Denver Direct: An Open Letter to Mayor Hickenlooper

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Open Letter to Mayor Hickenlooper

from Tom Anthony, President
Elyria Neighborhood Association

Dear Mayor Hickenlooper,
It’s a hard year to be an incumbent; a hard year to be anyone for that matter. Hopefully, we’re all doing the best we can and trying to work a little smarter.

As a gubernatorial candidate with an existing job in public service you have the ability to demonstrate your aptitude for performing and getting results for your constituents. I think in many cases you’ve been able to do that and enjoy significant support as a result. However, the same can be said for the Catholic Church (although how many of those folks actually get to heaven isn’t exactly known) which by and large does a wonderful service, but then you have the lapses in which, as you know, the reputation gets tainted. Up here in my neighborhood we have been complaining about being abused for six years and so far, the results keep getting worse.

As Mayor you no doubt know that CDOT has been studying I-70 and right alongside, RTD has been studying the North Metro FasTracks line. Last month the last hearing for RTD was held, and the site in Elyria, a block from where the house at 4778 Williams Street sold last week for $35,000, RTD wants to place a commuter rail stop.

At the same time, the Keystone Process is going on, a $700,000 study of two devastating alternatives for I-70, either which would virtually eliminate Elyria. This $700,000 “add-on” brings the total I-70 DEIS budget to well over $16 million. Add the $7 million for the RTD North Metro study and I think you’ve got an idea what kind of an impression you’re making: $23 million in studies to conclude that both a transit oriented walkable neighborhood will be built and then destroyed by a new 12 lane interstate highway. Meanwhile despite all our pleas, petitions, meetings with Bill Vidal, Jim Bemelen, etc etc our own plan for mitigating an expanded highway through Elyria has been rejected without the merest whisp of evidence as to why.

It doesn’t stop there. Your New Denver Zoning has displaced the “Implementing Blueprint Denver” plan for the west bank of Globeville–mixed use– with heavy industrial designation all along the Platte River Greenway from 47th north. This same area holds 22 single family homes and 3 multi family developments ALREADY. We have been opposing this since we first saw the map in July last year, all to no avail. In addition, the land opposite all the homes on 48th Avenue, on three sides of Elyria Park and three sides of North Side park all is slated for heavy industrial, when literally only one heavy industrial use even exists on any of this property. Blueprint Denver shows 48th Avenue in Elyria to be urban mixed use across the street from the dozen or so homes looking directly across. Yet, the New Denver Zoning makes it heavy industrial again.

At the same time your administration has de-funded our 100 year old recreation center, while slating a new 37 unit transitional housing development at the Elyria School, which is displacing El Centro Su Teatro to another location on Santa Fe Drive, all of which is being publicly funded. What possible motivation your administration could have in cutting loose our rec center, the only recreational opportunity in Elyria which has been in existence since time immemorial, when a new transitional housing development is being moved in, and a commuter rail stop is planned, and our underprivileged kids really don’t have any other good options, is mystifying. Meanwhile week after week we see line items in the City Budget for graffitti removal, law enforcement, jails, and even enormous new parks and recreation improvements. So, we know where we are on your priority list.

When you first ran for Mayor in 2003 we asked at the Business Association meeting to have a planner for our neighborhoods. So far, we have NO neighborhood plan other than the one we developed in 2005 and your administration refuses to adopt. Consequently, especially considering the New Denver Zoning your staff is foisting upon us, WHO is going to invest a dime up north of I-70? Is that what you want: Limbo? We proposed a huge outdoor public market in the National Western Stock pens that would provide 750 small business entrepreneurs a head start on their business ideas, and a huge community matrix for people to people engagement; not to mention up to $60 million a year in commerce. What has anybody done with it but secretly meet with the Stock Show Board about funding a move to Bennet?

If we hadn’t spent $22,000 opposing the publicly subsidized 10 million gallon per year biofuel refinery your administration permitted on the banks of the Platte River Greenway in Elyria, and spent another $6,000 developing our own neighborhood plan you refuse to recognize, we’d have some money to respond to an RFP which was never re-issued for the neighborhood to take over operations of our rec center, since the City is washing its hands. All we really know about Colorado Miners, which is taking over our rec center, is they successfully competed against our neighborhood association and won. Now, you want us to send our kids there to be coached by them? How moronic is that?

And now with the New Denver Zoning seeking to institutionalize another fuel refining facility which boils millions of gallons a year of sulfuric acid and methanol to make road fuel adjacent the Platte River Greenway and the National Western complex, obviously the threat of hazardous chemicals alongside the Platte River is ongoing. If not, why the Heavy Industrial zoning in your Draft 4 map, and why did Peter Park state at the INC Zoning Committee meeting that the Biofuel refinery would be permitted under the New Zoning, next to the Greenway? Elyria believes this is contrary to what most of the citizenry would support, much less what the neighboring property owners would support.

Does it sound like a big cluster f*** going on in your city? If not, you should try paying attention like we do. No, we can’t believe our eyes and ears either, but guess what? That doesn’t mean it’s not happening!

A cancer study completed in 2003 showed 8 elevated cancers in our neighborhood, and CDPHE blamed them all not on the highway and industries here, but on our bad genes and poor health habits. You can keep blaming us for our own problems, but small and poor as we are, we know better. And the people of Colorado might be able to figure that out too. As long as we, thank God, have e-mail.