Ruby Hill-Godsman October 2015 Meeting Notes

Photo of the October 20, 2015 Ruby Hill-Godsman Neighborhood Association meeting.

Present

Officers: Sharona Thompson, Ruby Hill President; Scott Bolt, Godsman President

Members: ~25 neighbors and guests

Also Present:

Discussed

  • Commander Mark Fleecs and Officer Tyler Blakesley spoke briefly:
    • They reported that the body of a deceased woman was found at Godsman Park on October 19. She was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the gun was recovered.
    • They also spoke about DPD’s progress on obtaining body cameras, which District 6 will get next month and District 4 will get by end of next summer.
    • Shot-Spotter is being put in place and will be used beginning in 2016.
    • Neighbors mentioned that someone is firing shots after each Broncos game near where they live and Commander Fleecs said he’d notify officers so they could attempt to pin down the location.
  • Councilman Jolon Clark provided updates on a few items:
    • He introduced Councilman Kevin Flynn, whose District 2 borders our own. There was some friendly teasing about which of the two districts has the highest point—not Ruby Hill as many think, but in District 2’s Loretto Heights at Federal and Dartmouth.
    • Everyone should have received ballots in the mail by now, make sure to vote by November 3.
    • An update on the mountain bike park—both it and Levitt Pavilion have run into some things under Ruby Hill that weren’t cleaned up. As with Johnson Habitat Park, this will delay things while they conduct clean-up. [ed. note: I have requested information from the new project manager, Jason Himick, and will update the Ruby Hill Mountain Bike Park page accordingly]
    • Because of high water in the river, cars, etc., some of the work on the South Platte has been pushed back, including Pasquinel’s Landing and Grant Frontier. Grant Frontier has been pushed back to reroute a water pipe.
    • The City Council is currently working on next year’s budget, on track to be approved in November. Included in the budget is money to pay for new recruit classes and training for the Sheriff’s Department.
    • Also included in the budget is $3M to proactively manage the potential emerald ash borer infestation. The emerald ash borer is a beetle that can kill 100% of an area’s ash trees. It is estimated that 20% of all Denver trees are ash and will die in 10 years if nothing is done to manage the emerald ash borer. Councilman Clark took a tour of Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago—cities that have been hit by the emerald ash borer—to learn about best practices and what each city learned in their handling of the beetle. The City of Denver is budgeting money for outreach and education to help residents identify ash trees as well as for additional staff to prepare park and public right-of-way trees for the potential emerald ash borer infestation. Affected trees may be treated with a bee-safe pesticide injected right into the tree. The budgeted funds will help pay for treatments for residents’ trees that are in the public right-of-way (usually a resident’s responsibility).
    • The draft Broadway Station Area Plan will be out soon. Councilman Clark encouraged everyone to look at the document and comment when it comes out as it is our chance as a community to set the vision of where and how we want growth to happen.
    • Councilman Clark mentioned the former Shattuck Chemical Co. land and how the land will soon be developed now that the clean-up is complete and has been sold to a developer. The $1.7M in natural resources damages funds is being used in South Platte River projects now.
  • Next, Manny Lopez del Rio from Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Relations spoke about Cabinet in the Community, a quarterly event held by the mayor in different parts of city. Mr. Lopez del Rio will give us more information on this through Scott and will visit our next association meeting with more details. The Cabinet in the Community will be held in the Platt Park neighborhood (location TBD) on December 5 from 9 – 11 am. Update 11/19/15: The location is Byers Middle School, 150 S. Pearl St. There will also be a job fair on site for over 600 city jobs. For more information, email Jessica Jorgensen.
  • Juri Freeman, the recycling manager for the City and County of Denver spoke about the changes to dumpster and trash collection. He described the three types of trash service: manual, dumpster, and cart-based. Cart-based trash service is the most efficient of the three, not requiring trucks to make as many trips or utilize as many workers. A 2010 report showed that having three types of service is inefficient, so the City is transitioning to all cart-based trash collection and will be finished by the end of 2017. By the end of next week, all of Ruby Hill will be switched over. Mr. Freeman brought maps showing cart conversion areas, which can also be found here. Neighbors asked the following questions:
    • What to do if a cart breaks, is stolen, or blows away? Mr. Freeman says the City will replace a broken trash cart for free. Trash carts usually last about 5 years. [ed. note: You can report broken or lost carts via 311 or pocketgov]
    • What to do with trash carts when street sweeping happens on collection day? Mr. Freeman said he had not heard of this happening anywhere else so he would help neighbors find a solution, whether that was moving their street sweeping or collection day, or determining a good spot to place their carts.
    • Are there any plans for the future to charge for trash? Mr. Freeman answered that there are no plans to charge for trash. Trash is paid mostly through the general fund, and some through property tax. Trash and recycling are free for residents, though composting is a voluntary and paid service.
