First Friday: August 20187 min read
Today is the first Friday in August, and you know what that means: First Friday coffee and pastries with the Town Trustees! This is one of my favorite forums for town dialogue, since you can go back and forth with both Trustees and other residents. I always hate sitting in Town meetings and having questions to raise or points to make and having to stay silent until public comment (or sometimes, having to just email my feedback in after, if public comment has already finished). Fortunately, at First Friday, it’s an open conversation – and the dialogue always brings out a lot of fantastic ideas.
But before the First Friday event, I hosted my first of what I hope will be many group runs, to meet other residents in a casual setting. The 2nd annual Superior 5K is coming up on Sunday August 26, and I worked with the Superior Chamber of Commerce to plan a “course preview.” Half a dozen runners and I met this morning to start at Sticks (which is both the official start/end of the Superior 5K, and also the First Fridays location) and follow the race course through Original Town and back. I hadn’t run this route since the race last year, and a lot has changed with construction in the last year! If you’re planning on running the race this year, watch out for the soft gravel for the short stretch on the Coal Creek Trail, which can be a bit tricky to run in, and get ready for it to slow you down a bit. And, if you haven’t yet registered for the race, don’t forget to get in touch with me for a $5 coupon off your race registration! After the run this morning, we did a little bit of stretching, then headed into Sticks for First Friday.
Today’s meeting was hosted by Mayor Pro-Tem Sandy Pennington, Trustee Sandie Hammerly, and Trustee Rita Dozal, and was even more animated than most sessions, since we started with the hot button topic of Weldona Lane. A few residents spoke up very passionately about their desire to have Weldona closed off to 88th because of the danger to children / pedestrians by having cars zoom through. However, the flip side is that many residents (especially those who don’t live right on Weldona itself) like having easy access to 88th. My friend Elisabeth is one of those who lives in that area but not right on Weldona, and she said she’d be open to exiting to 88th by taking Coal Creek Drive to Rock Creek Parkway… if a traffic light were added, to make it easier to take a left onto Rock Creek Parkway. This is an idea that Trustee Mark Lacis has brought up before, and I think it’s definitely worth considering, particularly as Boulder Creek Homes moves closer to developing out Lanterns Lane and adding even more homes to the neighborhood. Mayor Pro-Tem Sandy Pennington encouraged concerned residents to meet on their own (essentially creating an informal task force) and agree on a plan of action, then bring that to the Board.
Next, there was a lot of discussion on the Town 15 – the parcel of land on the corner of Coalton Road and McCaslin. In very recent news, the Trustees said that Jack Chang (of the Livewell Foundation) put in a proposal yesterday to purchase the Town 15 land for $1.6M to build a charter school. This proposal has been heavily discussed by residents over the summer, as Mr. Chang has organized several public engagement sessions to get feedback, and I’m happy that it’s finally been sent to the Board for consideration so we can see all the details rather than speculating. Although only the Trustees currently have the full proposal, my understanding is that Mr. Chang intends to build a charter school and a second building that could be (at least partially) leased back to the Town for use as a community center. The Board has not yet set a date for the official public discussion (of which at least some part will probably be a closed door executive session, to discuss negotiating tactics for a response), but we can expect to see the full proposal included in the meeting packet that is published on the town website six days before the meeting. In the meantime, Mr. Chang used the Superior / Rock Creek Residents Facebook group to announce a meeting on Wednesday August 15th at 5pm at the Superior Fire Station, where he plans to present the proposal directly to citizens.
From there, the topic moved to a more general discussion of proposed uses for the Town 15. Recently, resident Dan Walkes developed and published a survey to better understand resident preferences for the Town 15 parcel. Mr. Walkes is a candidate for appointment to PROSTAC (though it should be noted that he created this survey in an unofficial capacity). I read the results and found them very interesting – you can view the report here, and you can read Mr. Walkes’ commentary upon publication here. The Trustees in attendance this morning said they thoroughly appreciated Mr. Walkes’ engagement, but Trustee Hammerly said she couldn’t consider the results valid if the survey wasn’t distributed through a formal Town source. Mr. Walkes previously distributed the survey through a Google email list about the Town 15, but he has also publicized his survey in the Superior/Rock Creek Residents Facebook group in an attempt to be more inclusive (without having direct access to the town email list). Mr. Walkes is continuing to collect results, so I would encourage you to get in touch with him and take the survey yourself. However, with regard to the aforementioned offer to buy the Town 15, Trustee Hammerly said that she would not vote “yes” to selling the land without significant public engagement beforehand.
One somewhat surprising topic this morning was post-mortem around the Rough Riders Community Center decision made on Monday (which I recapped in full here). There was a lot of talk at First Friday about what’s next in our quest to get a Community Center, which many people feel is still an extremely desirable amenity even if the Rough Riders proposal wasn’t the right option. Trustee Hammerly took an action item to speak with Town staff about exploring the financials of using the former Land Rover space on Coalton Road for this purpose, which several residents present felt would be much more centrally located than a facility at the Town Center. (Note: in the 2014 indoor recreation survey, 42% of residents said they have no preference concerning the location of an indoor facility; 17% preferred the Town Center; 16% preferred Rock Creek, 9% preferred a mix among various neighborhoods, and 5% preferred a different location.)
Finally, two residents from Original Town came to First Friday specifically to note how happy they were with the Planning Commission’s special session last week, to discuss the Northwest Subarea Planning. In addition to praise for the long-term planning, Mary and Suzanne also brought up the current issue of not having an easy way to cross Marshall Road from Original Town. To make her point, Mary brought and shared original development plans showing a crosswalk at 2nd Ave that was never built. Mary and Suzanne said the ability to cross Marshall has improved since the Diverging Diamond was added (which creates breaks in the oncoming traffic that allow pedestrians to cross), but a solution is still needed to avoid having to scramble up the embankment on the north side of the road). Their ideal scenario would be a pedestrian bridge over Marshall Road, allowing people to get to the Superior Market without having to worry about cars. I thought I remembered from the Northwest Subarea Planning Survey in June that a Marshall Road underpass was offered as one of the options to go along with the build out of the Superior Market, but in looking at the Phase II Outreach Summary (and the Clarion Associates design plans for the Superior Marketplace), I’m not seeing what I remembered. Edited to add: I found it in option #3 of the documents for next week’s Planning Commission meeting. Given that pedestrian access was a consistent theme in the the survey comments, I’m hopeful that this element can be added to other plans even if we don’t go with option #3. We’ll learn more and be able to provide feedback via the September community meetings and online engagement.
Happy Friday and happy August, everyone!