see how quitting now gets us any closer.  The other reasons . . . well, honestly, I’m not sure what they are.

I am really disappointed that after three months of hard work creating a structure that clearly defines roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations some of my colleagues on City Council – maybe the majority – are considering throwing it away.  If you think that City Council ought to adopt a clear set of rules, roles, and performance expectations for our staff, then you might consider reaching out to your city councilor and expressing your view.

Jeffco Candidate Forum on Transportation Issues: Sept. 25

September 11, 2006

In case you hadn’t already heard, Plan Jeffco, CINQ, and a host of other groups are hosting a Jefferson County Candidate’s Forum on Transportation issues on Monday, September 25 from 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. The invited candidates include folks running in gubernatorial, county commission, congressional, and state legislative races. Issues on the agenda include the proposed superhighway through Golden, the I-70 mountain corridor, proposed toll lanes on C-470, and mass transit issues. You can also read the candidates’ responses to PLAN Jeffco’s transportation questionnaire on the PLAN Jeffco web site [although I can’t find it on their site, so if anyone has the direct link please post it as a comment to this blog post]. Some of the confirmed participants include Ed Perlmutter and Rick O’Donnell (running in the 7th Congressional District, which includes Golden) and Kathy Hartman and Dave Auburn (running for County Commission in Jeffco).

The forum is at the American Mountaineering Center (710 Tenth Street) in Golden. Admission is free.

Golden Marlins Swim Team Becomes the New State Champions

September 6, 2006

At an East Street neighborhood barbeque a few weeks ago I had a chance to chat with Brian Reed, the Head Coach of the Golden Marlins swim team (which practices at The Splash). I’m excited to report not only that the Marlins remained undefeated throughout the entire season but in late July beat out fifty other teams to win the state championship. My hat is off to Coach Reed and all 127 swimmers on the Golden Marlins team. You can learn more about the team at the Golden Marlins web site.
marlins-champions-2.JPGVictory in the WaterBrian Goes in the Water

Green Roofs

September 6, 2006

Did you notice yesterday’s Denver and the West cover story (with the large color photograph) on green roofs? The story highlights the green roof on the new Environmental Protection Agency building in LoDo. This was one of the many technologies and design approaches we considered for the new city maintenance shops. We dropped the idea because of the expense (the up front capital costs for this project are strictly limited by the amount of money we borrowed) but I’ll continue to push the city to consider it on future city buildings. Green roofs, which are basically roofs that are covered in vegetation of some sort, are very useful for stormwater runoff control, reducing water pollution, reducing energy costs, and reducing outdoor temperatures. They can be pricey up front but, like many of these technologies, more than pay back the investment in reduced operating costs. The newspaper of the National League of Cities just ran its own article on green roofs (“Green Roofs Sprout in More American Cities“) as well.

While I appreciate the financial challenge of investing more up front to make these sorts of technologies work, they really are investments. Most really do pay their own way on a reasonable timeframe, and they also represent investments in all sorts of other community values like those I mentioned above. Additionally, as more communities, businesses, and residential property owners incorporate these sorts of technologies into their buildings the cost drops even further.

City Council’s last session of our multi-month strategic planning effort is Thursday night, and I remain hopeful that we can find some consensus around the idea of a Golden Sustainability Initiative, in which we as a community encourage and facilitate the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

2006 5K Golden Demon Dash

September 5, 2006

On Sunday Golden plays host to another community run, this one to benefit the Golden High School basketball team. It’s a 5K through downtown Golden, beginning and ending at the high school. You can visit the Golden Demon Dash web site for more information.

Golden Gallup a Success

September 5, 2006

A Mountain Ridge couple organized this terrific event a couple of weekends ago to raise funds for pancreatic cancer research and to support families struggling with the disease.  The day started with dumping rain but by the time the course was set up and folks walking and running the race showed up the rain was gone, leaving only cool and overcast conditions, which I think are pretty much perfect for running.

The race – starting in Lions Park, north to Iowa, south along Tucker Gulch, and then back to Lions Park along Clear Creek (with a second loop along N. Table Mountain trails for the 10k – went really well.  I don’t know the total number of participants, but it was well attended, with tons of volunteers.  I had a great time and was happy to help out with such a worthy local event.

Hats off to the organizers, the many volunteers, and everyone who participated (and raised money for pancreatic cancer research and family support).

Northwest Parkway in the News

September 5, 2006

In case you didn’t notice, there was a lot of newsprint over the last several days on the Northwest Parkway and its continued struggle to remain solvent, including a good letter to the editor by Rob Medina in today’s Denver Post:

Denver Post – August 29, 2006: Investors explore leasing NW Parkway.

Denver Post – August 29, 2006: Troubled parkway looks to sell.

Denver Post editorial – August 29, 2006: Lease plan may aid Northwest Parkway.

Rocky Mountain News – August 29, 2006: Money-losing toll road seeks partner.

Rocky Mountain News – August 29, 2006: Northwest toll road seeks private operator.

Denver Post – August 30, 2006: Northwest Parkway for lease.

Rocky Mountain News – August 30, 2006: Debt figure doesn’t count millions in interest.

Rocky Mountain News – August 30, 2006: Toll road looks for debt help.

Rocky Mountain News – August 30, 2006: Blake: Bailing out NW Parkway.

Rocky Mountain News editorial – September 2, 2006: Parkway in a bind.

Denver Post – September 5, 2006: Letters to the Editor.