  • Peter Heim from Garden Park Church invited neighbors to participate in the church’s annual trunk or treat and chili cook-off on Halloween. See the flyer here.
  • Lisa Ingle and Laura Aldrete presented slides on the Broadway/I-25 Redevelopment project. [ed. note: I have requested a copy of the slide presentation and will post it here if they provide it.]
    • The slides showed plans for the future design of the area owned by Broadway Station Partners, adjacent to the Broadway & I-25 light rail station.
    • The plans include two pedestrian bridges, upgrades to the city-owned Vanderbilt Park (both east and west of the South Platte River), development zoning for commercial and office space, and a pedestrian-prioritized, curb-less street bordered by a shopping plaza.
  • Mike Guertin, a Redevelopment Specialist at Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) spoke briefly about how DURA is working with the City and Broadway Station Partners to determine how to fund the project using tax increment financing. He said they are early in the process right now. DURA acts as the City and County’s arm in helping remediate blight. They will work to determine if the site is blighted and how to help offset costs of remediation. Mr. Guertin also provided a fact sheet about what DURA does.
  • Scott encouraged neighbors to be part of the process and to attend public meetings. [ed. note: You can also give input at the City’s feedback page for the Broadway and I-25 Station Area Plan.]
  • Oriana Sanchez, the Facility Director for the MHCD project at 1601 S. Federal Blvd. spoke about the project.
    • The project, called the Sanderson Apartments, is a residential facility at the southwest corner of Federal and Iowa. It will have 60 one bedroom units of permanent supportive housing serving homeless people diagnosed with mental disability.
    • There will be three criteria for acceptance to the waiting list for Sanderson Apartments. Prospective tenants must be under an income limit, they must be homeless, and they must be disabled by a mental disability. The City of Denver has identified at least 1200 people that would fit this criteria, who have been out on the streets for 10 years and longer. There will also be a background check as with any apartment, although some tenants may have minor “crimes of homelessness” on their records. They will not take registered sex offenders and will have some checks on violent criminal felony convictions. Everyone has to sign and follow a lease and house rules.
    • District 2 Councilman Flynn has identified people from the Mar Lee Neighborhood Association to work with MHCD on a good neighbor agreement.
    • There will be safety officers and residential counselors present 24 hours a day. There will also be case managers, leasing and maintenance staff, vocational counselors, and education counselors during the day.
    • The site will have as much “engagement space” for indoor and outdoor activity as living space, including basketball courts, gardens, patio space, kitchens, community rooms, gym, and a library, in addition to vocational and educational training space.
    • Ms. Sanchez provided a FAQ and a fact sheet about the Sanderson Apartments.
    • Neighbors asked questions about security: there will be security cameras watching every entrance, exit and every floor. MHCD has also had discussions with Police District 4 and has met with Commander Fleecs and Officer Blakesley to make sure officers in the district are aware of the project.
    • Neighbors asked questions about funding: Ms. Sanchez explained that building the facility will be paid for with a federal grant. An investor is in the deal for 15 years (the tax credit portion). They are also receiving money from the Colorado State Division of Housing and have been awarded but not contracted yet for additional capital funding. The City and State will be physically inspecting property and paperwork every year for a minimum of 30 years.
    • Neighbors asked about comparison programs around the city: Ms. Sanchez said that this is the largest project MHCD has done of this type, although they do have three other buildings that run similar programs. Her goal is that people don’t know they exist there, and thus, their presence in these areas have not affected property values because usually no one knows they are there. They strive to be the best looking property in a neighborhood. She referenced a study where 7500 units in New York City were looked at and no negative impact to property values over the course of five years were found. In some cases, property values increased. [ed. note: I believe this is the study referenced.]
  • Liz Adams spoke briefly in support of ballot measure 2C, which will extend an already existing tax on rental cars and hotels for funding to improve the National Western Complex. She encouraged neighbors to vote by November 3.
  • Sharona had some questions and updates:
    • Are we meeting December 15? Majority voted Yes.
    • All who applied are accepted to the CPR sub-committee. Sharona will be sending an email; they’ll meet a couple times before December 15 to touch base. Stay tuned.
    • We need someone to call and remind neighbors about meetings. A show of hands revealed only one person really needed the phone call; all others can be contacted through email or will remember. Scott volunteered to call the one person.
    • Sharona announced she is stepping down as Ruby Hill Community Garden leader next year. She will be looking for a new leader to provide extra garden support next year, along with Brandy who is currently providing leadership. Contact Sharona if interested.

Photos from the Meeting

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